20 January 2023

Chad: Delphine Djiraibé, one of the first female lawyers in her country, is one of the three winners of this year’s Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Known “for initiating the prosecution of Chad’s former dictator, Hissène Habré”, she has, for over 30 years, “challenged the authorities to secure basic rights for all Chadians, including the right to life, justice, freedom of opinion, food, education and health”. The award ceremony is to be held in Geneva on 16th of February.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 7:36

Eritrea/Ethiopia/Tigray: Residents of several towns in Tigray report that Eritrean troops are withdrawing. According to the peace agreement, the withdrawal of foreign troops was to be effected once Tigray forces had handed over their heavy weapons to the federal government – which they have.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 11:44

Madagascar: The country is a global biodiversity hotspot. Climate change – conditions getting drier – puts additional pressure on the country’s ecosystems. With deforestation already happened on a massive scale, a study undertaken by the article’s authors looked into future climate change effects on the four key forest habitat types of the country which are “the dry deciduous forests of the west, humid evergreen forests of the east, spiny bush forests of the arid south, and transitional forests of the north-west corner of the island.” The study found future declines of Madagascar’s forests, even if climate change should be mitigated. Immediate action to end deforestation is needed.

Western Sahara: Annexed by Morocco in the late 1970s and controlled by Rabat, it is one of 17 territories worldwide remaining without self-government. The referendum on self-determination, for which the UN Security Council established the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara in April 1991 never took place – there was no agreement on who could take part in the referendum. According to the article’s author’s research, what was at fault was the weakness of the UN mandate and especially the absence of a human rights monitoring mechanism. In the face of Washington’s recent support for Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, this, however, seems a rather minor point.

Somalia: Little freedom for the press: for criticising a government ban on media reports about al-Shabab, Abdalle Mumin, secretary-general of the Somali Journalists Syndicate, was arrested in October 2022. Since then, “Somali authorities have shut down hundreds of outlets affiliated with al-Shabab and ordered the media to refer to the group as ‘khawarij’, meaning ultra-extremists.”
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 6:13

Ghana: The Ghanaian economist Theo Acheampong believes that the country’s present problems have their roots in a borrowing binge in the early 2000s, after Accra’s getting substantial debt relief and the discovery of crude oil.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 5:06

Nigeria: West Africa has only two natural harbours (Freetown and Lagos), artificial ports have been created. A “ports race” is on to become shipping hubs for the region. The recently completed 1.5bn USD Lekki Deep Sea Port about 50 km east of Lagos looks set to occupy a prominent place. Doubling the capacity of Lagos port, “(i)t will accommodate the world’s largest cargo ships and is expected to reduce cargo wait times from over 50 days to two days.” If things go according to plan, it will “generate 170,000 direct and indirect jobs, billions of dollars in tax revenues (…) and a turnover of US$361 billion over the next 45 years”. However, there is no provision for cargo evacuation by rail and road infrastructure is insufficient for anticipated traffic. Furthermore, the state government needs to acquire land for future port extension or Lekki threatens to witness “a repeat of the problems of older ports hemmed in by unplanned industrial, urban and commercial land use.”

South Sudan: According to the Ethiopian general heading the ceasefire monitoring team, civilians are discouraged from returning home because their homes are still occupied by government forces.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 8:23

South Africa: The ruling ANC is considering selling assets to cover a “deficit” of 14m USD. The most significant expenditure items were salaries and election campaigns plus advertising and events.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 13:58

Zambia/South Africa: After a study found lead levels in Zambia’s fourth biggest town Kabwe on average 9 times higher than internationally accepted limits, 140,000 women and children “claim they have suffered extreme levels of lead pollution after nearly 50 years of metal mining and smelting operations” of Anglo-American. South Africa’s High Court will now decide whether they can bring a class action against the mining conglomerate.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 10:07

Zambia: As the 150 MW generator at Maamba Collieries Limited is back working after routine maintenance, blackouts in the country will be reduced from 12 to 8 daily hours (4 hours twice a day). Also, water levels at Kariba Dam are rising thanks to heavy rains.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 11:01

Rwanda: John Williams Ntwali, “one of the last independent journalists” in Rwanda, was not seen after reporting to a police station on Tuesday. It was only on Thursday that his family were notified of his death in a traffic accident. An independent international investigation is being demanded.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 12:23

19 January 2023

Sierra Leone: As from now “30% of government and private sector jobs in the country are reserved for women”. According to the new law, women will also have a right to maternity leave of at least 14 weeks, “equal access to bank credit and training opportunities”. Contraveners will pay hefty fines or even go to prison.
BBC Africa Live 19 January 2023. 17:03

Jollof rice: The invention of the dish is claimed by Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. But as the name tells, its origin is Senegalese, Jollof referring to a Senegalese kingdom of the 12th and 13th centuries. But the dish’s popularity, indeed its invention came later, in early colonial times. And it is linked to the colonisers’ promotion of rice: “The first act of the settlers was to make all those disconnected from agricultural activities dependent on rice.” The French were resoundingly successful with their rice promotion. Isn’t it time “to enhance the rich Senegalese heritage (… by) promoting all the remarkable Senegalese consumables based on millet, cowpea, bissap, ditax and (monkey bread) bouye”?

South Africa/Russia/China: From 17th to 27th of February, joint military drills will be held off coast with China and Russia in Durban and Richards Bay. The three are part of BRICS. This is the second time such exercises will take place, the first was held in Cape Town in 2019.
BBC Africa Live 19 January 2023. 11:05

Russia/Mali/eSwatini: With Wagner group believed by many to be active in the country, Russian warplanes and helicopters have reportedly been delivered to Mali. Moscow has been accused of also becoming involved in eSwatini. The Russian ambassador there said “it was just giving scholarships for military education”.
BBC Africa Live 19 January 2023. 17:42

Migration Africa-Spain: According to Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, 2,500 died or disappeared in 2002 trying to get from Africa to Spain, most of them en route for the Canary Islands, around 500 trying to get from Algeria to Spain’s eastern coast.
BBC Africa Live 19 January 2023. 14:55

eSwatini and South Africa: Regina Twala has been all but forgotten – she was a most impressive writer, academic, political activist and feminist, but she was black and she was too critical, for example of the eSwatini king. Joel Cabrita has now published a biography of Regina Twala in Ohio University Press.

South Africa/Press & land: The land question was at the heart of the liberation struggle. To this day, the country’s press does not provide faire coverage to the views of the “dispossessed”. The five themes that dominate discussions as reflected by press articles are “land grabs, private property rights, food insecurity, negative consequences to the economy and investor confidence” – which clearly reflect the worries and views of owners, of the elite.

Ethiopia: The two year-long Tigray war has made looting and trafficking of century-old relics easy. So far, little has been done to even estimate the number of the thousands of thefts. For the artefacts that have left the Ethiopian territory, Addis had better strengthen international cooperation to get them back.