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February 18 2014

February 14 2014

“Another Face of Africa”: Call for Photos, Stories

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A group of young volunteers from southern Germany, many of whom have lived in Africa, are calling for photos, essays, videos, blog posts or poems by locals of five major African cities: Lagos, Addis Ababa, Gaborone, Kigali and Kinshasa.

With a forthcoming exhibition called “Sichtwechsel,” their goal is to show another face of Africa than what typically appears in German media — modern, urban, rapidly developing societies.

See their website at Missing-Images.com in English, French and German. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2014.

August 19 2013

Un rapport divulgue un plan d'expulsion des Bushmen du Botswana - Survival International

Un rapport divulgue un plan d’expulsion des #Bushmen du #Botswana - Survival International
http://www.survivalfrance.org/actu/9472

Survival International s’est procuré un rapport détaillant le projet de réinstallation forcée des Bushmen à l’ouest du Botswana par les autorités locales, en dépit d’une récente décision de la Haute Cour interdisant leur expulsion forcée et l’assurance du gouvernement central qu’aucune expulsion n’aurait lieu.

En juin dernier, les Bushmen de la communauté de Ranyane ont contesté avec succès devant la Haute Cour les tentatives du gouvernement de les expulser de leurs terres.

Mais ce nouveau rapport — intitulé ‘Ranyane relocalisation phase II’ — expose le projet du Conseil du district de Ghanzi de relocaliser les Bushmen de Ranyane le 12 août 2013, pour un coût de près de 900 000 dollars et d’expulser ‘ceux qui résistent à la relocalisation’.

Malgré la décision du tribunal, le Conseil a prévu d’affamer les Bushmen pour les faire partir de leurs terres en suspendant la fourniture de services tels que la distribution de rations alimentaires et de pensions ; en supprimant les services de santé ; en coupant leur approvisionnement en eau et en détruisant les installations sanitaires et les postes de santé.

July 17 2013

African Thinkers Blog Competition

Africa Brains announces African Thinkers blog competition with a chance to win $50:

It’s now time to announce the first topic which is “How did Technology influence your Education?”
Let us know about the technology available when you were at school or college? How have things changed since? Were you & your classmates more tech savvy than the teachers?

February 11 2013

10 Best African Food Blogs

MyWeku compiles a list of 10 best African food blogs for 2013: “There are seemingly a million food blogs out there, but only a handful showcase African food. Even so it has still been a struggle to pick 10 of our favourites for this year (2013).”

December 02 2012

Voting for the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa

An annual competition has been launched for the public to vote for the seven best natural wonders of Africa, with the voting currently underway. The competition is organized by global grassroots endeavor Seven Natural Wonders and at this point includes 12 sites from across the African continent.

Discover the shortlist and other suggested contenders which didn't make the cut this year.

The Okavango Delta, Botswana

Hippos bathing in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, the world's largest inland delta by John on Wikipedia CC-license-by

The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, created from the rains that fill the Okavango River. The Namibian government has plans to build a hydropower station which would regulate the Okavango's flow, but environmentalists fear that this project could destroy most of the fauna and flora in the Delta.

The Red Sea Reef, Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea

The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. Its Reef stretches over 1,240 miles along the coast of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea and contains more than 1,100 species of fish.

Anthia goldfish in the Red Sea from Wikimedia commons. Image in the public domain.

Anthia goldfish in the Red Sea from Wikimedia commons. Image in the public domain.

Mount Kenya, Kenya 

Mount Kenya wall

Mount Kenya wall by Radu vatcu CC license-BY-3.0

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. It was covered by an ice cap for thousands of years. The Mount Kenya ecosystem provides water directly for over two million people. The park receives over 16,000 visitors per year.

The Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Local people on the Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar. Image on Wikimedia commons, in public domain.

Local people on the Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar. Image on Wikimedia commons, in public domain.

The Avenue of the Baobabs is located between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, stand about 30 meters in height and this particular species is endemic to Madagascar. The site was present in the news recently because it was victim of a wild fire that burnt down newly planted trees around the giant trees.

 The Stone Forest of Bamaraha, Madagascar

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in Madagascar. Image on Wikipedia (CC-license-BY-3.0).

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in Madagascar. Image on Wikipedia (CC-license-BY-3.0).

Tsingy de Bemaraha is a nature reserve located near the western coast of Madagascar in the Melaky Region. This National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the main attraction is the stone forest that is composed of limestone needles originating from erosion patterns from groundwater and winds.

Zuma Rock, Nigeria

Zuma Rock near Abuja by Jeff Attaway on FlickR license (CC-BY-2.0).

Zuma Rock near Abuja by Jeff Attaway on FlickR license (CC-BY-2.0).

Zuma Rock is a 725 meter high monolith found in Nigeria on the road out of Abuja. Its nickname ‘Gateway to Abuja' is derived from this road.

The Peak of Furnace, Réunion Island

Eruption at the Peak, April 2007 on FlickR by zatiqs (CC license-BY-NC-SA).

Eruption at the Peak, April 2007 on FlickR by zatiqs (CC license-BY-NC-SA).

Le Piton de la Fournaise (The Peak of Furnace) is a shield volcano on the eastern side of Réunion island in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

The Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Aldabra Island, Seychelles on FlickR by Johny Shaw (CC-BY-2.0).

Aldabra Island, Seychelles on FlickR by Johny Shaw (CC-BY-2.0).

Aldabra is the world's second largest coral atoll and forms part of the Seychelles. Aldabra is almost entirely free of human interference and is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 

Kibo on Mt Kilimanjaro by Chris 73 (CC-NC-BY).

Kibo on Mt Kilimanjaro by Chris 73 (CC-NC-BY).

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world at 5,895 meters. The current shrinking and thinning of Kilimanjaro's ice field is similar to other glacier retreat in mid-to-low latitudes across the globe. At the current rate, Kilimanjaro is expected to become ice-free some time between 2022 and 2033.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

A young male lion at the hunt in Ngorongoro Crater by Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia (CC-BY-3.0).

A young male lion at the hunt in Ngorongoro Crater by Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia (CC-BY-3.0).

The Ngorongoro Crater is a large, unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera located in the west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25,000 animals within the crater.

The Serengeti Migration, Tanzania

Wildebeest crossing the river by Stefan Swanepoel in Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

Wildebeest crossing the river by Stefan Swanepoel in Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

The Serengeti migration is the longest and largest overland migration in the world. Each year, the great wildebeest migration begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti of Tanzania in January to March, when the calving season begins; some 750,000 zebra precede the migration of 1.2 million wildebeest.

The Sahara Desert

Camels in Guelta d'Archei, Ennedi, north-east Chad. Image on Wikipedia (CC-BY-2.0).

Camels in Guelta d'Archei, Ennedi, north-east Chad. Image on Wikipedia (CC-BY-2.0).

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world. The desert encompasses, at least in part, the countries of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, and Tunisia. The southern border of the Sahara is marked by a band of semi-arid savanna called the Sahel.

Bloggers' suggestions

A number of natural wonders were omitted from the shortlist, so a few bloggers have added their own suggestions via their blogs. A slight controversy was the fact that a few countries were featured several times while others were not mentioned at all, despite having worthy candidates.

The Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is already selected as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island. Image on wikimedia commons, released into public domain by Ian Restall.

Swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island. Image on wikimedia commons, released into public domain by Ian Restall.

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa 

The Blyde River Canyon is located in Mpumalanga and forms the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 16 miles (26 kilometers) in length and is on average around 2,500 feet (762 meters) deep. The Canyon consists mostly of red sandstone.

The Weeping Face of Nature located in Blyde River Canyon. Image by Ptosio on Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

The Weeping Face of Nature located in Blyde River Canyon. Image by Ptosio on Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

Feel free to add any sites that you feel were omitted in the selection process in the comments section below.

June 13 2012

Africa: Improving Governance and Accountability with New Media

Kwami Ahiabenu, II, is a team leader of International Institute for ICT Journalism, the co-ordination organisation for African Elections Project (AEP). With over nine years of experience in management, marketing, new media, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and development, Kwami was Executive Director of AITEC Ghana and a former board member of Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS).

He served as a key committee member for the organization of World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) African Regional Meeting 2005. He has undertaken several training sessions on new media across Africa. He is a Steve Biko and Foster Davies Fellow.

African Elections Project was established in 2008 with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant elections information and knowledge while undertaking monitoring of specific and important aspects of governance.

AEP has covered elections in Ghana, Cote d‟Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Togo, Niger and Liberia. African Elections Project uses social media tools and ICT platforms such as blogs, interactive maps, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook.

L. Abena Annan (LA): What is your affiliation with the African Elections Project?

Kwami Ahiabenu, II (KA): I am part of [the] founders, currently serving as a consultant to the project, providing management support and serving as the training director.

LA: How long have you been involved with the project?

KA: Since the birth of the project in year 2008. We started the project by launching the coverage of Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea elections. Ghana elections did take place in 2008 but Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea took place in subsequent years.

LA: How would you describe this project for the average person to understand? What do you intend to accomplish with it?

KA: It is an online, SMS, mobile service which provides authoritative elections information and knowledge specifically news, analysis, elections powered by ICTs and new media. The service is brought to our audience by a team of dedicated journalists supported by civil society actors and citizen journalists


LA: What countries have you worked in? Do you intend to go to other countries as your website states only 10?

KA: We have worked in 11 countries to date, namely Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi, Togo, Liberia and Niger working across English, French and Portuguese speaking countries. We currently cover each election happening on the continent on our homepage with Ghana elections 2012 being the current country we are covering. In addition to elections coverage, we have done some work in post-elections focusing on transparency and accountability issues and currently in partnership with Africatti we are monitoring health and education issues in two districts of Ghana under “Enabling Governance and Economic Transparency in Ghana using new media Project,” with plans to roll out to other African countries in the near future.

LA: How can people effectively use your website or information provided on it?

KA: Our audiences come to our website because of the high quality content which we generate and they consider it useful for themselves, so we can only improve our services by ensuring we constantly provide timely and relevant content to our audience base.

LA: Do you believe new technologies have improved democracy in Africa? Why?

KA: Democracy is a long journey, in this direction new technologies are assuming important roles in ensuring our people benefit from the fruits of democracy. That said, the journey is a long one; though we are recording some improvements we still have a long way to go to ensure that Africa as a whole nurtures its democracy.

LA: How empowering would you say technology has become to citizens of Africa?

KA: Technology can only play a role when the fundamentals are in place. If there is no true freedom of speech or free press, technology role becomes limited, though one may argue that technology can contribute to empowerment but it is important to stress the fact that technology plays a facilitating role and it works best when empowering environments are in place and protected to ensure technology’s role strive.

LA: What do you think the effect of technology on democracy will be 10 years from now?

KA: Technology roles cannot be discussed in isolation. Rapid growth of the tenets of democracy on the continent is a sure guarantee that technology impact on democracy is going to grow and become very important each passing day.

LA: What are your biggest challenges as an organization?

KA: We like to deploy cutting edge technologies in our coverage, but the high cost of ICT tools coupled by expensive bandwidth are always a challenge. Also user content generation is picking albeit slowly and our work will be made more interesting if the grandmother in the village can also contribute to our project.

LA: Any successes so far?

KA: The project has contributed significantly to building the capacity of journalists and citizen journalists in covering elections using new technologies, more importantly providing them with skills set they need to cover elections impartially thereby contributing to better elections which is a cornerstone of any democracy. One key achievement worthy of mention is the successful pilot of Ghana Post elections Project (”Because Accountability Counts”), where we contribute to the promotion of the culture of political accountability by providing a mechanism for citizens to match campaign promises and manifesto versus action and inaction of the ruling government.

The project incorporates citizen journalism mostly driven by mobile phones and has so far covered elections in 11 African countries namely Botswana, Cote d'lvoire, Ghana, Niger, Togo, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Liberia and Namibia. This is one of key result area.

The project has also contributed local content from an African prospective for the global market, thus, presenting the African story using African voices.

We have also contributed to the body of knowledge in African elections and democracy through our country specific countries and recently we contributed “A JOURNEY THROUGH 10 COUNTRIES - Online election coverage in Africa” article in the Journal of Journalism Practice.

At its innovation fair, “Moving beyond Conflict”, Cape Town, South Africa 2010, the World Bank ranked African Elections Projects as innovative in the area of improving governance and accountability through communication technologies.

Thumbnail image: An elderly lady being escorted by his son to vote. Photo courtesy of @liberiaelection.

April 30 2012

Botswana: Review: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Nana reviews The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, an interesting detective story set in Botswana: “It is unique, in that it brings both the old and the new together. It is not superfluous with its description of Africa as a tomb for the death and the dying and only inhabited by wild animals as is wont of most novels about Africa, even by Africans themselves.”

April 18 2012

Botswana: Love in the Shadows

Love in the Shadows is a new book by Lauri, a writer and blogger living in Botswana: “For the first time I'm trying my hand at a thriller/romance. Here's the blurb: Songbird Kedi Taukobong is living her dream. Enormously successful as an Afro-pop musician, she travels the continent performing to adoring crowds. However, fame comes at a price – a sinister stalker is watching her, intent on making her his. Kedi’s management team is determined to hire the best private investigator in the business, her ex, Sefhemo Phaladi.”

February 06 2012

Africa: Highs and Lows of the 2012 African Cup of Nations

Beyond their ethnic, political and regional divides, people unite together around their national football team. We saw the First Lady of Gabon dancing like an excited schoolgirl every time one of the eleven players of the ‘Azingo Nationale' scored a goal and became “the Panthers” for their country.

The people of Equatorial Guinea were ecstatic with the qualification of their national team, languishing in the midst of one of the most ferocious dictatorships. According to Human Rights Watch, journalists who have visited the country to report on the human rights situation have been detained, interrogated, censored and deported.

In the fervour surrounding the 2012 African Cup of Nations, there are two key points that attract attention. The first is the absence of some of the higher achieving teams in African football.

Michael Dodje's blog explains [fr] the unusual goings-on in this year's Cup of Nations:

Imagine a Euro competition without Germany, Spain, Holland and England. Impossible you say, even though Ukraine or Poland would not have to participate in the qualifying rounds as host nations. And yet, this is what happened in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Indeed, for the first time in ages we will not see Egypt, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria or even South Africa in this championship. How did this happen?

Remembering that the five teams mentioned above have won 15 out of 27 previous Cup of Nations tournaments. Nicholas Mc Anally on le229.com responded [fr]:

…If these teams do not qualify then there will be others to replace them. It's a breath of fresh air seeing teams like Botswana, Niger and Equatorial Guinea making their debuts in the Cup of Nations.

Another novelty in this year's Cup is the way that the thorny issue of bonuses has been resolved. A post on the blog plat du pied explained [fr] what happened on the 15 November, 2011:

After the cancellations of the matches against China, Gabon, Salvador and Mexico, Cameroon has again cancelled a friendly match at the last minute for the fifth time since the start of the season.  The players went on strike, once again, in protest against the federation over their bonuses for the match.

On the same blog, a statement issued by the Cameroon players, known as the ‘Indomitable Lions', said:

Due to the absence of attendance bonuses, the players have decided not to travel to Algiers and to not play any part in the match against Algeria scheduled for the 15 November.

Different solutions to the problem have been found by building on past negative experiences. A post [fr] on the blog marocfootball.info, concerning the Moroccan national team, the ‘Atlas Lions' stated that:

The President of the highest court in Moroccan football announced that a deal has been made with the Atlas Lions in that they accept that they will not receive any form of attendance bonus if they fail to reach the quarter finals of the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Côte d'Ivoire, not long out of a prolonged and disastrous civil war, will pay their national team the ‘Elephants' a bonus of 5 billion CFA francs (1 million US dollars) if they win the final. The blog afrik11.com states [fr]:

The 23 players in the side receive 5 million CFA francs (10,000 USD) in attendance bonuses. This amount will be paid if the team is eliminated in the first round. In the quarterfinals, the bonus of each player will rise to 8 million, rising further to 10 million in the semifinals and then to 20 million in the final (40,000 USD). The coach, Zahoui François will also enjoy his share of the pie, receiving double the bonuses of his players.

afrik11.com also comments [fr] on the bonuses paid to the Mali national team, the ‘Eagles of Mali' at the beginning of January:

Earlier this week the Malian football team received their bonuses for qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Two hundred million CFA francs (40,000 USD) were given in cash to the players and coaching staff before the national team left Lomé (Togo) for the final stage in their preparations for the competition.

The Equatorial Guinea team in training by @FlorianK_Sport

The Equatorial Guinea team in training by @FlorianK_Sport

Equatorial Guinea, co-hosts of the event, is a country unable to build a stadium capable of hosting a match due to the frequent rains. Yet abidjan.net posted a blog surrounding their first victory [fr] in the competition:

Teodorin Obiang, the Minister for Agriculture presented a cheque for 500 million CFA francs (760,000 euros) to Francisco Pascual Eyegue Obama Asué, the Minister for Sport, in the absence of the national team in Mbini (mainland Mali). He added a cheque for 20 million CFA francs (30,400 euros), 10 million that had been promised for each goal scored ; the team only won the match 1-0 but he explained that the goal disallowed by the referee deserved to be credited with a bonus.

This blog points out that the actions of Teodorin, tipped to succeed his father as president, are under scrutiny by the Americans.

The generosity of petrodollars being used for the bonuses for the Equatorial Guinea football team makes the Republic of Guinea look like a poor relation. In Conakry, the first problem was in trying to find the money to pay for the bonuses. As reported by lejourguinee.com, the country set up a National Committee for Support, led by General Mathurin Bangoura, Minister for Housing and Urban Development with the aim of raising funds for the bonuses. Notably, the first contributions came from the Indian community settled in the country.

The least well-spent money during the tournament, without doubt, has to be the bonuses awarded to the ‘Teranga Lions', the Senegalese national team, who had entered the competition as strong favourites and fell at the first hurdle. Yet, at the beginning of the competition the blog can.starafrica.com stated [fr] that:

There are some concerns surrounding the bonuses given to the Senegalese side.  On Wednesday the Sports Ministry gave the squad bonuses amounting to 140, 650,000 francs in full for their qualification for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Africa: 2012 Cup of Nations Delivers Many Surprises

Unlike Senegal, who failed to win their opening match in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana, another competition favourite, managed to win their opener, beating Botswana, who were participating in this tournament for the first time. This, the first match in Group D, took place on Tuesday 24 January in the Stade de Franceville, Gabon.

The Black Stars of Ghana finished the match with ten men following a red card for John Mensah in the 66th minute. They did all they could to win [fr], and were not phased, according to FourFourTwo, who tweeted:

#Ghana show no remorse over Mensah red bit.ly/xkpul2 #AFCON2012

Botswana fought bravely during their first ever appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations. A video summary of the Ghana-Botswana match is available here [fr], courtesy of Direct 8 Sport.

Mali met Guinea for the other opening day Group D game, which saw the Eagles off to a promising start in the tournament, beating Guinea 1-0. Boukary Konaté, a Global Voices author who tweets under the name @Fasokan [fr], posted reactions from the stadium in Macina, Mali:

@Fasokan: Grand bruit et applaudissement à Macina pour le but malien #can2012

@Fasokan: Loud noise and applause from Macina following Mali's goal.

and also [fr]:

@Fasokan: les supporters de Macina espèrent sur un deuxième but malien

@Fasokan: Fans from Macina are hoping for a second goal from Mali.

On Wednesday 25, the first match on Day 2 of Group A, Zambia versus Libya, resulted in the first nil-nil draw of the competition. Torrential rain caused kick-off to be delayed by an hour and a quarter with the match finally starting at 6.15pm, after some doubt as to whether it would go ahead.

Zambia were anxious to secure their place in the quarter finals against a Libyan team who seemed re-energised following their defeat on the opening Saturday of the tournament. The match was played on a waterlogged pitch, as can be seen in this photo posted by Alexandre Nakbi (@Alex_Nak), showing its condition moments before kick off [fr]:

@Alex_Nak: Voila l'état du terrain actuellement. #CAN2012 #Libye #Zambie pic.twitter.com/MSHrD1ae

@Alex_Nak: Here is the state of the pitch right now. #CAN2012 #Libye #Zambie pic.twitter.com/MSHrD1ae

Rain also delayed the Day 2 Group A match between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea. Tournament favourites Senegal were eliminated in a surprise 2-1 win for Equatorial Guinea, assuring a place for the latter in the quarter finals. The defeat of the Lions of Teranga greatly disappointed [fr] their fans:

@observateurs: Le Sénégal sort de la CAN. “On aurait dit des jeunes de centre de formation” #can2012 fb.me/10kgX5eNf

@observateurs: Senegal exit the Cup of Nations. “They looked like kids from a training camp” #can2012

@founseni_soro: Sénégal Grande nation de football, . mais aussi grande déception de la CAN2012. Allez les zelephants #civ2010

@founseni_soro: Senegal - a great footballing nation, but great disappointment in the 2012 Cup of Nations.

In Day 2 of Group B, Angola could not overcome Sudan, one of the weakest teams in the Cup, despite two goals from Manuchi on Thursday 26 January in Malabo Stadium, Equatorial Guinea. If they had won, Angola would have qualified for the quarter finals. The four goals from the match can be seen in the following video [fr]:

Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso met at Malabo later that day for the second match in Day 2 of Group B. The Elephants of Ivory Coast beat the Stallions 2-0, qualifying for the quarter finals while Burkina Faso were eliminated.

Fans of Ivory Coast watching the match against Sudan by @FlorianK_Sportflorian" width="480" />

Fans of Ivory Coast watching the match against Sudan by @FlorianK_Sport

Day 2 of Group C on the Friday saw Gabon beat Morocco 3-2 and Tunisia beat Nigeria 2-1, securing quarter final places for the Panthers of Gabon and the Eagles of Carthage.

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations can be followed on the BBC website and on Twitter using the hashtags #CAN2012 and #AFCON2012.

January 25 2012

Africa: 2012 Cup of Nations Kicks Off!

[All links to external content are in French]

The Africa Cup of Nations began in Bata, Equatorial Guinea this Saturday January 21, 2012, kicking off three weeks of fierce competition. The Cup of Nations, the most important international football competition in Africa, is taking place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea between January 21 and 12 February.

Supporters in Africa and around the world have been enjoying the build-up to the two opening matches; dancing, light and sound were all part of the spectacle:

GaGuie the Mascot! With GAGUIE : GA as in Gabon, GUI as in Guinea and E as in Equatorial! Image from fr.cafonline.com with permission

GaGuie the Mascot! With GAGUIE : GA as in Gabon, GUI as in Guinea and E as in Equatorial! Image from fr.cafonline.com with permission

Here is a round up of the first three days of the tournament.

Matchday One

Libya took on Equatorial Guinea in the curtain raiser on 21 January, and it was co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, making their tournament debut, who took a surprise 1-0 win.

With just six minutes remaining, Balboa, the Equatorial Guinea number 11 finally opened the scoring after a one-on-one with the Libyan goalkeeper. The score stayed 1-0 until the final whistle, to the delight of the Equatorial Guinea fans who had packed the stadium.

The Senegalese fluffed their entry to the competition with a 2-1 defeat inflicted by Zambia on the same day. Senegal fans took to the web to place the blame on coach of the national team.

Touy wrote on Seneweb News [fr]:

le souci avec un entraîneur local c'est que même s'il se rend compte que le capitaine par exemple Niang n'est pas au niveau il aura la crainte la peur ou la pudeur de le faire sortir au détriment de la victoire bien sur!!

The problem with having a local coach is that even if he realises that the captain, let's say Niang, is not good enough he'll either be afraid or too modest to take him off, to the detriment of getting the win of course!

Amara Traoré [fr] on RFI sheds some light on the subject for us:

Tout le monde savait avant même le début de la CAN que les zambiens sont très vifs et utiliseraient cette vivacité pour gérer les sénégalais beaucoup plus costauds. Alors lui l’entraîneur et son staff devraient trouver un bon système pour les contenir avant de les attaquer.Donc je trouve kil n'a pas fais son boulot qui était de voir les choses venir et de jouer avec des joueurs rapides mais surtout de ne pas trop bourrer cette attaque ou personne ne se retrouve .

Everyone knew, even before the Cup of Nations began, that the Zambians are very energetic and would use that energy to combat the much bigger and stronger Sengalese. So the coach and his staff should find a system to contain thembefore going on the attack. He hasn't done his job which is to anticipate and play fast players but above all not to throw men forward who then can't find each other.

Matchday Two

The second matchday saw the entry of one of the competition favourites: the ‘Elephants' of Côte d'Ivoire. A magnificent strike by Didier Drogba in the 39th minute secured the victory for Côte d'Ivoire over Sudan. The win for the Elephants wasn't enough for every Ivorian fan on the net however. Many felt that they could have done better.

Phox Hermann [fr] said:

la vérité est bonne à dire heinnn. ELEPHANT ke moi jai vu là c N'IMPORTE KOI

Good to tell the truth, riiight. That was no ELEPHANT that I saw

Bi Tia Vincent Toh [fr] added:

la conservation d'un unique but nous a donné des sueurs froides.
Que Mr Gervino soit un peu plus réaliste devant les buts,
Que Mr Yaya Touré regagne sa place au milieu et joue effectivement comme à city
Que la defense cesse d etre trop permeable,

keeping hold of a one goal lead brought us out in a cold sweat.
If only Mr Gervino [sic] was more realistic in front of goal,
If only Mr Yaya Touré could get his place back in the middle and play as well as he does at city
If only the defence stopped leaking,

Angola also played their first game and overpowered Burkina Faso with a 2-1 victory.

Matchday Three

Gabon, the second co-host team of the 2012 Cup of Nations showed their strength with a 2-0 win over Niger, the opening Group C match of the tournament played in a fantastic atmosphere in the Stade de l'Amitié in Libreville.

Rodrigue Magaya [fr] commented on Aubameyang's goal on Facebook:

que dire?!!!merci aux gars, il fallait ça pour la beauté du spetacle et naturelement monter a tt nos adversaires que nous sommes la!!bien en place et on a pas peur!!!vive la can, et vive encore plus nos pantheres;que Dieu benisse le gabon!!!!!!

what can I say?!!!thanks to the lads, we needed that for the beauty of the contest and naturally to show all our opponents that we're here!!right on the spot and with no fear!!long live the cup of nations, and may our panthers live even longer;God bless Gabon!!!!!!

The 2012 Cup of Nations can be followed on TV5 MondeCanal+ Afrique and on Twitter and Google+ via the hashtags #CAN2012 (in French) et #ACN2012 (in English).

October 28 2011

Open Access Africa: Spreading Knowledge, Increasing Collaboration

In August 2011, the Malaria Journal published a 12-author study called, “Strict adherence to malaria rapid test results might lead to a neglect of other dangerous diseases: a cost benefit analysis from Burkina Faso.”

Just a few months earlier in May, the journal Health & Place published, “Malaria, environmental change, and a historical epidemiology of childhood ‘cold fevers’: Popular interpretations from southwestern Burkina Faso.”

Two similar topics, published just months apart. But they come with a big difference. The first article was published in an Open Access Journal, free and available to anyone willing to click on it and read it. The second article hails from a scientific journal published by a large conglomerate. Unless you have institutional access, which costs hundreds of dollars, you most likely must pay the publisher $31 (€22) to read the piece.

Disseminating ideas

The internet opened up new methods to disseminate information and, for users, to access it. It also reduced distribution costs. But if research about diseases like Malaria continues to remain behind pay walls, Open Access proponents ask, what good is it? All over Africa, financial models from the world of print keep scientists, students and policy makers separated from new ideas and research.

David Apinga, a blogger from Ghana points out:

Currently, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the least developed region of the world in the area of research. This is partly attributed to inability of research centres in developing countries to pay for the high cost of online journal access as well as subscriptions to print versions.

Open Access scholarship also offers scientists and researchers a chance for greater collaboration. From the Open Access Central blog:

Open access offers many opportunities for scientists in the developing world – not only improved access to international scientific literature, but also the opportunity to develop (or re-develop) their own national and regional journals. Such journals have a pivotal role to play in creating the environment and infrastructure needed for research to flourish.

Open Access WeekOpen Access Week (in Africa)

Information professionals, scholars and publishers around the world are currently celebrating the fifth annual Open Access Week. Events across Africa are taking place to help solidify those gains across the continent.

The group Duraspace.org – makers of two Open Source repositorieshighlight a few Open Access programs from around Africa:

Benefits for Africa

In this video by Leslie Chan, Dr. Paul Nampala, Science Editor of African Crop Science Journal (ACSJ), argues that greater open access will actually increase journal readership, even if it does decrease the overall number of paid subscriptions.

Charles J. Greenberg, a Medical Librarian at Yale University in the United States, blogs at OpenBioMed.Info. He recently interviewed Raoul Kamadjeu, a physician and co-founder of the Pan African Medical Journal.

Greenberg: You are a founding editor of the Pan African Medical Journal (PAMJ). To promote the online publication of original studies from the African medical and public health communities, PAMJ will not charge article-processing fee for any accepted article submitted from African researchers or institutions or from any researcher and institution around the world. How can you afford to support this generous business model?

Kamadjeu: Yes, we do not currently charge authors fees. Our 2011 author’s survey (http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/pamjnews/NewsArticle.php?NewsId=news4dffa0d8f2713) showed this as one of the main reasons why authors submit to us. We are able to afford this business model because we currently benefit from the generous support of the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) with which we have a memorandum of understanding; but we are not naïve, reaching financial independence is key if we want to sustain our current growth and remain a journal of continental scope. Your question brings the wider issue of the financial viability of African journals? They rely heavily on support from donors, some journals charge authors fees; it will be interesting to know how these models work for them. We are looking into traditional and innovative ideas to reach financial sustainability; article processing fees is part of the plan in the medium term; however, establishing a reputable journal remains our main priority; this will help ensure financial sustainability. I just want to add that support to African journals is important if we want to ensure that some level of medical publishing survives on the continent, particularly nowadays, with the explosion of medical journal franchises.

Botswana: Government Decides Not to Recognise Recognise Bakgatla Paramount

Lauri comments on the decision by the government of Botswana not to recognise the paramount chief of the Bakgtla: “I wrote before about the controversy around Kgosi Kgafela but since then things have grown quite tense between the Bakgatla chief and the Khama administration. Kgafela was brought before the court for “unlawful flogging” and the case is on going…This move by the government seems rash in a country based on consultation. We wait and see what the response will be.”

October 11 2011

Botswana: I Miss Fatalism

Lauri explains why she misses fatalism: “In Botswana, people accept that life sometimes goes wrong. Problems happen. Sometimes things don’t work. Sometimes the outcome you expect is not the one that you’ll get. It’s just the way it is. There’s something very comforting about that.”

September 05 2011

Swaziland: King Mswati Must Go

Richard Rooney posts a press release from the Botswana National Front in support of progressive forces in Swaziland: “The Botswana National Front (BNF) joins the rest of the progressive forces who are currently in solidarity with the people of Swaziland during the Global Week of Action against Swaziland (5th-11th September) led by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.”

July 25 2011

Botswana: Ocean in the Desert

Read about Kelly's experiences of ocean in the desert in Botswana: “The Makgadikadi Pans are the largest salt pans in the world, located in the Kalahari Desert near the centre of Botswana. For Seretse Khama Day, I ventured out to the Pans for my first time and headed to Kubu (Hippo) Island which had a reputation for being a magical place.”

June 26 2011

Botswana: Photo: So Where Do You Want to Stay?

MyWeku's image of the week is a picture taken on the road from South Africa to Gaborone, Botswana via Oddly Specific. It is titled, “So…where do you want to stay?”

June 14 2011

India Close Behind China in the African Continent

In May, the second India and Africa Summit was held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This Summit should lead to the adoption of two documents: the Declaration of Addis Ababa and the Cooperation Plan between India and Africa (which can be found on the official website of the African Union [all links in French unless otherwise indicated].

The Summit has inspired comments from Francophone African bloggers on the competing influences of China and India in Africa. It has also inspired TheLeadersOfTheWorld to post this short satirical video on YouTube:

Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Image by Agência Brasil, Creative Commons (2.5 Brazil).

Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Image by Agência Brasil, Creative Commons (2.5 Brazil).

Blog journaldutchad.com gave the key statistics of the Summit:

India will therefore break its piggybank and cash meters are already going crazy  with a list of loans totalling 2400 billion CFA francs (5 billion USD) for the African continent over the next three years. Moreover, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who shares the same vision for the continent, intends to grant a subsidy of 336 billion CFA francs (700 million USD) in grants to Africa.’

Patrice Garner on afrique7.com gives further details on the new projects:

Acts speaking louder than words, and in line with this new partnership, an Institute of information technology will be built in Ghana, another Institute for educational planning in Burundi, an Institute of foreign trade in Uganda and a diamond institute in Botswana.

Indian investments are already visible in the daily life of Africans, reminds Assanatou Baldé on Afrik.com:

One of the most important investor  is the Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, which has disbursed $ 10 billion to access the mobile telephony industry in 15 African countries. Indian car maker Tata trades  in 11 countries on the continent and has the monopoly of public transportation in Uganda and in the district of  Thiès, in Senegal.

 

A Tata minvan in Africa. Image by Robin Elaine on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

A Tata minvan in Africa. Image by Robin Elaine on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

A debate has opened on the platform Flamme d'Afrique, les autres voix de l’Afrique (Flame of Africa, other African voices) opened by the Panos Institute website, where Ousseini Issa compares the Chinese and Indian approaches in Africa:

The way Delhi manages trade and cooperation with Africa differs from the Chinese way, with a swoop on mainly private local companies, but bought with subsidies from the Indian state, via a merger and acquisition strategy, whereas China favors direct trade with governments. But India also has this feature:  that it tries to develop approaches inclusive of the regional economic institutions such as ECOWAS and SADC. […] the issue is, for many, the prospect of the continent building different relationships from those marking its exploitation for centuries, under  the north-south axis.

Commenter NIBIZI hopes this partnership will herald a new era:

With this new partnership, African leaders should learn a lesson and break away from  the corrupt ways that have plagued the continent. The culture of human rights must come first,  if we want to make the most of the dividends, which will put an end to wars, and the internal power struggles which have prevented Africa from making a good start.

karl is more pragmatic, both confident and worried, wary of a possible ” land grab” [en]:

This summit should be an opportunity for Africa to negotiate ways to collaborate to solve the critical energy issue. But it should also put an end to the lease and sale of African land, while farmers are struggling to access them to help achieve food self-sufficiency and to satisfy their right to housing

On the Radio France International website, an article on the Addis Abeba Summit has also generated comments from readers. They are much more vocal in rejecting “L'indépendance sous haute surveillance” (Independence under strict surveillance, lyrics from a song by African singer Alpha Blondy), which is to say, the post-colonial cooperation model imposed by France.

Kamerun:

With India and China arriving on the African continent, we are very proud, because it will help us shoe away the imperialist thieves who have been looting the continent since 1960. […]

Anonymous:

[…] I don't see (President of Ivory Coast) Ouattara grant juicy markets to Indians or Chineses and deprive France of them any time soon. Unless he does not wish to stay long in power.

Ma belle Afrique:
The Indian cooperation approach with Africa est more altruit that the one privileged by France under Mr. Sarkozy. From now on, Africans must turn their back to countries which impose governance at gun point.
RéaPar:

These forms of cooperation, where Africa's natural resources are coveted by many (Europe and the BRIC countries) cannot be a sustainable solution for the development of this continent. Cooperation must be built around a long term vision that will allow African to  sell some day Tata cars to India, China or France (ok, I'm caricature there). This involves training young people, democracy, and long term ambitious economic policies the outstretched hand (begging) of this continent.

The Addis Ababa summit was also an opportunity for a percussionists band from Rufisque, a city southeast of Dakar, to bring a touch of West African culture in Ethiopia. On rufisquenews.com, Cherif FAYE announced they had been invited to perfom in Ethiopia by the Embassy of India in Senegal:

The “Kër Gi” band from Bargny [should] perform a concert called “Guur Nduuy” which means “léboue tradition”. The “Guur Nduuy” show trace some aspects of the rich immaterial heritage of the léboue community.

March 14 2011

Botswana: Maun International Poetry Festival 2011

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

Maun International Poetry Festival 2011 in Botswana is just around the corner: “Performance poetry is taking Botswana by storm and if you are a fan like I am then on the 26th of March all your roads will lead you to Maun for the inaugural Maun International Poetry Festival 2011.”

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