26 February 2022

Global food prices: With Russia and Ukraine both major producers and exporters of wheat, the already high global food prices are suffering more upward pressure because of the war. This will affect African importers.

African Fish stocks: Small-scale fishers’ income has reduced by up to 40% over the last decade. African countries must do more to protect them from international competitions. Fishery agreements with the EU are exploitative and favour the Europeans – the revenue that accrues to African states is significantly less than the value of species removed. Then there are illegal fishing activities by European vessels – which the EU is unwilling to do anything against. The article goes on to make suggestions what African states can do to improve matters.

25 February 2022

Mauritius: The USA in 1958 identified Diego Garcia as an ideal location for a military base – ideal because of its specific location in the north of the Indian Ocean and also because there were relatively few people living there that could easily be moved elsewhere. In 1960, US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara first talked about it to the British Minister of Defence Peter Thorneycroft. The US interest prompted the UK to detach the Chagos Islands from Mauritius – though this was unlawful and went against a UN resolution and the UN charter. “In 1965, in what became known as the Lancaster House Agreement, Mauritius was granted independence on the condition that it relinquish the Chagos Islands to Britain.” A year later, a UK-US-agreement in the form of an Exchange of Notes (no treaty so that the parliaments of the two countries need not be involved) leased the Chagos Islands to the US for 50 years extendable for another 20 years. The 50 years coming to an end in 2016, the extension of the lease is now valid until 2036. The forced eviction of the almost 2,000 Chagossians then happened between 1967 and 1973 and resorted to threats and coercion.

DNA offers new insights about ancient Africans: Heat and humidity degrade DNA and that is why there is no really ancient DNA. But since DNA carries genetic legacies reaching far back, DNA of individuals who had lived 18,000-400 years ago can be used to discover how Africans interacted in the last 50,000 to 80,000 years. The main results of the article’s authors’ research are that, from around 50,000 years ago, people moved “long distances and (had) children with people located far away from where they were born.” But from around 20,000 years ago, this moving around stopped and people lived more locally – it is not clear why, perhaps that “(c)hanging environments as the last Ice Age peaked and waned between about 26,000-11,500 years ago may have made it more economical to forage closer to home, or perhaps elaborate exchange networks reduced the need for people to travel with objects.”