Discover more from This Week in Africa
This Week in Africa
August 26, 2022
Quote of the week
“It is an existential election, and it is going to be very tight race. If there were free and fair elections, there is no doubt the opposition would win but the government is not going to allow that.” – Paula Cristina Roque on Angola’s election
Angolans went to the polls this week to elect its government amidst rising youth discontent. Campaigns were intense as the governing elite face a major backlash. The country is unequal and divided. A lot is at stake. Meet the two candidates vying for the presidency. The body of former President José Eduardo dos Santos, who died in Spain in July, arrived in Luanda this week. Nicolas Lippolis explains how mounting economic challenges threaten the basis of MPLA rule. Young voters could sway the election toward the opposition UNITA, but MPLA is unlikely to let go of power.
Raila Odinga lost his stronghold, and then the presidential election. Susanne Mueller explains the changing ethnic calculus that led to William Ruto’s victory. These are four reasons Odinga struggled. Ruto campaigned hard, and his win in Central Kenya propelled him to the presidency. The political landscape was tense leading up to the polls, and that intensity remains as Odinga did not accept the results. Nic Cheeseman provides his thoughts on the Azimio Petition.
Ruto’s win signals a shift away from Kenya’s political dynasties. Murithi Mutuga and Kathleen Klaus explain the institutionalization of elections in the country, while Rashid Abdi discusses what Ruto’s win might mean for the region. Some fear that women’s rights will not be safe, even though the election brought a wave of new women into leadership positions.
Hotel siege in Mogadishu
Al-Shabaab militants attacked a hotel in Mogadishu, killing more than 20 people. Several of them were clan elders who held a meeting at the hotel. There was a long 30 hour standoff before security forces rescued those trapped inside. More than 100 people were injured. The attack was the largest since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president in May. He vows accountability for the attack.
Ghana’s economic challenges
Ghana announced its largest ever hike in its main lending rate to try to stabilize the economy. The cedi continues to fall, inflation continues to rise, and the bond yield is high. The country considers adopting the gold standard. This is how Ghana went from hero to zero for investors.
Escalation of violence in Ethiopia
The Tigray war has started again. Fighting has escalated along the border, breaking a months-long ceasefire. The violence is taking place amidst a terrible famine that has left more than half of Tigrayans in need of food. The African Union envoy, led by Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo, has been unable to resolve the conflict.
New Zulu King
Challenges of democratization
Democracy is under threat across the globe. Economic neglect and political instability unraveled Tunisia’s democracy. There might be a major political shift taking place in Senegal. Sishuwa Sishuwa provides a balanced account of Zambia’s President Hichilema’s first year in office. These two books look great: Undue Process and Democratic Backsliding in Africa? Autocratization, Resilience, and Contention. So does this: Revolution & Dictatorship. I am enjoying Carnegie’s “Pivotal Elections in Africa.”
Migration and emigration
Struggle for rights and freedom
When did Maasaiphobia become policy? Peacebuilding needs local partners—but how do you define ‘local’? How does AI write about violence in northern Nigeria? What is happening in the eastern Great Lakes Region? Does Nigeria lack heroes?
Check out this podcast about African social movements and the worlds they are trying to create. Guinea-Bissau lawmaker Joana Gomes’s allegiance is with Russia because of their role in supporting freedom fighters in the past. Idi Amin’s ‘economic war’ victimized Uganda’s Africans and Asians alike. Western countries are finally scrutinizing Paul Kagame’s rule in Rwanda. South Sudanese return to Sudan seeking relief, but find more hardship. Benin’s groundbreaking new abortion law will save the lives of many women. This is an interesting piece about the lack of university presses in Africa. This event unpacks the new US strategy toward Africa.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Check out this interesting article on the state of urban research. This is how people experience eviction in Somaliland’s growing cities. Magdalene Maluta is helping keep thousands of electric vehicles on Nairobi’s roads. Learn more about urban governance in Ghana. Check out these sustainable cities made from mud. Download the report “Understanding South African Just Urban Transitions.” Infrastructure building in Mogadishu. Maputo faces severe water challenges. Check out these three new articles in Urban Studies: “Urban Statecraft,” “Problematising concepts of transit-oriented development in South African cities,” and “Everyday countours and politics of infrastructure.” This article examines land temperature and urbanization in Lagos.
Lindokuhle Mguni, leader of South Africa’s shack dweller movement Abahlali BaseMjondolo, was killed this week. The organization blames local ANC instigators and their greed for land for the killing. Mguni is the 24th leader of the movement to be killed. Other leaders are forced into hiding. The country is facing a politics of death, and there is a broader attack on South Africa’s constitutional order.
Can political science knowledge prevent electoral violence? This chapter examines exporting Chinese architecture to the continent; this one focuses on Ghana. This new paper finds a negative relationship between kinship and economic development. Learn more about how to rebuild public authority in Uganda. Read “Family Planning in the Sierra Leone Ebola Outbreak: Women’s Proximal and Distal Reasoning.”
This book examines digital surveillance in southern Africa. Colonial Impotence: Virtue and Violence in a Congolese Concession (1911–1940) looks good. Students of the World: Global 1968 and Decolonization in the Congo is out. Check out A Critical History of Poverty Finance.
The week in development
Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi critiques the state of governance in Ghana. This is a good thread on cash transfers and what poor people want. This is how the pandemic shutdown affected mental health in South Africa. Learn more about the bridge that connects Zambia to Botswana. Kenya becomes the first African country to export avocados to China. South Africa’s cannabis growers are left behind by legalization plans. This is how African countries coordinated their response to COVID-19. Nigerians are looking toward crypto as a strategic investment. This piece examines how to control the prices of pharmaceutical products in a depreciation era.
China will waive some of its loans to Africa. This is why Kenya was left out of the deal. Google Wallet launches in South Africa as digital payments boom. The SSRC’s Mercury Project has funded some great projects to help build vaccine demand and healthier information environments. Fuel subsidies don’t reduce poverty. Is the mafiazation of South Africa under way? Is Congo’s oil auction foiling climate colonialism or filling the coffers?
The female future of science is in Africa.
Africa and the environment
West Africa is drowning in plastic. Sure, I’ll have some of that ice cream with dried fish and scotch bonnet chiles. Plant-based meat is a great way to help tackle the climate crisis, though Beyond Meat canceled its shipment to South Africa over fears it would be seized. These floods in Burkina Faso are serious. Climate change is everyone’s problem. Politics has subverted conservation efforts to protect Mau’s forest.
The drought in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia is making millions of people vulnerable to death. Climate change is Africa’s biggest existential challenge. African migratory birds are in danger. Let’s talk about water. Can Africa provide climate solutions?
Yagazie Emezi is at the vanguard of visual storytelling on the African continent. Making things come to life. Wow, Lake Bogoria. Yum: saffron fonio. Ebo Taylor is still at it. Accra is beautiful and I am glad to be here. Chale Wote was awesome. Ghana overtakes Nigeria as country with most YouTube searches for jollof rice.
And I love this: kids do Bollywood!
All the best,
Jeff and Phil