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Stories from Africa

Hacking Against Ebola

Global Editors Network intends to develop new technologies and social networks for covering and preventing the Ebola epidemic from spreading.

Watch the YouTube video below for more information about the project:

Preventing Ebola in Nigeria With Ebola Alert Twitter Feed

Ebola Alert Twitter feed is the creation of evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals working on Ebola prevention interventions. The initiative involves active participation of professionals from different walks of life.

Ex-President's Return Triggers Media Warning from Government in Madagascar

Marc Ravalomanana - Public domain

Marc Ravalomanana – Public domain

The political situation is tense again in Madagascar after ex-president in exile Marc Ravalomanana's return to the country. The conditions under which he came back and the subsequent house arrest and deportation to the North of the country are strongly debated on most malagasy media outlets. Heninkaja Rakotomanantsoa, managing editor of a TV channel in Antananarivo, posted in Malagasy on his facebook profile that all press editors received a warning memo from the government about fact-checking any news pertaining to the return of Marc Ravalomanana : 

 Nahazo fampîtandremana ny Onjam-peo sy ny Fahitalavitra rehetra, sao hono mitarika any amin'ny fanakorontanana saim-bahoaka ny fampahalalam-baovao diso, na tsy voamarina.

All media outlets in Madagascar (TV and radio) received a warning that they will be held responsible of threats to national security if they are caught spreading false information or rumors (since Ravalomananana's return). 

Ebola Strips Africans of Their Cultural and Human Values

A social anthropologist and sociologist Ginny Moony explains how Ebola outbreak strips off Africans of their humanity:

 The way West-Africans care for their sick and deceased, supposedly differs significantly from that of the rest of the world. This is far from true. All over the world, the essence of care for the sick is practically the same: the touching of sick and dead relatives is a natural phenomenon. All over the world the deceased are cleaned up and the body is neatly laid out so that family members and acquaintances can say farewell. In the Netherlands, we have the possibility to lay out our dead loved ones in our parlour for days. And physical contact with the body of the deceased will take place until the coffin is sealed and put into the ground or taken to the cremation ovens.

In the case of the Ebola affected countries, normal human behavior is dismissed as “old-fashioned and undesirable practices” by the World Health Organization and experts analyzing the Ebola outbreak. Nobody questions whether it is reasonable to deny people the care for their loved ones and the right to be in charge of the mourning process. The solution to prevent people from getting infected with Ebola is clear: no touching, under any circumstances. More empathic solutions, like the provision of protective gear to family members so they can bury their loved ones themselves or with guidance, are not being considered. The population is pushed into the corner; if they do not cooperate, they will go to jail. These harsh measures alienate the people from the authorities even further. Ebola is a punishment. Not for the international community, not for the politicians, not for the elite, but only for the poor masses. The people feel alone. Deserted. Huge amounts of money are coming in, more and more reinforcements arrive and still the epidemic wins more ground every day….

AQIM Losing Ground to Dāʻish in the Sahel Region

AQIM militants in the Algerian desert via wikimedia commons - Public Domain

AQIM militants in the Algerian desert via wikimedia commons – Public Domain

While the Islamist group Boko Haram threatens to  extend its caliphate in the north -east part of Nigeria, major developments are taking place in the Sahel with respect to the security of the region. Kaci Racelma, a Nigerien blogger wrote in his blog A Niamey ( In Niamey) about the relationship that terrorist groups forge and then undo (in french)  :

Fort d’importants relais au Maghreb et en Afrique subsaharienne, le mouvement qui a déclaré, en juillet 2014, un Califat à cheval entre la Syrie et l’Irak, pourrait entrainer dans son sillage d’autres groupuscules. Et ce malgré les discriminations pratiquées en interne à l’égard des combattants djihadistes africains. En prenant appui sur plusieurs groupes terroristes présents en Afrique comme le Mujao, Ansar al-Charia et AQMI, l’EI pourrait gagner du terrain dans la sous-région du Sahel. Une zone d’importance stratégique pour le leader Abou Bakr Al-Baghdadi qui souhaite y étendre son influence [..] Au Sahel, l’EI avance aussi ses pions. Le leader mauritanien du Mujao, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou, qui a à son actif plusieurs attentats contre les services de sécurité algériens, est la principale cheville ouvrière de cette avancée. Même s’il s’est affranchi de Mokhtar Belmokhtar, l’émir algérien d’AQMI, pour créer le Mujao qui rassemble des djihadistes subsahariens, Ould Mohamed Khayrou entretient toujours de bons rapports avec lui. Or ce dernier tisse actuellement des liens avec l'EI. Après avoir prêté allégeance à l’EI, le leader du Mujao a par ailleurs créé à Gao, un Conseil de la magistrature destiné à appliquer la charia. “Nous avons réussi à régler de nombreux litiges. La loi coranique nous sert à trancher et rendre justice” a-t-il annoncé le mois dernier. Même si pour des raisons de compétition, le chef d’AQMI, Abdelmalek Droukdal refuse pour le moment de prêter allégeance à l’EI, beaucoup de ses cadres ont cependant rejoint les rangs de ce mouvement. Cette situation nouvelle fragilise les fondements d’Al Qaida qui perd de plus en plus de terrain. 

Thanks to strong connection in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, Daesh, could recruit a few additional groups in its wake,  despite their well-known discrimination internally against African jihadist fighters.
Building upon the support of several terrorist groups present in Africa such as as Mojwa , Ansar al- Sharia and AQIM , Daish could gain ground in the Sahel region. A strategic importance for the leader Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi who wishes to expand its influence area [..] In the Sahel, Daish is progressing fast. The Mauritanian leader of Mojwa, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou , who was responsible for several attacks against the Algerian security services, is the leading force behind this progress.  Even if he decided to grow his group away from the ifnluence of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the ex-leader of Algerian AQIM, to create the Mojwa by bringing together several sub-Saharan jihadists, Ould Mohamed Khayrou still maintains a good relationship with AQIM. Ould Mohamed Khayrou is now the main contact of Daeish in the region . Having now sworn allegiance to Daeish ,Ould Mohamed Khayrou also created Gao, a Judicial Council for Sharia Law. ” We are now able to settle many disputes. We use the Quranic law to sort out justice ” he announced last month. Although for political reasons, the current AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdal refuses to swear allegiance to Daeish, many of its army leaders have now joined the ranks of Daeish. This new situation weakens the foundations of AQIM, who is clearly losing more and more ground in the region.

One Vibe Africa Launches Africa From the Skies

One Vibe Africa uses music and art to inspire Kenyan youths to appreciate culture and tradition and to develop their own creative potential. Their latest initiative #Africafromtheskies needs your support. Africa From the Skies is an expedition to create empowering films and media, capture culture and facilitate workshops.

Humanitarian Associations in Burkina Faso Campaign for Revenue Sharing from the Mining Industry with “Just 1%” Hashtag

Bobo Vendors in Burkina Faso - Public Domain

Bobo Vendors in Burkina Faso – Public Domain

A new hashtag is trending in Burkina Faso online networks: #Justeunpourcent (Just 1 Percent in English). The hashtag refers to a campaign initiated by local NGOs to the Parliament that requests that 1 percent of the mining revenues be shared with humanitarian associations to fight poverty in Burkina Faso. Nadine Kone from Ouagadogou kickstarted the campaign on twitter :

Just 1 Percent: To all the Members of Parliament in Burkina Faso, this is a way to help communities against poverty.

Animated Video Dispels Ebola Myths

United Methodist Communications, Chocolate Moose Media and iheed have collaborated to produce an animated video for use in West Africa that helps dispel myths about how Ebola is spread and promotes prevention of the disease. United Methodist Communications provided partial funding for Chocolate Moose Media to create the video, which will be produced in various languages, including English and French with West African voices and other West African languages. This is an international co-production, involving production in ten countries: Canada, Guinea, India, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone Switzerland and the United States.

Android App Digitises Motorcycle Deliveries in Kenya

Erik Hersmann shares his experience with a new Android app that is set to revolutionise motorcycle courier services in Kenya:

This year at Pivot East I had my first look at Sendy, which does for motorcycle courier deliveries and customers in Nairobi, what Uber did for taxis and passengers in San Francisco. At its heart, Sendy is about bringing the vast and growing motorcycle courier and delivery network in Africa into the digital and networked world.

This is a big deal, because those of us who live in large African cities know just how inefficient driving a car around the traffic-plagued metropolises can be. With the bad roads, traffic and high cost of fuel, motorcycle deliveries are a natural path.

Indeed, in almost every city, from primary to tertiary throughout the continent, you’ll find thousands of motorcycle guys sitting by the side of the road, ready to courier a package or serve as a taxi.

Misdiagnosis of Poor Standard of Education in Malawi

The language of instruction debate is attracting attention in Malawi after the government's decided that students would be taught in English from Standard One. Steve Sharra joins the debate arguing that the problem of education in Malawi has been misdiagnosed:

There are good reasons why many Malawians are happy with the new policy for English to be the language of instruction in Malawian public schools. We Malawians use proficiency in spoken English as a product of a good education. If somebody speaks good English, they are seen as being educated. In many cases that is quite true. The more years one spends in Malawian schools beyond primary and secondary schools, the better one's English becomes.

But there are cases when that can be misleading. The test lies in knowing when it is accurate to equate English proficiency with good education, and when it is misleading. It is accurate to equate good spoken English with good education when the substance of what one is speaking shows reasoning and problem-solving skills. English can also be an accurate measure of one’s education when one is able to read and write proficiently, analyse information, and make informed decisions from that information.

In this very rare class every student had a textbook.
But it should be pointed out that every language of the world has these same attributes that can be an accurate measure of a good education. That is why most successful countries continue to invest in their local languages. A good education should enable one to put one's education to meaningful use in their individual life and in contributing to society. A country can only develop when the majority of the population have access to the knowledge that matters in changing their lives and their communities. When that knowledge is tucked away in a language only a tiny elite can understand and utilise, society stagnates. There can be no meaningful, equitable development.

In the current debate on the language of instruction in Malawian schools, we are misdiagnosing the causes of what we see as low standards of education. We think education standards are low because students come out of the system not knowing how to speak English.

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