19 February 2021

Nigeria: Be brave! According to Defence minister Bashir Magashi, people should not be cowards and should not run away when their communities are attacked, but stand up and defend themselves.
BBC Africa Live 18 February 2021. 14:35

Uganda: 7 soldiers will spend between 2 and 3 months in jail for beating up journalists outside the United Nations Human rights office on Wednesday when 6 journalists were injured. The army’s disciplinary committee has thus been more than quick to react. The army chief had earlier apologised for the violence.
BBC Africa Live 18 February 2021. 14:18

Liberia: A suspected Ebola case has been reported in Monrovia. The woman concerned had recently returned from Nzérékoré in Guinea, where a new Ebola outbreak has led to the death of at least three people these last few days.
BBC Africa Live 18 February 2021. 13:17

Renaissance of Africa’s secondary sector: Until the 2000s, sub-Saharan Africa was de-industrialising with the little manufacturing activity that did exist disappearing. But from around 2010 onwards, a “manufacturing renaissance” has reversed the trend. However, it was employment that increased in the secondary sector (though its share remains lower than in “developing Asia” and Latin America), not productivity (thus not its share in GDP). Industrialisation was thus probably driven by small- and medium-sized firms producing for local markets and not large firms producing for the world market.
Being mainly oriented towards domestic markets, African manufacturing could prove relatively resilient to Covid-19 (unlike tourism and commodity exports).

The Flying African: In May 1803 a group of enslaved Igbos jumped off their ship off St. Simons Island in Georgia. According to oral traditions, the Igbos flew back to Africa. Variations of the flying African myth – some have them walking over water – have been recorded from Arkansas to Canada, Cuba and Brazil.
The article follows the myth through history and into music and literature, citing Virginia Hamilton: “Keep close all the past that was good, and that remains full of promise” and drawing the conclusion: “A painful past must be summoned in order to be redeemed.”

Underused African fruit trees: Indigenous fruit trees are sources of valuable vitamins, minerals, protein and phytochemicals and also serve in traditional medicine. The two authors conducted a study to identify underused African fruit trees and established a list of the ten most important ones, including the baobab and the marula trees. Their contribution to human diet should be expanded. Domestication may help.

Guinea/Ebola: Guinea and its neighbours, foremost Liberia and Sierra Leone, are better equipped to face the new outbreak than they were in 2014/15: they have an experienced workforce, a better laboratory systems and regional organisations (Mano River Union, ECOWAS) are more proactive to try and stop cross-border transmission. Yet Ebola must not be underestimated. The article – written by an infectious disease expert who has led national response teams in previous Ebola outbreaks – lists key questions that need to be asked and answered to better deal with an Ebola outbreak.
With Ebola contact tracing, “(y)ou must reach 100% contacts and follow them up and ensure that none escape or get sick and die in the community. Otherwise, there’s a new transmission chain.” Surveillance is necessary. And: “It’s better to pick up all potential cases, rather than risk missing one”. Finally: community participation in fighting the outbreak is absolutely essential.

Tanzania/A test from God called Covid-19: Calling Covid-19 a test from God, the country’s president Magufuli has called for 3 days of prayers and fasting. He says he won against the virus last year (when he called for 3 days of prayer) and he will win again this year (when he has added fasting to the prayers over three days).
BBC Africa Live 19 February 2021. 11:17

South Sudan: Horrific violence still rages & has intensified over the last few months according to experts reporting to the UN Human Rights Council, affecting about 75% of the country. “Villages are being burnt, women and girls abducted and raped, boys forcibly recruited as child soldiers”. Fighters disposing of increasingly sophisticated weapons suggests state and/or foreign involvement.
Committers of atrocities need to be brought to justice. For this, the court to prosecute human rights violations which the government of national unity agreed on in January needs to become functional as quickly as possible.
BBC Africa Live 19 February 2021. 11:32

Somalia: Heavy gunfire has been reported from the capital Mogadishu. The city’s international airport has suspended international flights. Opposition leaders, calling for the president to leave office after his term expired last week, have defied a ban on public gatherings. Security forces have shot in the air (could this be the “heavy gunfire” though?) to disperse the protesters.
According to the government, militiamen had attacked army positions close to the Presidential Palace earlier, but have been repelled.
BBC Africa Live 19 February 2021. 9:59 resp. 9:07 resp. 4:33

Ethiopia/Tigray: Militarily defeated TPLF, ruling party of Tigray before Addis declared war on it, has provided a list of conditions for peace talks:
- withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray
- withdrawal of other "invading forces"
- independent inquiry into “ethnic cleansing” and destruction caused by the conflict
- access to the region for humanitarian aid to reach 4.5 million people urgently in need of help
- unconditional release of political prisoners
- the disbandment of Tigray’s after-conflict interim administration
- peace talks to be led by an independent international body
BBC Africa Live 19 February 2021. 16:30

18 February 2021

The growing isolation of Mt Kilimanjaro: Extensive urbanisation and development have led to the mountain being almost completely surrounded by developed areas including wheat farms, commercial sugar cane plantations, rice paddies, smallholder and growing, built-up settlements. “This means the mountain’s ecosystem is at risk of turning into an “ecological island”, entirely surrounded by cultivation and development. When natural habitats are isolated in this way, species are less able to migrate, leading to less genetic variation and diversity.”
The authors’ research looks into the negative effects of such isolation on Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, bushcrickets) and also on bigger animals such as elephants.

Nigeria/Angola/How oil rents grease the wheels of political dynamics: The oil/resource curse is well known. In 2018, Angola’s fuel exports constituted 92.4% of the country’s total exports. Oil rents (difference between the price of oil and the average cost of producing) accounted for 25.6% of the country’s GDP. Nigeria’s oil exports in 2018 were 94.1% of total exports, oil rents amounted to 9% of GDP. “Where citizens are relatively powerless to hold ruling elites to account, resource wealth undermines development prospects”. The author provides succinct résumés of the Nigerian and Angolan contexts and its major differences: “unlike in Angola, no aspirant Nigerian autocrat was able to monopolise personal control over the national oil company. (…) oil exacerbated fragility in Nigeria. While Angola’s dos Santos maintained a stable bargain among elites, Nigeria’s balance of power remained precarious.”
The article is a résumé of the author’s book on the topic. Its strength lies in description more than analysis, it would seem.

South Africa: In 1994, the political rules were changed, but not society nor the economy. “(O)nly the third of the population who have both the resources and the connectedness to the economy to enable them to speak are heard.” The elite has black members – these blacks can now (more or less: seniority provides advantages) do what white members of the elite do.
All the others are disappointed.

An African Psychology: A psychology developed elsewhere cannot work for Africa. An African Psychology needs to be based on traditions, knowledge systems, cosmologies, languages… from Africa.
The article doesn’t seem to go very far. Life is equal to health in Sesotho. And the collective is more important in Africa than the individual and the individual needs to be seen in her/his relation to others. But what is stated is undoubtedly correct.