8 May 2021

Kenya: Despite the many difficulties that journalists face while doing their jobs (intimidation, physical or online harassment, surveillance, disappearance, threats, arbitrary arrests, assaults, and lack of access to public facilities, authorities or data), and especially those working on corruption, misuse of public funds, organised crime and protests, there is also reason for hope: While Kenya ranks only 102nd of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, “there has been an emergence of voices in the digital space who are speaking truth to power without many of the documented constraints faced by mainstream journalists.” But, in such cases, it is the audience that has to judge the veracity of the reporting.

7 May 2021

Reparative justice: In the US, “the creation of a commission to study the possibility of paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved people in the United States” has been voted on 14 April “to offer a ‘national apology’ for slavery, study its long-term effects and submit recommendations to Congress on how to compensate African Americans”. There are, of course, many (Republican) obstacles before coming true on this. The article’s author looks for lessons from Africa for reparative justice in the US.
In South Africa, the recommendations of the 2003 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were only very partially put into practice and the perpetrators of the apartheid system have never been put on trial. “The power structure that upheld apartheid has remained largely undisturbed.”
Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, after the civil war (1991-2002) that had killed more than 50,000 and displaced 2 million, in 2004 recommended reparation measures for survivors: “pensions, free health care and education benefits for amputees, those severely wounded, those widowed by the war and survivors of sexual violence”. It was only several years later that a very small part of the recommendations was put into practice.
Kenyan survivors of colonial atrocities in 2013 brought a legal suit to the British courts demanding reparations. “The British government recognized ‘that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration’ and agreed to pay £19.9m – $27.6m – in compensation to some 5,000 elderly survivors. But the government stalled payments, and Kenyans later demanded more than what was offered.”
Similarly, the Herero have instituted legal proceedings for the 1904-08 genocide.
Largely reflecting the thinking of the 2013 Caribbean-based Caricom Reparations Commission’s 10-point reparation plan, the African Union in 2019 “defined reparative justice as redress for ‘losses suffered’ under any circumstances where human rights have been violated. That includes financial reparations – its policy document emphasizes material support for rebuilding homes and businesses damaged by oppressive colonial regimes. But it also called for member countries to think beyond money to consider reparations measures aimed at healing trauma and establishing broad social justice.”
Reparative justice “isn’t just about money – it’s a plea for collective restoration, to retrieve something on behalf of people who lost their labour or life to powerful white governments and institutions.”

Côte d’Ivoire: When the 9-year civil war came to an end 10 years ago, Cote d'Ivoire opted for disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration AND transitional justice. After 12 months of researching implementation and success of these programmes, the article’s author “found that generally civilians, victims and ex-combatants were dissatisfied by both programmes and the way they had been implemented.” That the programmes were implemented without linking them (despite the UN’s urging to do so) is one of the problems. There are several reasons for not linking them. One is, that the two are somewhat contradictory – the one reintegrating ex-combatants, the other seeking to hold them accountable – and might have proven dangerous – “former warlords were prominent and powerful”. There was lack of political will – transitional justice might have uncovered crimes committed by those now in power.

South Africa/WWII: “German agents were dispatched across the globe during the war to collect military and political intelligence” to undermine the overall Allied war effort. In South Africa, they worked mainly with the Ossewabrandwag (oxwagon sentinels), an Afrikaner cultural organisation that became more and more anti-imperial and militaristic. By mid-1942 a radio transmitter was built near Vryburg (in present-day North West province) for directly passing on information to Berlin. Communications were intercepted and decoded, so authorities were aware – but did not manage to raid the radio transmitter. After the war, attempts were made to bring the traitors to justice, first of all the Ossewabrandwag leader, Hans van Rensburg, but it all came to nothing after the 1948 victory of the National Party (which was to institute the Apartheid system soon after) – “Afrikaner unity proved more important than charging fellow Afrikaners with high treason, despite the overwhelming evidence against them.”

Kenya: The first ever national wildlife census will be launched today so as to find out the total number of wildlife and how they are distributed, determine wildlife population trends over time and identify threats to conservation. Wildlife plays a central role for the country’s tourism industry, one of the government’s biggest income earners.
BBC Africa Live 07 May 2021. 5:07

Nigeria: On Wednesday, the same day that the remaining students kidnapped from Kaduna forestry college were finally released, an unknown number of university students were kidnapped in the south-eastern Nigerian state of Abia while travelling in a minivan. “President Muhammadu Buhari is under increasing pressure because of the surging violence by criminal gangs, Islamist militants and separatists.”
BBC Africa Live 07 May 2021. 4:32