Sunday Africa Blog Roundup: Sudan and the ICC, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, al Shabab and Somali Pirates, Nas and Damian Marley

Roving Bandit shows us four-year-old currency from South Sudan.

Speaking of Sudan, David Barsoum wonders, “What is the ICC after?”

Reem at Inside Islam reacts to a lecture she attended by former Muslim and current activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

While Ali is right that there are very problematic interpretations of Islam that do impact women negatively, there are several reasons why I have a hard time accepting her claim that she is just trying to help Muslim women. First, she does not recognize the fact that many Muslim women are highly committed to Islam and feel that it empowers them. However, she alluded to the fact this is a result of lack of education. Second, Ali  plays right into the hands of the extreme which keeps saying Islam is a threat and from her lecture she sees no problem with that; thus, her motivations for me are highly questionable. Finally, she is not responsible with her statements. To say that there is no self-reflection by Muslims or to make sweeping generalizations is simply wrong. Many Muslims, men and women, engage in a continual process of self-reflection or critique. She must not really be looking.  Ali, I think, ends up speaking to a very different audience than she claims to be.

Louisa Lombard ponders the consequences of her blogging for her fieldwork in the Central African Republic, now that one of her interlocutors has “found her out.”

In the process of being found out, I have realized something about how politics works here. Much of the game has to do with pretending not to know, and certainly not ever stating, the things that everyone knows. (I mean seriously, as a newly-arrived expat I’m the last to know anything.) That a certain official drinks a lot, for instance, or even that a certain road is closed to humanitarians. Always better to feign ignorance, since you don’t know who might betray you (“So-and-so said such-and-such about so-and-so…” can take on a life of its own in a place that in many ways functions on rumors). This can make research difficult. It also makes it hard to change endemic corruption or other malfeasance, because any whistler blower could quickly face allegations herself. Many if not most of the bylines in Bangui’s 8-page newspapers are sobriquets.

So I will have to be more circumspect about the things I write here.

Steve Bloomfield talks European corporations and African governance.

What are the connections between al Shabab and Somali pirates?

DFID has a group blog on Nigeria. And Olumide Abimbola wonders whether Nigeria should split up.

Africa Is A Country has some leaked tracks from the Nas and Damian Marley collaboration.

Random Twitter plug: I’m on it. Follow me and I’ll follow you back, and if you’re on, leave your handle in the comments so other readers can follow you and check out your feed.

5 thoughts on “Sunday Africa Blog Roundup: Sudan and the ICC, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, al Shabab and Somali Pirates, Nas and Damian Marley

    • Thanks for stopping by Olumide. The DFID blog is interesting…Dipnote (US State Dept. blog) doesn’t get that in-depth. Wish they would.

  1. Good selection of links. I found particularly interesting some of Reem’s comments on the Ali visit to Wisconsin and also liked Lombard’s comments about the risks and challenges of being a researcher.

    With respect to Ali’s comments regarding rape in Islam, I wonder if her reasoning is connected to an argument women’s rights organizations in India seem to be making these days. Here, in marriages that occur by force (Hindu, Muslim, and secular), sexual relations that ensue after marriage are also considered by these groups to be non-consensual. These groups do not make allegations of rape but rather consider marriages of this nature to be depriving women of their right to choose sexual partners.

    Could this be part of Ali’s logic? Have you encountered arguments of this nature made in other societies where marriages and sexual partners may be forced upon girls/women by members of their family?

    • Gosh, those are good questions. I don’t know Ali’s thought well enough to say whether that was part of her thinking, nor do I know Muslim positions on the issue of rape/non-consensual sex within marriage – I would assume diverse positions on the issue exist, actually. You never know which communities will have ideas like that and which won’t. I’ve met some Christians in the States who find the idea of rape within marriage inconceivable – for them marriage=unconditional consent.

      Here is one American Muslim perspective:

      • It’s an interesting issue indeed that’s bound to have a variety of sides and permutations.

        Thanks for posting that follow-up link. Very rich material.

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