This Week in Africa, June 20, 2021

Democracy. Development. Daily Life.


“I have a duty to come and point out things. I have been pointing them out to great crowds, sometimes to wild cheers, sometimes to deafening silence. I’m not sure I have brought joy to many a heart in authority. But it’s out of love of my country that I’m saying these things, to set things right.’’

Kenneth Kaunda, who died this week


Apologies for the delay. Here is the week in Africa:

Struggle for rights and freedom

The devastation of the DR Congo volcano prompts the question: Do African lives matter? This is a great interview with Zachariah Mampilly on Ufahamu Africa. Check out another South-South Dialogues between Tundu Lissu and David Smolansky. CDD West Africa assesses Buhari’s anticorruption record at six years.

Learn more about peace building from below in South Sudan. South Africa needs new thinking for its democracy to work for all. Scott Pegg provides observations on Somaliland’s 2021 elections. Check out the new Conflict Research Network – West Africa. Lesotho is considering a draconian surveillance law. Aili Tripp has this great piece on symbolic representation in Uganda. Oumar Ba envisions a truly international criminal court.

Violence in Ethiopia

The holy city of Axum is reeling from the war in Tigray. Hilary Matfess explains the scale of sexual violence in the conflict. Elections will not solve the challenges in the country. This new series rethinks peace in Ethiopia.

Africa’s rapid urbanization

These are the pathways toward a transformative urban recovery. Apartments are taking over some of Nairobi’s leafy neighborhoods. Check out this volume on food security in African cities. Ethiopia’s government is electioneering through infrastructure. Bruce Whitehouse looks for Bamako’s future. The Urban Glossary Project is cool.

China in Africa

China’s masked diplomacy in times of crisis seems to work. The G7 will counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative with an infrastructure plan of its own. China’s expansion loomed over the NATO Summit.

Research corner

Leo Arriola, Jed DeVaro, and Anne Meng have a new APSR article on democratic subversion and opposition fragmentation. A book I am very excited to read: Shelby Grossman’s The Politics of Order in Informal Markets: How the State shapes Private Governance. I love this piece on militarized trade unions in Ghana by Sidy Cissokho. Ricardo Soares de Oliveira’s report “Researching Africa and the Offshore World” is out. Kwasi Ampene has a new article on royalty and performing arts among the Ashante. Safia Farole’s new article examines local government performance and party support in South Africa.

This article examines elections in the time of COVID in Malawi. Marielle Debos explainsbiometric voting in Africa (article here). This volume decodes digital democracy in Africa. Check out Alex Dyzenhaus’ new article on the politics of property rights formalization in Kenya. This is an interesting article on the politics of land reforms in Mlawi. The Oxford Handbook of the African Sahel looks great. Get your copy of The Psychology of Poverty Alleviation. Joan Ricart-Huguet discusses the study of political elites from a historical perspective. Omar McDoom’s The Path to Genocide in Rwanda is out.

The week in development

This is a nice analysis of digital Africa. West African fisheries are threatened by overfishing. Walter Rodney is still relevant. Nobody will ever agree whether COVID lockdowns are worth it. Read this investigation of the abuse of Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon. Silicon Valley has deep pockets for African startups – if you’re not African.

Judd Devermont, Aubrey Hruby, and W. Gyude Moore urge the US not to repeat Trump’s mistake on trade with African nations. The Hewlett Foundation has re-ignited the debate over the meaning of global development (see responses in thread too).

Check out these African politics podcasts.

MIASA Publishing workshop

The MIASA Publishing Workshop for African scholars, jointly organised by Africa Spectrum(published by the GIGA Institute for African Affairs) and the Contemporary Journal of African Studies (published by the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana), will take place virtually on 21 and 22 October 2021. The workshop will also benefit from collaboration with the African Studies Association of Africa. Scholars can apply by July 15 using this link.

Daily life

Yum: black cod with yucca mousse. Read about Gus Edwards’ journey from Liberia to the NFL. Cameroonian films are coming to Netflix. Mabi Thobejane is the master drummer. Njera. The Pan-African Pantheon looks awesome. Faiza is Mogadishu’s favorite barista. Rolex!

RIP Kenneth Kaunda, a giant of African politics.

All the best,

Jeff and Phil

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