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Stories from Africa

Locusts Invade Madagascar's Capital City

Twitter and Facebook users from Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo, have posted several photos of locusts invading the city. Locust invasions are not unusual in Madagascar, especially after tropical storms, but they are very uncommon in larger cities. Locusts can have a devastating effect on crops, especially in a country that has struggled with bouts of famine in past years.

Nigeria Successfully Curtails Ebola to One Patient

Nigeria's Health Minster, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, recently announced that Ebola though not “totally eliminated”, has been successfully curtailed. Nigeria has only one case of Ebola currently. According to Onyebuchi, as quoted by TheCable:

“As of today [August 26, 2014], Nigeria has 13 cases of Ebola virus disease. That is including the index case – the late Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer. Five did not survive, however two more Nigerian patients have been discharged. Both of them health workers, were discharged yesterday. This brings the number of those discharged now to seven. As I speak to you Nigeria has only one case of Ebola virus. This is thus far an indication that  Nigeria has contained the virus.”

Digital Media Guru Headlines Highway Africa 2014

Highway Africa organisers have announced that Dan Gilmor will be the keynote speaker for the 18th edition of the conference which takes place from 7-8 September, 2014 in at Rhodes University, South Africa:

The theme of the conference is Social Media – from the margins to the mainstream and Gillmor, who wrote the seminal book on citizen journalism, “We the Media” (2004), will revisit his initial optimism on the potential of the internet.

Gillmor teaches digital media literacy at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Over 400 delegates from 36 African countries are expected to attend including others from the United States of America, Bolivia, the Netherlands and Germany.

The Heroic Everyday Work of Lab Scientists in the Fight Against Ebola in Liberia

During the current crisis of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), many reports showcased stories about patients, medical staff, vaccines and the consequences of the disease on the affected countries. But rare are the reports about the daily work of laboratory technicians and of those who care for their daily needs. In a post on buzzfeed.com entitled The Hidden Heroes Of Liberia’s Ebola Crisis, Jina Moore tells the story of these key people in fighting the Ebola virus in Liberia:

Catherine Jeejuah starts so early these days that she doesn’t know the time. It’s irrelevant. She rises when it’s dark, lights a fire, and boils rice and greens for her two kids. By about 6:30 a.m., when light begins leaking through the windows, she leaves for a nearby school.

Here, she does it all again, at a greater scale. Jeejuah, 30, and two other women, all volunteers, are cooking for 12 of the most important, but invisible, people in Liberia right now.

The dozen meals are meant for the team of technicians that tests the blood of suspected Ebola patients. They visit sick peoples’ homes and overwhelmed Ebola treatment centers, sticking needles in the veins of physically unpredictable, highly contagious people. They then drive their blood back to Liberia’s only medical lab, more than an hour from the capital of Monrovia.

Clashes After an Attempted Theft of 450 Cattle Leaves 15 Dead in Madagascar

Armed forces and dahalos (highwaymen in Malagasy) clashed in Amboasary Sud in the southern region of Madagascar on Aug. 15 over a theft of humped cattle (Zebus), a type of domestic cattle with a fleshy hump on their shoulders. Thirteen Dahalos and two members of the armed forces died during the clashes. Official reports states that 450 Zebus were stolen by about 90 armed thieves when authorities intervened.

Ebola Scare: Trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria Border for Over 40 Hours

On August 19, 2014, the Republic of Cameroon closed its borders with Nigeria in a bid to halt the spread of the Ebola virus. However, the government made this decision without giving enough thought to the thousands of travelers – mostly Cameroonian citizens and Nigerians resident in Cameroon – caught on the wrong side of the border. Consequently, many of these travelers ended being trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria border for days, in appalling conditions, while waiting to be screened for the Ebola virus before being allowed back into Cameroon.

Batuo's Blog published the first-person narrative of Patricia Temeching, one of the travelers who was trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria border for over 40 hours:

I go through Nigerian security checks and my passport is grudgingly returned to me. I walk across the bridge. The Cameroonian side of the bridge is crowded, as is the police/customs post that is perched three meters away from the end of the bridge… When I inquire why there are so many people on the bridge a miserable-looking woman replies, “We are waiting for the medical team to screen us for Ebola before we can go into Cameroon…”
‘How long have you been waiting?’ I ask.
“Fifteen hours. I came yesterday just after the medical team had left.”
I join the throng of people on the bridge and we wait and wait. Hunger and anger consume me. All I have in my travelling bag are a few clothes and my academic papers. By evening more and more people have joined us and we are all crowded on the bridge and in the small police post building, where we spend the night on our feet. The stench of urine and faeces emanating from the back of the building combines with the unhealthy sweat from two hundred unwashed bodies and leaves a nauseating sickening feeling in the air.
In the morning we receive information that the medical team will arrive soon. We are all looking forward to it. By noon nothing has happened…
This afternoon, after I have spent 24 hours at the border post, we are allowed to trek to Ekok town. It is a trek an Ebola patient will certainly not survive. We pay boys to carry our bags. When we reach Ekok town we are bundled into an empty building with no lights, no toilet facilities and no beds. This it to be our accommodation until the medical team arrives. Finally the “medical team” arrives. It is the doctor from Eyumojock. We go through the “screening”. This is how it happens: Eau de Javel [bleach] is poured into water. We file in and wash our hands. We also wash our mouths. Then you are cleared.
Once I am cleared (at 10 p.m.), I leave the ‘quarantine’ building and go to look for a hotel. I find a run-down inn and finally crawl into a sorry-looking bed with tired sheets. After spending forty hours on my feet this bed feels like a king’s bed. I sleep the sleep of the dead.
This is my greatest worry: What if one person among us (two hundred travellers) actually came with Ebola from Nigeria? The chances are we might all have become contaminated in the past fifty hours from being held promiscuously together, and we would now be taking the virus to two hundred different Cameroonian families.

An Entrepreneur Rewarded for his Innovative Healthcare Work in Cameroon

Mr. Petsoko et son prix - avec sa permission

Mr Petsoko being awarded his prize – with his permission

 The curtain has just come down on the tenth “Positive and Winning Africa Oscars”, held at the Hilton Hotel in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon. This year, the event organised by the NGO “Positive and Winning Africa” rewarded Cameroonian Clément  Petsoko for his innovating healthcare projects. For a decade now, sponsor Hervé Mba and a jury made up of a dozen public figures to award prizes to African personalities whose innovative projects could help the progress of the African continent.

The Golden Oscar for Man of the Decade was presented to Clément  Petsoko, PDG of the Morgan and Wilfried laboratories. The jury rewarded Petsoko for “his capacity to overcome the numerous difficulties he has faced in recent years”. As he was awarded his prize, the happy winner stated:

 Je voudrais que mon prix serve d’enseignement à la jeunesse du monde qui doit  intégrer dans son vécu quotidien  le dicton qui selon lequel : « le pont qui mène au succès est fragile » et qu’il faille allier courage, abnégation et détermination dans l’atteinte de ses objectifs.

I want my prize to serve as a lesson to young people around the world, who should remember the saying “it's a rocky road to success,” and that achieving your aims requires courage, self-sacrifice and determination.

 
Dr Clément Nossupuwo  Petsoko is a homeopath by training. Already awarded the prize for Man of the Year 2013 in Cameroon by Mosaïques International, Petsoko is also active in the community via his weekly newsletter promoting foreign communities, decentralised local authorities, tourism and general information.
In his thank you speech, Petsoko spoke of the fragility of success. And in fact, his journey has encountered many hurdles and controversies. Earlier in his career, Petsoko was accused by Cameroonian health authorities of “leading a huge publicity campaign on local TV channels, in violation of the legal restrictions on advertising medication.” Following these accusations, the distribution of his flagship slimming programme was banned in Cameroon. On 14 November 2013, the Cameroonian government lifted the ban on selling the programme. Petsoko has also suffered setbacks in his personal life. Divorced from his wife Christelle Yameni several years ago, she took Petsoko to court in 2008 for committing indecent acts on minors below the age of 16. The couple was married since 18 December 1998. On 24 March 2010, the Mfoundi High Court in Yaoundé decided to dismiss the case.
 

Google Docs in Amharic: A Security Tool for Ethiopian Bloggers

Cyber Ethiopia explains why Google Docs in Amharic is an important internet security tool for Ethiopian bloggers and how to enable it:

The Ethiopian government uses many methods to spy on bloggers, but by far the most invasive involves the covert installation of malware on their computers, which captures keystrokes, stores passwords, takes screen shots, and can record audio and video in the room where the computer is located. This malware is usually spread by downloading and opening infected documents. For users who are concerned about Ethiopian government surveillance (but not US government surveillance, or surveillance by governments to whom Google supplies user datain response to court orders), one easy work-around is to open documents in Google Docs instead of downloading and opening them on your computer in Microsoft Word or some other word processing program.

Until recently, Ethiopian bloggers were unable to make full use of this advice because Google Docs did not support Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. Now Google has added support for Amharic to Google products, giving a vulnerable population a powerful tool that they can use to protect themselves from state-sponsored malware and surveillance.

Movement Calls for Review of Imprisonment of Cameroon's Former Chief of Staff

Marafa Watch is:

A U.S.-based, grassroots movement for appropriate international review of the politically motivated conviction and corresponding imprisonment of former Secretary-General (Chief of Staff) at the Presidency, Mr. Marafa Hamidou Yaya of the Republic of Cameroon.

Marafa Hamidou Yaya was sentenced to 25 years in jail in 2012 on corruption charges linked to a deal to buy a presidential plane.

Should Women Starve Their Babies for Fear of Public Breastfeeding?

Olivia Kidula explains why breastfeeding in public should not stop:

A friend of mine recently gave birth to her first baby girl and is still getting the hang of motherhood. I began to notice she breastfeeds only when no men (besides her husband or father are around) and when she can “comfortably” hide away in a small space. When I mentioned to her that there should be no shame in feeding and nourishing her child in front of anyone, she responded,

“society would rather she starves than look at my breasts.”

The more I thought about the implications of her words the more upset I became. Who would want a child to starve? Who would truly want to deny a child nourishment and comfort at the chest of his mother?

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