Monthly Archives: April 2016

Xenophobia in Zambia: Why it won’t happen in East Africa

Most East Africans hadn’t realised that there are many Rwandans in Zambia, until last week, when mobs went on a looting rampage targeting Rwandan shopkeepers in the west of the capital, Lusaka. They were claiming that the shopkeepers were behind recent ritual killings in the city.

Now there is always a pattern to these things. The riots were really not about the ritual killings. It was about trade rivalry, and the economic crisis in Zambia.

As happened in South Africa last year, the local folks are not willing to accept that the success of the Rwandans is down to good business sense and hard work.

Rather, it is because they are chopping off Zambians’ body parts and using them to generate supernatural economic powers to outcompete locals.

Unsurprisingly, a day later the riots started to spread, and this time Zambian-owned shops were also looted.

In South Africa last year, Somalis and Ethiopians were the target. One minister even accused of them “hoarding their business secrets,” and refusing to share them with South Africans.

These attacks are a result of economic crisis. When everyone is doing well, and has a full stomach and food in the fridge at home, they will not seize on the slightest excuse to loot groceries.

The secret of why emigrants succeed is as old as the hills. Isolated away from home, and not being able to tap into local social security support systems, they have to work the shirts off their backs if they are to live. And being outsiders, they bring a fresh eye, able to see opportunities that familiarity has blinded the “natives” to.

As if to prove this, it is noteworthy that Rwandans were attacked for outdoing Zambians in business because, let us face it, in the world of East African stereotypes, when most people talk of business-minded people, they think of Somalis first, Kenyans second, and Ugandans third.

Rwandans are rather associated with bureaucratic competence and structure, the way Somalis are often associated with the lack of it.

Rwandans, to borrow from the language of motorsport, don’t make the front row of the grid.

Still, the hardworking migrant story is not enough to explain this.

A better path to understanding is to ask whether there is a country in the East African Community, where these kinds of economic-fuelled xenophobic attacks would happen.

While strong anti-foreigner sentiment often bubbles up in the region, my sense is that it hasn’t happened yet because of how business growth has happened in East Africa over the past 20 years.

Two decades ago, the East African countries had nothing. During Ujaama, Tanzanians were equal in having little; Daniel arap Moi wrecked Kenya’s economy; years of conflict and repression ruined Uganda; the genocide threw Rwanda back almost to the Stone Age; and conflict still has Burundi and South Sudan trapped in the Middle Ages.

Continue reading on The East African

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Wither the Left in Nigeria?

Most contemporary observers of Nigerian politics would be surprised to learn that the Left has been a significant part of the country’s postcolonial history.

Nowadays, the Left includes various groups, ranging from NGOs to pro-democracy and anti-government groups, but my use of the term is restricted to a particular historical process that shaped the establishment, formation and cooperation of different organizations with allegiance to a Marxism-Leninist forms of political economy in post-colonial Nigeria.

Nigeria’s political independence is often credited to nationalist leaders, such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello. In the process, commentators minimize the heroic role played by the Labor movement (led by Chief Imoudu), the Zikist movement (led by Chief Mokwugo Okoye) and other Left organizations.

The general strike of 1945 marked the beginning of the struggle that end in the termination of colonial rule in Nigeria in 1960. The Left remained a power after independence, as well. In 1960 for example, protest against a British request to set up a permanent British military base in Nigeria was organized by leftist students and workers, preventing Nigeria from becoming a military outpost of a dying British empire.

This robust Left tradition would continue from independence through the periods of military rule in Nigeria. However, three events in the late 1980s and early 1990s spelled the fate of the Left in Nigeria.

General Ibrahim Babangida came to power in a military coup in 1985, ousting General Muhammadu Buhari, who had overthrown a short-lived elected government (the same Buhari who is the country’s current democratically elected president). In 1986 Babangida, presenting himself as a reformer, appointed the Cookey Commission to chart Nigeria’s political future. The commission—composed of leading leftists–advocated for, among other things: social justice, a return to democracy, and a socialist state. The military rejected most of the recommendations, particularly the one that proposed transition to a socialist state. Babangida also pushed through an IMF loan that the Left vehemently opposed.

Continue reading on Africasacountry

by Omolade Adunbi

Photo credits: Getty Images

Prix UNCA 2016 Concours de la Meilleure Couverture Mediatique de l’ONU et de ses Agences

Reise des prix le vendredi 16 décembre 2016 à New York au Gala de l’UNCA sous la présidence d’honneur du Secrétaire général Ban Ki-moon, au restaurant Cipriani Wall Street, New York NEW YORK, 30 avril 2016 /PRNewswire/ — L’association des Correspondants de presse des Nations Unies (UNCA) invite les médias du monde entier — presse écrite, télévisuelle […]

2016 U.N. Correspondents Association Awards For Best Journalistic Coverage Of The United Nations And U.N. Agencies

WINNERS WILL BE HONORED AT GALA EVENT BY THE U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16th 2016 AT CIPRIANI WALL STREET, NEW YORK. NEW YORK, April 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) invites media worldwide to submit entries for its 21st annual UNCA Awards for the best print, broadcast (TV & Radio) […]

Boko Haram, Islamic State, and the underlying concerns for West Africa

Last year, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. What’s come of it?

When Boko Haram released a recording in March 2015 in which its leader pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, many analysts believed the announcement would primarily have value as propaganda.

After all, the feasibility of close operational ties between two of the world’s most notorious Islamist militant groups – one based in Syria and Iraq, the other thousands of miles away in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region – is limited. However, a year later, there is evidence of some effects from the nominal alliance.

Most notably, there have been some reported concrete operational links to date, while the pledge also seems to have added a layer of legitimacy to Boko Haram’s goals. Consequently, there have been a small but growing number of individuals making their way from across West Africa to join the group as well as reports of Boko Haram fighters joining the fight in Libya.

While still marginal, these dynamics might indicate the more subtle effects of last year’s pledge and could provide a potentially lasting source of concern throughout the region if not addressed.

What evidence is there that Boko Haram is expanding its membership?

In November 2015, Senegalese national Makhtar Diokhané was arrested in Niger. He was reportedly on his way to secure the release of four Senegalese men who were being held in prison there. These detainees had been caught with counterfeit money, but were reportedly on their way back to Senegal after fighting with Boko Haram.

Diokhané’s capture led to further arrests in Senegal, including Diokhané’s wife, imams that had been preaching extremist ideology, and relatives of other Senegalese nationals fighting with Boko Haram.

This episode shed light on what seemed to be a previously unknown pipeline of Senegalese militants to Nigeria. This news – added to other reports of Senegalese nationals joining the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya – shattered assumptions about the country’s imperviousness to the influence of Islamist militancy.

In addition, the alarming admission by Diokhané and the four detainees that they were planning on setting up a Boko Haram cell in Senegal, and may have even had the supportof the group’s leadership, suggested an expansionist desire by Boko Haram beyond the confines of its historical areas of operation.

Elsewhere, in January 2016, Malian authorities detained four West African nationals (two from Guinea Bissau, and one each from The Gambia and Guinea) who were reportedly passing through the country on their way to join Boko Haram.

Then, in February 2016, eight more Senegalese were arrested in Mauritania also allegedly planning to join the group. Those eight claimed that at least 23 Senegalese had become Boko Haram members since 2015, while one of the previously arrested suspects in Niger indicated that Boko Haram membership includes the presence of some Mauritanians as well.

Do these incidents add up to a new dynamic?

Non-Nigerian membership within Boko Haram is not necessarily a new phenomenon. While principally a Nigerian movement during the days of founder Muhammad Yusuf, who was killed in 2009, adherents originating from Nigeria’s neighbours were not uncommon even then.

However, more recently, as Boko Haram has experienced losses in both personnel and popularity at home and expanded operations into the Lake Chad Basin, the group has compensated by actively recruiting more heavily in southern Niger, northern Cameroon, and Chad.

There has also been a steady stream of allegations in recent years – though little concrete evidence – that the group employs nationals from countries not contiguous to Nigeria. For example, Seini Boukar Lamine, a Cameroonian traditional leader who spent three months as a hostage of the sect in 2014, stated that he saw many “fair-skinned combatants” possibly from “Sudan, Algeria, and other Arab countries” during his time in captivity.

In this sense, the inclusion of fighters from beyond Nigeria and perhaps even beyond the Lake Chad Basin is not necessarily new, though it may be reaching new levels in West Africa. So far, the cases seem to be isolated incidents, but there is the possibility these few known examples form part of a larger pattern or that they could inspire similar journeys in the future.

Continue reading on African Arguments

by Omar S.Mahmood

Photo Credits: Getty Images

“The Coexist Initiative,” Based In Kenya, Receives Fourth Prize At The Intercultural Innovation Award Ceremony

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Coexist Initiative from Kenya received the 4th prize at this year’s Intercultural Innovation Award (IIA) Ceremony for their “Girls Education Promotion Program.” “Any girl who is able to finish school is a reward to the world,” says Wanjala Wafula, founder and CEO of the Coexist Initiative. “We […]

Guggenheim Presents Recent Art From The Middle East And North Africa In The Third Exhibition Of The Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative

But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise Opens April 29 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Travels to the Pera Museum in Istanbul in 2017 NEW YORK, April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire / — From April 29 to October 5, 2016, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York presents But a […]

Le Guggenheim présente l’art contemporain du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du nord lors de la troisième exposition de l’Initiative d’Art Mondial Guggenheim UBS MAP

Mais une Tempête Souffle du Paradis (But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise) ouvre le 29 avril au Musée Solomon R. Guggenheim de New York, puis se rendra au musée Pera d’Istanboul en 2017 NEW YORK, 28 avril 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Du 29 avril au 5 octobre 2016, le musée Solomon R. Guggenheim de New […]

Mosquito genomes key to evaluating malaria control

NAIROBI – Monitoring the genomes of population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes could be an effective method in determining the effectiveness of malaria control interventions, a study says.

According to researchers from Kenya, Tanzania and the United Kingdom, it is difficult, labour-intensive and expensive to measure the impact of interventions that aim to decrease the populations of disease-transmitting insects such as mosquitoes partly because of their abundance, seasonal changes and different collection methods.

Therefore, they used simulations to assess the decline of mosquito populations resulting from vector control interventions in Kilifi, Kenya and compared it to that of a similar malaria population in Tanzania, which had not been adequately controlled by interventions such as insecticide-treated bed nets.

Charles Mbogo, a co-author of the study and a public health entomologist at Kenya-based Kenya Medical Research Institute, tellsSciDev.Net that the main objective of the study was to describe the population genetics of Anopheles mosquitoes along the Kenyan coast and to demonstrate the effectiveness malaria control measures such as use of treated bed nets.

The researchers collected samples of malaria-causing mosquitoes —Anopheles gambiae, A. arabiensis and A. merus in Kilifi district, Kenya and two Tanzanian villages from 2008 to 2010. They analysed the genetic components of the mosquitoes and used simulations to estimate the decline in mosquito populations.

Based on their modelling study, the researchers estimate that a starting population of one million mosquitoes per square kilometres in Kilifi, where interventions to control the mosquitoes have been implemented, might have been reduced to just 30 mosquitoes per square kilometres.

“Measuring population genomic parameters in a small sample of individuals [mosquitoes]  before, during and after vector or pest control may be a valuable method of tracking the effectiveness of interventions,” the researchers note in the study published in the Malaria Journal last month (24 March).

Continue reading on

by SciDev Sub-Saharan Africa Desk

Photo Credits: Flickr/CDC