Tag Archives | Africa

The Real Meaning Of Kony 2012

kony1Via Warscapes, Dinaw Mengestu explains that the viral video’s appeal is that “the real star of Kony 2012 isn’t Joseph Kony, it’s us”:

Kony 2012 is the most successful example of the recent “activist” movement to have taken hold of celebrities and college students across America. This movement believes devoutly in fame and information, and in our unequivocal power to affect change as citizens of a privileged world. Our privilege is the both the source of power and the origin of our burden – a burden which, in fact, on closer scrutiny, isn’t really a burden at all, but an occasion to celebrate our power … helping to end the war in Darfur is as simple as adding a toolbar to your browser.

In the world of Kony 2012, Joseph Kony has evaded arrest for one dominant reason: Those of us living in the western world haven’t known about him, and because we haven’t known about him, no one has been able to stop him.

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The Seven Worst International Aid Ideas

cluster111Matador Network on the “worst attempts at helping others since colonialism”. There’s the inexplicable — entrepreneur Jason Sadler’s 1 Million T-Shirts campaign, which involved producing and shipping a million t-shirts for donation to strife-affected (but presumably clothed) Africans for no apparent reason.

But the actual worst may be the United States’ scattering the hills of Afghanistan with food packets — intended for hungry Afghan children — identical in appearance to the cluster bombs also scattered by the U.S. through the same regions:

Each yellow BLU-97 bomblet is the size of a soda can and is capable of killing anyone within a 50 meter radius and severely injuring anyone within 100 meters from the detonation. A Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDR) package contains a 2,000 calorie meal.

It was inevitable that Afghans coming across the yellow packages in the field would confuse the two. Children in particular — with no English and little idea of what a BLU-97 is even if they did — would investigate the yellow containers and try to pick them up, with devastating consequences that an Air Force general described as “unfortunate.”

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Celebrity Recolonization Of Africa Map

RecolonizationPost-Oscars, a look at how Western celebrities have projected their egos across vast portions of the world. Created by Mother Jones's Dave Gilson:
Oversized shades have replaced pith helmets, but the new scramble for Africa has its share of adventurers, would-be saviors, and even turf battles. As Madonna's publicist explains, "She's focusing on Malawi. South Africa is Oprah's territory." The map takes a lighter look at the sometimes serious, sometimes silly business of celebrity altruism. For more on how Africa became the hottest continent for A-list do-gooders like Bono and Brangelina, see here. And if you're looking for a more sober approach, check out our recent package on human rights. Click on a country to learn which celebrity has claimed it, and how ...
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Somali Rebels Embrace Twitter Terrorism

El Shabbab, the fundamentalist Islamic insurgency group fighting to control southern Somalia, reject most things Western and/or modern, but ironically have embraced Twitter, garnering thousands of followers. In addition to straightforward updates on battles and territory, the best part is the taunting that goes on between the insurgents and Kenyan military spokesman Major E. Chirchir:

twitter

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China’s Economic Boom Fueling Poaching In Africa

ElephantGreg Neale and James Burton writes in the Guardian:

Elephant poaching in Africa and Asia is being fuelled by China’s economic boom, according to a study of the ivory trade.

Authors of the new report found that the number of ivory items on sale in key centres in southern China has more than doubled since 2004, with most traded illegally. The survey comes amid reports of a dramatic rise in rhino poaching across Africa, and a spate of thefts of rhino horns from European museums and auction houses.

Based on the results of their survey, the ivory researchers are calling for China to tighten its enforcement of ivory trading regulations, saying that such a move is vital to reduce the number of elephants that are killed illegally. The report is published on the eve of a meeting in Geneva of the Cites organisation, which is responsible for controlling trade in endangered wildlife species.

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South Africa’s Cancer Of Corruption

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: Twenty one years after Nelson Mandela walked free, corruption has become the issue du jour in South Africa.

Even president Jacob Zuma who narrowly slithered out of a corruption trial before his election is blasting corruption in the ranks of the African National Congress which came to power as the morally superior alternative to an apartheid regime that shamelessly used the wealth it controlled to benefit Afrikaners and deprive the black majority of services.

“Let’s make a plan,” were the code words members of the all white National Party used to scheme ways of stealing state resources to benefit themselves, a cozy reality overshadowed by the vicious racial policies that outraged the world.

As the ANC prepared to win power democratically, there was concern among leaders that a deprived black majority might feel it was “their turn” and thus, their right to cash in on their political victory.… Read the rest

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Young Children In South Africa Eaten By Giant Rats

article-1393836-0C62598500000578-803_468x286A chilling urban legend from New York City comes terribly true on the opposite side of the globe, as three-foot rats run amok, feasting on human babies. The Daily Mail writes:

Giant rats as big as cats have killed and eaten two babies in separate attacks in South Africa’s squalid townships this week.

Lunathi Dwadwa, three, was killed as she slept in her parent’s shack outside Cape Town and another girl was killed in Soweto township near Johannesburg the same day. Bukiswa Dwadwa, 27, said: ‘I can’t forget how ugly my child looked after her eyes were ripped out. ‘She was eaten from her eyebrows to her cheeks, her other eye was hanging by a piece of flesh.’

Residents of South Africa’s impoverished townships say the giant rats grow up to three-foot long, including their tails, and have front teeth over an inch long. The suspects in the baby attacks are believed to be African Giant Pouched Rats, the biggest in the world.

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Sakawa Boys: Ghana’s Cyber-Juju Email Scam Gangs

sakawa-poster-11What do you get when you combine identity theft and email fraud with black magic, spells, and shape shifting? The explosively popular West African subculture known as Sakawa. Via Motherboard, who filmed their visit in Ghana with Sakawa boys:

While Nigeria’s 419 scammers may have written the book on West African internet fraud, their shtick looks like Compuserve compared to what’s going on in Ghana. Ghana’s scammers decided to stack the odds in their favor the old-fashioned way: witchcraft.

Traditional West African Juju priests adapted their services to the needs of the information age and started leading down-on-their-luck internet scammers through strange and costly rituals designed to increase their powers of persuasion and make their emails irresistible to greedy Americans. And so “Sakawa” was born.

Not only is Sakawa the country’s most popular youth activity and one of its biggest underground economies, it’s a full-blown national phenomenon. Sakawa has its own tunes, clothing brands, Sakawasploitation flicks, and even a metastatic backlash from Christian preachers and the press.

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How A Human Virus Is Killing Endangered Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla

Photo: FlickreviewR (CC)

Alasdair Wilkins writes in io9:

There’s fewer than 800 Mountain Gorillas left in the entire world, and their survival depends in part on people willing to pay money to go see them. But all this human interaction is bringing gorillas into contact with dangerous diseases.

Although humans are most closely related to chimpanzees, gorillas rank a very respectable second, sharing about 98% of their DNA with us. The current zoological consensus is that there are two distinct species of gorillas, western and eastern, and these are further divided into two subspecies each.

While all the gorilla species are to some degree threatened, the population levels vary wildly. There are at least 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas in the wild, and 4,000 in zoos, while fellow western subspecies, the rarely seen Cross River Gorilla, is thought to have a remaining population of just 280. As for the eastern subspecies, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla has a relatively healthy population of about 4,000.

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Rwanda To Run Vasectomy Campaign To Curb Population Growth

Rwanda soilders singing anti-AIDS songs. All soilders are counseled and tested for HIV.

Photo: Rwanda soilders singing anti-AIDS songs. All soilders are counseled and tested for HIV.

An interesting tactic in controlling population growth, but how does one come up with a slogan for a campaign supporting both vasectomies and HIV prevention? Stop the spread of disease and babies? BBC News reports:

Rwanda’s government has said it wants to encourage men to have vasectomies in a bid to stem the small landlocked country’s growing population.

It would be done along with its HIV prevention campaign to encourage all men to be circumcised.

Health officials would take the opportunity to talk to men about the birth-control method at the same time.

A BBC reporter in Rwanda says vasectomies are uncommon in the country and the move may meet resistance.

[Continues at BBC News]

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