02 February 2023

Tanzania: With party rallies “the country's real form of mass communication”, President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s unbanning them has made politics come back to life even if the challenges that lie ahead for the opposition parties after seven years of effective one-party dictatorship are massive. At a time when the “legacy of Magufuli's misogynist leadership style certainly made it difficult for a woman to flex her muscles in what is still a conservative, patriarchal society”, President Samia not only survived but seems to have started to thrive. She now defines her mission by the “four Rs: reconciliation, resiliency, reforms and rebuilding” and seems “to genuinely care about fixing a broken system”. But one thing is and remains clear: it is President Samia who is in charge.

Namibia/Film: Perivi Katjavivi’s Under the Hanging Tree is about Herero police woman Christina and how, “from a young woman who is colonised and uprooted from her culture” she grows into one “who acknowledges her heritage and its tragic history”. At one of the country’s German farms, the owner has been discovered hanged on a tree “echoing what happened more than a century ago when Herero people were hanged by the Germans from trees like this”. Through the German’s hanging, Perivi Katjavivi treats the genocide of the beginning of the 20th century.

Zimbabwe: Parliament has adopted the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment bill which would probably better be called the NGO Gagging Bill as it gives government greater control over NGO operations and can be used to shut them down. “The government says the law will stop international organisations from channelling funds to the opposition through the NGOs.” In January, 291 NGOs have been deregistered – some for allegedly failing to submit annual tax returns, others for “national security reasons and allegedly straying from their mandate”.
BBC Africa Live 02 February 2023. 14:53

Angelique Kidjo: She is 62 now and might soon win a record sixth Grammy Award. A homage to Benin’s version of Mama Africa, like Miriam Makeba, Cesaria Evora... elsewhere.

South Africa: The article reflects on the country’s foreign policy stance under Ramaphosa.

South Sudan/Church leaders: The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland are about to go on a peace mission in South Sudan. But, with the conflict that resulted in more than 400,000 deaths still ongoing, are people there ready for peace, ready to forgive? Anyways, church leaders are of highest importance in moving towards peace, maybe locally as a first step…

Nigeria/Shell: Shell has just announced its highest ever profits – 39.9bn USD – for 2022. On another front, as the latest development in a seven-year legal battle, over 13,000 from Ogoniland’s Ogale and Bille communities of the Niger Delta have filed individual claims against Shell at the High Court in London, wanting it “to clean up oil spills and compensate them for the damage to their land”. In 2011, a UN report had recommended the immediate cleaning up of the area – but the people who live there “still don’t have access to clean water and farmland”.
BBC Africa Live 02 February 2023. 12:42

01 February 2023

Blue Marble old and new: The iconic photograph of the earth from space in December 1972 has been retaken in December 2022. With the two pictures focussing on Africa, environmental degradation is plainly visible on the continent: Lake Chad shrung, desertification of the Sahel, Madagascar much drier… “The space mission that really matters now is the mission to save Earth.”

Ghana: Accra is congested. Its population has doubled over the past decade. Some suggest creating a new capital. But in the authors’ view, the various roles of Accra could be shared out among various regional capitals: With Accra keeping its political role, its educational, commercial, entertainment and administrative functions could be relocated elsewhere. The Ghana Cocoa Board could move to a cocoa producing region, the headquarters of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation to where oil is drilled, universities and sports also need not be concentrated in Accra… An Accra “congestion levy” could motivate institutions to relocate elsewhere.

Women & the media: The recent report “From outrage to opportunity: How to include the missing perspectives of women of all colours in news leadership and coverage” wasn’t really necessary to know it: Women are underrepresented in editorial leadership and in news coverage and they are thus to a large extent excluded from shaping public discourse. But as the report was commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it puts much emphasis on the economic fallout of this exclusion. If women and their points of view were better included in the news production, news consumption by women would grow “exponentially”, the report estimates: by 83bn USD globally within ten years. Not including them would be a “costly lost opportunity”.

Nigeria: 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste are estimated to be produced in the country annually. Concerning the cleaning up of the resulting pollution, companies could and should contribute a lot more. This can happen voluntarily, within what is called “corporate social responsibility”. Or within a policy of “extended producer responsibility”: the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, created in 2014, and the country’s regulators need to become a lot more active to effectively combat plastic pollution.

Congo-Kinshasa/South Sudan/Vatican: Instead of making his visit to the two countries triumphalist – with the huge crowds coming to the masses he’ll celebrate, will the Pope “open new avenues for initiatives that would make the Catholic church more African and to foster dialogue with African indigenous religions so as not to make the visit a triumphalist one but an opening to a church closer to African customs and supporting African values – against violence, genocide and ethnic conflict”?

Tunisia: Kaïs Saïed has extended the state of emergency (which had been declared by his predecessor Beji Caid Essebsi in November 2015 after a bomb attack on the presidential guard) until December 2023.
BBC Africa Live 01 February 2023. 13:01

Cameroon: With subsidies scrapped so as to obtain a 74.6m USD loan from the IMF, petrol prices will rise from 630 to 730 F Cfa, diesel from 575 to 720 F Cfa.
BBC Africa Live 01 February 2023. 5:53

Equatorial Guinea: Manuela Roka Botey has been appointed as the country’s first woman prime minister. Manuela Roka Botey has been a member of the government since 2020 as deputy education minister.
BBC Africa Live 01 February 2023. 5:16

Botswana: “(D)ue to Western buyers shunning Russian stones”, Botswana’s diamond sales have boomed in 2022. Close to a third of the country’s revenue and about 70% of export earnings come from diamonds.
BBC Africa Live 01 February 2023. 4:35

Somalia/Djibouti/Ethiopia/Kenya: The leaders of the four countries have agreed to conduct a “joint offensive operation” against al-Shabaab so as to “boost the momentum built up by government forces who have made huge gains over the past few months”. No details were provided. Al-Shabaab has so far not reacted.
BBC Africa Live 01 February 2023. 17:45