Blog entries from: Baobab

RSS feed for the Baobab Economist blog.

1 to 10 of 97

August 27 2014

From Baobab Wed Aug 27 2014, 17:12:18

NIGERIA'S war against Boko Haram is going from bad to worse. The country's army, on paper the strongest in west Africa, suffered its latest humiliation in late August when some 480 soldiers fled across the border to Cameroon after coming under attack from the jihadists. 

Cameroon's ministry of defence said the Nigerian troops crossed the frontier after militants attacked a military base and police station in Gamboru Ngala, in northern Nigeria. The deserting forces apparently holed up in Maroua, some 80km (50 miles) inside Cameroon, where they were disarmed by local troops. Nigeria's government insists this was but a "tactical manoeuvre".

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August 26 2014

From Baobab Tue Aug 26 2014, 10:07:04

NEXT Monday representatives of Mali's government and northern Tuareg are due to meet in Algiers to initiate a new round of peace talks. International mediators pushed for these talks since May, when Tuareg violently took power in their ethnic stronghold of Kidal, prompting the government to declare war. But it's doubtful how much can be expected from the latest initiative in Algiers. The current discussions are the latest in decades of sporadic war and faltering deals.

Tuareg rebellions are as old as Mali itself, but a 1992 peace deal set the template for more recent conflicts. In that deal Tuareg groups abandoned demands for independence and promised to disarm in return for limited autonomy, better integration into the state and army, and government schemes to foster development. But a ...

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August 11 2014

From Baobab Mon Aug 11 2014, 11:46:09

To celebrate Women's Month in South Africa this August, the country's arts and culture ministry has launched an unusual Twitter campaign: "Wear a Doek Fridays." A doek is a square cloth tied around the head. Women have been asked to share "doek selfies," with the ministry's official Twitter account promoting "inspiration photos" of glamorous women wearing fancy doeks.

The campaign has been a social media disaster, its hashtag overrun by criticism and mockery. While, yes, doeks can look fashionable, they are typically kerchiefs worn by black domestic workers. To many they are a sign of subservience, and critics accuse the government of promoting an unequal and submissive view of women. Female members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom ...

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August 5 2014

From Baobab Tue Aug 5 2014, 06:50:46

ALMOST a week after Sierra Leone's president, Ernest Bai Koroma, declared a state of emergency in response to the Ebola outbreak sweeping through West Africa, troops were finally deployed on Monday. The move, known as Operation Octopus, aims to enforce a strict quarantine of affected areas and homes that have been exposed to the disease. It is badly needed.

When Baobab's correspondent visited one of four quarantine sites in the capital on Sunday, the Koroma family were entertaining guests. Neighbours freely wandered in and out and members of the family periodically left the building. Two disinterested police officers stood nearby. "They [our superiors] told us not to let them go too far" said one of them uncertainly.

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July 28 2014

From Baobab Mon Jul 28 2014, 02:00:50

FOR years Africa was a backwater for al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, but today it is rising axis for extremism. Two African insurgencies now rank among the most dangerous internationally: Boko Haram in Nigeria and Somalia's al-Shabab. Going by the number of fatalities per attack, Nigeria now has the world's deadliest insurgency (killing an average 24 people per assault, versus two in Iraq), according to the risk consultancy Maplecroft. Violence has spilt into neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. In Somalia, al-Shabab has come under pressure from regional African forces, but has responded by striking beyond its borders. Kenya has been particularly hard hit. Since the bloody siege on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, the capital, last year, a series of coastal attacks has cost hundreds of lives and ...

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July 25 2014

From Baobab Fri Jul 25 2014, 12:34:39

RIVAL Muslim and Christian militias from the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a ceasefire this week, which they said would protect civilians after 16-months of civil war. But there are several reasons to be sceptical about its capacity to bring an end to fighting that has killed thousands of people and displaced about a million more.

Ceasefires are hard to implement at the best of times, and their track record in Africa is not encouraging. South Sudan provides a good example of how quickly they can fall apart. Leaders there have signed two agreements this year to bring an end to a political conflict that has divided the country along ethnic fault-lines since December 2013. Both were breached with depressing rapidity.

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July 24 2014

From Baobab Thu Jul 24 2014, 15:38:30

TWO French fighter jets screamed across northern Mali on Thursday not in pursuit of terrorists, but on a far more tragic sortie. At 1:50 AM Air Algeria AH5017 disappeared, possibly over the country. The plane was an MD-83, carrying 116 people from Oaugadougou, Burkina Faso to Algiers. Onboard were passengers from France, Burkina Faso, Lebanon and elsewhere, and a Spanish crew. Its pilots were apparently told to alter course to avoid bad weather before contact with the flight was lost. Algeria has sent a C-130 aircraft and Mali is also looking, but the French military lead the search.

Operation Serval was launched in Mali in 2013 to drive terrorists from its northern cities. This month François Hollande, France's president, declared the mission ...

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July 22 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 22 2014, 16:42:34

AID in Africa has controversial reputation. Critics say it is wasteful and does little to assist the poor. Some even argue that it is counter-productive by making recipients dependent on hand-outs. Seldom, though, are western aid agencies accused of providing the funding for human rights abuses.

Yet on July 14th a British court ruled that an Ethiopian man had legal grounds to ask for a judicial review of Britain's development assistance to Ethiopia after he alleged it had led to human rights abuses. The man, identified only as Mr O to protect his identity, claimed that Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) had contribute funding to a resettlement program that led to human rights abuses being committed on his community in Ethiopia.

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From Baobab Tue Jul 22 2014, 16:42:34

AID in Africa has controversial reputation. Critics say it is wasteful and does little to assist the poor. Some even argue that it is counter-productive by making recipients dependent on hand-outs. Seldom, though, are western aid agencies accused of providing the funding for human rights abuses.

Yet on July 14th a British court ruled that an Ethiopian man had legal grounds to ask for a judicial review of Britain's development assistance to Ethiopia after he alleged it had led to human rights abuses. The man, identified only as Mr O to protect his identity, claimed that Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) had contribute funding to a resettlement program that led to human rights abuses being committed on his community in Ethiopia.

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July 17 2014

From Baobab Thu Jul 17 2014, 15:07:49

NIGERIAN cinephiles rejoiced this month as news emerged that Half of a Yellow Sun (pictured above), arguably the most ambitious film project in the nation's history, had received a release date in its own country. For three months the nation's media censorship board held up the film, raising vague concerns over its depiction of the nation's bloody Biafra War. But that is not what makes the film's release notable. Half of a Yellow Sun was actually released a year ago, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, then finagling releases in major markets such as Britain before making it back home to Nigeria. It was a strange route for a Nigerian film, most of which have been cheap productions aimed primarily at a domestic market. But Half of a Yellow Sun is a symbol of a new ...

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