This Week in Africa
February 3, 2023
In the new SCAS Talks podcast episode, I discuss the contentious politics of African urbanization. Join us in Uppsala next year as the Claude Ake Chair for peace and conflict. Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa, it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered.” – Pope Francis
Afolabi Adekaiyaoja provides a view of the trends and terrain of the 2023 General Elections. Kano State remains the key to unlock the north. Violence threatens to derail the vote. Should Nigerians vote their conscience? Can Nigeria’s kingmaker win the presidency?
Pope Francis in DR Congo and South Sudan
Pope Francis was in DR Congo and South Sudan this week. Watch South Sudan prepare for the visit. The Pope called for an end to the plundering of the continent.
Death of freedom fighters
Three freedom and accountability fighters in eSwatini, Cameroon, and Rwanda were killed in three days, demonstrating more worrisome signs of authoritarianism in the countries. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights issued these statements. Samantha Power “urges” the governments to hold independent investigations.
Post-conflict reconstruction in Ethiopia
The War in Tigray took such a personal toll—but these memories could help the region move forward. It is still difficult to provide health care to the region. Ethiopia digital ID prompts fear of ethnic profiling.
Learn more about Europe-Africa relations in a multi-crises world. This article examines Africa-EU cooperation and coercion. The EU continues to support Kagame’s national branding. These are good books on the role of African countries in international affairs.
Russia in Africa
Russia is losing the superpower scramble for Africa. This is what the Ukraine War means for Africa. South Africa’s indulgence of Putin is unsustainable.
Security and instability
Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger need to cooperate to battle insurgency in Park W. Some communities in northwest Nigeria are forging local peace deals to protect from banditry. Great Lakes tensions spike after Rwanda nearly downs a Congolese fighter jet. Is history repeating itself in the DR Congo? What are the pathways of de-escalation in the Great Lakes region? Can Somalia’s new offensive defeat Al-Shabaab?
Struggle for rights and freedom
How should research organizations work with social movements? In Uganda, the president’s son is getting ready to run. The ANC’s cabinet reshuffle will make or break the party. South Sudanese comedians are helping to build a new country. Sudan may be gearing up for a civilian government. Polling stations were nearly empty in Tunisia’s election. This is a nice analysis of Kenya’s feminist movement. Learn about negotiating “belonging” in Zimbabwe’s land reform areas. Liberian president George Weah will seek a second term this year.
This piece examines William Ruto and the evangelicals. The 60-year, 4,000-mile journey home of Lumumba’s tooth. John Osae-Kwapong provides an overview of Ghana’s 2024 Primaries. Dipo Faloyin discusses Africa’s complexities beyond stereotypes. The new film Under the Hanging Tree examines how Namibia’s genocide lives on today.
On the sins of Ghana’s National Cathedral.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Freetown mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr has run into hurdles as her term comes to an end (The politics of urban governance matters a lot). This is a really cool report on moto-taxis across Africa. I learned a lot about Mogadishu’s growth from this article. Zimbabwe plans a new city for the rich. A mysterious medieval city in Africa had a genius system to survive drought. The informal economy is hunger-proofing Africa’s cities. This is cool: class-based change in Khayelitsha. Relocating Ghana’s capital is not the only solution to Accra’s congestion.
Make sure to pick up The Practice and Politics of DIY Urbanism in African Cities, edited by Stephen Marr and Patience Mususa. This is a cool article on public housing spillovers in South Africa. Astrid Haas reviews Tom Goodfellow’s Politics and the Urban Frontier. This is a nice review of the study of urban ecology in Africa. I look forward to reading this: “Storage city: Water tanks, jerry cans, and batteries as infrastructure in Nairobi.”
How to create a city. A social history of Lamu. Urban trains in Africa—which cities?
This article examines Libya’s new order. This is an important article about the concept of indigeneity in Africa. This article examines the African journalistic agency in China-Africa media interactions. Racial capitalism and the dark proletariat. This article examines why humanitarian organizations overlook the African diaspora. Check out Nana Osei-Opare’s “Ghana and Nkrumah Revisited.” Valeria Lauria explains Chinese financing in Ethiopia’s infrastructure sector. This article examines election type and the logic of pre-election violence in Zimbabwe. Oumar Ba constructs an international legal order under the shadow of colonial domination. John Ishiyama asks: Does ethnic federalism lead to greater ethnic identity in Ethiopia?
This looks good: African Motors: Technology, Gender, and the History of Development. African Modernism provides an interesting survey of African architecture. Get a copy of Nicholas Westcott’s Imperialism and Development.
The week in development
Debt financing is on the rise at African startups. This is an important article about respect-for dignity in research designs. Afrobarometer’s Joe Asunka explains food security on the continent. Africa will outperform the world in economic growth, the African Development Bank predicts. This qualitative study assesses public health officials’ perceptions of the factors affecting Tanzania’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Ethiopia’s Chinese-built railway creates a $60 million headache. Financial inclusion in Africa is progressing steadily. What’s up with WhatsApp in West Africa?
Microfinance’s imagined utopia.
Africa and the environment
Some ideas on mainstreaming climate change in Ethiopia’s planning process. Angola’s peatlands trap carbon and clean the region’s water. The ANC wants to use disaster rules to ease power crisis. Thousands protest South Africa’s power crisis. The Horn of Africa may see record sixth straight failed rainy season. South Africa is not ditching coal “just like that.” The power crisis is triggering water cuts in South Africa’s economic hub.
Meet Africa’s NBA stars. A major new exhibition in Nairobi reveals the history of east African art traditions. Fachi architecture. Resoketswe Manenzhe’s debut novel Scatterlings discusses a biracial family who risks persecution in 1920s Cape Town. Check out Sisi Èkó of San Francisco: A Memoir. Kati Kati on Netflix.
All the best,
Jeff and Phil