Category Archives: Africa

Curtains for Sisi? How Mohamed Ali upstaged Egypt’s greatest showman

If Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had chosen an alternative career, it should surely have been the stage.

His was a sympathetic voice from military intelligence assuring both liberals and Islamists in Tahrir Square in January 2011 that the army was on their side.

For the late President Mohamed Morsi, Sisi played the religiously observant, younger general.

Sisi, the saviour?

His were the trembling hands and theatrical show of nerves, waiting in the wings in a side room of the presidential palace, while his bosses – then Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Sami Anan – were being sacked as head of the army and chief of staff.

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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Africa



How the pursuit of leisure drives internet use

THE CHIEF of Madhogarh, a picturesque village nestled beneath a 17th-century fortified palace in the heart of Rajasthan, came to Indra Sharma three years ago to ask if she would attend a workshop. “Something about the internet,” Ms Sharma, a 40-year-old child-care worker, recalls. She had no particular interest in this internet thing. But she liked the idea of learning something new, so she went along. She and a handful of women from nearby villages were all given a smartphone and some basic lessons in how to use it.

“First we had to learn how to turn it on and off,” says Santosh Sharma (no relation), a 24-year-old schoolteacher from the neighbouring village. Once they had mastered that, they got down to the essentials: “How to take a selfie, WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, how to search.”

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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in Africa, Asia, Reportages



Robert Mugabe and the Fate of Democracy in Africa

In a commemorative interview on his ninety-third birthday, in 2017, Robert Mugabe, who was the President of Zimbabwe at the time, reflected on his new American counterpart. “When it comes to Donald Trump, on the one hand talking of American nationalism, well, America for America, America for Americans—on that we agree,” he told state television. “Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.”

The two men were wildly different in many ways, yet I was struck by how much they were alike when I heard that Mugabe had died on Friday. Both came to power with a fiercely populist dogma defined by victimhood and the righteousness of their truths, the facts be damned and their critics publicly shamed. Both men relied on political bases that hero-worshipped, often to the disbelief of the outside world. Both men had economic theories that defied global trends. Both men displayed demagogic narcissism. And each reflected wider global political challenges—Trump among Western nations, Mugabe in Africa.

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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Africa



Mugabe’s rule led many people to dismiss the concept of nationalism – but that opened the door to something far worse

Robert Mugabe was one of the many leaders who came to power as a national liberator between the 1950s and 1980s, only to establish violent, corrupt and incompetent autocracies. The decades of misrule they inflicted on their countries did much to discredit nationalism as a progressive ideology that could better people’s lives.

Bad though Mugabe was, he was not the worst of the dictators of that era, which included Saddam Hussein, who became absolute ruler of Iraq in 1979, the year before Mugabe was first elected prime minister of Zimbabwe. Both men ruined their countries, denigrating and eliminating opponents as traitors in a supposed ongoing struggle for self-determination.

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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in Africa


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What other African protesters can learn from Sudan

Exactly four months after former President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan was pushed out of power, and a few weeks after the military rulers and civilians signed a peace deal to thrash out the political transition, ordinary Sudanese continue to pay a heavy price. The latest known casualties were four activists brutally killed by paramilitary forces in the city of Omdurman. The victims were participating in a million-man-march in protest against the killing of five school children – who were themselves demonstrating against rising costs of living in the city of Al-Obeid, North Kordofan.

Aside from the four children killed, 60 others were wounded in the same incident.  While the month of June registered some of the heaviest casualties from the Rapid Response Forces, the trigger-happy paramilitary organisation responsible for the worst of the violence, it is hard to provide exact figures — and there is no sign yet that the violence will stop, despite the agreement of a new deal between the military and protestors on 4 August.

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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Africa



Still Becoming: At Home In Lagos

Lagos will not court you. It is a city that is what it is. I have lived part-time in Lagos for 10 years and I complain about it each time I return from my home in the US — its allergy to order, its stultifying traffic, its power cuts. I like, though, that nothing about Lagos was crafted for the tourist, nothing done to appeal to the visitor. Tourism has its uses, but it can mangle a city, especially a developing city, and flatten it into a permanent shape of service: the city’s default becomes a simpering bow, and its people turn the greyest parts of themselves into colourful props. In this sense, Lagos has a certain authenticity because it is indifferent to ingratiating itself; it will treat your love with an embrace, and your hate with a shrug. What you see in Lagos is what Lagos truly is.

And what do you see? A city in a state of shifting impermanence. A place still becoming. In newer Lagos, houses sprout up on land reclaimed from the sea, and in older Lagos, buildings are knocked down so that ambitious new ones might live. A street last seen six months ago is different today, sometimes imperceptibly so — a tiny store has appeared at a corner — and sometimes baldly so, with a structure gone, or shuttered, or expanded. Shops come and go. Today, a boutique’s slender mannequin in a tightly pinned dress; tomorrow, a home accessories shop with gilt-edged furniture on display.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Africa



Revolution in Sudan: On the verge of civilian rule

In Sudan, the popular uprising that brought an end to Omar al-Bashir’s thirty-year despotic reign in April finds itself still fighting against the military junta that took his place. But after a turbulent three months, an agreement may have finally been reached. Much debate surrounds the still-budding accord, and with internet connectivity restored to the country, the Sudanese people’s revolution seems to be at a crossroads.

Talks between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) have been underway since late April, mired by disagreements between the two parties and repeated violence inflicted by TMC forces on peaceful protesters. But continued pressure brought on by popular outrage and international condemnation — especially following the harrowing events of June 3, when TMC forces violently dispersed the Khartoum sit-in, killing over 100 people and injuring many more — seems to have compelled the TMC to return to the negotiation table.

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Africa



Atbara, berceau des révolutions soudanaises

Si Badreddine Hussein devait garder en mémoire un seul jour de la révolution de 2019, quelle qu’en soit son issue, ce serait celui-là : le 23 avril 2019, quand les cheminots ont fait partir un train de passagers d’Atbara pour Khartoum. Le quadragénaire a eu du mal à y trouver une place. Même lui, opposant de longue date au régime d’Omar Al-Bachir et dirigeant clandestin du Parti communiste de la capitale du chemin de fer. Tout le monde voulait en être, de ce voyage ! Tout le monde a voulu le voir passer, ce train. Tout au long des 300 km de voies ferrées, le convoi est accueilli par les youyous des femmes, les doigts tendus en forme de V, les « thawra ! thawra ! » révolution »). À l’orée de Khartoum, il est pris d’assaut. Des centaines de personnes grimpent sur le toit des voitures, se perchent sur les marches-pieds. La locomotive diesel traverse lentement le quartier de Bahri, franchit le Nil et pénètre dans l’immense espace face au quartier général de la police où est installée l’agora politique connue sous le nom de sit-in ou « Qiyadah ». Dans le train, Badreddine et tous les passagers dansent et exultent.,3160

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Africa, Reportages



Key steps needed for Cameroon peace talks

The conflict in Cameroon has engulfed the country’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions since late 2016. It is one of the world’s most neglected crises, despite a magnitude of violence, inflicted by both military and armed separatist groups, causing unimaginable suffering. The military has committed crimes against humanity against civilians in the English-speaking regions, as documented in a report co-authored by the Cameroon-based Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) in Canada.

Soldiers routinely torch entire villages to the ground — this has become an established and systematic military tactic. They indiscriminately shoot at civilians, at times leaving bodies piled in the streets. Astonishingly, more than 200 villages have been set ablaze, with a continuously increasing pace of attacks. As a result, many people are burned alive in their homes, such as a 70-year-old man who did not hear his neighbors’ warnings due to a hearing disability.

Civilians, including journalists covering the crisis, have been rounded up, arbitrarily detained and tortured, without charge or access to lawyers. Sexual and gender-based violence has also become rampant, often targeting girls below the age of 18.

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Posted by on August 8, 2019 in Africa



Mauritius Leaks

Key findings
New leak reveals how multinational companies used Mauritius to avoid taxes in countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas
Law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman and major audit firms, including KPMG, enabled corporations operating in some of the world’s poorest nations to exploit tax loopholes
A private equity push into Africa backed by anti-poverty crusader and rock star Bob Geldof benefited from Mauritius’ treaties that divert tax revenue away from Uganda and elsewhere
Multi-billion dollar U.S. companies Aircastle and Pegasus Capital Advisers cut taxes through confidential contracts, leases and loans involving Mauritius and other tax havens
Officials from countries in Africa and Southeast Asia told ICIJ that tax treaties signed with Mauritius had cost them greatly and that renegotiating them was a priority

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Africa, Economy