21 January 2023

Niger: Good news for women who’ll give birth in health facilities: the number who bleed to death after giving birth (who die of postpartum haemorrhage) has been reduced to less than half in only two years. A combination of treatments is responsible for the success. First, misoprostol tablets (cheap and easy-to-store). If the bleeding does not stop within 20 minutes, “a condom attached to a catheter is inserted into the uterus and then inflated”. If this also doesn’t work, then “a non-inflatable anti-shock garment is used to give the mother time to get to surgery for blood transfusions”. The method should work elsewhere as well. Misoprostol can also be taken at home – so giving it to women who approach the end of a pregnancy may do good even if they should not come to the health facility.

South Africa 1960s/Photographer Ernest Cole: “House of Bondage”, a book of “photographs that portrayed the structural violence of apartheid in fine detail”, originally published in 1967, is available again. The Aperture Foundation left the core of the book unchanged but added three introductory essays and a section “Black Ingenuity”, 30 pictures of musicians, dancers, artists, boxers which show “how spaces of sociality and creativity were forged in spite of apartheid”. Born in a Pretoria township in 1940, Ernest Cole left South Africa in 1966 on an exit permit, never to return. He continued to work as a photographer in the USA and for some time in Sweden. “From the mid-1970s, he was homeless and spent time living in the subways in New York and occasionally at a shelter or the houses of friends. He died of pancreatic cancer in exile in 1990.” Ernest Cole is one of the photographers included in the Photography Legacy project (https://www.plparchive.com/ernest-cole-main-page/).

Nigeria: None of the three leading presidential election candidates – Bola Tinubu/All Progressives Congress (in power), Atiku Abubakar/People's Democratic Party, Peter Obi/Labour Party – has ever been indicted (or they would not be able to be candidates), but all three “have been separately accused of trading in narcotics, money laundering and global tax avoidance.” The BBC article provides details about the accusations: mainly drug trafficking for Tinubu, embezzlement and money laundering for Abubakar, tax avoidance for Obi.

Cameroon/Canada: The Canadian government has reportedly accepted to be facilitator for an initiative to resolve the conflict in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions (North-West, South-West). According to an anonymous source in Justin Trudeau’s office, The Republic of Cameroon, the Ambazonia Governing Council, the Ambazonia Defence Force, the African People’s Liberation Movement, the Southern Cameroons Defence Force, the Interim Government and the Ambazonia Coalition Team “have agreed to take part in a process aimed at resolving the situation” and “secret meetings” have already been held.
BBC Africa Latest Updates 21 January 2023. 17:45

Tanzania: Chadema, the main opposition party, has held its first rally since 2016 today in the country’s second city Mwanza (north-west, on Lake Victoria) after Magufuli’s ban had been lifted by President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the beginning of 2023.
BBC Africa Latest Updates 21 January 2023. 12:08
BBC Africa Latest Updates 21 January 2023.

20 January 2023

Chad: Delphine Djiraibé, one of the first female lawyers in her country, is one of the three winners of this year’s Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Known “for initiating the prosecution of Chad’s former dictator, Hissène Habré”, she has, for over 30 years, “challenged the authorities to secure basic rights for all Chadians, including the right to life, justice, freedom of opinion, food, education and health”. The award ceremony is to be held in Geneva on 16th of February.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 7:36

Eritrea/Ethiopia/Tigray: Residents of several towns in Tigray report that Eritrean troops are withdrawing. According to the peace agreement, the withdrawal of foreign troops was to be effected once Tigray forces had handed over their heavy weapons to the federal government – which they have.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 11:44

Madagascar: The country is a global biodiversity hotspot. Climate change – conditions getting drier – puts additional pressure on the country’s ecosystems. With deforestation already happened on a massive scale, a study undertaken by the article’s authors looked into future climate change effects on the four key forest habitat types of the country which are “the dry deciduous forests of the west, humid evergreen forests of the east, spiny bush forests of the arid south, and transitional forests of the north-west corner of the island.” The study found future declines of Madagascar’s forests, even if climate change should be mitigated. Immediate action to end deforestation is needed.

Western Sahara: Annexed by Morocco in the late 1970s and controlled by Rabat, it is one of 17 territories worldwide remaining without self-government. The referendum on self-determination, for which the UN Security Council established the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara in April 1991 never took place – there was no agreement on who could take part in the referendum. According to the article’s author’s research, what was at fault was the weakness of the UN mandate and especially the absence of a human rights monitoring mechanism. In the face of Washington’s recent support for Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, this, however, seems a rather minor point.

Somalia: Little freedom for the press: for criticising a government ban on media reports about al-Shabab, Abdalle Mumin, secretary-general of the Somali Journalists Syndicate, was arrested in October 2022. Since then, “Somali authorities have shut down hundreds of outlets affiliated with al-Shabab and ordered the media to refer to the group as ‘khawarij’, meaning ultra-extremists.”
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 6:13

Ghana: The Ghanaian economist Theo Acheampong believes that the country’s present problems have their roots in a borrowing binge in the early 2000s, after Accra’s getting substantial debt relief and the discovery of crude oil.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 5:06

Nigeria: West Africa has only two natural harbours (Freetown and Lagos), artificial ports have been created. A “ports race” is on to become shipping hubs for the region. The recently completed 1.5bn USD Lekki Deep Sea Port about 50 km east of Lagos looks set to occupy a prominent place. Doubling the capacity of Lagos port, “(i)t will accommodate the world’s largest cargo ships and is expected to reduce cargo wait times from over 50 days to two days.” If things go according to plan, it will “generate 170,000 direct and indirect jobs, billions of dollars in tax revenues (…) and a turnover of US$361 billion over the next 45 years”. However, there is no provision for cargo evacuation by rail and road infrastructure is insufficient for anticipated traffic. Furthermore, the state government needs to acquire land for future port extension or Lekki threatens to witness “a repeat of the problems of older ports hemmed in by unplanned industrial, urban and commercial land use.”

South Sudan: According to the Ethiopian general heading the ceasefire monitoring team, civilians are discouraged from returning home because their homes are still occupied by government forces.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 8:23

South Africa: The ruling ANC is considering selling assets to cover a “deficit” of 14m USD. The most significant expenditure items were salaries and election campaigns plus advertising and events.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 13:58

Zambia/South Africa: After a study found lead levels in Zambia’s fourth biggest town Kabwe on average 9 times higher than internationally accepted limits, 140,000 women and children “claim they have suffered extreme levels of lead pollution after nearly 50 years of metal mining and smelting operations” of Anglo-American. South Africa’s High Court will now decide whether they can bring a class action against the mining conglomerate.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 10:07

Zambia: As the 150 MW generator at Maamba Collieries Limited is back working after routine maintenance, blackouts in the country will be reduced from 12 to 8 daily hours (4 hours twice a day). Also, water levels at Kariba Dam are rising thanks to heavy rains.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 11:01

Rwanda: John Williams Ntwali, “one of the last independent journalists” in Rwanda, was not seen after reporting to a police station on Tuesday. It was only on Thursday that his family were notified of his death in a traffic accident. An independent international investigation is being demanded.
BBC Africa Live 20 January 2023. 12:23