Stories from Quick Reads and Sub-Saharan Africa
Don Osborne discusses a news feature on the Olivet Nazarene University website showing a map of “The Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World.” He points out key problems from the map:
The first issue is assuming that “The most spoken language in any country is often obvious; usually, it’s the official language of the country.” In Africa this often is not the case, if by “most spoken” one counts number of speakers. An example is Mali, whose linguistic profile was explored on this blog in discussing the long-tail of languages – Bambara is certainly more used than the official French.
Official language is a category that doesn't lend itself to ranking use of languages in Africa, beyond the (admittedly important) context of official use and its spillover to popular use. In the case of two countries at least, this runs into additional problems:
•South Africa has 11 official languages (the Olivet site incorrectly lists only one of them – Zulu – as official). So one of the official languages will be second most spoken. Perhaps that is Xhosa as indicated, but the model focusing on official languages hasn't worked here.
•Rwanda has three official languages (Kinyarwanda, French, and English), and Central African Republic two (Sango and French). Since the site doesn't consider these official languages in discussing second most widely spoken, it is reduced to stating that Swahili is “second” most used in Rwanda, and that indigenous languages are used in CAR – which doesn't tell us much.
Read part 2 of his discussion here.
Join Accra Technology salon that will take place on May 26th, 2015. The theme of the salon is Games for Ghana’s Development:
Electronic games are a two trillion dollar global industry. Game development in Ghana is growing rapidly, fueled by the popularity of mobile phones and climbing Internet usage rates. African game developers are increasing their share of this demand by developing culturally relevant games that speak directly to local markets.
What is the potential of the game industry to further Ghana’s development?
While games are often considered frivolous entertainment, evidence shows that games can effectively improve cognition, problem solving, and spatial skills development, with a particular benefit for science, engineering, and mathematics education. “Serious” games can also help communities explore different development scenarios to solve critical problems in society.
Please RSVP now to join the next Technology Salon Accra where we will explore questions like:
What kinds of games would excite Ghanaians and improve society?
Who would play them? What would they learn?
How can we incentivize “good” games and improve others?
Where should we look to see the future of gaming in Ghana?
Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:
AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?
Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.
I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.
I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.
Following Burundi President Nkurunziza's announcement of his candidacy for a third term (unconstitutional by Burundi's existing law), a massive humanitarian crisis has hit the country as at least 50,000 refugees have fled the country after scenes of violence were reported in several cities. The occurrence of violence were often posted on social media platforms first under the hashtags #burundichaos or #sindumuja. The following infographic sums up the refugees situation as of May 8:
— Jamii Forums (@JamiiForums) May 9, 2015
Former French Defense Minister Finds Excuses for the Alleged Rape of Central African Children by French Soldiers
Afrique Info reports that JP Chevènement, a former defense minister of France, stated on public radio Europe 1 on May 3 that the challenging conditions that French soldiers face in the Central African Republic could explain “behavior of that kind” (see video above). Chevènement was referring to the allegation of child sexual abuse by French troops posted in the Central African Republic. The allegations surfaced after disciplinary proceedings were taken against a United Nations employee accused of leaking the allegations to the French authorities.
— Robert ALAI (@RobertAlai) May 13, 2015
Following incumbent Burundi President Nkurunziza's candidacy for a third term, General Godefroid Niyombare announced that he has dismissed the current administration and that he is taking over until further notice. The government denies such coup has taken place and calls it a “farce”. The situation is evidently still very fluid in Burundi, but here is summary of what is known and what is still not clear in Bujumbura, the capital from Penelope Starr (via UN Dispatch blog):
President Nkurunziza was not in the country when the coup was announced (but no one knows whether he is back yet): The president was attending a Summit of Eastern African Nations when the coup was announced. He has tried to fly back to the capital city but it is unclear whether he has succeeded.
This is not (just) about ethnic conflicts :
Nkurunziza and General Niyombare are both former Hutu rebel leaders. They also belong to the same governing party, and Niyombare was both Ambassador to Kenya and intelligence chief, a post he was dismissed from earlier this year.
Like in Burkina Faso earlier this year, public opinion in Burundi seems to be in support of the coup as a way to oppose African life rulers:
What’s happening today in Burundi is reminiscent of what took place late last year in Burkina Faso, when long-time head of state Blaise Compaore was deposed by the military after declaring his intention to run for yet another term. While the situation in Burkina Faso is still in flux, it was a key moment, as the public massively supported the coup, fed up with Compaore’s decades-long rule (..)but The situation in Burundi is also different, particularly given the protracted civil war which ended in 2005.
Anna K. Mwaba discusses the future of the newly established African Center for Disease Control:
The establishment of such a center in Africa is not a particularly new idea; talks on the need for more effective means to combat epidemics on the continent were held in July 2013 at the Special Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, in Abuja, Nigeria.
In her opening remarks at that meeting, AU Chairwoman Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma emphasized the need for the AU to act and for “the final push” to tackle HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. These sentiments echoed those made at previous meetings on the matter. The fact that this was not the first time this issue has been discussed at such a high level, raised doubts as to the ability of the African Union to undertake such an endeavor.
Two main, and related, reasons for these doubts are the AU’s current financial capacity and the political will of its member nations. It is common knowledge that the AU faces significant funding challenges, compounded by the fact that many member states continuously fail to pay their annual contributions. This inability to contribute to the AU’s operating budget casts doubt on member state willingness to prioritize AU activities while facing their own domestic, often economic, challenges.
Last month, Angani launched first operational cloud service in East Africa:
Angani, the first fully automated cloud infrastructure company in the region, today officially launched their cloud and hosting services. Angani also announced their partnership with local data center operators that will make it safe and cost effective to provision cloud solutions. With Angani’s cloud platform, users can have a new server operational in a secure, reliable datacenter within 15 minutes.
Angani also offers the following services
• Virtual office includes E-Mail, data backup and PABX
• CCTV Storage and Backup
• Media Storage and Playout
In March 2015, Africa's most populous country held its third general election, an historic vote that saw power change hands democratically for the first time since independence. The new government means the coming months will see a reshuffling of political offices, including key positions in the oil industry. Not on the appointment list? Not to worry! Tolu Ogunlesi has a funny, informative guide to how you too can cash in on Nigeria's oil wealth.
Here's step four:
Lower the Bar. This is simple common sense. If you want it easier, you’ve got to make it easier. Again, let’s go back to 2011. Pre-Jonathan, the requirements for qualifying to be issued an oil import licence were quite stringent. You had to prove that you had the capacity to pay upfront for a minimum shipment size of 5,000 metric tonnes of product. You also had to prove that you owned retail outlets for the distribution of the imported product.
“Mbeu Yosintha” was made to help farmers and rural communities cope with the effects of climate change, in particular the ever changing rain patterns in South East Africa. The film is a drama using local actors and was devised with Malawian writer Jonathan Mbuna following extensive research with various agricultural NGOs in Malawi.