Lessons in the "Africa" Category

Cecil the Lion Killed by American Poacher

Recently, we heard the sad news that Cecil the lion had been killed by an American poacher in Zimbabwe. Dr Walter Palmer, a dentist and a father of two from Bloomington, Minnesota, USA, is now begging forgiveness. He said he didn’t know he was breaking Zimbabwe law by killing the defenceless African lion, or for that matter that Cecil had been coaxed away from the game reserve he lived on.

#BringBackOurGirls

Recently 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their school dormitory in Chibok in north eastern Nigeria. They were taken in the middle of the night by the Islamist military group Boko Haram.

The dreadful drama that took place on April 14th has caught the world’s attention. So far the Nigerian government has done little to rescue them.

Category: Nigeria / Boko Haram / Kidnapped girls

Sahara desert sun to power Europe

The Sahara desert in North Africa is vast. So is its desert sunshine. If that could be harvested the potential it offers as an energy producing region is huge.

The idea is now within reach of actually happening - using new technologies to capture the sun in the Sahara desert, converting it into energy and transmitting the power generated to Europe. A group in Germany called Desertec, who have heavyweight commercial backers such as Deutsche Bank and Siemens, have chosen Morocco to embark on a huge commercial venture to do just this.

Solar power will be created for Europe; creating clean energy and jobs. The ambitious programme is feasible. Desertec expects to see the first electricity flowing through undersea cables from Morocco in 2014. Its stated goal however is to power 100% of local needs in Morocco and 15% of European demand by 2050.

Category: Business / Solar Energy / Sahara Desert

Baby gorillas being trafficked endangers species

In recent months the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen a surge in the number of baby gorillas being trafficked The Guardian newspaper in Britain recently reported. This is posing a fresh risk to the endangered species wildlife officials have warned. The authorities in the country say they are powerless to combat the trade in which poachers demand up to US$40,000 (£25,350 or €29,150) an animal. In an undercover sting operation recently by the authorities the poachers demanded this price.

This has been a record year for the poachers who are trying to feed a growing black market demand for baby gorillas. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with about 790 remaining in the world - about 480 in the Virunga volcanoes conservation area (shared between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda) and just over 300 in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Eastern lowland gorillas are more numerous but are largely outside protected areas and are still in decline. The baby gorilla trafficking is in the rebel controlled areas of eastern DRC.

Category: Africa / Gorillas / Endangered Species

South Sudan adopts English as its official language

Africa’s newest country South Sudan has adopted English as its official language. Why? Because its new leaders believe English will make them “different and modern”.

After decades of civil war, the widespread learning of English will present some serious challenges for a country brought up learning a form of Arabic. It represents a major change after decades of Arabisation and Islamisation by their former rulers in Khartoum, Sudan. The predominantly Christian and African south by opting for English as its official language has taken a bold decision, as most of the country’s education system is very short of resources and most people are illiterate.

Edward Mokole at the Ministry of Education: “From now on all our laws, textbooks and official documents have to be written in that language. Schools, the police, retail and the media must all operate in English.”

Category: Africa / South Sudan / Learning English

Birth of a new country – South Sudan

South Sudan has been celebrating its creation as a new independent East African nation. The new country celebrated in Juba, its new capital, on Saturday 9th July 2011, raising its flag before tens of thousands of its cheering citizens. The country has finally managed to break free from Sudan following a bitter 50-year struggle involving civil war.

“The eyes of the world are now on us,” said South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who was inaugurated during a scorching midday ceremony. Kiir stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside there.

With the creation of the new territory, South Sudan will for the first time be linked with sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda and Kenya are already laying strong economic ties with their northern neighbour, an oil rich country that may one day ship its oil to a Kenyan port, instead of through the pipelines controlled by Khartoum, capital of Sudan.

Category: Economic / Geography / South Sudan

The domino effect: Tunisia, Egypt – Who is next?

It started in Tunisia when one young unemployed man set himself on fire in a stance against unemployment, price rises and poverty. Sidi Bouzid’s death created a revolution in the country that forced regime change. In fact, the sudden flight of President Ben Ali revealed how weak his dictatorship was.

Tunisia, known for its tourism, had been slammed by the UN for its state brutality of beatings and sleep deprivation. Interim control has now passed to Rachid Ghannouchi who returned from exile in London. The Tunisian revolution marked the start of a new era in the Arab world.

Category: North Africa / Arab countries / Regime Change

Is Africa a new Chinese colony?

Less than one hundred years ago Africa was still being colonised by the western imperial powers. Large parts had still yet to be discovered. The British Empire was nearing its peak with red covering many countries on the new map of the African continent. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium all had colonies there. Yet today where are they all?

Having kicked out their imperial western masters and gained their independence today’s African leaders have turned their backs on the west. Instead they have set their eyes firmly towards the east. China has emerged as the new Asian tiger – or should that be dragon. Hungry for raw materials, land and energy China has for a number of years now been quietly doing massive amounts of new business all over the African continent.

Thousands and thousands of Chinese have been relocated to Africa to organise and deliver many precious raw materials. China desperately needs them due to its own shortage of raw materials. Over the last decade a staggering 750,000 Chinese have resettled in Africa. Many more are coming. Africa is rapidly becoming a new Chinese colony or satellite state.

Zimbabwe ‘blood diamond’ trade talks collapse

Should Zimbabwe be allowed to resume diamond sales? That’s the question delegates from 70 countries at talks in Israel recently had to decide. The organisation that controls the international diamond trade failed to find an answer after allegations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s mines.

Members of the watchdog, known as ‘the Kimberley Process’, said discussions had been ‘clouded’ by the arrest and imprisonment of a human rights activist. Farai Maguwu had alleged that forced labour, rape, torture and harassment were being used to develop Zimbabwe’s new lucrative Marange diamond mines.

Zimbabwe’s ability to export Kimberley certified diamonds – ‘the Kimberley Process’ - was suspended after the army seized control of Marange, allegedly massacring up to 200 miners two years ago. The country has accused the west of trying to hold back its economic development.

The diamonds from the Marange field could see the country become one of the world’s top six exporters of diamonds and generate US$1.7bn a year. But human rights groups want Zimbabwe to remain banned from selling “blood diamonds” - those which are used to fuel a conflict.

Category: Zimbabwe / Blood Damonds / Kimberley Process

South Africa World Cup 2010 – The fever mounts

Football fans worldwide are gearing up for this year’s 2010 football World Cup, which is being held in South Africa. In what could be called ‘the greatest show on earth’ the best teams in the world are ready to compete in what will be the 19th Football World Cup.

The opening ceremony in Johannesburg on June 10th will include a concert featuring hot international acts including; the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys and Shakira. It will also feature appearances by popular African artists and appearances by past and present football legends. The concert takes place at the newly-renovated Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Jerome Valcke from FIFA said: “We are thrilled to have a concert of such magnitude and performing talent raise the curtain on the first FIFA World Cup in Africa.” ‘The beautiful game’, as it’s also known, will actually kick off in Johannesburg on Friday 11th June. Matches will be played across South Africa including Cape Town, Durban, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.

Category: South Africa / World Cup / Football