07 February 2023

Only laugh at other people’s misfortunes when you're dead
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 4:31 Proverb of the day. A Shona proverb sent by Tanaka Bolton-Grant in Kadoma, Zimbabwe.

Tanzania: Since taking over from Magufuli, Samia Suluhu Hassan had conducted affairs with “skill and tact”, reversing many of her predecessor’s policies. She is very popular and will, as things stand, go into the 2025 elections as the clear favourite. A new constitution now seems to be on the agenda, or at least changes to the constitution. So far, opinions about what a new constitution should look like differ greatly. The President has said that her prime worry is the economy. “But it would not be surprising to see her meet the opposition halfway on their demands for a new constitution.”

Donkeys: It strengthens the blood, stops bleeding and improves the quality of both vital fluids and sleep. That is the Chinese belief that generates high demand for ejiao which is made from collagen extracted from donkey hides and mixed with herbs and other ingredients. Between 2013 and 2020, the market in China has more than doubled to 7.8 billion USD. Demand for ejiao has led to shortages first in China and then in Africa, where about two thirds of the world’s donkey population live. Donkeys are of great economic importance especially for poor households. Illicit as well as legal trade have pushed up prices and reduced numbers of available donkeys. Bans are an obvious solution – an Africa-wide moratorium for 15 years “to allow supply to recover and regulatory capacity to be enhanced” would be ideal – even if enforcement is a problem for many a country.

South Africa: With “a growing ecosystem of organised crime overwhelming the state and public life in the country”, where even the healthcare and education sectors are not spared, some are asking whether South Africa is becoming a mafia state. Jacob Zuma’s state capture illustrates this. What makes fighting against the crime-politics nexus so difficult is that it is “being deliberately sustained through the collusion of influential actors within the state” and that, on the other hand, worsening socio-economic conditions prepare the ground for ordinary people to get involved in organised crime.

Reasons for joining terrorist groups: Religion is by no means the main reason for joining, poverty is. That is the result of a UNDP report – an enlarged update of the 2017 report “Journey to Extremism in Africa. Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagement”. The updated report, which is based on more than 2,000 interviews in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan, can be downloaded at https://journey-to-extremism.undp.org/v2/en/publications.
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 5:52

Malawi: Yesterday Monday, a high court has lifted Ms Chizuma's suspension at the head of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau. An official who had felt hurt by remarks in a leaked audio recording about high placed officials hindering the fight against corruption had sued her and had obtained her suspension. The country’s President has called “the recording and the circulation of the audio (…) ‘corruption fighting back’.”
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 4:33

Ethiopia/Eritrea: According to the TPLF, small units of the Eritrean army are still present in Tigray, demanding that “this should be addressed fully”. In a meeting with the Prime minister last week, the deployment of federal forces in areas bordering Eritrea was agreed for security reasons.
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 10:37

Congo-Kinshasa: A second day of demonstrations in Goma (east of the country) has seen two demonstrators die after violent clashes with security forces. “The demonstrators accuse the UN and the East African Regional Force of failing to support the Congolese military operations against the M23 rebel group.”
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 8:52

Gambia: If President Barrow does not, as he claims, shield his predecessor Jammeh plus accomplices, he for sure is dragging his feet. It is only now – six years into his rule – that he discovers that a special court needs to be set up to deal with crimes (e.g., 250 murders) committed by or under his predecessor.
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 17:03

Zambia: Freedom of assembly and association? Harassment of the opposition? Chishimba Kambwili, information minister under the former president, has been arrested because of “holding an unlawful assembly” at his home – youths protesting against high living costs had gathered outside his house. He and co-accused activist Charles Kakula were both freed today Tuesday. Police said they had caused “other persons to reasonably fear for the breach of public peace”.
BBC Africa Live 07 February 2023. 15:58

06 February 2023

Seychelles: The Aldabra Atoll a long way south of the inhabited Seychelles islands is a Unesco world heritage site. Plastic waste deposited on its shores is a major threat to erstwhile untouched biodiversity. E.g., “the likelihood of coral disease increases from 4% to 89% when coral are in contact with plastic“. As the article’s authors’ research found, none of the waste comes from other Seychelles islands; instead, lots come from Indonesia and also from India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines – mostly between February and April when winds are favourable for plastic waste disposal on Aldabra beaches. But even more than these far off countries, the fishing industry has been found to be the main (83%) source of the plastic waste on Aldabra beaches. Negotiations for a global plastic treaty tackling plastic pollution are only just starting. Something needs to be done before it can eventually become effective. For Aldabra, a plastic clean-up operation conducted by the Seychelles Islands Foundation in 2019 removed about 25 tonnes of plastic waste. But 500 tonnes remain – their removal may cost 5m USD.

Guinea worm eradication: They were once 3.5 million every year. In 2022, only twelve cases were recorded in the whole world, so Guinea worm is almost gone and could become the second human disease (after smallpox) to be eradicated. But the final step is not easy and needs patience and vigilance. Guinea worms “live in ponds, rivers and creeks all across Africa but are mostly endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.” Drinking water contaminated with copepods (tiny crustaceans) infected with worm larvae is what mostly gets humans infected. A year after infection, the female pregnant worm need to get out and into water to expel her larvae – to do so, she “burrow(s) out through an incredibly painful blister in a process that can take weeks”. There are no vaccines, no medication – you can only treat the wound and extract the worm slowly over weeks of intense pain. Prevention comes in two forms: get people to only drink clean water by equipping them with filtration cloths, filters, chemical water treatments; and stop them from putting their blistered foot into water, thus interrupting the cycle. The challenge for eradication lies in doing this to remaining hidden water sources and also for nomadic and very remote communities.

Mali: The head of the human rights division of the UN peacekeeping mission has been given 48 hours to leave the country. He had allegedly “committed ‘subversive actions’ in his selection of witnesses to testify at UN Security Council briefings on Mali.”
BBC Africa Live 06 February 2023. 4:33

Music of the Afro-Indian Siddi: The Siddi, who now live mainly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana, were brought from Kenya between the 13th and the 15th centuries. The article is about their creole practices, dances and music called “Dhamaal”, a mixing of ancestral African Muslim and Indian practices. A video of 14’45’’ about Dhamaal by the article’s author can be watched on https://youtu.be/DaEnwQoGFzE.

South Africa & Cannabis: Apartheid’s 1971 anti-drug law was extremely tough. It treated cannabis like stronger and harmful other drugs. Though it was mainly trying to prevent drug use by white youths, it proved harshest on blacks. The post-apartheid’s 1992 Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act continued more or less as before. It was only “(i)n 2017 and 2018 (that) the government’s cannabis policy was successfully challenged in the courts, on grounds of cultural and religious freedom.” This opened up possibilities for commercialising cannabis – but it is unlikely to benefit small black farmers who “now face losing out to corporate interests and the wealthy.”

Floods in Nigeria and Ghana: They have similar reasons: added to “unplanned urbanisation, inadequate drainage systems and waste management and poor physical planning” come increased rains because of climate change. While Nigeria has no concrete policy on flooding nor a national flood risk management framework, Ghana’s laws and policies in that respect are inadequate and poorly implemented. To reduce flood risk, the two countries could cooperate, in terms of research and also in developing the assessment of risks, of reporting procedures and monitoring and warning services.

Ethiopia: More than 3 million in the SNNP region (Southern Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and People’s region) are called to vote in a referendum whether or not to establish a new “Southern Ethiopia region”. Two previous such referendums have led to the formation of Sidama respectively South-Western Ethiopia regions.
BBC Africa Live 06 February 2023. 8:14

Somaliland: There has been fighting between the army and a militia in the city of Las Anod. This is happening while Somaliland ministers and traditional leaders in Las Anod are trying “to resolve ongoing tensions between the government and the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn communities”.
BBC Africa Live 06 February 2023. 13:31