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.”

24 February 2022

South Africa/Theatre: From 2017 onwards, the play-dance “What Remains” has conquered South African stages. A century-old cemetery, uncovered by accident, where thousands of slaves were buried, has people react in a multitude of ways to this past rarely remembered. Property developers, for one, just want to continue constructing, archaeologists want to learn all they can from the remains, slave descendants want to (re)bury the dead…

Somalia: With international pressure running high to hold elections quickly, “there are widespread allegations of vote-buying, bribery, intimidation and violent coercion”. From the start, the Somali people had been disenfranchised as the ongoing elections are indirect. Faced with drought, Covid and insecurity/Al-Shabaab, quick elections may be the safest bet. If the deadline is extended by one month, this seems possible – the 54 members of the Senate have already been elected while 105 of the 275 members of the lower house of parliament remain to be elected.

Mining: big vs small/Congo-Kinshasa: According to research of the article’s author in South-Kivu, artisanal and small-scale mining makes a much bigger contribution to development than generally thought. The total priority given to large-scale industrial mining does not seem to be justified. With 10 million estimated to be making a living from artisanal and small-scale mining in Africa, this is important news beyond Congo-Kinshasa.

Namibia: Ten – the ‘Fishrot 10’ – “stand accused of bribery and corruption for siphoning off millions of dollars from Namibia’s fishing industry”, a former fisheries minister, a former justice minister, a former board chairman and an ex-CEO of FISHCOR (the state’s fishing company), 5 other senior officials or business executives and a lawyer. The affair blew up in 2019 and has seriously damaged ruling SWAPO. The article draws parallels with South Africa – Namibia’s Fishrot state looting here, Zuma’s and the Guptas’ state capture there…

Sudan : According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 115 of 139 people arrested for protesting against the October coup d’état have been set free. He called on authorities to stop firing live ammunition and tear gas. But more tear gas was fired against demonstrators today Thursday.
BBC Africa Live 24 February 2022. 16:38