15 April 2021

South Africa: Despite several laws to that effect, communities are not protected well enough against mining companies. The author’s research in Xolobeni showed that “traditional leaders or community representatives did not adequately represent the interests of the community” because they “did not consult properly with the affected members of the community, and thereby failed to adequately represent their interests”. There was added to this a problem of corruption. Also, the Traditional and Khoi San Leadership Act gives too much power to the traditional leaders. Communities need to become fully aware of their rights. The authorities need to intervene when traditional leaders abuse their authority. And finally, “there is a need for more transparency and accountability regarding the awarding of mining licences”;

Plant communication: Depending on conditions, plants are independent or interdependent. They can collaborate and support each other.
Mycorrhizal symbiosis: “The vast majority of plants have fungi that live on or within their roots. Together, the fungi and roots form structures known as mycorrhizae, which resemble a netlike web. Mycorrhizae increase their host plants’ ability to absorb water and nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphate, through their roots. In return, the plants share sugars that they produce through photosynthesis with their fungal partners.” Through these fungi, plants can share sugars (if they produce more than they themselves need) with other plants. They can also pass on “defensive chemicals”, e.g. substances that promote resistance against insect pests. Through these connections, “a plant that has been attacked by aphids or other such pests (can also) signal to neighboring plants to preemptively activate their own defense responses”.
When conditions are unfavourable and no surplus sugars are produced, the plant will stop to share with others, it will “limit mycorrhizal connections and development by restricting how many materials they exchange with their fungal partners and avoiding making new connections. This is a form of physical distancing that protects the plants’ ability to support themselves.”
Kin recognition: Plants recognize related plants and share more sugars with the fungi in their network with these closely related plants than with more distantly related plants.
Collaborative environmental transformation: Plants can joint together and make their roots “grow in the same direction, in a collaborative process known as swarming that is similar to bee swarms or bird flocks. Such swarming of roots enables the plants to release a lot of chemicals in a particular soil region, (thus freeing) up more nutrients for the plants’ use.”

Uganda: The government has finally had to admit that it had arrested more than 1,000 during the campaign for the January elections and that most of them are still in detention. Some have been released without charge and dumped in the middle of the night near their homes. Some say they were tortured. There is still no certainty about how many people are still in prison and it is not known what they are accused of.
BBC Africa Live 15 April 2021. 16:56

14 April 2021

Nigeria: On the evening of the first day of Ramadan, Boko Haram has attacked Damasak – “a humanitarian hub” – in the very north of Borno state in north-east Nigeria. Police headquarters, schools, shops and homes were ransacked. No information yet on casualties.
BBC Africa Live 14 April 2021. 16:37

Cameroon: According to Human Rights Watch, there has been a wave of arbitrary arrests – 24 since February – of people for being LGTB+.
BBC Africa Live 14 April 2021. 13:14

Rwanda: A rare weather phenomenon called a “watersprout” has been seen in Rwanda: a whirlwind sucking up water from Lake Ruhondo See https://twitter.com/MeteoRwanda/status/1381968791920279557 for four pictures.
BBC Africa Live 14 April 2021. 11:02