12 August 2022

Senegal/Artisanal Gold Mining: A Guardian picture essay about trying to survive on the meagre earnings from searching for gold in Kédougou in the country’s south-east.

South Africa: 20 alleged instigators of the July 2021 riots (which “erupted” after the jailing of Jacob Zuma, killed around 350 and caused massive destruction) have been arrested by police in six different provinces “in an operation which relied on extensive trawls through social media posts to pinpoint suspected agitators”.
BBC Africa Live 12 August 2022. 6:35

Tunisia/Women: Passing (top-down) reforms to improve women’s legal status, the country’s ruler from 1957 to 1987, Bourguiba, was the leading proponent of state feminism. But was he really “the emancipator and liberator of Tunisian women” that he is thought to have been? In 1958 he created the National Union of Tunisian Women – at the same time dissolving or marginalising other/autonomous women’s unions from before independence, thereby killing the grassroots movement and pushing independent feminists into oblivion. Beyond its liberating aspects, his feminism was partly conservative – reinforcing “women’s traditional roles as wives, mothers and guardians of Islamic tradition in his speeches”. To break with state tutelage, an autonomous feminist movement finally (re)emerged in the 1980s.

Botswana: After Switzerland and eSwatini, Botswana has become the third country worldwide to attain and surpass the UN’s 95-95-95 HIV goal “with 95% of the population being aware of their HIV status, 98% of those on treatment, and 98% virally supressed”. The article explains how the country managed to do it. But prevalence is still high at 20.8% (women: 26.2%) – the fourth highest after Eswatini, Lesotho, and South Africa. So fighting HIV-Aids is by no means over yet.

Eritrea/Ethiopia: In the Tigray war, Eritrean refugees – around 100,000 of whom lived in Tigray prior to the war – “have been attacked by nearly all fighting groups”, partly in a specifically targeted way. They were attacked by Ethiopian Defence Forces and Eritrean troops allied to them, Tigrayan groups, Amharan militia, etc. This was a total reversal from the security that Ethiopia had been able to provide the refugees before the war. The article’s author seems to have little hope that the refugees’ situation in Ethiopia could improve in the short run.

South Africa’s need for decency: The Marikana miners were on strike because the not only wanted living wages – they wanted “decent wages”. This was denied them with utmost brutality. To this day, none of the police and security officers who killed the miners during the Marikana massacre have been prosecuted. According to the article’s author – who will deliver his professorial inaugural lecture at the department of Theology at Stellenbosch University on 16th of August, the 10th anniversary of the massacre, “decency” is needed: “people behaving decently amid the indecencies of society”. He calls such people “saints”.

South Africa/Nutrition: Although the right to food is guaranteed by the constitution, many do not have access to enough nutritious food for a healthy and productive life, with child stunting affecting 27% of under-five year-olds and obesity (also results from lack of access to the right kinds of nutritious food), overweight and diabetes (now the leading cause of death among women) rates increasing. The right to food has been successfully litigated in a landmark case in 2020 “which helps flesh out what the constitutional right to food means in practice in South Africa.” The article details what follows from the court’s decision, first of all that “the right to basic nutrition for children is unqualified” which means that “realisation of the right depending on the government’s available resources – which usually applies to other social economic rights in the constitution and the right to food for adults – does not apply here” – the government simply “has an obligation to ensure the immediate fulfilment” of this right.

Somaliland: Two opposition parties had “called for demonstrations to pressure the government not to delay elections scheduled for November”. Violent clashes then caused at least 3 deaths. According to the police, several people including police officers had been hurt and arrests had been made.
BBC Africa Live 12 August 2022. 9:16

Cameroon: Human Rights Watch in a report accuses government troops “of ‘killings’, ‘arbitrary detentions’ as well as ‘looting’ of villages and health centres in the North-West region”
BBC Africa Live 12 August 2022. 9:45

Ethiopia: Prime minister Abiy has announced that Ethiopia has finished the third year’s filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd). “As the height of the dam wall is built up over the years, the volume of water held behind it increases.”
BBC Africa Live 12 August 2022. 12:17

11 August 2022

Sierra Leone: Violence has erupted during protests “against the high cost of living, corruption and police brutality” – these protests, in several parts of the country, started on Monday. On Wednesday, “some protesters and policemen were killed”. President Bio is currently out of the country – it was Vice-President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who declared a night curfew yesterday Wednesday. Politics seem to be part of the protests: some protesters demand the resignation of the president, others that he must not seek re-election next year. Protests continued today Thursday. According to Reuters, 21 civilians were killed, according to police, “dozens of civilians and six police officers” have died during the protests. Meanwhile, President Bio is back in the country. Around 130 are reported to have been arrested in connection with the protests.
BBC Africa Live 11 August 2022. 6:36
BBC Africa Live 11 August 2022. 16:36
BBC Africa Live 11 August 2022. 19:16

BRICS: An alternative to the Global North? “Could an expanded BRICS really emerge as an alternate power bloc?” Besides Argentina and Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Senegal and Thailand are thought to be possible additional members. But – besides being regional hegemons – do the BRICS countries have enough in common? The wish to weigh more on the global stage does provide common ground. But the challenge to the now existing global system is not for tomorrow – though it looks unavoidable, given Covid and the Ukraine war etc.