Video: The SAPEUR congolais style battle

Great rumba video from Fredy Massamba, featuring a boxing match between Sapeur congolais.

Original, stylish and nice music. What else can we ask for?

Homosexuality in Africa

In the light of the new legislation in Nigeria, Uganda and a few other countries, African intellectuals have expressed their concern about the regression of human rights across the continent.

The best example I read so far has got to be from Chimamanda Adichie, author of Half Of A Yellow Sun and Americanah, in The Scoop:

The new law that criminalizes homosexuality is popular among Nigerians. But it shows a failure of our democracy, because the mark of a true democracy is not in the rule of its majority but in the protection of its minority – otherwise mob justice would be considered democratic. The law is also unconstitutional, ambiguous, and a strange priority in a country with so many real problems. Above all else, however, it is unjust. Even if this was not a country of abysmal electricity supply where university graduates are barely literate and people die of easily-treatable causes and Boko Haram commits casual mass murders, this law would still be unjust.  We cannot be a just society unless we are able to accommodate benign difference, accept benign difference, live and let live. We may not understand homosexuality, we may find it personally abhorrent but our response cannot be to criminalize it.

She goes to address each of the points the supporter of anti-gay laws in Africa have: religion, “normality”, abuse…

The best part of the argument is about the idea of homosexuality being against “African values”:

There has also been some nationalist posturing among supporters of the law. Homosexuality is ‘unafrican,’ they say, and we will not become like the west. The west is not exactly a homosexual haven; acts of discrimination against homosexuals are not uncommon in the US and Europe. But it is the idea of ‘unafricanness’ that is truly insidious.

If anything, it is the passage of the law itself that is ‘unafrican.’ It goes against the values of tolerance and ‘live and let live’ that are part of many African cultures. (In 1970s Igboland, Area Scatter was a popular musician, a man who dressed like a woman, wore makeup, plaited his hair. We don’t know if he was gay – I think he was – but if he performed today, he could conceivably be sentenced to fourteen years in prison. For being who he is.) And it is informed not by a home-grown debate but by a cynically borrowed one: we turned on CNN and heard western countries debating ‘same sex marriage’ and we decided that we, too, would pass a law banning same sex marriage. Where, in Nigeria, whose constitution defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, has any homosexual asked for same-sex marriage?

Read the full article here.

Behind the scenes with UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic Congo

“We are going to protect the civilians, eliminate and neutralise the threats,” he said. “We are not going to wait for the threat to come here against the civilians.” Lieutenant-General Carlos Santos Cruz

Watch Al Jazeera’s documentary about the new modus operandi of the UN peacekeeping force, the Monusco in the DRC. It features Lieutenant-General Carlos Santos Cruz, the new operating commander of the international force.

In March last year, the UN Security Council sanctioned the creation of a new Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), made up of 3,000 well-equipped combat troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi and gave it a mandate to “neutralise and disarm” the various armed groups.

It was a crucial decision because it meant that for the first time in the organisation’s history, soldiers wearing the UN blue helmet were being allowed to go on the offensive, rather than having to sit helplessly by as atrocities took place. In other words, the peacekeepers could become peacemakers.

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Rising prospects for manufacturing in Africa

Danald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group tweeted this article from The Economist about the growing African industrial opportunities. The article mentions H&M, Buffalo Bikes and General Electrics as pionners in the industry.

Those who cast doubt on Africa’s rise often point to the continent’s lack of manufacturing. Few countries, they argue, have escaped poverty without putting a lot of workers through factory gates. Rick Rowden, a sceptical development pundit, says, “Apart from a few tax havens, there is no country that has attained a high standard of living on the basis of services alone.”

Yet a quiet boom in manufacturing in Africa is already taking place. Farming and services are still dominant, backed by the export of commodities, but new industries are emerging in a lot of African countries.

[...]

H&M, a multinational Swedish retail-clothing firm, and Primark, an Ireland-based one, source a lot of material from Ethiopia. General Electric, an American conglomerate, is building a $250m plant in Nigeria to make electrical gear. Madecasse, a New York-based chocolatier, is looking for new hires to add to its 650 workers in Madagascar already turning raw cocoa into expensively wrapped milky and nutty bars. Mobius Motors, a Kenyan firm started a few years ago by Joel Jackson, a Briton, is building a cheap, durable car for rough roads.

Domestically owned manufacturing is growing, too. Seemhale Telecoms of South Africa is planning to make cheap mobile phones for the African market. Angola says it is to build its own arms industry, with help from Brazil. African craftsmen are making inroads in fashion. Ali Lamu makes handbags from recycled dhow sails on the Kenyan coast and sells them on Western websites.

[...]
Kenya is not about to become the next South Korea. African countries are likely to follow a more diverse path, benefiting from the growth of countless small and medium-sized businesses, as well as some big ones. For the next decade or so, services will still generate more jobs and wealth in Africa than manufacturing, which is fine. India has boomed for more than two decades on the back of services, while steadily building a manufacturing sector from a very low base. Do not bet against Africa doing the same.

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Tech: the 15 African businesses to watch in 2014

The list from CNN includes BRCK, Jumia, and Karibu Solar Power.

brck

Full article here.

Anything else to add?

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The decline of gay rights in Africa

Under the new law, same-sex “amorous relationships” are banned, as is membership in gay rights groups, prohibitions that have sparked both fear and defiance among Nigeria’s gay activists. The government “have just legalized violence, stigma and discrimination,” a gay man in Lagos, who asked not to be identified for his safety, told AFP. “Our situation has gone from bad to worse.” The man said that he particularly feared for LGBT people in majority-Muslim northern Nigeria, a region that is administered partly under Islamic law.

The new law could prevent access to essential HIV services for LGBT people who may be at high risk of HIV infection, undermining the success of the Presidential Comprehensive Response Plan for HIV/AIDS which was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan less than a year ago.

The health, development and human rights implications of the new law are potentially far-reaching. Homosexuality is already criminalized in Nigeria. The new law further criminalizes LGBT people, organizations and activities. The law states, “A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisation, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable to conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.” The law also criminalizes any individuals or group of people who support “the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria.” The conviction is also 10 years imprisonment.

Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic globally––in 2012, there were an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV in Nigeria. In 2010, national HIV prevalence in Nigeria was estimated at 4% among the general population and 17% among men who have sex with men.

The provisions of the law could lead to increased homophobia, discrimination, denial of HIV services and violence based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. It could also be used against organizations working to provide HIV prevention and treatment services to LGBT people.

From: UNAIDS and the Global Fund express deep concern about the impact of a new law affecting the AIDS response and human rights of LGBT people in Nigeria

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Slavery in West Africa: CNN documentary

In parts of Africa, still haunted by the 19th Century trans-Atlantic slave trade, new forms of slavery are thriving. According to the 2013 Global Slavery Index, four of the world’s worst 10 countries are in west Africa. In this film, CNN reporters examine why slavery still exists, including among children. They talk to victims, activists and politicians accountable for stamping it out.

CNN Correspondent Vlad Duthiers starts in Ghana, where many of the trans-Atlantic slaves were captured and where slavery now has its roots in different forms. The film also includes reports from Ivory Coast, The Gambia and Mauritania, the last country in the world to make slavery illegal, but where many people remain in servitude.

 

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