Here’s my latest link roundup, cross-posted from Africa Update. We’ve got evangelical real estate in Lagos, the Boy Scouts of Bangui, Kinshasa’s dodgy voting machines, Julius Nyerere’s translations of Shakespeare, and more.
West Africa: Read about the three women running for president in Nigeria, in the first election which has ever had more than one female candidate. BudgIT is making strides in using publicly available budget information to track the completion of infrastructure projects across Nigeria. Here’s what happens when evangelical churches get into the real estate business in Lagos. This was a great discussion of how the #BringBackOurGirls movement has expanded into other types of activism, thanks in part to a decision to reject all outside funding. In northern Nigeria, mosque attendance is dropping as Boko Haram’s attacks make people more skeptical of organized religion. Dakar has elected its first female mayor (in French). In Cameroon, women and girls are disproportionately bearing the cost of the conflict in the country’s Anglophone region.
Via Mohamed Keita: “Artist Pierre-Christoph Gam’s mixed media series pays homage to Burkinabé revolutionary Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso’s president from 1983 – 1987”
Central Africa: Rwanda is one of the first African countries to offer cashless payments on buses. This was a gripping article about the violence of daily life in a refugee camp in the CAR, and how the extreme fragmentation of rebel groups undercuts attempts at disarmament. Despite the CAR’s challenges, the Boy Scouts continue to support young men in Bangui. In northern Uganda, citizens are protesting after they were displaced from their homes during the LRA war and their land subsequently gazetted into a wildlife reserve, leaving them without any homes to return to. Do unions have a future among informal workers in the DRC? Some good news on the Congolese ebola crisis: experimental treatments have been proving fairly effective at reducing death rates.
Congolese presidential elections: If you read one article about next month’s elections, make it this one on Kabila’s intentional choice of a weak candidate as his replacement. For a deep dive, read about the politicization of the country’s electoral institutions, its selection of easily hackable voting machines, the new archbishop who promises to hold the government to account (in French), the latest polling results on support for opposition candidates (in French), and the rapid demise of the opposition’s promise to pick a single candidate.
Map of gender parity in African legislatures via the UN Economic Commission for Africa
East Africa: Kenya is considering privatizing its prisons, a policy which has been roundly criticized as an attempt to profit from prison labor rather than improving conditions for inmates. The military has been deployed to buy cashew nuts in Tanzania after farmers in an opposition stronghold complained of low prices. An Ethiopian company is betting on the growth of coffee consumption in China with plans to open dozens of cafés across the country. Tourism pushed women out of Zanzibar’s public spaces, but one NGO is helping them reclaim their access. South Sudan wants to build a new capital called Ramciel in an uninhabited area which lacks any infrastructure. In Somalia, Al Shabaab earns millions of dollars annually by illegally exporting charcoal through Iran. This is essential reading on the way that the US supported the Siad Barre regime in Somalia in the 1980s even as it killed over 200,000 citizens. Somalia’s persistent insecurity even affects responses to academic surveys, as people more exposed to violence are less likely to answer questions about their clan identity.
Southern Africa: In South Africa, participating in a peaceful protest for better service delivery could land you in prison without bail. Zambian doctors are warning women to stay away from herbal Chinese contraceptives, which are inexpensive but poorly regulated. Zambia has also indefinitely suspended all junior and senior secondary school exams after the questions were leaked on social media. Lesotho’s sheep farmers are up in arms over a decision to ban wool exports and require them to sell all their wool to a single firm. Zimbabwe is making up for its lack of mental health support by training older women to provide informal therapy to people in their neighborhoods.
Some context on where the standard gauge railway (SGR) is supposed to extend in east Africa, via Africa Confidential