Discover more from This Week in Africa
This Week in Africa
May 19, 2023
Quote of the week
“I turned to Twitter and that’s when the sheer scale of what was unfolding on the streets of Khartoum became clear: A war was erupting and we were caught in the middle.” – Journalist Dallia Abdelmoniem in Sudan
War in Sudan
The war in Sudan is destroying key infrastructure and has created a severe humanitarian crisis. Local aid groups have stepped in to help. There are not many good options left in the country. This article explains Sudan’s frantic search for its missing people. The conflict is straining the fragility of its neighbors. The country has become a battleground of foreign fighters, and there is concern that it will destabilize South Sudan. Meanwhile, journalists are facing threats and raids. This is why war and gold don’t mix.
Dallia Abdelmoniem recounts the terror of the fighting and her own family’s perilous journey out of Khartoum. This is where the conflict is now. Talks resume in Saudi Arabia, but the fighting continues. What lessons can we learn from the Sudan conflict? This is what Sudan needs right now.
Pay attention to Senegalese politics, where opposition figure Ousmane Sonko continues to face legal problems, placing his proposed presidential candidacy into doubt. Another round of protests broke out on Monday.
Complexities of corruption
Struggle for rights and freedom
What will become of Ethiopia’s National Dialogue? Who cares about Ghana’s 2023 district-level elections? Check out this week’s The Continent. Democracy in Tunisia feels like a very long time ago. This is a harrowing account of the cult in Kenya where its leader told his followers to starve themselves to meet Jesus. Learn more about the politics of coups.
African international relations
Did South Africa sell arms to Russia? Is Wagner pivoting back to Africa? Sierra Leone’s president urges an end of the Ukraine War for the sake of humanity. This investigation uncovers a March massacre in Mali with a Russian footprint. It is time to align European migration policies with African priorities. This is how Africa’s history shaped the modern world. China faces questions over its ability to protect its citizens abroad after nine gold miners were massacred in Central African Republic.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Johannesburg just selected its sixth mayor in the last 22 months, as the power struggles in the city overwhelm failing public services. I learned a lot about Ethiopia’s largescale affordable housing initiative from Hone Mandefro’s article, which he argues is creating weak and fragmented communities. This article outlines machine learning and remote sensing strategies for urban sustainability. Kenya’s waste pickers are the backbone of its recycling. This symposium discusses digitizing the periphery.
Check out my new article with Kathleen Klaus and Martha Wilfahrt “Demanding recognition: a new Framework for the Study of Political Clientelism” in African Affairs. We explain why citizens continue to demand and participate in patron-client relations, even when politicians rarely deliver on political promises.
We suggest that citizens expect their political leaders to recognize them as dignified human beings and engage in political clientelism as a vehicle for demanding three dimensions of social recognition: 1) to be seen and heard by leaders, 2) to be respected as agents in the political process, and 3) to be politically included and protected from harm. We draw on evidence from urban Ghana, rural Senegal, and coastal Kenya to provide new insights into the enduring logics of clientelism and citizen strategies amidst unequal power relationships.
Gunvor Jonsson’s article on gendered and tactical strangerhood by Malian migrants in Dakar is great. Make sure to read Mai Hassan and Ahmed Kodouda’s excellent article about civil service reform after Sudan’s uprising. This is an important study on religion and educational mobility. Bizuneh Yimenu measures and explains fiscal de/centralization in Ethiopia. Check out this review essay on historical political economy. This article examines the motivations for return migration to Somalia.
Stephan Miescher’s A Dam for Africa looks great. So many great contributors in Rebellious Riots: Entangled Geographies of Contention in Africa. This looks cool: Voices of Liberation: Ndabaningi Sithole A forgotten Founding Father.
And it matters who does science.
The week in development
The IMF approves its $3 billion loan with Ghana, with an immediate payout of $600 million. Macky Sall argues that Africa no longer needs aid but positive partnerships. This is how Ghana’s economy became a cautionary tale for Africa. A land dispute threatens Ghana’s famous skate park. West Africa has the world’s fastest growing mobile money market. Rasna Warah explains why it is crucial to address unresolved land issues on Kenya’s coast. This is how the US can effectively implement its new digital transformation with Africa initiative.
Africa and the environment
Learn more about Africa’s conservation conundrum. This piece examines early warning systems to predict drought. This is how the lithium rush is harming West African rural communities. Getting through the worst drought in a generation.
All the best,
Jeff and Phil