At the occasion of Rwanda Day in the Netherlands on 3 October supporters of that country’s President Paul Kagame targeted known opposition-friendly journalist Anneke Verbraeken and snatched the phone she used to take photographs of a pro-Kagame demonstration outside the Amsterdam venue. “It’s not so much the phone itself, it’s the fact that it contains many contacts of mine in Rwanda,” says Verbraeken. “It is very worrying that these are now in the hands of the regime.” Other journalists, among whom a Belgian TV crew, were also harassed and another two journalists’ phones were also stolen.
On Wednesday 16 September the military in Burkina Faso –or rather an armed gang of 1,300 men who consider themselves above the law- staged a coup d’etat in that country. The Régiment de Sécurité Présidentiel (or RSP), intimately associated with Blaise Compaoré, -the autocratic ruler the Burkinabè people chased from power in October 2014-, clearly feels it needs to be back on top, if only to avoid ever being called to account for its many crimes.
In his biggest undercover project ever, Ghanaian ace investigative journalist and ZAM partner Anas Aremeyaw Anas has recorded 34 judges –among whom a High Court judge and a Human Rights Court judge- promising to throw big cases in exchange for money. The thirty-four now all face impeachment.
Thousands of Cubans working in Angola feel let down after the government of José Eduardo dos Santos has failed to pay a debt of 300 million Euros to their country. The money was meant to cover the salaries of the skilled workforce who worked in the African country as doctors, university professors and technicians in the water and energy sectors. But, with oil prices falling, Angola's state coffers are empty and water plants and hospitals, once staffed by Cuban comrades, have been abandoned.
Anti-FGM (Female-Genital-Mutilation) campaigners in the West use shock tactics (often pictures of screaming and bleeding girls, held down by ‘cutters’) to canvass support. True, the practice in the pictures is horrific. But sometimes the ‘do-gooders’ don’t accept that the wrong they are fighting is close to being righted. In Somalia, for example, -historically one of the worst ‘FGM’ countries-, the old practice has been replaced in 75 % of cases by much more benign clitoral hood removal, comparable to circumcision in boys. Remarkably, campaigners are hushing up this victory of Somalis themselves.
A sharp attack on US President Barack Obama in an Al Jazeera column by Ugandan media owner and opinion leader Andrew Mwenda went viral yesterday on social media. Following Obama’s recent visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, Mwenda, founder and owner of the Ugandan newspaper The Independent, accused the US President of being a ‘colonial headman’ who came to tell ‘the natives’ how to behave. "Obama, being of African ancestry, is a puppet used by the US to disguise its contempt for Africans," Mwenda wrote in the piece which has been widely shared and liked, often by -clearly anti-imperialist-westerners.
American-Nigerian writer Teju Cole on the Bill Cosby candal: 'We (men, Ed.) must be allies in this, in a subsidiary but vital role, to the generations of women who have been fighting it (rape, Ed.) since forever. Why should it be easy? It can't be. We have to face even the complication of confronting those few women who are themselves invested in perpetuating rape culture. It will cause us extreme discomfort, but our discomfort will be nothing compared to the pain of being a victim of rape or assault or harassment'.
Find Cole's full article in The New Inquiry HERE.
If Africa was a bar, Nigeria would be the guys manning the toilets and making more money than the bar itself; South Africa would be that light-skinned girl who is haughtily refusing to mix with anyone else and Uganda would be the drunk uncle repeatedly asking his neighbour Kenya to return his ‘stolen’ cows. In turn, Kenya, whilst unable to pay for own drinks, would keep droning on about how his countryman Obama made it in the USA. And Zimbabwe would be daring a white guy to step on his toes.
Never mind Fox News’ remarkable phrasing of the Charleston church shooting as an ‘attack on Christianity,’ or lists of mass shootings by mentally ill individuals such as this one. If ever there was a massive gun murder by a white male that cannot be explained as an ‘individual act caused by mental illness,’ this was it.
A ‘gay revolution’ in Africa. Very likely, states Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina in Boldly Queer, African perspectives on same-sex sexualities and gender diversity. The book, published by Hivos, was launched in The Hague on Friday 5 June 2015. Mozambique has already joined the revolution. President Filipe Nyusi signed a new penal code decriminalizing homosexuality. Congratulations to Lambda, the activist group, who fought against anti-gay-legislation introduced in 1887 by the Portuguese colonial rulers.
Martin Bosma, MP for the extremist Dutch anti-immigration party PVV, has reinvented the idea of South Africa as an empty land at the time when the white settlers arrived. In his book Minderheid in eigen land (Minority in own country) he presents South Africa’s transition to democracy as a forecast for his doomsday scenario: the low lands' takeover by Muslims. In a fact check, Bram Vermeulen, correspondent for Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, investigated Bosma’s 'empty land' claim. Find one of his sources here. His conclusion: not true.
ZAM congratulates Mikhail Subotzky (1981, South Africa) and Patrick Waterhouse (1981, UK) on winning the prestigious 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. A six year journey into Johannesburg's 54 stories landmark building Ponte City resulted in a book (Steidl Publishers) and exhibitions from Paris to Lubumbashi and from Edinburgh to Cape Town.
ZAM tries to make sense of the massacre at Garissa University in Kenya on April 2, 2015 in which 147 young students died. Here’s what we came up with.
The broad daylight assassination of a lawyer in Maputo fits in a series of ‘mafia-type’ murders in Mozambique.
South African author Tom Sharpe (1928-2013), who comically portrayed bumbling apartheid cops disguising themselves as ‘terrorists’, then arresting one another and leaving trails of exploded ostriches to mark their ‘secret’ operations, would have had a field time with the leaked South African State Security Agency (SSA) reports as exposed by Al Jazeera earlier this week.
Cell phone jamming, news blackouts, violence in parliament and water cannons and armed vehicles in the streets of Cape Town marked the beginning of the new parliamentary year in South Africa on Thursday.
Among African writers, opinion makers and activists the news of the Charlie Hebdo attack has provoked an outpour of anger: at the attack itself, but perhaps even more so at the twin scourges of terrorism and dictatorial oppression suffered by people in Nigeria, Somalia, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali and elsewhere on the continent. The ones who attracted most fire were African leaders who had the gall to march in Paris, whilst seemingly not bothered about victims of terrorism back home.
The Kenya Television Network’s team of investigative journalists could be muzzled under new anti-terrorism laws.