20 April 2021

Chad/Coup d’Etat: Idriss Deby, just re-elected for another term, is dead. The army says he died from injuries from fighting at the frontline 400km north of N’Djamena, in Kanem region. The army has dissolved the government and declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew and closed land and air borders until further notice. A 15-member military council led by Déby's son, 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno aka Mahamat Kaka, a four-star general, will govern for the next 18 months.
BBC Africa Live 20 April 2021. 10:51ff

South Africa/Archives lost: Jagger Library is among the victims of the fire on the slopes of Table Mountain. “It is not clear at this stage what has been lost (…). But the burning of any part of a library – an archive – is such a terrible thing because you lose voices from the past which may carry alternative histories. This has particularly significant implications for countries like South Africa with fraught and contested histories. And whose histories have, for centuries, been told from a particular vantage point.” Jagger Library’s African Studies collection consisted of “around 65,000 volumes, 26,000 pamphlets, 3,000 African films, and 20,000 further items in the audiovisual archive”. Not all of the works have also been stored in digital format. Archives are of great importance in the ongoing project of decolonisation.

Sierra Leone/Coffee: A ‘forgotten’ coffee variety has been re-discovered in Sierra Leone. Coffea stenophylla can tolerate temperatures at least 6°C higher than Arabica and could thus be important under warmer conditions due to climate change.
BBC Africa Live 20 April 2021. 5:37

Mauritius: In order “to regulate the use and fight against the abuse and misuse of social networks”, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) wants to amend the information and communications law. Social media users are worried that this is an attempt at censorship or spying on them by the government.
BBC Africa Live 20 April 2021. 8:39

Kenya: The authors’ research into post-conflict constitutions and peace agreements has found that “countries that adopt ethnic recognition go on to experience less violence, more economic vitality, and more democratic politics.” In Kenya, the 2010 constitution, the Building Bridges Initiative proposals and the constitution amendment bill now under consideration mention “ethnic diversity” but do not name specific ethnic groups. Ethnic recognition and policies connected to it (like representation quotas) seem to help manage mistrust between groups. The article discusses the pros and cons. Though taking Burundi as a positive and Rwanda as a negative example is a surprising choice.

Central African Republic/UNHCR: The country’s humanitarian crisis “is one of the most underfunded UNHCR operations globally, with only 12% of the $164.7m requirement currently met”. No wonder thus that the UN’s refugee agency reports that 2,000 fleeing across the border into Chad after clashes between the army and rebels “face difficulties securing food, water and shelter”.
BBC Africa Live 20 April 2021. 10:09

19 April 2021

South Africa: A fire on Table Mountain’s slopes seems to have destroyed parts of University of Cape Town’s 200 year-old Jagger library. According to the university, some 3,500 collections are thought to be lost, including the Bleek-Lloyd collection of San language and mythology. The extent of the damage will be known once the affected buildings can be accessed safely.
BBC Africa Live 19 April 2021. 15:35

Rwanda/Refugees: Because of lack of funds the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has reduced food aid and halved aid in cash for the more than 100,000 refugees (mainly from Burundi and Congo-Kinshasa) depending on its aid. According to a spokesperson, “WFP continues to appeal for additional resources and hopes in the coming months it ‘can secure sufficient resources to increase the ratio size once again’.”
BBC Africa Live 19 April 2021. 16:40

China’s positive role for peace and security in Africa: The African Union’s peace and security architecture is ineffective, partly because it respects the sovereignty of the nation states too much. It “consists of the Peace and Security Council, supported by the AU Commission, Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System, African Standby Force and the Africa Peace Fund.” The author thinks that China’s security cooperation with Africa can play a very positive role in bringing peace. Since the first China-Africa Defence and Security Forum in June 2018, this cooperation “focuses on peacekeeping and peace-building missions”. The article says hardly anything concrete about how China contributes/will contribute to Africa’s peace and security architecture. Maybe more is available amongst the results of his linked “ongoing research”: “Beyond Silencing the Guns: China and a new Metaphor for Peace and Security in Africa”, published 20/12/2020: https://ojs.ugent.be/AF/article/view/17576.

Business skills for the poor? Giving (poor) “people the tools they need to understand the basics of business, they can become more self-confident, autonomous, resilient, and skilled at turning a profit. In short, to move from survival to success.” But the underlying egoism, individualism may contradict a value system oriented towards the community. Based on her research in Northern Kenya, the author suggests focussing on identity when building business skills: individual and community identity, and how to harmonise them.

Somalia: Galmudug, Hir-Shabelle, South-West, Puntland and Jubbaland are the five federal states of Somalia. Each has veto power. The federal government has been pushing for direct elections – Puntland and Jubbaland want to maintain indirect elections (traditional elders and civil society representatives choose special delegates who are then nominated to the houses of parliament). For 7 months the resulting deadlock has not been overcome. The lower house of parliament has now extended the president’s term, directing the Electoral Commission to organise one-person-one-vote elections at the end of the two years. The article analyses the implications.

Nigeria: After the recent Boko Haram attacks which specifically targeted humanitarian aid facilities, the UN has temporarily suspended its humanitarian operation in Dikwa and Damasak in Borno State, saying it is closely monitoring the situation and will resume its operations assisting civilians affected by the conflict as soon as possible.
BBC Africa Live 19 April 2021. 5:06

Ethiopia: An unknown number of troops and civilians, including children and women, have been massacred in North Shewa zone of Amhara State, some 250 km northeast of Addis. The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) is thought to be responsible for the attacks. The numerous invaders overpowered “the federal security forces deployed to the area during previous attacks in March - where more than 300 people were killed over several days.”
BBC Africa Live 19 April 2021. 12:30

Nigeria: After a series of mass kidnappings from schools in Nigeria’s north-west, “(i)n addition to a perimeter fence, five guards and a security post, dogs will also be deployed at public boarding schools.” The number of dogs per school is not known. Furthermore, at least three daily prayer sessions will be held at all public schools “to pray against attacks from bandits”.
BBC Africa Live 19 April 2021. 13:01