Discover more from This Week in Africa
This Week in Africa
June 3, 2022
Sorry all, this week’s a long one. Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“I used to buy oil in bulk, now I can’t even buy one.” – Ghanaian catering entrepreneur
This is a helpful thread on the state of Kenya’s electoral campaign. Estimates suggest that a successful bid for president in Kenya costs $43 million, more than any other African country except Nigeria. Go inside the flaws of Kenya’s biometrics. Raila and Ruto both support a push for compensation for victims’ families of the 1998 Embassy bombings. Kirk Harris’ new article explains the local ethnic census in Kenya’s subnational campaigns. Who won Kenya’s “nominations”? Are political debates useful or mere media spectacles? (This article provides helpful evidence from Ghana).
And meet the entertaining candidates over the years.
Xenophobia in South Africa
Many South Africans still take the law into their own hands to drive out foreigners. Xenophobia mimics Apartheid-era violence. Jean Pierre Misago and Loren Landau examine this violence and co-authoring spatiotemporal exclusion in the country.
Resurgence of violence in eastern DR Congo
A resurgence of violence in eastern DR Congo displaced 72,000 people in one week. This is what M23’s on-and-off insurgency tells us about DRC’s precarious search for peace. This is how to ease the turmoil in the Eastern DR Congo and Great Lakes. Jason Stearns explains the self-perpetuating conflict in the country in his new article.
African international relations
A new report finds that the Wagner Group massacred hundreds of people in Mali, working alongside the military. A Darfur village is still reeling from a Wagner Group massacre in CAR. Putin’s world order would be devastating for Africa. This is a helpful analysis of the relationship between Chinese lending, democratic backsliding, but also democratic resilience in Zambia. This report discusses how the West can counter Chinese influence in Africa. UN peacekeeping in Africa is working better than you might think.
Frances Z. Brown and Thomas Carothers argue that the US needs a global anti-coup strategy. What should be the US toolkit to address the military coup in Sudan? Will France’s Africa policy hold up? What does US re-entry into Somalia mean for the Horn of Africa and for bigger powers? What is Africa’s view on Europe? How would a US abortion ban impact Africa? Is Tigray Africa’s Ukraine?
The world cannot afford to ignore Tigray.
Struggle for rights and freedom
This piece provides a glimpse into Eritrea. Learn more about the siege at Amarula Lodge in Mozambique. Jamil Khan writes about queer shame and secrecy in India and South Africa. Ethiopian rights body seeks the release of 16 detained journalists. The country is in a vicious cycle with crackdown on free expression. Abdul Tejan-Cole argues that Rwanda’s deal with the UK to host refugees is another stain on Paul Kagame. It is time for truth and reconciliation in Angola. A violent land-grab strategy targets older Kenyan women.
Around 100 people were killed in clashes between Chad artisanal gold miners last week. Somalia’s election raises more questions than answers. Attacks on scholars are a threat to democracy. These are the upcoming elections on the continent. This was Kwasi Wiredu’s golden rule. This trilogy of novels explores the contradictions of the Cameroonian dream. And this is an amazing resource: The Nigeria Papers: Sharīʿa implementation in Northern Nigeria.
Decolonizing African Studies
Recently, the African Studies Review published a review article on “Autoethnography.” The authors argue that “Autoethnography—a methodology that foregrounds personal experience both during research and in writing about it—is a useful keyword for scholars working in Africa and the diaspora.” Many people were not pleased with the article. Seven scholars of African heritage delivered this open Letter to ASR’s editorial board calling for retraction. The letter suggests the article “presents irresponsible and unethical methods of data collection in African communities in the name of decolonization.” Much of the discontent appears to stem from co-author Katrina Daly Thompson’s previous study “When I Was a Swahili Woman: The Possibilities and Perils of “Going Native” in a Culture of Secrecy.” The letter was signed by approximately 1,000 supporters, as reported by Inside Higher Ed. Timothy Burke provided this analysis about retraction versus attack.
The ASR will not retract the article, and issued this statement in response. They explained their rigorous review process, clarified the contribution of the essay, and explained how it could potentially help decolonize the field. ASR understands that it has a long way to go before most Africa-based scholars recognize it as an especially African journal. Many scholars were unhappy with the response letter. Mukoma Wa Ngugi calls the response “condescending and imperious.” Bhakti Shringarpure provided this critique. Many are concerned about the silencing of African scholars.
But the situation brings up an important question: How, where, and when should these debates take place? Who sets the terms for a meaningful discussion? Even more challenging is confronting the fact that for many this is not a debate at all. Chisomo Kalinga explains, “[We seek to distance ourselves] from any news framing published in Inside Higher Ed or elsewhere that present this issue as a debate rather than a legitimate concern about doing harm in African communities.” But who adjudicates “doing harm” while producing knowledge?
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Floods in Mombasa. The rivers of Nairobi. These are Africa’s five most expensive highways. Kenya’s push for affordable housing is creating opportunities despite barriers. Learn more about the drivers of urban insecurity and enhancing livelihoods in neighborhoods. This is an important article about co-producing urban expertise for SDG localization. This article provides a toolkit for community-led resilience initiatives in Durban. This investigation into Kwa Zulu Natal’s political ganglands is fascinating. Nigerian property crime could be reduced if neighborhoods were better designed. This photo essay shows the destruction of a recent fire in the Joe Slovo settlement of Cape Town. Kerry Ryan Chance’s book has an excellent chapter on fires in urban neighborhoods, and my article discusses how residents of a squatter settlement in Ghana rebuilt their homes—and reimagined a more permanent future.
Jennifer Robinson edits this interesting issue on global comparisons in urban studies. Grammars of the Urban Ground looks like a great volume, with case studies from Kinshasa and Nairobi. Stay tuned for The Blinded City. I can’t wait to watch the documentary Urban Genesis about how Ethiopian rural migrants are building a model urban town with a team of architects.
Urban Politics in the Global South
There is so much exciting new research on urban politics in the Global South. We are starting an online workshop designed to bring together this growing, global community. Join us!
This is an important new article on municipal asylum policies in European cities. This article examines China and the global governance of African debt. Justine Davis and Kristin Michelitch edit this helpful issue on thinking through positionality and identity in field experiments.
I look forward to reading Itamar Dubinsky’s Entrepreneurial Goals: Development and Africapitalism in Ghanaian Soccer Academies. Get your copy of Sọ̀rọ̀sókè: an #ENDSARS Anthology. Read Marci Baranski’s The Globalization of Wheat: A Critical History of the Green Revolution. Foluke Adebisi’s Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge: Reflections on Power and Possibility looks great. Check out Kathy Dodsworth’s Legitimation as Political Practice: Crafting Everyday Authority in Tanzania.
The week in development
A drought ravages Eastern Africa, affecting 16 million people. Ghana and Uganda ban grain and food exports. This is what coltan mining in the DR Congo costs people and the environment. This is how dividing and excluding people based on ethnicity can keep them poor. Ghana will face an impending cocoa production slump. South Africa’s jobless rate declines for first time since 2020. This piece outlines the pros and cons of borrowing abroad or from home in Ghana. This is how e-commerce looks different in Africa. Stay up-to-date on African Start-up News.
Africa and the environment
Check out SIPRI’s Environment of Peace Report: Security in a new era of risk. Water challenges spur innovation and a circular economy. Environmental action matters now more than ever. COVID-19 slows progress toward universal energy access. A food crisis deepens and famine looms. Climate change is hitting Ethiopian pastoralists especially hard, while also threatening coastal sites. What is the monetary value of conservation?
The hotels of Morocco. Congrats to Nenibarini Zabbey for winning the Ruth Patrick Award. Africa’s virtual designers are preparing for metaverse fashion. Exhibits in the Royal Museum of Central Africa. Nairobi City Market’s new façade. Choral music and patriotism in Kenya. The Wa Naa’s Palace. Congolese artists channel ‘Mad Max’ and Chewbacca with costumes made of trash. A smuggler’s story. I might now have a chance to be an overnight Afrobeats star. Oh my goodness, Dakar. Giannis, Ime, Bam: Notice the trend?
And Ahmed Aidarus asks: Did the Kwani? book cover predict the Nairobi Expressway?
All the best,
Jeff and Phil