12 October 2021

Andrew Watson: At the end of the 19th century, he was to make the game of football change forever. “Andrew Watson captained Scotland to a 6-1 win over England on his debut in 1881.” Born in 1856 in Georgetown, Demerara, nowadays the capital of Guyana, he was a descendent of slaves and slave traders, rich, educated in the best of British schools, he went on to teach England a better way of playing football. But he was as good as forgotten when he retired from sports in 1888 or 1889. Was that whitewashing English football? He died in 1921, his grave is in Richmond Cemetery, in south-west London.

Architecture: 12 – or really 13 – examples of outstanding architecture across Africa, old and new, mainly photographs, little explanation. From the recently published Architectural Guide Sub-Saharan Africa (7 volumes).

Guinea/Ebola 2014-16: Unlike Liberia and Sierra Leone, Guinea downplayed the Ebola epidemic 2014-16. President Alpha Condé’s insisting that his country had everything under control was to calm investors, thus prioritising politico-economic health over the health of his citizens. The US-Africa Leaders Summit held of August 2014 was considered essential for attracting investment in the country’s mining sector. It was only after this summit that a national health emergency was declared – months after the outbreak of the epidemic. The delay “contributed to growing infection rates and deaths in the country”. But it helped Condé plunder the country’s wealth, his relations with investors creating “a stronger patrimonial network and tighter personal and familial control over the country’s mining interests”.

Plastic pollution: “(B)y 2060 eight African countries will be in the top 10 nations with the highest plastic waste generation rates”. To dispose of plastic waste, Africa first needs data – research needs to be done in international networks.
For estimates for mismanaged plastic waste in countries with a sea-coast world-wide in 2010 see https://slacc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/10.-Jambeck2015.pdf

Malaria vaccine: The RTS,S vaccine is a great step forward, but it is no panacea, it needs to be used alongside other prevention methods (first of all bed nets). RTS,S comes with a number of shortcomings, first of all that it is best suited to very small children (5-17 months old), that it needs three (ideally four) doses and that it is effective only against plasmodium falciparum – the deadliest and most common form of malaria in Africa, but there are four others.

Abdulrazak Gurnah: An appraisal of the work of this year’s winner of the Nobel prize for literature by Tina Steiner, Associate Professor in the English Department at Stellenbosch University.

South Africa/gang violence: Gang members, “‘emasculated’ by poverty”, “think they have no options except violence to prove that they are ‘real’ men in their communities”, thereby eradicating “all traces of femininity or weakness within them”. Women and girls suffer – rape is used by gang members to assert their masculinity or the gang’s dominance over a territory. The article is a summary of the study, The Interconnection between Youth Gangs, Toxic Masculinity and Gender Based Violence in South Africa, which is a chapter in the book Negotiating Patriarchy and Gender in Africa: Discourses, Practices, and Policies.

eSwatini: After weeks of protests by students, police and the army have been deployed in schools throughout the country. It would certainly not be the first time that the king uses “violence to clamp down against political dissent”.
BBC Africa Live 12 October 2021. 15:02

Somalia/Kenya: “The International Court of Justice has ruled largely in favour of Somalia in its dispute with Kenya” over a 100,000km2 triangle off the coast, a ruling that is important for the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the concerned zone.
BBC Africa Live 12 October 2021. 14:45

11 October 2021

South Africa & teenage pregnancies: Focussing on reproductive justice would be better than trying to prevent early reproduction. The right not to have a child: information about abortion – girls do not need their parents’ consent – is not easily available; also, access to contraception – girls do not need their parents’ consent – is often difficult; sexual violence and sexual coercion abounds at school; the comprehensive sexuality education on offer in schools is often unhelpful (as are teachers), does not address the youths’ real context. The right to have a child: “Teenage mothers are seen as ‘illegitimate’ reproductive subjects” – even if the reasons given (obstetric complications, curtailed career prospects, etc.) held and there is some doubt about that, this is unhelpful; with teenage pregnancies to be “prevented at all costs means that they don’t get the healthcare they need”, partly because they hesitate to turn to professionals, being reluctant to face reprobation of antenatal clinic staff. The right to be a parent in a safe and healthy environment: Teenage pregnancies happen more in poor contexts often lacking other perspectives, so childbearing may offer a meaningful perspective; stigma and social pressure make many pregnant learners leave school: “Few arrangements to cover maternity leave, arrange on-site childcare, and enable breastfeeding are ever made.”

Uganda: Treason charges dating back to 2016 have been dropped against Kizza Besigye who, before Bobi Wine, used to be Museveni’s main political rival and has contested four presidential elections.
BBC Africa Live 11 October 2021. 10:18

Ethiopia: According to the TPLF, federal troops plus their allies “have launched coordinated attacks on all fronts”, using drones, fighter jets, tanks and heavy artillery.
BBC Africa Live 11 October 2021. 11:18

Somalia: After 14 years of presence of its troops in the country, the African Union “wants to extend and expand its military operation” there. The government and the UN yet need to endorse the plan. In future, Ethiopian and Kenyan contributions to the AU force may have to be at least partly replaced by those from other countries.
BBC Africa Live 11 October 2021. 12:53

Mozambique: Mariano Nhongo, leader of a Renamo breakaway faction, has been killed in his forest hide-out in Sofala province in a battle with government troops.
BBC Africa Live 11 October 2021. 15:42