Pambazuka News 747: Transition: More of the same in East Africa

The draconian law passed by the National Assembly is likely to be easily replicated by the County Assemblies across the country, setting in motion a wave of intimidation and harassment of journalists and ultimately lead to censorship.

We are in need of donations to keep Pambazuka News running as an independent platform for cutting-edge analysis of topical debates within the pan-African world and global South.

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Amnesty International (AI) has embarked on a 2 year project to strengthen criminal justice mechanisms in Africa in order to ensure justice, truth and reparation for victims of crimes under international law in Africa. The project aims to promote domestic and international accountability, strengthen emerging regional criminal accountability mechanisms as well as counter the existing political backlash and efforts to weaken international justice mechanisms, particularly the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Africa.

Tagged under: 747, A I, Jobs, Resources

Pambazuka News 746: Global coloniality: Black people are not yet free

In #PunchBack this week: The political crisis in Burundi remains unresolved. Despite the rhetoric of “African solutions to African problems”, apparently nothing is going to address this issue at regional and continental levels. A crisis breaking out anywhere in the continent presents an opportunity to demonstrate pan-African solidarity, Ubuntu. Or does Africa still need lessons on conflict resolution? Watch the and share your thoughts.

In the light of the British Prime Minister’s dismissal of reparations, activists must push the debate further and ask what should reparations entail? Fundamental to such a reparations programme must be the fact that we transform the system of capitalism which slavery gave birth to.

Tagged under: 746, Ama Biney, Features, Global South

One cannot purport to condemn colonialism while enjoying the benefits of colonialism. Germany’s keeping of the looted Benin artefacts despite demands for return is the surest sign of lack of respect and an obvious demonstration of continuing centuries-old contempt of westerners for Africa and its peoples.

A man cannot hate the whip with which he is being flogged but then be expected to love the person doing the flogging. When such a black man, lying helpless bleeding on the ground expresses hate for the white person wielding the whip, it is only reasonable.

The Ethiopian was a widely praised deputy global manager of a high-profile international program at the World Bank. His problem started when he applied to become the global manager of the program. Despite his stellar performance, the Bank "advised" him not to apply because "Europeans are not used to seeing a black man in a position of power" and would not accept him.

Mugabe’s infamous homophobia employs the same logic as racism. Nor is it any different from the extremism of Al Shabaab or Boko Haram, because rather than foster understanding and mutuality it can only lead to mayhem and violence. Contrary to his claims, his views do not represent Africa in its past, present or future.

The program will start with a short video, “The Last Days of Ivory”, evidencing how poaching funds armed groups including al-Shabab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, Boko Haram and Darfur’s Janjaweed; they smuggle wildlife products valued at $1.3 billion each year.

Two events that caught the headlines in Ghana recently were Founder’s Day and the screening of the judicial bribery scandal video by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas. What ideas link the two events?

There must be a link drawn between law-enforcement repression, economic deprivation, gentrification and the denial of public services. The militarization of the police is designed to reinforce the system of oppression.

A project that could potentially meet a number of national priorities would be if the government incorporated a new capital district somewhere in the centre of the country and moved Parliament there. Geography dictates that a site somewhere in the Free State would probably be most suitable for this purpose.

On October 10, 2015, women, men and children watched with horror and disgust as various media outlets aired the degrading treatment of a woman from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) during her arrest by Uganda Police.

The video production/story is around women and FGM. The video narrative is an amalgamation of many women's stories. The story is created under the notion that "it takes a village to tell a woman's story; it takes a village for a woman's voice to be heard." The work is part of a wider project entitled "Dear Mother" created by Daapo Reo. .

Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson writes that British Prime Minister Cameron's "most noble intentions" were jarred by portions of his address to Parliament in which he asserted that slavery was a long time ago, in the historical past and “as friends we can move on together to build for the future.” No. The legacies of slavery are alive and well.

In the US – and throughout the capitalist world - the value of Black people is declining, as the economic system no longer relies on cheap labour. Lack of jobs for Black people means a lack of need for Black people, which means the wholesale devaluation of Black life. And anything without value in the capitalist system is disposable.

Tagged under: 746, Features, Governance, Kali Akuno

How many deaths of black youth are necessary before they are considered ‘genocide’ or political assassinations? No one seems to care. After all, the majority of the victims are black residents in the favelas.

Genuine democracy offers greater inclusiveness and accountability in reaching developmental, growth and industrialization goals; and makes states more effective, stable and robust against internal and external crises.

Who represents the greater “menace”: some 300,000 “illegal” refugees escaping from the countries destabilized or outright destroyed by the West, or those millions of Westerners who are annually fleeing their depressing lifestyles and selfishly over-imposing themselves on so many economically weaker and therefore more vulnerable parts of the world?

As Palestinians fight to overthrow Zionism, they need to understand Zionism as a form of racism, and as one of many global manifestations of settler-colonialism. Ending the occupation alone is not enough. Palestinians must aspire to create the first nation born in the 21st century that is truly founded on democracy, not demography.

In the name of national security and the war on terrorism, post-uprising Tunisia is witnessing increased securitization of public life; even a return to the Ben Ali days in some respects. The West is only too happy to help in reintegration of the North African nation into the global neoliberal system.

Pambazuka News 745: Celebrating the joys and costs of resistance

As China’s growth begins to slow following decades of fast development, what are the impacts on the resource-rich countries whose economies recorded impressive growth thanks to high levels of export to China?

Kenya is building huge infrastructural projects such as the Thika Highway and the Lamu Port. These have been accompanied by malpractice in construction, land grabs, displacements, environmental degradation with no or insufficient information to the public. The environmental impact assessments that should prevent such malpractices are ineffective.

Carter was an iconic black revolutionary from Los Angeles who made a notable contribution to Africa, Africans and oppressed humanity. We should remember him every October 12.

This November marks 40 years since Morocco invaded and colonized Western Sahara, today Africa’s last colony. Abba Malainin was only a child when he had to flee the war on foot through the desert to Algeria, to refugee camps where his family and thousands of other refugees still live today.

Despite happy noises made by the World Bank, status quo economists and other commentators, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world. A policy of growth-through-redistribution is certainly needed.

Tagged under: 745, Features, Governance, Patrick Bond

All well-meaning Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora must now rise up and join to return looted wealth that is stashed away abroad, and to fight grand corruption at home. It is time bring back decency in government and restore human dignity to the people.

The theme for this year’s World Teachers Day is “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies.” It is such a gratifying, highly motivating theme, demonstrating the seriousness with which the teaching profession needs to be taken. Without urgent attention to the state of this key profession in Africa – and globally – the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the just launched Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved.

Tagged under: 745, Features, Governance, Steve Sharra

A committed revolutionary from his youth, Risquet led the Cuban delegation in the talks that resulted in the withdrawal of the apartheid army from southern Angola and the liberation of neighboring Namibia under settler-colonial occupation for a century. His last visit to Africa was in 2012 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kwame Nkrumah’s death.

Although GMOs are widely grown in many parts of the world, the topic is fraught with contention in Europe. Many of EU countries have strict laws against GMOs out of public health and environmental concerns.

In May the ruling party claimed to have won an incredible 100 per cent of the seats in a country that has nearly 80 political parties that contested the elections. And the regime’s allies around the world keep churning out reports of rapid economic development – while turning a blind eye to the widespread repression by the dictatorship.

The report, drawing on a number of case studies, faults the criminal justice process at all stages: from lack of initial police follow up, inadequate investigation by prosecutors, to judges not enforcing proper procedure or sentencing in compliance with the law.

A lot has been achieved through the principled stand of the members of the shack-dwellers movement, with some of them paying the ultimate price for justice and freedom. Several other individuals and partner organisations have been an important part of the journey. The struggle continues.

When viewed in the overall historical context of the 300 years of free labour building Britain during the slavery and colonial period, the 400 million pounds UK is offering the Caribbean as presumably an alternative payment for reparations is simply laughable. There remains a case for reparatory justice.

The ANC has morphed from its earlier transition days as a ‘modern’ bourgeois political party designed to consolidate a class-based system of power overlaid with narrow racial interests to an inveterately factionalised, patronage-centred, corrupt, rent seeking and increasingly undemocratic ex-liberation movement.

South Africa’s shack dwellers movement was founded ten years ago by citizens frustrated by the ruling ANC’s failure to deliver the promises of democracy in the “new” nation. It has been a worthwhile struggle against a neo-liberal state that pays scant attention to needs of the majority poor Black people.

The ‘gurus’ of South Africa’s business education sector need to learn to be increasingly adaptable – making sense of uncertainty and managing complexity. The qualities of openness, empathy, integrity and self-awareness should replace harmful elitist posturing.

The October 2015 issue of the International Refugee Rights Initiative’s Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter (formerly the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter) is out. Find the full newsletter .

Israel has implemented a two-step plan to reduce the number “infiltrators” from Africa. The first step has been to stop the flow of asylum seekers into the country by constructing an expansive fence on the Egyptian border. Second, an old law has been updated to keep asylum seekers in detention without trial for a year. Additionally, refugees are being repatriated to third countries without consent.

Pambazuka News 744: Dreams of cures: SDGs, oil and ICTs

On 9 July, 2015, the Local Organizing Committee of the 8th Pan African Congress presented its final report to President John Mahama of Ghana. Zaya Yeebo presents his personal reflections of the 8th Congress held in Accra in March, 2015, observing that the Congress sought to revive the Movement, to reaffirm its anti-imperialist, anti-neo-colonialist nature and helped to define a path for the continued growth and regeneration of African economies and politics.

Kenya’s newly discovered oil is located in a part of the country marked by extreme poverty, high levels of illiteracy and insecurity primarily arising from years of neglect by successive governments. With the discovery of large water reserves as well, hopes in the region are high that life is set to improve for the people. But how can these dreams be realised?

The hugely unpopular failed coup in the land of Thomas Sankara represents a clash between retrogressive forces supporting the status quo and the popular struggles of determined citizens demanding an end to imperialist dominance of the country's public life by France and its allies. For more, watch Pambazuka's new video blog

Criticism of The Hague-based court as targeting African leaders at the behest of Western powers, and the relentless efforts by the Big Men to escape accountability for alleged crimes, seem to frustrate international justice. The ICC might appear to be weak but it still has the teeth to bite.

‘Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System’ is the must-read book for any person who cares about farmers and food. It is a book that must be read by all people who defend the rights of farmers and food sovereignty in Africa and around the globe.

September 25 marked the 4th anniversary of the death of Kenya's celebrated environmentalist and Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. A tribute.

Caribbean nations are calling on Britain to pay billions of pounds in reparations for slavery. Ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron's first official visit to Jamaica next Tuesday, Sir Hilary Beckles, chair of the Caricom Reparations Commission and vice-chancellor of the University of West Indies, has asked Cameron to start talks on making amends for slavery. Here's Sir Hilary's letter in full:

The ubiquitous ‘development goals’ chosen by the United Nations – first Millennium (MDGs) in 2000 and now Sustainable (SDGs) – were and are and will be a distraction from the real work of fighting poverty done by social justice activists, including Africans.

Tagged under: 744, Features, Governance, Patrick Bond

GRAIN's report shows how fertiliser companies have infiltrated the main policy processes on agriculture and climate to position chemical fertilisers as a solution to climate change and to weaken support for non-chemical farming.

Report concludes that there is considerable scope for the City to improve the management of informal trade, and that any restriction or prohibition on trade is likely to negatively affect the way that traders make a living as it undermines the benefits that traders derive from permanence.

Intimidated for exposing the dark secrets of an African regime out of control, Canadian journalist Judi Rever drew the line at having the life of her own children threatened.

To much of the outside world, the self-declared republic of Somaliland is a success story that, although lacking international recognition, contrasts sharply with the collapsed nation of Somalia. Not so. In the past five years, the government of President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo has been engaged in a sustained campaign of self-enrichment and aggrandizement as it suppressed dissent and debased political debate through the overt promotion of tribal politics. The people must now mobilise to restore Somaliland to its founding tenets.

The supposedly self-evident idea that the nation-state is the logical form of political organization for the destruction of colonialism and for the remaking of African lives is patently false. True African liberation will not occur within the colonial structures of power erected by – and inherited from - Empire.

Tired of a stale diet of propaganda churned out by state radio, many Ethiopians rely on foreign broadcasters to follow events in their own country. Now the BBC has announced plans to broadcast in Ethiopian languages. This is welcome. But Ethiopians must continue the struggle to have their own independent and vibrant media.

“I became depressed on behalf of my age group; for clearly, we have failed our offspring who are to inherit the earth after us. What sort of earth shall we leave behind for them? Will my great-great-great grand-children have any tilapia to eat?”

Twenty-one years after the genocide, and despite a rosy picture created internationally of a healing nation, many Rwandan refugees are reluctant to return home for fear of persecution by the current regime. After those living in Zambia lost their official refugees status, Kigali is pursuing forced repatriation or issuance of Rwandan passports. Neither of these options is safe for the affected persons.

E-learning offers a range of benefits to students and society as it is cheap and based on resources that are becoming more available on the African continent. Rather than solely relying on traditional education, Africa needs to leap forward and realize the potential of e-learning in creating innovators and curbing mass youth unemployment.

As colonial Britain unleashed terrible violence in Kenya, Canada strengthened the British military. It’s almost certain that some of the British pilots who dropped bombs on Mau Mau hideouts were trained in Canada. There were Canadian men on the ground in Kenya involved in the colonial violence. Should Canada apologise for its role?

Pambazuka News 743: False fixes: Burkina II, SDGs and the climate

The leader of the short-lived coup in Burkina Faso, Gen. Gilbert Diendere, is a close ally of former President Compaore who was overthrown by a popular uprising last October. Diendere is a Western stooge as well, with connections with France and the US, the two European powers that have over the years frustrated the Burkinabe people’s struggles for meaningful self-determination.

Despite Paris’s official condemnation of the failed coup in Burkina Faso, and a threat to impose sanctions if the coup leaders did not relinquish power, the incident once again brings to focus decades of French hegemony in ‘independent’ West Africa. Through political, security, economic and cultural ties, France maintains a tight stranglehold in Francophone Africa, both to serve its interests and maintain a last bastion of imperial prestige.

President Obama is disavowing his failed strategy to train “moderate” rebels to fight ISIS, claiming the Republicans made him do it. Under Washington’s plan for regime change in Syria, radical jihadists would be used as the ‘boots on the ground’ for the U.S. in Syria, as they were in Afghanistan. The West’s plans for ISIS and al Qaeda have gone awry, as have U.S. schemes to deploy “moderates” proxies of imperialism.

The much-hyped Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted by the UN summit starting this week in New York will not deliver the new economy that the world so desperately needs. Their creators want to reduce poverty and inequality without touching the wealth and power of the global 1%. They fail to understand a basic fact: Mass poverty is the product of extreme wealth accumulation and over-consumption by a few.

Tagged under: 743, Features, Governance, Jason Hickel

Is President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya plain dumb? It is nearly a month since all public schools shut down following a strike by teachers. National exams are supposed to start next week. Kenyatta’s handling of this crisis, like his performance in previous instances, raises serious questions about the abilities of the man who won a bitterly controversial election two-and-half years ago.

Somalia has seen renewed international interest this year, with visits from foreign leaders, international conferences on ending piracy and significant foreign investment. Bashir Goth links these developments to the global realization that the world economy suffers from Somali-based piracy, caused by neglect of the Horn of Africa nation during its 20 years of collapse.

Across all four countries analysed, the report finds that those who have been or are most affected are women from disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minority women, or those of lower socio-economic status.

Female Genital Mutilation leads not only to severe physical consequences but also psychological and emotional ones ranging from depression, to lack of self-esteem, isolation, solitude, marginalization, insecurity, memory loss and fear of sexual intercourse to post-traumatic stress disorder. A counseling psychologist working with girls in rural Kenya shares her experiences in this interview.

Isn’t it astounding that political and community leaders can announce plans to address violence in another province while ignoring far more deaths in their own backyard? What exactly is going on here? Could this be part of the rise of Zulu nationalism in South Africa?

Ethiopia's sweeping anti-terrorism law has been used to prosecute journalists and bloggers, opposition politicians, and peaceful protesters. Many have been accused without compelling evidence of association with banned opposition groups.

The pyramids of Egypt, erected thousands of years ago, were constructed with a precision that cannot yet be replicated with all the sophistication of today’s technology. Africans must refrain from looking east, west, north or south but inside, for the solutions they seek!

Prisons should not become a death sentence, but a platform where those who have been found to have offended are rehabilitated so they could later be integrated and play a meaningful role in our society.

It is not easy to know how much a president, or any politician, is worth in Africa. So it was a matter of great public interest when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, described by his image minders as ‘living an austere and Spartan lifestyle’, recently announced that he owns two inherited mud huts, some cows and a little money. But is that all?

Tagged under: 743, Chido Onumah, Features, Governance

On September 13, 2015, President Edgar Lungu announced that he had drawn battle lines with Post Newspapers editor-in-chief Fred M’membe and vowed to ‘take him on’ using his powers as Head of State. In most jurisdictions, including Zambia, what President Lungu issued against the journalist constitutes a criminal offence of threatening or uttering a death threat.

Swaziland has been an absolute monarchy for decades, but absolute monarch King Mswati III is being pressed by both the country’s democratic movement, the Commonwealth and the EU to discuss democratic reforms.

Europe has come face to face with the world it created, having actively participated in the military destruction of other nations. The fate of the refugees now fleeing their ruined nations is not unlike that of millions of black people in South Africa rendered hopeless by apartheid and its successor ANC regime.

Market-based conservation has gained a lot of traction over the years, and almost all forms of nature have been commodified. Packaged into sleek financialised terminology such as carbon credits, ecosystem services or species banking, the market has become a supposed panacea for conservation. Yet there is ample evidence that challenges this dominant logic.

Civil society organisations from around the world have insisted that climate change is the biggest and most urgent threat to the Planet. A radical transformation of food systems is needed, away from an industrial model and its false solutions, and toward food sovereignty, local food systems, and integral agrarian reform in order to achieve the full realization of the human right to adequate food and nutrition.

Tagged under: 743, Contributor, Features, Governance

Pambazuka News Team is pleased to announce to its readers and supporters the launch of a new video blog called #PunchBack.

#PunchBack provides comment and analysis of current affairs from a pan-Africanist perspective.

We invite our readers to watch #PunchBack, share the vlog, engage with the issues raised and share your views with us.

A new post of #PunchBack will appear every two weeks in the Comments & Analysis section of your newsletter.


Click on this link to the first post of .

Pambazuka News Team

Pambazuka News 742: #PunchBack: Resisting empire's war machine

Uganda is heading to presidential elections in March. The country seems to have hardly matured as its politicians are pre-occupied with their own interest and not that of the country and its people. Whether President Museveni retains power next year or the opposition unseats him, there is no hope that this state of affairs will change for the better.

Political succession remains a thorny issue especially in Africa, where presidents are reluctant to step down, and more so prevent the grooming of qualified successors. To understand why peaceful and democratic transition is often elusive in many countries, it is useful to explore the reasons underlying the reluctance of leaders to hand over power.

The World Trade Organisation, controlled by a new empire that still disfavors the Global South, broadens the gap between influential and developing nations. With a neocolonial system implicitly in place, if small and middle-sized countries do not 'follow the rules' as dictated by the Big and Powerful nations, then they are subjected to sanctions. Sanctions are acts of war.

Any Left-wing party that comes to power in Namibia, Zimbabwe or any peripheral country today would be in the exact same position as Syriza: It would lack the political and economic power to bring about radical changes. The reality of a global system policed by imperialism makes it impossible for poor countries to break with capitalism and to begin to build socialism.

South African politicians have promised better housing and the sinister-sounding “slum eradication” for years. Undocumented, unreliable and famously corrupt, these promises have failed to pull slum populations into legal, decent government-provided housing. The landless have no option but to occupy public land.

Pambazuka News Team is pleased to announce to its readers and supporters the launch of a new video blog called #PunchBack.

#PunchBack provides comment and analysis of current affairs from a pan-Africanist perspective.

We invite our readers to watch #PunchBack, share the vlog, engage with the issues raised and share your views with us.

A new post of #PunchBack will appear every two weeks in the Comments & Analysis section of your newsletter.


Click on this link to the first post of

Guyana’s new government has refused to allow the Commission a final two weeks to finalise the investigation for clearly political reasons. Guyanese and people around the world need and deserve a completed inquiry into this atrocity.

The September 2015 issue of the International Refugee Rights Initiative’s Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter (formerly the Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter) is out. Find the full newsletter .

Is humanity predisposed to violence? We’ve allowed ourselves to be deceived by not only the military industrial complex, which profits from war, but also by all the major pillars of society: government, schools, media, and even churches, which tell us that violence is human nature.

Explosions from Agip pipelines and resultant deaths have been recorded since 1995 and have escalated in the last three years.

A binding international treaty that imposes human rights obligations on businesses would be a monumental step towards protecting peaceful assembly and association rights.

Two months before the talks in Paris begin, people across the globe will gather to make connections, plan mobilisations and fight climate change together.

The mass abuse of female university students in Nigeria is fueled by the lack of a consistent and clear policy by university governing bodies and school authorities concerning sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape of female students.

As a spokesperson for the South African Police Serivce, Colonel Naicker is expected to disseminate factually accurate information. But he he has conspicuously failed to do in his comments about the Glebelands violence. How on earth does SAPS expect anyone to take anything he says seriously given the disinformation he has disseminated about an extremely serious and tragic situation?

The extraordinary and still amazing bravery of the European explorers, facing unknown seas and geography with just scarce scientific tools for orientation and survival has been celebrated. It is an extraordinary demonstration of human determination. That same bravery is displayed by today’s migrants to Europe.

Tagged under: 742, Carlos Lopes, Features, Resources

The numbers of unarmed Black youth murdered with impunity by state security agents in the US continue to rise. These killings demand a pan-African response. The African Union, which officially counts the Diaspora as its sixth region, ought to come out clearly and demand an end to these murders.

Jecinta Isei, aged 20, talks about the difficulties of refusing circumcision in her Maasai community, the implications of this harmful practice deeply rooted in various communities in Kenya and her fight to end it.

Large billboards at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport welcomed delegates with the beaming face of President Uhuru Kenyatta, the newly-elected Chairperson of the African Peer Review Mechanism Forum. Other costly marketing and logistical activities had already taken place. And then the Kenyan government announced it had cancelled the event.

The current situation involving massive deaths in the Mediterranean of those seeking refuge in Europe and the social restrictions and racist repression they are subjected to in the EU member-states warrants a response from the anti-war and social justice movements.

Pambazuka News 741: A deal with the Devil: Kiir, Kagame and Mandela

Sexual violence continues to increase in Somalia following the recent impeachment against the president, which caused political instability and a crackdown on IDPs around the capital city.

African civil society groups have expressed disappointed at the sudden, unexpected and unexplained cancellation of the Summit that was scheduled for Nairobi this week. They say Africa had high hopes and expectations that this Summit would have reinvigorated the APRM’s purpose, institutions and processes, and addressed the critical challenges facing APRM.

The power of ongoing peaceful student protests at Rhodes University is a reminder of the importance of rebuilding the African university by dismantling colonial legacies through acts of protest that provide an education counter to oppressive traditions.

President Salva Kiir eventually appended his signature on 26 August to the peace deal with his rival Riek Machar. The agreement is set to be debated and ratified by parliament. Will it bring an end to the complex crisis that has plagued Africa’s youngest nation for nearly two years?