25 October 2022

We appreciate the flowers after eating their fruit
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 5:53. Proverb of the day. A Shona proverb from Zimbabwe sent by Naomi Chareka in Dubai, the UAE.

African cities/Heat reduction: Exposure to dangerous heat in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the highest world-wide. The situation is worsened by a “shortage of basic services and infrastructure, (…) low-quality housing, poor socio-economic conditions and few green spaces in slums and informal settlements”. The poor, of course, have less means to protect themselves from the heat. Green spaces become all the more important “especially in vulnerable urban areas such as informal settlements”. Vertical greening can also contribute to heat reduction – and has the additional advantage of providing healthy food (vegetables). “Up to 2.88℃ maximum (indoor air) temperature and 0.7℃ minimum (indoor air) temperature reductions were recorded” during the author’s experiments and “(w)all temperature reduced by as much as 5°C”.

Sudan: On the anniversary of last year’s coup d’état, ahead of planned mass protests, the authorities have closed major roads and bridges in Khartoum. More than 100 protesters have been killed over the last year. While Washington yesterday Monday said it “could sanction those undermining the transition to civilian rule”, the military seem nowhere near abandoning power.
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 9:32

Chad: Let us hope that the 7 days of national mourning will not be all that the junta has to offer for the 50 dead who had protested and demanded a return to civilian rule. General Mahamat Idriss Déby’s bellicosity in what he had to say about a “well-prepared insurrection” and the “support of foreign powers” for the protesters makes us fear the worst.
The Geneva-based World Organization against Torture has accused the Chadian authorities of “summary executions and torture” at the clashes of the security forces with the protesters last Thursday.
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 5:56
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 11:10

Colonialism and plant distribution world-wide: Colonialism was the high time of species redistribution – “alien species” finding a home “beyond their native areas where they naturally evolved”, with global exchange of plant species to and from colonised parts of the world especially intense in the 19th and early 20th centuries. “This was mainly driven by botanical gardens and so-called “acclimatisation societies” which exchanged plants across the empires for science, medicine, horticulture or economic exploitation.” In Britain, there were over 100 botanical gardens and 50 acclimatisation societies, with London’s Kew Gardens the best known. Not all such “globalisation” is beneficial: invasive alien species have caused many a problem.

Ghana/Christian Nationalism: Religion has so far not played an important role in Ghanaian politics. But that seems to be changing. Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have witnessed “explosive growth” recently. While of little theological depth, “Christian nationalists promote the fusion of their preferred form of Christianity and a country’s civic and political life.” As in Zambia, Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire, Christian nationalism is expanding fast in Ghana. In the name of “family values”, this is dangerous for women’s position – who are generally looked down upon – and even more dramatically for the LGBTQ+ community (a new, very tough anti-LGBTQ+ bill is currently before parliament) in passing by “the Ghana Education Service’s attempt to introduce a new sexuality education policy supported by Unesco and the UN Population Fund.” Ghana is constitutionally a secular state – but is it still secular in today’s real world also?

Kilimanjaro Fires: For tens of thousands of years, fires have “played a role in shaping the vegetation belts” on Kilimanjaro and they have in fact been “quite common in the higher areas of Kilimanjaro at the end of the dry seasons, around February to March and September to October.” But over the last decades, several big fires have “dramatically changed land cover”. The destruction of old cloud forest has, for example, more impact on the mountain’s water balance than melting glaciers as cloud forests collect fog water. With increased population pressure – agriculture entirely surrounds the mountain nowadays, making it an ecological island – and climate change, the Kilimanjaro ecosystem is becoming ever more vulnerable and very much needs protection.

24 October 2022

South Africa/State Capture: In an address to the nation, President Ramaphosa has accepted the Zondo commission’s conclusion that there was state capture under his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa said that his government would follow some of the Zondo commission’s over 300 recommendation, amongst them “criminal prosecutions of accused persons, legislative changes, as well the establishment of an anti-corruption commission”. However, Ramaphosa “was thin on detailing how his government would be implementing the commission’s findings” and “(n)o mention was made of members of his cabinet implicated in the report”. Unimagniably, the state capture revealed by the Zondo commission report is estimated to have cost South Africa more than 27 billion USD.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 5:06

Uganda/Tanzania/Oil pipeline: Economic development being their priority, the two countries are determined to go ahead with the construction of the 1,440km-Eacop-pipeline – the longest heated pipeline in the world with the heating necessary because of the “waxy nature” of the crude from Lake Albert. Construction is to start in the coming months despite concerns raised about human rights, climate change and the environment. But of course, “the continent has the right to use its fossil fuel riches to develop, just like rich nations have done for hundreds of years”, Africa having “only emitted 3% of climate-warming gases compared to 17% from EU countries”. But there is criticism of Eacop inside the two countries too, e.g. that it will “turn Uganda into a "petrol station" for Europe and China and (…) the windfall from the project will only benefit the country's elite”.

Burundi/Serbia: In June, the two countries had signed a visa-free agreement and quite a few Burundians had profited by getting to Europe visa-free, travelling on from non-EU Serbia to Romania and then on to Belgium or another rich EU country. But authorities have now put a stop to this – would be emigrants have been blocked half-way, in Turkey or Qatar. “Many sold all their properties hoping to get a life in Europe. Where do we go once back?”
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 9:30

Somalia: Kismayo, a port town in the south of the country, “had been relatively peaceful since the jihadis were driven out in 2012”. But an al-Shabab attack on a hotel now killed at least 9 and injured close to 50.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 7:17

Uganda/Ebola: As 9 more cases have been confirmed in the capital Kampala, there is concern that the present Ebola outbreak in the country – the first case was recorded over a month ago – could get out of hand. Up to now, there have been 75 confirmed cases in Uganda, 28 of them died.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 5:36

Uganda/Ebola: Whether we deal with Covid or with Ebola: “health emergencies do immediate and long-term harm to women, disproportionately”. And also: “women are essential to responding to health emergencies”. What needs to be done? As Ebola quarantines like Covid lockdowns “harm women and put an increased burden on their time and labour”, social and welfare support for vulnerable women is necessary from the outset. Community health work – essential for prevention measures but high-risk because of the exposure to the illness it implies – is mostly done by women health workers; they need protective gear. Special care must be taken so that no sexual abuse or exploitation happens under the cover of health measures. Also, statistics need to take gender aspects into account. Last but certainly not least, “women need to be involved at every level of decision-making”.

South Africa/Wits University: A 1986 – thus Apartheid time – study initiated by Wits University “revealed a disconnect between black South Africans’ perceptions of Wits and the image the administration had been attempting to convey of the university as a progressive opponent of apartheid” with most of the surveyed thinking that Wits served white, corporate interests. While staff and students are nowadays close to representative of the country at large, the article’s authors believe that another survey is necessary – it needs to ask the questions “Knowledge for whom, for what, by whom?” Particular attention needs to be paid to extractivism, to Wits having “served mining capital well over the years”. Inequality – which has in some cases worsened since the end of apartheid – needs special attention also. Is enough space accorded to marginal voices? Furthermore, do not market logic and the commodification of knowledge impinge on “independent critical thought” that Wits is so proud of furthering?

Egypt: Well-known activist and ex-MP Zyad el-Elaimy, jailed in 2020 for allegedly spreading false news, has been pardoned by al-Sisi. The country’s regime is “trying to soften its human rights image” – the “release is the latest in a recent string of political prisoners that Egypt has pardoned”, maybe in preparation of the COP27 climate summit to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh from 6th to 18th of November.
BBC Africa Live 24 October 2022. 12:07