« On va tous mourir ici. » Bakary* se souvient de cette phrase chuchotée parsa mère la nuit du 7 novembre 1992. Il avait alors six ans. Allongé face contre terre dans l’obscurité de sa maison, il attendait comme toute sa famille que les coups de feu cessent au dehors. Quelques heures auparavant, des soldats de l’armée sénégalaise avaient pénétré dans son village, Sone, à quelques kilomètres au nord-ouest de Ziguinchor, la capitale de la Casamance, pour en découdre avec des rebelles du Mouvement des forces démocratiques casamançaises (MFDC). Cette nuit-là, les habitations voisines furent brûlées et saccagées. Au petit matin, une fois le calme revenu, plusieurs centaines d’habitants s’enfuirent à pied, la peur au ventre et quelques affaires sous le bras, abandonnant leurs terres et leur bétail pour rallier le village voisin de Niaguis.
Category Archives: Africa
Confronting a climate crisis that threatens the fossil fuel industry, oil companies are racing to make more plastic. But they face two problems: Many markets are already awash with plastic, and few countries are willing to be dumping grounds for the world’s plastic waste.
The industry thinks it has found a solution to both problems in Africa.
According to documents reviewed by The New York Times, an industry group representing the world’s largest chemical makers and fossil fuel companies is lobbying to influence United States trade negotiations with Kenya, one of Africa’s biggest economies, to reverse its strict limits on plastics — including a tough plastic-bag ban. It is also pressing for Kenya to continue importing foreign plastic garbage, a practice it has pledged to limit.
Plastics makers are looking well beyond Kenya’s borders
Polio arrives, if it announces itself at all, as a high temperature. Or a sore throat. Maybe a headache, or an upset stomach. It can go within a week or so, and be mistaken for flu. It is transmitted by poor hygiene, largely affects children under five, and many don’t realise they’ve had it. In 5-10% of cases, however, the virus affects the nerves, paralysing the legs in particular; sometimes it reaches the lungs. For most, this is temporary. For others – 30 years ago, this was 350,000 children a year – paralysis is permanent, and if it is of the lungs, they die. No one who has seen the effects of polio forgets.
In the early 20th century epidemics were frequent; in the United States transmission was blamed on everything from cats to blueberries to Italian immigrants. By the early 1950s, the US public ranked it second as its worst fear after nuclear war. When, in 1955, a vaccine was developed, the British held street parties. The numbers of cases dropped immediately. In 1960, Czechoslovakia was first to declare eradication. The last recorded case of naturally occurring polio in the UK was in 1984. Polio was declared gone in the Americas in 1994; in the western Pacific region (including China) in 2000; in Europe in 2002; India and south-east Asia in 2014. Last week, Africa joined their number. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan remain.
Whenever some development threatens to deepen their political and social isolation, Libya’s Islamists resort to the creation of a myriad of parallel bodies, in a cloning strategy that has become too familiar by now to give the cloned entities any credibility.
The latest cloning episode was triggered by the recent visit of Libyan tribal elders to Cairo to request Egypt’s intervention in the Libyan conflict.
This visit clearly revealed the lack of social and tribal cover for Libya’s Islamists and their political front in Tripoli, the so-called Government of National Accord (GNA). It was clear that Libya’s tribes were biased towards the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and were counting on it to end the chaos created by the militias, the military arm of the Islamists and the GNA.
Since the last coup in Mali, the country has undergone a dramatic shift from the secular socialist society that marked the post-independence period to 1991, to emerging as a deeply religious society. Behind this new-found religiosity are two prominent imams, Mahmoud Dicko and Bouyé Haïdara.
News of a coup in West Africa was commonplace in the 1980s and 1990s, but in the last two decades it is a sufficiently rare event to make world headlines, especially when the two last coups in West Africa happened in the same country – Mali.
In the hours and days after her death, I kept returning to that picture of Sarah Hegazy which first surfaced in 2017 after she was arrested: A young woman beaming against the backdrop of Cairo’s polluted skies and bright concert lights. She was raised above the crowds, possibly on someone’s shoulders, her arms held high. The rainbow flag she was clutching fell across her back, like a cape.
The look of joy on her face haunted me. Her lightness. Apparently unburdened by the weight of her being. Carelessly draping the flag around her shoulders. The picture was not one of defiance, but of easy presence. In a single, flippant moment, she had let her guard down, and allowed herself to be peaceful in her own skin. Maybe even proud. Against the backdrop of an endless crowd, there was only her, and a moment of intimacy with the camera. She looked free. That is why the photograph was so threatening to her tormentors. Because it captured a fleeting suggestion that happiness and freedom at home might be possible for people like us.
There are not many artists in East Africa who get to witness their own stellar achievement in their lifetime. Haacaaluu Hundeessa, the undisputed king of contemporary Oromo music of resistance (also known as Geerarsa), did. Such was the explosive impact of Haacaaluu’s songs that many within his Oromo community saw him as indispensable to their struggle for political emancipation.
Haacaaluu inspired the Qubee generation (ethnic Oromos born after Ethiopia was restructured along ethno-linguistic lines in 1991 and educated in their mother tongue) and his music served as a rallying anthem during the 2015-2018 Oromo protests and beyond. His intensely political lyrics both refined and clarified the enduring nature of state-sponsored Oromo marginalisation.
When Haacaaluu was assassinated by unidentified assailants on June 29 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia lost not just a strikingly talented musician, but also a political and cultural icon. His assassination sent shockwaves across the country, particularly in Oromia, the Oromo-majority region of Ethiopia, and triggered major protests in Addis Ababa and elsewhere.
At least 160 people have been killed in the ensuing clashes and more than 1,000 arrested, including leading figures of the Oromo opposition parties, such as Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Shigut Geleta, and others.
Perhaps everything would be easier if people could actually see the oil. If the drilling platforms, the supply boats and the gigantic specialized vessels used to clean and store the oil were anchored just offshore and not way beyond the horizon. Then, perhaps people would better understand the great lengths that oil companies go to to get at the oil. And better understand just how wealthy the stuff can make you.
The oilfield that ExxonMobil discovered five years ago is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) off the coast of Guyana, which used to be called British Guyana back before anyone was thinking about oil. The result is that the fishermen who sit smoking and chatting on the cement wall built to protect the land from the ocean can see nothing at all from their vantage point. Frigate birds soar lazily through the heat while bright red ibises fly above the mangroves. Everything looks as it always has, but soon, it will all change. That is the hope harbored by many, and the fear felt by some.
The oil off the coast of Guyana is of the highly coveted light sweet crude variety, and it is easily accessible. Some say that by the middle of this decade, Guyana could already be pumping more oil out of the earth per capita than even Kuwait. For the current year, the government in Georgetown issued a pre-corona forecast of oil revenues in the neighborhood of $300 million. The U.S. ambassador to the country said that Guyana could become the “richest country in the hemisphere and potentially the richest country in the world.”
Internal documents from the US military’s Africa Command (Africom) reveal ambitious plans to extend and reinforce a network of low-profile military bases and outposts across the continent. The files detail more than $330-million of spending, including a list of “prioritised” military construction projects planned to be carried out from 2021 to 2025. This is designated for infrastructure investments on US bases stretching across Africa. The files also suggest that Africom’s long-term planning extends for up to 20 years.
The formerly secret documents, issued in October 2018, detail 12 construction projects planned for four US outposts in three countries — Djibouti, Kenya and Niger — that have long been integral to US counterterrorism and counter-violent extremist missions in Africa, suggesting these efforts will continue in the years ahead.
Africom spokesperson John Manley told the Mail & Guardian through email that the projects detailed in the plans “continue on course and are in various stages of planning and/or execution”.
“The plans, whether they materialise or not, seem to indicate that the Pentagon is interested in expanding its infrastructure in Africa, for drone ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and drone warfare, as well as training camps and lily-pad bases for increasing the US capacity to project force in key regions, the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Sahel,” said Salih Booker, the president and chief executive of the Center for International Policy in Washington DC.
While the United States was waging what appeared to be a losing war against COVID-19 (as of 12 April, the death toll in the US was nearly 20,000, the highest in the world), its military was carrying out a high-tech battle against Al Shabaab thousands of miles away. On 7 April, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed through a press release that Yusuf Jiis, described as “one of the foundational members of the terrorist group”, was killed in an air strike on 2 April. The strike occurred in the vicinity of Bush Madina in Somalia’s Bay region, approximately 135 miles west of Mogadishu. This was the second time that a “high value” Al Shabaab target was killed in a US air strike. In 2014, the influential Al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was also killed in an air strike. It was assumed that Godane’s death would weaken the group and reduce its capacity to carry out terrorist activities, but this did not happen. Terrorist attacks in Somalia – and in Kenya – continued and resulted in scores of deaths. “Al Shabaab remains a disease in Somalia and is an indiscriminate killer of innocent people and their only desire is to brutalise populations inside Somalia and outside of Somalia”, said US Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations, who was quoted in the press release. “Putting pressure on this network helps contain their ambition and desire to cause harm”. AFRICOM commander, Gen. Stephen Townsend, stated, “While we might like to pause our operations because of the Coronavirus, the leaders of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS have announced that they see the crisis as an opportunity to further their terrorist agenda so we will continue to stand with and support our African partners”. The 2 April air strike was probably a response to the Al Shabaab attack on the US Manda Bay base in Lamu County in Kenya on 5 January this year. An American soldier and two US contractors were killed in that attack. The base, known as Camp Simba, is situated along the shores of the Indian Ocean, not far from the Somalia border. The Americans were killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit a plane piloted by contractors from L3 Technologies, an American company hired by the Pentagon to carry out surveillance missions in Somalia.