Blog entries from: Baobab

RSS feed for the Baobab Economist blog.

1 to 10 of 105

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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July 15 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 15 2014, 10:49:41

After much speculation over the cause of a deadly set of explosions in Lagos last month, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, released a video claiming responsibility, signifying that the Islamic insurgency has managed to hit the country's commercial centre for the first time.  

Two successive blasts in the Lagos' port district on June 25 were passed off by the local government as mishap with a gas container. That explanation seemed a little thin. Behind closed doors, diplomats called it a cover-up designed to prevent panic. Now, Mr Shekau appears to have undermined the government's claims: "You said it was an ordinary fire, but it was me in that fire," he said in his video.

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From Baobab Tue Jul 15 2014, 09:57:35

DURING the military intervention of France in Mali January 2013, officials in Paris were at pains to emphasise the exercise's modest ambition. "France can intervene only in an exceptional moment, for an exceptional and limited period", said President François Hollande, as French troops swept into the west African country to beat back a jihadist advance that was threatening Mali's capital, Bamako. After stopping the rebels in their tracks, France, he insisted, would hand over the country's security to African forces.

A year-and-a-half later, the French are less bashful about their intentions in the region. On July 17th Mr Hollande is setting off on a trip to the Ivory Coast, Niger and Chad to herald the onset of a new counter-terrorism operation, codenamed "Barkhane", which will aim ...

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July 9 2014

From Baobab Wed Jul 9 2014, 05:35:37

ANDARGACHEW TSIGE, an exiled Ethiopian opposition leader with British nationality, could be facing the death penalty after apparently being arrested and sent back to his country of origin while on a trip to the Gulf. While transiting in Yemen on June 23rd, during a journey from Dubai to Eritrea, Andargachew mysteriously ended up on a plane to Ethiopia. It is believed that he was detained by Yemeni officials and handed over to members of Ethiopia's security apparatus.

Andargachew was charged by the Ethiopian authorities with terrorism and sentenced, in absentia, to death, at two separate trials between 2009 and 2012. Following post-election protests in 2005 he had fled the country and been granted asylum in Britain, where he created Ginbot 7, a leading opposition movement.

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July 8 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 8 2014, 09:06:50

NEARLY six months after Guinea registered its first cases of the ebola virus, the outbreak is still spreading. A World Health Organisation statement last week said 467 people had died from the illness, which has been confirmed in more than 60 communities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including the capital cities of the former two countries.

Past outbreaks have been contained and eliminated through careful tracking of individual cases. But the current outbreak has proved harder to manage. West Africa has higher population density and better roads than Central Africa, the site of previous outbreaks, meaning the illness has more opportunity to spread. Robert Garry, a virologist from Tulane University in New Orleans, points out that the current virus is less aggressive than some ...

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July 7 2014

From Baobab Mon Jul 7 2014, 05:00:00

THERE are millions of children out of school in the conflict-ridden northeast of Nigeria, but in one classroom the future is looking brighter. In a co-educational private secondary school in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state, teenagers each sit in front of a computer. They are enrolled in an extra-curricular class run by the nearby American University of Nigeria (AUN), which prepares them for university degrees in science, technology, maths and engineering. At the front of the class, their teacher--an engaging doctor from the university--uses a $40 credit card-sized computer known as a 'Raspberry Pi' to project mathematical charts on a whiteboard.

The youngsters here are bright, computer smart, and ambitious. They say they would like Nigeria to have a Chinese-style tech revolution--and ...

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July 4 2014

From Baobab Fri Jul 4 2014, 12:28:04

TWO months after a hashtag brought Nigeria's Islamic insurgency to international attention, the security situation continues to deteriorate, posing a growing crisis for Goodluck Jonathan's embattled government.

The world started paying attention after the militia group Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Borno state in April. But that was just one episode in a near-constant stream of violence by the insurgents, who have their stronghold in the country's northeast.

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July 1 2014

From Baobab Tue Jul 1 2014, 17:12:39

FEW were surprised but many were disappointed when Africa's dreams of World Cup victory came to an end on Monday. The football-loving continent's last two remaining teams - from Nigeria and Algeria - were defeated in the knockout stages of the tournament, leaving a legacy that is more controversial than proud.

Player strikes, pay disputes, brawls and match-fixing allegations have marred Africa's hopes of victory in Brazil. Of the five African teams which qualified to play in the World Cup, three were involved in pay scandals. Players from Cameroon got their protest in before the tournament had even started. They refused to board a plane to Brazil following an argument over money, delaying their arrival by almost a day. Next, Ghana made a laughing stock of itself when it flew $3m in cash to ...

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June 30 2014

From Baobab Mon Jun 30 2014, 12:38:45

Better than a wife

TO EXPRESS their gratitude to the visiting boss of South Africa's state broadcaster, traditional Venda chiefs have--according to the Sowetan, a popular daily newspaper--lavished three gifts on Hlaudi Motsoeneng: a cow, a calf, and a beautiful wife. The broadcasting supremo is pictured with his arm around a bare-breasted young maiden, said to be his choice from several on offer, as they surveyed the cattle.

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From Baobab Mon Jun 30 2014, 10:00:39

IN THE back streets of Lagos, Ruth has come to a rehabilitation centre to clean up. She is educated and articulate, but because of her heroin addiction she has never managed to hold down jobs for long. She has sold her clothes, laptop and telephone to pay for her habit. But after a decade of misery she has had enough.

She is one of a multitude of west African addicts whose habit is fed by the proliferation of narcotics. Cannabis has always been rife in the region, but a rise in the pace of trafficking has brought in harder stuff such as cocaine and heroin. In the past decade, drug barons have been peddling their goods through west Africa to feed hungry markets in Europe and North America.The UN reckons that cocaine worth $1.25 billion passes through west Africa every year, more than the ...

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