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This Week in Africa
April 21, 2023
Quote of the week
“We feel powerless. Everyone is worried this will go the way of Yemen or Syria. The ghost of civil war is here.” – Sudanese protest Omar Farook
Violence in Sudan
Fighting broke out in Khartoum, Sudan, putting the country on the cusp of civil war. The speed of the collapse is staggering, and devastating. Hospitals are struggling to keep up with the injuries and fatalities. These maps of the fighting tell the story of the city as a battlefield. A recent cease fire failed, and families are trapped in the city. Declan Walsh explains how two generals turned against each other after they staged the 2021 coup, and now are fighting for power. This is a helpful explainer of the seven-year power struggle.
Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is the the army chief and Lt. Gen Mohamed Hamdan is a paramilitary leader of the Rapid Support Forces. This is a great portrait of Hamdan, nicknamed Hemedti, who has plunged the country into violence. The generals accuse each other of being criminals. Nesrine Malik writes, “Hemedti is folksy, easy in his skin, with a glint in his eye and a smiling mischief to his demeanour that belie his reputation for slaughter.” Tessa Knight provides this fascinating thread about how support for Hemedti was amplified on Twitter. This is why it has been so difficult to stop the fighting. CSIS provides some helpful analysis of the situation.
While the international community failed to hold the generals accountable before the fighting began, can they prevent the country from descending into full-scale civil war? Alex de Waal argues that Washington lost its capacity to help. A Libyan militia and Egypt’s military back opposite sides in the conflict. There is additional risk of regional leaders picking sides. Western governments are trying to evacuate the country. More than 100 protesters have been killed since 2021, calling for democratic elections. Democracy is a long way off. The Crisis Group provides this statement on the need for a humanitarian ceasefire. What will happen next?
Struggle for rights and freedom
Ghana: 5 presidents, 8 elections, 30 years later. Jeffrey Haynes explains the democratic hopes of Jerry John Rawlings. This is a cool map of Africa’s regional blocs. This piece examines revitalizing Jubaland’s political settlement. South Africans fear for their future. More women describe enduring forced abortions in Nigerian Army Programme. Kenya wants its artifacts back. Ex-Gambian Interior Minister is charged with crimes against humanity. Ugandans flee the country ahead of the harsh anti-gay law. Being gay in Uganda is a life or death situation. Tunisia’s security forces are fueling the flight of many migrants.
Security and instability
The world’s deadliest conflict last year was not in Ukraine—it was in Ethiopia. The EU will support DR Congo’s armed forces. Illicit logging in Africa is a threat to security. This is an interesting analysis of why some young people join Al Shabaab. Farmer-pastoral clashes killed 22 more people in Chad. Rwanda promises military assistance to Benin to combat Sahel jihadist threat. Why is Paul Kagame sowing chaos in the DR Congo?
Challenges of democratization
Should America still promote democracy? Is Liberia heading towards an electoral crisis? Portia Roelofs explains Bola Tinubu’s record on governance. Meet Tanzania’s hip-hop politician. African journalists are dying.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Learn more about Itana, a charter city or tech hub near Lagos. This post provides further context. Astrid Haas has a point: build cities for all, not the privileged few. Ugandans rage over roads (and this movie trailer!!). Learn more about post-pandemic cities. Check out this review article on urban sprawl in Africa. Taibat Lawanson and Shuaib Lwasa will discuss citizenship and sustainability in urban Africa this week.
Stefanie Stantcheva’s paper explains how to run surveys. This paper looks good: “Tools of Voter Suppression: Racial Disenfranchisement in the Cape of Good Hope.” This article discusses Somali vernacular humanitarianism. A history of the “Zambian copper flower.” This article explains the relationship between slavery and state formation in Africa. Check out this paper: “From What to How: Dignity, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals.” Sarah Balakrishnan’s new article is awesome: “Prison of the Womb: Gender, Incarceration, and Capitalism on the Gold Coast of West Africa, c. 1500–1957.” Nic Cheeseman and Susan Dodsworth ask: When are campaigns against repressive laws successful?
Here’s a good thread of the latest issue of Journal of Southern African Studies. Queens of Afrobeat: Women, Play, and Fela Kuti’s Music Rebellion by Dotun Ayobade looks great. This looks good: Trade makes States.
The week in development
Do Chinese firms in Africa pay higher wages? Can a new industrial revolution transform Benin’s economy? Is Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa behind gold smuggling? Can African futurism help solve Africa’s toughest challenges? Why are African flights so expensive? How prepared for AI is Africa? A funding squeeze has hit Africa hard. Life inside the COVID lockdown. Hunger is soaring and spreading across Africa. Africa’s new millionaires are coming from its less fashionable economies. This study reports on a tax registration exercise.
And I am very curious to see how this goes: Ghana has approved Oxford University’s malaria vaccine for use.
Africa and the environment
These are five names leading the African design diaspora. Music’s making vernacular cool again. Lonely beaches, local kings in Guinea-Bissau. How fast is Eliud Kipchoge? Fast, but this week not as fast as Evans Chebet.
All the best,
Jeff and Phil