In two weeks, a significant amount of action took place on the African continent. The AWIR took a week off so that I could compose an OpEd piece on Boko Haram for a class assignment, and in the process I missed recapping all the events unfolding out of Senegal in the post-election events and the expulsion of Julius Malema from the ANC in South Africa. While those were to be the main topics of this Review, the current story surrounding the Invisible Children, Joseph Kony, and the discussion occurring on social media demands full understanding before proceeding.
Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (Foreign Policy)
The #Kony2012 Show (Africa Is A Country)
Joseph Kony 2012 Video: ‘Stop Kony’ Campaign Draws Criticism (Huffington Post)
Background: Obama Takes on the LRA (Foreign Affairs)
It’s a classic example of the white man’s burden, but that aside, the fact that the film’s primary actionable directive is to put pressure on the US government to keep their military ‘advisors’ in Uganda is perplexing. This seems to be a bit of a straw man fallacy because there doesn’t seem to be any movement to withdraw the ‘advisors’ from Uganda, thus why the need to concentrate support on a prescription that the American government has already initiated? In fact the US State Department has said there is no intention to remove US troops. The stories above raise many good points, but from a communications perspective this is an interesting look at how advocacy can be done in 2012, and what kind of precedent this sets for non-governmental organizations to call for military interventions.
- Senegal enters into a run-off after Abdoulaye Wade failed to get even close to 50 and is now set to contest a 25 March run off against Macky Sall, who is now the rally point for opposition to Wade. It is interesting how news stories have died off since the week of elections. The most recent story comes from Reuters and discusses
- The a significant transnational story from the continent is the drama between the two superpowers of the continent: Nigeria and South Africa. The drama ensued when officials at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg deported 125 Nigerians over counterfeit yellow favor documents. In response, 84 South Africans were deported from Nigeria. Instead of standing by the forgery claim, South Africa backed down and apologized to Nigeria and said that the incident could have been handled better (conveniently avoiding the fact about whether the certificates were real or not). This came after the Nigerian Foreign Minister accused SA of being xenophobic to other Africans. One has to wonder what transpired at the bilateral level to make Nigeria look the vindicated one at the end of this row. Was the threat to MTN, Shoprite, and Standard Bank that serious that South Africa caved and apologized? Watch this space to see if any more fall out follows. (Here’s AllAfrica’s links on the story)
- The more notable store from inside South Africa involved the formerly ever-present Julius Malema, the 37-year-old leader of the ANC Youth League (gotta wonder what the definition of youth was going to take on in SA if he had continued), receiving an expulsion from the African National Congress on 1 March. Perhaps the most divisive figure in post-apartheid South Africa, he was originally suspended for 5 years, but the ANC said because of his lack of remorse, he would be expelled. Many are predicting this gives Jacob Zuma a clear path to reelection, but I’m not sure that Malema was going to be a candidate that would rally legitimate support to oppose his reelection. He would likely have been the guy to do the rallying, but I’m sure another challenger who is seen as more respectable to the electorate will arise before the ANC leadership conference in Manguang. The part to watch would be how the Youth League interacts with the ANC after the ANCYL decided to back Malema despite the expulsion. Life without Malema will undoubtedly be more dull (though less racially charged), and TIME Magazine looks at what it will mean for South Africa’s youth.
- Moving from one crazy man to another, Teodorin Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, complained this past week about a raid on his apartment in Paris. Read it for all the ridiculousness. If that isn’t enough, this past week UNESCO okay’d an award in life science originally named after Equatorial Guinea’s dictator, Obiang. Always the shrewd politician, Obiang dropped his name from the prize and instead the country’s name is attached to it: UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. Equatorial Guinea currently sits at the top of the table for Corruption according to Transparency International, meaning top in terms of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
- The big tech story in East Africa has been the disruption to internet services due to another undersea cable being cut by a ship dropping its anchor off Mombasa in an unauthorized zone. Effects have been seen all throughout the eastern seaboard of the continent, from Zimbabwe to Ethiopia. This compounded the problem of connectivity originally caused by the severing of the other three data connections, EASSy, EIG, and SMW-3, which service the continent through the Red Sea. Repairs are weeks away on the first severing, and it cannot be a fun time to try to use the internet in Eastern Africa in the meantime. The Guardian has a nice interactive map that shows all the undersea cables stretching across the globe to see how Africa is linked with the world.
- Cool article in MobileActive (one of my favorite sites for ICT data) talks about election monitoring in Senegal with digital technology. Ushahidi, or ushahidi-like technologies seem to be the norm for the course in every African election.
- Officials in Stellenbosch seem to be going for a ‘first’ title, with the aim to launch a Wi-Fi city, and they flipped the switch on the network this past 24 February and are seeking to slowly expand from the city center.
- How smart phones could ‘save’ votes in Africa was on an Economist Blog 12 days ago. It talks about the technology of mobile phones and how documenting voter fraud and compiling it could be successful in discouraging the blatant stealing of elections. Nice to see they chatted with a UC San Diego professor about the possibilities, but one must think that as soon as activists start using higher end tech, corrupt governments will find other ways to tinker…
- Very recent news out of Egypt has the entire Premier League season being canceled based on the riots in Port Said last month. The reason given was that the season could not be completed before the Africa Cup qualifiers as well as the London Olympics. This seems to be odd reasons to give, as one would think an extension of the season could be the alternative. Apparently the Interior Minister’s inability to guarantee security broke the clubs’ resistance to the canceling, but one would think that given all the examples of sport being used for diplomatic and reconciliatory purposes, completing the season would be more favorable. At least the Egyptian FA has set up a Friendly tournament in order to raise money for the families of those killed in Port Said at the football stadium.
- A big result that reverberated around South Africa was Sundowns beating a third-tier team 24-nil in the Nedback Cup competition. Rarely do you see a professional team capitulate so thoroughly and I wonder how Powerlines, the team on the end of the beating, didn’t resort to tougher tackling to send a messages to Sundowns that further embarrassment was not going to be tolerated. The coach pleaded innocence after the game saying that all teams must be respected…. but surely at 10-nil the game was safely in hand no? Best line from the highlights below: “it’s like taking candy from a baby… but I’ve known babies who put of more of a fight”
Video of the Week:
- I found this through a study that was published in another place, but when I looked up The Future of Africa, I found this site run by the South African-based Institute for Security Studies. It’s an interesting look at what the socio-development indicators are on track to reach by the mid-century. They have a cool video, which is embedded below: