Blog entries from: African Arguments

African Arguments

1 to 10 of 157

July 30 2014

From African Arguments Wed Jul 30 2014, 05:00:50

With Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq dominating the news, nobody is paying much attention to the violence in Tripoli that is swiftly tipping Libya over the edge. The UN and US have withdrawn and the UK have ordered all British nationals out. Yet, the repercussions of losing Libya are monumental, especially for Europe. After twenty-three years searching for salvation, Somalia is taking little steps towards recovery. Sadly, all the signs show that Libya is following Somalia's route to disaster as the country plunges backwards into a conflict so complex it could take decades to fix. The similarities with what went wrong in Somalia and what is now going wrong in Libya are there for all to see but we appear powerless to stop it. In Libya today, social cohesion and trust are dangerously fragmenting on a ...

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July 29 2014

From African Arguments Tue Jul 29 2014, 06:31:58

Some years ago a curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford asked me to look at a photograph taken in South Sudan in the early 1950s. Several South Sudanese men were shown standing on an open plain. They were wearing little in the way of clothing. But on the edge of the frame, resting on the ground, were several small piles of white cloth. The curator wanted to know what I thought the cloth piles were. Had the photographer decided that his subjects would look better without their cotton shifts or jellabeyas? He would certainly not be the first, or last, outsider to decide that 'authentic' Nilotic South Sudanese should not wear a garment associated with Muslim northern Sudan. One can see a similar ethos at work in a 1910 image from the Pitt's C.G. Seligman collection. The black and white ...

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From African Arguments Tue Jul 29 2014, 03:34:34

As the UN warns of an impending famine in Somalia, it is important to look at the track record of aid organisations in responding to emergencies in the country. This will help explain what should be done to aid local communities in becoming better prepared. How we got here The work of aid organisations in Somalia is partly to blame for the over-reliance of many former-farmers on food aid, rather than maintaining a more sustainable self-sufficiency through continued cultivation of their farms. A popular criticism is that aid organisations bring in imported food and give it away for free when farmers are about to harvest their crops. This has helped discourage the farming of cheap staple foods, and has also contributed to the bankrupting of small-scale farmers. This also happens to be the ...

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July 28 2014

From African Arguments Mon Jul 28 2014, 10:01:10

Amnesty International recently published a report calling for the investigation, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators in the on-going violent conflict in CAR. The report identifies former officers of the Forces Armées Centrafricaine (FACA) currently in command of anti-balaka militias. The militias have committed serious crimes under international law and are responsible for other human rights abuses. The interim report from the UN Panel of Experts on CAR reveals a similar pattern. There is no clear distinction between militia men and members of the state security forces. Many Seleka commanders present themselves as FACA officers, dressed in the uniform of the national army. Anti-balaka commanders comprise FACA officers, gendarmes and police officers; some of them still on ...

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From African Arguments Mon Jul 28 2014, 05:03:01

The health of the 77-year old Zambian President Michael Sata currently ranks among the most sensitive of issues in the country and has come to be discussed only in hushed tones. His most recent public appearance and pictures released by his office, intended to stem increasing speculation, show him to be in startling physical decline. The details of his condition have however remained a closely guarded secret. Discussion of the issue and the 'hereafter' is being systematically forced underground by a clampdown that has seen the cancellation of at least one scheduled public discussion and the prosecution of a Lusaka resident, Mr Michael Achiume, for  "publishing false news with intent to cause fear and alarm." Mr Achiume is alleged to have "spread rumours that President Sata will die by ...

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July 25 2014

From African Arguments Fri Jul 25 2014, 05:56:48

Aircraft are circling over South Sudan. During the bitter years of war that led to the birth of this state in 2011 they would have been carrying bombs; now their holds carry aid.  It is aid the country badly needs. According to the United Nations 3.8 million people will need help by the end of the year. The civil war that erupted in December 2013 between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar has left 1.1 million people internally displaced. A further 405,600 have fled to neighbouring countries.  The rains have come and planting should be taking place. Instead people are cowering in United Nations bases, refugee camps in Ethiopia or living with relatives as best they can. The World Food Programme began a major air operation in South Sudan in March ...

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July 24 2014

From African Arguments Thu Jul 24 2014, 09:31:04

Over the past few years, the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region has faded from the headlines. While levels of violence decreased following a peak in 2004-5, violence is again on the increase and the war is far from over. In 2014, the Rapid Support Force, former Janjaweed fighters re-branded as government forces, have gone on the offensive. The stark reality is that over 300,000 Darfuri people have been displaced since the start of 2014. Every day their displacement reinforces the notions of marginalisation that lie at the root of the conflict, reminding them not only of the government's failure to protect their homes, their families and their livelihoods, but also of its direct and indirect involvement in their displacement. The International Refugee Rights Initiative has just released a ...

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From African Arguments Thu Jul 24 2014, 05:36:36

I came across Dickson Jere at a lunch I got a late invite to as a replacement for a much better-known journalist. Still, beggars can't be choosers, and I sat next to a man who introduced himself as having 'floated Zambeef.' We've also been stepping up our Zambia coverage of late as the country is often neglected in favour of its more turbulent neighbours, Zimbabwe and the DRC. Jere is a larger than life fixture in Zambian political, journalistic and legal life. He has also clearly turned himself into a bit of a 'fixer' for international investors, knowing as he does 'how things work' in Lusaka. This is probably why he was being hosted at a swanky Soho eatery by a risk intelligence company and singing for his supper with an (of-the-record) political briefing. Jere started out as a ...

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July 23 2014

From African Arguments Wed Jul 23 2014, 10:12:56

Kieran Holmes is the first Commissioner General of the new Office Burundais des Recettes. As I look out my office window directly above the beautiful Lake Tanganyika, with the mountains of Congo barely visible through the haze, I am reminded of the words of William Butler Yeats written about another, very different, lake. I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart's core. Of course Yeats was writing from the point of view of an Irish emigrant in London remembering the lake waters of Lough Gill - a lake I happen to know very well having spent my youth in Sligo.  While I am not an emigrant, having spent four years in Burundi leading the new revenue authority, I can't help wondering in these ...

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From African Arguments Wed Jul 23 2014, 05:30:40

One year on from Zimbabwe's heavily disputed 2013 elections, we asked Simukai Tinhu, a Zimbabwean political analyst (and regular AA contributor) and Nicole Beardsworth, a PhD student at Warwick University, to comment on how they think President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have performed in the past year. Simukai Tinhu: 'ZANU-PF's first order of business was to consolidate power and banish the opposition to the fringes of Zimbabwe's political playground.' On the 31st July 2013, Zimbabweans went to the polls to choose a new government. Despite complaints of election irregularities by the opposition and the West, voters decided to retain President Mugabe over his long-term rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. His party, ZANU-PF, even secured an overwhelming majority in parliament, paving the way ...

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