Africa Blog Roundup: Kenyan Elections, Corruption in Mali, Demobilization in South Sudan, and More

Three on Kenya’s elections, scheduled for tomorrow:

  • Ken Opalo: “Sloppy Reporting on the Kenyan Elections.”
  • Daniel Branch: “Kenya between Hope and Despair. Again.”
  • Baobab: “Kenya’s Election Fears.”

Africa in DC: “[The National Endowment for Democracy] Addresses Human Rights and Governance in the Congo.”

Lesley Anne Warner: “Competing Imperatives: Post-Conflict Military Integration and Demobilization in South Sudan.”

Tolu Ogunlesi: “Nigeria in the Spotlight: ‘The Brinks’ vs ‘The Brincs’.”

Bruce Whitehouse: “Corruption Is Good for Everyone! (Part 2).”

Roving Bandit: “The Political Economy of Slums in Africa.”

Africa Is A Country: “Meet Photographer and Blogger…Mohamed Elshahed.”

What are you reading?

Africa Blog Roundup: Colonialism, Ghana’s Elections, Ethnicity in Northern Mali, and More

Via Chris Blattman, a new paper that argues, “In the light of plausible counter-factuals, colonialism probably had a uniformly negative effect on development in Africa.”

Via Michael Nelson, George Ayittey on elections in Ghana.

Gregory Mann: “Foreign Correspondents and False Notes”:

Local color and snide observations aside, anyone who can keep shining light on the intertwined dangers of an undisciplined army and the bugbear of ethnic militias—as the author of “the West’s Latest Afghanistan” does, and as Tamasin Ford and Bonnie Allen have done—is making a contribution.

So is it the editors who are ginning up and cashing in bad analogies at will? Who wants us to believe that Mali is like Afghanistan?

Andrew Lebovich: “Northern Mali: The Politics of Ethnicity and Locality.”

The Moor Next Door rounds up recent articles on Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Tunisia, and the Sahel region.

Lesley Warner highlights key points from General Carter Ham’s recent remarks on counterterrorism in Africa.

Owen Barder: “DFID Transparency Policy Is a Game-Changer.”

Loomnie flags a nice quote on the idea of “Africa rising”:

I wonder if we should perhaps think of sub-Saharan Africa as a collection not so much of jointly emerging markets, but of diverging ones.

Roving Bandit: “Mapping Rebel Groups in the Congo.”

Vote for the name of the US State Department’s blog.

Africa Blog Roundup: Algeria and Mali, MPs in Kenya, the Sudans, and More

At the Francophonie summit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Siddhartha Mitter writes, “The roster [of musical acts] replicates the schism that has occurred in Congolese music over politics – specifically, whether to endorse President Joseph Kabila, and gain from official patronage; or whether to oppose him, either from outside the country, where numerous soukous veterans have sought shelter, or domestically, in the largely hip-hop-driven Kinshasa underground.”

Loomnie, responding to a recent interview on Boko Haram at the Economist, discusses how Nigeria’s oil wealth affected Northern Nigeria’s economy.

The Moor Next Door on Algeria and Mali:

It appears likely that French efforts to assert control over the regional setting through ECOWAS will go ahead, as its leaders have said ‘with or without Algeria’; what success or buy in these will get from Algiers is not clear to this blogger at this time. What Algeria is seeking to work out in Mali, beyond avoiding military intervention and the expansion of AQIM and its fraternal organisations beyond Mali, is also relatively obscure; the Algerian end state has not been articulated clearly as much as its preferences for a process, or style of process, that allows Algiers to remain central and with some measure of control (or perception of control) especially with respect to the parts of Mali bordering southern Algeria. Since last winter Algeria has been seeking out its traditional role as a mediator and facilitator in northern Mali; this comes from both internal priorities as well as regional ones.

Texas in Africa, “Realities of Rape in War.”

Amb. David Shinn flags new reports on the United States and the Sudans and on pastoralists in northern Kenya.

Zanele Hlatshwayo: “Time To Improve State Participation In Africa’s Extractive Industries.”

Roving Bandit: “The State of the Game between Juba and Khartoum.”

Amb. John Campbell: “Nigeria’s Economic Reforms in Trouble?”

The Economist on Kenya:

As they swish past in their flashy cars on their way to parliament, members of Kenya’s legislature are often greeted nowadays by protesters shouting “Mwizi !”, Swahili for “thief”. Having lost the power to vote for a rise in their basic salary, thanks to a new constitution endorsed in a referendum two years ago, the lawmakers found a sneaky way to boost their pay. It has not been popular.

A student newsletter from Somaliland.

Art installations at the Lagos Business School.

Africa Blog Roundup: Jacob Zuma Portrait, Joseph Kabila, Nigeria’s Economy, and More

The Economist‘s Baobab:

Unlike Britain’s queen, President Jacob Zuma does not often have his portrait painted. But a new likeness by a South African artist, Brett Murray, now showing at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, has the nation agog and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) frothing at the mouth.

In truth, hardly anyone had heard about the painting until the ANC issued a statement on May 17th expressing its “outrage” over the “disgusting” depiction of its revered leader and demanding its immediate removal from the gallery and the website of the only newspaper until then to give it any coverage. The portrait, the ANC thundered, was a violation of Mr Zuma’s constitutional right to dignity and therefore illegal.

At African Arguments, William Townsend writes that President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has begun to “turn on his friends”:

As the rumour mill turns and suspicion runs rife, conflict is unfolding in eastern Congo’s Kivu provinces once again, following three years of relative calm. The most recent chapter of violence can be traced back to March this year, pitting Congo’s socially and politically maladroit president against some of the very people who helped him achieve electoral victory less than seven months ago.

Having been compelled to accept the outcome of a conspicuously fraudulent ballot last November combined with the conviction in March of another Congolese war lord, Thomas Lubanga, the West appeared keen to stress-test its relationship with President Joseph Kabila over his protection of another indicted war lord, Bosco Ntaganda. The decision to crack down on Bosco, by launching operation Amani Kamilifu or ‘Perfect Peace’, has led to a mutiny and a spate of violent clashes in the east of the country that has seen tens-of-thousands of civilians flee and left NGOs unable to dispense aid.

Lesley Anne Warner expresses concern about human rights issues within the armed forces of South Sudan.

The Moor Next Door analyzes an Al Akhbar video featuring a man who said, before his death, that he had spied in Mali, on Mauritania’s behalf, on Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The al-Akhbar report places the video in the context of AQIM’s leaders’ reported purges of Mauritanians accused of spying for the Mauritanian intelligence service, which has been reported on in the Mauritanian and Algerian press; in late 2010 and early 2012 Algerian papers began reporting on paranoia in the AQIM command (mainly Abu Zaid’s katiba) about penetration by Mauritanian intelligence and more recently there are reports that there has been an effort to diversify the southern katibas’ ranks which for some time were dominated by Mauritanians (estimates are that at as many as 70% of AQIM recruits/fighters to particular katibas in the Sahel were or have been Mauritanian).

Rosebell Kagumire, writing about African films at the Cannes Film Festival, uses a Senegalese film on African immigrants to Europe to discuss larger issues regarding migration.

Amb. John Campbell, “The State of Nigeria’s Economy.”

Dibussi Tande, “An Overview of Cameroon Prison Literature.”

Lee Crawfurd on evaluating Millennium Villages.

Sophia Azeb on the death of the singer Warda al Jazairia.

What are you reading today?

Africa Blog Roundup: Senegal’s Marieme Faye Sall, Guinea Bissau Coup, Algeria Campaign, Boko Haram, Malawi, DRC, and More

(I’ve mixed in a few news reports with the blog roundup this week, given the importance of several stories.)

Africa Is A Country on Senegal’s First Lady Marieme Faye Sall:

Joyce Banda of Malawi, the newest President of an African country–and only the second sitting African president who is a woman–is getting all the love for her achievements.* (So what if her ascendency came about due to the death of an aging president and his politically weak, colluding brother?). There is also much chatter on the internet about Malawi’s new First Gentleman, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda (with whom Madame Banda has two children). However, the Senegalese might suggest that their country’s new first lady, Marieme Faye Sall, represents a “bigger” deal in how her move to the presidential palace breaks with Senegal’s political history after independence.

Madame Sall’s husband, Macky Sall, has just been elected as President of Senegal. Her significance lies in the fact that she is the first woman of Senegalese birth and ancestry to become First Lady of Senegal. (Previous First Ladies have either been French or in the case of Madame Diouf of Lebanese descent.) This has made her a sensation, especially amongst Senegalese women; this is the first time they are seeing someone they recognize as one of their own in the presidential palace. Some more poetic accolades for her—within Senegal—have included “daughter of the land,” “a committed housewife,” “real Senegalese lady,” and “future burner of thiouraye (a secret mixture of oils, perfumes, seeds and fragrant wood used as a body [perfume], with an exotic, sweet, spicy, herbal aroma) and harbinger of Africa-ness to the state residence.” Top that if you can, Madame Banda.

Some Senegalese women hope that seeing Madame Sall by the president’s side will send a message to their men: They do not need to be married to a “white” French woman before they achieve success in the country. Another important dimension of her ascendancy is the fact that she is a Muslim. All the three previous First Ladies of Senegal were Christians in a nation that is 90% Muslim. Madame Sall’s carefully constructed story includes her having always been there as a support pillar for her husband, leaving her university studies to tend to his career and well being, and having his children.

Check out the whole piece. The significance of such cultural/political symbolism has been debated on this blog before, and will be again. At the very least it is an interesting set of issues to think about.

Lesley Anne Warner on the coup in Guinea-Bissau.

Electoral campaigning kicks off in Algeria in advance of May 10 parliamentary elections.

Boko Haram’s spokesman assassinated over plans to defect?

The New York Times on art in Senegal, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire.

Owen Barder, “How Will the UK Cast Its Vote for the World Bank?”

The UK has repeatedly said that it favours merit-based appointments of the heads of the World Bank and IMF. It is also a leading advocate for transparency and accountability in development. Now it can live up to both these commitments.

The UK Executive Director will shortly be casting a vote on behalf of British citizens for the next President of the World Bank. At the beginning of the process it was widely assumed that all the European countries would back Dr Jim Kim, because he is the American nominee. Now that all three candidates have been interviewed by the board, I gather that is no longer being taken for granted.

Chris Blattman writes that “identity has crowded out substance” in the debate over the Bank presidency.

Speaking of Malawi’s new President Joyce Banda, The Economist‘s Baobab says that it “looks like she is off to a good start.”

Dr. Laura Seay, “What’s Next for the DRC?”

In light of a new report from the International Crisis Group on China and South Sudan, Amb. John Campbell assesses the relationship between the two nations. Roving Bandit looks at DFID’s livelihoods program in South Sudan.

What are you reading today?

Africa Blog Roundup: Somalia, DRC, Malawi, Senegal, and More

Yesterday’s big news was al Shabab’s withdrawal from the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. James Gundun reacts here, and here is coverage from the New York Times and the AP. The BBC’s Andrew Harding, writing several days before the withdrawal, reported on how some government and AU officials see the ongoing famine as an opportunity to break al Shabab.

Over at Al Wasat, Ibn Siqilli posts photographs of al Shabab leaders.

Jason Stearns‘ interview with Eric Kajemba, director of an NGO in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has occasioned a lot of commentary about the impact of the Dodd-Frank “conflict minerals” legislation on the DRC. Laura Seay reacts here. A Bombastic Element, meanwhile, looks at relations between the DRC and Angola.

Dipnote has Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s expression of concern over the recent deaths of several Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei, a border region of Sudan.

Kim Yi Dionne details what the fuel shortages in Malawi look like on the ground.

Africa Is A Country posts a lecture by Dr. Jean Comaroff about crime in South Africa.

At African Arguments, Pascal Bianchini says Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade may fall from power.

Amb. John Campbell explores the issue of Cote d’Ivoire’s “Dozos,” their role in security, and the implications of trying to disarm them.

Rosebell Kagumire writes a powerful reaction to her interviews of female victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda.

I highly recommend Kal‘s review of Robin Wright’s Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.

Hope you’re having a relaxing Sunday.

Africa Blog Roundup: Nigeria Security Map, Sudan and China, Arming South Sudan, Congolese Independence, and More

Amb. John Campbell posts on his project to map violent incidents in Nigeria.

Amb. David Shinn makes some key points about Sudanese President Omar al Bashir’s recent visit to China.

Aly Verjee argues against providing anti-aircraft weapons to South Sudan:

The last thing East Africa needs is more weaponry, high tech or otherwise.  The United States should not contribute to an arms race between North and South Sudan – the two future states are well on their way to achieving that already. Instead, the US should remain an honest broker and encourage both North and South to choose the path of responsible statehood, without further contributing to already tense relations.  This is a less sexy policy than giving the South fancy weapon systems, to be sure.  But it is a policy of pragmatism that de-escalates rather than antagonizes.

Jason Stearns reflects on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 51st anniversary of its independence.

Robert Zeliger posts aerial photographs of the Arab Spring, and A Bombastic Element looks at corporate advertising that tries to tap into the revolutionary spirit in Egypt and elsewhere.

Africa Is A Country writes on graffiti in the Gambia.

What are you reading today?