New African review/November 2011

African Update – 30/11/11

In this review among other stories:

Saving the Africans again

South Africa; the Malema effect

United Nations; the Lords of impunity

Saving the African – Again

It is probable that you have heard in the recent past of African starving, particularly in the horn of Africa. It is true. In this article, a regular column (Reflections of an Ordinary African Woman), New African looks at the perennial suffering of Africans and the ever repeating debates on who is to blame and what way forward. It is particularly critical of the never-ending portrayal of “images of starving Africans” and says that it would be more fruitful if the world’s media houses used their power “in pressuring African leaders to use the countries’ wealth and resources to feed the people.”

  It observes that the reasons some Africans are starving are twofold – (a) corrupt African leaders, and (b) the continued exploitation of Africa by the western world. It is categorical that “it makes no sense when with the aid of our leaders [African leaders], western companies exploit our oil, iron, diamonds, gold, bauxite etc, and in return give us chump change in the form of charities.”

  “No African country produces guns, yet we always have them to fight wars.”

  In a separate but somewhat related feature article (Eritrea; Afwerki ‘Self Reliance does not mean isolation’), New African reports on an interview held recently with the Eritrean president, Isaias Afwerki. In spite of being in the horn of Africa, Eritrea has not featured in the recent famine and drought stories, largely because of its agricultural model geared towards self-sufficiency. In the interview, president Afwerki observes that Africa has for long been a victim of being described by some labels, so much so that “it has become the norm and many people perceive it as if it’s the rule of the day and there are no other alternatives.” He goes on to say that he believes, just like many others that “Africa should have its own alternatives, not because Africa is unique but because Africa is marginalized, not because of colonial history but because of existing realities.” He notes with conviction that, “there is a path we [Africans] can adopt to extricate ourselves from the state of affairs in which we currently find ourselves and through which we can be equal partners with everybody.”

On aid, president Afwerki states “aid was fashionable at one point in time, but with experience we see that in fact, aid has been disabling for Africa.” For him, the challenge is for the Africans to wake up, since “the resources are there, the endowments are there, and yet there is still no infrastructure, our manufacturing and industries are not globally competitive and we have been unable to exploit the advantage we have in terms of national resources, mineral resources, geography, and water to change the quality of life in Africa.”

South Africa; the Malema Dilemma

  Who is Malema? New African takes us to South Africa where we find one Julius Malema, “only 30 years old and has only 12 years of high school education.” Young as he may be, he is reported to be causing quite an excitement in South Africa. So much so that “ all political parties, including his own ANC…have teamed up against him. Why? New African reports that, “if Malema has a political fault, it is because he calls a spade a spade and not a big spoon. He does not hide his intentions. He often simply tells a truth that is too unpalatable for others.”

  What truths has he invoked in public that others find unpalatable? What has he called a spade and not a big spoon? There may be many; simply put, South Africa may have buried apartheid, at least on paper, but economic apartheid as Malema seems to describe it is still too strong a reality for the majority of South Africans. In taking up the question of widespread economic disparities, Malema “has opened up raw wounds in the face of serious inequalities, black poverty and unemployment.”

Astonishing Kenya

Barely three years after the disastrous 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya, New Africa reports that, “the country appears to have made not only a full recovery [but] it has carried out root and branch reforms of virtually every aspect of public life.” If so then it may appear that the post-election violence was a blessing, “The post election violence was a turning point because it allowed [Kenyans] to come to terms with [their] social, political and economic problems.”

New African notes that Kenya’s economic growth, which was at 7% annually before the fateful elections, plummeted to near stagnation below zero growth. Investors began to run away. Yet, three years on, it is back up to 5%. Indeed, New African observes, there are all indications that “when [Kenyans] realized that the ship of state was in very dangerous waters, they abandoned their differences and set about rescuing it.” And this is paying back well, “the post election violence shocked Kenyans out of their complacency, so much so that, despite the numerous challenges facing the country, they have been able to renew their institutions and [have] largely implemented far reaching decisions…”

But what could these tremendous changes be attributed to? A brand new constitution, “a remarkable document, … created from ground zero… but it has everything you could wish for.” And so, in one stroke, the constitution completely overturned the political culture that prevailed in Kenya since independence. Not only that, “it takes away power from the presidency and distributes it equitably around the country, it guarantees human rights and freedoms of expression and association, it protects minorities and gives women equal opportunities, it uncouples the judiciary from the government and makes it an offense to incite racial/ethnic hatred…” And that is not all…

  Nevertheless, New African reports that in spite of these changes and the cohesion that can be felt all over the country, ethnicity remains “a particularly important concern for Kenya as the post election violence has been widely attributed to ‘ethnic tension’. New African reports the Kenyan Prime Ministers as having called it, “a disease of the elite…who, in competition for the resources in the country, resort to ethnicity as a tool for discrimination against each other,” [read outdoing each other] and in so doing benefit unfairly in the name of the tribe or community.

United Nations, the Lords of Impunity

  Recent events in Cote d’Ivoire are yet to depart from the minds of many. It will be remembered that many people have expressed reservations at how the UN has been exploited or used in the recent past by a few powerful nations for their own goals.

  In this article, a kind of exposé on what goes on unreported within the UN itself, New African raises questions on the waning credibility of the UN. As a case at hand, New African reports on the just emerging UN’s poor record of protecting whistle blowers within its ranks as well as employees who are aware of sexual exploitation or other abuses in key UN operations.

  There are numerous “cases involving fraud, corruption and mismanagement.” It would appear, perhaps appropriately so, that the UN could easily pass for “a unique and extreme case of organizational non-accountability.”


Reviewed by Swegenyi S.D.K for Humanitas Afrika.


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Book of the month

Xoliswa Ndoyiya: Ukutya Kwasekhaya

Xoliswa Ndoyiya: Ukutya KwasekhayaTastes from Nelson Mandela’s kitchen

A collection of recipes by Nelson Mandela's personal chef, this book contains the food served to visiting heads of state, celebrities, politicians for more than 20 years. Featuring some of the favourite former South African president's favourite meals including samp and beans, farm chicken, tripe, this book also features paella, peri-peri chicken, prawn curry, and myriad of other delights. With simple, delicious and nourishing recipes, it will interest those who wish to prepare meals that are both elegant and healthy.More

New arrivals

New titles in our library 12/2016

Our library has aquired a number of new and interesting books. Here is the list of the latest titles.

  • Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
  • Fashion Cities Africa by Hannah Azieb Pool
  • Frantz Fanon: Toward a Revolutionary Humanismby Christopher Lee
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Robinson, James A., Acemoglu, Daron
  • Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures With the Ever-Living Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee
  • A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present by Richard J. Reid
  • Authentically African: Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture by Sarah Van Beurden
  • Children in Slavery through the Ages by by Gwyn CampbellSuzanne MiersJoseph C. Miller
  • Global Health in Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control by Tamara Giles-Vernick
  • Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos by Gary  Stewart
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 1: Africa, the Indian Ocean World, and the Medieval North Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 2: The Modern Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Cahier d'un Retour Au Pays Natal by Aimé Cesaire
  • Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 by Karen Elizabeth  Flint
  • Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies by Antoni Verger
  • Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry by Matthew M. Heaton

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