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Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

The Inagural 2016 Pan African Colloquium, Barbados

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
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A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
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Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
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Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
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China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 432: Redeeming the soul of Kenya

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Books & arts, 4. Letters & Opinions, 5. African Writers’ Corner, 6. Blogging Africa, 7. Zimbabwe update, 8. Women & gender, 9. Human rights, 10. Refugees & forced migration, 11. Social movements, 12. Emerging powers news, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. LGBTI, 18. Environment, 19. Land & land rights, 20. Food Justice, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. News from the diaspora, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 26. Fundraising & useful resources, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Help Pambazuka News become independent. Become a supporting subscriber by taking out a paid subscription. Donate $30 a year.

Highlights from this issue

- Njonjo Mue calls on Kenyans to reconstruct the soul of the nation

- No to neo-liberalism, says Forum on the African Development Bank
- Mammo Muchie celebrates South African elections as an example for all
- Richard Kamidza fears Zimbabwe's new lease of life is under threat
- Ali M. Malau says Congo could be the Brazil of Africa
- Nnimmo Bassey asks if we are actually any closer to saving the planet
- Abena Asare notes growing criticism of Gambian govt human rights abuses
- Godwin Murunga responds to 'zip up and grow up'
- Richard Pithouse says the Slums Act dehumanises SA shackdwellers
- Corporate control of agri-food systems must end, say Via Campesina

- Adding fuel to the fire: Pambazuka readers respond
- Kenyan govt link to Samburu cattle raids

- Phanuel Akubueze Egejuru is wowed by 'master word artist' Shailja Patel

- Courttia Newland says 'sometimes we just want to imagine'ZIMBABWE UPDATE: MDC powerless to deal with ZANU-PF hardliners
WOMEN & GENDER: Have you ratified the Protocol?
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Heavy clashes cause displacement in Mogadishu
HUMAN RIGHTS: Kenya’s Mau Mau to sue UK for compensation
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Efforts to help DRC displaced
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Abahlali Western Cape statement
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Ivorian elections for 29 November
CHINA-AFRICA WATCH: Sino-African news roundup
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Sexual violence against girls widespread in Swaziland
CORRUPTION: Nigerian MP panel in fraud charge
DEVELOPMENT: Turning agriculture into a business
LGBTI: Activists optimistic about pro-gay resolution
ENVIRONMENT: Shell: Stop gas-flaring now!
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: African land-grabbers on shaky ground
FOOD JUSTICE: Welcome shift in UN views of food sovereignty
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Katrina victims face eviction
ENEWSLTERS & MAILING LISTS: AfricaFocus:USA/Africa Underfunding global health
INTERNET& TECHNOLOGY: Great build-up to eLearning Africa
PLUS: seminars and workshops, and jobs

*Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit


The messiah within: Redeeming the soul of the Kenyan nation

Njonjo Mue


cc D B King
As Kenyans struggle to find meaning in the protracted troubles surrounding their body politic, Njonjo Mue challenges the nation’s youth to join an army of ordinary people to fight the good fight and to defend Kenyans’ freedom, dignity, heritage and their children’s future by engaging in brutal self-appraisal and refusing to permit decay. Mue’s article is a call to arms, for men to leave the bars long enough to know what their children will eat for supper, for women to cease their escapism and confront the problems facing Kenya’s communities, and for all Kenyans to individually take responsibility for the future of their country.

Comment & analysis

No to AfDB neoliberalism

Forum on the African Development Bank


cc World Bank
As the African Development Bank (AfDB) holds its 44th annual assembly, African civil society groups met at a forum in Dakar to express their deep dissatisfaction with the bank's policies. Forum participants allege that the bank does not fully understand the implications of the global financial crisis for Africa and that it has done nothing more than peddle the neoliberal line of institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). They also say that it has failed to come up with a single initiative of its own to tackle the African debt crisis. The forum stressed the need for the AfDB to be an institution committed first and foremost to the welfare of the African people if it is to promote sustainable development and food sovereignty successfully.

The power of example: Lessons from South Africa’s election

Mammo Muchie


© Oryxmedia
In a piece considering the broader implications of the recent South African election for Africa at large, Mammo Muchie celebrates the calmness with which South Africans have consistently expressed their democratic and human rights. Encouraging other African parties to follow South African groups' example in ensuring political rivalries never descend into violent confrontation, Muchie salutes the country's ability to maintain a free and fair election process. Reflecting on the wider lessons for the African continent and his native Ethiopia in particular, the author stresses that the example of a free press and the right to criticise underpinning South Africa's success should be replicated across the continent.

Donors won’t cough up without change

Zim future in jeopardy amidst Unity government impasse

Richard Kamidza


Zimbabwe’s new lease of life is under threat, as signatories to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) fail to implement the deal, writes Richard Kamidza. Fresh farm invasions, the re-arrest of political prisoners and disrespect for the pluralistic processes of democracy set out in AU and SADC statutes are sending out the wrong signal to investors and damaging the Unity Government’s ability to unlock financial and technical assistance from global donors and western governments, Kamidza argues. The Harare administration needs US$8 billion to revive the country’s social and economic sectors. Zimbabwe has a monthly public sector wage bill of US$400 million and revenue of just US$30 million.

Congo: We should be Africa’s Brazil

Give us a fighting chance to live up to our potential

Ali M. Malau


cc Wikipedia
It's true that Congo is a disappointment, says Ali M. Malau, responding to There is No Congo, an article which advocates carving up the country described as ‘a collection of peoples, groups, interests, and pillagers who coexist at best’. But that’s no reason to write off its potential to succeed as a nation-state of a country that should rival rising powers like South Africa and Brazil with its wealth of natural and human resources. Malau argues that Congo’s failure is the result of a Western campaign to weaken it in order to ‘perpetuate the systematic plunder of Congo's resources’ by foreign interests. Since 1885, says Malau, the affairs of the Congo have never truly been left to the Congolese people. With a great deal of work and investment from its people, Malau believes Congo could still become a ‘powerful engine for the development, and the industrialisation of the entire continent’.

Full speed in the wrong direction

Has the world made real progress since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit?

Nnimmo Bassey


cc Coda
CSD-17 presents a unique opportunity for global governance to rise above the selfish interests of individual countries and regional blocks to work towards sustainable development worldwide, writes Nnimmo Bassey. But, he warns, a complicated negotiation text lacking in ideas to galvanise nations into acting in solidarity, is likely to maintain the status quo. Bassey expresses dismay at G-77 references to ‘national laws and cultural contexts’ when the Commission for Sustainable Development ‘should be raising the bar, not subjecting universal ideals to parochial local regimes’. Bassey suggests that restoring confidence in global governance and democracy is an important part of tackling the food, climate and economic crises on every delegates’ mind. What is even more problematic to the negotiations, however, is the lack of unanimity in defining what ‘sustainability’ actually is.

Gambia: Time to stop the abuse

Popular criticism of Jammeh government swells

Abena Ampofoa Asare


cc Wikimedia
State-sanctioned witch-hunts in March have triggered growing popular criticism of Gambia’s repressive Jammeh government on the ground as well as internationally, writes Abena Ampofoa Asare. Detailing the failure of regional and continental mechanisms from the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) court to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to respond effectively to human-rights abuses in a deteriorating political situation, Asare calls for the issue to be addressed at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights annual meeting on 13 May.

Beyond mere 'brotherhood' and 'sisterhood'

Godwin Murunga


cc J Francis
In a response to 'Kenyan men should zip up and grow up' in last week's Pambazuka, Godwin Murunga charges that Wandia Njoya's letter smacks of intellectual laziness. Suggesting that Njoya's argument ignores entirely the attitudinal gains in gender relations made over previous years, Murunga emphasises that it is highly misleading to cast all men as equal recipients of 'patriarchal dividends'. Stressing that the problem of 'flawed masculinity' is in some respects actively fuelled by women themselves, Murunga underlines the inherent destructiveness of short-sighted generalisations.

The KwaZulu Natal Slums Act: Bloody legislation against the expropriated

Richard Pithouse


cc Arne Boell
With South Africa's Constitutional Court today set to hear the efforts of the Abahlali baseMjondolo shackdweller movement to have the KwaZulu Natal Slums Act declared unlawful, Richard Pithouse reflects on the state's routine willingness to evict occupiers of informal housing in contravention of the protection afforded by the country's constitution. Stressing the destruction engendered through forcing people out of their communities, Pithouse discusses the state's flawed assumption that blindly razing settlements without fully accommodating their inhabitants amounts to progress. Highlighting the similarities of the 2007 Slums Act with apartheid-era legislation, the author criticises a technocratic act that regards the poor as the problem rather than the material and political realities they face, and proposes the implementation of measures aimed at privileging the social value of urban land over commercial concerns.

Food sovereignty: A new model for a human right

Vía Campesina and Friends of the Earth International


cc Oxfam
Following UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter's comments at the 17th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Vía Campesina and Friends of the Earth International give their response to the special rapporteur's comments. While highlighting the recommendations and broad understanding that they share with De Schutter, the authors' statement emphasises the centrality of 'food sovereignty', namely, the right of different communities and peoples to control their own territories. This the authors contend is a process that goes beyond producers' mere 'participation' in high-level decision-making; it is one which actively positions farmers and peasants at the centre of agricultural production and control.

Books & arts

Like a goddess rides a tiger

Phanuel Akubueze Egejuru


Phanuel Akubueze Egejuru is ‘totally enthralled’ by poet Shailja Patel’s performance about Zanzibari musician Bi Kidude at an Africa Literature Association conference in April. She describes here her experience of watching what the Igbo call ‘oha kara lama’, an event whose memory travellers carry and disperse in distant lands.

Shailja Patel: Rebel and renaissance woman

Phanuel Akubueze Egejuru


Phanuel Akubueze Egejuru is awed by Kenyan poet Shailja Patel’s ‘eye-popping phraseology’ in Migritude, a volume of work around the theme of migration and its impact on human relationships. ‘Too delicate and too good to be touched’, Egejuru warns that the book may make painful reading for those who experienced direct colonisation, as Patel takes the reader ‘through years of exploitation…in Africa and Asia’. It is however ‘a must-read’, devoured by Ejeguru in one sitting, which ‘forges fresh expressions that invigorate and inspire budding poets to take risks and experiment’.

Letters & Opinions

Adding fuel to the fire

Letters to the editor


The need for Haiti and Africa to build alliances, ‘hardcore ideology’ in South Africa, the bad habit of ‘hyena culture’ and Mahmood Mamdani are among the subjects discussed in this week's round-up of reader responses to recent stories in Pambazuka News.

Kenya govt link to Samburu cattle raids

Mike Rainy & Pakuo


Mike Rainy writes to thank Pambazuka for its coverage of cattle raids in Samburu and to forward us an update from Pakuo, who attended a community meeting about the issue at the end of April.

African Writers’ Corner

An interview with Courttia Newland

Conversations with Writers


In an interview with Conversations with Writers, Courttia Newland talks about the influences behind his writing and giving a voice to those left outside of mainstream fiction.

Blogging Africa

Review of the African Blogosphere – May 14, 2009

Dibussi Tande


Zimbabwe update

Hear Us – Zimbabwean women affected by political violence speak out


In 2008, political violence erupted throughout Zimbabwe as a result of the contested national elections. Zimbabwean women of all ages, targeted for their political affiliations, were abducted from their workplaces and homes, raped, tortured, and beaten in secret torture centers. It is estimated that from May to July, state-sanctioned groups raped over 2,000 women and girls. The local police have ignored these women's pleas for protection and justice, and national leaders have been equally unresponsive to local and international demands for an end to the violence.

MDC powerless to deal with ZANU PF hardliners


The MDC is fully aware that some of the top civil servants and cabinet ministers from ZANU PF are working against the inclusive government, but are powerless to deal with them. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday said that hard-liners left over from the old regime were endangering the country's future. The MDC leader blamed what he termed ‘residual elements from the old government’ for violating the rule of law and the agreement that created the inclusive government.

Prominent human rights lawyer arrested


A prominent Zimbabwean human rights lawyer was arrested Thursday at a court in Harare, colleagues said. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Irene Petras said Alec Muchadehama was arrested at a magistrates court where he had gone to work.

Women & gender

Africa: Call for nominations: "Multiplying faces, amplifying voices"


Across the continent, African women play a significant role in improving the quality of life of their communities. From grandmothers to young girls, there are women in each country on the continent whose achievements have been stellar, whether in a small community, in their nation or across the continent. Yet many of these women and their achievements go unrecognised and unlauded.

Africa: Have you ratified the Protocol?


EASSI is a member of Solidarity of African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), an organisation made up of 26 members bent on advocating for the ratification of the AU Protocol of Women’s Rights. Beverley Nambozo met with Faiza Mohammed, the African Regional Director of Equality Now, who shared how the Protocol is being used as a practical advocacy tool for women’s and girls’ rights. Faiza shares that as of December 2008, Guinea Bissau was the last to ratify the Protocol bringing the total number of countries to 26. She congratulates all members of SOAWR upon this achievement.

Africa: Women are born leaders


When Margaret Mensah-Williams walked down the steps after presiding over the Namibian parliament for the first time, male parliamentarians rushed to ask her how she became so good at chairing the house. "I told them women are born leaders," says Mensah, Vice Chairperson of the National Council.

Africa: Women's bodies have been battlefields


Religion, cultural norms and tradition promote discrimination and unequal power relations between men and women in Africa. Akina Mama wa Afrika's Christine Butegwa doesn't hesitate when asked what explains the horrific levels of sexual violence against women in conflict-affected areas on the continent.

Global: US: Act to prevent rape in war


The United States Senate should move beyond collecting testimony in its commitment to help prevent and punish rape in conflict, Human Rights Watch has said in a written submission to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The US is in a strong position to provide active global leadership and to press for international action, Human Rights Watch said.

Liberia: Rural women confront hunger gap, their own way


Three brightly-clothed women walk slowly around the fallen, charred trees strewn haphazardly across the blackened clearing, each carrying seashells filled with indigenous rice seed to bury in the rich soil. The women belong to a local cooperative, Women and Children Development Secretariat (WOCDES), and wake early for the 5-km hike down the dirt road to their farm near Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, in Liberia’s vast forest region on the Ivorian border.

Mauritania: Rape victims seek justice, find jail


Women in Mauritania who press charges for sexual assault face the risk of jail time because of poorly defined laws and stigma that criminalise victims rather than offenders, according to a local UN-funded non-profit. The subject of rape is still so taboo in Mauritania that there is no mention of it in the law and the word is absent from government documents, according to the NGO Mauritanian Association for Maternal and Child Health, based in the capital Nouakchott.

South Africa: Jobs for the girls or gender equality for SA?


South Africa’s new president Jacob Zuma did his best to follow the footsteps of his nemesis Thabo Mbeki when he announced a cabinet edging towards gender parity on 10 May. But gender advocates note with concern the lack of parity in top structures of government; the declining proportion of women deputy ministers; questionable credentials of some women ministers and the establishment of a women’s ministry.

Human rights

Africa: Support efforts to fight impunity and end the current legal affront against HRDs


The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) should focus on demanding accountability and supporting efforts to tackle impunity, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) declares in an intervention to the 45th Session of the Commission. The intervention focuses on Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, countries in the East and Horn of Africa region where the present human rights situation is of particular concern.

Africa: UN: Highlight rights and justice on Africa trip


The United Nations Security Council should focus on the protection of civilians, justice, and human rights during its upcoming visit to Africa, from May 14-21, 2009, Human Rights Watch has said in a letter to the council member states. The 15 members of the Security Council will visit Liberia, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and meet with African Union officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, about the crises in Somalia and Sudan.

Burundi: Over 200 political prisoners in released


The Burundian government has released 203 National Liberation Front political prisoners as part of the ceasefire agreement signed between the government and the former rebel group, Ministry of Justice has said late yesterday in a statement.

Egypt: Fears rise over spate of missing children


'Provinces on fire with kidnapping rumours; every day more stories of missing children', read the May 1 headline of independent daily Al-Dustour. For months now, the independent press has been carrying reports of the disappearance of young children, mostly from Egypt's rural provinces. On Apr. 11 two children from the Sharqiya province vanished without a trace; on Apr. 28, four young children - three of them under six years old - were reported missing in the northern city Mansoura. Dozens of other cases have been reported through this period.

Kenya: Mau Mau to sue UK for compensation


The much anticipated lawsuit against the British government for the atrocities committed against freedom fighters in Kenya during the colonial period will be filed next month. The Kenya Human Rights Commission has instructed London-based solicitors, Leigh Day & Co to commence the process. If successful, it would lead to the compensation of the surviving freedom fighters.

Tanzania: 2008 Tanzania Human Rights Report


In 2008, Tanzania, along with the rest of the world, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. During this celebration, Tanzania had the opportunity to consider the improvements and failures in its efforts to achieve the goal of realizing justice, liberty and human rights for all. While Tanzania is committed to upholding the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, this commitment does not always seem to translate into reality.

West Africa: Gambia rejects compensation for murdered Ghanaians


Gambia has rejected a joint United Nations-Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) report on the alleged murder of more than 50 West African nationals, including 44 Ghanaians, in the Gambia in 2005, which dem a nded compensation be paid to the relatives of the victims. According to Ghana’s foreign minister Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, the report of the committee prepared after eight months of investigations was presented to the two countries in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday.

Refugees & forced migration

DRC: ICRC steps up efforts to help displaced people and their host communities


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its humanitarian activities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in response to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation that has taken place since autumn 2008. The lack of security arising from ongoing clashes and military operations is exacerbating the already bleak conditions for displaced people (IDPs) – estimated to number more than 300,000 – and their host communities in North Kivu and is having a devastating impact on people's livelihoods.

Social movements

Global: A Brief Report of the WSF-IC Meeting at Rabat


Morocco had been decided as the venue of this meeting towards the end of the
previous IC meeting held in Belem just after the WSF 2009 in January. Morocco, which had held the Maghreb Social Forum earlier, had made the request for an IC meeting there as, in their opinion, it would strengthen their efforts in consolidating the Magreb-Mashrik process, encompassing the Arab world.

South Africa: Abahlali Western Cape statement


The second day of the cleaning campaign on our land in Macassar was even more successful than the first. The police ceased more or less from their intimidatory tactics and there were even more community members present to clean the land

South Africa: Durban Sings - Call for response: Make a conversation across the lines


The DURBAN SINGS project asks for your attention: Can you lend your ear to the "Singing Durbanites" on Can you write an audio letter to audio activists of the southern hemisphere? Can you pick up on their songs, stories, proverbs and histories, take them to yours, add from your songs, stories, proverbs and histories and post your re-telling re-mix back to them?

South Africa: The KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act: Bloody legislation against the expropriated


On 14 May 2009 the Constitutional Court will hear the attempt by the shack dweller’s movement Abahlali baseMjondolo to have the KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act declared unlawful. Other provinces have been mandated to develop similar legislation and the decision of the court may have a significant impact on the future of our cities.

Emerging powers news

China- Africa watch news roundup

Sanusha Naidu


Sanusha Naidu compiles a list of the top stories on Sino-African relations.

Elections & governance

Cote d'Ivoire: Presidential election planned for 29 November


The first ballot in the presidential election in Côte d'Ivoire will take place on 29 November 2009, sources at the Council of ministers at the presidential palace, said on Thursday in Abidjan.

Madagascar: UN proposes neutral, peaceful transition


International mediators led by UN special envoy Tiebile Drame have called for a neutral, peaceful and consensual transition in Madagascar before the next national election in 14 months. According to a draft agreement, the mediators tasked the transitional authority, led by former Antananarivo Mayor Andry Rajoelina, to organise fair and transparent elections and establish democratic and stable institutions.

Malawi: African elections project launched


As Malawi prepares for elections in four days, The International Institute for Journalism, based in Ghana, has launched the first ever elections project for that country. The president of the institute, Kwami Ahiabenu, said it's designed to promote the use of ICT in generating election information.

Togo: Presidential elections for February, March, 2010


Togo will hold presidential elections between 18 February and 5 March, 2010, a statement by Aboudou Assouma, chairman of the Constitutional Court, issued on Thursday in Lomé said.

Uganda: Opposition parties demand electoral reforms


Uganda's opposition parties are demanding reforms in the electoral commission as the country prepares for the presidential polls in 2011. The statement presented to parliament yesterday by Forum for Democratic Change president, Kizza Besigye, suggests major facelifts in the way elections are conducted, the announcement of winners, while also calling for the reinstatement of the presidential term limits.


Nigeria: MP panel in fraud charge


Members of the Nigerian National Assembly in charge of investigating the country's electricity crisis have been charged with fraud. The 10 MPs denied charges of siphoning off $42m (£27m) of public funds in a hearing that stretched over two days.


Africa: Africa backs new body to boost knowledge management


African science researchers and policy advisers have agreed to set up a foundation, endorsed by a range of African-based banks, to promote the use of scientific and other forms of knowledge by both public and private decision-makers in the continent. The body, to be known as the Knowledge Management Africa (KMA) Foundation, will be under the auspices of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Africa: Grain crisis and political economy of a new scramble for Africa


Signs are emerging of a far reaching crisis not just in the financial systems of the developed world but also food security in a number of Asian countries, either on account of having vast desert lands or small sizes on which farming becomes a problem. There is also the threat from biofuel needs that pushed up prices of grain, and scarcity of water makes large scale farming of grain in many Asian states unfeasible or uneconomic, thus compelling them to seek land elsewhere. Africa is the choice continent, but it is brittle.

Africa: Turning agriculture into a business


A plan by the Africa Commission to side-step African governments and target the private sector to invigorate the continent’s business and agricultural capacity, thereby stimulating job creation, was launched in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, on 6 May. According to the Commission’s committee members – heads of state, members of civil society, academia and international and regional organisations, mainly from Africa – the proposals break from the ever-growing catalogue of help schemes for the world’s poorest continent.

Cameroon: UN funds multi-million dollar scheme to boost rural employment


The rural poor across Cameroon are set to receive a cash injection of close to $14 million from the United Nations in an effort to reduce poverty, increase income and improve livelihoods. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will support the Rural Microfinance Development project in the West African country with a $13.5 million loan and $200,000 grant.

Malawi: Separating the poor from the ultra-poor - why?


A group of civil society organisations in Malawi is pushing for changes to the country's controversial social cash transfer scheme which has caused tension in communities as it attempts to separate the poor from the "very poor" in a country where some 65 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day. Pilot programmes to test the scheme are underway in seven of Malawi's 27 districts.

Health & HIV/AIDS

DRC: Toxic toad scam killing patients


Many people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are dying of treatable diseases because they attribute their symptoms to a poison they believe only traditional healers can cure, according to health officials. "Many people are dying in this region because of this phobia whose current spread has to do with the environment we are living in and the wars we have experienced," said North Kivu provincial medical inspector Dominique Bahago.

Global: Criminalising HIV positive women violates human rights


This document outlines a presentation given by the Salamander Trust at a meeting on women and AIDS at the House of Commons in Westminster. The presenter details how, because of global attitudes, women with HIV/AIDS have seen their reproductive health rights and rights to liberty systematically and institutionally eroded. The document shows how some countries are now sterilising young positive women, coercing them to sign consent forms when in labour, so that after delivery when they go for contraception, they learn that this is no longer needed.

Swaziland: Sexual violence against girls widespread


A third of girls in Swaziland have experienced sexual violence by the age of 18, according to a study published in the May 9th edition of The Lancet. Such violence was strongly associated with sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy complications or miscarriages, unwanted pregnancy and mental health problems.

Tanzania: Bars get condom dispensers


Bars and nightclubs in several Tanzanian cities will soon have condom vending machines in the bathrooms as part of national efforts to combat HIV. "Our goal is to make condoms widely available to the people. The programme will start in Dar es Salaam [Tanzania's commercial capital] before it is scaled up to various upcountry regions," Stan Mwamaja, a ministry of health official, told IRIN/PlusNews.

Tanzania: Zanzibar faces serious nurses shortage


Zanzibar nurses have said they were facing serious challenges in carrying out their duties, as the ratio of a nurse to patients stands at 1:50. In their message during the occasion to mark World’s Nurses Day, they expressed the need for the government to consider employing more nurses in health facilities for them, to be able to provide standard services.

West Africa: Nigeria moves to protect PLWAs from discrimination


Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has sent a bill to the national assembly (parliament) which, if passed into law, will make it an offence to discriminate against any person on the grounds of actual or perceived HIV status. The bill makes it an offence for employers of labour, religious houses and operators of other public places to discriminate against those living with or affecte d by HIV and AIDS.

Zimbabwe: HIV-positive nurses go it alone


For the past year, Olive Mutabeni's home in Chitungwiza, a low-income suburb 20km outside Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, has been the makeshift centre of operations for the Life Empowerment Support Organisation (LESO). After 23 years as a nurse in the public health sector, most recently as the coordinator of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) services at Chitungwiza Central Hospital, Mutabeni quit her job and started LESO to provide the sick and elderly in her community with emotional, medical and practical support. Four other nurses soon joined her.


Global: Activists optimistic about pro-gay resolution


African LGBTI human rights defenders attending the 45th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) currently underway in Banjul, Gambia, are optimistic that a resolution aimed at ending all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa will be adopted by the African Commission. On 14 May, the panel presented the resolution which has been continuously barred during the preceding ordinary sessions.


Nigeria: Shell: Stop Gas Flaring Now!


On May 26, oil giant Shell will face a groundbreaking trial in U.S. federal court for complicity in human rights abuses. Shell faces a number of serious charges, including conspiring with a Nigerian military dictatorship to bring about the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight fellow activists who led a mass movement against Shell's environmental devastation of their homeland in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Tanzania: Major emergency at Barrick's North Mara mine


It is reported that there has been a major spill of toxic sludge from Barrick's Mara mining operation into River Thigithe that flows into the Mara River. This happened Monday the 11th of May and nearby residents have reported that there are dead fish and all kinds of other dead water life along the river.

Land & land rights

Africa: African land grabbers on shaky ground


In the past two years, various non-African countries - China, India, South Korea, Britain and the Arab Gulf states lead the pack - have been taking over huge tracts of farmland in Africa by lease or purchase, to produce food or biofuels for their own use. Critics call them "neo-colonialists", but they will not be as successful as the old ones.

Burundi: A sharing approach to land disputes


Returning to Burundi after years as a refugee in Tanzania, Jonas Saya knew it would be difficult to reclaim his land from former neighbours who had settled on it. "I wanted my children to get a home of their own," he said. Saya, 56, returned with six children after spending 37 years in Ulyankulu old settlement, western Tanzania.

Food Justice

Global: A welcome shift in united nations views on food sovereignty


Social and environmental organizations reacted positively to proposals by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, during the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development of the United Nations in New York. Schutter's proposals strongly echo the new production model that La Vía Campesina and Friends of the Earth International have been promoting for years.

Media & freedom of expression

Angola: Newspaper editor forbidden to leave country


Reporters Without Borders condemns the foreign travel ban that has been placed on William Tonet, the editor of the independent Luanda-based biweekly Folha 8 (F8), whose passport was seized when he tried to cross by land into Namibia on 9 May. Tonet has been harassed by the authorities ever since the newspaper’s creation in 1995.

Kenya: The Storymoja Blog schedule is back on


The Storymoja Blog has been off schedule for a while, due to the unfortunate illness of one of the editors. We are back now, with a few changes. The blog stories will go up every Monday.Please send in your stories before each Friday at 4pm. This will allow the editors to read, choose and edit the stories that will go up on the blog on Monday. All stories on the blog will be considered for nomination to the Story of the Week. The editors will make their comments and all readers will have a chance to vote for the story of their choice. The story with the most votes will be awarded the STORY OF THE WEEK crown and will be posted on
both the blog front as well as the Storymoja website.

Madagascar: Detained Radio Mada reporter charged and transferred to prison


Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the decision to keep Radio Mada sports reporter Evariste Ramanantsoavina in detention and charge him with “inciting revolt against the republic’s institutions,” defamation and disseminating false information. He was arrested on 5 May and forced to reveal the location from which the radio was broadcasting in defiance of a closure order.

Mauritania: Editor narrowly escapes death


Reporters Without Borders has condemned an attempted murder of the editor of the independent Arab-language daily, El Wattan, and radio presenter Mohamed Ould Zeine in Mauritania. Mr Ould Zeine was allegedly attacked by two men with baseball bats and knives on the evening of 12 May. He reportedly suffered very serious injuries to his left hand.

Somalia: IFJ condemns threats and intimidation against journalists


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the threats and intimidations against journalists in Somalia after the head of an Islamic militia group in Somalia warned journalists against reports which are critical of the movement. “We condemn this climate of terror and intimidation against journalists in Somalia,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “It is against press freedom and ethical journalism to interfere in journalists’ work.”

Zimbabwe: AG ordered arrest of journalists


The two Zimbabwean journalists arrested on Monday were detained on the orders of the Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana, the Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa has revealed. Mutsekwa's revelation is contained in the Parliamentary Hansard in response to a Member of the House of Assembly, Blessing Chebundo's inquiry.

News from the diaspora

Katrina victims face eviction

Don’t leave people homeless, group urges government

Ajamu Baraka


Following reports of federal government plans to repossess temporary housing from Katrina victims, theUS Human Rights Network has called for the Obama administration to reverse this decision and provide those affected with substantive directive support.
Following reports of federal government plans to repossess temporary housing from Katrina victims, the US Human Rights Network has called for the Obama administration to reverse this decision and provide those affected with substantive directive support.

Conflict & emergencies

Congo: Five Priorities for a Peacebuilding Strategy


This latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses the situation on the ground in the wake of the five-week joint military operation between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda against Rwandan Hutu rebels, the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), in the Kivus. That effort did not produce significant results and highlights the need for a new tack. The report presents a five-point strategy to drive a renewed process forward.

DRC: Congo Ignored: When 5 million dead aren't worth two stories a year


The wars that have wracked the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996, killing well over 5 million people (International Rescue Committee, 1/08) in what may be the deadliest conflict since World War II, are officially over. A peace agreement was signed in 2002, and general elections were held in 2006.

Nigeria: Gunboats exchange fire with oil militants


Nigerian gunboats exchanged fire with militants in the western Niger Delta on Friday, security sources and a prominent ethnic activist said, the latest sign of deepening unrest at the heart of Africa's biggest oil industry. More than a dozen navy gunboats opened fire on militants along Chanomi Creek in Delta state, the sources said. The region is home to U.S. energy giant Chevron's Escravos export terminal and Nigeria's 125,000 barrels per day Warri refinery.

Somalia: Heavy clashes cause fresh displacement in Mogadishu


UNHCR is deeply concerned about the week-long clashes in the Somali capital Mogadishu that have claimed many civilian lives and sparked a new wave of displacement. The latest fighting, some of the heaviest seen in Mogadishu this year, between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government and opposition groups, erupted last week and have so far claimed the lives of more than 135 people and 315 injured, while dislocating an estimated 30,000 people.

Sudan: Darfur: African Union-UN envoy concerned over surge in factional violence


The joint African Union-United Nations envoy to Darfur has expressed concern over recent armed clashes between various factions in the northern part of the war-ravaged Sudanese region. AU-UN Special Representative Rodolphe Adada called on the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudanese Liberation Army/Minni Minawi wing (SLA/MM) to end hostilities, which flared up over the weekend in the North Darfur town of Umm Baru.

Internet & technology

Africa: Great build-up to eLearning Africa


Over one thousand registered participants and speakers are looking forward to this year’s eLearning Africa conference in Dakar! Taking place from May 27th – 29th, this conference is THE event in the field of ICT-supported learning and training! High-level participants from ministries, organisations and companies from all over the world are coming to Dakar. Don’t miss out on this unique conference and the chance to network and share the latest on learning and technology.

West Africa: Europe’s e-waste in Africa


Despite the international regulations to prevent electronic waste from being dumped in developing countries, mountains of western e-waste are rising higher in Africa. Especially Ghana and Nigeria have emerged as new target countries for our used electronics. The implications of this waste industry are shocking for both environment and human health.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Africa: New Books 2009

AfricaFocus Bulletin May 14, 2009 (090514)


This issue of AfricaFocus features brief notices of 15 books published so far in 2009 that AfricaFocus readers are likely to be interested in. This listing, including 10 on continent-wide issues or countries outside South Africa and 5 on South Africa, is far from comprehensive. But it includes a good selection of thoughtful analyses by both African writers and experienced non-African observers of the African scene.

USA/Africa: Underfunding Global Health

AfricaFocus Bulletin May 10, 2009 (090510)


President Obama's global health budget plan, pegged at $63 billion over six years and announced on May 5, one day in advance of the full budget statement, met with predictably mixed responses. The administration spin was that it was a major new commitment to a comprehensive approach; health activist groups charged that it actually marked a cut from prior commitments made in campaign promises and by Congressional pledges.

Fundraising & useful resources

Global: Geotourism Challenge 2009: Power of Place

Ashoka Changemakers


Ashoka’s Changemakers, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, have launched an exciting online competition entitled “Geotourism Challenge 2009: Power of Place – Sustaining Future Destinations". Our aim is to search for global innovative ideas in tourism that celebrate the distinct destinations of the world by honoring culture, cherishing history and enhancing the environment. Submit your entry by May 20, 2009 at to take advantage of the funding opportunities and global exposure, while contributing to the next big change!

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: CODESRIA at the 8th Nigeria International Book fair (NIBF)


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to invite all visitors to the 8th Nigeria International Book fair (NIBF) to the book exhibition that it is organizing during the NIBF. The 8th Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF 2009) is scheduled to hold from May 11th - 16th, 2009 at the Multi-purpose Halls of the University of Lagos.

Africa: Academy for Constitutional Law and Justice in Africa


In order to overcome the constitutional deficit in Africa and contribute to the dynamism of the teaching of constitutional practice in the Continent has developed a programme on « Constitutionalism and Constitutional Rights », which includes the organising of a yearly Academy aimed at improving the knowledge and understanding of institutional mechanisms by the wider public. The Second Session of the ACLJA will be held under the theme “Constitution and Citizenship”

Africa: FAWE Gender in African Education Research Fellowship


FAWE is offering a 12-month postdoctoral Gender in African Education Research Fellowship at its Regional Secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya, from July 2009. The fellowship will contribute to a FAWE research initiative that aims to build African research capacity on gender in education in Africa with a view to improving girls’ and women’s education on the continent.

Global: Call for Abstracts: 8th International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH 2009)


The 8th International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH) will take place between October 18-23, 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya. It is being organized by the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH) in partnership with the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and the Government of the Republic of Kenya, through the Ministry of Nairobi Metropolitan Development. This will be the first time the Conference is held out of North America and Europe. Previous conferences took place in Toronto (2002), New York (2003), Boston (2004), Toronto (2005), Amsterdam (2006), Baltimore (2007), and Vancouver (2008).

Kenya: CODESRIA Writing the History of Women in Africa: Past, Present and Future


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the second edition of its annual conference on critical themes in the history of Africa. The conference is part of CODESRIA’s initiative aimed at achieving the triple objective of promoting the study of the history of Africa, mobilising support for the discipline of history in African higher education, and networking African historians both for these purposes and also as a worthy cause in its own right.

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