4 May 2021

Racism: “Negro” is a word “invested with the powers of dehumanisation, on the one hand, and (it) absolve(s) the racist oppressor of culpability, on the other.” But in bebop and hip hop, “the odious, life-crushing word was made to undergo a rebirth, a reinvention and was as such infused with new music and sinuousness”. But Black Lives Matter and ongoing police brutality at black men and women (Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd…) in the face of inaction of the political establishment show that reaching “this stage of supposedly post-racial, post-Martin Luther King casual hipness” is by no means enough.

Nigeria: Few women get elected – few are candidates. Several factors contribute to this: women are poorer (candidacy costs a lot), less educated, there are the gender stereotypes, not least that power is thought to belong to men. What is needed is networking and mentoring, financial support, a change in media attitudes and affirmative action, e.g. a quota system.

Kenya: “The first woman judge joined the High Court only in 1993. It was not until 2003 that the first woman judge joined the Court of Appeal, then the highest court in the land.” After that, women’s share in the judiciary has been increasing, especially since the new constitution of 2010 which introduced a “two-thirds gender principle” (minimum of one-third for each gender for all public institutions). Now Martha Koome (an active and long-standing member of the International Association of Women Judges/Kenya Chapter) is set to become Kenya’s next Chief Justice. She faces “a huge backlog of cases built up over years” and will, amongst others, have to make sure the constitution’s two-thirds gender principle is put into practice.

West African fishing & women: While men dominate fishing and production, women dominate post-harvest processing (dressing, sorting, salting, smoking), selling and marketing. Women’s contributions to the fishery sector “are widely un(der)paid, undervalued and largely invisible”. One of the effects of this is that they have less access to capital and other resources. This is to a large extent a governance problem: “Fisheries policy-making and management overlooks the (often informal) contributions of women. Their fisheries contributions are treated as an extension of their everyday lives and responsibilities, rendering them invisible within the blue economy.” Women cooperatives provide some relief, but more support is urgently needed.

Food security: Sub-Saharan Africa is a net food importer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the fear was that the effects would substantially reduce food security. But the “situation appears to have, thus far, turned out better than some of the more pessimistic expectations”. This is partly because grain imports continued or increased and because governments supported agricultural production. Fairly good rains in eastern and southern Africa in the 2020/21 summer point to good maize harvests there. A remaining structural problem is bad road and storage infrastructure.
But the food security situation remains vulnerable: will the rains again be good next year? Will governments continue to support agriculture? How deep and lasting will the negative effects of the pandemic be?

South Sudan: After more than a year’s closure, the Education minister on Monday announced that schools will reopen throughout the country.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 8:35

Ethiopia: The European Union will not send elections observers to the 5 June elections because of “lack of agreement on key parameters”.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 5:34

Uganda: Parliament has passed a “sweeping” law on sexual offences. Street harassment, public sexual assault, harassment in professional settings are dealt with. “Cat-calling, indecent public exposure or demanding sexual favours in return for a job or academic progress has been made illegal.” Unfortunately, the law also contains a clause against “unnatural sexual offences”, alarming the LGBT community. MPs were unable to reach consent on defining “consent”, so this has been left out of the new law.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 9:35

Nigeria: Parents of students kidnapped at a forestry college in Kaduna city in March have been protesting outside Parliament and asking for help. The 39 students (like another group of students kidnapped from a university in Kaduna State in April) are still in captivity. “Kaduna state government has a policy of non-negotiation with the armed groups”.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 12:25

Mozambique: Last Friday, jihadists have “in full view of other villagers” beheaded five and kidnapped an unknown number of others in Pangane village, south of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province.
BBC Africa Live 04 May 2021. 16:41

3 May 2021

Burkina Faso: Now that Blaise Compaoré will finally face justice, though in absentia, for having had his predecessor murdered, the article’s author gives a brief overview over what Thomas Sankara did and who he was. His failure – which caused his fall – was that he substituted “his popularity, charisma and oratory for a real movement that could confront the forces working towards his defeat”. Yet the chief’s personal integrity (“the truth of his person”) can replace organisation for socio-political and economic change only to a certain extent.

Nigeria: Research shows that, with poverty levels increasing in Adamawa State/north east Nigeria (over 75% are poor according to official figures), more women have become household “breadwinners” and this puts them under lots of pressure. “To be able to withstand the stress of farming and to help improve their productivity, some used psychotropic stimulants”, mostly cannabis and tramadol – the most easily available stimulants. It has not been possible to track the effects on physical and mental health. The article recommends the establishment of a rehabilitation centre by the State government to help drug addicts.

Congo-Kinshasa: The most recent outbreak of Ebola has been declared over. This third outbreak in less than a year had infected 11 and killed 6 in North Kivu – “a quick response by the authorities and partners had helped contain the outbreak”.
BBC Africa Live 03 May 2021. 10:54

Algeria: Food – basic and staple food – has become scarce and expensive. Long focussing on oil, the country now imports 70% of its food requirements. Add the effects of the pandemic to the low oil prices and lots of people just can no longer afford their food. No doubt Ramadan is also adding to prices rising.
BBC Africa Live 03 May 2021. 8:51

Chad: A transitional government with 40 ministers and deputies has been named by the military council. Several long-time opponents were given portfolios and a former rebel chief will head the national reconciliation ministry. Some – like “senior opposition figure” Saleh Kebzabo – recognise the government, others continue to demand a civilian president.
BBC Africa Live 03 May 2021. 5:15