15 July 2022

Sorghum: World-wide, wheat, rice, maize and soybean reign supreme. Indigenous foods could make food systems more sustainable, healthy and fair. Sorghum is indigenous to Africa’s savannas – archaeologists tell us it has been in use for 8,000 years or more. But it has been neglected and production has decreased a lot. Research could help to improve yields and bring down prices. Demand could be increased by relying on the marketing potential of its health benefits and its indigenous heritage, replacing its image of “beer and the ‘drunk uncle’; and poor man’s food, ‘porridge’.” Sorghum now ranks on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste which lists “artisanal products steeped in culture, but also at risk of extinction”. In South Africa – and this certainly holds for other parts of Africa too –, a strong cultural link to sorghum subsists – it is not just “a commodity, but (…) a culturally significant food that could help build resilience in local food systems”.

Nigeria/Music: The article gives an overview from the 1922 music recording in London by Fela’s grandfather (Rev Josiah Ransome-Kuti), “regarded as the first formal effort at commercialising and ‘popularising’ Nigerian music”, to the present day. The author distinguishes four periods: juju and palm-wine music (1922-44), highlife and civil war (1945-69), Afrobeat and oil (1970-99) and Naija hip hop and Afrobeats (2000-22).

SADC/Inequality: South Africa, Namibia and Zambia are the world’s most unequal countries, eSwatini, Mozambique and Botswana are amongst the top 10 of global inequality. Oxfam, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Development Finance International (DFI) have published a report called “The Crisis of Extreme Inequality in SADC. Fighting austerity and the COVID-19 pandemic”.
BBC Africa Live 15 July 2022. 17:22
Download report: https://policy-practice.oxfam.org/resources/the-crisis-of-extreme-inequality-in-sadc-fighting-austerity-and-the-pandemic-621370/

Chad: The government has announced that the national dialogue will finally be held from 20th of August onward. The junta has recently been under increased pressure to make steps towards a return to civilian rule.
BBC Africa Live 15 July 2022. 11:33

14 July 2022

Climate Justice? Climate change is racist – simplifying a bit, you could say that rich whites make non-whites suffer by their “atmospheric colonisation”. And there is no sign of this changing. Nor of any compensation or reparation. For the future, the rich will be able to pay their way out of climate change-induced hardship while “tens of millions of people will be impoverished, displaced and hungry”.

Poverty in Africa: In 2019, ten African countries had extreme poverty rates (less than 1.90 USD per person per day) of more than 50%. In terms of regions, Central Africa was the most concerned with 54.8%, Southern Africa had 45.1%, Western Africa 36.8% and Eastern Africa 33.8%. The worst-hit countries were South Sudan with more than 80% and Burundi, Madagascar, Central African Republic and Congo-Kinshasa more than 70%. To successfully fight poverty, what is needed is an “integrated approach (…) that tackles the demographic transition, corruption, bad governance, infrastructure shortage, lack of regional trade integration and poor quality of education”.

Sahel: After discussing the different terms used for conflicts between herders and farmers and knowing that such conflicts are not single-issue matters, but much more complex, the authors of the article suggest eco-violence as the most appropriate term. They define it “as conflicts in which competition for water and agricultural resources occurs within or between social groups or state actors. Such conflicts are made worse by state failure to address resource redistribution challenges, institutional failures, and environmental and social injustice.”

Ghana: Inflation stood at 29.8% year-on-year in June – a level not reached since December 2003.
BBC Africa Live 14 July 2022. 5:04

Personhood: An anthropologist reflects on the huge differences between the “Western”/Christian concept of being a person and African religions which treat personhood in different, more nuanced ways, where rituals often mark the development of personhood and an individual may not reach full personhood until after death, when she or he becomes an ancestor.

Whiteness: A review of “Routledge Handbook in Critical Whiteness” edited by Shona Hunter and Christi van der Westhuizen. A book all the more important seen the recent “rise of the Alt-Right, neo-fascism and various forms of nationalism” and the “backlash against feminism”.

South Africa/Zondo Report: The Zondo commission has looked into the State Security Agency (SSA), had spies testifying publicly and in detail and came to the conclusion that the SSA was “integral” to Zuma’s and the Guptas’ state capture. The article’s author, an expert on the SSA, thinks that “the Zondo report is a globally significant example of radical transparency around intelligence abuses. But it lacks the detailed findings and recommendations to enable speedy prosecutions. It also fails to address the broader threats to democracy posed by unaccountable intelligence.” Also, the commission’s findings and recommendations tend to be “vague and general”. Finally, the Zondo report does not deal at all with SSA’s infiltration and surveillance of civil society and the threat to democracy that this may entail.