27 February 2021

Nigeria: 42 people kidnapped from a boarding school last week in Niger State have been freed. A search and rescue operation has been launched by the authorities for the 317 girls kidnapped yesterday from a school in Jangebe in Zamfara State.

26 February 2021

Congo-Kinshasa/endemic violence: Since the 1990s armed groups – there are more than 120 now – are an essential part of the political economy of the country’s east. The recent killing of the Italian ambassador, his driver and his body guard are thought to have been a kidnapping gone wrong – more than 5,000 civilians in the region have been subjected to kidnappings and abductions over the past few years. Victims range from school children to women and businessmen. But the recent killings could also have been motivated by local politics – they happened very close to the Virunga National Park which “is highly unpopular among large factions of the local population, some of whom profit from ties to armed groups, and who feel the park uses aggressive methods to keep them from surviving by exploiting the park’s natural resources.”

Kenya/Art: Rosemary Karuga, 1928-2021, known for her collage works depicting pastoral and domestic African scenes, commonly villagers and farmers and animals, “was one of the pioneers who made major contributions to contemporary art on the continent and is recognised as one of the finest East African artists of her generation.” Though she had studied at the School of Fine Art at Makerere University in Uganda, where she was the first female student, she started to make art only in her sixties having “married in 1953, had three children, taught in a local school, bec(o)me a subsistence farmer and had grandchildren.” She used a unique technique inspired by Byzantine mosaics. Her international breakthrough came at the beginning of the 1990s after she illustrated an edition of Amos Tutuola’s novel The Palm-Wine Drinkard.

Sub-Saharan Africa/Charcoal: The production of 65% of the world’s charcoal, mostly by smallholders, is among the main drivers of savannah and forest degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa and demand is rising. The charcoal sector employing 40 million people, there is need for “integrated approaches that pay attention to the social needs of actors while tackling environmental concerns. This should preferably be done under the banner of ‘carbon-neutral charcoal’.”

Kenya/Charcoal: 70% of domestic energy for cooking and heating is provided by charcoal. The environment is harmed and kilns used for producing charcoal are inefficient: “Almost 10 tonnes of wood are used to produce a tonne of charcoal, which is a 10% recovery rate”, while 30% is possible. Bringing the sector into the formal economy and reducing its environmental impacts, including by bans in some counties, has not worked. The article suggests ways to better regulate the sector.

Nigeria/Agriculture: Results of research in 20 rural communities in Ogun State in the country’s south-west (capital: Abeokuta): “Farming output is a function of area of land cultivated, family labour, planting materials, distance to tarred road, distance to market, distance to agro-chemical centres, storage facilities and access to extension personnel. But the main contributor to efficient crop production was the availability of infrastructure.”

Cameroon: According to Human Rights Watsch, a year ago, in the Anglophone South-West region, soldiers have raped at least 20 women, thus taking their “revenge” on separatists. The event went largely unreported, as “stigma and fear of reprisal (…) discourage survivors of sexual violence from speaking out”. No comment from the government.
BBC Africa Live 26 February 2021. 12:25

Tanzania: Hulda Swai, professor of life sciences and bio-engineering, has won the AU’s 2020 Kwame Nkrumah Continental Award for Scientific Excellence for her work with nanotechnology to find more effective anti-malarial herbal medicines. A BBC interview of 3’09”.
BBC Africa Live 26 February 2021. 9:33

Nigeria/A third boarding school mass kidnapping: More than 300 students are thought to have been abducted early this morning from a secondary boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara State, north-western Nigeria.
BBC Africa Live 26 February 2021. 6:45

Somalia: Anti-government protests in Mogadishu scheduled by the opposition for today have been postponed after the Prime Minister, in a meeting with opposition leaders, apologised for last week's crackdown on protesters. At the same meeting, opposition leaders agreed to participate in talks to resolve the crisis around the presidential elections, President Farmajo’s mandate having ended on 8 February without a successor being elected.
BBC Africa Live 26 February 2021. 5:17

Algeria: “Huge” anti-government protests in Algiers this Friday look like the beginning of the resumption of the weekly Hirak marches against “the system”, the political and military elite that rules the country, the protesters by no means satisfied only by Bouteflika stepping down.
BBC Africa Live 26 February 2021. 16:23