Discover more from This Week in Africa
This Week in Africa
April 8, 2022
Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“A lot of our coworkers are African. During the campaign I had an idea, which ended up turning out great: my neighbor, she’s also African and she caters, so I said, ‘We’ve given out so much food, why don’t we give out food that targets the culture of the workers at Amazon?’ So one day I asked my neighbor to make us some African fried rice — and that really attracted a whole bunch of African workers toward us and we gained a couple of new organizers off that.” – Angelika Maldonado on the campaign to unionize Amazon workers
Ethiopia’s civil war
Afar is the new front in the Ethiopian war, and the fighting has displaced thousands of people. Aid convoys are starting to reach Tigray. Here is a dispatch from Mekelle, a city cut off from the world. Learn more about Ethiopia’s forgotten minority. A new report documents massive human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Western Tigray. The report documents an ethnic cleansing campaign meant to “erase” people from their land. The abuses included discriminatory aid denial. Nanjala Nyabola asks: Why do so many devastating wars quickly disappear from public consciousness?
Fire in central Hargeisa
Insecurity in Nigeria
An attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train line killed at least eight people, but 168 people are still missing. Lawlessness across Nigeria threatens its democracy. This is a good report on the origins of banditry in the country.
Xenophobia in South Africa
Loren Landau and Jean Pierre Misago have this excellent explainer on how South Africa’s crumbling system of indirect rule is contributing to a power vacuum filled by local authorities and populists fueling xenophobic violence, especially in its municipalities and townships. Misago has this earlier piece on how political mobilization triggers xenophobic violence. Zama Ndlovu argues that poverty and policy drives xenophobia in the country. Vanya Gastrow’s Citizen and Pariah: Somali Traders and the Regulation of Difference in South Africa provides some helpful context. What can the country do to exit its current state of disaster? Is change on the horizon for Soweto’s hostels? Sisonke Msimang asks: Why can’t South Africa exorcise its xenophobia demon?
Security and instability
A massacre of civilians in central Mali is raising concerns about instability in the country. Mali’s coup leaders are not doing a good job. The instability is spreading into northern Cote d’Ivoire. Nina Wilén and Paul D. Williams map membership patterns in the AU’s peace and security council. The M23 rebel group declares a unilateral ceasefire in eastern Congo. Watch this panel on traditional justice institutions and peacebuilding. Why is Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region so poor?
Struggle for rights and freedom
This is a good piece on the situation of contractors monitoring content on Facebook in Nairobi. Big tech platforms add new challenges to Kenya’s elections. The US opens its doors to Ukrainian refugees while closing its doors to many from Africa. Learn more about the political cost of goats in Burundi. Burkina Faso’s ex-president Compaore handed life sentence in absentia over Sankara murder. Should we use the term “sub-Saharan Africa”? Probably not.
Ghana is trying a number of steps to stabilize its economy. Its youth unemployment rate is 13.4%, almost triple what it was in 2010. It is investing $25 million to improve its tourist sites. It started a youth employment program. It passed an e-levy to tax electronic payments, and the opposition immediately filed a lawsuit to try to block the bill. I enjoyed watching this interview with President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Africa’s rapid urbanization
What is it like to live with a disability in Lagos? This is a cool special issue on comparison in urban studies. This article evaluates the Nairobi-Thika Road Improvement Project in the context of inclusive development. This article explains how to advance Africa infrastructure debates. This is how to organize boda bodas in Kampala. This article provides a view of urban sprawl in Kumasi through the lens of family nuclearization. Astrid Haas curates this great series of articles published in The Conversation. It fits nicely with my post a few weeks back: Does Africa need more urban planning?
African Religions, Social Realities is out. This is a helpful volume on Islamist approaches to governance. I can’t wait to read this: Delivery as Dispossession: Land Occupation and Eviction in the Postapartheid City. Joan Ricart-Huguet asks: Why do different cultures form and persist, with evidence from Makerere University. The data revolution in the social sciences needs qualitative research. This is an interesting article that examines temporalities of Zimbabwean migrant men waiting at a Zimbabwe-South Africa border transit shelter. Some Transvaal history: “The Servant Problem and the Colour Line, 1902–1914.” This chapter provides an overview of the interlinkages of the environment and human security. This is a cool visualization on ethnic partitions and violence.
Jess Auerbach’s article “The fullness of air: breath, work and beauty in Lobito and Benguela, Angola” sounds fascinating. I am excited to read Vivian Chenxue Lu’s “Mobilizing Home: Diasporic Agitations and the Global Remakings of Postwar Southeastern Nigeria.” Learn more about the politics of the refugee/migrant binary. In another excellent article, Sarah Brierley and Noah Nathan ask: What brokers do parties pay? Check out Anne Meng and Jack Paine’s APSR article on power sharing and authoritarian stability. Make sure to read Prisca Jöst and Ellen Lust’s paper “Leadership, Community Ties, and Participation of the Poor: Evidence from Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia.”
The week in development
Stefan Dercon’s Gambling on Development: Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose is out. This piece helps us understand the winners and losers of agricultural expansion. Learn more about the fierce power struggles at Simandou Mine. A Canadian businessman has gained the mining rights. The war in Ukraine compounds hunger in east Africa. Hunger is surging on the continent. Check out the video Gold Matters in Burkina Faso: The Art of Bonding in Precarious Times. Turkey is expanding its footprint on the continent. Drivers wait in very very long lines to fill up fuel in Kenya.
I can’t wait for Nanjala Nyabola’s forthcoming book Strange and Difficult Times: Notes on a Global Pandemic. This café in Nairobi helps fight discrimination against deaf people. Check out this comic on Ebola and hazard pay in Sierra Leone. This piece examines how Africans negotiate local business practices with China in Benin. Read these papers on the circular economy in Africa. Judd Devermont outlines this very compelling argument: Africa matters to US cities.
What does ‘promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth’ mean for everyday life? Can the IMF do more to help African countries struggling amid the pandemic? Will a fifth commodity super cycle be Africa’s moment?
Africa and the environment
This article examines the political economy of air pollution in Kenya. Check out the climate-poverty connections report. Check out the report on “Mitigation of Climate Change.” Here are five takeaways from the report. Africa faces rising climate health emergencies. These are the worrying insights from UN’s first ever assessment of water security in Africa. South Africa’s farmers eye carbon credits. Methane emissions soared to a record in 2021. Birds are adapting to ecological change. Zainab Usman discusses economic diversification and climate resilience on Ufahamu Africa. And in the ocean, it’s snowing microplastics.
A few days left to apply for these APSA pre-conference workshops:
APSA-APCG Research Development Group for early career scholars from African institutions on “Political Trust in Africa’s Age of Coronavirus and Coups.” Due April 10.
Comparative Urban Politics workshop on “Political Mobilization in 21st Century Cities: Resistance, Reform, Renewal.” Apply here by April 15.
This is a great opportunity for Africa-based researchers to improve their analysis skills on issues of governance and development.
Yum: Fuul in the New York Times. Amakazine celebrates African women changemakers. Check out Kenya’s all-female motor rally. Read this: “Sex, gamblers and Mafia: The untold story of Nanyuki’s Mt Kenya Safari Club.” Booker Prize winning author Damon Galgut examines living through new realities in South Africa. Mahmood Mamdani discusses his research legacy and his work at Makerere University. West Africa’s pop fame is growing. Meet the guitar maker of the eastern Congo. A street art mural in Zimbabwe exposes a divided society. Meet the surfers of Sierra Leone. How did Ghana’s top footballers end up in America?
All the best,
Jeff and Phil