Africa Blog Roundup: Sam Childers, al Shabab, Niger Delta, Twitter in Uganda, and More

Brett Keller has done fascinating research on Sam Childers aka “the Machine Gun Preacher,” whose complicated story involves hunting Joseph Kony, working with PR firms, and cultivating a strange relationship with violence and Christianity.

Loomnie: “How a Chinese Syndicate Is Screwing Africa”

Amb. David Shinn comments on al Shabab’s withdrawal from Mogadishu. The Economist’s Baobab blog looks at how civil war complicates aid delivery.

Amb. John Campbell on environmental degradation in the Niger Delta:

It is easy to blame the international oil companies for degradation of the Niger Delta environment, all the more so when Exxon is reporting that its profits world-wide increased by 69 percent during this year’s first quarter while Shell’s are up 30 percent. But, the real story does not lend itself to a morality tale. “Bush refining” (illegal mom-and-pop refining operations) supplied by “bunkering” (oil theft by puncturing pipelines) substantially contributes to the pollution, as the UNEP study acknowledges. More importantly, the Nigerian government is deeply involved with all elements of Delta oil and gas production through the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and all oil and gas is the property of the Nigerian state, and provides the state with about 65 percent of its total revenue and 95 percent of export earnings. NNPC owns a majority interest in the assets operated by Shell under a joint operating agreement, for example. Such partnership agreements require NNPC to fund its share of petroleum production, including pollution abatement efforts, making the federal government at least partially complicit in the degradation of the Delta environment. But the Abuja government too often fails to appropriate the funds necessary for the NNPC to fulfill its partnership obligations because of politicians’ other priorities.

Rosebell Kagumire looks at a Ugandan minister’s claim that activists are using Twitter to prepare an insurgency.

No doubt the Uganda opposition uses social media much better than the government. We have seen top opposition leaders updating their facebook and twitter accounts as they are in running battles with the police. But government’s reaction to social media has been slow ad hence they see the opposition having some good advantage in the race to put out information. I remember in April when the protests were on high, the presidential press secretary told the Guardian that they were not bothered about the impact of social media because “farmers in Uganda don’t know what it is.” Today we see the government waking up to accept the power of social media-in a disguised way- on the youth in the country. Social media use in Uganda has been steadily increasing since end of last year.

Check out my friend Kristi’s new blog on lived religion.

What are you reading today? Any new blogs on your radar?

5 thoughts on “Africa Blog Roundup: Sam Childers, al Shabab, Niger Delta, Twitter in Uganda, and More

  1. Regarding Brett Keller and his “fascinating research” of Sam Childers, the “Machine Gun Preacher”:
    1. Has he emailed the man? No.
    2. Has he spoken to the man? No.
    3. Has he met the man? No.
    When he’s done all of that, then maybe his research will be “fascinating” as well as original. At this point, all of his research is third hand.

    • Hi Diane, I think I understand where you’re coming from. Keller definitely put a lot of work into the piece though.

      What is your side of the story?

      • Keller put in a lot of work reading other peoples’ interviews. He didn’t do his own interviews. I drove 3.5 hours 2 different to PA to meet with Childers. I am helping his AOEA staff write letters of inquiry to the Gates Foundation for support in the work they do to fight malaria, provide meals, and dig wells for fresh water. I will drive up there again this week to see a screening of the movie, “Machine Gun Preacher,” and I will encourage everyone I know to see it.

  2. Diane – your claims are out of date. I called Childers and couldn’t get through, and emailed a request to speak with him by phone. He refused a phone interview (said he “was not allowed” to do them) after I had explained that I won’t be able to make the 5 1/2 hour drive soon. More updates are forthcoming.

    Also, most of the things that I and others have problems with are direct quotes from Sam. I haven’t heard you or anyone else say he hasn’t claimed to do those things, so your complaints about this being third hand are moot.

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