Category Archives: Africa – International

South Africa – COSATU’s ideas for fighting capitalism


Africa’s Long Road Since Independence – Keith Somerville: Book Launch 3rd December

Africa’s Long Road Since Independence

The Many Histories of a Continent

Keith Somerville

03 December 2015, 18:00 – 20:00

Room G35 (Ground Floor)
Venue Details:
Senate House, South Block
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU

‘This unusually accessible study of Africa’s many histories since 1970 owes its distinctiveness to the author’s career. This is, thankfully, not an arid academic tome; it is a thoughtful, passionate account by a senior BBC journalist who spent three decades working on and in Africa. His intimacy with places and people give the book a grittiness that library research never provides.’ — Richard Rathbone, Professor of African History, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Bibliographic Details
January 2016£25.00

Over the last half century, sub-Saharan Africa has not had one history, but many — histories that have intertwined, converged and diverged. They have involved a continuing saga of decolonisation and state-building, conflict, economic problems, but also progress. This new account of those histories looks in particular at the relationship between territorial, economic, political and societal structures and human agency in the complex and sometimes confusing development of an independent Africa.

The story starts well before the granting of independence to Ghana in 1957, with pre-colonial societies, slavery and colonial occupation. But the thrust of Keith Somerville’s narrative looks at Africa in the closing decades of the old millennium and the beginning of the new millennium. While this book examines post-colonial conflicts within and between new states, it also considers the history of the peoples of Africa — their struggle for economic development in the context of harsh local environments and the economic straitjacket into which they were strapped by colonial rule is charted in detail. The importance of imposed or inherited structures, whether the global capitalist system, of which Africa is a subordinate part, or the artificial and often inappropriate state borders and political systems set up by colonial powers will be examined in the light of the exercise of agency by African peoples, political movements and leaders.


A career journalist with the BBC World Service and BBC News for three decades, specialising in Africa, Keith Somerville writes and lectures on African affairs and is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.  He is the author of several books, including Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred.

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‘This important book could not have come at a better time. Its nuanced approach to Africa’s many histories challenges unhelpful stereotypes, which too often have been applied to the entire continent as if it is a single country. It offers a rare and engaging combination of academic rigour and thoughtful, lucid journalism.’ —Mary Harper, Africa Editor, BBC News

‘This unusually accessible study of Africa’s many histories since 1970 owes its distinctiveness to the author’s career. This is, thankfully, not an arid academic tome; it is a thoughtful, passionate account by a senior BBC journalist who spent three decades working on and in Africa. His intimacy with places and people give the book a grittiness that library research never provides.’ — Richard Rathbone, Professor of African History, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

‘This superb book is the product of many decades of close observation of Africa’s past and present by a retired senior BBC World Service journalist. It is genuinely innovative, demonstrating a fine understanding of the role of structure and agency in the continent’s “many histories”. The argument will appeal to an audience seeking a convincing and well-researched account.’ — Jack Spence, OBE, Professor of Diplomacy, King’s College London

‘Keith Somerville has produced a wonderfully complex, compassionate and accessible introductory history of Africa. This book combines the keen eye of a front-line journalist who witnessed some of the continent’s most dramatic contemporary events, with the deep analytical perspective of an academic. It works brilliantly.’ — Joanna Lewis, Assistant Professor in Imperial and African History, London School of Economics and Political Science

‘A provocative and well-argued book, which addresses the importance of continuities as well as change across the vast African continent. In these multiple narratives, African agency is put squarely centre stage. But this is the agency of African elites who, by exploiting inherited structures and weak institutions, have secured and entrenched their own advantage. Given these dynamics, the question remains how far and how fast can broad based socio-economic development be achieved?’ — Sue Onslow, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London


Uganda – Pope celebrates mass for christian “martyrs”


People react as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis for an open mass in Kampala, Uganda, on SaturdayAFP Pope Francis received a rapturous reception from hundreds of thousands of pilgrims – many who had queued overnight in the rain to see him give Mass

Pope Francis is celebrating Mass in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands of Ugandan faithful.

He is speaking at a Catholic shrine dedicated to Christians martyred for their faith in the 19th Century, on the second stage of his three-country trip to Africa.

The Mass marks the 50th anniversary of the martyrs’ canonisation.

There were huge cheers as the Pope began the open-air ceremony at Namugongo, near Kampala.

It was there where many of the 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs were burned alive.

Their execution was ordered by a king worried about the spread of Christianity.

Thousands of pilgrims braved rain to spend the night holding a vigil near the martyrs’ shrines and there were long lines of pilgrims still trying to access the shrine as Pope Francis began to address the crowds on Saturday morning.

Uganda is a deeply religious country, with over 14.1 million Catholics – and even adherents of other faiths will be paying close attention to the Pope’s words, say correspondents.

Media captionCatherine Byaruhanga reports: ”This location is very symbolic for Catholics in Uganda”
Pope Francis arrives to meet President Yoweri Museveni at the presidential palace, in Kampala. 27 Nov 2015Reuters Pope Francis was greeted enthusiastically on Friday as he arrived to meet President Yoweri Museveni at the presidential palace in Kampala

He arrives here during the third week of a presidential campaign being fought by the country’s ruler for the past 29 years, President Yoweri Museveni.

Pope Francis is the third Pope to visit Uganda, and he is likely to continue to preach his message of mercy and care for the poor, and to speak out against corruption, says the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt – a message that was welcomed by people in Kenya.

He may also talk of the need for reconciliation amongst different tribes and, perhaps, pray for a peaceful vote here next February.

But there were critical references to the Pope’s visit on Twitter – with some wondering “how many people have HIV today because contraception isn’t allowed?” while others accused him of ignoring extreme anti-gay attitudes in Uganda.

On Friday, the Pope addressed an audience of young people in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, urging them to unite and take a stand against the destructive effects of tribalism.

He will travel to the Central African Republic (CAR), which has been hit by serious violence between Christian and Muslim militias in recent years, on Sunday.

A woman holds a candle as she awaits the arrival of Pope Francis at the martyrs' shrine in Munyonyo, near Kampala, Uganda, 27 November 2015EPA On Friday the Pope joined pilgrims at another shrine at Munyonyo, Uganda
Men dressed in traditional clothes during a visit by Pope Francis with the Munyonyo community on November 27, 2015 in KampalaAFP Men in traditional costume from the Munyonyo community met Pope Francis on Friday

Religion in sub-Saharan Africa:

Media captionCatholic Africa – in 60 seconds
  • Christian population is 517 million (63% of total)
  • Protestants make up more than half the number
  • Catholics make up about a third
  • Muslim population is 248 million (about 30% of total)
  • 1.1 billion Christians expected by 2050
  • 670 million Muslims expected by 2050

Mali – UN base in north attacked


Gunmen attacked and fired rockets at a U.N. peacekeeping base in Kidal in northern Mali on Saturday, causing an unspecified number of casualties, a spokesman for the U.N. force in Mali (MINUSMA) said.

“The attack happened at around 4 a.m. (0400 GMT). Four or five rockets landed inside the base. Quite a few people were wounded but it’s too early for a precise number,” MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado told Reuters.

French troops and the U.N. force are struggling to stabilise the former French colony where Islamist militants attacked a hotel in the capital on Nov. 20 and killed 20 people.

Three Islamist militant groups – al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), its splinter group al Mourabitoun and Massina Liberation Front (MLF) – claimed the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel. Security analysts say they could be collaborating.

Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. They were driven out by a French-led military operation, but violence has continued.

Other West African governments are also battling Islamist militants. Boko Haram, the leading such group in the region, has this year extended its attacks from Nigeria to neighbouring states of Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

(Reporting by Souleymane Ag Anara in Kidal and Adama Diarra in Bamako; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Nigeria – 21 killed in suicide bombing of Shia event



Image  Ibrahim Hassan

Deaths and injuries did not stop the procession – an annual event lasting seven days

A suicide bomber has killed at least 21 people in an attack on a Shia Muslim procession in Nigeria’s Kano state, eyewitnesses and organisers say.

The bomber ran into the crowd and detonated his device before he could be spotted, an organiser told AFP.

The attack happened shortly after a man was arrested in possession of a bomb, a witness told the BBC.

The blast took place in the village of Dakasoye, about 20km (13 miles) south of the provincial capital, Kano.

“We lost 21 people and several others have been injured,” Muhammad Turi from the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said.

Police said they did not know who was behind the attack, but IMN organisers blamed the Sunni militant group Boko Haram.

Meeting Nigeria’s Shia leader

The procession – an annual event lasting seven days – continued after the blast.

“We are not surprised that we’ve been attacked because this is the situation all over the country. This will not deter us from our religious observance,” said Mr Turi.

The procession travels from Kano to Zaria in neighbouring Kaduna state, where the IMN, the country’s biggest Shia organisation, has its headquarters.

Security forces had been ordered away from the procession after clashes between pilgrims and the army left several people dead last year, including three sons of its leader Sheikh el-Zakzaky.

Most of Nigeria’s Muslims are Sunnis and correspondents say there are underlying tensions between them and Shia Muslims.

Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has killed thousands and made more than 2m people homeless. The group condemns Shias as heretics who should be killed.

The militants have increasingly attacked civilian targets since being pushed out of territory they controlled by a military offensive.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has given the military commanders until next month to end the conflict, but there are fears bomb attacks may continue.

South Africa – COSATU elects new secretary-general

Johannesburg – Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary in the North West, Solly Phetoe was elected the deputy general secretary of the trade union federation on Thursday.

Phetoe obtained 1 679 votes while his rival Oscar Phaka from the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) obtained 677 vote.

Acting secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali was nominated unopposed to fill the position of the federation’s general secretary. He had been acting in the general secretary position left vacant after Zwelinzima Vavi was fired.

Leadership positions that were not contested included; S’dumo Dlamini (president), Tyotyo James (first deputy president), Zingiswa Losi (second deputy president) and Freda Oosthuizen (treasurer).

Phetoe was elected uncontested as the North West provincial secretary at the provincial congress in June.

Tanzania – Daily News backs Magfuli stand on national day

Daily News (Tanzania)

THE spectacle of filth in our urban and rural areas is right, left and centre very heartbreaking. Dar es Salaam, now designated the commercial capital and caretaker seat of government business following the relocation of the national capital to Dodoma, is no exception.

No wonder the cholera epidemic has been reoccurring. Once upon a time, the erstwhile capital has been one of the tidiest in Africa. It no longer is as it ranks poorly in the midst of continental rankings.

Regarded as the country’s mirror, it has backfired into an image of filth mismanagement with a reflective effect elsewhere. Despite commendable efforts by city authorities to make Dar es Salaam cleaner, it is still a far cry from the spotlessly clean and stink-free metropolitan many Tanzanians would like it to be.

There remain certain locations in the city of Dar es Salaam like the Kariakoo Market and Buguruni Market, both within the Ilala Municipality, where only a few tens of hand brooms and a committed people could have made a difference. Yet the stink emanating from certain spots in the market places, especially when it rains, is a national shame. And that is putting it mildly.

The on-and-off outbreaks of cholera, with their devastating consequences to life, human life, are a disaster.

The recent statement from the State House in which President John Magufuli has announced that this year’s Uhuru Day celebrations will be marked differently, in that instead of the usual pomp and pageantry, military parades and displays and children’s mass displays, traditional dances, ngoma, etc; Tanzanians will take part in a special campaign to keep their cities, towns and surroundings clean.

This has been decided upon to check the reoccurrence of cholera and other water and filth borne diseases, which have been calling the shots and leaving a trail of much life destruction in their wake, with no real solution to check repetition in sight.

Tanzanians should take the call and decision to start spending some of their time in collective cleanliness campaigns seriously. If you look at it, some of the killer diseases like cholera and malaria could have been kept at bay with just a little seriousness in making our environment clean.

Let this spirit the president has initiated be sustainable and become a part of the life of every Tanzanian.


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