Africa Media Review for December 28, 2022

Terrorists Kill 15 Residents, Wound Several Others in Zamfara, Sokoto Attacks
At least 15 people have been killed while several wounded others are receiving medical attention after terrorists invaded communities in Zamfara and Sokoto States Monday evening, residents have said. The attacked communities were Ruwan Bore in Zamfara and Gatawa, Dangari and Kurawa in Sokoto State. In Sokoto, a resident Nura Mamman, told Premium Times over the phone that the attackers invaded Dangari few minutes after 2 p.m. “I was in my house when I heard screams of women and children. By then, the bandits were trying to enter the community but a team of Soldiers and police men with vigilante members was putting them off. You know how they normally come to attack, they divide themselves into two or more groups and they were many this time around. The security agents couldn’t contain them because of their weapons,” Mr Mamman, a graduate of Sokoto State University, said. … Basharu Guyawa, … who is the Chairman of Rundunar Adalci, a human rights group in Sokoto State, said terrorist attacks have become “normal.” Premium Times

Ethnic Fighting Kills 56 in South Sudan, Official Says
Clashes have killed 56 people during four days of fighting in South Sudan’s eastern Jonglei state, after youth from the Nuer community attacked another ethnic group, a local official said on Tuesday, with the Nuer making up most of the casualties. The territory of South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, has been plagued by blood feuds and clashes over cattle and land for decades. Armed Nuer youth began attacking the Murle community on Dec. 24 in Gumuruk County and Likuangole County, said Abraham Kelang, a government official in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area. “The government is managing to help the communities, but the fighting is still ongoing,” Kelang told Reuters by telephone. He said 51 of those killed were Nuer attackers, with only five Murle defenders killed. Last week, the United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) said armed Nuer youth were being mobilised ahead of a potential raid against the Murle. UNMISS said it was monitoring the escalation of tensions and violence, and had intensified patrols in and around affected areas. Reuters

Jihadi Violence Hits Benin, Shows Spread across West Africa
It’s been more than a year since jihadis first stormed Igor Kassah’s town in northern Benin but the priest still lives in fear. His once peaceful life is now marked by threatening phone calls and Islamic extremist diatribes tacked on church doors demanding that people leave. He is haunted by the bodies he has seen of those killed in the attacks. “We no longer have a normal life,” the 41-year-old said through text messages to The Associated Press. “It’s hard to talk and act confidently because you don’t know who’s in front of you anymore.” Violence by extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has wracked much of West Africa’s inland Sahel region for more than seven years. Now it is spreading into the coastal states with Benin the hardest hit, say experts. Jihadi attacks in Benin have spiked more than tenfold between July and December compared to the same period last year — from 2 to 25 — according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. This is more than any other coastal state in West Africa. If the extremist violence continues to spread it could have far-reaching consequences, say analysts. AP

Rebels Kidnap Civilians in DR Congo Clashes, Local Sources Say
M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are holding civilians hostage for suspected collaboration with enemy militias as fighting erupted despite recent peace efforts, local sources told AFP on Monday. The group — one of scores in the volatile region — has conquered swathes of territory from the army and allied militias in North Kivu province in recent months and advanced towards its capital Goma. It delivered the strategic town of Kibumba to a regional military force last week after heavy international pressure to cease fighting, saying the move was a “goodwill gesture done in the name of peace”. But the Congolese army dismissed the withdrawal as a “sham” aimed at reinforcing the group’s positions elsewhere and security sources told AFP clashes resumed in North Kivu on Sunday. … Two people told AFP the hostages were taken to the locality of Rutshuru-centre, seen as an M23 stronghold. A nephew of one of the hostages, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were “displaced people who were returning to look for food” and that the M23 told him they were still alive. … The reports came as local residents told AFP fighting between the M23, the army and self-defence militias continued on Monday after breaking out at the weekend. East African

DRC’s President Tshisekedi under Attack over Regional Security Force
Three prominent Congolese figures, including Nobel winner Denis Mukwege accused President Felix Tshisekedi of pushing the Democratic Republic of Congo towards breakup by bringing in outside nations to tackle its security crisis. In a sign of mounting pressures on Tshisekedi over Democratic Republic of Congo’s deeply troubled east, the trio said sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country faced “fragmentation” and “Balkanisation.” This is “the result of a blatant lack of leadership and governance by an irresponsible and repressive regime,” they said in a communique. In addition to Mukwege, a gynaecologist who co-won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in helping women victims of sexual violence, the statement was signed by politician Martin Fayulu, whom Tshisekedi defeated in controversial elections in 2018, and former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo. Scores of armed groups roam eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), many of them a legacy of two regional wars that raged at the end of the last century. RFI

DR Congo’s Complex Violence Defies Military Operations, UN Says
There was hope last week that mounting violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo could ebb after the feared M23 group agreed to surrender territories to the East African Community Regional Forces (EACRF). And for most parts of the year, including recently, the security threat was largely seen as caused by the M23. But a new report by the UN Panel of Experts says communal violence also increased in 2022, especially between Yaka and Teke communities in western parts of the country. This week, the UN Panel of Experts on the DRC said that the violence in Kwamouth, in Mai-Ndombe province, some 200 kilometres from Kinshasa is a matter of concern to be viewed as a collective security threat to DR Congo. In its report to the Security Council, the Experts cited the Ugandan rebel group, the ADF as having “continued to expand their area of operations and attack civilians in of Beni and Lubero, in North Kivu, and in southern Ituri.” The ADF used improvised explosive devices in urban areas, opting for more visible attacks conducted through well-established networks. East African

Ethiopian Airlines to Resume Flights into Tigray Region
Ethiopian Airlines will resume flights to the capital of the war-torn northern region of Tigray starting on Wednesday, the first commercial flights to Tigray in about 18 months, the airline said in a statement. The announcement comes a day after a delegation of government officials and heads of public enterprises visited Mekelle to discuss the implementation of last month’s peace agreement. The agreement, which included promises to restore services, ended two years of fighting between the Ethiopian federal government and allies against the Tigrayan forces, which have killed thousands and displaced millions. “The resumption of these flights will enable families to reunite, facilitate the restoration of commercial activities, stimulate tourist flow and bring many more opportunities which will serve the society,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mesfin Tasew, who was part of the delegation to Mekelle, said in a statement. A travel agent in Addis Ababa told Reuters that the first Mekelle-bound flight was fully booked within hours of the announcement. Almost the entire region is now connected to the national power grid and telecoms services have been restored in 27 towns there, state media reported on Tuesday. Al Jazeera

Ransom Kidnappings Add to South Africa’s Crime Woes
From an eight-year-old snatched on her way to school to a wealthy businessman who was abducted and murdered, South Africa is experiencing a surge in kidnappings for money. During the festive season, police have been warning parents to be vigilant around beaches and shopping malls since they are potential hotspots for child abduction. “They should take extra care of their children,” said Robert Netshiunda, police spokesman in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal. “Children go missing and the crime of kidnapping is a reality,” he told AFP. South Africa has long had a reputation for violent crime and is often described as one of the most dangerous countries in the world outside a war zone. But kidnapping for ransom or extortion “is comparatively new”, noted Jean-Pierre Smith, a Cape Town municipal security councillor. … Analysts say kidnappings have been fuelled by the involvement of foreign crime groups suspected to be operating from Mozambique and Pakistan, among others countries. East African/AFP

Angola’s Top Court Orders Seizure of Isabel dos Santos’s Assets
Angola’s Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday the preventive seizure of assets of Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former president Eduardo dos Santos deceased in July this year. This is the second seizure of Isabel dos Santos assets in Angola since 2019. The court order covers 100 percent of the shares of the company Embalvidro, of which the defendant is the beneficial owner as well as the balances of all bank accounts owned or co-owned by the daughter of the former Angolan president. Also included are Isabel dos Santos shares in mobile networks in Mozambique, Cape Verde and São Tomé e Príncipe. This includes 70% of the shares of the Mozambican telecommunications company MSTAR, of which Isabel dos Santos is the effective beneficiary, as well as 100% of the companies UNITEL T+ in Cape Verde and UNITEL STP in São Tomé e Principe were also seized. According to the Supreme Court, the businesswoman damaged the Angolan state in over 1 billion euros, “in other criminal cases” with evidence of “embezzlement, influence peddling, economic participation in companies and money laundering”. AfricaNews

Tanzania: High Hopes as New Media Bill Sets for Reading
The government has pledged to work on challenges facing journalists in Zanzibar including low pay and working without contracts. Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Ms Tabia Maulid Mwita said that if the proposed ‘Zanzibar New Media law’ is enacted by legislators, it will help to address most of the challenges facing the cadre. “It is a disappointing fact that majority of journalists and other employees in the private sector are facing many challenges, including working without contracts,” said Ms Mwita in her speech at the opening of a one-day general meeting for Zanzibar Press Club (ZPC). She assured the journalists that most of the challenges facing them would come to end when the new law will be in place, adding that most of the suggestions from the stakeholders including employee’s welfare in the industry have being considered. … “The enactment of this media law in Zanzibar will help to hold accountable media owners who use journalists without giving them employment contracts, and other benefits.” Equally, Ms Tabia urged ZPC to use the available opportunities to improve the profession which will also enhance press freedom. Daily News

The Gambia Sets Up Investigative Panel to Examine Coup Attempt
The Gambia on Tuesday (Dec. 27) established an “investigative panel” following the arrest of alleged coup plotters. The panel will have 30 days to report back on last week’s coup attempt. The 11-member inquiry group was sworn in and includes members from the justice ministry, the office of national security, military forces, the police, and intelligence agencies, a spokesman stated. A captain and lieutenant are among military men who’ve been arrested. According to an official statement, they’re “helping unearth allegations of plans to overthrow” President Adama Barrow’s government. Momodou Sabally, the minister of presidential affairs under former leader Yahya Jammeh, has been imprisonned. He appeared in a video in which he allegedly suggested president Barrow would be deposed prior to the upcoming municipal elections. AfricaNews/AFP

Namibian Cuprous Oxide Gemstone May Be Key to Quantum Computers
A new study led by the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom discovered that a special type of light created using an ancient Namibian gemstone could be the key to new light-based quantum computers that could solve long-standing scientific mysteries. The study discovered that it is possible to create Rydberg polaritons, the largest hybrid particles of light and matter ever created, using a naturally mined cuprous oxide (Cu2O) gemstone from Namibia. Rydberg polaritons are constantly switching from light to matter and back. Light and matter are like two sides of the same coin in Rydberg polaritons, and the matter side is what causes polaritons to interact with one another. This interaction is critical because it enables the development of quantum simulators, a type of quantum computer in which information is stored in quantum bits. Unlike binary bits in classical computers, which can only be 0 or 1, quantum bits can be an infinite number of values between 0 and 1. As a result, they can store much more information and perform multiple processes at the same time. … “Creating a quantum simulator with light is the holy grail of science,” said project leader Hamid Ohadi in a press release. “We’ve made a huge step forward by developing Rydberg polaritons, which are the key component.” Namibia Economist

‘Communion with Creatives’: Literary Events Flourish in Nigeria
Earlier this month, an electric bulb glistened above Umar Abubakar Sidi’s bald head and his glasses reflected blue light from his computer screen as he sat in front of a bookshelf. He was about to read from his poetry book on the second of a three-day annual book festival to an audience mostly in the southeastern city of Enugu, almost 600km from Lagos where he lives. … More than 100 writers, artists and readers had gathered at the Alliance Francaise in Enugu and virtually over Zoom to listen to Sidi and others participate in book chats, panel discussions and conversations at the Crater Literary Festival. The festival began in 2017 when its founder Adachukwu Onwudiwe was unable to attend the Ake literary festival in Abeokuta, a two-hour drive from Lagos, because she could not get time off from her job as a librarian at a non-profit. As there was no similar festival in Enugu, she decided to fill the gap by establishing her own. For years, Enugu was a rich literary hub, producing some of Africa’s top writers including Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, Chimamanda Adichie and Chika Unigwe. But over the past decade, festivals that celebrate writers and literature in the region disappeared, according to Onwudiwe. … Across the country, similar new festivals are springing up to showcase local arts, reviving writing communities and facilitating intellectual intercourse in the mould of older ones like the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) and the Ake festival, which began in 1999 and 2013 respectively. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones