This Week in Africa, June 25, 2021

Democracy. Development. Daily Life.


“COVAX was a beautiful idea, born out of solidarity. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen...Rich countries behaved worse than anyone’s worse nightmares.”

The Lancet


The Lagos Studies Association conference is this week, and it is the best. Here is the week in Africa:

Ethiopian elections

Ethiopia held elections this week. You can learn more about the candidates in this excellent analysis. This is a fascinating article about the shifting boundaries of Addis Ababa. Yohannes Gedamu explains why the Ethiopian election matters. How will Abiy govern after the polls?

Meanwhile, violence continues to affect the Tigray region, as more and more families are displaced by war and economic devastation. New evidence shows the scale of the conflict. A military airstrike killed at least 51 people at a market this week. Three MSF workers were murdered. Eritrea has used a disinformation campaign to cover up its role in the conflict. Watch this video to learn more about the violence in Tigray.

Gbagbo returns to Cote d’Ivoire

Laurent Gbagbo returned to Cote d’Ivoire after being acquitted by the ICC. Wendyam Hervé Lankoandé provides this helpful explainer on what it could mean for reconciliation.

Politics of the Internet

Here are three things to know about Nigeria’s Twitter ban. Senegal’s president is also unhappy with Twitter and Facebook (though Senegalese are getting fed up with Macky Sall’s antics). Julie Owino discusses protecting the Internet.

Kenneth Kaunda’s legacy

Grieve Chelwa discusses Kenneth Kaunda’s legacy. Howard French discusses how obituaries in Western newspapers do not do justice to his role in African political life. Stephen Chan discusses the philosopher king who fell with dignity.

Combating violent extremism

African nations will send troops to fight Mozambique’s insurgency. Learn more about the ideological battle that divided Boko Haram. This is a good encyclopedia entry on Al-Shabaab. ISIS-linked groups are opening new fronts on the continent. Child soldiers carried out a recent attack in Burkina Faso.

Struggle for rights and freedom

Cameroon’s first female deputy chiefs fight gender inequalities. Julia Leininger and Armin von Schiller call for a vibrant debate about social cohesion and democracy. This is why South Africans vote the way that they do. This young Zimbabwean built a top-notch tutoring company on WhatsApp. How should we remember the Rwandan Genocide? Who are the experts on Nigerian politics and culture?

China in Africa

Eric Olander argues that China might be turning away from Africa, which could undermine infrastructure development on the continent. This map shows China’s railway investments on the continent. New Afrobarometer data show how Africans perceive China. This bookexamines sixty years of Ghana-China relations.

Africa’s rapid urbanization

This is an intriguing project on the intellectual history of cities. Wealthy Nigerians are parking their money in Lagos’ booming luxury real estate. This piece examines a killing in Snake Park, Johannesburg. Ghana inaugurates the Ussher Fort Museum and Documentary Center. This is a useful scoping study of Accra.

Research corner

This is an interesting article about the failures of “megaphone diplomacy” in Malawi. Check out this forthcoming APSR article on the role of liberal displacement policies and forced migrants in the Global South. This article examines the roles and motivations of national development experts in Ghana. Karen Ferree, Clark Gibson, and James Long’s articleexamines mixed records, complexity, and ethnic voting in African elections.

Adom Getachew and Karuna Mantena analyze “Anticolonialism and the decolonization of political theory.” Learn more about terrorism and neo-patrimonialism in Nigeria. Sarah Brierley and Noah Nathan’s new article analyzes the connections of party brokers in Ghana. This article examines Uganda’s new sexuality education policy. Jeremy Horowitz and Kristin Michelitch explain how personal narratives can help host populations support integration and citizenship rights for Somalis in Kenya (see policy report and webinar here). This articleexamines how the African Union exercises agency in politics.

Rebecca Tapscott’s Arbitrary States: Social Control and Modern Authoritarianism in Museveni’s Uganda looks great. So does Mariam Salehi’s Transitional Justice in Process: Plans and Politics in Tunisia. Very cool: James Yeku’s Cultural Netizenship: Social Media, Popular Culture, and Performance in Nigeria. Disability in Africa break new ethical ground. Shelby Grossman outlines her awesome new book in this thread. Across the Copperbeltlooks fascinating. Check out Paul Naylor’s From Rebels to Rulers: Writing Legitimacy in the Early Sokoto State. Sean Jacobs reviews Mahmood Mamdani’s latest book.

The West Coast Regional Conference on West Africa is next week, and it looks great.

The week in development

Power and toilets. African Americans view Senegal as an ancestral homeland – and business opportunity. Exxon is leaving Ghana. Franklin Obeng-Odoom rethinks development economics. Organized crime is targeting South Africa’s avocados. Ghana will sell sustainable bonds to pay for education. The pandemic has negatively affected investment flows to the continent. How can Africa level up its digital infrastructure?

Third wave of COVID-19

A third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak is spreading across Africa. Gauteng’s sewagereports high levels of the virus. Ugandan traders try to stay afloat during the latest lockdown. Some Freetown residents depended on cash transfers to get through the crisis. Rich countries are deliberately keeping the COVID vaccine from African countries.

The answer is vaccines.

Africa and the environment

Gabon pitches a new funding model to protect its forests. This architect has an eye on the environment. A new oilfield in Botswana threatens the lives of 130,000 elephants.

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

Learn more about the journey of Africa is a Country. Malian refugees recover from trauma through dance. Douala at night. Love is under siege in Maiduguri. Story maps of no location. The looted Benin Bronzes “are our ancestors.” Fare Magazine’s forthcoming issue features Kampala. Ghanaian photographer James Barnor reflects. What counts as knowledge?

All the best,

Jeff and Phil

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