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Pambazuka News

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
Sylvia Tamale
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.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
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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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Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

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This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 478: Obama and AFRICOM: Militarisation intensifies

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

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. African Writers’ Corner, 9. Blogging Africa, 10. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 11. Highlights French edition, 12. Zimbabwe update, 13. African Union Monitor, 14. Women & gender, 15. Human rights, 16. Refugees & forced migration, 17. Social movements, 18. Africa labour news, 19. Emerging powers news, 20. Elections & governance, 21. Development, 22. Health & HIV/AIDS, 23. LGBTI, 24. Environment, 25. Land & land rights, 26. Media & freedom of expression, 27. Conflict & emergencies, 28. Internet & technology, 29. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 30. Fundraising & useful resources, 31. 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

- Urgent action needed to save lives of Saharawi activists

- Daniel Volman: Obama and US military engagement in Africa
- Alemayehu G. Mariam: The voodoo economics of Meles Zenawi
- Motsoko Pheko: What are South Africans celebrating on 27 April?
- Sudan: Serious concerns over electoral process
- Audrey Mbugua: Homosexuality 'ungodly'? So what!
- Joy Onyejiako: The ‘Kingdom of Ife’: African art at the British Museum
+ more

- Geoffrey Njora: African finance ministers dismiss development declarations
- Chambi Chachage: From comparative to competitive advantage
- Yash Ghai: Should Kenya’s politicians leave the proposed constitution alone?
- Azad Essa: I did not know Fatima Meer
+ more

- Horace Campell: Are Sarkozy and Kagame playing games?

- Hands off Mother Earth
- Ensuring Kenya gets a new constitution
- What about tolerance for WOZA activists
+ more

- Amira Kheir: Review of 'Fire in the Soul – 100 Poems for Human Rights'

- An open letter to Oxfam America on its stance on biotechnology
+ moreACTION ALERTS: Secret draft of Canada-EU free trade agreement
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Mugabe welcomes Ahmadinejad
WOMEN & GENDER: New law to benefit Kenya women, lawyers say
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Niger Delta amnesty at risk of unraveling
HUMAN RIGHTS: Press all sides to end Somalia abuses
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Tanzania deports illegal Somalis
EMERGING POWERS NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Social movements for system change
AFRICA LABOUR NEWS: NUM to oppose SA Eskom privatization
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Anger at Egypt MPs’ call for force
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Africa should unite for drug development
DEVELOPMENT: Agriculture key to Africa’s stability
LGBTI: Uganda softens stand
ENVIRONMENT: Swazi activist wins green prize
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Grabbing Africa
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Cameroonian editor dies in prison
INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY: New Broadband network for Africa approved
ENEWSLETTERS & MAILING LISTS: AfricaFocus Bulletin: Zimbabwe: Sanctions and solidarity
JOBS: Vacancies at Christian Aid
PLUS: Fundraising & useful resources, publications, courses, seminars and workshops

*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

Action alerts

Secret draft of Canada-European Union free trade agreement

Trade Justice Network


As Canadian and European trade negotiators gather in Ottawa for a third round of free trade negotiations, the newly formed Trade Justice Network has publicly released a draft text of the proposed Canada-European Union Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The network is raising serious concerns about the agreement’s potential impact on public and environmental policy, culture, farmers and public services in both Canada and Europe, and has issued a set of demands that it says must be met before negotiations are allowed to continue.

Urgent action needed to save lives of Saharawi activists

Letter from Y. Lamine


Almost four weeks have already passed since the six of the seven Saharawi human right activists, held at the Moroccan prison of Sale, began their open hunger strike. Their were arrested and detained, on 8 October 2010, on their return from a family visit to the Saharawi refugees camps in south West of Algeria. The Moroccan government intends to bring them before a military court on account of that trip.


Obama and US military engagement in Africa

Daniel Volman


cc US Army
Upon replacing George W. Bush as US president, hopes were high that Barack Obama would oversee sweeping change in relation to US military policy. But, writes Daniel Volman, far from seeing a reversal, such policy has in fact intensified, entirely at the expense of more progressive diplomatic and economically-based approaches.

Ethiopia: The voodoo economics of Meles Zenawi

Alemayehu G. Mariam


cc H A
While Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi may insist on his country's booming economic performance, the evidence speaks differently, writes Alemayehu G. Mariam. With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) strangely indulgent of the Ethiopian financial institutions' statistics, the picture is one of glaring exaggeration and inaccuracy that does a huge disservice to the Ethiopian people, Mariam concludes.

What are South Africans celebrating on 27 April?

Abandoning freedom for a fairytale destination

Motsoko Pheko


cc T S
As South Africa prepares to celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April, Motsoko Pheko warns that the negotiated settlement that ended apartheid 16 years ago failed to take into consideration ‘the primary objectives for which the liberation struggle was fought’. The country’s constitution may be the best in the world, but isn’t it time it was amended on the fundamental issues that affect the majority poor, Pheko asks.

South Africa – a deal gone wrong?

Udo W. Froese


cc I G N
Twenty years after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, the majority of black South Africans remain excluded from the country’s land and formal economy. Udo W. Froese asks whether the talk of national reconciliation and nation-building is simply propaganda.

Sudan: Serious concerns over electoral process

Sudanese civil society networks


cc S O K
In the wake of serious doubts around Sudan's ability to oversee free and fair elections, Sudanese civil society networks 'believe that the voters of Sudan were unable to freely express their will and select their representatives'. Spelling out the range of problems impeding the current election, the group outlines a set of recommendations rooted in ensuring genuine representation for the Sudanese electorate.

Homosexuality 'ungodly'? So what!

Religious fundamentalism in Kenya

Audrey Mbugua


cc k763
As religious fundamentalists in Kenya stress homosexuality to be 'ungodly', Audrey Mbugua asks 'so what?' Religious-based delusions paralyse 'otherwise rational people', Mbugua argues, and religious fundamentalism 'fosters criminal activities by coating them with spirituality and messages of madness'.

The ‘Kingdom of Ife’: African art at the British Museum

Joy Onyejiako


cc Cliff
An exhibition of art from the Nigerian Kingdom of Ife at the British Museum isn’t only exquisitely beautiful, it is ‘something of absolute historical importance’, writes Joy Onyejiako. But given the low-key public response to the show, how much will it actually transform the ‘deeply embedded notion of African art as essentially primitive’ and encourage ‘the notion of a truly contemporary African artist’?

Cuba in Haiti: Selective commendation, selective indignation

Emily J. Kirk, John M. Kirk and Norman Girvan


cc A J
Cuba’s offer to rebuild Haiti’s entire national health service is arguably the most ambitious and impressive pledge made at the UN’s recent donor conference, write Emily J. Kirk, John M. Kirk and Norman Girvan, so why then have its efforts been largely ignored by the media, while those of other governments have been praised?

Al-Qaida and Iceland?; Sudan's elections; Nigeria's guard of honour



Al-Qaida claiming responsibility for Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Omar al-Bashir's notion of 'free and fair elections' for Sudan, and inspecting Umara Yar'Adua as a guard of honour all feature in this week's cartoons from Gado.

Nuclear disarmament and the need for new beginnings

Andrew Lichterman


cc I G N
In May, disarmament organisations will assemble alongside government delegations meeting for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. But the ‘discussion, analysis and political course of action that bring real disarmament will not come from refining the discourses dominated by those who currently hold power and control debate, but by rendering them irrelevant,’ argues Andrew Lichterman – it’s time for conversations that chart a new way forward.

Comment & analysis

African finance ministers dismiss development declarations

Geoffrey Njora


The commitment of African finance ministers to continental integration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the declarations of their own heads of state has come into question after national delegations from South Africa, Rwanda and Egypt succeeded in deleting any reference to budgetary targets for education, health, agriculture and water in the report and resolutions of the annual meeting of the African Union and Economic Commission for the Africa Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which took place in Malawi at the end of March. Geoffrey Njora explores the possible consequences of their actions.

From comparative to competitive advantage

Chambi Chachage


cc S M
Economist David Ricardo's theory of 'comparative advantage', despite being highly dubious, continues to exert a high degree of influence on Tanzanian policymakers, writes Chambi Chachage.

Should Kenya’s politicians leave the proposed constitution alone?

Yash Ghai


Much of Kenyan civil society wants politicians to leave the current draft of the constitution alone, fearing that they will make only those changes that benefit themselves, and that disadvantage ordinary citizens, writes Yash Ghai. As various groups put pressure on the politicians to change specific provisions, from a gender, religious or other perspective, Ghai argues that if Kenya is to get a new constitution at all, it may be worth accepting compromises on some issues.

I did not know Fatima Meer

Azad Essa


cc G H
The late Fatima Meer was 'was to me like that elusive relative is to you', writes Azad Essa, a person who lived an incredible life whom you never got to know and who lacks the genuine recognition they deserve.

Nigeria's judiciary: A messy state

Sabella Ogbobode Abidde


cc S P
Once a respected and professional example of high legal standards around the world, the Nigerian judiciary has now entirely lost its way, writes Sabella Ogbobode Abidde. The judiciary is plagued by lost case files, tampered evidence and inmates seemingly locked up indefinitely, Abidde stresses, a picture of decline that mirrors that of Nigerian society as a whole.

Spectacle and salvation: Challenging western visions of Africa

Annwen Bates


In a piece written for Pambazuka News in 2007, Annwen E. Bates looked at how Africa’s lack presented as spectacle is used ‘to legitimise Euro-American programmes of salvation – from colonialism to aid involvement’. With South Africa in the spotlight ahead of the football World Cup in June, Bates revisits some of the ideas raised by her original article.

The useful delusion of being independent

Hama Tuma


Fifty years after ‘18 African countries allegedly gained their “independence” from colonialism’, it is ‘safe to state that most of Africa suffers from the delusion of being independent’, argues Hama Tuma. ‘Colonialism played many tricks on gullible Africans,’ writes Tuma, ‘and its most damaging joke has been to declare that it has left…while actually rushing back in through the back door.'

Zimbabwe at 30: Let the Uhuru generation speak

Youth Alliance for Democracy


People born after 1980 have benefited little from 30 years of Zimbabwe’s independence, writes the Youth Alliance Democracy, thanks to the government’s continued failure to empower young people, rather than seeing them as equal partners in politics. Half of political representatives – from local government to the cabinet – should be ‘youths below the ages of 35, who can forward and address the youth concerns and youth mainstreaming in all national policies and processes’, the alliance argues.

Advocacy & campaigns

Hands off Mother Earth


On the eve of UN Mother Earth Day, over sixty national and international organizations threw their weight behind a common statement launching a global campaign to prevent real world deployment of geoengineering experiments. Geoengineering refers to large-scale intentional tinkering with the climate and earth systems to counteract global warming. The ‘Hands Off Mother Earth’ campaign (or H.O.M.E. campaign) regards such geoengineering schemes as dangerous and unjust. It is urging individuals and organizations to speak out in opposing them.

Tanzania: Political will required to achieve freedom of information


On April 14, 2010 during the ongoing Parliament meeting in Dodoma, Hon. Damas P. Nakei, MP for Babati Rural asked a question in the House wanting to know the limitations on an MP to access public information held by Government and what type of information an MP might be denied. A Coalition comprising eleven Civil Society organisations (two from outside Tanzania) organized and held meetings and public hearings countrywide to collect people’s views. All along, it emerged that the public was not only interested in the freedom to access information but wanted this to be pronounced as a basic right – hence the notion of Right to Information in the discourse of the Coalition’s work.

What tolerance for ZESA Four?



In his Independence Day address, President Robert Mugabe spoke of the need for Zimbabweans to “foster an environment of tolerance and treating each other with dignity and respect irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation." At the same time, four WOZA activists, Jenni Williams, Magodonga Mahlangu, Clara Manjengwa and Celina Madukani were spending their fourth day in the cold, dark, filthy cells of Harare Central Police Station.

Time for commitment is over, time for action now!

Civil Society Communiqué


This is a communiqué issued by members of civil society Participating in ‘Civil Society Experts Consultation on Maternal, Child and Infant Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health in Africa’ Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 17-18, 2010, organised by Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR), IPPF-Africa Region, Ipas Africa Alliance, Save the Children International, Abantu for Development, and the UN Millennium Campaign in collaboration with the AU Commission to assess progress in reducing maternal, child and infant mortality and implementation of the Continental Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health (Maputo Plan of Action 2007-10):

Letter to President Zuma on the appointment on John Qwelane

The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP)


The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP) wrote to the President on 19 January 2010 regarding the appointment of John Qwelane to the post of High Commissioner to Uganda. Despite assurances that the matter would be addressed, there has been no reply, prompting this follow-up letter

Katiba Sasa! Campaign

Ensuring Kenya gets a new constitution


The Katiba Sasa! Campaign is a civil society initiative aimed at ensuring that Kenya gets a new constitution. The National Civil Society Congress (NCSC) declares 2010 the Year of Transformation. The campaign was launched to ensure that Kenyans enact a new constitution to begin the process of transformation.

Pan-African Postcard

Are Sarkozy and Kagame playing games?

Horace Campbell


There is much uncertainty around the 2 March arrest of Agathe Habyarimana, widow of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana. Following a visit to Rwanda by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Agathe was arrested and subsequently released on bail, writes Horace Campbell, a turn of events that appears but a part of the murky collusion between Rwanda and France around the militarisation of the eastern DR Congo.

Books & arts

A problem of definition

Review of 'Fire in the Soul – 100 Poems for Human Rights'

Amira Kheir


'Fire in the Soul – 100 Poems for Human Rights', writes Amira Kheir, is a great set of poetic works, but one whose 'human rights' framing 'does a disservice to the beautiful poems encapsulated in this collection'.

Letters & Opinions

An open letter to Oxfam America on its stance on biotechnology

The Oakland Institute


Oxfam America’s endorsement of biotechnology sets a very dangerous precedent of being used by the industry in their struggle to force the adoption of GM crops in spite of strong global resistance. The shocking endorsement of transgenic crops in the face of diverse and voluminous literature countering their stance, threatens to damage Oxfam’s relationship with longtime allies and its reputation as an independent organisation.

The Ujamaa revolution



The Kenyan people cannot have leaders who don’t have their interests at heart, writes redINK, ‘We must organise ourselves and identify a genuine alternative leadership.’

African Writers’ Corner

Expressing your own spirit

Ben Okri interviewed by Zahra Moloo


The following is an audio interview [mp3] with Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri, conducted by Zahra Moloo. Commenting on the influences on his writing, Okri discusses a writer's 'natural journey' and the importance of drawing upon as wide a set of literature as possible.


Paula Akugizibwe


What do you do with numbers so big that
They stop being people
And start being data
And you put them on paper
And make life or death
With tired calculators
What do you do with your heart so big
Do you put it on freeze
Shun the bleeding disease
Do you take it in stride
Would you still feel alive
Do you sustain
A million little bolts of pain
Or deny that bitter refrain
and Stay Calm?

Blogging Africa

What are the donors really doing in Haiti?

Sokari Ekine


‘Humanitarian intervention’ in Haiti, South African attitudes to HIV/AIDS and condom use, police killings in Lagos and everyday life in the aftermath of an earthquake are among the stories covered by Sokari Ekine in this week’s overview of the African blogosphere.

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

A new battleground: Chinese culture in Sudan

Owen Grafham


While the greatest foreign influences on Sudanese youth culture have been predominantly American in recent years, there are signs that the Chinese government is beginning to get in on the act, writes Owen Grafham.

Men, mahjong and money: Chinese migrants in Khartoum

Owen Grafham


Accompanied by Nomie, a Chinese female translator, Owen Grafham describes interacting with Chinese migrant workers in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

Highlights French edition

Pambazuka News 142: Les enjeux des alternatives agricoles en Afrique


Zimbabwe update

Mugabe welcomes Ahmadinejad


President Robert Mugabe welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Zimbabwe Thursday, a meeting of two leaders united in fierce opposition to the West. Mugabe met Ahmadinejad at the Harare airport Thursday afternoon.

PM laments lack of progress


Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has lamented the failure of the unity government to fully implement all the terms of the Global Political Agreement by partners in the inclusive government saying this was holding back economic revival progress. The Prime Minister said this in his opening address of a business conference held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo Wednesday.

South Africa refuses to accept new Zimbabwe travel document


Thousands of Zimbabweans have been left stranded at the Beitbridge border post after South African immigration officials refused to recognize a newly introduced Temporary Travel Document. According to reports from the state owned Herald newspaper ‘South African port officials allegedly fired their guns to frighten the affected travellers into crossing back to the Zimbabwean side of the border

ZANU PF threatens crackdown on MDC after World Cup


Villagers in districts of Mashonaland East provinces have been told to brace themselves for more political violence, following ‘promises’ from ZANU PF officials they would be dealt with after the 2010 World cup finals. Pressure group, Zimbabwe Democracy Now, issued a statement Thursday detailing how Mike Chiwodza, a ZANU PF district chairman, has been going around the province telling villagers ‘We will kill you after the World Cup.’

African Union Monitor

Africa: AU Commission chief in US for high level meetings


African Union (AU) Commission Chair Jean Ping is in the US for a series of meetings, including the first annual US-AU High Level Bilateral Meeting at the State Department here. During his trip, Ping, who is leading an AU delegation, will discuss issues of mutual concern with some of the most senior US officials, including the Attorney General, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Women & gender

DRC: Refugee agency dismayed by impunity for endemic rape


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has spoken out against the large number of rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), voicing concern at the impunity with which the attacks are being carried out. On average, 14 assaults have been recorded daily over the past three months, but “we fear that the real numbers could be much higher considering that many survivors keep silent for fear of being ostracized,” agency spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.

Global: The Beijing Platform for Action 15 years on


This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). A 15-year Review of the implementation of the BPfA (Beijing +15) has seen civil society organisations contribute numerous studies, reports, statements and updates on whether or not commitments made have been met and to offer recommendations on how to improve policy and practice. This update from Siyanda brings together a selection of these materials.

Haiti: Sexual violence in displaced camps


Since the first days of the earthquake, many humanitarian and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have issued warnings about the increased risk of gender based and sexual violence. The risks are well founded. Thousands of displaced people are sleeping in public spaces in just one square meter or even less; women are obliged to bath almost naked under the eyes of the other residents and passers-by; children sleep alone at night because they are unaccompanied or their mothers are working outside the camps in order to feed them.

Kenya: New law to benefit women, say lawyers


Women and children will benefit equitably from family and national resources should the proposed constitution sail through, law experts have said. Speaking at a land reform forum Friday, law experts said the draft law guarantee equitable access to matrimonial property and public land, and provides for the enactment of laws to govern the same.

Human rights

Africa: Human rights laws 'should be in national languages'


The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Human and People's Rights, Sioyata Maiga, on Monday urged the media to publicize human rights related issues in local languages. She made the appeal on arrival in the Angolan capital, Luanda, at the head of a delegation of the African Commission for Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) for an 8-day official visit to assess the progress of human rights in the country.

DRC: Army 'killed civilians' in Mbandaka


The Democratic Republic of Congo army killed at least 11 civilians as it retook the airport in Mbandaka from rebels this month, a rights group says. The Asadho campaign group says it has confirmed 11 killings but suspects another 31 during the Easter attack. Nine of the dead had been in detention for three months but were then accused of being rebels and killed, it said. The government is investigating.

Nigeria: Governors threaten to execute prisoners to ease congestion


Amnesty International has condemned a reported move by Nigerian state governors to execute death row inmates to ease overcrowding and urged the authorities to instead address the underlying problems in the criminal justice system.

Somalia: Press all sides to end abuses


Participants to this week's international meeting on Somalia should press for an immediate end to abuses against civilians by Somalia's transitional government, African Union forces, and armed opposition groups, Human Rights Watch said in an open letter.

Refugees & forced migration

Egypt: Cairo Refugee Film Festival 2010

Call for films


The Cairo Refugee Film Festival (CRFF) is an Initiative that started in 2009 with the aim of organizing a film festival commemorating the World Refugee Day in June. For more information on last festival, please click here. This year, the initiative is supported by several collaborators namely St. Andrew’s Church and Congregation (Refugee Ministry), the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo, Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights (EFRR) and Tadamon: Egypt-Refugee Multicultural Council as well as others.

Egypt: Sudanese refugee dies due to torture

The Contemporary Sudanese Centre


Mr. Isaac Ismail Matar Mohammed died in one of the secret Egyptian security prisons where he was detained involuntarily since January 16, 2010 with two of his comrades from the neighborhood of October Sixth. The news spread amongst the refugees that the detainees were being subjected to various forms of torture including beatings, electric shocks and immersion in cold water. The victim’s body was not able to stand the torture and he died in detention three weeks ago.

North Africa: On the Egypt-Israel border, a modern exodus


Last month, as Jews around the world prepared for Passover, Egyptian border guards were killing migrants trying to cross into Israel. How many of us, as we sat at our Seder tables, were even aware of the dramatic parallel to the Passover story taking place on the present-day Egyptian-Israeli border?

Somalia: UN-backed scholarship recipients reach out to fellow refugees


After graduating from a teacher training college in Kenya thanks to a United Nations-backed scholarship scheme, three Somali men are returning to the refugee camp they grew up in to help the next generation of children. Aden Yusef Mohamed, Ahmed Aden Hasa and Hish Mohamed Maow ranked in the top 20 among the 500 students they graduated from the two-year programme at the Nakuru Teachers Training College.

South Africa: Hotel Yeoville


Hotel Yeoville, is a ground-breaking public art project which, by way of freshly designed digital interfaces, keys into the diversity of Forced Migrant, Refugee and South African experiences that make the controversial suburb of Yeoville such a hot melting pot. This neglected suburb on the eastern edge of Johannesburg is home to 40 000 people, 70 percent of whom are migrants and refugees from the rest of the African continent.

Tanzania: 68 Ethiopians face charge of illegal entry


The Tanzania Police Force has put 68 Ethiopian migrants in custody pending their arraignment in court for illegal entry into the country, it was officially reported Wednesday. According to Tanga Regional Police Commander Liberatus Sabas, the Ethiopians claimed during interrogation they had no intention of either staying or committing offence in Tanzania but we retransiting to South Africa.

Tanzania: Government deports 57 illegal Somali migrants


Tanzania is deporting 57 Somali migrants who illegally entered that country last month, officials said. The migrants who were fleeing from the war in Somalia are mostly youth and included six children, officials said.

Social movements

Africa: South Africa's poor to pay for dirty World Bank loan


Just how dangerous is the World Bank and its neo-conservative president Robert Zoellick to South Africa and the global climate? Notwithstanding South Africa's existing US$75 billion foreign debt, on April 8 the bank added a $3.75 billion loan to South Africa's electricty utility Eskom for the primary purpose of building the world's fourth-largest coal-fired power plant, at Medupi. It will spew 25 million tons of the climate pollutant carbon dioxide into the air each year.

Global: Civil society opposes Zoellick’s GCI request


World Bank President Robert Zoellick is expected to formally release the World Bank Group’s request for an estimated $58 billion general capital increase (GCI) on Sunday, April 25th at the conclusion of the World Bank’s Spring Meeting this weekend. A broad and growing global coalition of environmental, faith-based, human rights, community, and indigenous rights groups are calling for an end to the Bank’s continued financing of dirty energy projects, withholding support for the Bank’s GCI request within member country capitals as a consequence.

Global: Social movements for system change


On April 19, an Assembly of the Social Movements was one of the first activities on the agenda at the People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Assembly highlighted the popular focus of the conference, which was organized by the Bolivian government after the failure of governments and industries to negotiate a plan to stop climate change in Copenhagen last December.The conference is being held from April 19 thru 22 and is meant to amplify the voices of those who were not heard in Copenhagen.

South africa: ANC intimidation continues in Kennedy Road


On Sunday 18 April an ANC MP in the Provincial Parliament by the name of Dora Dlamini intimidated Nozuko Hulushe, a Kennedy Road resident and Abahlali baseMjondolo member, and demanded that she withdraw her assault charge against a local ANC leader before the case goes to trial.

South Africa: Poor people's movement draws government wrath


The rise of an organized poor people's movement in South Africa's most populous province, KwaZulu-Natal, is being met with increasing hostility by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government, which claims to be the legitimate representative of the poorest of the poor. South Africa has been rocked by increasingly frequent service delivery protests - a euphemism for communities taking to the streets to voice their frustration with the alleged slow pace of social service provision - but it is the formation of a militant non-aligned social movement, Abahlali Basemjondolo - shack-dwellers movement, in Zulu - that is causing greatest concern.

Africa labour news

South Africa: NUM will oppose Eskom privatisation – Komane


The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) would not allow for the privatisation of State-owned power utility Eskom, deputy general secretary Oupa Komane has said. He was speaking at the NUM's energy mix workshop in Johannesburg. However, deputy Public Enterprises Minister Enoch Godongwana, speaking on behalf of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said that government's plans did not involve the privatisation of the power company.

Tanzania: Business rejects government move to raise minimum wages


Tanzania's business community has rejected the government's suggestion to raise minimum wages in the private sector by 100 percent, saying it is unpayable. Employment, Labour and Youth Development Minister Juma Kapuya early this week an nounced that the government and stakeholders in the labour sector had agreed to the hike, but the business community's reaction has not been in favour of the move because it would hurt private enterp rises.

Emerging powers news

Emerging Actors in Africa news round-up


In this week's roundup of emerging actors news, Moroccan prime minister meets Communist Party delegation, China to embark on multi-billion dollar investment in Ethiopia, South Africa boosts coal supplies to China and India, and Korea has important lessons to teach Africa.

Global: IBSA - Closer social connections, not just government ties


The IBSA Fund, which finances anti-poverty projects in the most vulnerable countries, is an example of the spirit in which India, Brazil and South Africa wish to build their partnership, their leaders say. The fund was set up in 2004, one year after the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum was created, with annual contributions of one million dollars from each member. It currently supports reconstruction in Haiti after the January earthquake, agriculture in Guinea-Bissau, and projects in other African and Asian countries like Burundi and Cambodia.

Elections & governance

Egypt: Anger at MPs' call for force


Protesters have gathered in central Cairo to condemn calls by two Egyptian politicians and officials loyal to Hosni Mubarak, the president, for security forces to open fire on pro-democracy demonstrations. About 70 people joined the protest on Tuesday, the third in two weeks calling for greater political freedoms and an end to an emergency law that allows indefinite detentions.

Madagascar: Talks set for April 28


The protagonists in Madagascar's political crisis have agreed to attend talks in South Africa on April 28. President Andry Rajoelina ousted Marc Ravalomanana with the help of dissident soldiers in March last year after weeks of popular protests. The two have been at loggerheads ever since as international mediators work to install a unity government.

Rwanda: Opposition leader Ingabire released


A Rwandan opposition leader has been conditionally released after being arrested on Wednesday. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was accused of collaborating with a terrorist group and denying the genocide.

Southern Africa: A tale of two neighbours turning sixteen and thirty


Sweet sixteen and already showing signs of strain: that is the mood that hangs over South Africa as the 27 April celebration of the first democratic elections approaches, writes Colleen Lowe Morna. The political shenanigans of the far right who still dream of a separate homeland for white people and far left who insist on singing the song “kill the Boer” even after the High Court ruled that this is hate speech have led the Mail and Guardian to coin the term “idiotocracy” to describe our national politics.

Sudan: Election fraud caught on video?


A video showing election fraud during Sudan's election is being circulated online. Sudan's National Elections Commission has dismissed it as fake. The video show election officials stuffing ballot boxes. Oppoition groups claim that the video proves their claims of rigging by by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Sudan: Government delays releasing poll result


Sudan’s poll results, due on Thursday, will be delayed – and a full picture is unlikely to emerge until next week – says the National Elections Commission. The delay has been occasioned by the counting that is taking longer than anticipated and other logistical problems.


Africa: Agriculture is key to stability


The sixth Partnership Platform (PP) Meeting of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) opened Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa, providing participants with an opportunity for multi-partner peer interaction, review and experience sharing among the core institutions and partners involved in CAADP implementation.

Africa: Big Dams: Bringing poverty, not power to Africa


Africa’s large dams (more than 1,270 at last count) have consistently been built at the expense of rural communities, who have been forced to sacrifice their lands and livelihoods to them yet have reaped few benefits. Large hydro dams in Sudan, Senegal, Kenya, Zambia/Zimbabwe and Ghana have brought considerable social, environmental and economic damage to Africa, and have left a trail of "development–induced poverty" in their wake.

Caribbean: Another dagger in the back

Renwick Rose on EPAs and the plight of banana farmers


Former regional diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders and British trade expert and journalist David Jessop regularly take their time to write in the press on matters pertaining to relations between the Caribbean and the European Union, particularly in the field of trade. I am not sure how many of us who do read really consider the implications of what they have to say.

East Africa: Green agriculture growing in leaps and bounds


Organic agriculture using natural farming methods rather than fertilisers and pesticides has made significant gains in African countries – not just among farmers but among consumers too. Africa needs to triple agricultural productivity by 2050 to keep pace with population growth.

Global: 64m more people to live in extreme poverty - WB report


A World Bank report said that some 64 million more people would be living in extreme poverty in 2010 due to global recession. "The economic crisis and recession have substantially increased the challenge of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets," the World Development Indicator (WDI) 2010, released by the bank on Wednesday, stated.

Kenya: Horticulture sector hard hit by volcanic ash crisis


Volcanic ash crisis - Though flights have resumed across Europe after clouds of ash from the Iceland volcano disrupted flights for days, Kenya's flower and vegetable industry has been cou nting its losses from the crisis, amid reports that the industry was losing US$3 million per day at the peak of the flight-an situation.

Lesotho: Getting community consultation right


The Lesotho Highlands Water Project will move into its second phase in 2010. The first phase has been praised as a shining example of transboundary water sharing in Africa, but community dissatisfaction may mean a rough ride for its extension. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is the largest on the continent, transferring water from the Malimatso, Mtsoku and Senqunyane rivers to South Africa’s industrial heartland in Gauteng province.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: African countries should unite for drug development


African nations must pool resources to promote local pharmaceutical innovation, say Ibrahim Assane Mayaki and Carel IJsselmuiden. Africa bears a quarter of the world's disease burden, yet accounts for less than one per cent of global expenditure on health. About half of the continent's population lacks access to essential medicines and the few drugs that are available often come from outside — Sub-Saharan Africa imports nearly 90 per cent of its medicines.

Africa: Canadian Grandmothers to attend historic gathering on HIV/AIDS


The first-ever African Grandmothers' Gathering takes place on Mother's Day weekend in Manzini, Swaziland - and forty-three Canadian grandmothers will be there, representing thousands of women who form the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Since 2006, the campaign has raised more than seven million dollars to support African grandmothers who are parenting their orphaned grandchildren in the most challenging of circumstances.

Africa: Challenges remain in accessing HIV prevention, treatment


Despite the progress that has been made in the AIDS response in Africa, many challenges remain that prevent people from accessing the HIV prevention and treatment services they need, a top United Nations official said during a visit to Senegal. Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), noted that in 2008, about 45 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV in Africa were receiving antiretroviral drugs to prevent transmission to their children, up from 35 per cent the previous year.

Africa: Fight to end african polio outbreak enters second round


More than 77 million children in 16 countries will be vaccinated against polio from tomorrow (24 April) in the critical second round of a synchronized effort to stop a polio outbreak across west and central Africa. However, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone have postponed their campaigns until 7 May after vaccine delivery was delayed by the closure of airspace in Europe due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Existing stockpiles in the other 16 countries will allow this vaccination campaign to go ahead.

Africa: Studies for young people often of poor quality, show limited effect


The quality of research examining HIV prevention programmes targeted at young people in Africa is poor, according to the authors of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the online edition of AIDS. Moreover, evidence that such prevention programmes had an effect was limited and confined to sub-groups.

Global: World Bank commits $200m for malaria bed nets


Backing a call for greater action from the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria, the World Bank has committed $200 million to provide people in sub-Saharan Africa with treated bed nets to protect them from a disease that kills nearly 1 million people every year.

South Africa: Khomanani shambles


There are growing calls for a forensic audit into Khomanani, Government’s flagship HIV prevention campaign which has cost the taxpayer millions of rand but has very little to show for it. The Khomanani Communication Consortium (KCC), with principal parties Sadmon Projects and Consulting, Sizwe Ntsaluba VSP, Izwi Multimedia and TBWA Hunt Lascaris, won the lucrative R190-million government tender in May 2007.


Global: Call to action: International protest against child abuse


On April 13 the number two in the Vatican hierarchy, the Pope’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, claimed that there is a link between homosexuality and paedophilia. The LGBT movement worldwide has risen up against this false, despicable and anti-scientific statement from the Vatican, which is trying to deflect attention from priests’ sex crimes by blaming LGBT people.

South Africa: LGBT protest against US and Uganda


A protest march will take place in Pretoria on Freedom Day, April 27, to demand equality for lesbians and gays in both the U.S. and Uganda. Organised by Up & Out, the University of Pretoria's gay organisation, the protestors will march from the Ugandan Embassy to the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. has been slammed by the organisation for its continued refusal to grant same-sex couples federal marriage rights and benefits. "How can a supposed first world nation decide to do such things?" asked Up & Out in a statement.

Uganda: Government softens stand


A Cabinet committee has recommended changes to Ndorwa West MP David Bahati’s anti-gay legislation that preclude the possibility of discarding it, Daily Monitor has learnt. But the report, which is yet to be discussed by Cabinet, indicts Mr Bahati for not applying the kind of sophistication that would have anticipated the international condemnation that came after the draft legislation was tabled in Parliament last year.


Niger: Lack of data on causes of death buffers French company


French state-owned company Areva continues to deny any wrongdoing after findings that populated areas in Niger remain contaminated with high levels of radio-activity. The company seems to be escaping censure partly because of lack of data on cancer-related causes of death among Nigeriens working at or living near the uranium mines.

Swaziland: Activist wins green prize


Thuli Brilliance Makama is not everyone's idea of an environmental hero. An attorney in Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, she has made her name not as a conservationist but by investigating the deaths of suspected poachers.

Land & land rights

Africa: Grabbing Africa


The continent of Africa, already facing severe food shortages, has in recent years been targeted for land acquisition by countries from outside the region. The trend started in the 1990s when countries such as Sudan allowed rich Gulf countries to buy agricultural land in the areas irrigated by the bountiful waters of the White and Blue Nile. The oil bonanza had not yet materialised in Sudan. Under virtual sanctions from the West, it was facing severe economic constraints and was caught in a bloody civil war.

Africa: New FIAN report on landgrabbing in Kenya and Mozambique


On the International Day of Peasants' Struggle, April 17, FIAN International together with many other civil society actors calls for an immediate stop of land grabbing. A new report published today by FIAN International documents the findings of two research missions on land grabbing to Kenya and Mozambique, and concludes that land grabbing violates human rights.

Global: World Bank proposal for win-win land grabbing denounced


La Via Campesina, FIAN, Land Research Action Network and GRAIN, together with over 100 allies, are issuing a loud appeal to stop the current wave of land grabbing that is taking millions of hectares of farmland away from rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Their appeal coincides with the release of a new World Bank report that confirms the massive extent of of the current land grab assault and puts forward seven "principles" to make these land deals socially acceptable.

Mali: Rush for land along the Niger


Domestic and international investors are taking over increasing amounts of arable land in Mali. In the Macina commune of south-central Mali, a giant irrigation canal is in the final stages of construction. Libya is in the process of developing 100,000 hectares of land it has leased adjacent to the Niger River.

Media & freedom of expression

Cameroon: Editor Germain Ngota dies in prison


Cameroonian editor Germain Ngota has died in prison in the capital, Yaounde. He was the managing editor of the Cameroon Express and one of three reporters detained in March on charges of fraud and using false documents. An adviser to the Cameroonian journalists' union (SNJC) said Mr Ngota was not given any medical treatment during his detention.

Cameroon: Female editor harassed


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has denounced the convocation on Monday in Douala, of Mrs. Henriette Ekwe, Director of the Weekly newspaper, Bebela by officers of the Secret Information Service, the military security and the Head office of External Research (DGRE), over her appearance on a programme broadcast on Equinox TV on April 6th.

Equatorial Guinea: AFP correspondent held for five hours


Reporters Without Borders has condemned the five-hour detention of Samuel Obiang Mbana, correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Africa n°1 radio, at the police station in the capital Malabo on 14 April. The journalist was arrested at Malabo international airport where he went to cover arrivals for an extraordinary summit of heads of state of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

Zimbabwe: Empty promises for free expression


Zimbabwe's power-sharing government has not carried out critical media reforms as promised under the country's September 2008 Global Political Agreement, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The 26-page report, "Sleight of Hand: Repression of the Media and the Illusion of Reform in Zimbabwe," says that the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the former sole ruling party, still holds the balance of power in the coalition government forged with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the former opposition movement, in February 2009.

Conflict & emergencies

Eritrea: Rebels claim killing 11 government soldiers


Two Eritrean rebel groups said they killed 11 government soldiers and wounded some 20 others in a coordinated attack on military camps in southern Eritrea. The groups -- the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO) and the Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF) -- said in a joint statement that they had briefly taken control of the camps on Thursday and seized weapons and military intelligence.

Nigeria: Delta amnesty at risk of unravelling


The government’s amnesty programme whereby militants in the Niger delta are to be disarmed and rehabilitated with a stipend, job training and a micro-credit loan, has been linked to reduced violence in the delta, but critics say it has made the same mistake as almost every other disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) campaign: too much “dd” and not enough “rr”’.

Nigeria: Reprisal killings in Jos


The Nigerian military has exhumed seven fresh corpses from shallow graves near the city of Jos, in the latest apparent revenge killing. There are almost daily reports of attacks on people in rural villages and of disappearances in Jos itself.

Internet & technology

Africa: FOSSFA launches the African FOSS reporter award


FOSSFA has launched the African FOSS Reporter Award Competition 2010. The award aims to highlight the impact of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) on the development of Africa. It recognizes outstanding reporting for a general audience and honors individuals (rather than institutions and publishers) for their coverage of FOSS. The competition is run in partnership with Deutsche Welle and supported by OSIWA as part of an initiative to raise public awareness of FOSS in Africa.

Africa: Freedom Fone v.1.5 launched


Does your community need access to information but has limited or no access to the internet or email? Do you want to be able to share more information than 160 characters allows? Freedom Fone offers the possibility to extend the reach of information to citizens and groups presently excluded from the information loop because of lack of access to resources such as computers and the internet.

Africa: Idlelo 4: Sign up for the pre-conference training programme


The Fourth African Conference on FOSS and the Digital Commons (IDLELO 4) to be held from 17th - 21st May, 2010, in Accra at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE). This knowledge-building and sharing event under the theme: “Development with Ownership” is a forum for African experts and their global partners to share experience in order to expand awareness of the 'open' philosophy and the creation and use of open technologies for the benefit of our people.

Africa: The end of GenARDIS small grants for rural women round III


In March GenARDIS grant winners met for the last time after more than a year of innovative research and work to improve rural women’s lives in countries like Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic and Zambia. With projects as diverse as community radio drama groups, pest control through information access and using technology to promote women’s inheritance and land rights, projects were as diverse as the countries they came from.

South Africa: Microsoft play ‘big brother’


Microsoft will want to be a player rather than just a big spender in South Africa’s black empowerment policy, the company has said following the announcement it would spend about half a billion rands (about US$ 64 million) in the next seven years to boost local business partnerships.

Southern Africa: Zimbabwe aims for 'knowledge society' with ICT bill


Zimbabwe is expected to pass legislation that could help it take better advantage of information technology, despite the economic crisis that has gripped the country. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Bill, which would pave the way for implementing a strategic ICT plan launched in February, is currently awaiting cabinet approval before it goes to parliament for further scrutiny.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Zimbabwe: Sanctions and Solidarity

AfricaFocus Bulletin MApr 18, 2010 (100418)


"In the case of Zimbabwe today, both supporters and opponents of sanctions exaggerate their importance. The international community, both global and regional, has other tools as well. Key issues are not only when to lift or relax sanctions but also how much support Western countries will provide for economic recovery. Even more decisive will be whether Zimbabwe's African neighbors can strengthen their diplomacy by backing it with effective pressures, even if they hesitate to use the word sanctions." - Briggs Bomba and William Minter.

Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: Call for Ideas: "Ten Ideas for Tomorrow's Africa"


Within the framework of the 50th anniversary of African independence, the Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO (SHS) is launching a “Call for Ideas” for prospective proposals in favour of Africa’s development within the next decade.

Global: Media Legal Defence Initiative


The Media Legal Defence Initiative is a non-governmental charity which works in all regions of the world to provide legal support to journalists and media outlets who seek to protect their right to freedom of expression. Founded in 2008, the Media Legal Defence Initiative was created to expand the resources available to assist the media to defend their rights in legal cases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: International Conference on African Same-Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity

First announcement


The mission of this conference is to identify and celebrate indigenous and evolving male, female and/or gender variant same-sex sexual practices, identities and communities, including expressions of gender diversity, and to promote their social acceptance and their physical and social well-being.

Africa: Zanzibar International Film Festival


The Zanzibar International Film Festival is the largest multi disciplinary art and cultural festival in Africa. Dedicated to the exhibition of films, music and Panorama, each year over 150 films made in Africa, Middle East, Europe, Latin America, USA and Asia are exhibited. Currently ZIFF is accepting applications for all African films and films from the Dhow Countries region - South East Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, The Persian Gulf, Iran, Pakistan, and the Indian Ocean Islands.

Egypt: CMRS course on refugee participation

June 13-17, Cairo


The Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo, Egypt is pleased to offer a short course on “Refugee Participation in Policy and Practice” June 13-17 2010, to be taught by Professor Barbara Harrell-Bond, one of the world’s leading scholars and activists in the field of refugee studies.

Egypt: Creative writing course - Cairo


This 10 week Creative Writing course will look at various techniques and exercises to open up & improve writing writing skills, work with metaphor and imagery, create texts and narratives to given themes and word counts as well as free writing. The end goal will be to write a 1000 word short story. There is no criteria other than a willingness to open up one's writing; the course is designed that people of varying writing experience can participate and each draw their individual benefits.

Global: Art Omi international artists residency


Application is open to all professional visual artists from all over the world who have been professionally active for at least the past 3 years (your resume/CV should reflect professional activities since 2007 or earlier).

Uganda: Call for photography workshop


Since its first edition in 2008, Bayimba Cultural Foundation has organised a number of workshops prior to the annual Bayimba International Festival of Music and Arts with a view to stimulate artistic creativity and to ensure that all disciplines of arts find their way to the Festival. For 2010, Bayimba Cultural Foundation decided to include a Photography Workshop prior to the 3rd edition of the Festival (scheduled for 17-19 September, 2010). The results of the workshop will be exhibited during the Festival and in other locations after the Festival.

Zimbabwe: Harare International Festival of Arts 2010


The Harare International Festival of the Arts roars into life on April 27 at venues in and around the capital. Festival organisers held a pre-launch press briefing on Friday April 9th 2010 at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe where they unveiled the festival programme.

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