New African review/July issue

African Update – 15/07/10

In this issue among other stories:

Cover story: Nigeria

Feature: After all at 50 we are mature

Special reports: Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola

Reflections: Baffour's Beefs, Back to the Future

New African Football


Developments in Nigeria make up the cover story this month. Following the demise of president Yar Adua, after months of illness shrouded in mystery and intrigue, the country is headed for an election next year. In the meantime, Goodluck Jonathan, has assumed power to steer the country till then. New African reports that the question of minorities in Nigeria's highest political offices has taken centre stage.

Will minorities ever rule?

There are 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria', reports New African, 'three of which-the Yoruba, the Igbo, and the Hausa Fulani-dominate national affairs.'

But why? One might ask. Apparently, the genesis of this state of affairs goes back to the British colonial rule. In their zeal to ensure neocolonial control after their departure, the British created a constitution that ensured favourable conditions for the big three to maintain power.

This historical fact is given fresh insight by a new book, A Nation Betrayed, by Michael Vickers, from which New African has also quoted extensively.

The British aside, this state of affairs was nonetheless given roots and grounded by 'Nigeria's leaders of the time for being party to the great mistake themselves', observes New African.

Now that President Goodluck Jonathan, from the Ijaw, a minority group from the south, is in power, many from the 247 minority groups see this as their time. The big three see it differently. Besides, there is the vexed question of North-South power rotation, which, however, has no constitutional basis. Will President Jonathan stand against the wishes of the North to be elected, or will he bow down to pressure and step aside?

The simmering Niger

New African observes that the stability of Nigeria's leadership, and ,by extension, economy is linked to the Niger Delta Region. This is the backbone of Nigeria's economy owing to its oil and gas wealth. President Goodluck Jonathan is from the Niger Delta, and this is of great significance for the people in the region. They feel that perhaps finally an answer to their plight is at hand. Not only did successive leaders of Nigeria-military and civilian-neglect the development of this area, they also did little to control environmental degradation that oil/gas exploitation left behind.

Shell in Ogoniland

Shell, the oil giant, is one company that has borne much blame for many things that have gone wrong in Ogoniland, an oil rich area in Nigeria. It seems they have been reforming. In an exclusive, very informative interview with New African, one of Nigeria's highly respected catholic priests, Fr.Mattew Hassan Kuka, says that in the last 15 years, Shell has borne a blame it did not deserve. Not only does Fr.Kuka talk about Shell and Ogoniland, but he also comments on a variety of issues affecting Nigeria as a whole, and in depth.

Seventeen African states are celebrating 50years of independence this year. It is therefore an important year, if not for the commemoration of the moment of independence itself, certainly for taking stock of how far African states are now.

Cameroon was the first of the 17 states to gain independence in 1960. She celebrated her 50th year of independence on 20th May.

President Biya's speech captured it all

New African reports that President Biya of Cameroon gave 'a stirring speech, full of ardour...home truths, history and plain common sense.' His speech tells the story and meaning of African independence.

'We are independent because we wanted to be independent,' he said. 'Let us rather ask the question: What have we done with our independence?' he posed. He answered the question by looking at where Africa was at the time of independence, and how the continent had to build from scratch.

He talked of schools that had to be expanded and upgraded, and universities build, economy that relied on cash crops (which were beyond the grasp of Africans) for export to former colonial powers , and Africans confined to subsistence farming and informal economy-simply put, a state of 'unpreparedness and inexperience.'

So then, how did Africa manage? 'We undoubtedly proceeded by trial and error.' And there was, 'hunger, pandemics, civil war, external pressure, and even corruption to justify our failures.' In the end? He said, 'We prefer to accept responsibility and say 'We have done our best.'

The future? President Biya observed that what African states have done so far took old nations centuries to accomplish. He noted that, 'After having been described for a long time as a continent of poverty...Africa is now acknowledged as having certain potentials.' He lamented that 'Africa is not well represented in circles where the decisions affecting the whole world are taken.' This has certainly impacted negatively on the progress of African states.

To this end President Biya stated that 'endowed with natural resources and the vitality of its people, it [Africa] has a role to play.'

SPECIAL REPORT-Tanzania, Mozambique, and Angola

These three countries have one thing in common: they have plenty of natural resources discovered in recent years, and whose exploitation is still in tender years. However, the wealth of resources is matched, ironically, with widespread poverty among most of their citizens. In this report, New African looks at each country, the extent of the mineral wealth, progress in extraction, mining policies, efforts at transferring the benefits to the country's population, opportunities for future investments, and challenges that abound in general. Some of the issues raised are evident in many African countries that are struggling to reap from their mineral wealth.

Tanzania is rich in gold, diamond, silver, tantalite, coltan, steel, iron, emeralds, and sapphires. In addition, it has cobalt, copper, natural gas, nickel and titanium, not forgetting uranium.However, the minig sector is yet to be put under such policies as will benefit Tanzania more. The foreign companies extracting the minerals are robbing the country.New African writes that, Tanzania has introduced a new mining act. However, is is claimed to have ommissions that expose the country to further exploitation. It is also said to have clauses that may hinder future foreign investment in the mining industry.

Mozambique has vast coal finds. Its challenges are largely on how to facilitate its extraction and movement to points of sale. There is a growing gas sector that is as yet to be fully developed. Nevertheless, in spite of the economic meltdown, Mozambique's economy has remained strong. With a governance structure that has remained stable for a decade, and that seems to get better and better, there is promise that it may be able to pass the mining benefits to the majority in the near future.

Angola's economy grew rapidly over the last decade thanks to huge oil finds. When the world oil prices went up, it was good news for Angola. When they dropped, Angola's economic growth fell from 13% in 2008 to 5% in 2009. But Angola is back on track to recovery, and with diversification into gas and diamond extraction too. To protect and ensure the progress of the majority, dependent on subsistence economy, Angola is also looking at how to prop up agriculture and the banking sector.


In 'Back to the Future; The never ending learning curve' New African chides Africans for allowing themselves to be treated as starters in everything. Even at international conferences, it appears Africans are mere 'junior partners [who] have nothing to offer.' It takes issues with 'the parlous state of education or knowledge production on the continent.' It observes that Africa needs to do more 'to develop the intelligence and knowledge that would allow us to defend our interests or support our businesses.' Africa must do more to protect itself, its resources and its people. It needs to stand.

In Baffour's Beef; With friends like these...', New African looks at the talks that led to the formation of a coalition government in the UK. They lasted a mere four days, in spite of the two parties involved having ideologies that are far apart. All in the name of national interest. New African thinks there is a big lesson for African political leaders here. National interest, and above all to be wary of depending on the west to guide internal coalition talks. Because of meddling from the UK and others, it took Zimbabwe's politicians eight painful months to put a coalition government in place. Other African examples could be cited.


In this issue, New African Football takes stock of theWorld Cup hosted by South Africa half-way to the end. It particularly heaps lots of praise, praise due to South Africa, for organizing the World Cup, against all odds, to such high standards. It also comments on the different facets of the World Cup (vuvuzela, teams, players, etc) as the World Cup progressed. The star interview is with Cameroon's Alexandre Song. Song plays club football at Arsenal in the English Premier League.

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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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