New African Review - January 2013 issue

African Update – 10/02/13

The euphoria of the New Year is behind us, but no doubt in many ways, this time finds most of us still reorienting in one way or another to one thing or another.

THE HIDDEN HANDS BEHIND AFRICAN CONFLICTS

Everyone wishes that a new year should bring good tidings. For the people in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, such a wish seems to be far fetched, at least as the situation there stands now. In the Lead story, New African, January issue looks at the turmoil in Mali and the DR Congo, in particular trying to shed light on the hidden hands behind the conflicts now raging in the two territories, and by extension a chain of other conflicts not making headlines. While acknowledging how unfashionable it has become to assign Africa’s to colonialism and external powers, it argues that in the case of the DR Congo and northern Mali “it would be difficult to come to any other conclusion.” Thus in the cover story, New African sets out in a quest “to reveal how foreign players and their African allies are fanning the flames of these conflicts.”

What evidence is there that the unrest in northern Mali involves “Washington and the Algerian secret service”? Why does New African contend that the two have worked in league to create “a terrorist threat in northern Mali and the neighbouring Sahel countries to serve their own strategic interests”?  Is external intrusion sufficient to explain “why DR Congo, whose conflicts have seen deaths estimated by UN at 5.5 million to 6 million since 1996, would be such a low priority for the international community”? What new information or evidence is available to give weight to the theory of involvement of external powers? Whose hidden hands fuel the war in DR Congo? Is there anything that has been done or is being done to bring the culprits to shame, so much so that they may “stop their nefarious activities”?

GHANA HAS A NEW PRESIDENT; KENYA ELECTS ONE IN MARCH

December saw Ghana hold a presidential election to fill the position left following the death of its president six months earlier. But the results of the elections, won by John Dramani Mahama, have become a pain for the main opposition, reports New African. The opposition cry foul saying some electoral commission officials perpetrated a fraud against its presidential candidate. What are the circumstances surrounding the discontent? Did observer groups err in passing the election results as “generally an accurate reflection of how Ghanaians voted”?

President John Dramani Mahama becomes the first Ghanaian born after Ghana’s independence to become president. Who is he? How did he rise to hold the highest position in the land? Is he his own man or is he one of those African leaders in high office thanks to some ‘godfathers’ hands?

Talking of election results in Ghana, New African also reports on another looming general election – in Kenya. It will be remembered that at the last election, Kenya made News for the wrong reasons – post-election violence. Will it be any different now? How is the political mood in the country? New African casts spotlight on the growing concern that “two International Criminal Courts indictees – Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto – might become president and vice president respectively.” And this against a growing indication that the Kenyan electorate seems not to care as the pair’s popularity is on the rise.

Recounting that the ICC’s involvement in Kenyan politics came as a result of the messed up 2007 Kenyan general elections that degenerated into violence, New African traces the evolution of the two leading political blocks in the campaigns, and how the ICC effect has become a curse or blessing in disguise for the leading presidential contenders – Raila Odinga (“initially thought to benefit” from the ICC effect) and Uhuru Kenyatta (who together with his running mate “have succeeded in making ICC an election issue at the expense of Odinga”). Will Kenyans elect Uhuru and Ruto and face the wrath of the international community already irked that ICC suspects have been allowed to contest for the highest offices in the land? How would Kenya deal with the international community should Uhuru become the president while on trial at The Hague?

EUROPE – THE FAILURE OF STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT ?

“In a twist of history, Europe today is the epicenter of global economic trepidation…Europe seems to be in dire straits. Nature seems to be vegetating its cycles.” In this article a comparative reflection of Africa and Europe in the light of on going economic recession particularly hard on Europe, New African looks at how Europe is responding to the economic crisis and wonders aloud whether Europe is bold enough to, with benefit of hindsight, willingly swallow the bitter pills of structural adjustments programmes that it not long ago, together with the US, so vehemently forced down the throats of African states.

When many Sub-Saharan African countries were steeped in a deep economic crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, they turned to Europe and America for help. The solution advocated was for African countries to implement structural adjustment programs - policy reforms “to adopt strict austerity measures in drastically cutting state budgets, trimming their workforces, selling off many government enterprises, and corporations through privatization and liberalization, allowing exchange rates to respond to the forces of demand and supply, disbanding a wage legislation regime and giving unfettered reign to the forces of the market to control the economy.” African countries had little choice, having limited or underdeveloped private sectors, disconnecting the state from the economy, social welfare and employment was a painful pill to swallow.

“SAP produced many casualties and much collateral damage. Funding of educational institutions suffered …public health plummeted, civil servants lost their jobs and there was social discomfort and dislocation in many countries.” But African countries learned a lesson; did Europe not observe what was happening at the time?

New African reckons it would be unfortunate not to have a reflection especially now that both the teacher and learner have a situation they both can learn from simultaneously. “Two decades later times have changed and the pendulum has swung 360 degrees. While African countries have recovered from economic crisis and are some of the fastest growing economies in the world currently, the same is not the case for those who once tutored Africa.” Europe is now in the throes of serious economic crisis and swallowing partly the same pill they once prescribed for Africa.”

Well, to grab a few observations from the article: no nation or people have absolute truth or wisdom; any nation can record progress and also make mistakes – a call to humility and global economic dialogue? The state may be evil, but the state is a necessary evil; the state will always have a say and a fundamental role to play in the economy. The private sector is no saint; and banks whether private or public are public trusts and the state must never allow them to be drowned by some cowboys. And is it not obvious that capitalism is a class-based political system not to be venerated? Now perhaps Africa knows it is not enough to only make cuts, after all Europe is making cuts but also pumping money into the economy in the form of bail outs to banks.

For these and more see New African January 2013 issue.

Reviewed by Swegenyi D.K.S for Humanitas Afrika

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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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