27 January 2023

Madagascar: 16 are known to have died and 17 are missing after Tropical Storm Cheneso. More than 60,000 have been displaced, 13,000 houses and around 100 classrooms were damaged.
BBC Africa Live 27 January 2023. 9:06

Congo-Kinshasa: The M23 claims to have taken the town Kitshanga (north west of Goma) after three days of fighting with government troops. Local radio Okapi has also reported the fall of Kitshanga and social media show pictures of hundreds fleeing. M23 say they are “obliged to intervene to stop another genocide” against Tutsis, this time those living in Congo-Kinshasa.
BBC Africa Live 27 January 2023. 8:16

Sudan/Ethiopia: Sudanese junta head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Ethiopian Prime minister Abiy Ahmed have met in Khartoum yesterday Thursday. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reportedly said that they “are in agreement on all matters regarding" GERD, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. According to Abiy, the dam will not only not hurt Sudan but be beneficial in terms of electricity.
BBC Africa Live 27 January 2023. 7:37

Cheetahs/South Africa/India: Last year, Namibia sent eight cheetahs to Kuno National Park in Indian state Madhya Pradesh. South Africa will send twelve in February and plans to send as many each of the next eight to ten years. “Asian cheetahs became extinct in India in the late 1940s because of excessive hunting and loss of habitat.” It remains to be seen whether the relocations will work – “reserves in India are close to densely populated villages”.
BBC Africa Live 27 January 2023. 5:13

Biodiversity: We can only protect what we know. Yet “at the current rate of discovery it may take more than 150 years to visit every 100km x 100km area in Africa even once.” And one visit is far too little to know about species existing in an area. All kinds of biomes in Africa are seriously understudied, birds are the best-studied, followed by mammals, followed by amphibians. Plants, fungi and insects are even worse off.

Germany/Stereotypes about Africa: Berlin has had to backtrack after a disrespectful – disrespectful towards Africa – tweet about the Russian foreign minister’s visit to several African countries. “Lavrov is in Africa, not to see [leopard emoji] but to bluntly claim that Ukraine's partners ‘want to destroy everything Russian’,” was the incriminated tweet’s text. Is Africa “no more than a vast landscape of wild animals”?
BBC Africa Live 27 January 2023. 9:55
BBC Africa Live 26 January 2023. 6:59

Tanzania: If opposition rallies have been unbanned, it signals democratic reforms without really enacting any. Yet the unbanning is of great importance and will have an impact – rallies are central to opposition politics, especially before elections. According to research, 69% of people attend rallies in the last month of an election campaign and they attend seven rallies on average, “just under one every four days”. Banning rallies in Tanzania is equivalent to “banning television, or the internet, (…) in the global north.” After six and a half years without rallies (except for a short spell before the 2020 elections), leading opposition party Chadema must try and rebuild the party structures from the bottom up. Whether other democratic reforms will follow the rally unbanning remains to be seen – the article’s author is sceptical.

Art/East Africa/Kenya: In Nairobi, the exhibition “Mwili, Akili na Roho” (Body, Mind and Spirit) shows figurative modernist paintings of ten East Africans of the second half of the 20th century. It is the third incarnation of the exhibition, the first happened in Germany in 2020, the second in London in 2021. The 54 artworks on show are by Sam Joseph Ntiro, Elimo Njau, Asaph Ng’ethe Macua, Jak Katarikawe, Theresa Musoke, Peter Mulindwa, Sane Wadu, John Njenga, Chelenge van Rampelberg and Meek Gichugu.

Heat stress: 30% of the world’s population are presently exposed to deadly heat stress. Depending on how much climate change there will be, that percentage is expected to increase to 48%-76% by the year 2100 – at least half of humankind or even three quarters. The article then narrows to conditions in South Africa, without really providing much concrete information. Anyway, “children, the elderly, and those with underlying comorbidities are more vulnerable”, so they need to take special care.

Neglected tropical diseases: The article gives an overview, focussing on the good news, the advances that have been made of late despite all the neglect. But lots remains to be done.

26 January 2023

Somalia: As the “political and humanitarian catastrophe predates” Al-Shabaab’s rise, it “is a symptom rather than the cause” of the country’s troubles. The real problem is the “dominant faction of the Somali political class (… whose) agenda has been to attain power and loot the country’s resources for private gain”. This “sectarian” elite has the support of the “international community”. The article traces the roots of the problem to the late 1960s. When, in 2006, the Union of the Islamic Courts defeated the warlords, this gave rise to a short period of stability – ended after only six months, as the USA & Co “were alarmed by the possibility of an ‘Islamist’ foothold in the Horn of Africa”, so an Ethiopian invasion put an end to this and installed a “tribal-based Somali Federal Government, formed in Nairobi”. Unless there is determined pressure from inside and/or outside, it is unlikely that the political elite will change and thus, “the tragedy might fester for decades, with or without Al-Shabaab”.

Africa and evolution of humans: According to the article’s author, it could not have happened anywhere else: wildebeest and other such grazers in easter and southern Africa’s fertile savannas was what “enabled the evolutionary transformation of a relatively puny ape into a feared hunter”.

South Africa: Recently deceased Adriaan Vlok, law and order minister in apartheid-times, is just an example. Apologies are a form of symbolic reparation. According to the article’s author, “even incomplete or insincere apologies have restorative value.” They “can have value if the person apologising shows shame, or if the apology involves public humiliation.”

Ghana/Domestic debt restructuring: Domestic bondholders aren’t accepting the government’s proposal in large enough numbers to make the restructuring feasible. The article’s author sees four reasons for this: “investors face significant losses; the government’s “take-it-or-leave-it” approach; a lack of faith in the government; and the fact that there’s no sense of sharing the burden”. Domestic debt restructuring is a precondition for the IMF’s approval of a 3bn USD loan which is to help the country’s economy get out of its present dire straits.

Malawi: Despite a lot of progress in agriculture (e.g., yields have increased from 2 to 8 metric tonnes between 1990 and 2020) food insecurity remains high. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – attributable to climate change – have increased of late. “Adaptation finance is needed to develop climate-resilient infrastructure and climate-smart agricultural practices”. Locally based initiatives ought to have priority. The subsidy programme must become more efficient, turned more towards poorer households.

Nigeria: According to this ISS article, what the top three presidential candidates have to offer regarding approaches to the country’s worsened and worsening security situation is inadequate and no real departure from what’s been done so far. Whoever becomes the country’s next president “must quickly review his campaign promises and prioritise comprehensive reforms that make Nigeria safer.”