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Stories from and

Unlawful Deals by 5 Biggest Ebola Contractors in Sierra Leone

Five companies are said to have misappropriated funds for fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone:

Here are the 5 companies who were awarded the biggest contracts to provide goods and services to Sierra Leone’s ebola response as listed in the Ebola Funds Audit Report covering the period from May – October 2014. The following contracts did not meet the country’s procurement laws and policies and documentation to support the awarding of these contracts were missing, and unaccounted for. This makes it possible for fraud, waste, and misappropriation of funds to occur therefore crippling the nation’s ability to quickly respond to the crisis.

2015 Presents an Opportunity for Free and Fair Elections in Africa

Wekesa Sylvanus hopes that 2015 will be a year of free and fair elections in Africa:

https://wekesasylvanus.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/will-2015-be-a-year-of-free-and-fair-elections-in-africa/

Since the advent of multi party democracy in Africa, electoral contests have become a do or die affair in majority of African countries. Elections in Africa are a high risk affair and in the recent times, they have been a trigger of conflicts. Kenya and Ivory Coast are good examples of how mismanaged elections can plunge a country into a conflict. Half a century after gaining independence, majority of African states have not got it right in terms of conducting and managing free and fair elections. The year 2015 will see a host of African countries go through elections. Presidential elections and/or legislative elections will be held in Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Central Africa Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Chad, and Egypt and may be South Sudan depending on the peace deal to be signed. Most of these countries have struggled to institute the practice of democracy in recent times. 2015 therefore presents a great opportunity for them to show the world that they have matured democratically.

Film: The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a film by filmmaker Yaba Badoe:

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa's foremost women writers, a trailblazer for an entire generation of exciting new talent.
This feature-length documentary charts Ama Ata Aidoo's creative journey in a life that spans 7 decades from colonial Ghana, through the tumultuous era of independence, to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women's creative talent remains as hard as ever.

The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo (Teaser) from Big Heart Media on Vimeo.

The African Union is Failing South Sudan

David K. Deng argues that the African Union is failing South Sudan after deciding that the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) should not release its report:

On the evening of 29 January, African heads of state gathered in Addis Ababa for a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). Among the items on the agenda was a presentation by the chairperson of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS), former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. More than a year after the African Union (AU) announced its investigation into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan, the AUCISS was set to formally present its final report to the AUPSC.

Instead of Obasanjo, however, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who doubles as the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), walked to the podium and raised a motion to defer consideration and publication of the AUCISS report until peace is achieved, saying that it would jeopardise the ongoing IGAD-led peace process. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa seconded the motion, followed by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. With that, the matter was closed and a public release of the AUCISS report was put off indefinitely.

The AUPSC’s decision not to publish the AUCISS report casts doubt on the prospects for justice and accountability in South Sudan. It also raises questions as to whether the AU and IGAD are genuinely committed to ending the impunity that they themselves acknowledge to be a driver of violence in the country.

The AUCISS was formed in December 2013 with a mandate to “investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best ways and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.” Over the course of six months, from March to September 2014, the AUCISS interviewed hundreds of South Sudanese across the country and in the diaspora. Rumor has it that the report provides a detailed account of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by all sides in the South Sudanese conflict. It is even said to include a list of people responsible for atrocities, including senior figures from both sides.

Emerging Threats in Cybersecurity Legislation in Africa

Access, an international human rights organization is troubles by emerging threats in cybersecurity and data protection in Africa. Ephraim Kenyanitto explains:

The Convention was originally scheduled to pass in January 2014, but was delayed for modifications after protests by the private sector, civil society organizations, and privacy experts—all of whom had very little involvement in the drafting process. But a number of countries promulgated harmful new cybersecurity legislation after it was improved in June.

As Access noted in analyzing both versions of the Convention, the Convention has some positive provisions but still needs strengthening. It requires states to consider human rights in implementing cyber security legislation, but it also supports greater government control of private user data. For example, the Convention permits governments to process private data when “in the public interest,” a confusingly vague standard.

Submissions Needed for White History Month 2015

Organised by Africa is a Country blog, White History month 2015 is coming next month:

Last March was the inaugural White History Month here on Africa is a Country, and without tooting too loudly on our own vuvuzela, it was kind of brilliant. So we’re going to do it again.

We featured stuff like Kathleen Bomani’s Leather from Human Skin in 1880s Philadelphia and pulled together a wide range of material, from Britain’s mass torture regime in 1950s Kenya to that time the South African government sent a delegation to the USA to find out how “reservations” worked.

If you would like to participate, you should:

Get in touch using editorial [at] africasacountry [dot] com and let us know what you want to write about. Take a look at what was featured last year to get an idea of what we’re looking for.

10 African Children’s Illustrators You Should Know

Jennifer Sefa-Boakye highlights 10 of Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators’ finalists:

Late last year Ghana-based pan-African literary organization Golden Baobab introduced us to a shortlist of talented illustrators, whose work ranged from 3-D Ashanti folktales to intricately drawn Moroccan cityscapes and African barbershop-inspired murals in Durban. Awarded in November, the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators was one of the foundation’s six prizes recognizing the year’s best African writers and illustrators of children’s stories.

Malawian Student Makes His Own TV Station

Chisomo Daka, a student at the University of Malawi’s chancellor college, has created his own TV station, Paul Ndiho reports:

Innovation is happening across Africa, in all different sectors, from education to energy, banking to agriculture and in television broadcasting. In Malawi, a university student has created a community TV station called “analog TV project” one that he hopes will transmit all social events taking place on campus. Malawi TV Project
Chisomo Daka is a student at the University of Malawi’s chancellor college. He is pursuing a degree in education science and he is trying to make his mark in the television broadcasting industry. By his own admission, he says that he is not an engineer by training, nor does he claim to know much about engineering. But his love and passion for tale-communications has inspired him to build from scratch a community television station. Daka says he hopes to use this TV station to broadcast social events and student projects throughout the entire campus.
“We have been able to transmit a video signal and we have been able to capture that. But by the end of the day, we would want to finalize it and make it a full working television station for the campus.”
Before his first broadcasting test signal, he was just a normal student, and few students knew about his innovation. Today, Chisomo Daka has created a name for himself as the new kid on the block. His community TV station is a hit on campus and everybody is talking about him. He says operating out of the norm is what is drove him to be innovative.

The Release of South Africa's “Prime Evil”: It's Time to Confront The Evil of Apartheid

Nicknamed “Prime Evil”, Eugene de Kock was the commanding officer a counter-insurgency unit of the South African Police that kidnapped, tortured, and murdered numerous anti-apartheid activists during apartheid era. He was recently granted parole after serving 20 years of his 212 prison sentence.

Pierre de Vos reacts to his release by arguing that it is time to confront the evil of apartheid, not only of De Kock who defended it:

What De Kock did was monstrous – far more monstrous than anything an ordinary beneficiary of apartheid did. Whether he deserves to be granted parole is, therefore, at the very least, debatable. But singling out De Kock as particularly evil is also comforting for those of us who benefited from apartheid and continue to do so because of its lingering effects.

It’s an archetypal example of “Othering”. We pinpoint one wrongdoer (the torturer in the attic) in order to obscure our own complicity in upholding and benefiting from the system in whose name De Kock committed his crimes.

Supporting the prosecution and conviction of De Kock and his continued incarceration, and insisting on depicting him as uniquely evil, allow us to avoid having to confront the fact that the system itself was evil through and through.

It helps us white South Africans who lived through apartheid (or whose parents did) to retain the idea that we were, for the most part, “decent” people – lawyers, accountants, government clerks, railway workers, doctors, school teachers, insurance brokers – who read and discussed the merits of good books and movies with friends, who went to the opera and the symphony concert, who swooned over the yodelling Briels, who cried when that dog was killed in that children’s movie, who treated our servants with condescending kindness. In our own minds we would never, ever deliberately endorse cruelty and violence towards others.

Yet, we benefited from the system whose very raison d’être was to oppress and exploit others and to uphold and defend the sham superiority of whites and what is ironically termed “Western civilisation” – the same “civilisation” that produced Hitler, Stalin, Vietnam and Iraq, and embraced and benefited from slavery and colonial oppression.

Niger Youth Defiant Following Boko Haram Attack in Bosso and Bombing in Diffa

Niger youth

Young men in Niger – CC-BY-2.0

For the first time, Boko Haram conducted an assault on Niger's territory and the youth of Niger will not stand for it.
Boko Haram assaulted Bosso and Diffa, two towns in southeast Niger at the border with Nigeria but was repelled by Niger and Chad's army. Boko Haram lost an estimated 100 combatants in the clash but a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the city a few hours later, killing 5 civilians. The youth of Niger was prompt to react to the attacks. Niamey (Niger's capital) High school students got together to condemn the attacks on their country and express in Hausa their support to their troops fighting at the border:

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