Tobore Ovuorie
West-Africa | Undercover inside the human traffic mafia Six out of ten people who are trafficked to the West are Nigerian. Nigerian investigative reporter Tobore Ovuorie was motivated by years of research into the plight of trafficked women in her country, as well as the loss of a friend, to go undercover in a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. She emerged, bruised and beaten but thankfully alive, after witnessing orgies, big money deals in jute bags, police-supervised pickpocketing,... West-Africa | Undercover inside the human traffic mafia Six out of ten people who are trafficked to the West are Nigerian. Nigerian investigative...
Reece Adanwenon
Benin | How an undercover reporter was secretly smuggled back to safety I have been warned: 'please, you mustn't trust any authorities'. So it's up to me to get Tobore to safety. At the agreed meeting point in Cotonou, I get out of my car and look among the people at the bus stop for someone resembling Tobore’s photo. But the short, skinny, terrified-looking creature in jeans with the head scarf recognises me first. “Is Reece?” My seasoned colleague and fellow investigative journalist Tobore... Benin | How an undercover reporter was secretly smuggled back to safety I have been warned: 'please, you mustn't trust any authorities'. So it's up to me...
Bart Luirink
Nigerian investigative journalist Tobore Ovuorie went undercover in a human traffic transport to report from within on criminal trafficking syndicates and their activities. What she witnessed, reported elsewhere in this issue, is beyond horrific: a fellow trafficked woman and a trafficked young man were deemed to be more ‘profitable’ for their organs than as prostitutes. They were murdered in front of the undercover reporter. When we first circulated Ovuorie’s report within our own Amsterdam-based... Nigerian investigative journalist Tobore Ovuorie went undercover in a human traffic transport to report from within on criminal trafficking syndicates...
Evelyn Groenink
Calls for 'the West' to 'act' against perceived horrors elsewhere can sometimes make things worse. Western observers often look at Africa with a mix of horror and disbelief. Wars waged by the religious sectarian armies of Joseph Kony, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram; violent border disputes like the one currently in South Sudan; child marriage, female circumcision, mass migration, corruption and the acts of dictators evoke outrage, disgust and the occasional charity campaign from the more ‘comfortable’... Calls for 'the West' to 'act' against perceived horrors elsewhere can sometimes make things worse. Western observers often look at Africa with a mix of...
ZAM Reporters
For four months last year, Tobore Ovuorie (33), senior investigative reporter with the Premium Times in Nigeria, went undercover in that country’s human traffic circles. Her explosive findings –such as that even Nigerian government institutions that are supposed to combat human traffic, are infiltrated by criminal trafficking syndicates- are reported elsewhere in this issue ( see here ). In this interview with ZAM Chronicle, Ovuorie reflects on dangerous assignments, conditions that cause women and... For four months last year, Tobore Ovuorie (33), senior investigative reporter with the Premium Times in Nigeria, went undercover in that country’s human...
Bart Luirink
Strikes and protests show that South Africa is going in the right direction In the autumn of 2013, on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of ANC rule in South Africa, the South African government received support from an unexpected ally. It was just after President Zuma had held a speech for the Association of Local Authorities in which he counted the blessings of his party’s government. “No country in the world developed so many services in such a short time”, he had said, and he had been jeered... Strikes and protests show that South Africa is going in the right direction In the autumn of 2013, on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of ANC rule in...
Emmanuel Mayah
West-Africa | Going through the Sahara and living to tell the tale In Nigeria, stories from people who have travelled to Europe tell of success and despair. Some migrants have made it big; others have died of thirst in the Sahara, drowned in the Mediterranean, or have perished in other ways. When I heard that twenty Nigerian migrants had been imprisoned in Libya, in 2010, I decided to check out the desert option for myself. I lived to tell the tale- barely. My trip to Europe had started at what my... West-Africa | Going through the Sahara and living to tell the tale In Nigeria, stories from people who have travelled to Europe tell of success and...
Tshireletso Motlogelwa
Botswana | Mangled between development, the desert and international 'protectors' When Basarwa actors, hired to act as Basarwa characters in the Botswana-set movie The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, arrived on set, they found that being Basarwa was not enough to qualify them for their roles. They had to shed their trousers, shirts and shoes, put on loincloths and don hunting spears. The images were set to create the warm fuzzy feeling that an international viewer should feel when watching not... Botswana | Mangled between development, the desert and international 'protectors' When Basarwa actors, hired to act as Basarwa characters in the...
Eric Mwamba
A childish and offensive figure in the Netherlands Aware that many African traditions are under fire from progressive thinking in the West, it was surprising to find such resistance to changing even one small tradition in the Netherlands. The Belgian cartoon ‘Tintin’, with its painful caricatures of Congolese people, has led to strong accusations of racism in my country, the DRC. But I had always thought that Dutch people were different from our Belgian former colonisers. Amsterdam and the... A childish and offensive figure in the Netherlands Aware that many African traditions are under fire from progressive thinking in the West, it was...
Lara Bourdin
The ‘balanced’ movie about a ship hijacked by Somali pirates has been widely praised. But it’s Captain America all the way, with ant-sized Somalis and equally little context. In the promotional poster for Captain Phillips currently pasted to the sides of bus stops, buildings and billboards, a stony-faced and steely-eyed Tom Hanks peers resolutely forward. With jaw clenched, lips pursed, and brow furrowed, his face is a study of robust determination. The poster conveys most of what one needs to know... The ‘balanced’ movie about a ship hijacked by Somali pirates has been widely praised. But it’s Captain America all the way, with ant-sized Somalis and...
Bart Luirink
When intrepid journalists discovered, two years ago, that South African President Zuma’s home in KwaZuluNatal was being refurbished, there was outrage in that country. Yet again, an African leader had built a palace with tax payers’ money. How could things ever come right on this continent? Public protector Thuli Madonsela, who by all accounts runs an independent institution of integrity, has now reported that, even if too much money was possibly spent on possibly not the best decisions, there... When intrepid journalists discovered, two years ago, that South African President Zuma’s home in KwaZuluNatal was being refurbished, there was outrage in...
ZAM Reporters
Lagos Photo 2013, titled ‘The Megacity and the Non-City’, a look at urbanisation and technology The development of urban centers in Africa and the influences of technology, the internet, and the digital revolution, have, the curators of the exhibit say, transformed photography and ‘our sense of place in a globally connected world’. The ‘Megacity’ element of the exhibit presents a photojournalistic perspective that documents the fast pace of change occurring in Africa today; the ‘Non-City’ extends... Lagos Photo 2013, titled ‘The Megacity and the Non-City’, a look at urbanisation and technology The development of urban centers in Africa and the...
Muno Gedi
Somalia | The soup goes to the cattle, the rice to the traders It may be bad for the economy, but it helps to pay the doctor’s bill, feed the cows and rebuild the farm in the village: selling food parcels, donated as aid to refugees, is a blooming business in Somalia. “I can’t vegetate here as a beggar. I need to invest in my farm. So I sell this packet of rice.” Sumaya Abdi Axmed (24) and her two children are standing outside the food centre in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district with a 10 kg rice... Somalia | The soup goes to the cattle, the rice to the traders It may be bad for the economy, but it helps to pay the doctor’s bill, feed the cows and...
Magdy Samaan
Two million unbelievers aren't scared anymore Ever since the free-thinking philosopher Hypatia was killed by a Coptic Christian mob, in the fifth century, Egypt has been ruled by monotheistic religion: first Christianity, later Islam. Those who questioned religious leadership, like Hypatia, were often persecuted. But lately, those who do not believe in any God have started to demand secular rule. “We have noticed how the last Islamic government failed spectacularly. Poverty got worse and they kept... Two million unbelievers aren't scared anymore Ever since the free-thinking philosopher Hypatia was killed by a Coptic Christian mob, in the fifth...
Charles Rukuni
Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement. In the movie Godfather III, Mafia don Michael Corleone tells his protégé, Vincent Mancini, never to hate his enemies: “It affects your judgment,” he says. This is the lesson that the West should have learnt about 89-year-old Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe. Western governments hated the man so much that it clouded their judgment and, as a result, helped him win the 2013 elections instead. The thinking at the... Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement. In the movie Godfather III, Mafia don Michael Corleone tells his protégé, Vincent Mancini, never to...
ZAM Reporters
Artists engage with race and migration at ZAM Newsroom The event, held in partnership with Gallery 23, featured Zimbabwean artist Admire Kamudzengerere and his work in which race, cultural psychology, migration and gateways between the industrialized and developing world are major themes. The location of the gallery, within a stone’s throw of the Amsterdam harbour and the old colonial vessel displayed by the adjacent Dutch Shipping Museum, was strangely in tune with a major canvas by Kamudzengerere... Artists engage with race and migration at ZAM Newsroom The event, held in partnership with Gallery 23, featured Zimbabwean artist Admire Kamudzengerere...
Evelyn Groenink
A Nigerian troubleshooter “Many Nigerians are dejected. They feel nothing can ever change, so they accept injustices and shrug their shoulders. I cannot be like that. I know that things can change. Those rapists are in jail and that hospital is functioning well now.” Solomon Adebayo (42) is state broadcaster Radio Nigeria’s ace investigative reporter. In his now ten-year career he has unearthed secret city detention centers in the country’s government capital, Abuja; brought rapists in the... A Nigerian troubleshooter “Many Nigerians are dejected. They feel nothing can ever change, so they accept injustices and shrug their shoulders. I cannot...
ZAM
‘Africa seems to be in torment’, said a letter to ZAM Chronicle this week. ‘Religious fanatics, mass murder, corruption, hundreds trying to escape and drowning in the Mediterranean. What is one to do?’ At ZAM, our usual response would be to blame the dominant narratives that highlight little but horror in the (still) poorest part of the world. We would feel for those Westerners who, like the letter writer, seem to feel sad, hopeless and powerless; who would like to do something, but what? Send food... ‘Africa seems to be in torment’, said a letter to ZAM Chronicle this week. ‘Religious fanatics, mass murder, corruption, hundreds trying to escape and...
ZAM Reporters
How a photograph stains your brain The persons on the wall are fat and thin, tall and short, sporting shaved heads and fountains of braids. Each individual pair of solemn eyes bores right through you. These are Zanele Muholi’s portraits of the black South African gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. A ‘visual activist’, as Muholi calls herself, she uses photography to ‘claim a space that is now vilifying and degrading us.’ In documenting a community and a movement, in encouraging... How a photograph stains your brain The persons on the wall are fat and thin, tall and short, sporting shaved heads and fountains of braids. Each...
Eric Mwamba
The secrets of the Congolese elite's wealth “My official salary is less than 750 euros. And yet I can make up to 225,000 euros per month,” says Jean-Pierre Mushizi (40), a respected member of the political elite in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Mushizi, who wears a diamond watch and glasses of pure gold, was a counsellor at the Ministry of Economics between 2006 and 2011. The job set him up for life. He doesn’t mind talking, anonymously – Mushizi, like many names in this story, is a... The secrets of the Congolese elite's wealth “My official salary is less than 750 euros. And yet I can make up to 225,000 euros per month,” says...
the Nugal Female Journalists Club of Garowe and Muno Mohamed Gedi
“I only had a little cut and it doesn’t bother me.” Somalia used to be known for its radical, painful and unhealthy female circumcision practices. These involved cutting off a girl’s clitoris and labia and sewing up the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood. The closed vagina was then to be cut open again after marriage. But there has been a change in recent years: a ZAM investigation shows that a large majority of young women now report to have been circumcised ‘only a... “I only had a little cut and it doesn’t bother me.” Somalia used to be known for its radical, painful and unhealthy female circumcision practices. These...