How a leader can make or break a country – TED talk

Fred Swaniker, a Ghanaian entrepreneur and development expert discusses in this TED talk the importance of leadership for development.

He takes the examples of coups in Ghana, Zambia, and the rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe to highlight how governance and strong institutions make the difference in developing economies.

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Goodbye, Blaise Compaoré

What a day.

Blaise Compaoré left Burkina Faso after 27 years in power following an uprising.

No glory, no honor. His thirst for power, his inability to develop Burkina Faso, and his tendencies to get involved in other countries’ politics (Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and many others) finally caught up with Beau Blaise.


As said by Thomas Sankara, “while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”.

Al Jazeera published “Burkina Faso: Ghost of ‘Africa’s Che Guevara“, and draws links between the teachings from the defunct leader, and the situation in Ouagadougou over the past few days.

Many of the protesters say the history of the slain 1980s leader partly inspired them to rise against Blaise Compaoré, who has been in power for 27 years and was trying, by a vote in parliament, for another five.

Though some see Sankara as an autocrat who came to office by the power of the gun, and who ignored basic human rights in pursuit of his ideals, in recent years he has been cited as a revolutionary inspiration not only in Burkina Faso but in other countries across Africa.

The situation is still not clear, as the “coup within the coup” from Presidential Guard commander Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida has been met with negative feedback both from the Burkinabè and the International community.

The next few weeks will be critical, as whoever is in power will have to deal with an escalation in violence from the protesters and Compaoré’s loyalists, notwithstanding the previous regional threats such as Ebola and terrorism.



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Ivory Coast Animators Sketch Out Nascent Business Initiatives


3d Animation from Cote d’Ivoire

Originally posted on Variety:

A year after the release of the country’s first 3D animated feature, toonmakers in Ivory Coast are trying to build on the gains of an industry whose potential remains largely untapped.

Lacking coin and — in most cases — formal training, the nation’s animators are still determined to bring their stories to life.

“It’s important for Ivorian children — and African children — to see the characters they know,” says Abel Kouame of Afrika Toon, which produced last year’s 3D CGI feature “Pokou, Princesse Ashanti.”

The company spent two years and roughly €200,000 ($270,000) bringing “Pokou” to life, and is working on its second feature, “Soundiata Keita, le reveil du lion.” Both films draw on historical narratives familiar to many Ivorians from an early age, part of Afrika Toon’s determination, says Kouame, to “tell our own stories.”

Yet Kouame and others know they face an uphill climb in a country…

View original 257 more words

Wole Soyinka on Boko Haram, and security situation in Nigeria

“Boko Haram, if not contained and eradicated, will be found in the heart of Lagos before you know it”

“Those who unleashed Boko Haram on the nation are not poverty stricken. They are politicians …. desperate for power, intelligent enough or perceptive enough to recognise that the cocktail of politics and religious fundamentalism can only yield them dividends. They think they have nothing to lose. But the foot soldiers have been indoctrinated for years, from childhood. And they believe that their religion [Islam] is in danger … But Islam is not in danger. It is the pervert followers who are being used and who use others and proclaim that they are fighting for Islam ….”



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Mandela day and corporatised activism

Great article from Gillian Schutte on Thought Leader about Mandela Day:

While every other black leader in a post-1994 South Africa has been constructed as an inferior “other” by the dominant discourse, Nelson Mandela has been deified as a saintly black and is held in high esteem by whiteness. He has been hailed as a decent and rational African by the moderate liberal white discourse and thus relegated the status of “the most like a white person” worthy of becoming a signifier for white decency and humanity. He has been acknowledged as a human being while Jacob Zuma, as an example, remains a “primitive” — often depicted as oversexed, indecent and just plain stupid.

These white constructions of blackness say more about our society than we care to admit — and the religiosity afforded Madiba by well-heeled whites speaks volumes about the morally assumed and systemic supremacy whiteness still holds in South Africa. This religiosity comes to life on Mandela Day, which takes place annually and plays out like a yearly church service in which the messianic effigy of Mandela is worshiped in a type of feel good marketing frenzy with “charitable giving” at the centre of it.

By looking back in history at the construct of whiteness we will understand how Mandela Day becomes a neocolonial exercise premised on beliefs about what white and black signifies to the larger white imaginary. In fact Mandela Day has become an exercise in white missionary saviour behaviour in which whites can showcase their “good” side for the “good” of those less fortunate than themselves. It is through the Mandela construct that whites reaffirm their transcendent selves.

Read the full article here

 The article draws quite a lot of controversy in the comments. My view is, the article is not so much about Nelson Mandela himself, rather his portrayal in the media. Therefore, I would tend to agree with her analysis.

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Immunity for African leaders?

Another example of poor leadership from the African heads of state:

Complaining of bullying in the international justice arena, African leaders are forging ahead with plans to set up their own regional court — and give themselves immunity in the process.

The African Union (AU) accuses the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) of anti-African bias and even racism, and plans for a home-grown mechanism are inflaming a stand-off over who deals out justice on the continent.

In a decision last month, AU leaders unanimously agreed to grant sitting heads of state and senior government officials immunity from prosecution at the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is not expected to get off the ground for several years. Source

 This would grant immunity to the likes of Omar al-Bashir and Uhuru Kenyatta. It would obviously be a huge step back for human rights in the continent, and prove once more that the African Union is failing to bring democracy to the continent.
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The Ebola epidemic explained

Three countries in western Africa — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — are in the midst of the planet’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak, marking the first time the disease has ever been detected in the region.

As of July 8, 2014, 539 people have died as a result of the epidemic out of a total of 888 confirmed, probable and suspected cases. But those numbers are steadily rising as health workers on the ground have described the outbreak as “out of control.”

6 Questions About Ebola, Answered, from Mashable, covers the origins, symptoms and transmission of the deadly virus.

The documentary about Ebola from Al-Jazeera explains the research for the cure.





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