26 October 2022

Never use another person’s watch to navigate the affairs of your life
BBC Africa Live 26 October 2022. 4:32 Proverb of the day. A Yoruba proverb from Nigeria sent by Abayomi Daniel in London, the UK.

Nigeria: Only two weeks ago, Biafran separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu was discharged by the Court of Appeal in Abuja on terrorism charges. Now a federal high court in Abia state (south-east of the country) has ordered him to be returned to the country (Kenya) “where he was arrested and extradited” illegally, in “violation of his fundamental rights”. The same court has furthermore awarded Nnamdi Kanu 500m naira (1.2m USD) in damages.
BBC Africa Live 26 October 2022. 13:12

Kenya: The Standard Gauge Railway connecting Mombasa to Nairobi and eventually meant to interconnect East Africa (Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia) is a matter of Kenyan national pride. But the poor have been left out of the picture. For them, the mega-project has meant evictions, displacement and the interruption of livelihoods. The article’s author set out to research how they cope and in the article, he shows how, instead of development, the railway has brought problems and suffering. With mega-projects, it is essential “to rigorously assess the social and environment impacts before, during and after project construction” – as in many other cases, with the Standard Gauge Railway, this was never done.

South Africa/Orlando & Black resistance: “Orlando was one of the first municipal locations – called townships under apartheid – established in 1932 for Africans under the 1923 Native Urban Areas Act.” It is one of the oldest parts of what became Soweto after the amalgamation of several townships. The article provides an outline of how Orlando developed and attempts to show how it soon became a site of radical African politics, “a mecca of black urban culture and liberation politics”.

Ghana/Economics: Inflation is booming, government finances and the Cedi are lying low. How did the country get into this economic crisis? This short article points to four The Conversation articles all focusing on the balance of payments side of the economic woes. External debt in 2006, after benefitting from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, was down to 780m USD. But it has since risen by 7000%. Then there is the IMF – Ghana is once again turning to the International Monetary Fund for emergency aid. But will or can the Bretton Woods institution save the country? And Theophilus Acheampong’s view is that the government recurrently fails “to build the economy to withstand internal and external shocks”.

25 October 2022

We appreciate the flowers after eating their fruit
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 5:53. Proverb of the day. A Shona proverb from Zimbabwe sent by Naomi Chareka in Dubai, the UAE.

African cities/Heat reduction: Exposure to dangerous heat in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the highest world-wide. The situation is worsened by a “shortage of basic services and infrastructure, (…) low-quality housing, poor socio-economic conditions and few green spaces in slums and informal settlements”. The poor, of course, have less means to protect themselves from the heat. Green spaces become all the more important “especially in vulnerable urban areas such as informal settlements”. Vertical greening can also contribute to heat reduction – and has the additional advantage of providing healthy food (vegetables). “Up to 2.88℃ maximum (indoor air) temperature and 0.7℃ minimum (indoor air) temperature reductions were recorded” during the author’s experiments and “(w)all temperature reduced by as much as 5°C”.

Sudan: On the anniversary of last year’s coup d’état, ahead of planned mass protests, the authorities have closed major roads and bridges in Khartoum. More than 100 protesters have been killed over the last year. While Washington yesterday Monday said it “could sanction those undermining the transition to civilian rule”, the military seem nowhere near abandoning power.
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 9:32

Chad: Let us hope that the 7 days of national mourning will not be all that the junta has to offer for the 50 dead who had protested and demanded a return to civilian rule. General Mahamat Idriss Déby’s bellicosity in what he had to say about a “well-prepared insurrection” and the “support of foreign powers” for the protesters makes us fear the worst.
The Geneva-based World Organization against Torture has accused the Chadian authorities of “summary executions and torture” at the clashes of the security forces with the protesters last Thursday.
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 5:56
BBC Africa Live 25 October 2022. 11:10

Colonialism and plant distribution world-wide: Colonialism was the high time of species redistribution – “alien species” finding a home “beyond their native areas where they naturally evolved”, with global exchange of plant species to and from colonised parts of the world especially intense in the 19th and early 20th centuries. “This was mainly driven by botanical gardens and so-called “acclimatisation societies” which exchanged plants across the empires for science, medicine, horticulture or economic exploitation.” In Britain, there were over 100 botanical gardens and 50 acclimatisation societies, with London’s Kew Gardens the best known. Not all such “globalisation” is beneficial: invasive alien species have caused many a problem.

Ghana/Christian Nationalism: Religion has so far not played an important role in Ghanaian politics. But that seems to be changing. Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have witnessed “explosive growth” recently. While of little theological depth, “Christian nationalists promote the fusion of their preferred form of Christianity and a country’s civic and political life.” As in Zambia, Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire, Christian nationalism is expanding fast in Ghana. In the name of “family values”, this is dangerous for women’s position – who are generally looked down upon – and even more dramatically for the LGBTQ+ community (a new, very tough anti-LGBTQ+ bill is currently before parliament) in passing by “the Ghana Education Service’s attempt to introduce a new sexuality education policy supported by Unesco and the UN Population Fund.” Ghana is constitutionally a secular state – but is it still secular in today’s real world also?

Kilimanjaro Fires: For tens of thousands of years, fires have “played a role in shaping the vegetation belts” on Kilimanjaro and they have in fact been “quite common in the higher areas of Kilimanjaro at the end of the dry seasons, around February to March and September to October.” But over the last decades, several big fires have “dramatically changed land cover”. The destruction of old cloud forest has, for example, more impact on the mountain’s water balance than melting glaciers as cloud forests collect fog water. With increased population pressure – agriculture entirely surrounds the mountain nowadays, making it an ecological island – and climate change, the Kilimanjaro ecosystem is becoming ever more vulnerable and very much needs protection.