31 May 2021

South Africa/Feminism: Wits University Press has published Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa, edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba Baderoon, the authors of this article about the book, “to show how writers in the academy, fiction-writing, journalism and the art world are grappling innovatively with essential topics”. Sounds fascinating.

Kenya/Early, unintended pregnancies: The article’s author with colleagues carried out a study to understand why so many girls continue to become pregnant so early, despite awareness of the dangers of early unintended pregnancy and knowledge of contraceptives having increased. 1,840 adolescent girls were interviewed in the two counties with the highest rates of adolescent pregnancies. “They said that they were sometimes tricked into having sex, lacked correct knowledge of contraceptives and their side effects. They also did not have trusted mentors they could confide in when it came to sexual matters.” The article gives details and figures. As a remedy, comprehensive sexuality education is absolutely essential – before the adolescents ever have sex. Access to contraceptives will also be important.

Congo-Kinshasa: Six cholera cases have been reported from a camp in Sake town in North Kivu to which people had fled fearing another eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, the volcano close to Goma. 32 had been killed in the recent eruption and hundreds of homes on the outskirts of Goma had been destroyed.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 7:59

Congo-Kinshasa: 50 or more were killed overnight in Boga and Tchabi villages in Ituri province in the country’s east, most probably by ADF who last week killed 22 or more in neighbouring North Kivu province. But there has also been violence between two ethnic groups in the region, so maybe it was not the AFD after all.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 13:34 & 12:03

Zambia: Members of the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) are said to have been arrested by police after Friday’s strike call. RDAZ “is demanding the recruitment of 500 doctors and payment of salary arrears, among other issues”. RDAZ’s president’s practicing license was suspended and he was warned that he risked arrest if he’d continue to address members via Zoom. An “insane crackdown”, as critics from the opposition call it?
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 8:43

South Africa/Art: The Gaborone-based Medu Art Ensemble proclaimed that “Culture is a weapon of Struggle”. Formed by South African cultural activists exiled after the 1976 Soweto uprising, it worked with artists from South Africa, Botswana and other countries. It was a Pan Africanist, anti-colonialist undertaking using “the creative arts – visual image, theatre, music and literature – to give voice to South Africa’s liberation struggle”. On 14th of June 1985, it was destroyed by the South African army in a cross-border raid that killed 14 people.
Apart from individual members’ work, the Ensemble was as good as forgotten – until the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019 collected and displayed Medu’s posters and published a catalogue. The article’s author, Judy Seidman, herself a member of Medu, discusses how problematic it was and is to exhibit and publish far away from the reality “far from the communities and struggles that birthed” Medu.

Rwanda/France: The article gives a historical overview of Rwandan-French relations. Has the pre-genocide push of France for democracy really furthered the propagation of anti-Tutsi genocidal ideology as the article’s author claims? “As Cold War declined in the early 1990s, France began to apply pressure on its African allies – such as Habyarimana – to democratise. In Rwanda, however, the transition from dictatorship to open political competition did not go well. Rather than peaceful mobilisation, the opening of political space helped Hutu ideological extremists loyal to Habyarimana to propagate the ideology of genocide against the Tutsis.”
As for the recent improvement in bilateral relations, with France for many Rwandans still representing “a period in their country’s history that was filled with ethnic hatreds, instability and Habyarimana’s dictatorship”, it will in the author’s opinion take time and persistent efforts to really mend these bilateral relations.

Ghana: Caleb Kudah, a journalist at Accra-based Citi TV, one of the country’s leading media houses, had been “investigating why cars purchased with public funds for distribution to transport unions had been abandoned at the premises of national security”. Security officials of the special tactics unit arrested him, manhandled and cuffed him, took him to the premises of Citi TV “intent on destroying evidence” and also arrested his colleague with whom he had shared mobile-camera videos. A similar incident had seen the special tactics unit assault voters and a sitting member of parliament during a parliamentary by-election in January 2019. The article’s author explores the roots of the problematic in early independent times, when Nkrumah – with Indian help – instituted a system that conflated policing and intelligence and totally bypassed all parliamentary control, reporting only to him.

South Sudan: With the 31 May deadline for having a unified army missed, Shiek Vitale Aligo, deputy chairman of South Sudan Civil Society Alliance, says the country’s leadership lacks political will and jeopardises the peace process.
BBC Africa Live 31 May 2021. 17:08

30 May 2021

Ethiopia: The Ethiopian government having come under big pressure internationally because of the Tigray crisis, an anti-US rally has mobilised more than 10,000 in Addis Ababa. It had been organised by the Ethiopian Youth Ministry. The mayor of Addis Ababa, one of the main speakers, was heard saying: "We will never kneel down. The preconditions and travel restrictions by the US and its allies are completely unacceptable.” Similar rallies were held in other cities, e.g. Diredawa, Harar and Gambella.

Nigeria: An unknown number of students have been kidnapped from an Islamic school in the town of Tegina in Niger State in western Nigeria today Sunday. According to a teacher, 150 are missing, others think the figure is around 200. Gunmen on motorcycles had stormed the town, firing indiscriminately. While people fled, they seized the students aged 6 to 18. 2 people were shot during the attack and 1 has since died. “There have been at least six kidnappings of students in north-west and central Nigeria since December (…) and more than 800 students and staff have been abducted.”