16 January 2023

Frene Ginwala/South Africa/Feminism: Of Parsee descent, born in 1932 in Jo’burg, having studied law and become a barrister, Ginwala became politically active in 1960, after the Sharpeville massacre. Sent abroad (Mozambique, Tanzania, GB) to work for the ANC, she became Oliver Tambo’s assistant, founded the newspaper Spearhead, wrote prodigiously. She returned to South Africa in 1990, after the ANC was unbanned. She was the first speaker of the National Assembly, a post she occupied from 1994 to 2004. After that, “she was the prime mover behind the formation of the Pan-African Parliament and one of the most prominent supporters of the Jubilee 2000 Campaign” which lobbied for debt cancellation for the Global South. From early days, she worked against patriarchy, also within the party, making sure that non-sexism was inscribed alongside non-racism in party principles. Always more radical than the ANC’s Women’s League, she founded the ANC’s Emancipation Commission in 1991, then the Women’s National Coalition – which she herself called a “conspiracy of women” and which was not affiliated to the ANC which made sure “that gender equality was firmly embedded in the country’s final 1996 constitution”. Frene Ginwala died on 12th of January 2023, aged 90.

eSwatini: According to this Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) statement, “to suppress and quell rising opposition”, Swazi authorities are paying mercenaries of South African based company Bastion Risk Solutions (BRS)/Bastion Security (holding company: Night Fire Investments 84 (Pty) Ltd. Bastion Risk Solutions) “owned and run by former Apartheid operatives and recruits mostly white right-wing Afrikaner males”. These mercenaries “terrorise (the) nation”. The statement gives some examples.

Cholera/Africa: You get it by eating/drinking contaminated food/water. Africa accounts for 21% of cholera cases and 80% of cholera deaths worldwide. The main reasons for its persistence are “worsening sanitation, poor and unreliable water supplies and worsening socioeconomic conditions”. Inhabitants of urban slums and displaced persons are the most vulnerable. Mostly, prevention is neglected, governments only react to cholera outbreaks. Communities need to be involved. There is also the issue of drug resistance, with overuse of antibiotics contributing. Use of rapid diagnostic tests needs to increase – quick diagnosis is essential.

Congo-Kinshasa: Artisanal and semi-industrial mining in the east of the country negatively impact biodiversity conservation (deforestation, soil degradation, water pollution; road construction; population growth around mines). Mining creates income for many, including high-level officials and “non-state armed actors”. Mining also creates friction and conflict. Banning semi-industrial mining (which is more harmful to the environment and profits fewer people) may be possible – banning artisanal mining may not be advisable and will most likely not work. One of the problems is that, in a context where different government departments have different interests, “(t)he Congolese agency for nature conservation (ICCN), which is responsible for protected area management, lacks the political clout and resources to make a difference.”

Migration/UK/Rwanda: British charity Asylum Aid is seeking permission from London’s High Court to challenge the December High Court judgment that Rwanda is a safe destination for migrants. If permission is granted, this will further delay flights under the UK scheme to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.
BBC Africa Live 16 January 2023. 7:43

Somalia: Government troops have retaken Haradhere, a port town in Galmudug state (centre). Al-Shabaab, who had held the town for more than ten years, withdrew without  offering any resistance.
BBC Africa Live 16 January 2023. 17:19

Zimbabwe: It seems that the ruling party is starting to prepare for the 2023 elections in earnest: “(A)ccused of holding an illegal gathering at the home of” an opposition MP, 25 activists have been arrested on Saturday. A lawyer who tried to see them was manhandled and had his arm broken by police. When the 25 appeared in court, “(a)nti-riot police armed with assault rifles, batons and teargas prevented many journalists from attending the trial.”
BBC Africa Live 16 January 2023. 17:43

15 January 2023

Nigeria: Dragon Squad was founded in 2018 by Emem Thomas, today aged 37, who only employs “plus-size ladies” as bouncers, a field traditionally totally dominated by men. A Guardian photo essay.

Virtual fashion show with senior models, AI-created: “Photographs” not from the fashion runway, but out of a Nigerian filmmaker-artist Malik Afegbua’s imagination, assisted by artificial intelligence, showing senior models in stylish (futuristic-traditional) cloths. All of it to challenge ideas about old age. A BBC photo essay.