Africa Media Review for August 4, 2022

Marines Will Finally Have Their First Black Four-Star General
The Marine Corps announced that Lt. Gen. Michael Langley has been confirmed to head U.S. Africa Command and will be promoted to the rank of general in a ceremony Saturday. Langley will be the first Black Marine to hold the rank in the 246-year history of the branch.Langley will take command of AFRICOM, based in Stuttgart, Germany, on Aug. 9, where he will oversee all American military forces stationed in Africa, according to a statement from the command. President Joe Biden nominated him for the job in June. According to the Marine Corps, Langley, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1985 as an artillery officer. He “has commanded Marines at every level from platoon to regiment, serving in Okinawa, Japan and Afghanistan,” the service said. With Langley’s promotion, the Marine Corps becomes one of the last branches to promote a Black service member to the highest rank in the military. The newly formed Space Force has not yet promoted a Black Guardian into a top-level position. Military

Ivorian Defence Minister Meets Families of Soldiers Held in Mali
Talks on bringing home 49 Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali are ongoing but any result “could take time”, a spokesman for Ivory Coast’s government said Wednesday. “Ivory Coast has favoured dialogue. Discussions are under way… Everything is being done so our soldiers can return to their families,” government spokesman Amadou Coulibaly said. But “it could take time,” he said. Ivory Coast says the soldiers were unfairly detained at Bamako’s airport on July 10, after being sent to provide backup for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA. They say their role within the mission was “well-known to the Malian authorities”. Mali’s military-led government however says they were detained after landing on a special flight without supporting documents and has described them as “mercenaries”. The peacekeeping mission has acknowledged there were “dysfunctions” in deploying the Ivorian troops. AfricaNews

The Challenges Ahead as Kenyans Prepare to Choose a President
Kenyans go to the polls on Tuesday, 9 August, to elect a new president. There are two main contenders: deputy president William Ruto, and veteran politican Raila Odinga. In Nairobi, RFI’s Kiswahili service political editor Victor Abuso offers his insights into the candidates and the issues…An economic powerhouse on the continent, Kenya was gravely hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, as many lost their jobs and businesses closed. Both candidates, Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, and Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza party, have promised to kick-start the economy with their own empowerment programs…Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has affirmed that there was an increase in registered voters from the last presidential election, but lack of younger voters surprised many, says RFI Kiswahili’s Abuso. Each candidate’s program bolsters the youth economically in order to regenerate the country, but the low numbers of registered voters between the ages of 18-35 indicate that young people have no faith in picking their president, particularly after recent economic hardships. RFI

A Wild-Card Candidate in Kenya Is Sparking an African Debate About Weed
When Wajackoyah, 62, took the microphone in Tala, a town outside Nairobi, he talked about fixing Kenya’s public corruption, the country’s economic woes and its overreliance on China. But the line that earned the most applause — the one at the heart of Wajackoyah’s campaign and which has turned the outlier candidate into a viral sensation — was the most simple. “Bhangi, bhangi, bhangi,” Wajackoyah shouted — using the Swahili word for marijuana. In the crowd, fists pumped and at least one puff of smoke trailed into the sky. Hundreds of people roared in reply, “Bhangi, bhangi, bhangi.” Kenya’s election on Tuesday will ultimately be a contest between two of the country’s most established politicians — former prime minister Raila Odinga and deputy president William Ruto — who recent polls show running neck-and-neck. Wajackoyah could, at most, earn enough votes to force Odinga and Ruto into a runoff, political experts say. Washington Post

The US Embassy in Kenya Is Cautioning Against Travel to One Presidential Candidate’s Hometown
The US embassy in Nairobi has issued a travel advisory cautioning citizens against traveling to the western lake-side city of Kisumu, the hometown of presidential aspirant Raila Odinga. Just a day after Meg Whitman, the 18th US ambassador to Kenya reported to office, the embassy is asking its staff to be on the look out, reiterating that Kenya has “periodically experienced some pre-electoral violence during election cycles,” and violent demonstrations requiring police intervention. The advisory has raised eyebrows across social media platforms in Kenya, with many citizens wondering why vigilance should only be observed in a particular city. Some are speculating that the government has sent heavy security to the riftvalley counties, the backyard of Odinga’s closest competitor William Ruto leaving Kisumu city unsecured. There’s worry that the embassy is creating unnecessary fear and tension in Kisumu which could lead to business inactivity till elections are over. But some also worry too that the Kisumu alert says something about who the US expects to win or lose the elections. Quartz Africa

China’s Role at the Heart of Kenya’s Election Campaign
The two men going head to head to become Kenya’s next president agree on one thing: China is at the heart of next week’s election. For deputy president William Ruto, it is the spread of Chinese nationals in cities, many of whom are trying to earn a living selling local street food dishes. And former prime minister Raila Odinga has made much of the high cost of the east African country’s borrowing from Beijing, which it is now struggling to service. Their focus highlights the central role China has occupied during the election campaign. Chinese workers are an increasingly common sight in cities and a large proportion of repayments for debts racked up over the past decade are owed to Chinese lenders. Total debt servicing eats up 3 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. China has embarked on a 20-year lending spree that has made Beijing Africa’s largest source of development finance and a big financier of legacy infrastructure projects in Kenya under current president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is standing down after serving two terms and is backing Odinga after falling out with Ruto. Financial Times

How US-China Brawl over Taiwan Could Hurt East Africa
Taiwan may be 10,000km from East Africa, but whatever happens there could still hurt you. This is why a brawl between China and the US over Washington’s dalliance with Taipei could bring the region new worries…An actual military clash between China and the US over Taiwan could plunge the eastern African region further into economic turmoil. Having struggled with Covid-19 lockdowns, and the attendant rising cost of basic commodities from the Russia-Ukraine war, another conflict could simply distract attention from Africa. And as China has vowed to restrict the movement of goods from Taiwan, it may mean that anything you buy on these shores that has semiconductor chips in them may be costlier. Taiwan is the largest producer of semiconductor chips in the world, critical items that are already in short supply. East African

Sudan: Khartoum Announces Support for China’s Claims over Taiwan
Sudan has announced its support for China’s claims Taiwan, an island roughly 100 miles from the coast of south east China. The is came a day after United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the breakaway province, defying a string of increasingly stark warnings and threats from China that have sent tensions between the world’s two superpowers soaring. “Khartoum supports the principle of one China, considering Taiwan as an inalienable part of it, and supports Beijing’s efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Sudanese Foreign Affairs ministry said in a statement extended to the Sudan Tribune on Wednesday. The foreign ministry pointed out that Sudan maintains distinguished political, economic and diplomatic relations with China, and the two countries exchange common benefits, in addition to support and assistance in regional and international forums. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Troika Welcomes Statements by Military, Opposition on a New Civilian-Led Govt
The Sudan Troika (Norway. UK, USA) has welcomed “the reaffirmation by a range of Sudanese civilian and military stakeholders, as set out in recent public statements, to a civilian-led government leading Sudan’s transition to democracy”. The three countries further urge a strong women representation in the new government. In a press statement yesterday, the Troika said that “Sudan is facing an economic, humanitarian and political crisis. Only a civilian-led transitional government, and a clear but realistic timetable for elections, can put the country on the road to recovery and allow a full resumption of international partnerships with Sudan. “Yet no government will be credible unless it is grounded in an inclusive political agreement. Wide consultations, recognition of lessons learned and strong female representation in both the dialogue process and the resulting government, will strengthen the legitimacy of an agreement. We urge Sudanese stakeholders to move quickly to achieve such an agreement, while avoiding artificial deadlines. “It is vital that upon agreement amongst civilian parties to form a transitional government, the military fulfils its stated commitment to withdraw from the political scene. The international community is clear that the military’s future role, pending elections, must be agreed in consultation with civilian groups in order to ensure a sustainable transition. Dabanga

Media on the Spot as Angola’s Vote Looms
The tone of the Angolan electoral campaign has risen again, with the Electoral Commission warning parties to avoid messages that can incite violence and division. The opposition has already criticized the electoral process, accusing the media of unfair and inequitable coverage. The issue of media freedom came up during a meeting between reporters and a senior ruling party official. Journalists sought assurances on ending media censorship. “Will the MPLA in the next five years let the media, fundamentally the public media, exercise journalism, at least with balance?,” asked José Kundy of Euronews. “We defend what is clearly stated in the document, we defend increasingly plural information, in which the principle of contradiction should always be present. And it should be this principle that should be followed by the media,” replied Manuel Nunes Júnior, the secretary of the Political Bureau of the MPLA Central Committee for Economic Policy.  The southern African country will hold general elections take place on August 24. AfricaNews

Monkeypox: When It Was an African Problem Nobody Cared, Say Experts
Before monkeypox announced its silent but far-reaching arrival in Europe and the US, nobody seemed to care, because it was confined to Africa where it is endemic, say experts. Global public health partners did not give it much attention to the point that it became one of the “neglected” tropical diseases. Some health experts said the potential of what was happening now was evident as recently as five years ago, as the disease left its endemic zone. “It turns out that monkeypox emerged out of its Central African endemic zone into West Africa in 2017, five years ago, and the outbreak has been ongoing for five years with no urgency, no response, no World Health Organisation (WHO) engagement around vaccines in those countries,” Professor Chris Beyrer from Johns Hopkins University said in his address at the International Aids Conference in Montreal, Canada on Saturday. News24

African Civil Society Organizations Are Being Locked Out of Conservation Funding
African conservation organizations are being shut out of global green finance, according to a new report by Maliasili and Synchronicity Earthtwo organizations working to increase social justice in conservation issues in Africa. Despite African grassroots conservation groups being key to protecting the continent’s rich biodiversity, the report found that Globally Indigenous Peoples and local community organizations receive less than 1% of all climate funding. African entities receive only 5% to 10% of private philanthropic funding invested in all of Africa. The report was published at the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) which took place last week in Kigali, Rwanda. The meeting brought together delegates to set out plans for protecting Africa’s nature in the face of threats from climate change, urbanization and population growth. Quartz Africa

 

 



Photo: Adam Jones