03 December 2021

A cat in her house has the teeth of a lion
BBC Africa Live 03 December 2021. African proverb of the day. A Somali proverb sent by Mohamed Mursal in Jigjiga, Ethiopia.

GBV in parliament: According to a report by the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the African Parliamentary Union (APU), 40% of women members of parliament have experienced sexual harassment and 23% physical violence at work, most of it in parliament and mostly from male MPs.
BBC Africa Live 03 December 2021. 15:47

Kenya: Millions of animals – livestock and wildlife – have perished in Northern Kenya due to the worst drought in a decade after three consecutive seasons of poor rains. “Drought conditions in the region as well as much of Somalia and southern Ethiopia are predicted to persist until at least mid-next year.” 26 million people are estimated to be “struggling to get food”.
BBC Africa Live 03 December 2021. 12:09

Chad: Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno now is a five-star general instead of a four-star lieutenant general. “Only his father had the rank of a five-star military general before his death.”
BBC Africa Live 03 December 2021. 6:46

Pan-Africanism/Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe: An introduction into Pan-Africanism with special reference to the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, the South African Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (1924-78). An article questioning also the African Union’s Pan-Africanism – seen its cult of sovereignty of their nationalism. Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe would have turned 97 on 5th of December.

Pan-Africanism/Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe: On the occasion of the publication of a book with South African Pan-Africanist Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe’s letters, the article reflects about the life and suffering of the organizer, in 1960, of the march against the pass laws that led to the Sharpeville massacre – a watershed moment in the country’s history. Condemned to 3 years imprisonment and transferred to Robben Island, where he was kept in solitary confinement, the Apartheid regime was not happy about liberating him and passed a law, the “Sobukwe Clause”, that let the Minister of Justice prolong his detention year after year – a law never used against anyone apart from Sobukwe. After being freed in 1969, he was kept under surveillance in Kimberley, far away from everything and repeatedly refused allowance “to leave the country to take up job offers he had received from the United States” as well as “obstructed (…) to get the medical treatments that he needed” – he died of lung cancer in February 1978, aged 53.

Sudan: Promising to collaborate with reinstated Prime minister Hamdok, the military and coup leader al-Burhan has called on the UN to support the transitional government. In the face of continuing mass protests against the military leaders, the UN Secretary General has called for support for the Hamdok government – “although the situation was not perfect, it was a step towards democracy”.

Ethiopia: Genocide Watch and Early Warning Project ranked Ethiopia in the highest risk category prior to the outbreak of mass atrocities, while Peoples Under Threat and Atrocity Forecasting Project recognized risks without considering it amongst the countries most at risk. But such risk assessment over-predicts risk (there will not be outbreaks of atrocities in all countries at risk) and it is imprecise (when will atrocities happen?). With Ethiopia, despite risk being recognized, “the scope and severity of the crisis has caught many by surprise”.

Mozambique: An old man accused by a traditional doctor of being a sorcerer has been lynched and burnt to death in Zavala in southern Inhambane province. Four perpetrators have been charged with the crime. “One of the heads of the Association of Traditional Doctors of Mozambique, in the district of Zavala, has also been indicted for the crime of exposing an elderly person to danger.”
BBC Africa Live 03 December 2021. 11:20

South Africa: A court has allowed Shell to go ahead with a 5-month seismic survey, dismissing an urgent application of an environmental group to stop exploration off the “Wild Coast” (east of the country) because it would damage wild life. Another group of activists has already launched another court case against Shell.
BBC Africa Live 03 December 2021. 10:02

02 December 2021

Burkina Faso: On a visit to the country, Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, urged “investigations into human rights violations” yesterday Wednesday and bringing the violators to justice. Furthermore, “(s)he opened a UN rights office in the capital Ouagadougou”.
BBC Africa Live 02 December 2021. 12:27

Roads & ecosystems: The article presents the results of a literature review about reported impact of road construction on the environment. “(T)he reported effects of roads were usually related to land cover (change in type or degradation) and biodiversity (impacts on species composition or distribution).” Access to previously inaccessible land may open it up to agriculture and logging. In future, attention should focus on roads’ design and construction phases and especially on avoiding areas of high ecological value.

Uganda/small scale agriculture: The article challenges the generally accepted view that small farms are more productive than big ones. Though it is true that they obtain higher yields (output per unit of land), this is not the case for “total factor productivity” – output in relation to all inputs: land, labour, tools. Then, bigger farms tend to be better than small ones. According to the authors, the main reason for this is access to markets and stronger property rights. The authors’ recommendations, starting with better development of markets, sound a bit vague.

South Africa’s invasive marine species: 95 marine alien species have been identified along the country’s coast. They enter through one of the 8 major maritime ports and 23 marinas and yacht clubs. Amongst them are the “fouling agents” which attach to surfaces like vessels’ hulls, jetties, mariculture rafts and rocks. They threaten ecosystems, habitats or species and engender costs for cleaning hulls and infrastructure and repairing clogged pipes and damaged systems. Prevention and thus monitoring is necessary: “The Convention for Biodiversity (…) requires the prevention of alien species introduction and the control or eradication of already introduced aliens”.

Congo-Kinshasa: To curb taxi kidnappings, two women have developed a mobile app to keep taxi users safe. Users of Hoja app scan a QR code on the taxi to get information about the driver. In Kinshasa, incidents have been reduces from 5 a week to 5 a month – but the short article does not state whether this is (solely) due to Hoja app.
BBC Africa Live 02 December 2021. 9:51

Private military security: It has been a bit of a fashion of late (Mozambique, Central African Republic, Mali), but it must not become the norm: “Outsourcing government security requirements to private entities or security operators presents a serious challenge for Africa’s security.” Beyond the state level, there are the AU Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa and also the UN International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries to think of. Mercenaries escape the “accountability and responsibilities that typically apply to a country’s armed forces”.