Kenya has told the United Nations it will shut by June 2022 two camps, Dadaab and Kakuma, holding over 410,000 refugees who fled from wars in the east and Horn of Africa, adding it planned to repatriate some and give others residency.
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
France 24 cable news outlet carries a report on the farmer-herder conflicts in Nigeria.
Clashes between farmers and herders have killed more than 10,000 people in the last decade and forced the displacement of 300,000 people, according to the International Crisis Group. Nigeria’s Middle Belt has been struck this year by a spike in farmer-herder violence, which in 2018 was six times deadlier than the Boko Haram insurgency, killing more than 2,000 people according to the International Crisis Group.
Salihu Musa Umar, a member of one of the biggest pastoralists’ associations in Africa and the founder of The Farmers and Herders Initiative for Peace and Development, explains:
"The herdsmen are often portrayed by farmers as evil. This gives rise to suspicion and anger when they arrive but actually, they are just as often victims in this conflict. Pastoralists are being killed by farming communities on a daily basis. The herders have to move from point A to point B in search of greener pasture. But their cattle route is often blocked by farmers, who get angry and attack the herders. When these attacks take place, there is no justice, and so the herders feel cheated and begin reprisal attacks. It is an endless spiral. The nature of the pastoralists’ livelihoods makes them very vulnerable. The majority of them are poor, uneducated, and they are very rarely given a voice in public discourse. It is easy to scapegoat them."
Many farmers are losing their source of income as their crops are being burned by herders.
“Food is becoming very expensive because farmers no longer have access to their farms,” Isaac Olawale Albert, Director of the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies at the University of Ibadan told the Observers team told the reporters. “If we don’t achieve peace in rural areas, we won’t be able to grow food anymore. So the conflict has become an existential problem for Nigeria. Either we find a solution to the conflict, or we will no longer have enough food to feed ourselves.”
Climate-induced desertification in recent years has escalated tensions, forcing the northern herders further south into the farmers' territory, creating one of the conflicts, as both sides compete for scarce resources. Farmers and herders have crossed paths for decades, as pastoralist Fulanis from the north have a long tradition of migrating south during the dry season in search of water and grazing land for their cattle. The two groups usually managed to reach a mutual accommodation and overall, they coexisted peacefully. However, in recent years, climate change has altered that order. Increased drought and desertification have forced herders even further south and into conflict with farmers, whose numbers have increased in line with Nigeria’s booming population.
“Climate change is the most important variable in the analysis,” Isaac Olawale Albert, explained. “Droughts and desertification are the root cause of the herders’ increased movement. It has become more difficult to find fertile land, so competition has increased. The Middle Belt is often referred to as the country’s ‘food basket’ – it is very fertile land and so farmers want it for their crops and herdsmen for their cattle.”
As killings persist, the clashes have increasingly been framed as a religious problem, since the majority of Fulaniherders are Muslim and most of the farmers are Christian. Charges and counter-charges of ethnic cleansing have gained momentum.
This situation was depicted by a 2018 article in the Socialist Standard, using the biblical analogy of the Cain versus Abel story
A record 29 million people in six countries of the unrest-hit Sahel region are in need of humanitarian assistance in the face of “unparalleled” insecurity and growing hunger, the United Nations and NGOs have warned. In a statement the signatories said another five million people were now in need of assistance in Burkina Faso, northern Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger and northeastern Nigeria compared with last year. The violence has led to the closure of thousands of schools across the region, while 1.6 million children are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
Isn't it ironic that having achieved independence from colonial rule, Nigeria is inviting the military of a colonial power to return?
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the US to move its Africom military headquarters to the continent from Germany.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to young Africans studying in the US, cautioned against China's growing presence on the African continent.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
“Look at what the collapse of Syria and the chaos of civil war has meant...Ethiopia has 110 million people. If the tensions in Ethiopia would result in a widespread civil conflict that goes beyond Tigray, Syria will look like child’s play by comparison.” - Jeffrey Feltman, US special envoy for the Horn of Africa
Saturday, April 24, 2021
Economists have promoted low-wage textile industry as the best way for poor countries to build a manufacturing base. In East Africa, the promised trickle-down effects of foreign investment have not materialized. The dream of industrial growth comes at a high price.
A number of East African countries, including Ethiopia and Kenya, are attempting to follow that path. Images of industrial progress and of politicians visiting work-shops, with rows of workers hunched over textile manufacturing equipment suggest that the development that has long eluded the continent is not too far off.
The Ethiopian government sees itself competing with Bangladesh for a place in the global clothing supply chain. And Bangladesh isn’t a floor to build on—it’s a ceiling.
The Ethiopian Investment Commission markets the country’s wages as “1/7 of China and 1/2 of Bangladesh,” the lowest garment worker pay in the world. From these paltry wages, Ethiopian industry has grown from 11 percent of the country’s GDP in 2013 to 25 percent today. That growth is held up as a local success story. Applauding the country for “building Africa’s manufacturing strength,” the African Development Bank highlighted Ethiopia’s goal of generating $30 billion in exports from the textile and apparel sector between now and 2030.
All this development is sold on creating jobs that will reduce poverty. So how are Ethiopian workers faring?
Studies have shown that an Ethiopian garment worker needs about $146 a month to survive. Only 7.5 percent of garment workers make that much. Ethiopia’s garment sector has no statutory minimum wage; instead, the working minimum is tied to the lowest wages for government employees. As a report from NYU’s Center for Business and Human Rights notes, “The fact that government-paid floor sweepers earn so little doesn’t make $26 a fair base wage for sewing-machine operators employed by foreign manufacturers.” The Worker Rights Consortium found that in addition to being paid the lowest wages in the world (as low as 12 cents an hour), workers were facing the same abuses that plague sweatshops in Asian countries, including harassment, unsafe conditions, forced overtime, and pay deductions for lateness or missing work (on top of wages missed), “despite such practice being barred by international and domestic law, as well as applicable codes of conduct.”
Friday, April 23, 2021
From the April 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard
“dominated by the question of whether the European race would be able to maintain its rule, its purity, and its civilisation or float along until it vanishes for ever in the black sea of South Africa’s non-European population.”
(a) The pushing forward of the general ideal of "complete separation” of all the racial groups of South Africa, “socially, residentiary, industrially, and politically.” This means that, the four groups of South Africa—the Whites, the Coloureds (people of mixed blood), the Indians, and the Africans, will be for ever kept strictly apart. In line with this, legislation has already been introduced forbidding inter-marriage between Europeans and Coloureds (laws already exist forbidding marriage between Whites and Indians, and Whites and Africans).
(b) The intention to keep the Natives on the Reserves, and away from the towns—in Malan's own words, “the Native reserves must become the true fatherland of the Native." In the towns they must henceforth be regarded as “visitors.”
(c) Repeal of the previous Government’s law allowing the Indians three representatives in Parliament.
(d) Abolition of present Coloured vote, and in its place a similar system to that now operating for the Natives in which they are allowed three separate representatives (who must be Europeans).
(e) Repeal of the previous Government’s Bill recognising Native Trade Unions.
(f) All training of Native skilled workers to cease.
(g) All voting rights to be taken away from the Indians, and from all Natives living away from the Reserves.
“Something new is coming into the life of this country. We are accustomed to the orderly conduct of our Natives and on the whole our Natives are well behaved, but some change is coming about
“Unless this new development is stopped and stopped at once and unless firm measures are taken no one can be sure of the future of South Africa.” (Johannesburg Star, 15/2/50.)
“As industry develops, they (the Natives) will learn more, and want more, and then the same position will face the South African White worker as faces the American White worker at the present time. Then will the South African workers, White, Native. Coloured, and Indian, be at their own cross-roads. What their decision will be we do not know nor do we intend to guess. What we say to the South African workers we have already said to the American workers. They must realise that their interests as workers lie together: until they do so they will remain divided and weakened, wide open to the attacks and encroachments of the capitalist class. Much worse may result; the logical end of the road which the South African White worker is treading can only be bloody violence and destruction. No group can permanently hold down another many more times more numerous than itself, and sooner or later the working class, particularly the White section, will have to face up to the situation and make their decision.”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is expected to issue a formal apology on Thursday after it discovered that at least 116,000 – but potentially up to 350,000 – predominantly African and Middle Eastern first world war casualties may not be commemorated by name, or at all.
All fallen military service personnel are supposed to be commemorated identically with their name engraved on a headstone over an identified grave or on a memorial to the missing.
But, quoting racist statements such as a governor saying in the 1920s that “the average native … would not understand or appreciate a headstone”, the commission has concluded that soldiers were treated differently if they came from Commonwealth countries. Winston Churchill, when colonial secretary after the first world war, also said mass memorials would be adequate in Africa.
In the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nigeria and Sierra Leone, no African death of the first world war is commemorated with a headstone.
In one 1923 letter quoted in the report, FG Guggisberg, the governor of the Gold Coast in Africa, wrote: “The average native of the Gold Coast would not understand or appreciate a headstone.”
The first world war was a battle for control of colonial possessions, not least in Africa, where western powers including Britain, Germany and France embroiled about 2 million people in the conflict as soldiers or labourers. It is estimated that 10% of them died. Large numbers of conscripts in Africa were used as part of a human supply chain in “carrier corps”, which took a huge toll that the lack of adequate memorials can make hard to calculate.
In Egypt alone, it has been suggested by the historian David Killingray that three-quarters of the 327,000 men who served were recruited forcibly.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
According to the latest report, total private wealth held on the continent amounts to approximately $2.0 trillion. ‘Total wealth’ refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each country. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) and less any liabilities.
South Africa has around 36, 000 millionaires or HNWI, 1, 930 multi-millionaires (+$10 million) and five dollar-billionaires.
Egypt, which comes in at 15, 500 and 810 respectively and 6 billionaires
Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, is in third spot on the private wealth list. It has 9, 100 HNWIs, 460 multi-millionaires and four billionaires.
There should be no illusion that Belt Road Initiative's (BRI) projects in Africa are wholly altruistic. More than half of the 60-plus recipient countries under China’s BRI are located in Africa.
China’s financing of its BRI projects across Africa (as in the other emerging markets where the programme is underway), is mostly comprised of loans to governments that are both very large and conditioned by signatories’ commitments to not fully disclose their terms. It is bad enough that China’s lending entities, which are government-owned, do not disclose the terms of their lending to African countries. It is even worse that African government leaders also agree to this. After all, terms of loans made to African countries by the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank – all of which are also non-commercial institutions – are routinely made public.
The headlines in the past few months about Zambia’s struggle to repay its debt burden to China highlights just the most recent case in point.
At present, the countries in Africa with the largest Chinese debt are Angola ($25bn), Ethiopia ($13.5bn), Zambia ($7.4bn), the Republic of Congo ($7.3bn), and Sudan (6.4bn).
There are key elements of the BRI that stand out starkly as having only the most rudimentary of camouflages for Beijing’s pursuit of unspoken (but not hard to guess) motives, including those that serve to benefit China more than the recipient countries. The true motives behind the BRI are now being questioned.