Africa Media Review for March 20, 2024

Pan-Africanism Reborn?
The Pan-African movement marks its 105th anniversary in 2024. For decades, Pan-Africanist dialogue in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas championed the intellectual foundation to advance decolonization and lay out the principles of peace, democracy, and human rights to guide the newly independent African societies on the continent…Yet, today, opposition parties, the media, and independent thought are often violently suppressed in many parts of Africa, leading to a shrinking intellectual space for critical thinking and dialogue…This repression of independent African thought leaders echoes a mistrust that has persisted between post-colonial governments and “the Academy,” including over freedom of expression, participatory democracy, and human and people’s rights…The enduring struggle for freedom, justice, and democracy in Africa today is part of an ongoing debate and larger question over who represents African agency and whose interests governments are meant to serve—heads of states or citizens. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Detained Congolese Journalist Bujakera Has Been Freed, Lawyer Says
Stanis Bujakera, a journalist detained since last September in the Democratic Republic of Congo on charges of spreading false information, was released on Tuesday, his lawyer said…A court in the capital Kinshasa on Monday had found Bujakera guilty of spreading false information among other charges. It sentenced him to six months in prison and fined him 1 million Congolese francs ($364). His legal team said after that ruling that Bujakera would be released on Tuesday because he had already served his sentence…Bujakera was arrested in September on suspicion of spreading false information about the killing of a prominent opposition politician in an article published by Jeune Afrique, the French news magazine has said. Reuters

Algeria Scolds Television Stations for Ramadan Advertising Blitz and Immoral Programming
Officials in Algeria are chiding television stations over the content choices they’ve made since the start of Ramadan last week, injecting religion into broader discussions about how the country regulates content and advertising in media…Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Lagab’s two-pronged attack — against stations’ content and advertising — is the latest challenge facing Algerian television stations, which are preparing for deepened financial strain as the government prepares new regulations on advertising in media. In anticipation of a new law, stations, especially private ones, have ramped up advertising to an unprecedented extent, hoping to rake in profits before the government sets new limits. AP

The First Woman to Run for President in Years Inspires Hope in Senegal
Anta Babacar Ngom, a 40-year-old business executive, is a voice for both women and young people — groups hit hard by the country’s economic troubles, widespread unemployment and rising prices. She has promised to create millions of jobs and a bank for women to support their economic independence…Few expect Ngom to emerge among the leading candidates for the presidency, but activists say the fact that a woman has made it to the presidential race for the first time in years reflects how women are inching ahead in the struggle for equality…Ngom is the first female candidate to run for president in over a decade, reflecting how progress has been frustratingly slow in the minds of activists who say there has been a reversal among young people toward more traditional views of the roles of women in society. AP

South Africa’s Ruling ANC Takes Rival Party to Court in Fractious Buildup to Election
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is taking the independent electoral body and a rival political party fronted by a former president to court, underscoring a fractious buildup to what could be the country’s most pivotal election in 30 years. The ANC says the new uMkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation) party did not meet criteria when it was registered in September. The case at the Electoral Court in the central city of Bloemfontein opened on Tuesday. It could see the new party, also known as MK and led by South African ex-president and former ANC leader President Jacob Zuma, deregistered and barred from standing in the May 29 national election…The most recent poll conducted in February and March said MK could become the third biggest party in South Africa after its first national election, boosted by large support in Zuma’s home KwaZulu-Natal province, where it is expected to eat into the ANC’s vote. AP

Investigators Search the Home of South Africa’s Parliament Speaker over Bribery Allegations
A special investigations unit in South Africa searched the home of the Speaker of Parliament for more than five hours Tuesday and seized evidence as part of a probe into accusations that she accepted bribes in her previous role as defense minister. The search and seizure operation at the Johannesburg home of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who is a veteran lawmaker with the ruling African National Congress party, was confirmed in a statement from Parliament…The investigation of Mapisa-Nqakula, 67, was made public this month by a newspaper, which said she was suspected of receiving at least $120,000 in bribes from a defense contractor between 2016 and 2019…Mapisa-Nqakula is another senior ANC figure to be accused of corruption during the leadership of former South African President Jacob Zuma. AP

US Gets ‘Mixed Signals’ from Niger on Future of US Troops, US General Says
The United States has received “mixed signals” from Niger following the ruling junta’s weekend announcement that it had revoked an accord allowing U.S. troops to operate in the West African country, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday. Air Force General C.Q. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not elaborate on those mixed signals but his comments appeared to suggest at least some support from within Niger’s ruling junta for a continued U.S. military presence…At the State Department, deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Washington was still communicating with Niger’s ruling military council, known as the CNSP…At a meeting last week in Niger, senior Biden administration officials expressed concerns about the country’s potential development of ties to Russia and Iran, the Pentagon said. Reuters

Sudan’s Military Official Pushes for Rival Power Structure
In a move challenging the ongoing efforts to end the war, Yasir al-Atta, a member of Sudan’s ruling council and a high-ranking military official, has directed the formation of an alternative governing body. Al-Atta, the Army’s Assistant Commander-in-Chief, instructed pro-military Popular Resistance Committees to establish parliaments at both state and national levels. These committees would then appoint a prime minister and state governors, bypassing any negotiated power-sharing agreements. This action signals al-Atta’s opposition to compromise with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group that has been fighting the army for 11 months. The plan also aims to exclude political groups accused of backing the paramilitary forces. Sudan Tribune

Youths Kill 15 in South Sudan in Latest Clash, Official Says
Unidentified youths shot dead 15 people in South Sudan’s Pibor region, including its commissioner, a senior official said on Wednesday, in the latest flare-up of violence in the country. Civil war in South Sudan, erupting two years after the country won independence from Sudan and fought largely along ethnic lines between Dinkas and Nuers, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths between 2013 and 2018. The shooting happened on Tuesday when the commissioner of Boma County in Pibor was returning from a visit to a village…Abraham Kelang, information minister of Greater Pibor Administrative Area, told Reuters. Kelang said the attackers were suspected to be youths from the region’s Anyuak community…Since the 2018 peace deal, routine clashes among a patchwork of armed groups have continued to kill and displace large numbers of civilians. Reuters

Nigerian Troops Rescue 16 Abductees in Kaduna
Nigeria’s military on Tuesday said troops have rescued 16 abductees in northwest Kaduna state after exchanging fire with insurgents who attacked a local community on Sunday night — one of two kidnap attacks in the area over the weekend…The military said the attackers had taken several hostages before they arrived, exchanged fire with them and saved 16 of the abductees. According to local media reports, 87 people, including women and children, went missing from the Sunday attack — barely 24 hours after gunmen captured 16 people from their homes in Dogon Noma, another community in Kajuru. The army said troops are still searching the forests for missing people. The latest string of kidnappings in Nigeria in recent weeks is stoking fears of rising insecurity. VOA

Nigerian Court Denies Separatist Leader Kanu Bail, Orders Trial
A Nigerian federal court on Tuesday denied separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu bail and instead ordered an accelerated trial of a pending seven-count terrorism charge against him. Kanu, a British citizen who leads the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement, disappeared from Nigeria after skipping bail in 2017. He was arrested in Kenya in 2021 and charged in Nigeria with terrorism. In December, Nigeria’s Supreme Court overturned a judgement by a lower court that dropped the terrorism charges against Kanu, setting the stage for his trial to commence…Kanu’s IPOB campaigns for the secession of southeastern Nigeria where the majority belong to the Igbo ethnic group. Nigerian authorities have labelled IPOB a terrorist organization. Reuters

Nigerian Rights Body Ends Probe into Abortion Allegations against Military
Nigeria’s human rights commission said on Tuesday it had concluded hearings into an investigation of a Reuters report that the military ran a secret abortion programme in its fight against Islamist insurgents in the northeast…The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which is appointed by the government, established a special panel in February 2023 to investigate the allegations and has been conducting hearings in the capital Abuja and in northeastern Borno state…The commission did not say when it would be ready with its findings and whether these would be made public…Reuters reported in December 2022…that the military abortion programme involved terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls, many of whom had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants. Reuters

India to Prosecute 35 Pirates Who Hijacked Ship Off Somalia, Navy Official Says
India will bring in and prosecute 35 Somali pirates its navy captured on a hijacked ship off Somalia, a navy official said, in a departure from its recent practice of rescuing vessels and crew but leaving the disarmed pirates at sea. The captured pirates are due to arrive in India on Saturday and will be handed over to the law enforcement agencies, the official said…Indian navy commandos managed to release the Malta-flagged commercial ship MV Ruen on Saturday, which had been hijacked 450 nautical miles east of Socotra in the northern Arabian Sea by Somali pirates on Dec 14. It marked the first hijacking of a merchant ship by Somali pirates since 2017…During the piracy peak, India’s navy used to prosecute and jail in India pirates involved in major attacks, but in recent months the navy has taken to leaving the pirates at sea. The Ruen pirates will be the first India prosecutes in years, the official added. Reuters

Paulin Hountondji, Revolutionary African Philosopher, Dies at 81
Paulin Hountondji, a philosopher from Benin whose critique of colonial-era anthropology helped transform African intellectual life, died on Feb. 2 at his home in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city…As a young philosophy professor on a continent that was throwing off the colonial grip in the 1960s, Mr. Hountondji rebelled against efforts to force African ways of thinking into the European worldview…Mr. Hountondji knew that there was something amiss in efforts by Europeans to tell Africans how they should think about their place in the universe. He also knew that the emerging strongman rule of the 1960s, with its enforced groupthink, spelled trouble for the continent…What Mr. Hountondji called General Kérékou’s “regime of terror” ended after a 1990 national conference of Benin citizens summoned by the general unexpectedly turned against him. Mr. Hountondji was invited to the conference and immediately zeroed in on the central issue, to the displeasure of the general’s subordinates: whether the gathering could decide the country’s future…Mr. Hountondji’s side won, and Benin became a democracy — for a time. The New York Times