A Little World Filled

A Little World Filled

trumpsworldToday in a few hours America installs Trump. It’s very hard for any of us to do much of anything but watch and listen to the proceedings.

Gambia, too, is installing a new president today, with the help of thousands of soldiers from neighboring countries and in the absence of nearly a fifth of the country’s population which has fled.

Which would you rather be? A Gambian or an American?

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Artsy Fartsy

Artsy Fartsy

fuck white peopleCan a piece of art be hate speech? A year-long furor in South Africa blew up yesterday when a gang of white men calmly entered Cape Town’s prestigious National Art Museum and plastered a large sticker reading “Love Thy Neighbour” over a “F**k White People” pop-art canvas.

What’s illegal here? The vigilantes believed South Africa’s strict hate speech laws weren’t being enforced, but were they breaking laws protecting the artist’s freedom of speech?

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Utterly Unequal

Utterly Unequal

incomeDAVOSEach year at this time one news story is repeated, analyzed, attracts more comments and fuels more anger in Africa than any other single story of at any other time of the year, year after year:

The rich gather at Davos and Oxfam releases its report on the inequality of wealth. Nothing comes close to getting the attention this does African-wide. And year after year it gets worse and worse:

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More Holiday Than Ever

More Holiday Than Ever

MLKDay14Today is one of the most important benchmarks in the American calendar, the Martin Luther King federal holiday. It’s even more important than ever because of the current controversy between Trump and the civil rights icon, John Lewis.

John Lewis is the undisputed grandpa of civil rights. Last week he said that he didn’t consider Trump a legitimate president.

Recently Congress and then separately, the Democratic caucus in Congress received special classified briefings we are not privy to. Many are giving Lewis the benefit of the doubt that his statement reflects that.

But on the surface it looks like Lewis is playing the same low ball game that Trump plays, and Trump reacted to Lewis with a series of juvenille tweets and ultimately said he would cancel his planned appearance today at the new African American Museum in Washington, because of what Lewis said.

It’s understandable that minorities and their heroes like Lewis take special offense of Trump, but what all of us in opposition should realize is that it is not Trump-the Man who should give us concern. It’s Trump-the Movement. Had yellow-haired, foul-speaking Trump not run for president, someone else equally radical would have. And would have won.

Today we celebrate everything that Trump and the alt-right controlled Congress wish to undo. A year ago that seemed impossible. But a strange year has passed and nothing, any longer, seems impossible.

#6 – Decline in Terrorism

#6 – Decline in Terrorism

desertjihadists2016 was one of the most peaceful years in Africa in decades. Both the UK and American governments reduced their travel warnings for most of the continent.

There’s more to this than a good score card on the war on terror, and of course peace is rarely reported so there are fewer news stories about this than just an analysis of what didn’t happen.

Here’s why this is my sixth most important story for Africa in 2016:

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#5 – Fake News

#5 – Fake News

#5FakeNews2016For a much longer time than Americans Africans have viewed fake news as a cancer threatening their societies. Across the continent Africans have experimented with censorship as the remedy.

Fake news and cell phone journalism is my #5 pick for the top stories in Africa in 2016, and I have to admit this is because I’m not African, since I doubt they would put it in the Top Ten. But as an American I’m hopeful we might learn something from them.

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#2 – Large Animal Decline

#2 – Large Animal Decline

animaldeclineWith last month’s reclassification of giraffe as “vulnerable,” and continent-wide surveys last year of both elephant and lion, it’s now beyond doubt that Africa’s big animal population is declining rapidly. This is the #2 story of 2016.

It’s fair to say that lion and giraffe are declining at about 20% every decade, and elephant about half that.

These numbers are at last real science. But they aren’t complete and there’s a lot more to the story.

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#1 – Elections

#1 – Elections

election-monitorsThe top story in Africa in 2016 is “The Election:” Mali, The Gambia, South Africa, The Congo and elsewhere like the U.S. The “story” isn’t simply who won or lost. The “story” is that elections aren’t working: they are not manifesting the will of the people.

Trump is the quintessential example, but I want to examine the African experience because I think it provides very important insights into exactly what’s going on.

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2016: Not Just Trump

2016: Not Just Trump

topstories2016Trump dominated the news in Africa in 2016 in so many different ways, including expectations and predictions that were much more correct than those made in America. Had Trump not been around, the top news would have been the finally substantiated science of massive declines in Africa’s big animals. Many important events like this were eclipsed by America’s election.

Return in the next several days for more in-depth discussions of these stories. Below is the summarized list:

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Better Not Pout!

Better Not Pout!

betterwatchoutAfrica’s a bit unsettled. Europe’s more unsettled than ever.

The world is connected by a million strings. They’re best seen from afar, because up close they’re indistinguishable from the humdrum of everyday life. The ones I watch are in Africa:

Growing protests turn really violent in the DR-Congo. The Gambian president who conceded defeat in an election now says only God can tell him to step down. The Ugandan military is flexing its arms like it did under Amin.

What’s happening and is it coming to America?

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