Discover more from This Week in Africa
This Week in Africa
March 31, 2023
Take a listen to our Governance Uncovered-Ufahamu mashup podcast with Prince Guma, Astrid Haas, and Patience Mususa. Here is the week in Africa:
Quote of the week
“Take the risk of speaking truth to power, and reclaim the University of Ghana humanities vanguard role in the building and sustenance of pro-human rights, accountable & inclusive governance regime in Ghana.” – Prof. Emmanual Gyimah-Boadi
Senegalese Opposition figure Ousmane Sonko received a two-month suspended sentence for libel. The case set off a string of protests, and it appears he will still be able to run for President in 2024. Stay tuned.
Neha Wadekar and Ryan Grim investigate abuse allegations at Bridge Academies, and published this important investigative report. The report provides fascinating insights into how the business works, and how it was able to win over investors and social entrepreneurs while shirking accountability. You can listen to this podcast for more.
Protests in Kenya
Demonstrators in Kenya have defied protest bans, setting off a violent police response. Supporters of Raila Odinga are protesting against the high cost of living, poor governance, and Ruto’s government. Many are still angry after last year’s election process which they see as flawed. President Ruto is stoking a culture war to try to deflect blame. This is a helpful analysis of the role of misinformation during the polls. What does Odinga want?
Conflict in Somaliland
The US State Department is worried about instability and democratic backsliding in Somaliland. There is increasing conflict along its border which does not help its case for international recognition.
Kamala Harris’s Africa trip
Kamala Harris is in Ghana this week. She toured the Cape Coast slave castle and confronted a painful past. Her comments in support of LGBTQ rights rattled the Speaker. Francis Kokoroko is doing an awesome job documenting the trip (and this one). Follow Harris’ trip while listening to her Spotify playlist.
The US is trying to reset its partnership with Africa by engaging and investing more for the 21st century. It is pushing for more business investment on the continent to counter China. Ken Opalo argues that the US has structural challenges that prevents it from competing with China. While the West increases its activity, China’s investments in its Belt and Road initiative drops.
Release of Paul Rusesabagina
Rwanda’s migrant deal
Governing South Africa
Black South Africans are dying for the right to say no to mining. Few South Africans find their traditional leaders influential. Check out this deep dive into internal corruption at Kruger National Park. Learn about corruption in South Africa’s prison system. How will South Africa respond to the ICC warrant for Vladimir Putin?
Struggle for rights and freedom
This is an important paper to learn all about the four faces of Ethiopian federalism. Portia Roelofs explains the record of Nigeria’s President Tinubu and what to expect moving forward. It’s time to start talking about elections in South Sudan. Read this brief history of Black Islam from Africa to the diaspora. The US doesn’t need another Democracy Summit to counter autocratization. Is democracy turning the tide around the world again?
The struggle for LGBTQ rights in Uganda is far from over. In a momentous development, Somalia says it will hold elections by universal suffrage. This is despite the fact the 2022 was a very violent year in the country. South Sudan’s president appoints his own defense minister, breaching peace deal. John Lechner provides some notes on China-Central African Republic relations. Former Rebel Leader Jean-Pierre Bemba is named DR Congo’s new Defense Minister. This is a fascinating investigation into the tragic twist for orphans of mass killings in Angola’s 1977 massacre. Go inside Somalia’s hidden world of sex work.
What explains the neglect of the Atta-Mills presidential library? What is the cost of doing politics in Zambia? What explains the banditry in North Rift region of Kenya? Was the Nigerian election rigged?
Africa’s rapid urbanization
Accessibility disparities grow as Africa urbanizes. Gideon Abagna Azunre and Festival Godwin Boateng have a cool new article on the politics of legitimizing evictions in Old Fadama, Accra. Isaac Samuel explains the history of Zanzibar before the Omanis (his African History Extra Substack is awesome). This is a cool article on collective action and demands for citizenship in South Africa’s backyard dwellings. These five African cities hold more than 50 percent of the continent’s private wealth.
This article finds that Medieval Swahili people had both African and Asian ancestry. Rebecca Tapscott explains the relationship between vigilantes and the state. Learn more about the 2021 Zambian Panel Election Survey. Sandra Joireman and Fidaa Haddad examine the humanitarian–development–peace nexus in practice. Learn more about electoral cycles of satisfaction with democracy in Africa. Ghana’s defederalization is explored here, while region creation conflicts are examined here. Dan Paget reinterprets authoritarian populisms in Tanzania. This piece conceptualizes the fiscal state and discusses its implications for Africa. This article examines climate governance in eastern Africa. This looks cool: Humour and Politics in Africa: Beyond Resistance.
The new issue of World Politics is out! Make sure to check out Mai Hassan and Kathleen Klaus’ “Closing the Gap: The Politics of Property Rights in Kenya” and Joan Ricart-Huguet and Emily Sellars’ “The Politics of Decentralization Level: Local and Regional Devolution as Substitutes.”
The week in development
M-Pesa has been huge for Kenya’s economy—and for scammers. Mozambique has begun a massive post-cyclone cholera vaccination drive. Pastoralists in Kenya continue to suffer despite millions of dollars spent to try to help them (top-down practices don’t work). Ghana’s e-Levy is unfair to the poor. Check out the latest at ID Insight. Learn more about Heineken’s push into Ethiopia, and the local dynamics at play. Chinese-owned apps are the big winners after Nigeria’s cash crisis. Millions of Africans need power.
Zainab Usman is right: The World Bank must do more with less.
Africa and the environment
Climate change adaptation requires more private funding. Burundi is scaling up climate resilience in the land of 3,000 hills. This is how to unlock a high energy future for Zambia. UNICEF sounds alarm over fast-spreading cholera outbreaks. Zimbabweans are turning to small grains and hilltop farming to beat climate change. Malawi will declare 537 missing people dead from Tropical Storm Freddy.
A sting operation to save elephants.
CFP: Special issue on Political Change in African Cities
Kristian Hoelscher, Taibat Lawanson, and I are editing a special issue on “Political Change in African Cities: Mobilization, Participation, and State-Society Relations.” See our CFP. The issue will assess how urban growth shapes political change, and identify the conditions in African cities that affect broader socio-political transformation. If you are interested in contributing to the Special Issue, please submit an abstract to Jeffrey Paller (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ve extended the Deadline to submit to April 15!
Nanjala Nyabola rides through Lake Turkana. Meet Joseph Awuah-Darko, a British-born Ghanaian contemporary artist, curator, social entrepreneur, and art collector. Namibian ophthalmologist Helena Ndume is humbled by her listing on Forbes Africa’s The 50 over 50 List of Africa’s Female Powerhouses. Mountain biking through the Western Cape. This podcast discusses Kenya’s artefacts abroad. It is Africa’s time for architecture. I wish all countries had Morocco’s high speed train. Somalia’s all-women media team are breaking stereotypes. This is an awesome photo. Congrats, The Continent.
And celebrating Bert Ingelaere.
All the best,
Jeff and Phil