26 January 2023

Somalia: As the “political and humanitarian catastrophe predates” Al-Shabaab’s rise, it “is a symptom rather than the cause” of the country’s troubles. The real problem is the “dominant faction of the Somali political class (… whose) agenda has been to attain power and loot the country’s resources for private gain”. This “sectarian” elite has the support of the “international community”. The article traces the roots of the problem to the late 1960s. When, in 2006, the Union of the Islamic Courts defeated the warlords, this gave rise to a short period of stability – ended after only six months, as the USA & Co “were alarmed by the possibility of an ‘Islamist’ foothold in the Horn of Africa”, so an Ethiopian invasion put an end to this and installed a “tribal-based Somali Federal Government, formed in Nairobi”. Unless there is determined pressure from inside and/or outside, it is unlikely that the political elite will change and thus, “the tragedy might fester for decades, with or without Al-Shabaab”.

Africa and evolution of humans: According to the article’s author, it could not have happened anywhere else: wildebeest and other such grazers in easter and southern Africa’s fertile savannas was what “enabled the evolutionary transformation of a relatively puny ape into a feared hunter”.

South Africa: Recently deceased Adriaan Vlok, law and order minister in apartheid-times, is just an example. Apologies are a form of symbolic reparation. According to the article’s author, “even incomplete or insincere apologies have restorative value.” They “can have value if the person apologising shows shame, or if the apology involves public humiliation.”

Ghana/Domestic debt restructuring: Domestic bondholders aren’t accepting the government’s proposal in large enough numbers to make the restructuring feasible. The article’s author sees four reasons for this: “investors face significant losses; the government’s “take-it-or-leave-it” approach; a lack of faith in the government; and the fact that there’s no sense of sharing the burden”. Domestic debt restructuring is a precondition for the IMF’s approval of a 3bn USD loan which is to help the country’s economy get out of its present dire straits.

Malawi: Despite a lot of progress in agriculture (e.g., yields have increased from 2 to 8 metric tonnes between 1990 and 2020) food insecurity remains high. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – attributable to climate change – have increased of late. “Adaptation finance is needed to develop climate-resilient infrastructure and climate-smart agricultural practices”. Locally based initiatives ought to have priority. The subsidy programme must become more efficient, turned more towards poorer households.

Nigeria: According to this ISS article, what the top three presidential candidates have to offer regarding approaches to the country’s worsened and worsening security situation is inadequate and no real departure from what’s been done so far. Whoever becomes the country’s next president “must quickly review his campaign promises and prioritise comprehensive reforms that make Nigeria safer.”

25 January 2023

Mbira for women: Stella Rambisai Chiweshe, the “queen of mbira”, singer, songwriter, musician, cultural activist, pioneering woman, educator, founder of Zimbabwe’s Chivanhu Centre (to preserve traditional music and culture) has died last Friday aged 76. Chiweshe had to defy patriarchy/her family & community – because the mbira was only played by men – and the British colonial masters who had banned the instrument because it was used for “ancestral worship (which) went against their Christian values”, so she played at “underground night ceremonies”. She made the instrument and Shona music and culture known beyond Zimbabwe’s borders.
Short video clip when she was young: https://youtu.be/6hmBDRciQl4
Video clip of 33:26 of 2020: https://youtu.be/TS_DN_R-w7c
Chachimurenga (It’s time for revolution), her most famous song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k9GM7vloIA

Congo-Kinshasa: The article describes the close relationship between football and politics. Mainly, but not only pro-regime politics. Gabriel Amisi, a close ally of Kabila and president of Kinshasa’s AS Vita Club, was in the past able to send club members “to infiltrate protests against the Kabila regime ‘and incite protesters to loot and commit violence’.” A stadium may also be a venue for political protest, e.g., for protest songs – the police know that the protest chanters are “way more numerous than them” and won’t try to do anything – but it is of course “questionable how much potential for change this carries”.

Tanzania: Opposition leader Tundu Lissu is back from exile. Since an assassination attempt in 2016, he spent almost all his time in Belgium – except for a short stint back home to participate in the 2020 presidential elections. Addressing a “massive” rally, he said that a new constitution should make it possible to control resp. lower prices of essential goods.
BBC Africa Live 25 January 2023. 17:43

Somalia/EAC: After a request by Mogadishu to join in July 2022, the East African Community has started procedures to verify Somalia’s “readiness to be admitted into the community”. After Congo-Kinshasa’s joining in 2022, Somalia would be the EAC’s eighth member.
BBC Africa Live 25 January 2023. 13:00

Rwanda/Congo-Kinshasa: A Congolese fighter jet that had allegedly violated Rwandan airspace was shot at by the Rwandan forces but was able to avoid a crash and returned to Goma airport. The two countries accuse each other of aggression. Tensions between the two are certainly escalating.
BBC Africa Live 25 January 2023. 4:40