Africa Media Review for August 8, 2019

The Broadcast on ‘Truth’ That Is Transfixing the Nation of Gambia
Abdoulie Nyang has a small black radio in his palm. He’s sitting in front of his neighbor’s clothing shop and listening to the hearings of the Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. The mandate of the commission is to investigate crimes and human rights abuses allegedly committed under the regime of former president Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a coup d’etat in 1994. Jammeh flew into exile in Equatorial Guinea in 2017 – taking millions of dollars and a personalized Rolls Royce with him from the low-income country. He left a horrifying legacy in his wake. Gambia is a long narrow West African nation of two million people that’s protrudes into Senegal. Across the capital, Banjul, it’s very easy to tell when the Truth Commission is in session. Everywhere you look people are clustered around televisions. A woman in a betting shop listens on her cellphone. Cab drivers have the hearings blaring from the radios in their beat-up Mercedes taxis. NPR

Boko Haram Tried to Stop Nigeria from Eliminating Polio. They Failed.
Nigeria is on the verge of eliminating polio, but Boko Haram is standing in the way. … But public health officials are pushing back, teaming up with the military and volunteers who have put their lives on the line to get vaccines to everyone. … “Now, health care workers are accompanied by the military and vigilantes to keep them and the vaccines they carry safe,” Nwosu said. “We also use satellite imagery to see where these hard-to-reach communities are located so we know exactly where to go.” The vigilantes, also called community informants, sometimes go where health care workers cannot, because of threats of violence. They are young men who have been trained by the military on how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations as well as how to properly administer vaccines. Armed with this knowledge, they go family to family in remote camps, dispelling anti-vaccine myths for parents and providing vaccines to the children. Their vaccination efforts have been invaluable in helping to achieve Nigeria’s 30-year goal of eliminating polio, said Pernille Ironside, UNICEF’s deputy representative for Nigeria. NBC News

Nigerian Army Speaks on Killing of Three Police Officers by Soldiers
The Nigerian Army late Wednesday said the police officers who were fired at in Taraba State on Tuesday were mistaken for kidnappers by soldiers. Three police and one civilian fatalities were recorded after soldiers opened fire on a police team along Ibi-Wukari Road. More police officers who took part in the operation were also injured. The police announced on Wednesday evening that soldiers killed an inspector and two sergeants as a police team was taking a high-profile kidnap suspect from a remote community in Taraba State to Jalingo, the state capital. The police also said many officers were injured and the suspect was freed by soldiers. The Nigerian Army blamed a communication gap for the attack, which the police described as ‘bizarre.’ Premium Times

Call for Probe into 11 Missing after Sudan Sit-In Crackdown
Legal proceedings have been filed in Sudan to open investigations into 11 people who went missing during the deadly June repression of a protest, lawyers said Wednesday. According to doctors close to the protest movement that led to long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir’s ouster, at least 127 people were killed on June 3 in a crackdown on a sit-in in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. “The number of people missing from the sit-in that is documented and for which legal proceedings were launched stands at 11,” lawyer Shawki Yacoub told AFP. He was speaking at a press conference organised by the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that has played a key role in the protest movement. Yacoub said many more people could be missing as a result of the bloody crackdown outside Khartoum’s army headquarters, but that other cases would need to be further documented. AFP

Report: Large Parts of University of Khartoum Destroyed on June 3
The National Initiative for Documentation of the University of Khartoum Massacre reported that more than 38 departments of the university were plundered and destroyed by regular forces during the violent dismantling of the sit-in in front of the army command in Khartoum on June 3. At a press conference on Tuesday, members of the Initiative presented its report about the losses sustained by the university, which lies in the vicinity of the Ministry of Defence, on June 3. In the early hours of this day, paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked protesters at a sit-in in the centre of Khartoum calling for transition to civilian rule in Sudan following the ousting of Omar Al Bashir. According to the report, RSF militiamen stationed in front of the university chased those who sought refuge on the campus. Dr Amani Abulmaali said that a number of protesters were killed inside the campus. … All equipment of the universities’ health service centre was stolen before the building was torched and burned to ashes. Offices of lecturers were plundered and destroyed. Some offices were opened by shooting at locks on the doors. Offices of certain lecturers were targeted in order to gather information from their computers. Radio Dabanga

Sudan Protest Organisers Decline Government Posts
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded nationwide protests that led to the military’s overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir in April, has said it will not join a transitional government. Over the weekend, the ruling military council and main opposition coalition signed a declaration to pave the way for a governing body of six civilians and five generals to oversee a three-year transition period in Sudan. But the SPA, which is a member of the coalition, says it will be part of the transitional parliament “as an independent oversight authority”. A final power-sharing deal is to be signed on 17 August with the transition period to start the next day. BBC

DR Congo PM Launches Talks on Forming Government
DR Congo Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba on Wednesday began formal talks on forming a government, more than 11 weeks after his appointment, his office said. The task of forming a cabinet in the vast country has been hampered by the outcome of a disputed vote on December 30. The presidential elections were won by opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi-but he is having to share power with a legislature dominated by supporters of his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, who ruled for 18 years. The prime minister’s office said Ilunga had launched “formal consultations” with the pro-Tshisekedi coalition Course for Change, known by its French acronym as Cach, and Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC). Ilunga gave delegates a document spelling out criteria for people who would be considered for ministerial jobs. AFP

Eritrea President Receives Commander of Saudi War in Yemen
Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki earlier this week (August 6) met with the commander of Saudi Arabia’s military offensive in Yemen, Lt. General Prince Fahad bin Turki Abdulaziz. Eritrea’s Minister of Information said the two held talks as part of deepening bilateral relations between the two countries especially in the area of regional security. A statement on the ministry’s website said: “The meeting that was held at the State Palace was focused on the development of bilateral relations between Eritrea and Saudi Arabia as well as security of the Red Sea region. … Relations between the two countries have been strong in the past years, more so after the Ethiopia – Eritrea peace deal. Afwerki and his Ethiopian counterpart were awarded by King Salman for their respective role in the July 2018 deal. … Saudi Arabia is seeking an alliance with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping and increasingly an arena of contention with regional rivals like Iran, Turkey and Qatar. Reuters

EU Pledges $56M Funding to Tackle Drought in the Horn of Africa
The European Commission is mobilising €50 million ($56 million) in emergency humanitarian funding to support drought-hit communities in the Horn of Africa. On Wednesday, EU’s decision-implementing body-the European Commission-said it was raising the funds to help the communities buy food and other essential needs. “Our funding will help extend humanitarian assistance in the affected areas, helping communities ward off the risk of famine,” Christos Stylianides, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said in a statement. Somalia, the worst of the crisis, will receive $28 million, followed by Ethiopia at $22 million. Kenya and Uganda-both hosting refugees from neighbouring countries-will receive $3.3 million and $2.2 million respectively. … About 13 million people require urgent food assistance according to the UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The East African

Somalia: Female Suicide Bomber Shot Dead in Baardere Town of Gedo Region
Reports from Baardere town of Gedo region indicate that government security forces have today shot dead to a woman who was attempting to blow herself up at the district police station. … Last month, a female suicide bomber blew herself up inside the mayor’s office during a security meeting killing district commissioners, directors and injured the Mogadishu Mayor who later passed away for the serious injuries from the attack. Goobjoog News

West African Slavery Lives On, 400 Years after Transatlantic Trade Began
Blessing was only six years old when her mother arranged for her to become an unpaid housemaid for a family in the Nigerian city of Abuja, on the promise they would put her through school. In her home town in southwest Nigeria, her mother had trouble making enough money to feed her three children. But when Blessing arrived in Abuja, instead of going to school, the family worked her round-the-clock, beat her with an electrical wire if she forgot one of her chores and fed her rotten leftovers. When her mother later moved to the city to be closer to her daughter, Blessing was unable to be alone with her when she came to visit. “They would tell me that my mother was coming, that I should not tell her what was happening to me, that I should not even say anything,” she says of the family. … As the world marks 400 years since the first recorded African slaves arrived in North America, slavery remains a modern-day scourge. Over 40 million people are estimated to be trapped in forced labour, forced marriages or other forms of sexual exploitation, according to the United Nations. Reuters

Cameroon’s Mbororos Abandoning Cattle Ranches
More than a thousand Mbororos, indigenous people in Cameroon, have fled their cattle ranches following repeated attacks and seizure of their herds by separatist forces in the central African nation. The Mbororos say they are being targeted because they refuse to join or assist the fighters. Forty-five-year-old Mbororo rancher Laye Shaidou visited the Mbororo community in the town of Bamenda on Tuesday to ask for help. He said separatist fighters seized more than 160 of his cows and 50 from his brother after they refused to pay $1,000 to help the fighters in their war to create an English-speaking state called Ambazonia. … On social media, the separatists have denied their fighters are responsible for the attacks. They say the real perpetrators may be cattle thieves or soldiers who disguised themselves as separatist fighters. Deben Tchoffo, governor of Cameroon’s North West region, told VOA the government will take measures to secure the Mbororo villages and supply them with basic needs so they can resume their normal lives. VOA

Uganda: Betty Bigombe: The Woman Who Befriended a Warlord
When Betty Bigombe was growing up in northern Uganda in the late 1950s, she walked four miles a day to go to school. She knew getting an education was the only way she could change her life and make a contribution to her community. Thirty years later her “contribution” would be to carry the fate of her region on her shoulders as she attempted to negotiate peace with Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. … Eventually Kony agreed to meet. She feared he would have her tortured and resolved to kill herself rather than be captured by him. Deep in the jungle they met for the first time. … Eventually he agreed to come out of the jungle for peace talks with President Museveni. Bigombe went to the president and told him they needed to establish the conditions for the peace talks. Instead Museveni went to a public rally and threatened Kony – telling him to come out immediately or face the wrath of government troops. Kony and his forces responded by massacring 300 people in a trading centre on the border with Sudan. Bigombe resigned and left for the US. BBC

Dangerous, Complex, Vast: UK Troops’ Challenges in Mali
Two hundred and fifty highly trained British ground troops scheduled to be deployed in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2020 may not yet know exactly where they are heading or what precisely they will be doing, but they do know it will be risky. Mali is the most dangerous country in the world for UN peacekeepers: so far 123 have died and 358 have been severely wounded in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations. It is much more dangerous for Malian citizens, who are facing a deepening humanitarian crisis. “Violence and insecurity have escalated to unprecedented levels” in parts of Mali and nearby countries, the UN said in May. The British deployment comes at the request of the UN mission in the west African country, known as Operation Minusma. According to UK sources, the request was based on the assertion that the British army was uniquely positioned to offer much-needed intelligence capabilities. The Guardian

Zimbabwe: Top Chinese Bank Places Zimbabwe on Sanctions List
A Chinese government owned financial institution, China Everbright Bank, one of its largest investment arms across Europe and Africa, has placed Zimbabwe on a list of countries it will not be dealing with. In a communique, a copy of which is in NewZimbabwe.com’s possession, China Everbright Bank indicates that Zimbabwe will not be able to conduct business on any of its platforms even through counter party countries on its behalf. … Along with Zimbabwe, 10 other African countries are on the blacklist and these include Sudan, South Sudan, DRC, Burundi, Liberia, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Libya, Somalia and Ivory Coast. The list also has countries like war-torn Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Venezuela and Serbia. New Zimbabwe

Africa’s Fastest-Growing Cities
Africa’s cities are experiencing a population boom. Some of them are growing at unheard of rates. Take a look at the ten fastest-growing cities in Africa and find out why they are expanding so quickly. … 1. Luanda, Angola: No African metropolis is growing faster than Angola’s capital, Luanda. According to United Nations data, more than 7.7 million people live there. The average age of Luandans is 20.6 years. The capital is one of the most expensive cities in the world. But only Angola’s elites have benefitted from the country’s large oil reserves. Angola is marked by deep social inequality. DW



Photo: Adam Jones