11 February 2023

South Africa: A famous musician and a friend of his were murdered in Durban “on their way to a nightclub for a performance as part of Forbes' birthday celebrations”. The rapper Kiernan Forbes was mostly known as AKA. The motive of the killing is not clear. The two were approached by two armed men when walking to their car and shot from close range. According to estimations of the NGO Gun Free South Africa, 30 people are murdered daily with guns in South Africa.

10 February 2023

South Africa: By declaring a state of disaster, Ramaphosa has given his government additional powers to deal with the power outages. In his annual state of the nation address, he also “extended the relief funding which is earned by more than eight million unemployed South Africans”.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2023. 4:35

Forests: Intact forest landscapes (IFLs) are essential for conservation. They have shrunk by 7.2% or 1.5m km² in the new millennium. Agriculture is responsible for about 40% of this IFL loss. For the rest, it is mainly global supply chains, with commodities “primarily extracted from Russia, Canada and tropical regions” and destined mainly for the European Union, the United States of America and China. Mining products, oil and gas are the main but by no means only culprits. Note that “the intrusion of logging and mining into relatively small areas can degrade and fragment a forest, greatly damaging the ecosystem’s health and accelerating its destruction by making it easier for people to access what remains” where the “establishment of roads, exploration trails and electricity transmission lines often precedes the complete destruction of forests.”

Conserving the common and ordinary: Conservation tends to focus on the exceptional & rare and to forget about the common & abundant. But some animals and plants that have once been overabundant have become extinct, e.g., North America’s passenger pigeons that were once most the numerous amongst the world’s birds. The real “mark of a species in trouble is not rarity, but rate of decline”. And conservation is not only about safeguarding against extinction: “shifts in abundance of common species can translate into sizeable shifts in ecosystem functioning”. The article focuses on North America, but applies worldwide.

Pulses: Today Friday being the “World Pulses Day”, the article draws our attention to the importance yet underutilisation of pulses, concentrating on African yam beans, common beans, peas, chickpeas and lupins. All of them rich in proteins, they could and should be used much more to diversify our food and they could help achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.

Ghana’s parties: Voters seem to be “tired of the three-decade two-horse race between the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party”. There is in fact a third, socialist, the Nkrumahist political tradition in the country. But will it be able to “rise to the call by Ghana’s electorate”? The Convention Peoples Party and the People’s National Convention have kept splitting and splintering – starting in 1949 when Nkrumah himself and “some members of the United Gold Coast Convention youth wing rebelled (against the United Gold Coast Convention) to form the Convention Peoples Party”. The article gives a brief overview and identifies three main reasons: personality cult; political opportunism and patronage by some leading party members; ethnocentrism (the People’s National Convention being thought exclusively northern).

South Africa Pre-Colonial: A 500-year-old medicine container – a cow horn with remnants of a once-liquid substance – was discovered in a painted rock-shelter in Eastern Cape in 2020. This find for the first time provides information about medicine used around the 16th century, even if it is neither clear who used it (San/hunter-gatherers and Khoi/pastoralists are known to have lived in the region then) nor what it was used for.

Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali: The three countries have agreed to join their efforts for the lifting of Ecowas’ and AU’s “suspension measures and other restrictions”.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2023. 9:07

Ethiopia: A breakaway faction of the Orthodox Church (the country’s largest religious denomination) accuses “the church of maintaining a system of linguistic and cultural hegemony in which congregations in Oromia are not served in their native languages” and has named dissident bishops for the concerned areas. The synod has planned protest rallies, accusing the government of backing the breakaway faction and wants to maintain the rallies despite the authorities banning them. The government then closed schools for today Friday and limited access to social media and messaging platforms, with Facebook, Messenger, Telegram and TikTok concerned.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2023. 8:23
In the meantime, a court in Addis Ababa has banned the breakaway clergy and the bishops nominated by them from entering churches, the main church having introduced a petition to that effect. And the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (government affiliated) has “accused security forces of using excessive force against followers of the main Church”, saying at least eight had been killed in Shashemene town (Oromia).
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2023. 16:26

Somalia/UK: Somalia had closed its embassy in London in 1991 following the demise of central government. After 32 years, it reopened its embassy in a ceremony yesterday. The UK also closed its embassy in Mogadishu in 1991 but reopened it after only 22 years in 2013. The UK’s Somali diaspora community comes to nearly 500,000.
BBC Africa Live 10 February 2023. 14:54