For some years now, certain videos posted on Facebook, Algerians’ preferred social network, have been causing a sensation here: They show groups of young Algerians brandishing smartphones and singing, taking videos of one another as they laugh, looking at once happy and worried. Over time, more and more young women and small children appear among them. Diversity may be frowned upon throughout the country, but it reigns, apparently, on the little vessels that ferry illegal migrants away.
Category Archives: Africa
On a winter evening in Tahrir Square, young skateboarders were practising their moves in front of the huge Soviet-style Mogamma building. Nonchalant policemen and couples of all ages watched, and nobody seemed to notice the dust and the deafening traffic, scourges of life in Cairo that no revolution has ever tackled.
It felt like a long time since 2011, when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians crowded into this vast square in the ‘January revolution’, demanding the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s regime and ‘Bread, freedom, and social justice!’ In 2013 at least as many gathered again in Tahrir to call for the departure of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, whom they had democratically elected president; in a military coup backed by a section of Egyptian society, the army regained control on 30 June (1). A fledgling pro-Morsi resistance was crushed, and around a thousand people died, on 14 August in Cairo’s Rabaa Square. Thousands of arrests followed. In June 2014 Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi became president with 97% of the vote.
A cross section of Africa’s most powerful people gathered in Kigali this week to sell a dream – and sell it hard.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who revelled in his role as host of this extraordinary African Union (AU) summit, described this dream as “among the most consequential actions that this Assembly has ever taken”. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said that anyone who did not support it was a “criminal”. South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa invoked not one but three liberation heroes to underscore the significance of the moment:
“This is probably just as important as the formation of Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This is what Kwame Nkrumah dreamt of, what Julius Nyerere wanted to see, what Nelson Mandela wanted to see realised. It’s truly a new dawn for Africa,” he said.
The presidents were speaking, of course, about the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a landmark trade deal that would create a single market from the Cape to Cairo, and from Djibouti to Dakar.
Which country, due to hold a presidential election next month, is led by an autocrat who, having eliminated any serious competition, is basically running against himself?
Hints: A political analyst in that country has said, as a reminder of the deliberate ineffectiveness of electoral competitors, “Some figures are allowed in, like backup dancers.” Indeed, the most serious challenger to the incumbent president has been barred from contesting the election, which denies him a platform to broadcast accusations of corruption that could involve the president.
The State of the Nation address (Sona) on Friday February 16, given by South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, heralds a new dawn for South Africa. After a decade of maladministration, venal politics, corruption and the wrecking of a number of important state institutions, any alternative would have filled South Africans with optimism.
But there is little doubt that, even if we are dealing with the same party, the leadership, determination and discipline that Ramaphosa will bring to South African politics will be very different indeed to that which we have become depressingly accustomed over the last decade.
South Africa is in the grip of political uncertainty. That President Jacob Zuma will go before the official end of his tenure after national elections next year is inevitable. But when, how, and at what cost to the ANC and the country?
In 1994 the world, and particularly African countries, looked to South Africa to provide ethical leadership after the end of apartheid. This was boldly depicted in the “African Renaissance” – the cultural, scientific and economic renewal of the continent championed by former President Thabo Mbeki.
All the trappings of official ceremony were observed.
On a stage in Uhuru Park in Nairobi, a man in a colonial-era wig administered the oath of office to Raila Odinga, who placed his hand on a Bible as he solemnly swore to truly and diligently serve the people and uphold the Constitution of the Republic.
“Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya,” said Odinga, as a crowd of more than 15 000 people cheered him on.
But there’s a catch: Odinga did not win the last election. The bewigged official was not the chief justice but a partisan MP. And no matter how loud his protestations, Odinga has no legal claim to the presidency.
Male rape is being used systematically in Libya as an instrument of war and political domination by rival factions, according to multiple testimonies gathered by investigators.
Years of work by a Tunis-based group and witnessed by a journalist from Le Monde have produced harrowing reports from victims, and video footage showing men being sodomised by various objects, including rockets and broom handles.
In several instances, witnesses say a victim was thrown into a room with other prisoners, who were ordered to rape him or be killed.
The atrocity is being perpetrated to humiliate and neutralise opponents in the lawless, militia-dominated country. Male rape is such a taboo in Arab societies that the abused generally feel too damaged to rejoin political, military or civic life.
One man, Ahmed, told investigators he was detained for four years in a prison in Tomina, on the outskirts of Misrata.
“They separate you to subjugate you,” he said. “‘Subjugate the men’, that’s the expression that they use. So that you never hold your head up again. And they were filming everything with their phones.
“They take a broom and fix it on the wall. If you want to eat, you have to take off your pants, back on to the broom and not move off until the jailer sees blood flowing. Nobody can escape it.”
The ideals of the Enlightenment are the basis of our democracies and universities in the 21st century: belief in reason, science, skepticism, secularism, and equality. In fact, no other era compares with the Age of Enlightenment. Classical Antiquity is inspiring, but a world away from our modern societies. The Middle Ages was more reasonable than its reputation, but still medieval. The Renaissance was glorious, but largely because of its result: the Enlightenment. The Romantic era was a reaction to the Age of Reason – but the ideals of today’s modern states are seldom expressed in terms of romanticism and emotion. Immanuel Kant’s argument in the essay ‘Perpetual Peace’ (1795) that ‘the human race’ should work for ‘a cosmopolitan constitution’ can be seen as a precursor for the United Nations.
As the story usually goes, the Enlightenment began with René Descartes’s Discourse on the Method (1637), continuing on through John Locke, Isaac Newton, David Hume, Voltaire and Kant for around one and a half centuries, and ending with the French Revolution of 1789, or perhaps with the Reign of Terror in 1793. By the time that Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason in 1794, that era had reached its twilight. Napoleon was on the rise.
How the hell did we get this close to what will be the biggest natural disaster of the post-apartheid period and the majority of Capetonians are carrying on business as usual? Only 39% of residents are using less than 87l of water – the previous, and now surpassed, restriction (the current restriction is 50l a person). In history, it has never happened that a city the size of Cape Town has run dry. As a Canadian headline announced this week: “Cape Town at risk of becoming the first major city in the world to run out of water” (Globe & Mail).