New African, January 2017

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Founded in 1966 • January 2017 • N°568



The bestselling pan-African magazine

THIRD TIME LUCKY What Nana Akufo -Addo’s vic tor y means for Ghana

Th e b ig diam on d rip - of f: How B ot swana is b eing shor t-change d NA D e clas sifie d: New rep or t on the as s as sinations of Lum umba & Hammarskjöld Kalun di Serumaga an d Robtel Pailey : O n Trump, Afric a an d Am eric an p olitic s • Euro Zone € 5.00 • UK £4.00 • USA $6.50 • Algeria DA 300 • Angola 1.000 Kwanza (AOA) • Australia A$ 7.50 • Bahrain BD 2.00 • Canada $6.50 • CFA Zone CFA 2.600 • Cyprus 4.00 • Denmark DKr 40 • Egypt E£ 30 • Ethiopia R 90 • Gambia Da 150 • Ghana GH¢ 12.00 • Indonesia R45,000 • Japan JPY 700 • Jamaica $680 • Jordan JD 3.500 • Kenya KShs 350 • Kuwait KD 1.500 • Lebanon LL 7500.00 • Malaysia RM 15.90 • Mauritius MR 150 • Morocco Dh 30 • Nigeria N 1000 • Norway NOK 59 • Oman OR2.00 • Qatar QR 20 • Rwanda RWF 3000 • Saudi Arabia Rls 20 • Sierra Leone LE 20.000 • Singapore $7.50 • South Africa R40.00 (inc. tax) • Other Southern African Countries R 35.10 (excl. tax) • Sweden SKr 33 • Switzerland SFr 8.70 • Tanzania TShs 6.500 • Tunisia TD 5.000 • Turkey 10.00YTL • UAE Dh 20 • Uganda USh 10.700 • Zambia ZMK45

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Victoria Falls










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Victoria Falls - The world’s largest waterfall cannot be expressed in words, it must be experienced. Conakry

- Guinea’s capital reaching into Atlantic like no other.

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p. 42 Ghana’s election victory

Boubacar Boris Diop, a former editor of the Senegalese daily Le Matin, is also an internationally acclaimed fiction writer.

Peaceful elections see an orderly transition. In-depth analysis of the campaigns, a profile of Nana Akufo-Addo and the lessons to take from Africa’s gold-standard election.

Zukiswa Wanner is the award-winning author of four novels, a satire, and two children’s books. Kalundi Serumaga is a cultural activist agitating through theatre, journalism and creative writing. He lives in Kampala, Uganda. Robtel Neajai Paily is a Liberian academic, activist and author of the anti-corruption children’s book Gbagba.

R eaders’ views

Cover stories

4 Your comments and letters

36 War games in the Sahel 42 Ghana: Elections analysis


Country files

06 Africa and the world in 2017 08 Events, cartoon and briefs 09 People and power 10 Trends and stats 11 Castro and Africa

48 Uganda: The Kasese killings 50 Ethiopia: State of emergency


54 Botswana: The diamond rip-off

Baffour’s beefs

The literary nomad

12 Good night, good knight

60 My long march to freedom

Big interview

14 UNCTAD’s Dr Mukhisa Kituyi

Native intelligence

18 Trump, refugees and America’s unresolved past

NA declassified

20 Lumumba, Hammarskjöld and the Cold War 24 Congo uranium and the Cold War 26 Rewriting history, recovering the truth

A rts & culture

62 Tuko Macho: Big Brother watches 64 Book excerpt: Longthroat Memoirs 68 Bookends 70 Cityscape: Accra, the rising star

A frican football special: 2017 africa cup of nations

R andom acts of activism

28 Africa’s lessons for Trump’s America

74 Editor’s note and contents 76 Interview: CAF’s El Amrani 78 Preview and fixture list 84 Mahrez: Algeria’s talisman 86 AWCON: Super Falcons reign 88 Tribute: The ‘man of Asmara’

The order of things

Back to the future

34 The legislation of imperial arrogance

Susan Williams is a historian concerned with the strands of the past that have been neglected or hidden. Her books include Who Killed Hammarskjöld? and Spies in the Congo. Henning Melbar is emiritus director of the Hammarskjöld Foundation and a senior academic at the Nordic Africa Institute; University of Pretoria; University of Free State; and the University of London. Jackie Lebo is a writer, producer and photographer and serves as the Team Lead at Content House. She has been researching Kenyan running for the past six years. Jeremy Keenan is a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. His academic research focuses on North Africa and the Sahel. David Wardrop is the chairman of the United Nations Association of Westminster, UK. Asuman Bisiika is a commentator on political and security issues in the Great Lakes

90 The politics of giving and receiving

NewAfrican The bestselling pan-African magazine, founded in 1966. January 2017 ISSUE 568

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Readers’ Views LET TERS & COMMENTS

UNITED KINGDOM IC PUBLICATIONS, 7 Coldbath Square, London EC1R 4LQ. TEL: +44 20 7841 3210 FAX: +44 20 7713 7898 EMAIL: FRANCE IC PUBLICATIONS 609 BAT A 77 RUE BAYEN 75017 Paris TEL: +33 1 44 30 81 00 FAX: +33 1 44 30 81 11 EMAIL: VP – BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Saliba Manneh ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTORS Medrine Chitty Nick Rosefield James Olweny Baytir Samba PROJECTS MANAGER Darren Moore DISTRIBUTION

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EDITOR Parselelo Kantai EDITOR-AT-LARGE Baffour Ankomah EDITOR NEW AFRICAN MARKETS Stephen Williams ASSOCIATE EDITORS Pusch Commey, Jon Haynes, Cameron Duodu, Hichem Ben Yaiche, Ridha Kefi, Osasu Obayiuwana EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Helen Melling EDITORIAL INTERN Vinesh Parmar SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS Osei Boateng, Wanjohi Kabukuru, James Schneider, Peter Ezeh, Reginald Ntomba, Clayton Goodwin CORRESPONDENTS Femi Akomolafe, Stephen Gyasi Jnr, Belinda Otas, Sheriff Bojang Jnr, Mark Kapchanga, Tom Jackson, Mushtak Parker, Edward Tsumele, Curtis Abraham

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SUBSCRIPTIONS Abacus e-Media Chancery Exchange 10 Furnival Street London EC4A 1YH Telephone: +44 20 8950 9117 Fax: +44 20 8421 8155 main-articles/subs GENERAL MANAGER Leila Ben Hassen

Do you follow us on Twitter? Have you LIKED us on Facebook? We would love you to. And because your comments and views are valued, we would like to share them with our broader audience by publishing them here in print. Tweet. Comment. Email.

No defence for Paramount?

I refer to the communiqué “A Pan-African Defence Industry” (New African, October issue). This inclusion needs a formal apology to the readers of New African magazine as I view this company’s activities to be contrary to African freedom and liberation. This is not a topic that your publication should be about. The Paramount Group is producing weapons of war and people suppression. Why does a chief elected by the people need a fighter jet or tank to use against the people? What does this say to African youth on the march in the continent? It is stated that “almost all developed countries commenced their industrialisation with a vibrant defence industry at the heart of their development [my italics].” Funny, didn’t Britain start its industrialisation spinning cotton from the America’s, grown and picked by slave labour kidnapped from Africa? Given the context, “a vibrant defence industry” seems oxymoronic to me. (Name and address withheld by request)

The importance of infrastructure

Your Special Feature report “Infrastructure – the foundation of prosperity” (New African, December 2016 issue) is very well written, with constructive information on the positive benefits to any modern economy in relation to the quality of its infrastructure development.

Without adequate availability of infrastructure networks, it is impossible for a country to coordinate its economic activity efficiently. But conflicts of interest can arise. Conservationists and environment activists have evidence of substantial damage to ecosystems, raising the alarm that new infrastructure developments are damaging natural resources. This poses a threat to food and water security and the livelihoods of populations dependent on subsistence farming. The challenge is for countries to keep pace economically with the rest of the world without compromising the ecosystems essential to the wellbeing of their populations. Kokil Shah Mombasa, Kenya

From the Twittersphere Adv Thuli Madonsela@ ThuliMadonsela Congratulations @NewAfricanMag for raising up examples of leadership excellence in Africa or at least worthy efforts in that direction Mo Ibrahim@Mo_IbrahimFdn Congratulations to #MIF Board Member @DonaldKaberuka #MostInfluentialAfricans2016 @ NewNewAfricanMag Pancras Malani @MalaniPancras I enjoyed reading @NewAfricanMag and congratulations to all influential people. Can you one day name and shame the most undemocratic leaders?

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Africa’s Premier Infrastructure Summit Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria 27-28 March 2017

Building Tomorrow’s Africa Today Financing infrastructure in Africa is the new growth pole – commitments to this sector in 2015 amounted to $83 billion. The investment and project potential is virtually unlimited. Come and join the ‘Infrastructure Revolution’. Make sure of your place by booking early.


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From the Editor

Parselelo Kantai

Africa and the world in 2017


irst, New Year’s wishes on behalf of all of us at New African. By the time you read this edition, two new presidents-elect will be days away from taking their oaths of office. And while the US and Ghana may not initially appear to be related, as Robtel Neajai Pailey explains in her inaugural column (p. 28), the United States would do well to borrow some lessons in governance from Africa. There can be little doubt that with the emergence of Donald Trump, the US’s self-imposed position as the globe’s dominant arbiter, is deeply, and perhaps terminally, compromised. Indeed, in a year that saw much violence done to the ideals (if not the idea) of democracy, Ghana led the world in conducting not only a smooth election, but a handover of power so painless it generally escaped the usual attention of international media. Ghana’s recent elections also have much to teach the rest of the continent, as our analysts explain in the Cover Story (p. 42). In a year pockmarked by a swathe of dubiously conducted elections, presidential term-extensions and, as we observe in the Gambia, the unique experiment to reverse, not a result but a concession of defeat, Ghanaian democracy can boast confidently of being Africa’s gold standard. While there is much speculation on president-elect Donald Trump’s policy directions, in his ‘Native Intelligence’ column (p. 18), Kalundi Serumaga suggests that a Truth and Reconciliation process in the US would get to the roots of white supremacy’s (mostly) unaddressed pathologies and begin to deal with its traumatic history – of genocide (against the Native American population), racial violence and domination, and imperial looting. Without an acknowledgement of these historical crimes, he argues, the nation’s fundamental divisions will remain. The implications of Trump's election for the international system have few precedents. Fears of a breakdown in multilateral relations, notably the regulation of global trade, are not unfounded, observes Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (p. 14). The consequences for Africa’s external trading relations may be extremely grave, especially if Trump rescinds the $30bn

African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), on which millions of workers depend. As the old order dies and the new order is yet to be born, to paraphrase Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci, morbid symptoms will appear. One of these, and a necessary one as far as columnist Boubacar Boris Diop is concerned (p. 34), is the dismantling of the International Criminal Court. The idea of the Court – the pursuit of a universal justice system – is necessary and urgent. However the Court's inability or reluctance to deal with the abuses committed by major powers, fatally undermines it. In March this year, Dominic Ong’wen will go on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. If there is a case that exemplifies the ICC’s existential crisis, it is this one. Ong'wen, a former child soldier, was abducted by Joseph Kony’s millenarian Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) when he was 12 years old. His sister was also abducted, and taken by Kony as a child-bride, eventually bearing him five children. Ong’wen now stands accused of 75 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. One would ask what exactly this trial is meant to achieve. Ironically, it was Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, now one of the Court’s most vocal critics, that invited the ICC to investigate and charge the LRA perpetrators of the conflict in northern Uganda. It is instructive that the ICC remains silent on alleged abuses committed by Museveni’s forces. Africa in 2017 and beyond will require strong and visionary leadership. In late January, the African Union will attempt, for the second time, to elect a successor to Dr Dlamini-Zuma. Five candidates are in the running. They all featured in a live media debate in December last year. There will be a lot of horse trading in Addis in late January, and we can expect a clear victor at the end of it all. Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s tenure was plagued by the fact that many member states, especially in the Francophone zone, felt aggrieved at the manner in which she had secured victory. For the winning candidate to make an effective chair, he or she must secure the eventual support, real or tacit, of all the member states. Anything short of this will only achieve a Pyrrhic victory. NA

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JANUARY EVENTS 2017 Côte d’Ivoire Breakfast Roundtable, BCA Tuesday 10 January Cottons Centre, London, UK Transforming Transportation – World Bank Thursday 12 January – Friday 13 January World Bank Headquarters, Washington DC, USA Lecture by Sandrine Colard: Photography of the Colonial Bourgeois Home: The portrayal of the évolué in the 1950s in Belgian Congo Thursday 12 January Centre of Fine Arts Brussels, Belgium Africa Cup of Nations Saturday 14 Jan – Sunday 5 February Gabon Opening of next session of Dominic Ongwen case Monday 16 January The Hague, the Netherlands World Future Energy Summit Monday 16 January – Thursday 19 January Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, UAE World Economic Forum Tuesday 17 January – Friday 20 January Davos-Klosters, Switzerland West Africa Energy Assembly Tuesday 17 January – Wednesday 18 January Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria Nigeria’s Economic Outlook for 2017, BCA Tuesday 17 January Addleshaw Goddard, London, UK AGCO Africa Summit Organising Farmers of the Future Monday 23 January – 24 January Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Berlin, Germany Finance Disrupted, Economist Event Wednesday 25 January St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London, UK Meeting of AU Executive Council Saturday 27 January – Sunday 28 January AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Monday 30 January – Tuesday 31 January AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

HIV/Aids vaccine launch The day before World Aids Day 2016, on 30 November, 5,400 sexually active men and women between 18 and 35 at sites across South Africa were selected to trial a new HIV/ Aids vaccine in a programme dubbed HVTN 702. The volunteers for the study will be randomly assigned to receive either five vaccine injections over a year or five placebo shots. The results will be known in 2020. South Africa has more than 6.8 million people living with HIV, and even in the developed world the disease is still making inroads. For example, in the UK twice as many people are now HIV/ Aids+ as 10 years ago. To love the king is not bad, but a king who loves you is better (Wolof proverb)

The challenge of poverty Poverty across the continent may be lower than what current estimates suggest, according to the latest World Bank Africa poverty report. Poverty in a Rising Africa, the first of two upcoming reports on poverty in Africa, documents the data challenges facing the region and reviews the status of Africa’s poverty and inequality, both monetary and nonmonetary, taking these data challenges into account. “The main messages which emerge from this effort to assess poverty in Africa are both encouraging and sobering,” says Kathleen Beegle, World Bank programme leader and coauthor of the report. She added: “Major poverty challenges still remain, especially in light of rapid population growth.”

Nigeria and Morocco to build gas pipeline Nigeria and Morocco have agreed to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations and some other African countries to Europe. The agreement was reached during a visit by Morocco’s King Mohammed to the Nigerian capital Abuja. Nigeria and Morocco have also agreed to develop other businesses such as fertiliser. Entrepreneur Aliko Dangote said the deal would be very good for both economies. World Bank to raise $20bn The World Bank is to issue bonds for capital markets to raise more than $20bn to fund an increase in funding to the world’s poorest countries. The bank said in December that it had already raised more than $75bn in pledges for the International Development Association.

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CRISIS IN THE GAMBIA The Gambia’s shock election result, the defeat of President Yahya Jammeh, and the incumbent’s concession and subsequent refusal to accept the result, sparked a diplomatic move by Ecowas to persuade the man to step down. An Ecowas delegation led by Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (pictured left) was unsuccessful. The UN’s regional envoy, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, in mid-December hinted at “strong sanctions” even as the loyalist army prepared for confrontation.

HAGE GEINGOB’S PLEDGE Namibia will remain a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), but only if the US joins by signing the Rome Statute, Namibia’s President Hage Geingob told Reuters during an interview on the sidelines of an investor mission in London. His visit to London followed his return from attending Fidel Castro’s funeral in Havana, Cuba. Early last year, Namibia said it would withdraw from the ICC, which prosecutes individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes saying that it appears to only target Africans.

DAVID SHEARER APPOINTED The former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote to the Security Council of his intention to appoint David Shearer, 59, as the UN envoy to South Sudan with responsibility for the 14,000-strong UNMISS peacekeepers. Among other international missions, Shearer has worked in both Rwanda and Liberia.

GIRAFFES ENDANGERED The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meeting in Mexico, says that giraffe numbers have declined by 40% in just 30 years. This decline has resulted in the animal being placed on the official watch list of threatened and endangered species. Human activities are blamed for the fall in the population of giraffes, especially in

FAKE EMBASSY BUSTED Ghana’s Criminal Investigations Division, working with US State Department officials, has raided a fake US embassy in Accra. The “embassy” issued illegally obtained but authentic visas, the US State Department reported. The “embassy” (right) was a pink twostorey building with an iron roof, flying the Stars and Stripes flag outside. Inside was a portrait of President Barack Obama. Authentic and counterfeit Indian, South African and Schengen Zone visas, and 150 passports from 10 different countries, were seized along with a laptop and smartphones. Unbelievably, it was said to have been operating for about 10 years. The fake embassy was open three mornings a week and did not accept walk-in appointments. Instead, applicants were given interview appointments over the phone. Clients were drawn from across West Africa and offered US visas for upwards of $6,000 each. President-elect Donald Trump has yet to comment.

central and eastern Africa. Scientists say that giraffe numbers have declined in seven countries – Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal. But one ray of hope is that after decades of falling populations due to poaching and loss of habitat, giraffes are experiencing a comeback, with a tenfold increase, in Niger.

GRACE’S BLING Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe (above), is apparently embroiled in a legal dispute over a $1.4m diamond ring, ordered in Dubai, paid for in Harare – where bank withdrawals are usually limited to $45. But the sale is now in dispute as Mrs Mugabe wants to cancel the order. The ring was seemingly bought by Mrs Mugabe on behalf of her husband as an anniversary gift to her. The reasons for the subsequent cancellation are unclear.

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20% 371% $570 Increase in the number of claims for asylum in Europe between 2012 and 2014

Diaspora remittances make up 20% of GDP

Debt burden each Gambian carries, of the total $1,047bn debt

Tourism is the economy’s mainstay

4th $80.3m $135m Direct contribution of tourism to the economy

Gambia is forecast to have the fourth fastest growing tourism industry out of 184 countries surveyed

Foreign visitor exports forecast for 2026

HYDROPOWER FOCUS: INGA DAM Hydroelectric plant in DRC

$100bn 60,000 40GW Number of people that may have to be relocated during construction of two planned phases of a total of 7

Estimated cost to build it

Expected generation capacity; equivalent to 20 large nuclear power plants


■ Gas ■ coal ■ hydro ■ geo ■ wind 1 87

Mozambique south africa



178 111

botswana 98

tanzania ethiopia





42 35



mauritania 27

kenya gabon




(Source: World Bank)

85% 170GW

Percentage of Congolese population that doesn’t have access to electricity

World Bank estimate of Congo’s hydroelectric potential

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Castro and Africa

A tribute to a great supporter of Africa’s liberation


1) President Fidel Castro greets Angola’s President dos Santos in Havana, 1983; 2) with Samora Machel in 1977; 3) Castro’s funeral cortege in December 2016; 4) Fidel with Namibia’s Sam Nujoma in 2004; 5) Two titans meet in 1998 – Fidel and Madiba; 6) Castro with Cuban troops returning home from Angola in 1998




5 4

6 9

7 8


7) Castro (c), flanked by Zimbabwean PM Robert Mugabe (l) and President Caanan Banana in 1986; 8) speaking with Sierra Leone’s Siaka Stevens; 9) Sowetans demonstrate their gratitude during a 1998 visit to SA; and 10) A Sudanese refugee in Cuba holds a portrait of the former Cuban president during a mourning march

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“They think that if they can assassinate me, they will have solved the problem. But the ideals for which I have struggled all my life cannot die, and they will live on for a long, long time.” – Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba, who died on 25 November 2016.

BAFFOUR’S BEEFS Baffour Ankomah

Good night, good knight


o, at last, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz has gone to the ancestors. The man who made a whole empire, next door, quake in its boots. The man who defied an economic and trade blockade for 50 years to build a fine country that, amidst all its shortcomings, still stretched out a hand of generosity to other less fortunate countries, a hand so long that it reached even as far as Africa. No wonder Ignacio Ramonet, the Spanish journalist and former editor of Le Monde Diplomatique who co-authored Castro’s spoken autobiography, My Life, published in 2006, had no hesitation in saying: “Few men have known the glory of entering the pages of both history and legend while they are still alive. Fidel is one of them. He is the last ‘sacred giant’ of international politics – giants who hoped to change a world of inequalities and discrimination.” Fidel was the great man who became a figure of love and hate, “the great devil” as he himself admitted his adversaries thought of him. But was he? Ramonet thinks not, I think not too, and billions of people around the world think not as well. “Whether his detractors like it or not,” Ramonet argued in 2003, “Castro has a place in the pantheon

of world figures who have struggled most fiercely for social justice and with greatest solidarity come to the aid of the oppressed. As Frei Betto, the Brazilian Catholic theologian and former adviser to President Lula [da Silva], put it: ‘Fidel Castro has freed his country not just from hunger, but also from illiteracy, begging, criminality, and subservience to the empire’.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I would buy such a “devil” any time. What else would a nation want? As Fidel himself proudly stated in 2003: “The life expectancy of Cuban citizens is now almost 18 years longer than in 1959 when the Revolution came to power. We have made universal literacy possible. In the fields of education and health, there is no country in the developing world, even in the developed capitalist world, that has done what we have done, for the good of our people. “Begging and unemployment have been eradicated. Drug use and gambling have also disappeared. You won’t find children begging in the streets, we don’t have homeless beggars here, or children sleeping in the street, or barefoot, or malnourished, or not going to school. “I won’t go on too long about the aid we have given dozens of countries in the developing world.

There are Cuban doctors in over 40 countries, and they have saved thousands of lives. I don’t think any place in the world has equalled the generosity to human beings that has been shown by Cuba. And this is the country that people want to condemn for violations of human rights? Only through lies and calumnies can such profoundly dishonest accusations be made. “Out of the 6,000 doctors we had at the time of the Revolution in 1959, 3,000 were lured away by the US in the first few years. It took us at least 20 years to be able to admit even 6,000 students to study medicine and get to the number we have now, almost all with one or two specialties. From the one school of medicine that existed in 1959, we have now increased to 21. The 22nd is mainly

“We are the largest educators of doctors in the world. We can now educate 10 times more doctors than the USA” – Castro

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for foreign students. “Cuba now has more than 70,000 doctors [and Fidel was speaking in 2003]. We have 25,000 medical students, and that is not counting the tens of thousands who are studying in other branches of health science. If we include all those who are studying for their degrees in nursing, and all those in health-related studies, we find that in the health area we have around 90,000 students and that does, without question, put us in a very special place – an incomparable place, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest – in the history of humanity. “We are the largest educators of doctors in the world, we can now

President Nelson Mandela saluting the crowd next to Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Matanzas, Cuba during his visit in 1991

educate 10 times more doctors than the USA – that country that carried off a good number of the doctors we had and did everything possible to deprive Cuba of doctors. That’s our answer to that. Today, even with almost 30,000 Cuban doctors sent abroad, we still have no fewer than 40,000 at home, in the hospitals and polyclinics that deal with the medical needs of our people. “In Cuba, all citizens, irrespective of their political persuasion, whether they support the US economic blockade or not, have full medical service.” And Fidel was only a “great devil”? Haba! Have we run out of superlatives? What I liked best about him was when he spent time talking about the land reform he and the leaders of the Cuban Revolution had to undertake as the necessary foundation upon which the revolution would stand and grow. And Africa had better listen: “I must say that our agrarian reform was, at the time, less radical than the agrarian reform General MacArthur had instituted in Japan.” Fidel said in 2003. “Because when the US occupied Japan in 1945, MacArthur did away with large land holdings and parceled out the land and distributed it among the peasantry and the poor. But in Japan, the large tracts of land hadn’t belonged to big American companies, while in Cuba they had. So that’s why we weren’t allowed to have an agrarian reform, just as it wasn’t allowed in Guatemala when [Jacobo] Arbenz tried to implement one in 1954.” That is what an empire does, I suppose – do as I say, not as I do! General MacArthur, the decorated son of Empire USA, sent to the other side of the world to do the bidding of the empire, knew the heinousness of monopolised land, and why land should be redistributed from feudal hands to the “peasantry and the poor”, so that land becomes a necessary foundation for economic-prosperity-for-all. Thus, faithful to his mission, and with the full support of the empire, General MacArthur did land reform in Japan and when it became a rolling success, he was shifted to Taiwan to do the same, which

became the foundation of Taiwan’s current economic prosperity. Yet since Taiwan, Empire USA has been opposing land reform everywhere its very long hands can reach – despite the fact that land reform has been proven to be the elixir that guarantees economic-prosperity-for-all. As Fidel intimated above, Empire USA opposed Guatemala’s land reform, it opposed Cuba’s land reform, it opposed Zimbabwe’s land reform (and in fact imposed crippling economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, making Zimbabweans suffer for the last 16 years). And, for all you know, it will oppose land reform in Namibia, and in South Africa too! And this “opposer” is not even a “great devil”. It is “God’s Own Country”. Well, what God will be happy owning such a country? Maybe the world is blessed, abundantly so, that it is only “God’s Own Country” doing the opposing. Imagine if it were a “devil”? Which makes Ramonet so right, when he says: “In this new geopolitical context, the Cuban Revolution is still, thanks to its successes and despite its not inconsiderable shortcomings (economic difficulties, colossal bureaucratic incompetence, widespread small-scale corruption, the harshness of daily life, food and other shortages, power cuts, a chronic lack of public – and of course private – transport, housing problems, rationing, restrictions on certain freedoms), an important reference for millions of the disinherited of the planet.” It is why Fidel’s death was greatly mourned across the world by “the disinherited of the planet”, despite all the attempts to paint him as a tyrant by those who cannot see beyond their noses. Who wouldn’t protect himself if 600 attempts were made on his life, as Fidel’s life was threatened? His policy of unity-to-the-death and his principle of a single political party were only echoing St Ignatius Loyola’s old motto: “In a besieged fortress, all dissidence is treason.” Cuba under Fidel was a country besieged by the constant aggressions directed against it by, and from, the USA. Now that he is gone, we shall see if the empire behaves better. NA

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‘Democracy delivered by economic inclusion’ The Kenyan head of UNCTAD, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, spoke to New African’s J. P. O’Malley about the role of his agency given the current wave of global populism and the threat to multilateral trade agreements.


n December 2016, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published The Least Developed Countries Report 2016. It forecasts a significant reduction – from 48 in 2016 to 32 in 2025 – in the total number of LDCs in the world: that is countries across the globe that have been classified by the UN as “least developed”. The definition of LDC’s takes into account things like low Gross National Income (GNI), weak human assets, as well as a high degree of economic vulnerability. The report predicts an overall reduction in global poverty. But for Africans, the news is not so good, primarily because by the mid-2020s, UNCTAD projects that the LDC group will include just two countries outside of Africa: Cambodia and Haiti. Currently, 34 of the 54 recognised nation states across Africa are defined as LDC’s. Some statistics from UNCTAD’s latest report make for depressing reading. Thirty-three LDCs, for instance, have remained in the same per capita income category since 1987; while in the low-income category of LDC countries, the average income per person amounts to a paltry $750 a year. What, then, are the reasons for such stagnation, and in some cases, a manifestation of poverty: particularly in sub-Saharan countries? While globalisation – which encourages expansion of

trade with fewer protection tariffs and barriers – has certainly helped lift millions out of poverty in recent decades, not nearly enough people have benefited. And huge challenges remain. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) primarily works with governments across the world, as well as liaising closely with the private sector: to provide analysis, consensus-building, and technical assistance to boost global trade and investment. Together with other UN departments and agencies, UNCTAD measures progress by the Sustainable Development Goals, as set out in Agenda 2030: a UN-led blueprint for sustainable development across the globe. Since September 2013 the Secretary-General of UNCTAD has been Dr Mukhisa Kituyi. The 60-year-old Kenyan has a wide range of experience in trade negotiations, and in international economics and diplomacy. He studied political science and international relations in Uganda, Kenya, and Norway respectively – holding academic posts in the latter two countries. And he has been a non-resident fellow of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Kituyi was elected to the Kenyan Parliament in 1992, and was twice re-elected: serving as Kenya’s Minister of Trade and Industry

from 2002 to 2007. Other positions he has served in include chairman of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and he was lead negotiator for Eastern and Southern African ministers during the European Union-ACP Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations. Kituyi begins our conversation by stressing the importance of how countries across the globe can help alleviate poverty in various LDC’s. “What we are calling for at UNCTAD is for countries to return to their commitments of 0.15 to 0.2% of Gross National Income (GNI) devoted to Official Development Assistance (ODA),” says Kituyi. “All the solidarity measures that can take each respective countries’ Gross Domestic Product [GDPs] back to levels that are healthy – at least 7% a year – will be absolutely necessary if there is any chance that the goals of Agenda 2030 are to be realised for these countries.” As a global institution that views international trade deals as paramount to alleviating global poverty, UNCTAD has been paying particular attention to the seismic rightward shift in Western political discourse of late. With the recent rise of farright populism – an ideology that regularly beats the drums of inward nationalism and looks askance at cosmopolitanism and globalisation january 2017 new african  15

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THE BIG INTERVIEW – international trade deals have become a controversial, and at times even emotive topic. First there was the UK’s Brexit last June. And then there was the US election last November. Both results were, in one sense, a protest vote that aimed to reverse the recent trends of globalisation. US president-elect Donald Trump, for example, has vowed to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on day one of his presidency, claiming that the deal outsources US jobs abroad. The TPP, signed by 12 countries last February (but which still needs to be ratified by 11 of the members), covers 40% of the world’s economy. It was put together by the US to counter the China’s rapid growth by strengthening economic ties between the signatories; so as to slash tariffs and boost growth. Those who have voiced their opposition to TPP, however, claim it represents a secretive deal that favours corporate power at the expense of workers’ rights, and threatens national sovereignties. So, how will numerous African nations be affected by all of this? Whatever the outcome of TPP, it potentially means that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) could change status from its current form in theory, although it is all a guessing game at present. AGOA is the main tool for commercial diplomacy. It allows some African products to enter the US duty-free. The aim was to promote growth for sub-Saharan exports to the US, and of course, to build more free markets. “The main sub-Saharan African export to the US, apart from oil, is textiles,” Kituyi explains. “For example if Vietnam [a signatory of TPP] has market access for textiles exports, it has a massive potential to wipe out the African share in the US [market] under AGOA. “So if TPP had worked, the AGOA provisions – which have been the main engine of African manufacturing jobs under the AGOA agreement – would have been eroded by now,” Kituyi adds. However, if Trump’s administration turns its back on pro-lateral trade agreements, Kituyi

believes the AGOA agreement could be severely damaged. “We will have to wait and see whether the AGOA agreement is going to be put in jeopardy,” he says. “AGOA has traditionally always got bipartisan support in the [US] Congress. So we hope AGOA will be ring-fenced from the kind of political populism that goes with cutting market access for foreign enterprises.” And then there is the rather shaky and uncertain future of trade relations that numerous East African countries are going through with the EU at the moment. Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are the trade and development agreements that are currently negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Right now those negotiations are reaching a stalemate. For the Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and the ACP countries, the original deadline for the East African Community

“The main problem for the 34 African countries who presently find themselves confined to an LDC status, Kituyi believes, is catching up with the industrialised north.” (EAC) member states to sign the trade agreement, as a bloc, was set for October last year. But due to resistance from some countries, the final deadline is now this month. Among the EAC members, Tanzania has refused to sign, claiming that to do so would lead to the demise of its local industry. Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, however, are in favour of the agreement. Their main priority is EU market access for their goods. Many economists and analysts, however, have pointed out that Tanzania’s refusal to sign could lead to other states in East Africa suffering by undermining trade within the EAC, and beyond, in the process – and, more importantly, giving rise to partner states operating in different trading regimes.

Kituyi becomes more direct when the conversation shifts to this topic: momentarily losing the cautious diplomatic language. “EPAs cannot be a fair deal,” he says. “Because it’s a negotiated arrangement, where you open up your markets and introduce reciprocity. It’s the best of a bad lot. “Tanzania is playing on the fact that it has everything but a provision of market access. But it has committed to exit status by 2020. So this status of market access is going to be removed from Tanzania. It will have to eventually join a partnership agreement. So it is a short game it is playing right now.” However, there are some flaws in the EPA negotiations, which are being exposed by this current trade rift, Kituyi maintains. “The EU, in configuring the negotiated partners, [talked about] the importance of rigid integration,” says Kituyi. “But the reality is that Kenya is the only country in East Africa that has been pressured to sign up to the deadline to sustain existing market access – because it is not a Least Developed Country.” Currently, Kenya is classified as a developing country, while Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, are all classified as Least Developed Countries. “So Rwanda and Uganda are right in saying that hiding behind both the LDC status, and market access, is only a short-term measure,” says Kituyi. It’s hardly surprising that our conversation keeps returning to the topic of trade and globalisation. Whether it is disenfranchised workers in the rustbelt of the US; the disillusioned working class unemployed of the north of England; or rural farmers in Tanzania; those resisting globalisation are essentially all humming the same theme tune, claiming that it is a system that does well for elites, but not for them. The arguments, of course, differ widely, on both the left and the right. But the disillusionment is clearly there on both sides of the political spectrum. Since Kituyi is in charge of an UN agency whose fundamental ethos epitomises globalisation, it is hardly surprising that he is a staunch defender of it.

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“Well, globalisation cannot die,” says Kituyi rather sternly. “I think it’s the popularity of the neoliberal version [of globalisation] – the denationalisation of the production process, and the private search for maximum profit above all – that is under threat as a model,” he says. “So going forward, we need to ask: how can we create more inclusive prosperity and a fairer distribution of wealth in industrial societies? The answer lies in the benefits of improved global efficiency, rather than the model of globalisation that has existed in the last 50 years. “While Africa has certainly supplied [materials and labour] for the globalisation process, the effect has not been as pronounced there as it has been in the industrialised north, and in Mexico, China and India: which have all benefited enormously from the denationalised production process,” Kituyi adds. Global civic and political institutions that try to maintain some semblance of stability and control of the world economy – such as the World Bank and the IMF – are often accused of promoting an agenda led first and foremost by neoliberalism. For example, the former senior vice-president of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz has claimed the IMF’s financial liberalisation policies in Africa during the 1980s led to market domination, where mafia clans took over rural farms. And even Antoinette Sayeh, the former director of the IMF for Africa, told New African back in 2013, that some of the harsh criticisms of the IMF’s ruthless neoliberal-led “structural adjustment” programmes were often justified – that the IMF had to learn from its past mistakes in Africa where they pushed for a neoliberal market-led agenda before all else. UNCTAD, in comparison to say, the IMF or the World Bank, has often been seen as a kind of black sheep: promoting a much more progressive, and

Left to right: UN SecretaryGeneral Ban-ki Moon (who steps down this month), Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, and UNCTAD Secretary-General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, pictured at the opening of the UNCTAD XIV conference in July 2016

south-driven agenda than its global partners, who traditionally swing to the right economically. “Whether or not UNCTAD is a black sheep or not depends on whose eyes we are being looked at with,” says Kituyi. “Even the IMF and the World Bank are questioning the rationale of neoliberalism, which is not the only game in town now.” Ever the diplomat though, Kituyi is keen to stress that as the seventh Secretary-General of UNCTAD, he is a pragmatist. “An open market – if aligned with proper planning in developing countries – can mean being productive, and then trading your way out of poverty. And it’s a positive thing,” says Kituyi. The main problem for the 34 African countries who presently find themselves confined to a LDC status, Kituyi believes, is trying to catch up with the industrialised north. Here, two things are crucial for progress, he says: technology and infrastructure. Great breakthroughs in the IT sector have been made in certain African countries, Kituyi admits. He cites his native homeland, Kenya, and the emergence of an up and coming high tech and highly mobile class of educated workers has sprung up. However, the infrastructure for the digital economy, as a whole,

across Africa “remains extremely poor,” says Kituyi. “A person in the European Union, for instance, has 30 times as much access to fixed broadband, and five times as much access to mobile broadband, as a person in Africa. So the challenges are in infrastructure,” says Kituyi. “The potential is there,” he says. The major problem, however, is that many African countries [when it comes to technology] have not developed a payment system,” Kituyi posits. “[Most African countries] have not legislated on cyber crime; on the protection of intellectual property. Nor have they established the logistics for delivering goods that are ordered online. And this is the legislative and practical system that is critically important in the potential for growing small businesses.” Kituyi cites practical solutions in reducing countries’ debt levels across Africa. And he says it is an important developmental challenge that UNCTAD is dealing with all the time. “Already Mozambique, for example, is on the brink of a [sovereign] default. And we can see quite a few other [African] countries which are also in that situation,” Kituyi adds. Reducing debt will eventually help to improve the infrastructure of these countries, which in turn, will help to foster wealth creation and the evolution of a new middle class. It’s quite simple, says Kituyi: “You can’t have democracy without economic prosperity.” “For a generation, we have been talking about the importance of democracy. I still embrace the rise of democracy. But democracy is nurtured in the fertile grounds of economic prosperity,” says Kituyi. “If the cost of democracy does not relate positively to the dividends of economic inclusion and prosperity, then populists can shoot their way into power. So democracy must be delivering on the economic front, as a way of deepening the culture of fair competition in African politics.” NA january 2017 new african  17

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US society exists under the cloud of historical traumas rooted in its three main communities: the Natives, the Africans and the Europeans. The first two have long been on the journey of healing. The third is yet to begin.

Trump, refugees and America’s unresolved past


o be a refugee is to be something of a reject. This is not to be unkind: I was one myself for many years. The US is a country founded by rejects, whom other rejects then joined. “Nations of immigrants” is a misnomer. These were white refugees, not “immigrants”, or “founders”, as they like to call themselves. They may have become immigrants on arrival, but they began as economic and political refugees, rejects of the European order they left behind. There is a very real sense in which America as is, is indeed the property of the white people there. The land may not be theirs, and much of the labour power that created their economy was not theirs either. Neither has ever been paid for. But the exploitative economy, and the twin legacies of enslavement and genocide are certainly the spiritual and cultural property of white America. Their “founding fathers” used those means to create the kind of society they wished for themselves, and then invited millions of other Europeans to join them. Between 1862 and 1934, the US federal government gave 270m acres of land to mainly white European settlers. This is said to be 10%

of all land in the country. Earlier such settlers between 1850 and 1854 were able to obtain 320 or 640 acres of land each for free in what are now the modern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming. So the problem of American politics is trying to change the US “for the better”, while holding on to all that was stolen. Even the new and/or non-white immigrant often tries to buy into this. That is why first-generation US citizens can often take great offence when they are asked where they “originally” came from. It is important to privilege their newly acquired US identity over the previous one that their parents abandoned. The simple fact is that if indeed one wishes to believe in an idea of American greatness, one then has to accept that the US’s origins as a genocidal, slave-dealing economy are part of the make-up. It was the failure to hold an honest conversation bridging the space between how the US came into existence, and what it wants to be now, that has ultimately undermined the “progressive” politics of the Democratic Party. The first act of economic migrancy was European imperial expansion. Western European


So the problem of American politics is trying to change America “for the better”, while holding on to all that America seized.

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Settlers travelling West in the US

monarchies, beset by huge public debts, borrowed money to send pirates overseas to see what could be found and looted from the “New World”. This gave rise to a whole new set of industries, economies and social formations, including a white settler population in North America – which then led a revolt and took the colony for themselves. People carrying a sense of rejection, or any other kind of psychic shock are often damaged people. That is why most African societies have cleansing rituals for people returning from exile or prison (which is a form of exile) and even war, before they may re-enter their homes and reunite with their families. US society therefore walks under the dark cloud of three sets of deep historical trauma rooted in its three primary communities: the Natives, the Africans and the Europeans. The first two have long been on the journey of healing. The third are yet to begin. As the ongoing confrontation over protecting sacred territory from a state-backed corporate land grab in Standing Rock, Dakota, shows, the indigenous natives are still resisting the genocide. Africans, having brought down the US apartheid system just over 50 years ago, still march towards justice. As for the Europeans, they carry and hold the values of the very societies that they fled due to poverty and violence, while maintaining a contradiction that began with their amusing attempts to recreate the very Europe that rejected them, for instance placing the word “New” in their settlements, followed by the name of a place they had just fled. Many of the first Europeans to set foot in the continents they would later name after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, were rough sailors and soldiers. Theirs, and the later ships carried physical bodies, but those bodies carried damaged souls and hearts wounded by essential hatreds borne of 200 years of non-stop violence before they left Europe. A most wicked and sustained pathology was the result, expressing itself in a culture of social intolerance and violent, combative lan-

guage, of the sort Trump exploited during his US election campaign. The social histories quietly carried in Native communities tell the stories of the conduct of specific, now very rich white American families, from their origins as vagabond gold hunters and land grabbers, through to frontier traders and then “noble” corporate giants. The Lakota Nation knows the ancestors of the wealthy Hearst family, who exploited and promoted treaty-violating native clearance military operations so as to make their fortune mining gold and silver in the Lakota Nation’s Black Hills, still possibly the largest gold mine in the US. They even acquired the San Francisco Examiner newspaper specifically to maintain a racist propaganda campaign aimed at justifying the land grabbing. The Trump family history certainly fits into that pattern. His grandfather fled the poverty and endless war footing of 1880s Germany and became gold-hunter, brothel-keeper and land-grabber in the western frontier towns recently erected on stolen native land. After amassing a small fortune that he would stash with his also immigrant sisters on the East Coast (the most Europeanised part of the US), he joined them there and settled into real estate development. It was a simple pattern; migrate, use your whiteness to make a lot of money by breaking a few laws, and then invest in “respectability”. The external appearance changes, but what of the inner person? “That which is seen (or see-able) is not what is to be adored”, say my people. It is not possible to remember and to forget at the same time, and the white settler communities should not be asked to forget their own ancestry. However, they do need to come to terms with the most salient fact concerning Europe: that it rejected them. The descendants of all those Europeans must make peace with those demons. They must cease aspiring to be the big people in America if they are to become whole human beings again. Trump’s rise can only be fully understood in this context. He

represents whiteness’ “last walk in the sun”. After a very long journey, the settlers now stand stranded at a huge dead-end, an over-extended empire that struggles to pay its debts while maintaining the largest, most deadly military machine humanity has ever created. As the US election result – not to mention the quality of all the main candidates – shows, this is now clearly a matter far beyond the capacity of mere politics to solve. Looking back at some of the other ignoramuses from the white settler community that have held the presidential and vice-presidential offices there (the Vice President Dan Quayle comes quickly to mind), it is clear that things have been heading this way for some time. However, given the great economic crisis that is the US, and how it has bound much of the rest of the world to its fortunes, this is a matter for the whole world to be concerned about. What does this mean for Africa? Only natives, using a native sensibility, can solve this. But to solve a problem, one must start from where the problem started. The US must be coaxed into auditing itself: does it still honour the treaties it signed “in perpetuity” with the natives? Has it compensated the descendants of the enslaved Africans in the way the families of British slave-owners were financially compensated when the practice was abolished? Will it ever hold a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the damage and shortcomings of its long stay on stolen land? Can it contemplate a process of mass counselling to begin the cleansing, healing and civilising of the descendants of genocidaires, as well as those that later benefitted from the mass killings and clearances, so as to remove the inheritance of bloodstains from their psyches? Without a deep look into its own soul, and the birth of a desire to really change, the country is set on a course of entrenched cultural wars. One the other hand, it could continue to choose leaders who are warped and damaged individuals, thus accelerating its own decline, and inviting ridicule and derision. NA

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NA Declassified CONGO

Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in January 1961. Dag Hammarskjรถld died in a plane crash under dubious circumstances in September 1961 not far away from where Lumumba was executed. They were in different ways the most prominent victims of the battle for the control over the Congo and its mineral-rich Katanga province at the height of the Cold War, when the winds of change were sweeping across the African continent. By Henning Melber.

Lumumba, Hammarskjรถld and the Cold War in the Congo

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fter Congolese Independence in June 1960, Moïse Tshombe declared, with Belgian support, the secession of Katanga. At the request of President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba, the UN Security Council mandated Hammarskjöld to intervene. But the Cold War constellation turned this into a mission impossible. Hammarskjöld was soon criticised by either the East or the West for almost every subsequent decision. He tried to maintain ownership over the UN’s role by seeking the cooperation of as many states as possible from the non-aligned movement. India’s Nehru, Egypt’s Nasser, Guinea’s Sekou Touré, Ghana’s Nkrumah and Tunisia’s Bourguiba, became important counterparts and at times even allies to bring a visible involvement of the South into the peacekeeping efforts. Moroccan, Swedish and Irish blue helmets also strengthened the operations. Appreciating Hammarskjöld’s intentions, African leaders sought first to influence Lumumba towards measured interaction with the UN and later refused support to the Soviet initiative campaigning for Hammarskjöld’s resignation. When Lumumba was ousted as prime minister, Hammarskjöld was at pains to determine how the UN should respond. The Congo mission was tasked by a Security Council resolution to act in consultation with the constitutional government. But when President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba clashed in early September 1960, the question boiled down to who could claim legitimately to represent the government. Hammarskjöld and his legal advisors concluded that the provisional constitution for the Congo, the Loi Fondamentale, allowed the chief of state (which was the president), under Article 22, to dismiss the prime minister and appoint a new one, if his action was endorsed by at least one minister, which had been the case. But the situation on the ground was more complex and contradictory. Communication with competing Congolese parties was often confusing and negotiations remained inconclusive. Pressure was exerted through multiple Western interests, including the mining companies operating in Katanga and elsewhere in the sub-region. Belgium, the United Kingdom and France (the latter two had turned against Hammarskjöld during the Suez Crisis of 1956), the USA, the British settler colonial minority regimes of the Central African Federation (Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland) and Apartheid South Africa, all had a massive geostrategic and economic interest to remain in control over the Congo generally, and Katanga specifically. This collided with the opposing interests of the Soviet Union, which was keen to secure a stake in the resource-rich territory – or at least to prevent the West from establishing another satellite regime while ignoring the aspirations of African leaders for selfdetermination. The result was an increasingly toxic situation on the ground. The secret services of all the major Western powers were operating side by side with mercenaries and Belgian troops. And the global contestation over the Congo was active even in the UN Secretariat

Many countries had a geostrategic and economic interest in remaining in control over the Congo generally, and Katanga specifically.

Opposite: Katangan province leader Möise Tshombe meets with Dag Hammarskold in a bid by the UN S-G to avert Katanga’s separatist bid. Right: The wreckage of the plane crash at Ndola that took HammarskjÖld and his companions’ lives

itself. The “Congo Club”, comprising senior UN officials directly involved in the operations both in the Secretariat and on the ground, had an influential role in advising the Secretary-General. These individuals also had direct responsibilities in issuing and implementing directives. These influential officials included most notably the US-Americans Ralph Bunche, who had served as an intelligence agent in the Office of Strategic Services, the WWII spy agency that preceded the CIA; and Andy Cordier, the Irishman, Conor Cruise O’Brien and the Indian Rajeshwar Dayal; as well as the first commander of the UN forces, the Swede von Horn (who had absolutely no grasp of the local realities). The Congolese scholar Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja maintains that some of these UN officials “shared a common Cold War outlook with Western policy makers, and saw their mission in the Congo as that of preserving the then existing balance of forces in the world”. As he argues, some members of the Congo Club “wittingly or unwittingly” might have “provided to those seeking Lumumba’s demise the justification and the opportunities they needed to remove a democratically elected leader from office by illegal means”. It is worth remarking that Ralph Bunche’s interaction with Patrice Lumumba highlights a mismatch due mainly to clashes in their personal chemistry, suspicion on both sides and miscommunication. This escalated into a relationship characterised by animosity and mutual contempt. As ridiculous as it may sound, the exchanges between the African-American Bunche, the first Black Nobel laureate, and the Pan-African nationalist Lumumba were riven with strong racist undertones. The USAmerican scholar Crawford Young diagnosed their interaction as a “fatal encounter” in as much as “the january 2017 New African  21

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flow of information that shaped their understandings was so completely at odds that one might imagine that they were engaged in wholly separate settings”. At the end, this was certainly a contributing factor to the ghastly fate of Lumumba, whose life ended on 17 January 1961. It remains a matter of controversy to what extent the UN should have protected Lumumba after he decided to leave the house in which he stayed under UN observation. As Hammarskjöld and others argued, by removing himself from the direct protection in order to mobilise for the restoration of his political influence, Lumumba was returning into active Congolese politics. His continued protection would therefore have been interfering in domestic policies and would have resulted in a violation of the mandate. In the meantime it is a well-established and documented fact, that in the absence of such protection the USAmerican intelligence services played a major role in his liquidation under horrific circumstances. Belgian journalist Ludo de Witte, perhaps the most vociferous critic of the UN and specifically, Hammarskjöld’s role in Lumumba’s assassination, charges that the UN and its secretary-general were accomplices in the gruesome act. In the preface to the English edition of his exhaustive investigation, The Assassination of Lumumba, De Witte maintains that without the UN, Lumumba’s “assassination could never have been carried out”. The critical review of the English edition of his book in the New York Review of Books by Brian Urquhart, who was also among the high-ranking UN officials surrounding Hammarskjöld, sparked an illuminating exchange. De Witte repeated his accusation that “UN Secretary-General Hammarskjöld played a decisive role in the overthrow of the Congolese government of Patrice Lumumba”, thereby willingly or not, becoming complicit in his subsequent assassination. For him, the “UN was the most important vehicle of destroying the Congolese government and laying the groundwork for the dictatorship of Mobutu”. De Witte regards Western criticism of aspects of the UN operation as being merely “for public consumption, or a counterweight to the Afro-Asian pressure on the UN leadership to help Lumumba”. In response, Urquhart qualified De Witte’s “elaborate fantasy of Hammarskjöld’s conspiracy with the Belgians” as “absurd to anyone who worked with Hammarskjöld at the time and experienced his frustration and his frequent rages at, and denunciations of, both the Belgians and their protégé, the Katangese leader, Moïse Tshombe”. Hammarskjöld’s private comment on the brutal assassination might be telling. On 28 February 1961 in a letter to his friend, the novelist John Steinbeck, he wrote: “No one, in the long pull, will really profit from Lumumba’s death, least of all those outside the Congo who now strain to do so but should one day confront a reckoning with truth and decency.” On the day eight months after Lumumba’s execution, Dag Hammarskjöld and 15 others (entourage and crew), died in the wreckage of the DC6 airplane

“The solution of the problem of the Congo lies in the hands of the Congolese people themselves without any interference from outside.”

Patrice Lumumba being greeted by supporters following negotiations

Dag Hammarskjöld

Albertina. It crashed when approaching the airport of the Northern Rhodesian mining town of Ndola in the night from 17 to 18 September 1961. Officially considered the result of a pilot error, evidence ever since then nourished suspicions that the plane crashed because of external influence. Testimonies of numerous credible local eyewitnesses were deliberately ignored. As the German scholar Manuel Fröhlich commented: “It is interesting to note that almost all of the major secret services in the world are at least suspects in one or another theory. In retrospect, Hammarskjöld’s death becomes singular evidence of the Secretary-General’s independence.” Since the publication of Who Killed Hammarskjold?, the pioneering book by Susan Williams in 2011 (now re-published in a second edition), this private inquiry into the death of the Swedish UN secretary-general impelled the UN to re-open further investigations, which had been dormant since the mid-1960s. On 6 December 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to pursue investigations into Hammarskjold’s death. It was, remarkably, the third resolution since 2013. During the hearings at the UN, Sweden’s UN Ambassador, Olof Skoog, stressed the “shared responsibility to pursue the full truth in this matter” while “the need for additional follow-up remains”. Skoog also told the General Assembly: “Time is of the essence as with every passing year the door is closing further on finding the truth. But our efforts must continue. We owe it to the families of those that

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perished that night, to the UN as an organisation and to all here who strive to continue to work in Mr Hammarskjöld’s spirit.” Numerous other states have co-sponsored this and the two preceding resolutions, which remarkably include Belgium, France and Russia, all of which featured prominently in the 1960s crisis. It is worth noting, however, that neither the UK nor the USA have so far shown any willingness to provide relevant information in their possession or any other form of support and collaboration to investigate matters further. We know why and how Patrice Lumumba was killed. But the circumstances of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death remain contentious. Hammarskjöld was on his way to Ndola to meet Tshombe to negotiate an end to the Katangese secession. Western diplomats on the ground cabled back to their home offices increasingly worried assessments, speculating about the plans of the Secretary-General. Two military efforts by the UN shortly before had backfired dismally, when in late August and early September UN troops failed to solve the impasse by force of arms in the operations ‘Rumpunch’ and ‘Morthor’. These were in clear violation of the original mandate and infuriated the Western powers. It is a matter of interpretation if Hammarskjöld, who was clearly taken by surprise of Operation Rumpunch (initiated, unauthorised, by O’Brien), endorsed the second military operation. On 10 September 1961 he cabled to his close assistant Sture Linnér that, “the speed of developments and the stage reached means that short of a change for the better in Katanga we are beyond the point of no return”. The military interventions could be seen as a sacrifice of Western economic interests in return for Soviet support of a negotiated end to the impasse. The strong disapproval of the Western powers was conveyed to Hammarskjöld. Dismissing criticism by the USA, he cabled on 15 September 1961 to Bunche: “It is better for the UN to lose the support of the US because it is faithful to law and principles than to survive as an agent whose activities are geared to political purposes never avowed or laid down by the major organs of the UN.” As late as a day before the fateful flight to Ndola he stressed in a cable to Tshombe: “The solution of the problem of the Congo lies in the hands of the Congolese people themselves without any interference from outside.” This was of course more wishful thinking – more an appeal to a principle than a realistic assessment. Both the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the loss of his own life and that of 15 others on board of the plane, as well as the killing of numerous civilians and soldiers on all sides of the conflict – including blue helmets – testified to a costly mission that bordered on the impossible. But while Hammarskjöld and the UN failed to end the conflict, they managed to prevent a further escalation into what might have provoked a much larger inter-state military conflict at the height of the Cold War. NA

HAMMARSKJÖLD AND THE CONGO – A CHRONOLOGY 1905, 29 July – Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld is born, in Jönköping, Sweden, to an aristocratic family. His father is Minister for Education. He is raised in Uppsala Castle, a 16th century royal residence. 1906 – Union Minière established – a mining company partowned by the Belgian Congo government. 1915 – The Shinkolobwe mine is discovered when Robert Rich Sharp is looking for geological signs of copper; instead he finds uranium. Belgians react to this by employing a native Congolese workforce to mine for the uranium. 1942 – Société Générale, part-owner of Union Minière, decide to sell 30,000 tons of uranium to the US Army for slightly more than $1 per pound. Some of this uranium is then used to construct the atomic bomb dropped on Japan in 1945. 1953 – March – Hammarskjöld is secretly nominated to succeed Trgve Halvdan Lie, the controversial first secretarygeneral of the UN, who resigns after losing support from both the Eastern bloc and the West. Hammarskjold cables his acceptance to the post, stating: “With strong feeling [of] personal insufficiency I hesitate to accept candidature... but do not feel I could refuse to assume the task imposed on me”. 1956 – Hammarskjöld sends UN troops to intervene in the Suez Crisis, an action that sets him against Britain and France. 1960 – Following independence in June, the Congo crisis begins, lasting five years and serving as a proxy war in the Cold War. 1961 – January – Patrice Lubumba, prime minister of Congo, is arrested and brutally murdered in Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi). 1961 – August-September – UN Blue Helmets stage two disastrous interventions in secessionist Katanga. They are repulsed by Moïse Tshombe’s troops, which include European and South African mercenaries. 1961 – 13 September – Hammarskjöld arrives in Leopoldville determined to negotiate a ceasefire with Tshombe. 17 September – The UN Secretary General and 15 others, including his security detail and his Swedish flight crew, die after their plane crashes near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). The lone survivor, Sergeant Harold Julien, dies six days later. 18th September – Wreckage of the flight discovered at 3pm, according to the official report, while witnesses claim it was earlier. 1961 – October: The first of three inquiries subsequently launched in this year, by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation. All are inconclusive. 2012 – Formation of the Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust. 2013 – The Trust presents its report at the Peace Palace in The Hague. 2015 – June – The panel of experts appointed by Ban Ki-moon concludes there is enough information and new evidence to justify pursuing the investigation. 2016 – 6 December – The Swedish draft resolution is presented to the UN General Assembly.

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Why was the Congo such an intense theatre in the Cold War? Providing a compelling reason in her new book, Spies in the Congo, Susan Williams provides this analysis.

Congolese uranium and the Cold War

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ight months before Hammarskjöld’s death – on 17 January 1961 – Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi) in Katanga, the southern province of Congo, on the other side of the border from Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Not only were their violent deaths close in time, but they were also close in terms of territory: it is less than 120 miles’ flying distance between Lubumbashi and Ndola. What was it about this small region of central Africa that made it the backdrop for the tragic deaths of such prominent men on the global stage? An important component of the answer to these questions involves a Congolese mine called Shinkolobwe, which has had a profound impact on global history. This mine produced the uranium that was vital to the development of America’s atomic bomb project in WW2 and which was used to build the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan in August 1945. Shinkolobwe’s ore was the richest in the world: an average of 65% uranium oxide, the active ingredient for nuclear fission; in comparison American or Canadian ore, contained less than 1%. The Shinkolobwe mine was just over 75 miles from the place where Lumumba died, and less than 200 miles from the crash of Hammarskjöld’s plane. During World War II the US obtained all the uranium available at Shinkolobwe and ensured it was not smuggled to Nazi Germany. It was unable to prevent Union Minière, the huge Belgian company that owned the mine, from supplying Germany with some of the Congolese uranium that had already been exported to Europe, but this was a relatively small amount. In this atomic arms race, the US beat Germany. After the war, the US engaged in a second race for the ore. But this time, the race was with the Soviet Union. As a result, observes Congolese historian Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, the Congo was “an important element of Washington’s geopolitical strategy in the context of the Cold War”. Despite strenuous efforts by the US to find alternative sources of rich ore, Shinkolobwe remained its greatest single source in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1947, according to figures from the US Atomic Energy Commission, the US obtained 1,440 tons of uranium concentrates from the Belgian Congo (now DR Congo). It obtained none from its own territory and only 137 tons from Canada. America’s need for the ore grew more urgent in late 1949, when the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, to the profound shock of the US and Britain – who had no idea that the Soviet atomic weapons programme was so well advanced. For four years, the US had enjoyed an absolute monopoly on atomic weapons. Now, the Cold War heated up dramatically. The ore was exported from the Congo in complete secrecy. By 1951, the total quantity of uranium obtained by the US was 3,686 tons, of which the largest amount still came from the Congo – 2,792 tons. A huge amount

of money was pumped into building a processing plant near Shinkolobwe and the World Bank extended $70m in loans to Belgium for the improvement of the Congolese transportation infrastructure to facilitate the export of the ore. The US was vigorously seeking new sources of uranium. In 1950, with Britain, it came to an agreement with the white minority government of South Africa – which by now had introduced the system of apartheid – for the exclusive purchase of South African ore. In so doing, comments Thomas Borstelmann in Apartheid’s Reluctant Uncle, the US compromised its principle of support for the self-determination of all peoples, which had been enshrined in the Atlantic Charter of 1941. By the end of the Truman administration in January 1953, observes Borstelmann, these dealings with South Africa had become a political embarrassment to the US

Opposite: Strip mining in Katanga, Congo. Above: The newspaper headline reads: “If the Nazis haven’t discovered the atomic bomb, you cannot blame Union Minière”

in the ‘now vociferous Cold War’. A serious worry, as during World War II, was the possibility that the enemy might get hold of Congolese ore. This had been anticipated in 1946 by Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, who wanted to build a road ‘right across Africa, passing through the top of French Equatorial Africa and enabling us, if need be, to protect the deposits in the Belgian Congo’. Concern about the mine escalated sharply in Washington after the start of the Korean War in 1950. According to Borstelmann, drawing on official documents, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff began making contingency plans for the ‘seizure of critical areas in the Congo by force’, in case of a Soviet occupation of Western Europe, including Belgium. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the shipment of $7m-worth of American military equipment for additional Belgian troops being sent to Katanga, and the CIA planted a source in the area to provide early warning of any problems. It also initiated “plans and preparations for covert counter-sabotage”. A vast military Belgian and NATO air base was built at Kamina in Katanga, “for the defence of Central Africa against international Communism”. In 1953, the US acquired 500 tons of uranium from january 2017 New African  25

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South Africa, which was considerably less than it had hoped for. It was increasingly obtaining uranium from its domestic sources; it also obtained 100 tons from a new source – Portugal. But it was still the Belgian Congo that provided the largest amount of ore: 1,600 tons. The procurement of ore was a source of persistent and acute concern for the US. Meanwhile, the protection and defence of Shinkolobwe was expanded substantially. “Today,” wrote an Italian journalist in 1954, “it is impossible for a white man to move about unobserved in Shinkolobwe … and for someone to gatecrash the mining zone without the police’s knowledge immediately puts the Union Minière in a state of alarm.” Many voices, he added, were raised about Communist espionage, with the result that the barrier was “moved another mile from the mine and every road, which for one reason or another passed the zone, was sealed off. In addition, a strict check-up was made on all foreigners who came to Jadotville, the town that had to be passed on the way to Shinkolobwe.” Another visitor in 1954 was astonished to see that Elisabethville’s newspapers had startling, inchhigh headlines. A government decree, freshly signed, “authorised the shooting on sight of any persons found within the boundaries of the Shinkolobwe uranium mine, who had no right to be there”. Reasons for the official action included the discovery of American journalists lurking behind the bushes near the

During World War II the US obtained all the uranium available at Shinkolobwe and ensured it was not smuggled to Nazi Germany.

Rewriting history, rescuing the truth Over half a century after Dag Hammarskjöld’s mysterious plane crash at Ndola, the UN reopened the investigation into his death. But reluctance from the US and UK governments is holding back progress. By Henning Melber, David Wardrop and Susan Williams.


t was upon reading Who Killed Hammarskjöld? in 2011 that Lord Lea of Crondall in the UK resolved to initiate a new inquiry in the light of the UN General Assembly Resolution of 1962, which requires the Secretary-General ‘to inform the General Assembly of any new evidence which may come to his attention’. In 2012 the Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust was formed. Chaired by Lord Lea, it included Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria, former Commonwealth Secretary General; Dr K. G. Hammar, former Archbishop of the Church of Sweden; Professor Naison Ngoma at the Copperbelt University in Zambia; and Lord Marks QC of the UK. The Trust established the Hammarskjöld Commission, chaired by Sir Stephen Sedley, a former UK Lord Justice of Appeal and including Justice Richard Goldstone, a former judge of the

South African Constitutional Court, working pro bono. The Commission’s remit was to determine whether there was a case for re-opening the UN Inquiry of 1961–62 in the light of the General Assembly Resolution. The Commission conducted extensive research including interviews with eyewitnesses in Ndola. In September 2013, it presented its report at the Peace Palace in The Hague, concluding that there was ‘persuasive evidence that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola.’ It recommended that the UN conduct a further investigation. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked the UN General Assembly to pursue the matter further, asserting in March 2014 : “The unparalleled service and sacrifice of Dag Hammarskjöld and his legacy within the

United Nations and beyond compels us to seek the whole truth of the circumstances leading to his tragic death and that of the members of the party accompanying him.” He asked the UN General Assembly to pursue the matter further. Civil society initiatives in different countries now mobilised UN Member States to turn Ban’s recommendation into a draft Resolution, for adoption by the General Assembly. Mama Chibesa Kankasa, an icon of Zambia’s struggle for majority rule, and a witness to events on the night of the crash, lobbied her Minister of Foreign Affairs. “As the country in which Dag Hammarskjöld died,” she wrote, “Zambia is particularly interested in the truth being established.” Across the world – from Australia to Zimbabwe – the media spotlighted the issue in print, on the radio, and on television. Social media also engaged, but a decisive development was the change of government

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entrance to the mine, and the alleged uncovering of a Communist plot whereby “red agents” were said to be smuggling away samples of uranium handed over to them by African workers. Towards the end of the 1950s the picture regarding Congolese uranium changed. America was no longer so acutely worried about supplies of ore, despite its earlier fears. There were two important reasons for this: first, uranium ore had been found in many other parts of the world; and second, new methods of enriching lower grade uranium, to make it fissionable, had been developed. As a result, the US was no longer so dependent on Shinkolobwe. But it was still worried about the risk of the Soviets obtaining Congolese ore. In the same period, the wind of decolonisation was blowing vigorously through the African continent and the people of the Congo demanded independence from Belgium. This became a reality on 30 June 1960. Patrice Lumumba became the Republic of the Congo’s prime minister in the nation’s first democratic elections. The year before, Lumumba had been asked by some businessmen in New York whether the US would still have access to uranium, as they had when the Belgians ran the country. Lumumba’s response was unequivocal. “Belgium doesn’t produce any uranium,” he pointed out, adding that “it would be to the advantage of both our countries if the Congo and the US worked out their

in Sweden in September 2014 that until then had rejected further investigation. This had a decisive impact on developments. In December that year, Sweden’s ambassador to the UN Mission introduced a draft Resolution to the General Assembly, proposing that the Secretary-General appoint an independent panel of experts to examine new information. This Resolution was adopted by the consensus of all 193 Member States, a dramatic development representing a profound shift in perceptions. There were still some who attributed the crash to pilot error, but this was no longer the mainstream view. People across the world demanded serious answers to serious questions. In March 2015, Ban Ki-moon appointed a Panel of Experts, headed by Mohamed Chande Othman, the Chief Justice of Tanzania and including experts in civil aviation and ballistics. The Panel interviewed witnesses in Zambia and gathered additional information. Its report in June 2015 concluded that there was significant information with sufficient probative value to justify pursuing the investigation. In July 2015, Ban summarised the Panel’s findings, explaining that the panel had assigned moderate probative value to information supporting the hypothesis of an aerial attack – or other interference – as a possible cause of the crash. The Panel had noted the possibility that communications sent from the cryptographic machine used by Hammarskjöld were intercepted. There was also reason to question the official time of discovery of the crash site

Opposite: Congolese soldiers arrest a demonstrator following riots that broke out in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa)

own agreements in the future.” But Union Minière took matters into its own hands: by the time of independence, the Shinkolobwe mine had been sealed with concrete. About a week after Hammarskjöld’s death, on 27 September 1961, a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna accepted the Congo as its 77th member. Joseph Kahamba, the Congolese delegate, who was the Minister of Mines, announced that his country, “rich in uranium deposits – was now free to review the agreement which Belgium concluded with the US and UK on the supply of this raw material”. Underlying Kahamba’s speech was the message that Shinkolobwe may have been sealed, but the Congolese government had the right to make their own decisions about what to do with the mine. Kwame Nkrumah, the president of newly independent Ghana, hoped that Africa could remain above the conflict between the West and the Communist nations. “My policy,” he said in 1960, “has always been that at all costs Africa must not be involved in the Cold War.” Ralph Bunche, a senior official at the United Nations, took the same view, especially in relation to the Congo. The former Belgian colony, he said, “has quite enough problems without having the cold war added to them”. But it was unavoidable: The Congo’s uranium had already put the newly independent nation at the heart of Cold War concerns. NA

and the behaviour of British and Rhodesian officials. The Secretary-General believed that “a further inquiry or investigation would be necessary to finally establish the facts”. The Panel had requested Member States to supply relevant records, but did not receive the results for which it had hoped. Ban again urged Member States “to disclose, declassify or otherwise allow privileged access to information that they may have in their possession”. He also proposed setting up a central archive of documentation. It was clear that the Secretary-General was not going to let this matter rest. In November 2015 the Swedish UN Mission introduced a second draft Resolution urging all Member States to release relevant records. This Resolution was supported by seventy-four other states, including Belgium, France and Russia, but not the UK nor the USA. It was adopted unopposed. Meanwhile, the UN Office for Legal Affairs followed up with Belgium, South Africa, the UK, and the USA on the requests for specific documentation made by the Panel, but this has not been fulfilled. The UN has no power to mandate the cooperation of Member States, merely to request their compliance, relying on the force of its moral authority. In August 2016 – almost exactly 55 years after the crash – Ban Ki-moon released a fresh statement. He called on the forthcoming UN General Assembly to appoint “an eminent person or persons” to review all new information. And, once again, he urged Member States to

release relevant records. He attached as annexes to his statement the responses by Belgium, South Africa, the UK, and the USA to the UN’s call in November 2015 for specific information. These reveal that the Belgian, UK and US governments were evasive in their responses. They stated that they had made searches of their records, but appear to have avoided searches within their security and intelligence agencies; and they took an unnecessarily narrow approach to the searches they did undertake. However, South Africa assured the UN of its full support and said a search was being undertaken for relevant records, especially in relation to the purported plot to kill Hammarskjöld by a shadowy outfit of mercenaries. On 6 December 2016, the third Swedish draft Resolution was presented to the UN General Assembly, requesting the Secretary-General to appoint an eminent person to review the potential new information. ‘With every passing year,’ observed the Swedish Ambassador, ‘the door is closing further on finding the truth. But our efforts must continue.’ The Resolution contains a small budget implication, so the process of adoption has been postponed until late December. Thus far, the former colonial powers have written the official history of the night in which Hammarskjöld and his companions died, dismissing the eyewitness testimonies of Zambians. But a new history is about to be written, if the recent momentum to find the full truth is anything to go by.

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Compared to Liberia, which emerged from a civil war and elected a woman as president, the US’s skewed democracy, with its bizarre electoral college and its recent penchant for electing the least qualified, has a lot to learn.

Africa’s lessons for Trump’s America


uring the African Studies Association annual meeting held in Washington, DC in December 2016, Ghanaian scholar Dr. Takyiwaa Manuh wittily encouraged Americans to “consult Africa on how to trump your Trump”. On the surface, she was alluding to how Africans have perfected the art of outmanoeuvring leaders who do not have a legitimate mandate. But there’s a more profound element to the suggestion made by Manuh, now a senior manager at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Trump’s victory has exposed the emperor’s nakedness. For a country that believes it has a monopoly on democracy, lecturing Africa and other parts of the world about how to do it well, the US has failed miserably in democratising the franchise. Now, Africa was never a permanent fixture in any US presidential debate leading up to the 8 November election, nor did the continent feature prominently in public discourse. Yet, one thing remains clear to me. For a region that barely got a sideways glance, it remains a continent to which Americans must look for inspiration now more than ever before. Let’s begin with the presidential candidates themselves and the US’s

unique brand of vote weighing. The least qualified US presidential candidate of all time beat the most qualified through a deeply flawed electoral college system. Add the misogynistic vitriol hurled at Clinton, independent of her political flaws, and you have got the makings of a truly lopsided system that rewards inexperience, “locker room talk”, brashness and bullying to the nth degree. Compare that to my own country, Liberia, where the most qualified candidate in 2005 – a septuagenarian Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who had spent 40 years in politics, international development and banking – managed to wrestle victory from hugely popular football star-turned-politician George Weah in a high stakes run-off. If a country like Liberia can elect its first female president in backto-back post-war elections, then we must be doing something right. The US’s elitist two-party system and low voter turnout are also telling. 43.5% of the American electorate was either too disillusioned or did not care enough to vote in one of the most important elections of the country’s history. Perhaps the choice between Trump and Clinton did not seem like a real choice at all. But this is


We have seen disaffected and disillusioned voters in Africa eject authoritarian leaders.

exactly where America must learn from Africa. Despite widespread allegations of vote rigging, in most African elections voter turn-out averages 50-60 per cent (or more), each vote counts equally and the majority rules. Although the Liberian electoral system is modelled after the US’s, Liberia’s 2005 and 2011 elections saw more than 70% voter turnout, 20 presidential candidates with a few frontrunners and no one party dominating our bicameral House or Senate. If we say democracy is about expanded choice, Liberians will be spoilt for it once again come October 2017. In the past decade alone, we have seen disaffected and disillusioned voters in Africa eject authoritarian leaders, if not through revolutionary zeal – Egypt, Tunisia and Burkina Faso come to mind – then certainly through the ballot box. While ultra-conservative rhetoric has hypnotised many US and European voters, African citizens have galvanised resistance movements across the continent. We have a long, rich history of trumping the likes of Trump and what he stands for – from Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa’s battle against British colonialism in Ghana, to the Mau Mau anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, to the more recent protests amongst the Oromo in pockets of Ethiopia. When women peace activists in Liberia pushed for the removal of warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor in 2003 by threatening to strip naked and feigning a sex strike, they were paying homage to Nigerian women who led the Aba Riots in 1929. We must remember that Nelson Mandela and comrades were labelled terrorists by the apartheid regime for launching Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, an armed struggle that made South Africa ungovernable for decades. Lest the world forget, Africans were battling structural adjustment before it got euphemised as “austerity” and we have also resisted widespread land grabbing, natural resource exploitation and extraction, deregulation, privatisation, and lived to tell countless stories about our exploits. NA

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i n t e r v i e w

Amina Mohamed

The consensus candidate The postponement of the election for the next chairperson of the African Union Commission, because none of the candidates obtained the requisite two-thirds majority, opened the door for new candidates to throw their hats into the ring for the elections now scheduled for January 2017. One of the frontrunners is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dr Amina Mohamed. What are her chances?


t the last election for the new Chair of the AU Commission that took place last July in Kigali, Rwanda, a number of countries abstained because they said that none of the candidates had the right qualifications for the job. No one can accuse Amina Mohamed of not having the right credentials. If anything, she must be one of the best qualified people in several decades for this demanding position. The AU is an amorphous organisation in which not all members see eye to eye and whose funding is perennially on the brink of crisis as some members have been slow to pay their dues. However, a united, strong, pragmatic and effective AU is more needed now than before as the tectonic plates of the world order shift and as the continent itself gears up for its next economic leap forward. The leadership of the Commission, which drives the AU directives, therefore requires exceptional diplomatic and negotiating skills and the organisational capability to forge unity of purpose among the disparate members. It also requires considerable charisma and a wide network in the international arena. Ambassador Mohamed has these skills and attributes in abundance, as her career as a diplomat and within the UN system attests. She has pushed through many tough deals against some of the most formidable opposition in the World Trade Organisation. As Kenya’s Foreign Minister, she has also developed a very wide and valuable network, not only across Africa but globally. Her greatest strength, as she says in her interview overleaf, is her ability to draw consensus among diverse interests and emphasise that which is common and uniting while discarding that which is divisive. This ability will be a great asset as the Commission sets about some necessary reforms and gets down to serious work on Agenda 2063. She is also very clear about not only the economic direction that Africa should take but how to take it. In Kenya, she has been outstanding in her ability to implement policy – something that the continent has found relatively difficult to do. Her mantra, as she says, is “implementation, implementation, implementation”. Her diplomatic and negotiating skills will also feature strongly as the AU works to find peaceful solutions to the remaining instances of armed conflict and social upheaval in Africa. Kenya has been an economic success story and Ambassador Mohamed has played a major part in laying the groundwork for this. She will bring her experience and knowledge to the post as the continent strives to move to

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As my record shows, I am a tough but fair negotiator, putting the interests of Africa first.

the next level of economic development. Above all, she will bring in a freshness of approach that the Commission needs badly and has pledged to use the organisation to give Africa its true voice globally. Again, her regional and global networks coupled with her media savvy will make this a very real possibility. Those who have worked with her say she thrives on hard work and attention to detail and is a terrific team player. She also has a solid reputation for honesty and sincerity and a driving desire to get things done. The fact that she did not enter the race until almost the last minute and following considerable pressure on Kenya from members to put her name forward indicates that holding office is of less concern to her than using the office to effect change for the greater good. A rare and invaluable asset in any leader. The qualities that she has are what the AU Commission has been waiting for, for quite some time. Cometh the hour, cometh the lady? n

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Interview Amina Mohamed

What makes you believe you are the right person to be the next chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC)? The next Chair of the AU Commission must be someone who can bring about consensus among the 54 member states, each with their own priorities, and unite them in pursuing the common goal, which would also benefit each individual country. The Chair must also have the drive to make things happen rapidly and effectively; must have the organisational skills to make the Commission work seamlessly and must be at home in the often tangled world of international politics and diplomacy. And of course the Chair should have a track record of experience in all these and other facets of running an organisation as complex as the AU Commission. I believe I tick most boxes.

My focus will be to improve agricultural productivity and encourage value addition on African commodities while encouraging diversification and industrialisation. This will help create millions of jobs for Africans... boosting our factors of production and in turn, our output.

How would you describe yourself? I would describe myself as a Muslim African woman, a Kenyan and the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya. I have always been a public servant, domestically as well as internationally. I have always enjoyed hard work and paying attention to detail. I believe in thorough preparation before entering negotiations and not taking no for an answer if I am convinced that I am right. This has stood me in very good stead throughout my career, including as Kenya’s Ambassador to the UN and in various complex negotiations at the WTO. I am also very determined and believe in action rather than talk. Can you run us through some of the highlights of your career so far? I started as a legal officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, served on Kenya’s team in the United Nations Security Council and went on to become Ambassador/Permanent Representative at Kenya’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva. I have served as the Permanent Secretary for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs where I supervised the drafting, negotiation and promulgation of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. I was also appointed the UN Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in Nairobi. At UNEP, I was responsible for the implementation of the organisation’s Medium Term Strategy and Programmes as well as reforms and I was fully engaged with the inter-governmental processes in implementing the Rio+20 Outcomes. [The UN Conference on Sustainable Development – or Rio+20 – took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 20-22 June 2012. It resulted in a focused political outcome document which contains clear and practical measures for implementing sustainable development – Editor] As chairperson of the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in 2015, I oversaw what many regard as the best outcome for the developing world since Marrakech. It was not easy to drive through sensitive agreements on export subsidies or information technology for example, and the negotiations were formidable, but we managed it. [In December 2015, after hours of gruelling negotiations, history was made with the “Nairobi Declaration”, which has been hailed as a victory particularly for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and for global agricultural development. Members have agreed to eliminate export subsidies on farm products, including cotton, which have been a boon to farmers from poorer nations competing with subsidised farmers from wealthier countries. It is especially important for the Cotton Four: Benin, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali – Editor] I like working as part of a team, I’m not a lone ranger, and therefore success belongs to all of us. I am a good team leader.

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What special qualities do you possess that will stand you in good stead as Chair of the AU Commission? I have a knack for convening diverse people and organisations and getting them to set aside their differences and look at their common interests and benefits. Right from the beginning, I always gravitated towards a pan-African approach and most of my career, including as Kenya’s Ambassador at the UN, involved taking a continental view in addition to my national duties. For example, when I was a very young officer in Geneva, the African group asked me to coordinate their experts for the first UN Conference on Human Rights in 1993 in Vienna. I have also been considered as a tough negotiator on behalf of the continent. One incident that comes to mind involved negotiations over infant milk formulae during a General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) meeting. Banned infant formulae was still being sold in many countries on the continent. When we tried to get a total ban, the producing countries opposed this on the premise that the formulae had not been globally banned. In addition, too many people in their countries were involved in the production of the same which would mean a great loss of jobs. We argued for full disclosure, arguing that all children are the same and should be offered equal protection. Our argumment was successful and full information on the banned product was provided allowing us to do the same in our countries. Another instance was over access to affordable medicine. The Kenya delegation continued negotiating when everybody else had stopped. In fact, for the last two days and two nights Kenya negotiated with the US alone: the US speaking for their national interests as the biggest pharmaceutical producer. It was only when Kenya and the US struck a deal that we came back and reported to the rest of the members of the WTO.


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Other milestones included reviewing the trade policies of the US, the EU, China and the Southern African Customs Union. It afforded me the opportunity to insist on changes to the trade policies of these major economies, hoping that these changes would open these markets for African products. In this way, we were able to raise our concerns over trade deals that did not include Africa. Looking back, I realise it wasn’t just a matter of competence; it was a matter of commitment more than anything else. So, in terms of trade, I’ve always led from the front. I was chairperson of the WTO General Council when we went to the WTO 6th Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in 2005. The Doha Round negotiations were destined to fail. I, together with the WTO Director General, then Pascal Lamy, made sure they didn’t and we also obtained an important cotton subsidy agreement in favour of four African cotton-producing countries. What can we expect from you if you take over the leadership of the Commission? What I most enjoy doing is building consensus, unifying people and sticking on message to obtain optimum outcomes. As my record shows, I am also a tough, but fair, negotiator. All the time, working to get rid of those elements that are divisive, and concentrating on common interests and concerns which are more significant. This is what I have done all my working life, at the ministerial level, the national level, the regional level and also at the global level. Regarding the AU, for the first time in decades, we actually have a long-term plan for the development of the continent – Agenda 2063. Obviously, anybody who comes in as Chair has to commit to that. It is easier for me as I was part of the team that negotiated the ten-year framework after the Agenda had been adopted in 2013, which was also

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Above left: An African cotton farmer. Amina Mohamed gained an important subsidy for African cotton producers in WTO negotiations. Above: President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Amb. Amina Mohamed at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) summit

when the transformative Kenyatta administration came into office in Kenya. The AU framework is an excellent one and pinpoints all those areas that have the potential to unleash Africa’s greatness. These include industrialisation, investment, innovation, infrastructure development, ICT, regional integration, intelligent use of natural resources, better quality education, capacity and skill enhancement, expanded and diversified trade intra-regionally as well as internationally. I like the emphasis on agricultural modernisation and improved productivity as most of our people still earn their living from the soil and this is one area that has remained stagnant relative to other emerging sectors. The AU has come in for a lot of criticism and been labelled as ineffective and it has been said that not all members are really committed to it. What is your view? If we didn’t have the African Union, we’d have to create it today because it’s the one place where all the 54 members come together. We are able to bring and share our accumulated wisdom and experience and best practices to bear on the challenges that are before us and to see how we can turn these challenges into amazing opportunities for the continent. After the political shackles have been removed, the next step has been to gain economic independence and prosperity for all our people. We have done the analysis and know where the gaps are and how to fill them – which areas need immediate attention, which require long-term planning and development. That is the essence of Agenda 2063 – the road to achieving “The Africa We Want”. The AU’s financing has been a perennial problem. How would you tackle this? I think the time for going cap in hand to donors to fund our programmes is gone. What we cannot fund, we should not

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be doing – it’s just as simple as that, so let’s use our limited resources on an agreed set of priorities. We turned the corner in Kigali. The Heads of State accepted the formula of a 0.2% levy on a selected category of taxable imports to go to the AU. In order for us to make the best and the most efficient use of the resources that we have, we will also need to restructure the organisation.

Above: The African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa

How would you go about getting the reforms the organisation needs? The Secretariat itself has felt the need for reforms. But for reforms to work, you must be able bring everybody along. That is why experience in reaching and keeping consensus is so vital to this job. Carrying out reforms is a difficult process because people form habits, and it’s difficult to get out of that comfort zone. But nobody ever made progress staying in a comfort zone. It will be something that we will have to have a clear discussion on but it must be done. Africa is still plagued with violent conflicts. How would you tackle this? We could and should have done better, but out of 54 countries, there are conflicts in less than five. Not too bad considering that over 50 years this has changed from having conflict in almost every country. We have structures within the AU Commission that are focused on conflict prevention and peace building. The structures can be improved and I believe strongly that we must have a youth component in all this because the youth and women are the most affected during conflict. So we have the mechanisms, we have the systems in place; let’s improve them, let’s resource them. What will be your action priorities? Apart from the work that is ongoing, I think I’d spend time on carrying out the financial reforms that are needed. We must be clear about what we can actually afford to finance

For reforms to work, you must be able to bring everybody along. That is why experience in reaching consensus is vital to this job.

and finance it well so that we have good results. The second thing I would do is to begin to carry out the reforms within the Secretariat, make it agile, make it lean, responsive and build capacity. I will make sure that we have the right people in the right positions. This continent is full of extremely competent people; we must make it possible for the best, brightest and smartest to serve our continent. We know the terrain, we know our capacities, we know our experiences, we know our shortcomings, we know the challenges, we know our political dynamics – we understand the continent better than anybody else. It is also important to make sure that the voice of this continent is heard. Right now it is not loud enough. Pick up any global opinion shaping medium and see how much is written about Africa. There’s nothing good. This must change. The genuine image of Africa must be projected across the world. At the AUC you should be in a position where you can communicate with leaders and global media in real time, and create the momentum that you need. We also need to implement rather than simply make declarations. Implementation has been woeful. My mantra will be implementation, implementation, implementation! What can development partners and institutions expect from your leadership at the AUC? An equal partnership. I think that’s the short answer, an equal partnership. The longer one is that we need a different conversation with our neighbours, friends and partners in order to grow but also so that together we can confront and deal with some of the most complex global challenges. Anything else you want to say to Africa? We must unite. There is no doubt in my mind about that. It has always been perplexing to me that when we are within our continent, we are divided by our nationalities but as soon as we leave the shores of the continent, we are Africans, so my prayer is that we become Africans also inside our continent. n

You can find out more about Amina Mohamed's campaign by visiting

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African countries leaving the ICC expose the Court’s true colours.

The legislation of imperial arrogance


he man stares intensely into the camera, an unflinching gaze conveying toughness and resolve. Yet somehow he also looks meek, tame almost, like a cowering wild beast. Although the picture was taken somewhere in the forest, one senses that he still cares deeply about his self-image: the Kalashnikov pointed at the sky, in mock defiance against the powers that be, the air of enormous contentment, the infatuation with his own hubris. Dozens of children and elderly people were probably being slain at his behest while he was posing thus for the cameras, but the man could not be bothered with such trifles. If he was asked about it, he would have casually replied: “Yes, it’s horrible, but it can’t be helped.’’ And maybe he would have added with a wry smile: “War is always messy, my friend”, before mouthing a couple of platitudes about the bright future in store for his beloved nation. Now, fast-forward: fifteen years later, some day in May 2012. We are at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In the dock, the former warlord is awaiting the verdict to his trial. He still cuts a fine figure in his elegant suit, but gone is the complacency. Fifty years, with no possibility of parole. Quite simply,

this means he is going to spend the rest of his life behind bars. This is Charles Taylor, immortalised. But it could have been Dominic Ongwen, whose trial started last week, or Thomas Lubanga. It is difficult to see these once powerful men in the dock without feeling a bit sorry for them. It is just human nature: we tend to commiserate with the defeated, however fleetingly or even against our own will. But for the victims, there is no better proof that justice has been achieved. Their moral victory is encapsulated in those furtive seconds when their torturer elicits an ambivalent compassion, is more terrified than terrifying. What is on the mind of such men, at the particular moment when, the more they try to remain composed and dignified, the more they strike us as rather overwhelmed, powerless, even clueless? Maybe they wonder why they must face questions in Europe, of all places, for their past actions and in front of so many foreigners… By entertaining such thoughts they are, politically speaking, striking at the heart of the matter. It is no coincidence if, one after the other, African countries are pulling out of the ICC. Their main reproach is that it selects its “clients” too tenden-

THE ORDER OF THINGS Boubacar Boris Diop

tiously. In this respect, the current list of politicians already tried, awaiting trial or actively sought speaks volumes about this anti-African bias. Nine out of 10 of the ICC’s current investigations involve African leaders. It has also entreated the new Libyan government, with exquisite courtesy, to hand over Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The truth is, in the latter case the ICC is only paying lip service to legal decorum, for it most certainly doesn’t want to hold a trial for Gaddafi’s son. Too many Western political leaders, active or otherwise, like Nicolas Sarkozy and Tony Blair, are apprehensive of what this articulate and smart young man could tell the judges in a much-publicised trial. As for Gbagbo, the Court has never really known what to do with him. At his hearing, he made no bones about his intention to spill the beans and name names, but he was more dangerous in his own country than abroad – especially for Paris. The case has proven to be anything but a walk in the park for The Hague prosecutors. Gbagbo did contest the results of the 28 November 2010 presidential elections, but this hardly puts him in the same league as Foday Sankoh and Joseph Kony. What about his victors? Someone must be held

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The ICC certainly doesn’t want to hold a trial for Gaddafi’s son. Too many Western political leaders are apprehensive about what this smart young man could tell the judges.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appearing at the opening of his war crimes trial at the Special Court of Sierra Leone in July 2006

accountable, for example, for the hundreds slaughtered in Duékoué – who were all Gbagbo followers. It would be naive to expect the ICC to push the “fairness” button too hard and level charges against Ouattara, a sitting president, all the more so when the latter is a dear friend of the West. For a fleeting moment, former warlord Guillaume Soro also popped up on its radar, but since then all rumours of an imminent arrest warrant have faded into oblivion. Many are rattled to hear anything that incriminates the ICC for its role as a new mechanism of Western hegemony, but the evidence is massive, and the case too grounded in well-documented facts to just toss it aside like a sandcastle. The Compaoré case, or rather the absence of a case, is one of the ICC’s most notorious “lapses of memory”. As things stand, the snapshots of due legal process from The Hague are mere window dressing. Its trials are politically motivated: behind its dolled-up mask of impartiality. Quite logically, Namibia, Burundi, Kenya, Gambia, Sudan and South Africa – other African countries will likely follow soon – have decided to withdraw from the ICC, or are seriously contemplating it. One can only applaud their decision, but not without deploring the fact that perpetrators may thus never be prosecuted, given that African national judicial systems are no credible alternatives to the ICC – not yet. For instance, without the ICC Charles Taylor would still be enjoying all the perks of a golden political retirement in his Nigerian exile. But on this particular subject, African leaders have only themselves to blame for having, unlike their Arab and Asian peers, accepted signing and ratifying the Rome Statute instituting this jurisdiction. It is true that African states have a far smaller margin of manouevre, given that they rely on foreign aid for their bare-bones survival. Understandably enough, they cannot be expected to make brazen claims about national sovereignty and the like. And yet, the West has gone so far in overtly humiliating African leaders

that there is a growing rift between Africa and the Court. Criticism is no longer coming from individual states, but from civil society and the African Union itself. Architects of international judicial structures were doubtless motivated by the noble desire to protect the weak against the powerful. Yet in spite of substantial gains, the overall performance speaks of failure, not mitigated success. It is a truism that such international judicial bodies dare not look into the wrongdoings of criminals like George W. Bush. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died, and their country was bombed back into the Stone Age, just because the Bush administration had concocted a fable about Saddam Hussein hiding stockpiles of WMDs somewhere in the desert. Rather than lose face, Bush and his neo-conservative acolytes infamously went out on a limb to wage a brutal and unjust war of aggression – the evil of evils because, as the Nuremberg judges put it, “it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Why wasn’t George W. Bush tried for this egregious crime? The answer is simple: in the world we live in at present, one must be nuts to even contemplate bringing to justice a former occupant of the White House – and outside the US, to boot. Why then, was no former Bush administration official prosecuted? Well, technically that’s just not an option on the menu, given that the US still hasn’t ratified the Rome Statute. What is more, US authorities have gone out of their way to entrap signatory countries in a maze of binding bilateral agreements that override all obligations towards the ICC in cases where US citizens may be involved. Adding insult to injury, US administrations regularly tout their readiness to collaborate with the ICC… on a case-by-case basis. The subtext here, of course, is that as long as the culprit is not a US citizen or an enemy of the American state, Washington will waste no efforts in lending a hand to make sure the tribunal can score one more hit. A standing joke among DC insiders, no doubt, but when you look into it, there is really nothing funny about such imperial arrogance. NA

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Cover Story SAHEL

Over the past three years, the Sahel, specifically Niger, has become the venue of a military build-up of foreign troops from the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and now, Russia. The ostensible reason is counter-terrorism. But as relations between the former Cold War combatants deteriorate, could this become a flashpoint of conflict? By Jeremy H. Keenan.

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frica’s Sahel is taking on the feel of the “Cold War” era. A combination of bad governance, political instability and the spread of jihadism have all contributed to a deteriorating security situation, which, since 2013, has seen major world powers – the US, France, Germany – increasing their military presence in the region in the belief that militarisation is the solution to the Sahel’s mounting and increasingly complex problems. Not only do these Western powers appear to be establishing a more permanent military presence in the region, but they have been joined by lesser powers such as Sweden and Holland, who have all been keen to jump on the military bandwagon in support of the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma), a largely ineffectual 13,000-strong peace-keeping force, which has become little more than a sitting duck for jihadists. Canada is also promising strategic airlift support for France’s “antiterrorism” efforts. In addition to these Western powers, China has been a major economic player in most of the countries of the region for some time. But now, just as the security situation in the Sahel appears to be deteriorating further, Russia is making its presence felt. Not to be left out of a potential world trouble spot, Russia is offering military help to Mali’s beleaguered regime. This may turn out to be as welcome to the West as the Kremlin’s support for the Assad regime in Syria. So far, the Sahel situation does not bear comparison with Syria, but warning lights are flashing. Western militarisation of the Sahel began in January 2013 with France’s military intervention in Mali to drive the Islamist insurgents, extremists or “terrorists”, as they were more generally known, out of Mali. By January 2013, the insurgents, comprising the jihadist groups of Ansar al-Din, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) had taken control of all of northern Mali and were threatening the capital, Bamako, and the south. France’s Operation Serval, as it was called, was of only limited success. Many of the jihadists that were scattered by the French military drive across Mali soon regrouped, obliging France to expand its military intervention with the deployment in mid-2014 of a further 3,000 French troops across Mali, Niger and Chad. This second phase of French intervention was called Operation Barkhane. Western concerns over the Sahel have been increasingly apparent since late 2015, following jihadist attacks on hotels in Bamako (Mali), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Grand Bassam (Côte d’Ivoire) in November 2015, January 2016 and March 2016 respectively, with contingents of several hundred Dutch (c. 400), Swedish (c. 250), and German (c. 650) troops being sent to the Sahel to support Minusma and the French forces. However, since mid-2016, there has been a worrying escalation of Western military intervention in the Sahel.

“Neither the security nor the political stability of the Sahel region has improved. Because of this, the militarisation of the region is now being internationalised.”

Above: French soldiers take up a defensive position in a skirmish with insurgents

Constructing a US base at Agadez In late September 2016, Pentagon spokeswoman, Michelle Baldanza, announced that the US was financing the construction of a new 3km runway and associated infrastructure for a drone base at Agadez (Niger). The US already has drones, including MQ-9 Reaper drones, stationed at Niamey to support France’s Operation Barkhane. While Baldanza estimated US investment in the Agadez base at $50m, other sources have put the figure at nearer $100m. According to declassified Pentagon documents, Niger is “the only country in the region accepting to host MQ-9 US drones that can conduct air strikes.” According to the same source, Niger “has positioned itself to become a crucial base for US operations in the region. Agadez is a bridgehead for launching reconnaissance and surveillance against a plethora of terrorist groups.” The US will use the Agadez base to conduct reconnaissance operations over Niger and Chad, as well as Libya and Nigeria, and further afield. Adam Moore, at the University of California (UCLA), who studies US military activity in Africa, says: “There is a tendency to a greater (US) commitment and a more permanent presence in the Maghreb and Sahel.” The investment in Agadez, he added, “suggests that Niger is becoming, after Djibouti, the second-largest African country for US anti-terrorist operations.” january 2017 New African  37

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Cover Story SAHEL

And a German base in western Niger A few days after the Pentagon’s announcement, on 5 October, Germany’s Ambassador to Niger, Bernd von Muenchow-Pohl, announced that Germany will be building a military base in Niger (near the Mali border) to support the UN mission in neighbouring Mali. “The base,” said the Ambassador, “will be a new chapter in our cooperation with Niger. […] Niger is a central partner, a key country, for us in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration from West Africa.” The base is expected to see another 850 German troops in the Sahel. Von Muenchow-Pohl’s announcement came five days before Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, arrived in Niamey from Bamako. No sooner had Merkel returned to Berlin from her whirlwind trip to Mali and Niger than she received Chad’s President Idriss Déby. On 14 October, two days after her meeting with Déby, Merkel hosted Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. As with Mali, Niger and Chad, the main subjects on Merkel’s agenda were the fight against terrorism and curbing migration. Aside from migrancy, Niger is beginning to be seen by security and counter-terrorism officials in the US and Europe as the key “crossroads” position in this part of Africa. It stands between Libya and Nigeria and between the increasingly troubled Mali to the West and the equally vulnerable Chad to the east. According to the White House, there are roughly 200 US soldiers in the Sahel. Agadez residents believe there are as many as 500 US personnel “hidden” in the airport barracks. In Niger, there are also small contingents of US forces alongside at least 60 French Special Forces at Aguelal (close to the Arlit uranium mines) and also at Zinder and Dirkou, in addition to those at the drone base at Niamey. The French already have bases at Niamey and Madama, close to the Libya border, as well as contingents at Arlit-Aguelal and Diffa in the far southeast. The US has also deployed 300 specialists from the US Air Force and intelligence services to the military air base at Garoua in northern Cameroon, where their helicopters lift and further train Cameroon’s Israelitrained Rapid Intervention Battalions (BIRs) in the fight against Boko Haram. The US has also trained an elite 250-man police unit for deployment against Boko Haram in the Diffa region of south-east Niger. The number of US military personnel in Chad and Mali is not known, but thought to be relatively small and limited largely to intelligence and surveillance. The French military intervention This US commitment to join Europe in the increased militarisation of the Sahel coincides, perhaps not surprisingly, with signs that jihadism in the Sahel is spreading. It is also because France’s military intervention, after nearly four years, has not been able to end “terrorism” across the region. France, as Laurent Bigot, a former French diplomat and independent consultant, recently warned (Le Monde, 10 October 2016), is closing her eyes to the 38  New African january 2017

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Foreign military bases in the Sahel




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DRONE BASE DRONE BASE AREAS OF CONFLICT AREAS OF CONFLICT Sahel. To paraphrase Bigot: “All is well in Niger, as President Issoufou is a friend of President Hollande. So, too, all is well in Mali, as President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta [IBK] is also a friend of Hollande.” France, says Bigot, is making no intellectual effort to understand what would bring about a real and lasting stability in the Sahel. The same could be said of the US. “This stability argument,” wrote Bigot, “has cost us dearly in the past, because it was through this same type of reasoning that we supported dictators like Bashar al-Assad, Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, who all ended up by causing the collapse of their country.” The statements of France’s politicians, especially the military leaders of Operation Barkhane, do give the impression that “all is well” in the Sahel. For example, General François-Xavier de Woillemont, the commander of Operation Barkhane, said in midSeptember that the jihadist groups in the Sahel did not have the tactical ability to take a town and hold it. He explained that there were no longer any more terrorist groups capable of conducting large-scale actions in the Sahel. “Contrary to the impression that one might have, the armies of the G5 countries (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad) and Barkhane have won major successes against terrorist groups,” he said. General de Woillemont may be correct in the narrowest and most technical sense that the Sahel’s jihadists probably could not take and hold a town; nor are they capable of “industrialised terrorism”. But to try and suggest that the French military has had great

Right: French drones at their military base in Niamey, Niger Opposite, top: A French soldier watches a controlled explosion near Gao, Mali. Centre: Malian soldiers check a man (l) suspected of being a terrorist. Bottom: Former French PM Manuel Valls (c) and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (r) during a 2016 visit to the troops of France’s Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Gao

success against terrorism in the region, or that the region is now stable, is misleading. The uncomfortable truth for France is that its military intervention in the Sahel has not been a total success. Neither the security nor the political stability of the region have dramatically improved. Because of this, the militarisation of the region is now internationalised.

Increasing jihadism across the Sahel The second reason why the West is internationalising its militarisation of the Sahel is because there are strong signs that jihadism in the region is not only spreading but that the region’s Al Qaeda oriented groups may be joining forces with Islamic State (IS). The Sahel’s deteriorating security situation and spread of jihadism were brought into focus in July by two particular events. The first was the Bastille Day (14 July) terrorist attack in Nice in which at least 84 people were killed. Although there were no january 2017 New African  39

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Cover Story SAHEL

direct links to the Sahel, Nafeez Ahmed wrote: “The persistence with which France is being targeted can only be explained by the escalation of a secretive war with IS being carried out just across the Mediterranean in the Maghreb. Over the past half-decade, Islamist militant factions affiliated to both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have dramatically expanded their foothold in North Africa. Spurred by the vacuum left from the aborted NATO war on Libya … Islamist groups have found a new base there. Libya is now the perfect springboard for Islamist militants to expand their reach across North Africa and the Sahel. The result is a patchwork of rapidly growing cells of jihadists loyal to multiple terrorist franchises: Ansar al-Shariah, Al Mourabitoune, Boko Haram, AQIM and IS.” Nathaniel Powell, a specialist in the history of French military interventions, noted that France’s military intervention in the Sahel “may be doing more harm than good, since it provides crucial support to the governments that are at the heart of the Sahel’s problems.” Although unrelated to the Nice attack, the first week of July saw the UN agree to increase the size of Minusma by another 2,500, to 13,000. Whether this increase will do more than provide the jihadists with more targets is doubtful. The second event that brought the Sahel back into focus took place on 19 July, when Ansar al-Din, led by Iyad ag Ghali, attacked a Mali military base at Nampala, killing at least 17 soldiers. This was quickly followed by another Ansar al-Din assault on military posts in Mopti. Since then, jihadist attacks against the Mali army and police, UN peacekeepers and French Barkhane forces themselves, have become frequent. Mali’s political and security situation has been made progressively worse by the May 2015 peace process between former Tuareg rebels and the government. The result is that there are now at least six, predominantly Tuareg, armed militia groups in northern Mali (Azawad), with almost weekly attacks by either the armed militia or jihadist groups on the French, the Mali security forces and the UN peacekeepers. On 6 November, unidentified armed men attacked and took over an army camp in the Timbuktu region. On 29 November Mourabitoune jihadists attacked Gao airport, which is protected by both UN and French forces, while a few days later Ansar al-Din knocked out a French armoured car near Abeibeira.

The IS in the Greater Sahara, Ansar al-Din and Boko Haram Since late October, jihadism across the Sahel has escalated further. In a very confused and fast-changing scene, at least three strands can be identified. The most recent is Abu Walid al Sahrawi, a former leader of MUJAO, who has now sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State. A group of jihadists, known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), is now operating in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and possibly further afield. ISGS has been responsible for at least three attacks since early September: two in

Top left: A Dutch trooper keeps a wary eye out for insurgents. Top right: Malian soldiers, serving as UN peacekeepers in the Sahel. Bottom right: Austrian soldiers on patrol in Chad in 2009, part of an EU mission to protect refugees. Bottom left: French forces in northern Mali

northern Burkina Faso and one in Niger. Its expansion into Niger is particularly alarming as it threatens to link up with Boko Haram. With the emergence of ISGS, the rivalry between Al Qaeda and IS is being brought into the Sahel. This explains why Ansar al-Dine, recently reported to be considering a ceasefire, has now denied such speculation and is making it abundantly clear that it is not prepared to renounce its share of the violence. The real danger posed by the emergence of ISGS is whether it will link up with Boko Haram. In 2015, Boko Haram’s then leader Abu Bakr Shekau announced his allegiance to IS’s al-Baghdadi, who quickly accepted Shekau’s loyalty oath and rebranded Boko Haram as the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA). However, the ISWA now looks like a bit of a misnomer as the ISGS, which grew out of MUJAO

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and then al-Mourabitoune, is more directly associated with West Africa than Boko Haram. However, if a meaningful alliance between ISWA and ISGS does develop, then we can expect to see a possible westwards expansion of Boko Haram activity from its current core regions of north-east Nigeria, south-east Niger, Cameroon and the rest of the Lake Chad region. There is also the question of how and to what extent ISGS may get involved in Boko Haram’s new schisms. These began on 2 August, 2016 when IS announced that Boko Haram had a new leader – Abu Musab al-Barnawi, allegedly the son of Mohamed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram. Shekau was said to be out of favour with IS for killing moderate Muslims. However, two days later, Shekau appeared in a video denying al-Barnawi’s claim and affirming that he was still in control of Boko Haram’s armed fighters. While many analysts see this schism as militarily weakening Boko Haram and possibly accelerating its self-destruction, an alliance between either faction and ISGS could see an expansion of IS jihadism into central and western Niger, as well as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and perhaps further afield.

“Libya is now the perfect springboard for Islamist militants to expand their reach across North Africa and the Sahel.”

Strong Russian delegation visits Bamako If the situation in the Sahel could not get much worse for the Western powers, they had failed to count on the machinations of the Kremlin. The arrival of a high-level Russian delegation in Bamako through 11-12 October cannot have been comforting for Western powers. The Russian delegation was led by Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and President Putin’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa. After meeting Mali’s foreign minister, Abdoulaye Diop, Bogdanov said it was for Malians to define what assistance Russia can make to the consolidation of Mali’s unity and stability. “We are prepared to support all decisions made by the President of Mali in the dialogue between the various components of the Malian population,” Bogdanov said. Bogdanov stressed that the countries’ two presidents, Keïta and Putin, “have a genuine desire to give new impetus to the “historic cooperation” between their two countries.” He also emphasised that the two countries share similar problems in their “fight against terrorism”. Moreover, Bogdanov reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to Mali’s unity and territorial integrity, saying: “The Russian authorities have heard the call of the majority of the Malian population that wants Moscow to be more involved in resolving the crisis in Mali … Russia is ready to help Mali fight against terrorism and to ensure its economic development.” IBK’s biggest problem is that his army, being trained by the European Union Training Mission (EUTM), a multi-nation effort led by Germany, is still unfit for purpose. IBK has therefore been unable to unleash his own army in northern Mali, as he would have liked. Russia might fill that breach. Indeed, as Bogdanov explained, “President Putin is … prepared to provide military equipment and training to rehabilitate the [Malian] national army.” For the West, this would be the start of a potential nightmare. NA january 2017 New African  41

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Cover Story GHANA

Seven reasons why Akufo-Addo won – and how Mahama lost The election was notable for, among other things, the absence of a contested aftermath. Ghanaians voted peacefully, the votes were counted fast and accurately, and the losing incumbent conceded gracefully – all solidifying Ghana’s sterling democratic credentials. Kobi Annan and Emmanuel Amoah-Darkwa analyse the elections.


ith a winning margin of 53.85% to 44.40% (including victory in each of the four swing regions of Greater Accra, Western, Central and Brong Ahafo), Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, 72, beat incumbent John Dramani Mahama, 55, to the presidency. Many believed that the election was the NDC’s to lose. A source within the NPP campaign even stated: “We weren’t confident going into election day.” So how did the NPP snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? Below, we offer seven reasons why the voters turned against the NDC, and how the NPP was able to convert its old weaknesses into strengths. 1. NPP won the debate on the issues The election turned on the economic question. The country’s dramatic downturn was arguably the single biggest issue of the campaign. The NPP proved more focused on the key issues. While there were the usual insults and accusations of mismanagement and corruption, the NPP, having transformed its image from the last election as an ethnocentric party, presented through vice-presidentelect Mahamudu Bawumia, a northerner, a national face, and proved more adept on the question of fixing the economy. The NPP

offered concrete, tangible pledges both through their manifesto and on the campaign rostrums. They pledged to restore the flagging economy by cutting taxes, increasing production and stimulating the private sector to create jobs. Another key pledge was to tackle the corruption problem in the country head-on, with the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to ensure that convictions are swift and illicit monies are returned to government coffers. They were also able to execute a highly effective and inclusive grassroots campaign and to attract a significant number of small-scale donations, raised through door-to-door campaigning. 2. NPP won the race for election technologies Following the electoral irregularities in the previous elections in 2012 that led to a failed legal challenge

Ghana’s new president, Nana Akufo-Addo

by the NPP, the party decided to employ manual and electronic systems that ensured they had their own parallel sets of results from each of the country’s 29,000 polling stations and 275 constituencies. The party took on Joe Anokye, a NASA employee, as its Technology Director for the campaign. He developed an application that could simultaneously transmit results from the polling station to both constituency and national levels, ensuring layers of verification. To ensure that this plan worked, the party had to seek out incorruptible members in each constituency and trained them over a period of 6-7 months. This meant that the NPP headquarters was receiving (and transmitting) results before the Electoral Commission. They were able to declare their provisional results less than 12 hours after polls closed. This in turn put pressure on the Electoral Commission, virtually cancelled out any latent tendency to fiddle with the vote tallies, and, along with the party’s demands for Mahama to concede, put pressure on the president. 3. NPP vigilance suppressed illegal voting The NPP had raised challenges to the voter’s register in the run-up to the elections, alleging that there were many Togolese citizens on the

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roll. The EC rejected the claims and no action was taken over the issue so the party instead launched “Operation Eagle Eye”. The operation had the stated aim of reducing the number of Togolese illegally crossing the border to vote in the Volta region, an NDC stronghold. While a suppressed turnout cannot be wholly attributed to this operation, at roughly 60%, turnout in the region was significantly lower than the last elections – and below the overall national average of 68%. 4. Bread and butter trumped infrastructure development While the NDC was busy commissioning hardcore infrastructure such as schools, roads and hospitals to garner support for re-election, Ghanaian voters were concerned about how to put food on the table. Once again, the NDC’s fundamental misreading of the real economic situation cost it the election. GDP growth now hovers either side of 4% while the cost of living is high and unemployment and inflation have increased sharply. A Centre for Democratic Development survey revealed that 73% of Ghanaians describe the present economic situation as “very” or “fairly” bad. 5. NDC was punished for its poor corruption track record To echo the words of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, “corruption is as old as Adam and Eve”. There can be little denying that corruption has become pervasive in Ghana and numerous cases were seen in recent years. Some of the more prominent examples include: the ongoing case of a businessman and NDC financier, paid some $12.3m for an abrogated government contract before being ordered to pay it back by the Supreme Court; concerns raised over the alleged inflation of the $510m purchase of 10 gas turbines from the UAE-based company, Ameri; the awarding of an $885,000 bus branding contract to a company owned by the wife of a party stalwart, as well as large scandals at the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority

and Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency. Two founding members of the NDC – Martin Amidu, who served as Attorney General under the late President Mills, and former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings – have both been extremely vocal critics of Mahama’s government over corruption. 6. NDC was punished by aggrieved public sector workers Three weeks before the election, the government restored a nurses’ training allowance having previously cancelled it, paying each trainee $110. It was a complete U-turn by the party, which had said earlier in the campaign that it would not be possible to pay the allowances. It was also too little, Some economic indicators Indicator GDP Growth













Current Account Balance (% of GDP)





Fiscal Deficit (% of GDP)






too late. The NDC government has struggled with a ballooning public sector wage bill. However, this was arguably made worse by a lack of consistency across the board, especially when it came to keeping old pledges to either raise salaries or allowances, evident in the fact that aside from the nurses, the government had also recently locked horns with teachers over salary arrears. 7. The Rawlings factor, or its absence The charismatic founder of the NDC and former president, Jerry John Rawlings, was notably absent from the NDC campaign for reasons best known to the party executives. Previously critical of key members of the Mahama administration, it is no secret that he and Mahama do not get along. But keeping the charismatic

Rawlings, who is still widely popular, off the campaign trail cost the NDC. Indeed, his absence was one of the reasons for the poor voter turnout in the Volta region, Rawlings’ home state. So, what next? So, what does the future hold in store for Ghana? The weight of expectation bears down heavily on the shoulders of Akufo-Addo, and his incoming administration. Ghanaians voted for change and expect it expeditiously. Anecdotally, NDC accusations of tribalism aimed at the NPP and Akufo-Addo in particular, did not play well. Instead, they were condemned by independent voices on radio, NDC founder JJ Rawlings and Akufo-Addo himself. Akufo-Addo, in marked contrast to the 2012 campaign where he often came across as an Akan nationalist, has been careful to present a nationalist face – avoiding especially the controversial statements of the last election that could be interpreted as ethnic chauvinism. Related to this is the severely depressed economy. The economic challenges facing the country are numerous and restrictions placed on fiscal policy by the IMF as part of the 2015 bailout may interfere with the plans Akufo-Addo has for tax reforms. Increasing access to social media platforms in the country means that voters are kept abreast of up-to-date developments and are also able to shine a light on the activities of their leaders and hold them to acceptable standards of good governance. It is entirely likely that NDC founder, JJ Rawlings, will want to increase his dominance once the party is in opposition. He may find generous support from party members unhappy with the direction Mahama was taking the party in. Sources close to the national executives of the party have said that they are seeing the loss as an opportunity to root out the corrupt members and start taking strides to clear the somewhat tarnished reputation of the NDC. NA The writers are analysts with the business intelligence consultancy, Songhai Advisory. january 2017 New African  43

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Cover Story GHANA

The drama of non-drama While Ghana’s elections can be regarded as setting a democratic gold standard for the continent, it was not all smooth sailing. Femi Akomolafe reports from behind the scenes, while Cameron Duodu profiles the President-elect, Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo.


olitical scientists will scratch their heads for years to come in trying to find answers to how a 72-old politician, Nana Akufo-Addo, long written off by many pundits, managed to defeat a much younger incumbent, with a margin not seen in Ghana’s recent political history. Many of the answers are provided in the previous article. Ghanaians went to the polls on 7 December to elect a president and the 275 members of parliament. Although seven contestants finally scaled the Electoral Commission’s (EC) hurdle, only two were considered serious contenders – the incumbent, President John Dramani Mahama, of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). It was a brutal, no-holds barred campaign with the ruling party sparing no effort or finance in its campaign. Ghana’s only pollster, Ben Ephson, predicted a victory for the NDC’s candidate. A few hours after polls closed, many were shocked when the NPP claimed victory. As Ghanaians groaned with anxiety at the slow pace of the EC’s declaration of results, NPP officials inexplicably continued to jubilate. Ghanaians were given the cold shoulder by EC officials who stubbornly refused to tell them what exactly was going on. The EC boss, Charlotte Osei, further raised people’s blood pressure by claiming that the commission’s server had been hacked and compromised. Citizens breathed a little easier

when the EC came out to later clarify that things were under control. About 30 hours after the close of polls, Ghana’s leading media conglomerate, the Multimedia Group (MG), called the election for the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo, with a projection that tallied with the party’s. MG’s flagship radio station, JoyFM, did a yeoman’s job. Its analysts rolled out election data based on certified results from the EC’s own returning officers at the Collation Centres. While visibly panicking, NDC officials urged that the EC should be allowed to do its job. Leading NPP members came out with a swagger not seen in a long time, to reassure supporters that their lead was unassailable. A pall of gloom descended on supporters of the ruling party as it dawned on them that the battle had been lost. Many of the most active ruling party partisans on cyberspace shut up shop and vamoosed. Even the body language of

An NPP supporter celebrates Nana Akufo-Addo’s victory in the presidential election

leading NDC officials bespoke a lack of conviction as they sought to reassure their troops that victory was still a possibility. Nana Akufo-Addo’s claim of victory was bolstered when the other five contestants came out to concede to him. International observers, among them former presidents Thabo Mbeki and the leader of the AU Election Observation Mission, Hifikepunye Pohamba, former President of Namibia, were said to have objected to the premature and unauthorised announcement of results. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan came out with a loaded statement that all but urged the incumbent to do the honourable thing and concede. Annan said: “In the spirit of democracy, I call on the losers to concede as quickly as possible to defuse tensions and allay uncertainties. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the five candidates who have already done so in light of the preliminary results and clear trends.” Finally, the president made the much-awaited phone call to his main rival, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to offer him congratulations for emerging the winner of the 2016 Presidential Elections. In an official statement he commented: “Every election is a hard-fought battle, and this one was no exception. For those of us who choose to be contenders and go into electoral contests, we go about it as a win-lose proposition. “We believe that only one person can emerge as the winner. And while it is true that only one

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person can be elected president, in reality, and certainly in a democracy such as ours, every election is an opportunity for the people of this nation to express their will, to have their say in who will lead them in the shaping of Ghana’s future.” And almost belatedly, on Friday, 9 December, the EC Chair, Charlotte Osei, came out to confirm the result. Nana Akufo-Addo, a scion of a political and royal family, was born in Accra, Ghana in 1944. He was named after Nana Addo Dankwa II, Paramount Chief of Akuapem, an important Akan state located in the rich forest belt of Southern Ghana. When Akufo-Addo was only three years old, his father, Edward Akufo-Addo, a lawyer, became one of the founders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the pioneer political party that fought to transform the “Gold Coast” into independent Ghana. Among the UGCC’s members was Dr Kwame Nkrumah (its Secretary) who later broke away to

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form his own Convention People’s Party, at the head of which he won independence for Ghana on 6 March 1957. In 1948 – before he broke away from the UGCC – Dr Nkrumah had been one of the “Big Six” leaders of the UGCC detained by the British after violent riots and strikes had broken out as part of the agitation for independence. Now, the residence of AkufoAddo’s father, “Betty House” at Korle Wokon in Central Accra, was the “den” where the UGCC secretly planned its programme of harassment of the British colonial administration, and so the boy, only four years old, would have been thrilled to be occasionally picked up and have his hair rubbed by political grandees whose pictures often appeared in the newspapers. Conversely, the trauma of witnessing the arrest and incarceration of his father and his colleagues, without knowing whether – and when – they would ever return home, would have been seared on his consciousness.

Indeed, the trauma would have been enormous, for no less than three of the arrested Big Six UGCC leaders were blood relations of his: the famous Dr J B Danquah, doyen of Gold Coast politics, was his grand-uncle; William Ofori Atta, an economist and school principal, was his uncle; and his father, Edward Akufo-Addo. The elder Akufo-Addo – and his brilliant wife, Adeline – must have envisaged a future political role for their son, for they sent him first to the government school in a rough Accra neighbourhood, then to the more elitist Rowe School (now Kinbu Technical School). Akufo-Addo père appears to have shrewdly calculated that if his boy was going to attract political allies across the board in future, it would not hurt for him to associate with people from very diverse backgrounds. But having got his son to pay his dues, so to speak, to the wider society at the primary school level, Akufo-Addo then sent the lad to England, first to Holmewood

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Cover Story GHANA

House Prep School and then to Lancing College, in Sussex for his ‘A’-Levels. He then followed his father’s footsteps to Oxford University, where he was enrolled to read PPE (philosophy, politics and economics). But he truncated his course and returned to Ghana to do a B.Sc (Econ) at the University of Ghana, Legon, instead. After obtaining his degree in 1964, Akufo-Addo went back to England to read law, and was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in London in July 1971. Akufo-Addo then made a clever move: instead of seeking work at a chambers in London, he went to Paris, where he became an associate counsel at Coudert Freres, a major US law firm, at its Paris office. He worked there from 1971 to 1975 and, of course, acquired the fluent French that was to serve him well in later years as foreign minister of Ghana. Meanwhile, Akufo-Addo’s father, Edward, had served as both chief justice and later, president, at the time of the government of Prime Minister Dr Kofi Busia (in power from September 1969 to January 1972). The younger Akufo-Addo returned to Ghana from France in 1975 and got himself called to the Ghana Bar in July of that year. He then set about establishing a reputation for himself as one of the most eloquent legal practitioners in Ghana’s courts of law. His most important victory at the Ghana bar occurred in 1979 (the same year his father died) when, in a notorious case, the government of Dr Hilla Limann attempted, on being handed power by Jerry Rawlings in September 1979, to remove the chief justice of the time, Mr Justice Fred Apaloo. A private citizen instructed Nana Addo to lead other counsel to defend the constitutional position, namely, that the chief justice remained head of the judiciary even when there had been a change of government. Reporting the case for the BBC World Service, it was a pleasure to watch Nana Addo, a relatively young lawyer, take on and defeat the government’s lawyer,

“Ghana has distinguished itself in the last 25 years with integrity and transparency. It is a gold standard for democracy in Africa” – J. Carson the attorney-general, Joe Reindorf, a Cambridge graduate of gigantic repute. From then on, the sky was the limit for Nana Akufo-Addo. He was involved in the formation of several movements aimed at wresting power back from the military government of General Kutu Acheampong (1972-77). He also appeared in many civil rights cases to seek freedom for citizens oppressed under military rule. In 1992, he became the great historian Professor Albert Adu Boahen’s campaign manager, when he stood against J. J. Rawlings, the much-feared Chairman of the ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). In May 1995, Akufo-Addo helped to form the Alliance for Change, which opposed and organised demonstrations against the human rights violations of the Rawlings presidency. Many were sceptical when in March 2014, Akufo-Addo announced his decision to seek his party’s nomination for the third time. But he won his party’s nomination by a wide margin – 94.35% of the votes. Nana Akufo-Addo ran a campaign that played to his strengths and minimised his weaknesses. He campaigned primarily on the economy,

The founder of the NDC and former president, Jerry John Rawlings, here pictured with his wife Nana, was notably absent from the NDC campaign

promising to stabilise the country’s foreign exchange rate and reduce unemployment levels. He spent considerably less money that his main rival. And to reduce perceptions that he is elitist and out of touch, he refused to participate in the Presidential Debate. The announcement of the president’s concession resulted in supporters of the NPP releasing eight-years of pent-up frustration with wild jubilations. Congratulations poured in from far and wide, as Ghana, once again, successfully prosecuted a major election with minimum mayhem. Former US Assistant Secretary for Africa, Johnnie Carson, who observed the elections for the National Democratic Institute, said: “Ghana has distinguished itself in the last two and a half decades with integrity and transparency. It is a gold standard for democracy in Africa.” The EU Election Observation Mission was more circumspect. While its statement acknowledged that Ghana “largely escaped the violence many had feared,” it pointed to some areas of concern. “The misuse of incumbency, including unequal access to state media, and unaccountable campaign financing were areas Ghana could address in the future.” Yet Akufo-Addo’s victory was assured and made possible because Ghanaians were fed up with poor economic performance, parlous service delivery, the high cost of living, rampant corruption, and arrogance by state and ruling party officials. The NDC was brought down by its hubris and its refusal to listen to ordinary concerns. Nana Akufo-Addo inherits a weak economy. There is high unemployment, especially among the youth. Despite all the official noises to the contrary, electricity blackouts (Dumsor) still plague the country. The country’s main rivers have been polluted by the activities of illegal gold miners – so-called galamseys. Ghanaians are patient and very tolerant. What they cannot stomach is arrogant officials telling them barefaced lies. NA

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SAVE THE DATE 12 – 13 April 2017, Dakar, Senegal

Join the Pan-African conversation on gender parity Share challenges, experiences and success stories Build new networks Grow stronger together Develop a plan of action to turn the Agenda 2063 into reality

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Feature UGANDA

The grisly contest between national and traditional authorities had been simmering for years. What next, after the November showdown between government forces and palace guards leaves scores dead? By Asuman Bisiika in Kampala.

The killings in Kasese


n Saturday 26 November 2016, the UPDF (the national army of Uganda) attacked the office of the Omulerembera (prime minister) of the Rwenzururu Kingdom, killing eight people and arresting two. The prime minister’s office is located on Alexander Street in the Central Business District of Kasese municipality. Anticipating danger, the prime minister’s staff had locked themselves in the office. But this did not deter the army unit from raiding the office. In typical commando style, they climbed onto the roof and removed iron sheets. Unfortunately, some of the staff that had sought refuge in what they thought was the safety of the ceiling were killed instantly. The rest of the staff were peppersprayed and shot. As if on cue, President Museveni is said to have telephoned Omusinga (King) Charles Wesley Mumbere, ordering him to surrender his Royal Guards with immediate effect.

The aftermath of the Kasese killings, when the office of the prime minister of the Rwenzururu Kingdom, and the Rwenzururu Kingdom Palace, were attacked by the Ugandan army

For a long time, Mumbere had not been taking Museveni’s phone calls; something that may have been interpreted as an act of defiant insubordination. In fact Museveni reached Mumbere through an intermediary, when the person Museveni called was with Mumbere. After Mumbere was put on the line, Museveni gave him an ultimatum: he had to decommission his Royal Guards by 9.00 a.m. the next day. And Museveni was in no mood to take any pleas from Mumbere. The president told Mumbere that any negotiations should be addressed to Brig. Peter Elwelu, the Commander of the UPDF’s Second Division based in Mbarara. After that phone call, the president switched off his phone and could not be reached. The BBC reported that Elwelu said: “We have intelligence that the King [Mumbere] had started to establish military camps in the mountains. “The fighters had started to

abduct people, collect taxes, kill policemen and soldiers. There is a village where they abducted a local leader, tortured him to death and buried him in that camp. He [the king] had crossed the line,” Elwelu added. The king was in a quandary: how was he going to hand over his Royal Guards to a very hostile force that was laying siege to his palace? He sought negotiations with Elwelu, but to no avail. At about 1.00 p.m. the next day, the army attacked the Rwenzururu Kingdom Palace, arrested King Mumbere, killed most of his Royal Guards and torched the palace. What is so disturbing is that most of the Royal Guards killed had their hands tied behind their back; a clear sign of extra-judicial execution. This revelation alone has brought into question the operational discipline of the UPDF. And so the narrative of secession has been put forward to cloud what was clearly the murder of unarmed people. Even the claim that the UPDF found Improvised

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Explosive Devices (IED) like petrol bombs seemed less than credible because the petrol bombs that were displayed for the press would not have survived the palace fire. The truth is that Museveni, irked by Mumbere’s recalcitrance, was so angered that he issued the orders that led to the execution-style killings. Brig. Gwanga, President Museveni’s Advisor on Security in Central Region, has distanced the military establishment from the operation that led to the Kasese killings, calling it shameful. Gwanga also said that Brig. Elwelu would face prosecution for murder. The number of dead may not be known as yet, but 52 unclaimed bodies were buried by the military. Official records also indicate that 16 police officers and Special Police Constables (SPCs) were killed by the population in retaliation. But there are other people who were killed in the villages that have not been counted. Some sources are putting the total estimate of the dead at about 230. This was not the first time the government of Uganda and the Rwenzururu Kingdom have had violent issues. Immediately after the February 2016 elections, over 170 people were killed in what was clearly election-related violence. But the state alleged that Mumbere was spearheading efforts for the Rwenzururu Kingdom to secede from Uganda and create a country called Yiira Republic. The irony of a king fighting for the creation of a republic is not lost on anyone. And before the post-election violence, there had been other incidents. In July 2014, a group of what was then described as “unknown people” armed with machetes, spears, knives and bows and arrows made 13 seemingly co-ordinated attacks in the three Rwenzori region districts of Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntoroko. Although the government initially described the attacks as tribal clashes between the Bakonzo and Bamba communities, all the attacks were made on police and military personnel, save for the killing of eleven family members

of the Basongora community in Bigando in Kasese District. The attackers did not kill any member of the Bamba community. With a history of conflict and violence that dates back to the early days of the colonial administration, any act of violence (small or otherwise) in the Rwenzori region tends to trigger fears that old wounds will be opened. While the attackers were subdued by the superior Uganda People’s Defence Forces

(UPDF), there was a need for an understanding of the history and dynamics of conflict and violence in Rwenzori Region. The July 2014 incident offered the government an opportunity to seek a deeper understanding of the recurring cycles of violence in the Rwenzori Region, but unfortunately the state did not take that opportunity, instead revelling in the triumphalism of having beaten off a rebel attack. The region was unsurprisingly engulfed in violence in the aftermath of the February 2016 election. And this violence was later to culminate in the government’s attack on the Rwenzururu king’s palace and in the November attack. Since the government’s recognition of the Rwenzururu Kingdom (which was touted as the ultimate concession to Bakonzo demands for autonomy), the kingdom, or the Bakonzo community’s militant attitudes have been informed by the following: The creation of 1) Ntoroko

Omusinga (King) Charles Wesley Mumbere, who was arrested by the army during their attack on the Rwenzururu Kingdom Palace

District; 2) The recognition of Obudingya Bwa Bamba (Bamba traditional leadership); 3) The Basongora demand for the recognition of their traditional leadership; 4) Constant demands by Tooro Kingdom authorities that the government return properties in Kasese District; 5) The sharing of natural resources in Kasese District with the pastoralist Basongora community. Incidentally, Museveni’s name is written all over the above issues, which may be responsible for the radicalisation of the Bakonzo or the Rwenzururu Kingdom. But the most significant of all the above is the creation of Obudingya Bwa Bwamba. This unsettled Mumbere, who stopped taking Museveni’s phonecalls. Whereas Museveni’s motivation for creating new kingdoms may be unclear, this act alone may explain the killing of about 1,000 people all over the country. He created the Banyala and Baruuli kingdoms from the powerful Buganda kingdom. Later he stopped the Buganda king from visiting those areas. In 2009, Museveni forbade the Kabaka (king) Ronald Mutebi of Buganda from visiting Kayunga District (Bunyala kingdom, which Museveni had created from Buganda kingdom). Suppressing the popular protest that ensued led to the deaths of over 60 people. The conflict in the Rwenzori has manifested itself in armed violence and civil expression. For instance, Kasese District is known for stubbornly voting against national trends. In 2006, Kasese was the only district in Western Uganda to return FDC members of parliament. Kasese was also the only district in Western Uganda that Museveni lost to the opposition leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye. In the February general elections, all five Parliamentary Seats (and Distinct Chairperson) from Kasese were won by the opposition FDC. Kasese District is the only district in Western Uganda in which the opposition is in full control; a result seen as a slap in the face for Museveni. NA january 2017 New African  49

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A Re p o r t e r ’s N o t e b o o k E T H I O P I A

Life in a STATE OF EMERGENCY With the clampdown on the internet, restrictions on movement, and ethnic tensions growing, James Jeffrey finds that the ouzo in the dives around the Piazza continues to flow, and the bubble that is Addis Ababa is a sealed world with little relation to the hinterland.

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couple of months into the state of emergency declared on 9 October, which has been accompanied by extra powers for the government – including the increased use of federal security forces, curfews, communication restrictions and suspensions of due process, it appears to be having the desired effect: protests previously rocking the Oromia and Amhara regions have subsided. But in Addis Ababa, as across the rest of the country, residents are feeling the pinch of those communication restrictions that have blocked mobile data – what the majority of Ethiopians use to go online – and various online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, with other services rendered haphazard and unreliable. This has impacted everyone: from local businesses to foreign embassies and NGOs to ordinary Ethiopian families trying to go about daily life; not to mention foreign freelance journalists trying to follow events and make sense of it all. The Ethiopian government, for its part, has been quite candid about employing such restrictions to help restore peace and security. It has singled out social media as a key factor in agitating unrest since November 2015, and which spiked in early October with millions of dollars’ worth of damage done to foreign-owned factories, government buildings and tourist lodges across the Oromia region, the ground zero moment for this protest movement. “Mobile data will be permitted once the government assesses that it won’t threaten the implementation of the state of emergency,” Ethiopian government spokesperson Getachew Reda – who has since been replaced – said at a 26 October press conference in Addis Ababa. In the meantime, across the busy capital foreigners and Ethiopians alike are united in finding their smartphones far less smart, and in watching the timer icons on their computer screens spin round and round as they wait for web pages to upload. “Not having the internet in the

“Ethiopia’s government, rather than just complain, should embrace social media to counter the perceived exaggerated narratives of diaspora activists.”

Opposite: Communication restrictions are having a real impact on day-to-day life in Ethiopia. But the government underestimates the Ethiopian public at its peril

21st century is hard – catastrophic!” says Ph.D. student Henok at a café on the Addis Ababa University campus. “Every media, all of them are restricted.”

Ethiopia’s social media dilemma

The impact of social media in Ethiopia reveals much about the state of the country’s political system and media environment, as well as offering lessons for the government to learn from. Many observers say internet restrictions have less to do with silencing Ethiopia-bound Ethiopians than with stymieing influence from abroad. For successive waves of emigration from Ethiopia have formed a worldwide diaspora estimated at 2 million strong. Its largest communities are in the US, totalling anything from 250,000 people to about 1 million. The US diaspora in particular has long maintained a strong presence in cyberspace, to influence the political process at home, and it appears to be rallying more than ever in response to these protests. “Most activists in the diaspora are people who are pushed out of the

political process and into exile by the current regime in Ethiopia,” says Mohammed Ademo, an Ethiopian journalist in Washington, D. C. “So they see themselves as stakeholders in the efforts to shape the country’s future. The upsurge in diaspora involvement and commentary is a response to the epochal events unfolding in Ethiopia and the hopes it has generated for change.” But there is another side to this, with social media activity generating bogus claims or veiled ethnic barbs fomenting trouble. “The problem is a lot of things people would view as gossip if heard about by mouth, they take as fact when they read about them on social media,” says Lidetu Ayalew, founder of the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party. Some involved in Ethiopia’s social media scene say that Ethiopia’s government, rather than just complain, should embrace social media to counter the perceived exaggerated narratives of diaspora activists. Instead it leaves the world of social media uncontested, or, for now, blocked, while relying on its monopoly of traditional media like radio and television. “The government has created this problem for themselves,” remarked an Ethiopian journalist with a daily newspaper, explaining how Ethiopians embrace social media and diaspora satellite television channels to fill the void left by an under-developed independent media.

Parallel universe

While the blogosphere of social media has whirled in response to protests, the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has remained a bizarre bubble, relatively cocooned from trouble in Ethiopia’s hinterlands, leaving this journalist caught between trying to do his job and being distracted by the city’s ever-potent Dionysian forces. For during the first few uncertain weeks of the state of emergency, despite the country teetering on the edge amid heightening ethnic tensions, the music coming from the raucous dive bars in Addis Ababa’s old quarter, the Piazza, only seemed to sound more energising january 2017 New African  51

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A Re p o r t e r ’s N o t e b o o k E T H I O P I A

and liberating, as boisterous crowds shoulder-shook the night away with Ethiopian iskista dancing and wide grins. “Min leutazeus?” – an Amharic phrase for “What are you having?” (i.e. drinking) – became an all-toofamiliar refrain to my ears, while the addictively jaunty beats of Ethiopian music played on, looping over in my mind the next morning as I tried to sit down to work. A sense of abandonment seemed to permeate the air, though that may have had more to do with my role as a freelance foreign journalist here stirring a subconscious need to seize each and every day, in case things really did fall apart, or the government decided to kick out foreign journalists. Even my dating life, normally utterly moribund, seemed to perk up with the state of emergency. It all started to feel a bit surreal. While the country simmered with tension, the new Addis AbabaDjibouti railway opened with typically gaudy fanfare. Svelte Ethiopian hostesses glistening in emerald green dresses on 6-inch heels tottered next to security guards carrying futuristic-looking assault rifles I’d never seen before. As Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made his speech praising the crucial economic role of this reestablished railway link between the two countries, another journalist pointed out to me a column of smoke rising in the distance. We didn’t manage to confirm its source, which was no surprise. When it comes to unravelling Ethiopia the onion analogy rules. There are innumerable layers to strip away before you can even hope to come to some sort of understanding of matters. I once hoped that as a journalist living here I’d make headway with the onion. But still, now, I feel I’ve only got that external rough layer off and am slipping against the shiny surface beneath. I doubt I’m alone, in fact I suspect the vast majority of the foreign community here don’t understand what is happening in Ethiopia. This would go some way to explaining why the foreign policy approaches of the UK and US, Ethiopia’s two main donors and hence those

During Irreecha, the Oromo thanksgiving festival in Bishoftu, 100 people were killed in a stampede after clashes between police and protestors. Here, a man is rescued from a ditch in the aftermath. Below right: Ethiopia’s PM Hailemariam Desalegn

holding the most leverage with the government, appear so anaemic and lame. This lack of understanding seems to naturally lead to underestimation. History clearly shows how Ethiopia’s two preceeding regimes, the imperial dynasty of Emperor Haile Selassie and the communist military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam, both crumbled after underestimating the Ethiopian people and then trying to instigate reforms when it was too late. The state of emergency suggests the government isn’t underestimating matters. Although I’m less sure whether it grasps the depth of grievances and the resolve of those who feel wronged, and whether it possesses the vision and capacity to enact the reforms needed for Ethiopia. “You have to understand one thing about the Ethiopian mentality,” I was told by Abebe

Hailu, now a dapper-looking human rights lawyer in Addis Ababa, who was a university student during the 1974 revolution that brought down Emperor Haile Selassie and ushered in 17 years of brutal communist military rule. “We lived in isolation from the 16th century until the end of the 18th century. So we developed our own psychology. The Ethiopian thinking is circular. The churches are circular, the mosques are

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circular, the injera we eat is circular. Everything is circular. In a circular mentality you simply go on and on arguing about the same thing. You don’t reach a decision.”

A grubby business

I first heard about the Irreecha disaster, when 100 people drowned or were crushed to death following a stampede at an Oromo religious festival, after police and protestors clashed, from a phone call while I was at a friend’s house and deep into a large glass of locally made ouzo. I’d been invited to join the press junket at the event 30 miles southeast of the capital at the start of October, but hadn’t thought it worth going. Hence after hanging up, my mind lurched in an ignoble direction: “Damn it, what a scoop I’ve missed,” I thought, before I regained some clarity: “Hold on, who cares you weren’t there; more importantly, what a human

catastrophe.” Journalism seems to eventually, irrevocably draw one into its darker recesses. When I first came to work in Ethiopia in late 2013, I typically wrote about entrepreneurial businesses amid the growing economy and cultural topics such as traditional food and dancing. People usually described these as human-interest stories, while, with a wry smile, telling me to keep up the good work. Admittedly such stories were far from searing investigative pieces worthy of journalistic awards. But I was comfortable with them for various reasons. “The West knows how Africans die but not how they live,” is a refrain with which I can’t argue. Mainstream media’s interaction with Africa seems dominated by four themes: disaster/disease/ warfare/corruption. Hence I liked how my stories did a bit to demonstrate that good news did

actually exist, by recounting how Ethiopians lived. Also, my writing wasn’t related to anyone suffering, a criticism of the journalistic process I remember discussing during journalism graduate school classes at the University of Texas in Austin, before I embarked on my Ethiopian adventure. But lately I’ve found myself inextricably pulled toward writing about – and being paid for it – the suffering of others while trying to cover a protest movement that swelled from initial ostensible opposition to land grabs into a fullon anti-government movement. Admittedly the world appears increasingly choc-a-bloc with heavy news: Brexit, a US election like no other, ISIS, Syria, increasingly freakish weather. But having previously had no problem doing stories about condoms and milk farms in Ethiopia, the now apparent lack of interest of Western editors is perplexing. I sense much of this could be down to Ethiopia’s turmoil not offering a succinct story, and I’d be the first to admit it’s all pretty confusing. As already mentioned, Addis Ababa gives the impression little is amiss, with trouble usually occurring deep in the hinterland. So, yes, it’s hard to piece everything into a nice, easily digestible story like the tragedy of Aleppo in Syria. Utterly destroyed, pictures from there look great in terms of editorial layout; the headlines write themselves, the internet hits duly follow. My experiences with Western editors have steered me toward the following unwelcome conclusion: journalism purports to espouse untold stories about the downtrodden, and yet it too often opts instead to feed the news cycle machine with what the nondowntrodden in the West crave, easy stories about unmitigated African disasters – after the fact, of course. Educating about developments before disaster strikes appears beyond comprehension, while also not usually making for such a gripping voyeuristic story. One US-based editor was quite clear: “We can’t take anything on Ethiopia, but get in touch again if there is a coup or the equivalent.” NA january 2017 New African  53

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Investigation BOTSWANA

Botswana, Africa’s GDP poster-child, is the world’s second-biggest diamond producer, from which it earns four-fifths of its national income. Heavily reliant on diamond exports, the country went into business with mining giant De Beers 50 years ago. In a New African exclusive, Khadija Sharife reveals that Botswana has been getting a raw deal from the arrangement.

The big Bots diamond


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habiso, a taxi driver in Botswana’s capital of Gaborone, has big plans for the day he gets some extra money. “When I’ve got it, I’m going to propose to my fiancée at a nice place like KFC,” he says. “Put the big diamond ring on a fried chip.” But the likelihood of Thabiso being able to buy a large diamond is slim despite Botswana being one of the world’s biggest producer of gem-quality diamonds. Times are hard in Botswana. Despite his undergraduate degree, taxi work is all Thabiso can find. Diamond-rich Botswana, according to the World Bank’s income inequality statistics, is one of the world’s most unequal countries. It is a land of contradictions: rich and poor, politically peaceful yet economically unequal. Driving through the dusty streets of Gaborone, it is hard to see where the $40bn in diamond value mined since 2003 has gone. The diamond business makes up a huge proportion of the country’s economy, accounting for 80% of Botswana’s export revenue. Yet puzzling discrepancies in the country’s diamond data exist. “Rough” diamonds, or diamonds straight from the ground, are mined in various locations around the world and come in three types: gemstones, industrial grade and “boart” diamonds. The stones are sorted into thousands of categories based on weight, colour and clarity. Gemstones are the classic brilliant diamonds seen in rings, necklaces and tiaras; industrial grade diamonds are darker and contain flaws, while boart diamonds are the poorest grade of all. As all diamonds are exceptionally hard, the lesser grades are used for products such as drill bits, while boart can be ground into dust to make industrial sandpaper. Most of Botswana’s rough gemstone diamonds are exported to other countries to be cut, polished and made into jewellery, which raises the value exponentially. Yet an analysis of confidential data on rough Botswana gemstones shows an average 77.6% increase in value for the stones once they leave Botswana and arrive in a foreign

country – before any cutting or polishing takes place. That is, the diamonds’ value miraculously increases when they are traded between different countries after escaping Botswana’s national borders – and tax brackets. The data appears to indicate use of an old trick known as profitshifting, whereby a commodity is undervalued to reduce tax liability. But when the diamonds arrive in a tax-free jurisdiction such as the “freeports” of Switzerland, their

value increases by up to 200%. (A freeport is a free-trade zone where products can be stored duty-free while awaiting re-export.) Opposite: Evaluating the carat, clarity and colour of a diamond in Gaborone prior to export. Below: Diamond mining in Botswana accounts for 80% of the country’s export revenue

The Botswanan government is losing significant tax revenues if the diamonds are being undervalued on export only to assume a higher value abroad.

How much is that diamond in the window? Since gaining independence from Britain in 1966, Botswana, which is about the size of France with a population of 2 million, has become a middle-income country. Just 50 years earlier, it was one of the world’s 10 poorest nations. The

country has also managed to avoid the type of violent conflict that has engulfed others on the continent. Since then, most of Botswana’s diamonds have been produced through the joint-venture Debswana, a partnership between diamond giant De Beers and the Botswana government. Known as the De Beers Botswana Mining Company when it was founded in 1968, the relationship between De Beers and the Botswana government is considered the oldest public-private partnership of the post-colonial period. Over the years, the Botswana government increased its shares in Debswana from 15% to 50%, and also managed to obtain a 15% share of De Beers itself. For decades, De Beers closely january 2017 New African  55

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Investigation BOTSWANA

guarded its financial information. But in 2013 the company released some numbers showing that Botswana provides more than 70% of De Beers’ diamonds. In 2013, De Beers obtained more than 31m carats from its holdings in African countries such as Namibia, South Africa and Botswana as well as Canada. Of that, Botswana accounted for about 22.7m carats. Of the $5.9bn in revenue generated by De Beers in 2013, Botswana accounted for $4.2bn. The diamond market runs very differently from other commodity markets. Diamonds mined by Debswana are mostly exported to De Beers’ subsidiaries abroad or to De Beers’ preferred buyers – companies known as “sightholders”. These sightholders receive special parcels at “sights” (buyer events) held throughout the year. De Beers determines the type or quality of diamond each approved sightholder receives. Parcels provided to sightholders are based on De Beers’ access to privileged information including the sightholders’ sales and markets. Unlike gold, platinum or other high-value minerals, the value of diamonds remains confidential and highly subjective. Diamonds are graded from gem quality down to industrial, based on the qualities inherent in each stone. De Beers lists more than 12,000 different categories in a pricebook, but won’t say how it values stones or determines the various types of diamonds. Once the rough gem-quality diamonds are cut and polished – or even set into jewellery – they enter the wholesale and retail global markets. Belgium, Israel and India are leaders in the diamondprocessing industry, while the US and China offer some of the world’s largest retail markets. Sightholders, who are usually based in Belgium, the US or India, are allowed to accept or reject the parcels but they are not allowed to negotiate price or to select diamonds themselves. If a sightholder rejects a parcel, future parcels may be of lesser quality – or the sightholder may be excluded from future sights. But while De Beers demands

GDP, human development and carats extracted

Sorting diamonds into grades before they are put into “sightholder” parcels for De Beers’ gemstone traders

access to proprietary information from its sightholders, the company guards its own data and valuation methodologies fiercely. The sightholder system ensures a controlled supply of diamonds to the world market. Only a limited number and type of diamonds can enter the markets through specific sellers, limiting the supply of gem diamonds and raising their price. For 60 years, the system was condemned as price-fixing by the US, which banned De Beers until 2012, when the company made a $295m settlement to diamond buyers and retail consumers

negotiated by the US Justice Department. The practice was not limited to De Beers, which produces just over a third of the world’s gemstones. Russia’s diamond group Alrosa produced the most diamonds overall. A spokesperson for the state-owned Alrosa claimed that if the price of diamonds isn’t supported, a diamond becomes a “mere piece of carbon”. It appears that De Beers may stockpile an unknown quantity of rough diamonds to create a scarcity of rough gems. Furthermore, the value of the gems varies greatly

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depending on which country imports them from Botswana. For example, Switzerland shows a pattern of importing gemstones before exporting them at much higher values, without having added value to the stones by cutting or polishing them. Between 2003 and 2016, confidential data shows the value of diamonds originating in Botswana and traded between Switzerland and other countries totalled $67.4bn. This figure includes rough diamonds directly exported from Botswana by Debswana. Records show that these companies pay an average of $519/ carat for rough stones that are then re-exported at $1,644/carat – a 216% increase in value. Sometimes the run-up is even bigger. Last year, 269 rough gem carats originating from Botswana were re-exported from Switzerland to Laos at $16.5m, or more than $61,000/carat. In 2016, Swiss freeports exported parcels worth $118m to the US, averaging $84,000/carat. An analysis of this official inter-government data shows that by the time the rough diamonds left Switzerland for other countries, they had increased in value by $27.8bn. At least half of this multibillion “re-export” trade in rough diamonds appears to be the same stones in different packages: subsidiaries of companies received and repackaged diamonds into new parcels with new invoices. The data shows that the rough diamonds were re-imported and re-exported between different jurisdictions, particularly tax havens, at increasingly higher values. Data analysis identified 17.1m carats of rough diamonds originating from Botswana from 2003 to 2012. When the stones left Botswana, they were valued at an average of $125.9/carat. When they were re-exported from foreign countries, they were valued at an average of $223.8/carat, for a total of more than $3.8bn over the period – a 77.6% increase in value. Diamonds exported directly to Belgium or India are likely to be cut and polished, thus legitimately increasing their value. But some

Botswana diamond mining timeline 1960s – 1970s 1966 – Botswana gains independence from Britain. Seretse Khama becomes its first president. 1967 – A 117-hectare diamond mine is discovered in Orapa by De Beers – four years (1971) and $33m later the mine is ready for production. Current production levels average around 12m carats per year. Per capita income in the country at this time was around $80. 1969 – Debswana is set up, a joint mining venture between the government and De Beers. Over the next five years the government increases its stake from 15% to 50%. 1975 – The Letlhakane diamond mine opens (in 2015, 583,000 carats recovered). 1980s – 1990s 1980 – Khama dies and former vice-president, Quett Masire, becomes president. 1987-1992 – Debswana has a 5% stake in De Beers and two people on De Beers’ board of directors. 1992 – Jwaneng diamond mine is opened – the richest in the world. Recent production is approximately 12.5 million carats per year. 1990s – Botswana becomes the second largest diamond exporter. 1996 – The government and Debswana come to an agreement to double production at the Orapa mine. 2000 – 2016 2003 – The Damtshaa diamond mine opens, with an average annual production of 161,000 carats. 2006 – The government and De Beers agree to extend the mine licences for all mines. They also establish the Diamond Trading Company Botswana, a company to sort and value all Debswana production. 2013 – A diamond sorting plant opens in Gaborone following the closure of the London base; it is seen as a move to position Botswana as the main diamond hub. The facility employs around 600 people. 2015 – The second-largest diamond in the world is discovered in Botswana by a Canadian firm. Expected to fetch $70m at auction, it fails to sell in 2016. Its discovery sends shares in Lucara, the Canadian company that owns it, soaring by by 32%. Botswana’s per capita income is currently $6,000, one of the highest in Africa.

companies ship stones through Swiss freeports where the average diamond imported from foreign countries other than Botswana is priced at more than $800/ carat. Corporate secrecy laws prevent digging deeper into who is exporting the rough diamonds at what increases and why. For example, the average re-export value of all diamonds originating from Botswana in the same period is unknown. Companies sending or receiving diamonds from tax havens and freeports do not need to indicate Botswana as the country of origin. Nor is there any external authority that scrutinises imports and exports of rough diamonds. The data does not show the names of the subsidiaries or their parent companies. De Beers insists the methodology behind its valuation process is confidential. While they supply rough gems to their clients, what they do with their purchase is up to them. The company would not comment on how or whether prices of rough exported diamonds might change. One internal government report claims Botswana’s average diamond values – the prices allocated by De Beers – are “estimates” rather than reflections of true value. Botswana’s 15% share in De Beers, according to the company’s own report, was designed to ensure that while Debswana was, according to De Beers, a “minority acquiring shareholder ... its diamond production is fully attributable to the De Beers Group,” meaning Botswana could not mine the diamonds without De Beers’ help. This potentially shifts Botswana’s leverage from a position of strength to one of dependence as De Beers finances half the government budget at a minimum. The government is losing significant tax revenues if the diamonds are being undervalued on export only to assume a higher value abroad. Given the advantageous terms under which it trades in Botswana’s mineral riches, it makes business sense for De Beers to donate funds to make donations to the country. NA january 2017 New African  57

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Why the single biggest stumbling block to Africa’s progress is the state of Africa’s infrastructure – and how to surmount it.


Breaking the cycle


ost countries in sub-Saharan Africa inherited very basic infrastructure from their former colonial overlords. After independence, this proved totally inadequate to cope with the massive growth of cities and the concomitant requirement to expand utilities; the need to connect up various parts of the same country and develop the rural areas; the profitable exploitation of natural resources and the efficient handling of the considerable rise in overseas trade. In addition, independent African countries were expected to be able to improve the living standards of their people and modernise their infrastructure to keep pace with the rest of the developing world. Perhaps only South Africa and Zimbabwe had a fairly developed infrastructure to build on – the rest of sub-Saharan Africa found themselves with a mounting backlog of essential new projects as well as the maintenance and modernisation of existing facilities. There is no doubt that despite starting from a very low base, many, if not most African countries have made valiant attempts to modernise their infrastructure – with varying degrees of success. Some countries today are unrecognisable from the ramshackle structures left behind by colonial powers. But a combination of weak economic performances, poor planning, a lack of experience and expertise and a dearth of investments in this sector has meant that the continent has fallen behind other developing nations

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even in the provision of basics such as clean water, reliable power, transport networks, housing, ICT and health and education infrastructure. Even countries that have relatively well developed infrastructure find themselves facing an ever increasing list of essential infrastructure projects but often without the financial and technical means to implement them. Low national income leads to outdated and inadequate infrastructure; dilapidated infrastructure puts the brakes on economic efficiency and growth so you end up with low national incomes, completing a vicious circle. What has concentrated the minds of planners, including multinational donors and development partners has been schemes to break the vicious circle and free the continent to exploit its full economic potential. The sticking point, as well as the key to this end, is finance. Infrastructure financing is a very different animal from almost any other type of financing – and the commercial financing of projects in Africa is again replete with more challenges and risks than is usually the case elsewhere. This has led to a whole raft of imaginative and innovative approaches often championed by African finance institutions and bolstered by support from external development finance institutions as well as the private sector. Indeed, since 2009 when the World Bank quantified Africa’s “infrastructure gap” at around $90bn per annum, considerable progress has been made. Many national governments, buoyed by a period of sustained economic

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Partner Statement

The sticking point, as well as the key … is finance.

In 2015, the private sector's contribution to infrastructure financing increased from $2.9bn to $7.4bn

growth, allocated relatively larger sums to infrastructure in their budgets. The flow from international and pan-African development agencies also increased and, over the past few years, there has been a sharp spike in the private sector’s contribution. According to the excellent annual review produced by the Infrastructure Consortium of Africa (ICA), total commitments from all sources in 2015 amounted to $83.4bn, a 12% increase on the 2014 figures (China’s commitment of $20.9bn for 2015, among other factors, helped to produce the spike). Of course these commitments are not evenly spread across the continent and although the 2015 figure was​ an increase on 2014, there was a significant decline in budgetary allocation for infrastructure from many African governments. Budgetary allocations for 44 countries in 2014 amounted to $34.5bn compared to $28.4bn in 2015. In terms of Africa’s sub-regions, East Africa was the clear winner with commitments of $19.3bn, followed by Southern Africa (excluding South Africa) with $16bn. West Africa is third with $15.2bn, followed by North Africa with $14.1bn and South Africa with $11.7bn;, while Central Africa brings up the rear with $4.9bn. The transport and energy sectors received the lion’s share of funding with commitments of an identical $34.7bn for each sector. Water, with $8.1bn was third followed by ICT with $2.5bn and multi-sector with $2.2bn. A rapid breakdown of the sources of funding for 2015 show African governments with $28.4bn in top place, followed by China with $20.9bn and ICA members (G8 countries, the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and Development Bank of South Africa) with $19.8bn. Other funders included the


Arab Co-ordination Group with $4.4bn and other bilateral and multilaterals with $2.4bn. One of the most encouraging trends over the past few years is the robust contribution from the private sector. In 2015, the private sector’s contribution increased from $2.9bn to a healthy $7.4bn. This upward trend is likely to continue, especially if the public-private partnership (PPP) structures which are the most favoured by both government and the private sector become more organisationally effective and there is a clearer appreciation of the risks, especially from the public side. Leading the charge from the African side is once again the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) which has already invested over $4bn in various projects across Africa. As a PPP organisation, its international alliances with other financial institutions and infrastructure funds, added to its deep understanding of the African environment as well as expertise in structuring complex investment vehicles has already made it something of an icon on the continent. Some of the AFC’s more recent projects include the Henri Konan Bedie Bridge in Abidjan which has been described as an “architectural masterpiece” connecting expressways linking the north and south of the city; the Main One system rolling out fibre optic connections across Nigeria; the Cenpower Kpone Independent Power Plant in Ghana which is due to come on stream this year and which will account for 10% of Ghana’s total installed capacity and approximately 20% of its available thermal generation capacity; the 25.5MW Cabeolica wind farm in Cape Verde; and the Bakwena Toll Road consisting of a 95km section of the N1 highway running from Pretoria northwards, and a 290km section of the N4 highway running from Pretoria to the Botswana border. The AFC’s success, which includes healthy returns on capital, has stimulated considerable infrastructure financing interest from both the African and non-African private sectors. Making profit while also solving problems is a great motivator and we can look forward to this segment growing both in volume as well as investment commitments. Is this perhaps the key to breaking Africa’s infrastructure vicious circle and releasing the continent’s enormous potential? Anver Versi

The AFC will host Africa’s premier international infrastructure summit: “AFC Live – Building Tomorrow’s Africa Today: Financing Infrastructure in the World’s Last Frontier Market” in Abuja, Nigeria, on the 27th-28th March 2017. Visit for more information

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The inaugural Abantu Festival in Soweto, 22 years after freedom, is the first time in independent SA that literary black folk met without the mediation of whites. For once, it feels like home.

My long march to freedom


first went to South Africa at the age of 15. It was a sunny day in April and I was on school vacation. My now late father had preceded me, coming home after 29 years of exile. And I? I was finally coming to a country that I had grown up knowing was home but often doubted I would ever go to. Every time I overheard my father and his comrades being hopeful, something drastic would happen. The plane Samora Machel was travelling on would be shot down by a heartless and seemingly all-powerful apartheid regime; or the ANC offices located in my neighbourhood in Zimbabwe would be bombed; or a well-loved uncle or aunt – one of my father’s comrades – would receive a parcel bomb. Things changed somewhat when Frederik de Klerk became president. Political leaders of the ANC and the Pan African Congress were freed from prison, Nelson Mandela being the most famous. Black political parties were unbanned. And families that were in exile were now free to return. It seemed we were on course to finally become a free South Africa. When I got off the plane, I did not kiss the ground as my Zimbabwean mother had instructed I do. It seemed too dramatic a gesture to my 15-year-old self.


My father was there to meet me and, still searching for his place in a country from which he had been away for a long time, drove me to my Aunt Nontembiso and Uncle Velile’s home in Protea North in Soweto. Protea North was nothing like the Soweto of my imagination. A gentrified neighbourhood, it did not have the shacks and matchbox homes that I recalled from television. There were no Casspirs driving up and down the streets with soldiers inside and the only visible items were guns pointed at people. Protea North had large homes and uncles and aunts who drove and a neighbour journalist called ZB Molefe who had enough rooms in his home that he could afford to set one aside as a library. And what a library it was. I always made sure that I was an agreeable playmate to Uncle ZB’s daughters, Nonkululeko and Nompumelelo, because I did not want to lose access to the library that ZB generously allowed me to borrow from. Protea North was so bourgeois that when my younger cousin Zuko told me after a few days that there was a white boy who liked me, in spite of not having seen any white people in the neighbourhood, I believed him. I would later find out

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I constantly felt as though I and other black people were justifying ourselves to our fellow citizens of a paler hue. that for all its aspirations, there were in fact no white folks in all of Soweto. There might be some who would come and slum it with their domestic workers for a month so that they could write a piece for one

Abantu Book Festival – 9 December 2016 — in Soweto, Gauteng

of the national newspapers (possibly entitled “My Month in Soweto”), mentioning how the author might have discovered their ubuntu while there. But it would not be Protea North where they would be slumming it. It was not poor enough; the people were not “grateful” enough. The “white” boy that Zuko was speaking of was so referred to because he was a fair-skinned boy named Mandla. Then, and many years later, being in Soweto felt like being on the periphery of the rest of South Africa. It did not feel entirely free. And if Soweto felt this way to me, the rest of South Africa felt even more so. I constantly felt as though I and other black people were explaining ourselves and justifying our existence to our fellow citizens of a paler hue. This may not make much sense to my African brethren and sistren north of the Limpopo since black folk constitute the majority. And yet, to black and white South Africans it makes a very specific kind of sense. When a majority are dependent on a minority of the population for work, for platforms to express their pain, these people cannot be entirely free. Minority rule may be embedded in capitalism’s DNA, but in South Africa, the capitalists are not only the same race but are often the same people who once directed the Casspirs in the streets during apartheid, guns blindly pointed at the people. ANC politicians refer to it as “white monopoly capital” – interesting coming from them considering that many of them thrive on Lazarus crumbs from the table of that same white monopoly capital and do what they can to protect it. But things. Things they are a-changing. Or at least, it’s beginning to feel like that to me. The inaugural Abantu Book Festival in Soweto, a brainchild of my brother Thando Mgqolozana, ably curated by Panashe Chigumadzi, with events management done by Nontobeko Dlamini who left formal employment to start her own company, ran from 8 to 10 December. I remember months back as Mgqolozana and I discussed

potential guests for the festival. Surely he should invite our white allies? He was adamant that he would not. According to him, we needed a space where we could talk out our problems and support each other as black people. Our paler compatriots, Mgqolozana stated, were free to come and support and sit in but the people who were on panels and the movies we would watch would have black people. Mgqolozana was right. When I attended Abantu, I realised that I had never felt as free as I did in my own country since I first arrived all those years ago. I found suddenly that we could now give each other critical feedback on a lot of things without feeling we were pulling each other down. When Lebo Pheko, moderating a discussion with retired Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke, charged him for being complicit in drafting a flawed South African Constitution that failed to recognise the dispossession of black people during apartheid, I found myself exhaling. When Judge Moseneke for his part admitted the failure but disclosed that while there were clear mechanisms to solve the land question there was no political will, I wanted to be the one to force the hand of those who are in charge. This feeling of freedom remained later as Pumla Gqola and Eusebius McKaiser had a frank discussion about their works and still later in Soweto Theatre as Zuko Collective sang their reimagined version of Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika, and as Gcina Mhlope gave her keynote speech. I felt I was bearing witness to something very special. I was seeing brilliant black South African minds in one space where none of them had to justify or explain their existence. I realised then how much black South Africans had needed something like Abantu Book Festival to affirm themselves and to remind themselves that they matter and this is their country. Having exhaled, having finally become free in South Africa 22 years after the first democratic elections and 25 years after I first came to Soweto, I am convinced I can now write the stories that matter to me. NA

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With 200,000 views per episode, the Nairobi Nest Collective’s subversive online TV show, Tuko Macho suggests that innovative low-budget initiatives have a ready audience – despite the censors’ best efforts. By Jackie Lebo.

Big Brother is watching


he Nest Collective bills itself as “a small army of thinkers, makers and believers [who] create work together using film, visual arts, music and fashion – dissecting and subverting the layers of how Africans are seen and unseen.” Jim Chuchu, one of the founding members, first came to prominence as a member of Just A Band nearly 10 years ago. With their fusion of electronic music, art and emerging technology, they created Kenya’s first internet meme with their viral music video “Ha-He”. The video introduced the world to the antihero Makmende, who in the fashion of a “Chuck Norris is the ultimate badass” meme, took on Nairobi’s worst criminals with kung-fu, a big Afro and stylish bellbottoms. Chuchu left Just A Band to found the Nest Collective. The films he’s directed include 2014’s Stories of Our Lives, an exploration of LGBT lives in Kenya, which was subsequently banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board. The Nest’s newest series, Tuko Macho (We are Watching), involves

a continuation of early music video themes. In a trailer that sets out the series premise, the protagonist, Jonah, states there are two types of people in Kenya: those who cheat, steal and kill with impunity and those who, like him, spend their lives paying for one mistake. To right this imbalance, Jonah forms the vigilante group Tuko Macho. The series opens with a typical Nairobi scene: a driver hooting at his gate late one night, enduring the wait for it to open, nervously peering out at the night and the perils it may hold. His worst fears come true as a gun is cocked outside and the window rolls down to reveal a notorious carjacker – Charlo. Charlo toys with his victim, engaging him in banter that is all the more menacing for its banality, and asking him what’s wrong. The tables turn when the carjacker is ambushed and disarmed by masked men. Charlo asks if it is the police but is clear as the three men blindfold and drag him into a grim subterranean hideout that something else is going on.

A blue-toned cinematic style lends a dark, menacing air to the vigilante storyline of Tuko Macho

The underground world that Jonah and the Tuko Macho crew inhabit is dark, grungy and brought to life by the cold, blue-toned cinematography. The judgement and execution scenes depicted are jumpy and nerve-wracking. Charlo is defiant to the end, spitting on his captors. His last words are a compelling case for himself and the millions left behind by 10% economic growth projections and Vision 2030 superhighways, seven-star hotels and shiny things on shopping malls that are the illusion of progress. But the “reality show” public votes for his execution. This public, weary of a police force that always has its palm out or is in cahoots with thugs, has reactions ranging from apathy to glee. A detective named Salat is now on the case and the Tuko Macho crew take on their second target – a predatory preacher named Pastor Kangai. We see her as she exits her church. “We need to stomp the devil,” she says. “Pray very hard.” Once in her SUV, Pastor Kangai transitions from her pious public persona to a private one, where the

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transactional nature of her ministry becomes apparent. She orders the driver to take her to the bank, then complains about a mobile money transaction that is yet to materialise. “Media people cannot harass me,” Pastor Kangai brags. “Just give them a few days and they’ll forget.” But it is soon apparent that her regular driver has been ambushed and she is not going to make it home today. It is instructive that the Tuko Macho crew executes Charlo for being a carjacker, then turns around and carjacks Pastor Kangai the very next day. Such is the irony of vigilantism – to clean the city, the Tuko Macho crew resort to the very actions they claim to be against. The stories dominating the news cycle in Kenya are of epic corruption – the Ksh5.3bn ($51m) Afya House scandal which misappropriated funds meant to provide healthcare for millions of Kenyans, and the $15.3m National Youth Service payment system manipulation. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement: “Corruption is frustrating me. The pressure is on me to do something about it.” A recent anti-corruption protest was scuttled by riot police lobbing teargas at peaceful demonstrators. With this as context, it is no surprise the Tuko Macho series has found such a large audience. According to Dr. Njoki Ngumi, a member of the collective, the project’s genesis was their interest in creating a deconstructed superhero narrative relevant to Kenya – with a hero who, unlike the kitted and gadget-heavy Batman types, would fit in. They were also interested in how Kenyans interact online, and that comes out in the storytelling devices used: the fanfare around voting, the judgement at the click of a button, the disconnectedness of action happening on screens, the collective amnesia and the ubiquity of vox pops. Grounding the project in Nairobi, with the gorgeously shot cityscapes and backstreets, means the series is richly layered with nuances and meaning. As the series progresses, Jonah’s backstory is revealed – his past as the election fraud whistleblower Biko Nzomo, who was left for dead by the political operative Bernadette

Response to the series has been huge, with the episodes averaging 200,000 views. The collective chose Facebook as the platform to release the series.

Top: Kadhu’s menace is palpable as she confronts Jonah

Kadhu, which leads to one of the most memorable scenes of the show. Kadhu, played with sublime menace by Marriane Nungo Akinyi, demonstrates to Jonah just how powerless he is. Her speech resonates deeply in a country that routinely discards and punishes its best, then turns the tables by putting her life in Biko’s hands. The series is utterly subversive in its bold depiction of hitherto taboo scenarios, with the weak taking back power and the strong trembling before them. Response to the series has been huge, with episodes averaging 200,000 views. The collective chose Facebook as the platform to release the series following an audit of their social media activity. They found that Kenyans in general interacted with them mainly through the platform. Because of its sign-up configuration, it also offered a way of having meaningful dialogue about the themes explored in the series, as opposed to the anonymity of viewers on other platforms where things could quickly devolve into trolling. The project was undertaken in partnership with Forum Syd’s Wajibu Wetu initiative, which funds creative CSOs dealing with governance issues. Tuko Macho represents what Kenyan television can be – challenging storytelling that is reflective of its time. It is clear that Kenyans are ready for such stories.

But production is not cheap and local broadcasters are notorious for the low prices they pay, averaging $2,000 for a half-hour drama, which severely limits the nature of the dramas that can be produced locally. Local productions also have to compete with cheap Mexican soaps that have already had their production costs met at home and can be sold abroad for a song. This is despite total advertising spending of $816m a year, $400m of which goes to TV. There is new legislation that aims to fix matters by requiring local broadcasters to carry 60% local content, but it needs to go further and define local content as content from independent producers as well as set fair minimums, so broadcasters don’t fill their slots with news programmes and music videos. Censorship is also a threat to the industry, with the overzealous Kenya Film and Classification Board putting forward a proposal that would strengthen the draconian Cap 222 and give them powers to censor everything from books and plays to social media posts, and impose hefty fines. In a new development, Kenyan broadcaster NTV picked up the show for broadcast in November due to its enormous popularity. It is shown at 10pm on Wednesdays, outside the watershed hours, thus escaping KFCB’s stifling censorship. Creative talent in Kenya has evolved – there is no lack of imaginative projects posted online, but the regulatory environment to create a strong ecosystem is lacking. If talent were able to connect with broadcast audiences and advertising revenue, the cultural space could grow to its full potential and create employment and meaningful work. A strong ecosystem is one where people are duly compensated for their work, have time to hone their craft, and where a new generation of storytellers is nurtured. In such a space, series like Tuko Macho could be the norm. Let’s hope that the promise revealed by the series, and by the entire sector, is fulfilled. NA january 2017 New African  63

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Book Excerpt CULTURE

In the first of a series of excerpts we will be running this year in conjunction with Cassava Republic Press, we publish a chapter from Yemisi Aribisala’s latest book on food culture in Nigeria.

The institution of stew

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y mother graduated from Ahmadu Bello University and was married by the time she was 22. She had her two and a half degrees, a toddler, and a Volkswagen Beetle bought with her first salary. Her wigs were tall and her wrappers tied above her knees. Her wedges were precarious, her sunglasses were horn-rimmed. She had worked hard and run fast in the opposite direction of the grindstone and all the things it stood for. The fashion sense and finickiness were at odds with each other: no matter how sophisticated the hills and valleys of Ibadan, or how fashionable the Yoruba woman with a university degree, the fundamentals of the Yoruba stew would not change and the taste of a stew ground by hand with cold, hard stone could not be compromised. It could not be replicated by a machine yet it was an ideal that my parents, Yoruba relatives, and all those who snubbed the grindstone and harassed every piece of mechanical equipment they met into grinding peppers and tomatoes, perfectly refused to discard. No one thought of using all the intellectual snobbery suspended over the south-west to create a machine that kept its cool like a stone when crushing the soul of a pepper seed so that the heat and smell of moving machine parts did not alter the aromatics of the stew ingredients or the overall character of the pulp. One of my mother’s first cousins who came to live with us could not endure a stew that had not been attended to by an anal-retentive mill operator. She was like that princess who could feel a pea through twenty mattresses. A few years ago, I watched in amazement as she, now mistress of her own home, berated her help: ‘Ko kuno! Ko kuno!’ Which meant the stew was not texturally perfect. Which meant another trip to the market for the overwhelmed help. Meanwhile, blenders expired, and are still expiring all over the south-west of Nigeria, endeavouring to do the job of pulping skin and seeds and water to the required mouthfeel. I cannot count the number of electric blenders I

The idea is to buy anything found in the market just as long as it is fresh

personally saw my mother destroy in the attempt to make them grind peppers to the specification of texturally perfect Yoruba stew. You would hear the blender going for a stretch of about thirty minutes and then you would smell burning wires and you would know, without doubt, that the poor blender had, in great bitterness of spirit and thorough exhaustion, given up the ghost. And even after giving its life, it still had not got the job done. There would be no reverent folding of wires and putting away of the blender. No fitting burial. There would be angry, disgusted kissing of teeth. The blended peppers, tomatoes and onions would be transferred to a plastic container and sent off to the market, to the Pentecostal mill. From as early as ten years of age, I was considered capable of going to the market to grind peppers on my own. I didn’t have to decide the ratio of tomatoes to peppers to onions. My mother did that. All I had to do was take two containers, one with water, the other with the stew ingredients, which my mother had measured out. I was to hand them over to the mill operator. I had to demand, in my most authoritative ten-year-old voice, that he give his machine a rinse so that someone else’s ground beans did not become part of our stew or so that the stew did not acquire the aroma of fermented corn kernels, or was not made ultra hot by the peppers that some other customer had put through the mill before mine. The operator also had to rinse the wooden stick he used to push the peppers and tomatoes into the belly of the machine. He

would agree to do all this but with the facial expression of someone smelling something bad. Then I was to demand that the blend be put through the mill once again. Three times in total, no matter how many people were waiting in the queue and no matter how irritable and close to exasperation the mill operator became on account of my insisting. Lastly, on no account was I to allow him to put any of his own water into the machine to rinse the rest of my blend out. The whole experience was as traumatic as performing on stage. When I got home the blend went into one big pot to be simmered to death. ‘Igbawo lo ma jina?’ The question of when this blend was considered ‘cooked’ was always met with the answer, ‘When it is cooked. Full stop!’ You tasted it, and then you knew. That was the measure of time. And that made perfect sense in the context of different species of tomatoes, which we had not bothered to distinguish and which market women had not bothered to distinguish for us. Even though we were finicky, we bought whatever tomatoes we found in the market as long as they were fresh. So today they would be sweet, tomorrow tart and next week as bland as water. You had to adjust the other stew ingredients to accommodate the ambiguity of tomatoes. The treachery of Scotch bonnets was worse. They all looked the same, and you had to use your sense of smell and touch to guess how hot they were, and how many you needed. On many occasions we got it wrong, and the stew was either too hot or too mild and you had to repair it with tomato puree from a tin to cool it down, or ground dried peppers to hot it up, or water to thin it out. The blend was then divided among white plastic bowls, cooled, covered and deposited at the bottom of the deep freezer. Every morning, without fail, a plastic container of frozen, boiled blend came out of the freezer because my father had to have a fresh pot of stew every day. The recipe was the same. Three cooking spoons of groundnut oil were heated. The blend went in and was cooked for another stretch until january 2017 New African  65

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Book Excerpt CULTURE

there was no more tartness in its taste and the heat of the peppers was muted and harmonious. Then the stock was added with the Maggi and the boiled beef. The seasoning was adjusted and the stew was done. I threw this recipe out the moment I left home for university. I embraced the blender and its runner-up competence. All the finickiness about perfectly ground peppers was unrealistic in the context of an unfamiliar university town where I had to go and find a mill in the market, scrutinise the hygiene of the mill operator, and do research on where his water was coming from. The recipe needed to be thrown out if only for the sake of the unnecessary drama of the whole thing. My struggle with the idea of Yoruba stew came to rest in peace at the feet of my son’s sensitivity to tomatoes. Before that, it worked in my favour that I married out of the institution of stew, so there was no husband compelling me to cook it for the sake of nostalgia. So I began to question the entire endeavour.
Why did I have to cook with tomatoes or onions?
Why red Scotch bonnets and not yellow?
Why not anything I want, really?
Why a smooth stew and not a lumpy one?
Why not roasted stew instead of one cooked on the hob? And thus, by virtue and reason of such questioning and rebelling, the doors of the institution of stew were never formally declared open in my house. Recently, my friend Damaris Onwuma gave me a grindstone that her mother took to Lagos for her from Benue State. Another friend brought it all the way from Lagos to Calabar for me by bus. The package came with some oyster shells that I was meant to sharpen the stones with. You put the shells between the two stones, ground them fine and thereby sharpened the stones. It is not because I suddenly gained religion and wanted to go back to texturally finicky Yoruba stews that the grindstone is now sitting in my kitchen. It is because it has recently dawned on me that only a grindstone can extract certain aromatics from fresh peppers. The corollary is that only a grindstone can retain certain aromatics in fresh

peppers. Only a grindstone can pulverise roasted groundnuts and peppers with the willpower needed to create pepper kola: that moreish groundnut paste served to guests with fresh garden eggs. The Yoruba have a point. The inertia in creating a machine that can do the stone’s work might be resignation to the fact that no such machine can, in fact, be created. And perhaps Lagos has been good to the Yoruba stew because it has, out of necessity, straightened some of the kinks of Yoruba finickiness. It’s given the stew the opportunity to exist as stew even if imperfectly made in a blender. The Yoruba woman in Lagos has to live the fast-paced life. She has to drop children off at school, do long transits from home to work and back, go through the motions of replicating interesting meals for the husband who is much like

Most of Yemisi’s stews are made with smoked fish and need no stock on this account

the Ancient and Modern Hymnal because he wants a gorgeous wife who fell out of the middle of a glossy magazine, but pounds yam too! Women have had to make peace with the blender. At least in Lagos, one hears expressions like ‘obe imoyo’ for the chopped-with-a-knife or pounded-with-a-mortar-andpestle stew. ‘Designer stew’ is the fried-to-death version analogous to a cardiac arrest. Don’t get me wrong; it is deliciously oily and dark in the face, the intense maroon complexion of deep-frying. The beef in it is fried so resolutely, you can take it apart thread by thread. The peppers seem almost non-existent under a brazen pool of oil, but it is stew nevertheless. The most fashion-conscious translation has to be ofada stew: peppers cooked with fermented dawadawa and palm oil, served with locally grown short-

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“The stock from the ingredients – the water from the vegetables released in the first minutes of roasting, and then absorbed back again – completely negates the need for stock cubes.”

grain rice in thaumatococcus (moinmoin) leaves. Even the snootiest of party guests will discreetly massage the sleeve of the server carrying a tray of ofada stew and rice. Stew my way is made with sweet green peppers, tatase or bawa peppers (larger than sweet red peppers, sweeter than hot), yellow and red Scotch bonnets, and leeks. There is no technical detail to the recipe. It is, in fact, not a recipe. It is a no-fail pleaser that allows the most satisfying self-expression. Tomatoes are out for the reasons mentioned before. Those suffering from arthritis will find that, because of the absence of tomatoes, they can eat this stew without paying for it in days of pain. It is noteworthy that the Yoruba ‘obe ata’ has been in existence since antiquity so there is, in fact, nothing novel about cooking stew without tomatoes. The equipment, however,

is important. One needs a glass oven dish and an unglazed earthenware pot, preferably one that does the daily job of stew-simmering. A year-old one is ideal because of the inadvertent slow seasoning of the pot that has taken place over that time. Other ingredients are palm oil, coconut oil, and unground dried dawadawa (this can be excluded, but the combination of palm oil and dawadawa is so appealing). Use the meat of your choice and good salt. Add beef stock only if cooking beef stew. Most of my stews are made with smoked fish and need no stock on this account. Dried Cameroonian peppers can be kept handy in case the heat of the stew needs adjusting. All my peppers and leeks are washed meticulously, especially the leeks, to ensure there is no soil between the lengths of leek skin. All the ingredients are kept whole,

not cut up at all. The peppers are de-seeded, except for the Scotch bonnets. All the ingredients are given their own floor space in the glass dish for the reason that if there is too much crowding or one ingredient is put on top of the other, the desired charring of the peppers and leeks will be compromised. Better to spill over into another dish than put the ingredients one on top of the other. When the ingredients have been arranged, a sprinkling of salt and a sparing drizzle of coconut oil is applied, preferably rubbed all over the peppers and leeks. The roasting is done at low heat, the ingredients covered and tucked in with some foil, ovenproof paper or any other appropriate wrap. This removes the necessity of adding water to the ingredients. The peppers and leeks will steam, collapse, and release water that will come up in the base of the dish, and then it’ll be time to roast them uncovered. The uncovered roasting should be continued until all the peppers and leeks are equally charred golden and brown (not black). The stock from the ingredients – the water from the vegetables released in the first minutes of roasting, and then absorbed back again – completely negates the need for any kind of stock cubes or even beef stock. This respectful mode of cooking releases the innate deliciousness of ever y pepper and leek. The peppers and leeks are cooled and blended with water, depending on how thick or thin one wants the stew. I declare this the answer to the finickiness of the Yoruba. The peppers are cooked down to the inside of each seed left in the Scotch bonnets, so that when they are blended, they yield willingly and the stew is so smooth it glides over the palate. The blend is transferred to the unglazed earthenware pot with a slick of palm oil. The pot is kept closed, the heat kept low. The stew is smooth, so it splatters ferociously. The seasoning is adjusted, the beef, fish or chicken is added, and the next few minutes are ceremonial. The stew is ready. NA ‘The Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds’ is published by Cassava Republic Press. january 2017 New African  67

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n October 1996, a motley crew of ageing Marxists and unemployed youth coalesced to revolt against Mobutu Seso Seko, president of Zaire/Congo since 1965. Backed by a Rwanda-led regional coalition that drew support from Asmara to Luanda, the rebels of the AFDL marched over 1500km in seven months to crush the dictatorship. To the Congolese rebels and their Pan-Africanist allies, the vanquishing of the Mobutu regime represented nothing short of a “second independence” for Congo and Central Africa as a whole and the dawning of a new regional order of peace and security. Within 15 months, however, Central Africa’s “liberation peace” would collapse, triggering a cataclysmic fratricide between the heroes of the war against Mobutu and igniting the deadliest conflict since World War II. Uniquely drawing on hundreds of interviews with protagonists from Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Belgium, France, the UK and the US, this book offers a novel theoretical and empirical account of Africa’s Great War. It argues that the seeds of Africa’s Great War were sown in the revolutionary struggle against Mobutu. In particular, the book argues that the overthrow of Mobutu proved a Pyrrhic victory because the protagonists ignored the philosophy of Julius Nyerere, the father of Africa’s liberation movements: they put the gun before the unglamorous but essential task of building political institutions.







espite the 1989 global ivory trade ban, poaching and ivory smuggling have not abated. More than half of Tanzania’s elephants have been killed for their ivory since 2007. A similarly alarming story can be told of the herds in northern Mozambique and across swathes of central Africa. But why the new upsurge? The popular narrative blames a meeting of two evils — criminal poaching and terrorism. But the answer is not that simple. Since ancient times, large-scale killing of elephants for their tusks has been driven by demand beyond Africa’s range states, from the Egyptian pharaohs through the industrialising West to the new wealthy business class of China. Elephant hunting in Africa is also governed by human-elephant conflict, traditional hunting practices and the impact of colonial exploitation and criminalisation. Ivory follows this complex history of the tusk trade in Africa, and explains why it is corruption, crime and politics, rather than insurgency, that we should worry about. In this ground-breaking work, Somerville argues that regulation — not prohibition — of the ivory trade is the best way to stop uncontrolled poaching. Keith Somerville is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Honorary Professor of Journalism at the Centre for Journalism, University of Kent, UK. He was previously a career journalist with the BBC.

true story of a love which defied family, apartheid, and empire – and now the inspiration for the major new feature film A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. It begins in London in 1947. He was the heir to an African kingdom. She was a white English insurance clerk. When they met and fell in love, it would change the world. This is the inspiring true story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams (no relation to the author), who meet at a London Missionary Society dance. Their romance and marriage sent shockwaves through the establishment, defied an empire - and, finally, triumphed over the prejudices of their age. “Reading the book, I realised that I had never seen an African love story of this cinematic scope. It spoke to me as an African, as a man, as a romantic” says the co-starring actor David Oyelowo. The film, made by the British film-maker of Ghanaian heritage, Amma Asante, has been a smash hit with cinema audiences, so much so that the publishers Penguin decided to reissue the 2006 book. Asante was shortlisted for the Woman of the Year award by New African Woman magazine. Susan Williams, the author, has said she has no problem with the book being described as a love story, even though for many readers romance is but part of the narrative. She thinks this description serves to attract readers who otherwise would have little interest in British attitudes to race and colonial meddling in Africa.

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BY COLSON WHITEHEAD £14.99 FLEET ISBN: 978-0-7088-9339-0


ora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear an even greater pain awaits. When Ceasar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Ceasar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse; Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing journey, state by state, seeking true freedom. At each step, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s will to escape bondage, and a powerful meditation on history.




n July 2011, South Sudan was granted independence and became the world’s newest country. Yet just two and a half years after this momentous decision, the country was in the grips of renewed civil war and political strife. Hilde F. Johnson served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan from July 2011 until July 2014 and, as such, she was witness to the many challenges which the country faced as it struggled to adjust to its new autonomous state. In this book, she provides an unparalleled insider’s account of South Sudan’s descent from the ecstatic celebrations of July 2011 to the outbreak of the disastrous conflict in December 2013 and the early, bloody phase of the fighting. Johnson’s frequent personal and private contacts at the highest levels of government, accompanied by her deep knowledge of the country and its history, make this a unique eyewitness account of the turbulent first three years of the world’s newest – and yet most fragile – country. As Norway’s Minister for International Development from 1997 to 2005, the author was a key player in brokering the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan in 2005. Following her ministerial post, she became the deputy executive director of UNICEF where she was in charge of the organisation’s humanitarian operations and crisis response.



uch has been said about Africa’s burgeoning middle class, and much of it is contradictory. While the African Development Bank (AfDB) estimated 34% of the continent’s total population as middle class in 2011, according to Standard Bank, only 15m households in the 11 largest Sub-Saharan African economies fall into the bracket. The discrepancies are often caused by the differences in defining the “middle class”. While discrepancies remain, it is a truth universally acknowledged that across the continent, a burgeoning middle class has become the poster child for the “Africa rising” narrative. Ambitious, aspirational and increasingly affluent, this group is said to embody the values and hopes of the new Africa, with international bodies ranging from the United Nations Development Programme to the World Bank regarding them as important agents of both economic development and democratic change. In The Rise of Africa’s Middle Class, Henning Melber – ­ the Van Zyl Slabbert visiting professor for sociology and political sciences at the University of Cape Town, and a senior advisor at the Nordic Africa Institute and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation – edits a balanced selection of essays on this new generation. Sorting fact from fiction, Melber brings together experts and examines a variety of case studies. The end result is a much more nuanced analysis of Africa’s middle class and a fresh look at social transformations in contemporary Africa.

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ommercial c g in tl s u b ’s a ri ige a, and Lagos, N ic fr A t s ica, both as a e fr W A f t o s b e u W h f g o r in ta rg s n, the eme is the fast-rising it t u b , lowdown. d Between Abidja e e k o th o s rl u e s v e o iv e g b n jo e n ay oft m Bilen-Onaba e in capital, Accra m S t. o p ts o h t touris business and a

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arrive in Accra on the eve of the elections. The traffic, I am told, is a nightmare; yet the drive downtown is a breeze. Passing the Christmas-clad Airport City, the majestic Accra Ghana Temple and the grand Flagstaff House, I reach the latest luxury addition to Accra’s hospitality scene, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City. Operational for a little over a year, the hotel marks the debut of the Kempinski brand in West Africa. Kempinski’s debut is a sign of Accra’s rising star as the contemporary capital of cool. Home to 2.5 million Ghanaians, the city is an increasingly popular destination for almost 1 million tourists annually. While Ghana’s real touristic treasures lie further afield – with Gold Coast a three-hour drive from the capital, the Kakum National Park, offering 607sq km of protected rainforest, another hour away, and Mole National Park over a day’s drive away in northern Ghana – Accra is the perfect destination to experience an African capital at a gentler pace. Here are some of the highlights on offer: TOUR Take a whirlwind tour of the city, from the bustling markets of Makola to the golden beaches of

Labadi, with a few gastronomic and artistic hotspots thrown in, suitable for all tastes and budgets. S TAY Kempinski Gold Coast City ( is Accra’s largest and most luxurious hotel. For an intimate experience without compromising on plush luxury, opt for Villa Monticello ( If you’re after a beachside bolthole, set amidst tropical gardens, overlooking a beautiful beach, Labadi Beach Hotel ( is it. E AT Coco Lounge (yoloxperiences. com) serves not only one of the best interiors in Accra but also a wide array of affordable dishes throughout the day. For West African flavours, opt for Buka (thebukarestaurant. com). A stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Osu, this wooden-trellised gem delivers affordable local dishes. For what is doubtless the best dining experience in Ghana, head for Santoku, with its high-end Japanese cuisine worth every cedi. Ghana’s first gourmet burger restaurant and cocktail bar, Burger

Above right: tel Kempinski Ho Gold Coast City by night. u Right: Santok in Accra offers high-end Japanese cuisine

and Relish ( would not be out of place in London or New York. P L AY With breathtaking views from the tallest residential rooftop in West Africa, Sky Bar 25 ( is the place to be. For a touch of hotel lounge glamour, kick back with cocktails and light bites at the newly refurbished One2One Bar at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel.

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Cityscape ACCRA

Nowhere epitomises the city’s laidback vibe more than Sandbox, in a secluded cove just a stone’s throw away from Labadi Beach. Or for a sophisticated night out, head for Carbon. Launched in early December, it is set to become West Africa’s most talked-about nightclub.

r he Kubolo t v o l n a W by on. Yoyo Nightlife, stic going

op or arti annual Hiph back to nz has an smaller events d Ti ve mo I d d When a at the en Festival an ugh the year and Accra, Ghan e was only one ro th ad re sp er e are many of 2007 th tists, called urse, ther and bars. co of ar r fo s a lu bs event Mic”. It wa cool nightc say you’ve just “Bless the ent where local s t’ le m So ev a on a war week night ts ca me to me ved in Accr you change ac ri ar ng ti si p, so and vi ing; th some ra hu mid even il an u ber perfor m, wi some playing ha d an y ne d mo e cash singing an nts. It was a choosing th e driver r te af me ru th r fo se ca of inst nd n option (i end the trip), sting grou sts kind of te at arti th forgets to cheaply and al ri te new ma a place d an ng then travel to your Airbn b. ti were crea hs to y ut yo d de comforta bl you can go to in for like-m s the only such h ic wh r Afte m at the vibe. It wa while and sadly asi perfor ts its rl Wo e se a uple place for which star after a co Alliance, of the went silent There were no time most newlyon ts en ev . th hs ride wi s and of mont ry festival time, then s to a Jay So contempora music events nd ie fr made g followed by all the bi ate-sponsored, so t in Osu, y food at er nc co or rp l spic were co ere was ain ment th eating loca t-market, which the entert e, as Ghana is gh ni d u Os the il eyelids an q uite ster nser vative. boot your ecking re ll wi co I cept ch slightly later and th make you ac box in La. Here Ten years wi nd do Sa e to th what out you are don’t know ght because feel like ets ll wi u yo ni me myself at ah Badu me in an Eryk deo and know the t enough of there isn’ . Collectives vi ll see nd Pit Bu e, but not to go arou Alt have given us ean’s ther ’s 2a m and dark oc ot cD Ac al nu ke an li use it ssive huge it beca wafting nd -hand sm oke two progre hale Wote Street 2 th mily wi (C ea s dr lai u will festival around. Yo for going to the al and Sa bo which iv st Fe t Ar ), make plans e morning, if you c Festival Radio Musi gy art as well beach in thto sleep there, ed rty”, showcase Pa k al “T y decide not uitoes, but be sq as a monthl ssives go to feeding mo won’t like what re where prog rb and discuss , you ed the rn wa so instead, in or watch, ab u see. So on specific y yo ur d ho se ba an a (m avel medi find a morning tr ke feminism themes, li or decolonisation. more east or west to ste-free plastic wa favourite) Accra presents a relatively d ocean, which The Studio for m & discuss” an re seasho years er ive e case 10 monthly “p was not th lot of strangeth alternat sts wi g in et me ago. Eat a ts and dance visual arti ui artistes, Repu blic Bar looking fr who are dancing and poets. sts weekly live e os th th wi ho Ghana and Grill es Kona Bar and u will love yo d an do y as Societ acts, rica Film forever. +233. The Af sic African as film director screens cl ee in an open lov is a musician, an W fr r e ançais films fo and cultural icon Alliance Fr park. The something musical always has

SHOP Head over to La Maison (, with its design-savvy edit of home accessories, furnishings, African art and more on offer. Since 2008, Trashy Bags ( has pioneered ethical chic, repurposing over 20 million plastic sachets deposited on the streets of the city, and turning trash into treasured fashion, from tote bags to laptop sleeves. At Airport City, head to Wild Gecko ( arts emporium, for last-minute gifts and souvenirs sourced from across Africa. CHECK OUT Osu’s high-end and “high street” fashion destinations, such as Christie Brown, one of the most established names on Ghana’s burgeoning fashion scene, and Afromod Trends, for more affordable pieces. SEE No trip to Accra would be complete without a visit to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, home to a museum tracing Nkrumah’s life and a mausoleum. Established by Ablade Glover, 82-year-old painter and the grandfather of Ghanaian art, Artist Alliance Gallery dedicates three floors to great indigenous art. Make time to visit the Nubuke Foundation to view art celebrating Ghana’s culture and heritage. G E T AWAY North of the city lies the Aburi Botanical Gardens, a great place to escape the daily grind and explore more than 100 acres of natural beauty. A more sombre sightseeing experience is the Cape Coast Castle, also a World Heritage site, offering a bleak look into the slave trade era. NA Sinem was a guest of Kempinksi Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra.

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AFRICAN FOOTBALL 2017 AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS Remembering Laurent Pokou – the ‘Man of Asmara’ Mahrez: Algeria’s new icon AWCON 2016 Nigeria’s Super Falcons conquer the summit

Will the Elephants roar again?

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oseph-Antoine “JoJo” Bell, the 1984 and 1988 African champion with Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions – and certainly one of the African game’s deep thinkers – made the aforementioned observation, in an engrossing conversation we had, a few years ago. “Football,” the retired Marseille and St Etienne goalkeeper said, “does not begin with footballers. It begins in the office, with the administrators, with those that bear the responsibility for charting a course for the game. “You must have administrators that can think ahead of the time. They must deal with these questions – What are we going to do? What is the state of our league? At what age do people begin to play football in our country? “Where do they play? At what time do they play? What do they learn? All these things are not about players. Players don’t think about these things… They just think about playing.”

Above: Uganda’s midfielder Tony Mawejje eyes the ball during the AFCON 2017 qualifying match against Botswana. The Cranes made the 2017 finals after a 39year absence

As we look forward to the start of the Africa Cup of Nations, everyone would, unsurprisingly, be focused on what happens on the pitch. I sincerely hope that our continent enjoys a tournament that is an inextricable part of our socio-cultural mosaic. Football – and the Cup of Nations, in particular – is, to paraphrase Karl Marx, an “opiate of the people”, a welcome drug that gives millions on this continent a relief and joyful distraction from the stark realities of their existence, struggling to survive in what are often very harsh economic and political circumstances. Congratulations and welcome back, Uganda’s Cranes, to Africa’s premier tournament, after a 39-year absence. I also extend a hearty welcome to debutants GuineaBissau, for earning a qualifying spot, when so-called “big countries’” like Nigeria and South Africa could not. Football is truly no respecter of reputations. But as we enjoy what comes from Libreville, Port Gentil, Oyem and Franceville, it is important for the leaders of the African game to realise that major changes taking place in FIFA, world football’s governing body, will have a profound effect on the way the sport is managed and, most importantly, Africa’s role within it. The post-Joseph Blatter presidential era in Zurich, in which Gianni Infantino is carving a different organisation, in his own image and worldview, is one in which Africa will certainly have to fight, tooth and nail, for its views and needs to be respected and acknowledged. Without cerebral and honest leadership, from those that will be elected, to the CAF executive committee and Africa’s seats on FIFA Council, next March in Addis Ababa, our voice, in the corridors of power, where the real decisions are taken, is in danger of being completely ignored. Other continents, particularly Europe, are determined to regain control – and even roll back, if possible – whatever political gains Africa has made in the Havelange and Blatter years. There will certainly be stern consequences for the continent if the 54 voting FA and Federation presidents that make up the CAF Congress, fail to vote for visionary and honest leaders in Addis Ababa next March. A few words should be enough for the wise. But for now, let’s enjoy the sublime skills of the continent best players. May the best nation emerge as champion of our continent. Africa Oye!

Osasu Obayiuwana


Algeria’s new talisman We profile the talent of Riyad Mahrez

P. 84

Amrani bats for CAF The General Secretary responds to critics of the governing body

P. 76

Fortune favours the brave Mark Gleeson takes a hard look at the 16 tournament contenders

AWCON 2016 Nigeria’s Super Falcons achieve CAF history in Cameroon

P. 86

P. 78

A legend goes to rest A look at the life and times of goalscoring great, Laurent Pokou

P. 88

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1. The African Union, a continental organization, is charged with spearheading Africa’s rapid integration and sustainable development by promoting unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among the peoples and the States. Some 2,000 officers work in the African Union. They come from various Member States and from a wide range of geographical areas. Within the context of improving the working conditions and the social security coverage of the staff of the institution, the African Union would like to engage the services of insurance brokers or groups of insurance brokers specialized in Pension Fund Management for the benefit of its Staff Members. The insurance coverage is for regular and non-regular staff and includes the following services (i) Pension Fund Management (ii) All-cause death insurance; (iii) Accidental death; (iv) Accidental bodily injury and (v) temporary total disability due to accidental bodily injury. 2. The African Union now invites experienced and eligible insurance brokers or groups of insurance brokers to submit Expressions of Interest in sealed envelopes and marked with the EOI Reference, at the address and on or before the deadline given below. The EOI must include the following information: a. General Profile and background of the firm demonstrating experience in successful provision of similar services in the last five years. b. Certificate of Incorporation c. Letter of Delegation of authority from the insurers.

d. Trade License for insurance/reinsurance brokerage activities; e. Copy of the Articles of association of the company and of the Trade register certificate; f. At least 3 (three) Client references for provision of similar services in the last 3 years;

3. Interested firms are required to submit one (1) original and three (3) copies of the Expression of Interest clearly marked as original and copies. EoIs must be submitted in sealed envelopes and CLEARLY marked AU/HRM/ RFP/1360/16: Expression of Interest for Life Insurance, Personal Accidental Bodily Injury Insurance and Setting up of An African Union Pension Fund 4. Interested firms may obtain further information from the Head of Procurement, the African Union Commission, Roosevelt Street, Building C, 3rd Floor, P. O. Box 3243, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tel: +251 11 551 7700, Ext.4341; Fax:+251 11 551 0442 during working hours or by email from 5. The Address for submission of EoIs is: The Chairperson, AUC Tender Board, African Union Commission, Roosevelt Street, Building C, 3rd Floor, TENDER BOX or P. O. Box 3243, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The deadline for submission of Expressions of Interest is 1500 hours local time on Friday 10 February 2017. Late Bids will not be accepted.

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frican Football Editor, Osasu Obayiuwana, met up with Hicham El Amrani (pictured, right), the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF’s) General Secretary in Cairo, to interview him on a range of issues concerning the management of the African game, as it faces new challenges, while grappling with age-old ones. CAF’s refusal to disclose the financial details of its multi-million commercial contract with Total, the French oil conglomerate, has been strongly criticised by Transparency International, which has demanded that both organisations “show greater leadership and announce the value of their arrangements”. Amrani insists that the CAF is charting the right course for the African game in the 21st century and that its critics (of which the editor is one) misunderstand the organisation, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in Addis Ababa in March. Here are excerpts of the conversation. OO: Does CAF have confidence in the ability of the Gabonese to host this tournament? HA: Very much so. It was one of the main purposes of the last AFCON Organising Committee meeting that we held in Cairo on 26 September. We needed to hear from the Local Organising Committee, so we had the pleasure of having the chairman and all the team come and provide us with a fully fledged plan including updated details and so on. Of course, there was some political instability but we were made even more confident with the progress of the work that was highlighted to us, specifically in terms of the venues, the infrastructure, the stadiums and training sites, as well as all the different arrangements that we have been working on for the last few months…


Hosting an Africa Cup of Nations tournament is not exactly a small undertaking, but most people are quite concerned that hosts aren’t being given enough time. We can understand the special circumstances for Equatorial Guinea in 2015 because of Morocco’s abrupt decision to pull out. But Gabon barely had two years to prepare. Do you really think that that’s enough time, for a competition of the magnitude of the Africa Cup of Nations? Yes and no. But let me tell you why ‘yes’ first… Gabon is not coming to this without infrastructure and starting from scratch. They co-hosted the tournament in 2012, so half of the infrastructure was at the standard required then. You have to remember that it is not our standard policy to give a host such a short timeframe. There was a special case for 2017, because Libya could not host it, as planned… We understand the requirements at stake and also the legacy part that needs to be achieved, by giving [host] countries the opportunity to have more than enough time to prepare. I want you to talk about some of CAF’s commercial activities, and one of them is the recent contract that was signed with Total. Everybody is a bit perplexed as to why the figures behind this contract are not known. Is it in the interest of good governance and transparency for these figures to be kept secret? This is not about good governance. We didn’t keep secret the details of the contract we have with Lagardère Sports. It’s always too easy to criticise the Confederation or make quick assumptions that if we don’t say something [about the figures] there is a lack of good governance or a lack of transparency. The point is that we signed a minimum 76 January 2017


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2017 AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS guarantee of a billion dollars for the next 12 years with our agent. That agent’s job is to make sure we get double that amount over the next 12 years so that the entire continent benefits from it. When they secure a deal with Total or company XYZ, there is a market value that they are putting on each deal they are securing. By providing a lot of details it can have a negative impact on the negotiation of other contracts… So it’s not that CAF is withholding the amount, it’s that CAF is interested in having more multinational companies, solid partners that can come with us…If we were not transparent, we would not come out and give the details of that minimum guarantee, how it’s paid, over what period and for what competitions. We have nothing to hide. You have to remember we’re starting the new commercial contract cycle in 2017. It was also the preferred position of our agent not to disclose contract amounts. Total is a publicly quoted company… Do you think that it is very wise to be in a situation where you don’t make any financial disclosure at all? If you say that Total is a public company then maybe you should ask them directly about the information.


The prize money for CAF-run tournaments, and how it is increasing in the future Total Africa Cup of Nations (2 editions – 2017 and 2019) Current Cycle (USD)

2017-2020 (USD)

Increase (%)

















3rd of group




4th of group




Total Amount




CAF Champions League (Note: Increase in group stage from 8 to 16 clubs, 4 groups of 4 teams) Current Cycle (USD)

2017-2020 (USD)

Increase (%)














Not applicable


Not applicable

3rd of group




4th of group




Total Amount




CAF Confederation Cup (Note: Increase in group stage from 8 to 16 clubs, 4 groups of 4 teams) Current Cycle (USD)

2017-2020 (USD)

Increase (%)














Not applicable


Not applicable

3rd of group




4th of group




Total Amount




FIFA market their competitions, such as the World Cup, using their own staff and experts. Do you think it would be a good idea for CAF to do the same? It would be ideal. But we also have to be pragmatic and realistic. We have to build, slowly and surely, the resources required, whether financial, human, or technical, and everything else needed to do the marketing in-house. Obviously, you wouldn’t need to provide commissions to the agent. But at the same time, I should say that the current partner is also doing a great job. We cannot decide to take the marketing in-house if we are not sure we have all the tools that are needed to deliver, because without financial independence, the existence of the Confederation is at risk, so it’s a balance… I’ve spoken to some members of your executive committee and your finance committee. They have complained that they are not being consulted. What would you say in response to these claims? They are simply not true… I will not comment more on this. We will make sure that we try to correct this feeling, whoever has it. What are you looking forward to now? You’ve been General Secretary for a few years. What are your greatest challenges? What are the things that you need to achieve for African football in the immediate future? Many things. But one of the key priorities for me is club licensing. I believe very strongly that the long-term implications of this programme are extremely important for the professionalisation of football in Africa, so we’re putting a lot of effort and investment into this. It’s about making sure that the football authorities and the governments within our member countries have a stronger awareness of the need to invest in the proper infrastructure. Another thing is making sure we organise our competitions properly, as in the end the ultimate goal is to have a greater distribution of revenues to the member associations, but also, a greater distribution of knowhow. The key thing is to maintain a healthy Confederation with financial stability, to be able to have the means to implement our policies and to keep developing more competitions. Every day is a challenge working in African football, but it’s also a privilege at the same time. The Africa Cup of Nations is your premier tournament but the prize money does not cover the cost of a country qualifying and playing in it. In fact, no CAF competition’s prize money puts any FA or Federation in the black, after participating. This is a huge problem for them. What is CAF going to do about it? We are addressing this issue. It’s going to change from next year (2017) onwards, due to the generation of additional revenues, which also means more money for the teams… We are reviewing the entire structure and taking into account not only the economic reality and the costs involved in travelling [for competitions] but also, the fact that the objective of generating a better commercial deal is to be able to provide the rewards to the member associations… Once it is made official you will have the new figures that are related to what the teams can expect to get, whether they win or whether they just participate. Postscript: Weeks after the interview, CAF increased the prize money for all its competitions. See left for details.

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There are no clear favourites in Gabon, which will be one of the most open tournaments in recent times, writes Mark Gleeson.



he 20th Africa Cup of Nations looks wide open, as a collection of heavyweight contenders are almost certain to ensure it is a tournament of stature. But for the first time ever, the Nations Cup will be overshadowed by the next World Cup qualifying campaign, with two rounds of group games in October and November. They will set up much anticipation for the latter part of 2017, turning the Nations Cup into a curtain-raiser for the year. The business of seeking to qualify for Russia 2018 resumes in August and that will supersede the legacy of the Gabon tournament. Africa’s premier sports event is being hosted on the back of a tense atmosphere in the Central African country, which bid to host the tournament in order to paint a picture of development and tranquillity. Gabon is anything but that, as the controversy over the recent polls set the country on edge, with many people rioting over what they regarded as dubious results in favour of Ali Bongo Ondimba, the incumbent president. Those rare displays of civil disobedience could create an uneasy atmosphere around the tournament. But the beleaguered president knows that success on the pitch, at the Cup of Nations, often keeps their people quiet. Paul Biya, his neighbour in Cameroon, knows this only too well, which made the loss

Above: Gervinho enjoying the sweet smell of victory at the 2015 Nations Cup. He will miss the tournament in Gabon, as a result of injury

of the Indomitable Lionesses to Nigeria’s Super Falcons, in the final of December’s Africa Women's Cup of Nations, AWCON, in front of over 50,000 fans at the Stade Omnisport in Yaoundé, particularly rankle. Even without Nigeria and South Africa, there are eight former winners in the field and most of the top 10 ranked teams on the continent. November’s batch of World Cup qualifiers ensures that all the top contenders will arrive in Gabon well prepared, even if some will be a little short of confidence, after poor returns in their opening two rounds of fixtures, on the road to Russia. The managers of Algeria, Cameroon and Ghana are under pressure, as they head to the Nations Cup finals after a series of World Cup qualifying setbacks. In the space of just two games, Algeria have gone from one of the firm favourites to looking like battered alsorans, after drawing at home to Cameroon in October and losing to Nigeria in November. Avram Grant is certainly facing the heat in Ghana, as is Hugo Broos in Cameroon. Hosts Gabon have panicked by firing Jorge Costa as their manager, with exactly 70 days before their opening game of the tournament, against Guinea Bissau in Libreville. It is hardly ideal preparation for a team who will be hoping home advantage takes them to at least the final four. A genuine outsider is the rapidly-improving Democratic Republic of Congo. In a tough group with defending champions Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco, they have the potential to cause upset and gather the necessary momentum. Guinea Bissau’s qualification has been a fairy tale but with no resources to prepare or even pay the salary of their coach – being one of the world’s poorest countries – they go to the finals reliant on the goodwill of their players. Playing the three group matches is already an achievement. Uganda return to the tournament after 39 years and Zimbabwe qualified despite its pathetic financial situation, one that sadly seems to be a recurring story for many FAs across the continent. That should be a source of worry for anyone that cares about the health and progress of the African game.

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GABON Player to watch: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Aubameyang, currently Africa’s top player, has a record in the German Bundesliga that is second to none. But he has a heavy burden to shoulder. His father and brother also played for Gabon but Aubameyang was at first a French junior international before throwing his lot in with the Panthers. Probable line-up Didier Ovono – Lloyd Palun, Aaron Appindangoyé, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Johann Obiang – André Biyogo Poko, Didier Ndong, Lévy Madinda, Mario Lemina – Malick Evouna, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Coach: José Antonio Garrido The former Benfica player took over from compatriot Jorge Costa, who was abruptly dismissed with just weeks before the start of the tournament. Fortunately, Garrido has decent knowledge of the set-up, as he has been in the country since mid-year, as the technical director of the federation. Nations Cup record Gabon co-hosted the 2012 finals with Equatorial Guinea but lost in the quarter-finals, after a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out. They first qualified in 1994 and went to the 1996, 2000 and 2010 editions, as well as the last one in 2015 where they crashed out in the first round. They qualified for the 2017 event as hosts.

BURKINA FASO Player to watch: Bertrand Traoré Just 21, he has been on the books of Chelsea since the age of 14. Although he got some games while Guus Hiddink was in charge, Traoré has subsequently gone out on loan to Holland’s Ajax, establishing himself as their lead striker. He competed at the 2012 Nations Cup at the tender age of 16 and was part of the squad that won the silver medal in South Africa in 2013, along with his elder brother Alain. Probable line-up Daouda Diakite – Steeve Yago, Bakary Kone, Issoufou Dayo, Patrick Malo – Charles Kabore, Abdou Razak Traore, Jonathan Pitroipa, Prejuce Nakoulma – Alain Traoré, Bertrand Traoré. Coach: Paolo Duarte The Portuguese Duarte is in his second stint as Burkina Faso coach, having taken them to the 2010 and 2012 Nations Cup finals, before going to work with Gabon. The 47-year-old played at União de Leiria in Portugal for most of his career and then became their coach in 2006. Two years later, he was appointed coach of Burkina Faso and in 2009 tried to combine it with the job of coaching Le Mans. But after six months, and with the French Ligue 1 club struggling to stay out of the relegation zone, he was given an ultimatum to choose between the two and stuck with Burkina Faso. He returned to his old stomping ground in January.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Nations Cup record The Stallions were surprise runners-up in South Africa four years ago and are bringing back a fair chunk of that squad to Gabon. This is the 11th time the Burkinabés appear at the finals, since their first appearance in 1978. They've missed just two of the last 11 tournaments but besides the heroics of 2013, when they were runners-up, they have only got past the group stage on one other occasion – in 1998, as the hosts.

CAMEROON Player to watch: Nicolas Nkoulou One of Africa’s best defenders for several years now, Nkoulou enjoys little of the profile enjoyed by his predecessors like Stephen Tataw, Emmanuel Kundé and Rigobert Song, did. Injury has stymied his career at crucial junctures but knee problems are supposedly a thing of the past now. A fresh start at Olympique Lyonnais, where he moved from Marseille in the off-season, holds the promise of a bigger profile. Probable line-up Joseph Ondoa – Allan Nyom, Nicolas Nkoulou, Aurelin Chedjou, Henri Bedimo – Sebastien Siani, Edgar Salli, Clinton Njie, Benjamin Moukandjo – Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Vincent Aboubakar. Coach: Hugo Broos “Hugo who?” was the question asked when Cameroon named him to the post in February. Broos took Club Brugge and Anderlecht to Belgian league titles and has been named Belgium’s Coach of the Year on four separate occasions. Broos was a Belgian international who played 350 games in 13 years at Anderlecht, making him something of an institution in his home country. Nations Cup record Cameroon will be playing at the Nations Cup for the 19th time but won the last of their four titles back in 2002 in Mali and were last in a final in 2008, when they lost to Egypt in Accra. The first of their four titles came in 1984, inspired by the

goals of Roger Milla, and they won again in 1988 in a violence-filled tournament in Morocco. Their success in 2000, over hosts Nigeria, was in a controversial post-match penalty shootout.

GUINEA BISSAU Player to watch: José Luís Mendes Lopes Better known as Zézinho, the attacking midfielder plays his club football in Greece. A regular and experienced player, he proved the key component in their successful qualifying campaign, when they unexpectedly snatched a qualifying spot ahead of Zambia and Congo – who both went to the last finals. Zézinho came up through the fabled Sporting Lisbon academy before moving to Greece three years ago. Probable line-up Jonas Mendy – Emmanuel Mendy, Eridson, Rudinilson, Mamadu – Bocundji Ca, Cafu, Idrissa Camara, Zézinho – Cicero, Frederic Mendy. Coach: Baciro Candé The unknown 49-year-old has had two spells in charge of ‘Djurtus’ – the first until 2008, after which he went to Portugal to coach lower league Oeiras. Candé returned to work at Sporting Bissau and when Portuguese Paulo Torres left the Guinea Bissau job after a CAF ban, Candé stepped up to steer the team to unlikely qualification, taking charge of the last four matches of their campaign. Nations Cup record Guinea Bissau were a Leicester City-like long shot when the 2017 qualifiers began, having only previously won four matches in Nations Cup and World Cup qualification, since entering international competition 22 years ago. Their motley collection of players, from lower league clubs in Portugal and Guinea Bissau’s own league, were given no chance in Group E. But after three victories in their five group games, including a first away triumph in Nairobi in March, they qualified with one game in hand.

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Player to watch: Riyad Mahrez The Leicester City player – profiled on page 84 – is the favourite to be named as African Footballer of the Year for 2016, on the back of his remarkable achievements in England. But he has gone somewhat cold in the second half of the year. Mahrez remains the focal point of the team’s scoring hopes and was crucial in the qualifying campaign, netting a brilliant free kick against Lesotho. Probable line-up Rais Mbolhi – Mohamed Khoutir-Ziti, Aissa Mandi, Carl Medjani, Faouzi Ghoulam – Saphir Taider, Nabil Bentaleb, Sofiane Feghouli – Yacine Brahimi, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani. Coach: George Leekens After sacking Milovan Rajevac in October, Algeria made a desperate search across Europe for a replacement and approached several top coaches in France, but were turned down. In the end they turned to veteran George Leekens, just two days after Belgian club Lokeren had sacked him. The 67-year-old coached Belgium in two separate spells, first leading them to the 1998 World Cup and then taking charge again from 2010 to 2012. He was also briefly coach of Algeria for six games in 2003 and managed Tunisia at the last Nations Cup finals. Nations Cup record Algeria won the Nations Cup with a golden generation in 1990, when they hosted the competition. But they feel, given their place near the top of the African game, that they have flattered to deceive on many an occasion. This will be their 18th AFCON appearance but they have only reached the final twice, the other time in 1980, when the hosts Nigeria beat them 3-0.


Player to watch: Sadio Mané The 24-year-old’s biggest asset is his devastating pace off the mark. But he can finish too, as his goal tally in the English Premier League attests to. Mané, who cost Liverpool £30 million from Southampton in June, has won over the fans at Anfield and has been a regular from the start of the current campaign. He has been part of the national team since he was 20, after graduating from the Diambars academy in Senegal, to play for Metz in France and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. Probable line-up Abdoulaye Diallo – Lamine Gassama, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kara Mbodji, Saliou Ciss – Cheikhou Kouyate, Idrissa Gueye, Mohamed Diame – Keita Balde, Sadio Mane, Mame Biriam Diouf. Coach: Aliou Cissé Aliou Cissé was the captain of Senegal’s 2002 World Cup team and played for Paris St Germain and for Birmingham City, when they were still in the English Premier League. Recognisable by his dreadlocks, the former centre-back was named to take over the national team in March 2015, replac-

Sassi, Anis Ben Hatira, Wahbi Khazri – Hamdi Harbaoui. Coach: Henryk Kasperczak Frenchman Claude Le Roy might be the Godfather of national team coaches on the African continent but the former Polish World Cup star Henryk Kasperczak is making his own bid at immortality. His return to the Tunisia job in 2015 is his seventh post in African football – all of them at national team level. The 70-year-old has coached at six previous Nations Cups, two shy of Le Roy’s record. He took Côte d’Ivoire to third in 1994, Mali to fourth in 2002 and was fired midway through Senegal’s tournament in 2008. He was in charge of Mali again in 2015, but they were eliminated after a rare drawing of lots, when Guinea and Mali finished level in the group phase. Nations Cup record This will be the 13th Nations Cup in a row and 18th overall for the north Africans. Winning their only tournament at home in 2004, reaching the 1996 final in South Africa was one of their finest moments, losing 2-0 to Bafana-Bafana in the decisive match. Sadio Mané


ing Frenchman Alain Giresse, whose contract was not extended after a disappointing 2015 finals in Equatorial Guinea. Now 40, Cissé previously had a spell as caretaker coach of the Senegal team and was an assistant when their under-23 side competed at the 2012 London Olympics. Nations Cup record Senegal are still living on the heroics of 2002, when they got to the tournament final, narrowly losing to Cameroon on penalties in Bamako. They went on to have an eventful World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals – the second African country to achieve the feat. They have made 13 appearances at the Nations Cup finals but are yet to win a title.


Player to watch: Wahbi Khazri A £9m buy for Sunderland, who signed him from Girondins de Bordeaux last season, he contributed to their successful bid to stay in the Premier League. But he has fallen from grace this season, while remaining key to the Tunisian national cause. In a sterile and defensively-minded line-up, he is the one who provides the flair and unpredictability. Born in Corsica, Khazri played for France at under-21 level before switching his allegiance to the ‘Eagles of Carthage’ in 2013. Probable line-up Aymen Mathlouthi – Hamdi Nagguez, Aymen Abdennour, Chamseddine Dhaoudi, Bilel Mohsni Ali Maaloul – Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, Ferjani

Player to watch: Khama Billiat His spindly frame hardly marks him out as a footballer. But the way he outfoxes defenders with guile makes him key to Zimbabwe’s cause. Billiat is set to be named CAF’s best home-based African player of 2016, for helping Mamelodi Sundowns win the African Champions League. The Nations Cup will offer the 26-year-old a great stage to display his skills to a wider audience. Probable line-up Tatenda Mukuruva – Hardlife Zvirekwi, Eric Chipeta, Costa Nhamoinesu, Onismor Bhasera – Willard Katsande, Blessing Moyo, Marvelous Nakamba, Kudawashe Mahachi – Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona. Coach: Callisto Pasuwa A former international defender, the 46-yearold never played professional football outside of Zimbabwe and will be among the most inexperienced coaches in Gabon. He was formerly the under-23 team coach, taking over in mid-2014, when Peter Ndlovu moved to South Africa. He has coached Dynamos to four successive Zimbabwe league titles, which marked him out as the obvious choice, when a succession of foreigners failed in the job. Nations Cup history Zimbabwe had a long history of near-misses, before making their 2004 debut in Tunisia. They made a successive appearance in Egypt in 2006 but they have not reached the finals again until now. It is difficult go see how the Warriors can reach the knockout stages of the tournament, which they have never done in the past.

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Player to watch: Neekens Kebano Seen as a future star for France, his country of birth, Kebano got his football education at the Paris St Germain academy. He was just 17 when he broke into PSG's first team. But his career stalled and he was released within two years of his debut. Heading to Belgium, where a stint at Charleroi put his career back on track, Kebano nailed his international career to the Congolese mast – where his parents are from – in late 2014. He has gone on to become an integral part of the starting line-up, with his effervescent attacking play. Probable line-up Levy Matampi – Issama Mpeko, Marcel Tisserand, Gabriel Zakuani, Fabrice Nsakala – Chancel Mbemba, Youssouf Mulumbu, Neeskens Kebano, Cedric Bakambu – Jonathan Bolingi, Dieumerci Mbokani. Coach: Florent Ibengé Ibengé manages the national team while coaching AS Vita Club, the Kinshasa outfit that he steered to an unexpected place in the 2014 African Champions League final. Born in DR Congo, he grew up in France and played lower league football in Belgium, France and Germany. Ibengé has worked with Claude Le Roy, as an assistant coach with the national team, before taking over in September 2014. Nations Cup history In the 1970s, when the country was known as Zaire, the country was a powerhouse in the continent, having a golden generation of players and financed by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Since winning the tournament in 1968 and 1974, they have not had any success. They go to Gabon, in their 19th finals appearance, with some confidence, after a 100 per cent start in their 2018 World Cup qualifiers and finishing third at the last finals in Equatorial Guinea.


Player to Watch: Eric Bailly It will be a race against time to recover from a knee injury and be fit for Gabon. But with Yaya Touré having retired from international football and Gervinho out for six months with a bad knee injury, Bailly, who moved to Espanyol’s academy in Spain, at the age of 17, is the new pin-up boy of Ivorian football. His £30m move to Manchester United, from Villarreal in Spain, thrust the centre-back into the spotlight. Bailly is an old-fashioned defender and is rated as a world-class talent by José Mourinho, his Manchester United manager. Probable line-up Badra Ali Sangare – Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Lamine Kone, Adama Traore – Geoffroy Serey Die, Franck Kessie, Max Gradel, Salomon Kalou – Jonathan Kodjia, Wilfred Bony. Coach: Michel Dussuyer French-born Michel Dussuyer is a Nations Cup veteran. He took Guinea to the quarter-finals in 2004

– Romain Saiss, Moubarak Boussoufa, Younes Belhanda, Nordin Amrabat – Sofiane Boufal, Oussama Tannane. Coach: Hervé Renard Not yet 50, Renard has already won two Nations Cup titles with two different countries – Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire – in 2013 and 2015. He is certainly looking at a treble, as he takes Morocco to the tournament in Gabon. The 48-year-old Frenchman played at Cannes before working as compatriot Claude Le Roy’s assistant in China, England and with Ghana’s Black Stars. Nations Cup history Morocco, with 17 appearances at the finals, have just one Nations Cup triumph, at the 1976 tournament in Ethiopia. They were supposed to host the last finals but pulled out months before, to the anger of the CAF, who banned them from participating in two subsequent tournaments. Morocco forced themselves into the 2017 qualifiers after appealing to the Court for Arbitration in Sport in Switzerland.


Eric Bailly

and was Henri Michel’s deputy when Côte d’Ivoire were runners-up in 2006. The 55-year-old, who also coached French club AS Cannes, took charge of Benin for the 2010 finals in Angola and returned to Guinea in 2012, taking them to the quarter-finals in 2015. Nations Cup history It was a relief, more than anything else, when the Elephants finally won the Nations Cup trophy, at the last edition in Equatorial Guinea. They had, since 2008, been the favourites for successive tournaments. But it was only after the retirement of Didier Drogba that they got their hands on the trophy for the second time, 23 years after their first triumph in Senegal. Côte d’Ivoire have been to 22 tournaments, a record bettered only by Egypt.


Player to watch: Hicham Ziyech Ziyech was the best player in the Dutch league last season but he did not make a move from provincial Utrecht until mid-2016, when Ajax Amsterdam signed him. His testy reputation preceded him and put off several clubs, although Ajax are now questioning why they did not purchase the 23-year-old earlier. Born in the Netherlands, the Dutch national team selectors only became interested when Ziyech committed himself to Morocco in October 2015, after they assiduously courted him. Probable line-up Munir Mohand Mohamedi – Fouad Chafik, Mehdi Benatia, Manuel da Costa, Achraf Lazaar

Player to watch: Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor Adebayor has not played a club match since his stint with English Premier League side Crystal Palace ended in May. Even without regular game time, the lanky 32-year-old striker remains the talismanic influence for his country, which he has been for over a decade. He’s had a testy relationship with Togo, retiring several times from international duty. But such is his influence that Togo always welcome him back. Probable line-up Kossi Agassa – Serge Akakpo, Sadat Ouro-Akoriko, Vincent Bossou, Abdoul Gafar Mamah – Alaixys Romao, Mathieu Dossevi, Serge Gakpe, Floyd Ayite – Peniel Mlapa, Emmanuel Adebayor. Coach: Claude le Roy Claude le Roy extends his record as the coach with the most Nations Cup appearances. The 68-yearold has been working on the continent for almost 30 years and coached at a record eight Cup finals, winning with Cameroon in 1988. The Frenchman, who has coached Senegal, DR Congo and Ghana, has a record 35 matches at the tournament and has only once failed to reach the quarter-finals. Nations Cup history Togo got to the quarter-finals at the 2013 edition in South Africa, their last finals appearance. Their six tournament appearances before that had seen them fail to get beyond the first round. They departed the 2010 tournament in Angola without kicking a ball, when Cabinda separatists shot up their bus, killing two support staff and maiming goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilalé. CAF president Issa Hayatou banned the country because of their departure but was subsequently talked out of his intransigence by more sensible members of the African game’s leadership and former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

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EGYPT Player to watch: Ramadan Sobhi Still learning his trade, the teenager is being brought along with caution, for club and country. But the £5m signing for English Premiership side Stoke City, from Al Ahly of Cairo, has what it takes to become one of the greats of the African game. “We will be careful with him,” says Stoke manager Mark Hughes. “He won’t always be involved, but when he is, I sense he is going to be a big player for us.” Sobhi, who is an exciting left wing with the requisite skills and pace, made his Egyptian debut at the age of 17 years, 11 months and 18 days. Probable line-up Essam Al Hadary – Omar Gaber, Ali Gabr, Ahmed Hegazy, Mohamed Abdelshafi – Mohamed Elneny, Tarek Hamed, Abdallah El Said, Ahmed Elmohamady – Mohamed Salah, Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet. Coach: Héctor Cúper He brings a rare Latin American touch to the finals. The 61-year-old from Argentina, who has been with Egypt since 2005, twice lost in the UEFA Champions League final with Valencia in 2000 and 2001. Cúper made his debut in international management with Georgia but never won a game with them. Nations Cup history Egypt have an unparalleled record at the tournament, winning seven titles, with an unprecedented three Cup triumphs in a row from 2006 to 2010, before astonishingly, failing to qualify for the next three tournaments. Egypt were the first winners in 1957, having been to more finals tournaments (23) and played more finals games (90) than any other participant. They have also won more Nations Cup finals games (51) and scored more goals (154), too.

GHANA Player to watch: Thomas Partey His story mirrors that of hundreds of young African footballers – a move to Europe at a tender age in hopeful search of a future in the game, a place in an academy of a European club and then slow progress through the ranks and into the first team. Partey was already 22 when he debuted for Atletico Madrid, after serving a tough apprenticeship in the lower rungs of Spanish football. He is an exciting find for the Black Stars, although they have taken their time to fully utilise him. The defensive midfield qualities of the 23-yearold, from Ghana’s Eastern region, should become more evident in Gabon. Probable line-up Razak Brimah – Harrison Afful, John Boye, Jonathan Mensah, Baba Rahman – Thomas Partey, Emmanuel Agyemang Badu, Mubarak Wakaso, Christian Atsu – Jordan Ayew, Dede Ayew, Asamoah Gyan.

Ramadan Sobhi

Coach: Avram Grant The former coach of Chelsea, who turns 62 at the finals, was appointed the Black Stars coach just a month before the last tournament in Equatorial Guinea and took them all the way to the final. Grant had four years, between 2002 and 2006, as coach of Israel’s national team, before moving to Chelsea, initially as director of football but subsequently becoming manager after the abrupt departure of José Mourinho. His side lost to Manchester United on postmatch penalties in the 2007 UEFA Champions League final. Grant subsequently managed Portsmouth, West Ham, Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade and Thai side BEC Tero Sasana. Nations Cup history Runners-up in Equatorial Guinea two years ago, Ghana are still waiting for their first Nations Cup success since the days of a teenage Abedi Pele, at Libya ’82. They have been to 13 tournaments since, reaching the finals three times and a further four semi-finals. The Black Stars have made it to the semi-finals at the last five tournaments since the 2008 edition, which they hosted. Breaking a 35-year jinx is an obsession with the West Africans, who have seen Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire win four titles between them.

MALI Player to watch: Adama Traoré At 21, the midfielder is fancied to enhance his already growing reputation at the Nations Cup. Injury kept him from participating in the early stages of the UEFA Champions League with his French club Monaco. But with their qualification for the knockout stages, he is certain to play a role, once he returns from Gabon. Traoré was the best player at the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, his four goals helping Mali to a bronze medal. Probable line-up Soumbeyla Diakite – Hamari Traore, Salif Coulibaly, Molla Wague, Youssouf Kone – Adama Traore, Yacouba Sylla, Moussa Doumbia, Sambou Yatabare – Moussa Marega, Modibo Maiga.

Coach: Alain Giresse The diminutive 64-year-old Frenchman is managing a country at the Nations Cup for a fourth time, having qualified Gabon for the 2010 finals, Mali to third place two years later and Senegal in 2015. Giresse has also coached at club level in Morocco, on top of two spells with Toulouse and a brief run in charge at Paris Saint-Germain. But he is best-known for his playing days, as part of a talented France midfield that included Michel Platini and Jean Tigana, reaching the semi-finals at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Nations Cup history Mali were third at the 2012 and 2013 editions but suffered elimination in odd circumstances at the 2015 tournament, sent home after the first round by a drawing of lots after they finished level with Guinea on an identical record. It was only the third time in nine Nations Cup appearances that they did not get past the group stages. Mali’s first Nations Cup finals appearance was in 1972, when they finished as runners-up.

UGANDA Player to watch: Farouk Miya Scoring vital goals in recent months highlights the ability of the pacey 21-year-old, who has the Luganda-language nickname ‘Muyizi Tasubwa’ – the hunter who can’t miss! He moved to Belgium last year and his sojourn with Standard Liege must be seen as a stepping-stone to bigger things. He had won the league title in Uganda with Vipers but home fans immortalised him when he got the goal against the Comoros Islands, ending Uganda’s 39-year wait for a place at the Nations Cup finals. Probable line-up Dennis Onyango – Nicolas Wadwaba, Murushid Juuko, Isaac Isinde, Jospeh Ochaya – Khalid Aucho, Tony Mawejje, Denis Iguma, Moses Oloya – Farouk Miya, Geoffrey Massa. Coach: Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic Micho has worked in Africa for the last 15 years and is married to an Ethiopian. He has worked in Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, where he coached first at SC Villa, returning to the East African country in 2013, to lead the Cranes. From Serbia, Micho played and coached at a lower level in his native country before the move to Africa. He now has hero status, as the country head to Gabon and are serious contenders for a place at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia. Nations Cup history Uganda, making their sixth appearance at the tournament, brought a decades-old drought to an end by qualifying for Gabon. None of the current generation of players was even born when the likes of Fredrick Isabirye, James Kirunda, Moses Nsereko, Polly Ouma and Paul Ssali contested the final. Their last appearance was in 1978, finishing as runners-up to hosts Ghana.

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GROUP A Jan 14 (Libreville): Gabon v Guinea Bissau Jan 14 (Libreville): Burkina Faso v Cameroon Jan 18 (Libreville): Gabon v Burkina Faso Jan 18 (Libreville): Cameroon v Guinea Bissau Jan 22 (Franceville): Burkina Faso v Guinea Bissau Jan 22 (Libreville): Gabon v Cameroon

GROUP D Jan 17 (Port Gentil): Ghana v Uganda Jan 17 (Port Gentil): Egypt v Mali Jan 21 (Port Gentil): Ghana v Mali Jan 21 (Port Gentil): Egypt v Uganda Jan 25 (Port Gentil): Egypt v Ghana Jan 25 (Oyem): Mali v Uganda

GROUP B Jan 15 (Franceville): Algeria v Zimbabwe Jan 15 (Franceville): Senegal v Tunisia Jan 19 (Franceville): Algeria v Tunisia Jan 19 (Franceville): Senegal v Zimbabwe Jan 23 (Franceville): Algeria v Senegal Jan 23 (Libreville): Tunisia v Zimbabwe

QUARTER-FINALS Jan 28 (Libreville) Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B Jan 28 (Franceville): Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A Jan 29 (Oyem): Winner Group C v Runner-up Group D Jan 29 (Port Gentil): Winner Group D v Runner-up Group C SEMI-FINALS Feb 1 (Libreville): Winner Libreville v Winner Port Gentil Feb 2 (Franceville): Winner Franceville v Winner Oyem

GROUP C Jan 16 (Oyem): Côte d’Ivoire v Togo DR Congo v Morocco Jan 16 (Oyem): Jan 20 (Oyem): DR Congo v Côte d’Ivoire Jan 20 (Oyem): Morocco v Togo Jan 24 (Port Gentil): DR Congo v Togo Jan 24 (Oyem): Côte d’Ivoire v Morocco

THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF Feb 4 (Port Gentil)

FINAL Feb 5 (Libreville)

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After helping Leicester to an unexpected English title, Riyad Mahrez (pictured) is expected to lead the Algerian renaissance at the Nations Cup, as Maher Mezahi, our man in Algiers, explains.



What...” Other tales from El Khemis have the Leicester winger presenting congratulatory plaques for Quranic competitions at their thousand-year-old mosque and playing football with the youth, on an artificial pitch tucked into the mountains. With his face plastered across advertising boards across Algeria, Mahrez is the only Algerian to feature as a Ballon d’Or candidate, besides being the most accomplished striker from the Arab world to feature in English football. His worry-free attitude extends to his playing style – a nimble touch and body feints are traits of the game he learned on the streets. Staying true to that informs his brilliance on the pitch. “I played in Sarcelles during my childhood. We would play behind apartment complexes. I wouldn’t say our parents weren’t strict, but they would let us play and enjoy ourselves. When you play every day, that improves your technique and your dribbling. That’s why I think technical players come from the street.” Mahrez would join hometown club AAS Sarcelles as an adolescent, but Mohamed Coulibaly, his youth coach,


fter playing a key role in Leicester City’s fairy tale run to the English Premier League title last season, becoming the first African to be named the PFA “Player of the Year” – an accolade even the great Didier Drogba never won, in all his years with Chelsea – Riyad Mahrez spent last summer in El Khemis, his father’s village in Western Algeria. The drive into El Khemis is a particular one – a single serpentine road stretches up and around the cosmopolitan city of Tlemcen, running through sprawling hills and into an isolated valley. Called the “Miracle Country”, the proud, little piece of land earned its moniker by resisting centuries of cultural and military invasion. Mahrez may have been born and raised in Sarcelles, a rundown Parisian suburb but the residents of El Khemis fiercely claim the striker as their own. “When he visited during Ramadan, he slept on the floor of his grandmother’s house!” a taxi driver chuckled, before adding, “He must have taken a thousand photos.” Mahrez does not agree with that. “I must have taken three or four thousand photos in less than six days,” he recalls. “I couldn’t go out. I hid and stayed at home. I couldn’t deal with all the people. I know they love me, and I love them too… but I could not speak with the whole village.” Despite his amazing success, football has not changed the lithe winger. That is what makes Mahrez so likeable – he does not seem to understand just how big a deal he has become. “You should see him with the national team,” said Amir Karaoui, his Algeria teammate. “He sits slouched with his hood over his ears and eats Nutella with a spoon.” “He eats nothing at dinner,” says goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi. “In the evening he will just put some Parmesan on bread. Then he heads back to his room and the entire night, he’ll eat chocolate.” Ian Stringer, a BBC Radio Leicester journalist, has a similar tale, after Mahrez “crucified” Chelsea at the King Power Stadium in December 2015. “Just after the match, he was spotted in a local restaurant, eating fries and mayonnaise. Pressure? 84 January 2013


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2017 AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS Anti-clockwise, from left: Kids playing football in Mahrez’s home village of El Khemis; the artificial pitch where Mahrez would play with family and friends in the summer; El Khemis, seen from above; and a photo of Riyaz’s father with his local team in Algeria

testifies that Mahrez did struggle to export his game from the streets to the pitch. “At first, his technique bailed him out. But when he started playing eleven-a-side it was more complicated for him, because he was a smaller kid between the ages of twelve and sixteen.” At 15, Mahrez’s life changed forever. His father, Ahmed, finally succumbed to a heart condition that had been plaguing him for decades. Djilali, Ahmed’s best friend, recounted how the young pair escaped Algeria in the early 1970s after it was determined Mahrez the elder urgently needed a pacemaker. The operation was not possible in Algeria, so one day Djilali set out to convince Ahmed to illegally immigrate to France, where Riyad was subsequently born. “I told him, ‘My friend, if you want to live, get a passport, we’ll escape to France, while I figure it out.’  “We took the route that cuts through Oujda [in Morocco] and then, we went to Tangier. “Overnight I thought he had died. I tried waking him and couldn’t until I threw water in his face. He was in a poor state until we reached Paris.” Ahmed, who had played amateur football in Algeria for NRB Beni Snous, opted to stay in Paris and got married, as his health improved. But he never forgot his friend Djilali and continued to visit El Khemis every year, until his death in 2006. Ahmed’s death was particularly tough on Riyad, as he


was not only a personal role model, but he also played an important role in helping him grow as a footballer. “My dad was always behind me. He played for small teams in France and Algeria so he knew what he was saying. I don’t know if I started to be more serious but after his death, things started to happen for me. Maybe in my head I wanted it more.” In addition to the loss of emotional support, very few coaches, at the early stages of his career, believed that Mahrez’s skill could compensate for the lack of an imposing physique. “They used to say, ‘He’s too skinny, he’s not strong enough in the tackle. He’s too frail, too light.’ I heard this often.” Mahrez’s first real break came when he left his local club and joined Quimper in the French Fourth Division. He only scored two goals in his first full season with the lower league club, but his swagger caught the eye of several professional clubs. First there was an unsuccessful trial at St. Mirren in Scotland, with the club dithering on whether to award him a contract. It was then that Le Havre, with a reputation for churning out talented players like Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet, pounced and signed him for their reserve side. On joining the club, Mahrez was put on an €800 per month salary and shared a room with Mathias Pogba, the younger brother of the Manchester United striker, Paul Pogba. Mahrez was at his best when kindling a synergy with Walid Mesloub, another French-Algerian who played centrally and provided passes that were harbingers of his forages. Several seasons at Le Havre passed unnoticed until Leicester’s head of recruitment, Steve Walsh, travelled to Normandy to monitor Cape Verde international Ryan Mendes. Mendes had an off-match but Mahrez captivated Walsh. “The first time I saw him was on July 27, 2012 when Le Havre played against Arles-Avignon. Riyad was a bit raw but he had a great touch, he could kill the ball dead and go past people. Some of his decision-making wasn’t great and defensively he wasn’t the best. But you could see he had real talent.” At the time, Leicester were flying high and well on their way to running away with the Championship, a step below the Premier League. Mahrez joined the club during the January 2014 transfer window and chipped in with three goals and four assists in an impressive five months, displacing the dependable Lloyd Dyer and making the right flank his own. His role in Leicester’s magical ascent to the Premier League title, in their first season after promotion back to the top flight, is the stuff of global legend. Algerian football had been waiting for a player of his stature since the retirement of Rabah Madjer and Algeria’s golden generation, which had a memorable performance at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Drawn-out comparisons between Madjer’s and Mahrez’s respective generations are the subject of debate over most late-night domino matches on the streets of Algiers. But with the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon approaching, the question everyone in the North African nation is now asking is: Can Mahrez and co match what Madjer accomplished and finally win a continental title? Twenty-seven years have passed since the Fennecs have conquered the African football summit. And if Algeria climb it in Libreville, there is no way that Mahrez will not be a central part of the return to glory.

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Against the odds, Nigeria’s Super Falcons lifted their eighth African women’s title in Cameroon, in a tournament judged to be one of the best organised and attended in recent times. Usher Komugisha reports.

FALCONS REIGN SUPREME A s the continent’s most successful female side, lifting an unprecedented eighth Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) title in Yaoundé might appear to be “par for the course” for Nigeria. But a 1-0 victory against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses, who reached the final without losing a game or conceding a goal – an impressive record – came through sweat and sheer persistence. It was Desire Oparanozie’s lone strike that separated the two teams in what was a very tough final. Scoring from close range, Oparanozie’s goal was a hammer blow to the expectant crowd, bursting from

the stands at a packed Stade Omnisport. Nothing could console the distraught and utterly frustrated Cameroonians, for whom victory seemed to be certain. But Simon Lyonga, a local broadcast journalist, is optimistic that despite the painful loss, the future is bright for women’s football in the Central African country. “I think after this display, the government will take women’s football very seriously. The game will be given more attention.” Cameroon certainly made a great effort to stage one of the best-organised AWCONs in recent memory. The colourful and carefully choreographed opening ceremony showcased the beautiful culture and diversity of

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the continent’s five regions. Music was performed by a group of local artists including renowned local musician Thierry Sandio, a composer and writer in the team of popular Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour. The tournament also set the tone for a celebration of sport that did not ignore important civil society issues, such as the prevention of underage marriages. From the hairstyles of the players to the colourful boots, there were telling reminders that the game truly has a female bent, which, even with its idiosyncrasies, was no less competitive that the male version of the Nations Cup. Cameroon’s Gaëlle Enganamouit, the poster girl of the Indomitable Lionesses, is well known for her signature look, with her trademark golden hair tint, while the She-Pharaohs of Egypt were allowed to wear kit that accommodated their religious sensibilities. As at most AWCONs, Nigeria was the outright favourite to defend their title, even though the ride to their eighth trophy – which makes them the most successful national team in CAF’s 60-year-old history, ahead of Egypt’s Pharaohs – was no joyride for them. Ghana’s Black Queens earned a well-deserved draw against the Falcons during the group stages and South Africa’s Banyana Banyana (“The Girls”) put up stiff resistance in the semi-finals, even though they succumbed to Nigeria’s wealth of experience. It was no surprise that Kenya, tournament debutants, had a baptism of fire in Cameroon, as their lack of inexperience showed against better-drilled sides in Group B. But their performance was not a true reflection of the state of the game in East Africa, as Ethiopia and Tanzania, who did not qualify for Cameroon 2016, have been far more competitive at previous tournaments. “We played three matches and did not get a win but I think the two goals that we scored are a strong motiva-

Main page: The Nigerian Super Falcons celebrate their win over Cameroon in the AWCON final. Above: Their eighth AWCON title win makes them the most successful team in CAF’s 60-year history


tion for us as a country, showing that our players have ability and potential,” said David Ouma, Kenya’s head coach. “The Kenya Football Federation (FKF) has really worked hard and the government have ensured that the girls play against highly competitive sides, so I think this is a very defining year for them.” Egypt returned to the tournament for the first time since 1998 and registered a win over Zimbabwe, albeit with some controversial refereeing. In contrast to their dominance in the men’s tournament, where they have the record of seven titles, the north Africans are yet to make an appreciable impact at the AWCON. Their future is certainly in the hands of the young, like 17-year-old Sarah Essam Salaheldine. “I represent the young Arab female generation… My family and friends believe in me and my talent,” said the Wadi Degla player. “Some people judge and criticise my involvement in football but equally some really support it. When I want to reach a target, I do not care about people’s opinions… I am sure I will work very hard towards my goal and dream.” Many Arab girls have to surmount cultural norms that have not encouraged women to make a career in sport. And the problems are not limited to North Africa but cut across the continent, as Lydia Nsekera, the first woman to become a member of FIFA’s executive committee (now the FIFA Council) poignantly observed to New African years ago. “There is little or no funding for female football in Africa, compared to what the male teams get,” Nsekera said ruefully. “In Africa, there are people who even question the rationale for funding female football. But I am confident that with the right encouragement, women’s football will evolve and reach the level of the men. “Most African female footballers cannot concentrate on the game full-time and have other commitments, so they are unable to give the sport the attention it needs. We need to change that. “It is clear that without regular league competition for our women, throughout the continent, there is just no way our national teams will be able to effectively compete at tournaments like the Olympics.” The tournament did not fail to remind the continent of the gulf that still remains between Nigeria and the rest of the continent. Only Equatorial Guinea, in controversial circumstances, won AWCON twice to “break” Nigeria’s firm grip. But it is the same teams – Ghana, Cameroon and South Africa – that qualify for AWCON, an indication that the game is not growing in other parts of the continent. And the extremely poor financial reward, from CAF, for winning the AWCON, certainly does not raise its prestige – a mere $80,000 for the champions, in contrast to the $4m that will be handed over to the winners of the 2017 AFCON in Gabon. Many hope the organisational success of the AWCON is a harbinger of what is to come in three years’ time, when Cameroon hosts its first Nations Cup since 1972. Having not won the Nations Cup for 15 years, since the 2002 edition in Mali, they will certainly be hoping that there will be no repeat of what happened against Nigeria in the women’s tournament. That would be a pill too bitter to swallow.

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Ivorian Laurent Pokou, the legendary marksman, who scored five goals in a single 1970 Cup of Nations match – a 46-year unbroken record – recently passed away in Abidjan, at the age of 69. Frank Simon looks back at his incredible career, in Africa and Europe.



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hen anyone enters Sol Béni, the headquarters of top Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas, on the banks of the Ébrié Lagoon in Abidjan, one can’t miss five giant letters painted in yellow: P-O-K-O-U, with a football on top of the K. Laurent Pokou is inextricably linked to the history of ASEC, a club that is, alongside rivals Africa Sports, at the heart of Ivorian football. And for followers of the old French first division in the 1970s, he was one of the first Africans to become a major star, with Rennes, while Michel Platini, the France football legend, was still an apprentice at Nancy. Born on 10 August 1947, ASEC had already spotted Pokou’s talent at the tender age of 10. But he had to move to Bouaké, when his father had a change of employment. At the tender age of 16, Pokou became a striker for USFRAN Bouaké, the local club. It was just a stint, as it was not long before ASEC got their nugget back, in 1966. But it took until the end of that year before Wognin Ignace, the ASEC coach, was ready to start him. Pokou didn’t take long to make an impression, as his exploits led Paul Gévaudan, the French coach of “Les Elephants,” the national team, to pick the 21-year-old for the 1968 Nations Cup in Ethiopia. Côte d’Ivoire finished third, and Pokou emerged as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals. His brace against Ghana, then the top side in the continental game, earned him the “Man of Asmara” moniker. Two years later, in Sudan, the “Baoule Emperor” – another of his monikers, was more lethal, with eight goals and his second successive “golden boot” title. With 14 goals in two Nations Cups, Pokou remained the tournament’s top scorer for 38 years, until his record was broken at Ghana 2008, by Samuel Eto’o. But the former Barcelona and Inter Milan forward needed 5 tournaments to break a record that Pokou set in just two! Pokou had a difficult 1971, when he broke his knee, in a fierce derby with city rivals Africa Sports, needing months of recuperation but eventually coming back stronger. He was a part of the CAF-selected team that participated in the 1972 “mini World Cup” in Brazil and at the end of 1973, he decided to leave ASEC and signed for French club Rennes. Pokou’s first attempt to leave the country was stopped by Ivorian soldiers, who did not want their crown jewel to go. Between 1974 and 1977, Pokou became the “Duc de Bretagne” (the Duke of Brittany), scoring 44 goals in 63 games, during four seasons in which he was often injured. He helped Rennes get to the top division but their stay was short-lived and with his reputation in the ascendant, he moved to Nancy, while the legendary Michel Platini was still learning his trade, as a youngster. But it was a frustrating time for the “Duke”, as the coach refused to give him a regular place in Nancy’s starting team. After a difficult season and a half with Nancy, Rennes, now back in the second division, decided to call on their old talisman, now 31 and still convinced he had the magic touch, to return. Rennes supporters helped raise the fee of 70,000 francs needed to bring him back to the club – a lot of money at the time. But it was a return that ended sadly for him, as his career at Rennes, and in European football, ended with a two-year suspension, for insulting and kicking a referee in a French cup game. That ban was subsequently reduced to six months.

Banned but still on the books of Rennes, ASEC decided to buy out Pokou’s contract and bring their son home. His Nations Cup career with “Les Elephants” ended in 1980, with the team failing to get past the tournament’s group stages, and he began his coaching career whilst still a player with ASEC. In 1982, he joined Rio Sport d’Anyama as a player-coach and helped them get promotion. His last managerial position was as an assistant coach to the Belgian, Philippe Garot at ASEC in 1989, after which he left management for good. Pokou worked for a textile company until his retirement in 2005. Pokou was a valued adviser to the ASEC president Roger Ouegnin and helped FIF, the Ivorian Federation, to scout for young talent. He was an icon for the next generation of Ivorian superstars, like Didier Drogba, even though they never saw him play. Alongside Malian Salif Keita, another legend of the Opposite: Pokou training with the French club Rennes in January 1974. Right: In action for Rennes. Pokou scored 44 goals in 63 games


African game, Pokou is certainly amongst the top players in French football history. Pokou never won the AFCON but played in four editions – 1968, 1970, 1974 and 1980. Neither did he win the African Golden Ball award created in 1970 by France Football, the French weekly magazine, but he finished second in 1970, behind Keita, fourth in 1971 and third in 1973, just a handful of votes behind the TP Mazembe duo of Tshimen Bwanga and Mwamba Kazadi. Before his death, Pokou, acknowledged as a wise man, carefully chose how he spent his time. He could be seen sometimes at football functions, or at the stadium. He was at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to cheer the Elephants. “He was a good man and we will miss him terribly,” said Roger Boli, a former player and the brother of Basile, the ex-Marseille star. It would be no surprise if the Ivorian government names the next national stadium, to be built in Ebimpe, on the outskirts of Abidjan, after him, as a lasting mark of respect for the “Man of Asmara”. His place in the pantheon of African football legends is secure. Frank Simon is a Paris-based journalist with the prestigious France Football magazine and an authority on the African game, which he has followed closely for over 20 years.

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Trumpism and the anti-immigration and white nationalist populism convulsing Europe will mean less attention and support for Africa in 2017. Self-reliance is firmly on the agenda again.


The politics of giving – and receiving

Onyekachi Wambu


o be successful, advancing our interests means at the very least getting the most out of the resources we already have – especially the three great engines for internally driven development: government, the private and charity sectors. Greater government efficiencies are critical (through the improvement of fiscal and monetary interventions; better management and investment in parts of the economy that are government-owned, especially infrastructure and power; and the improvement of service delivery, especially education). The private sector is perhaps even more important, given its ability to mobilise resources and expertise, as well as its capacity to solve problems, and efficiently allocate resources. Both sectors are extremely formalised, operating in highly regulated frameworks. Much work has been done to understand their weaknesses and improve performance in the African context. The African charitable sector, though growing in importance, is little understood and largely operates in an informal space. Until a few years ago, to talk of African philanthropy was to talk of a strange animal. This was always a mistake. As Tade Akin Aina and Bhekinkosi

Moyo argue in their jointly edited book: Giving to Help, Helping to Give: The Context and Politics of African Philanthropy, this strangeness only makes sense if we directly compare African philanthropy to Western philanthropy, with its powerful funding bodies such as the Ford Foundation, or others, that sustain medical research or cultural institutions. However, we know that Africans have always given, in their own structured ways. This African giving has been little studied, documented, acknowledged or encouraged. In the absence of a welfare system, it is such philanthropy that sustains many African communities. Despite the perception of low levels of trust on the continent, African social capital is large and extensive, providing a lifeline that has frequently prevented total collapse. There is now a great push towards formalising the African philanthropic space. Two Africa-wide institutions, the African Philanthropy Forum, and Africa Philanthropy Network, are seeking to improve understanding of African giving, bringing together the major philanthropic organisations. These forums are attracting the increasing numbers of African high net worth givers such as Mo Ibrahim,

Until a few years ago, to talk of African philanthropy was to talk of a strange animal.

Aliko Dangote, and Strive Mayisiwa, who have established formidable institutions. Dangote, for instance, established his with a $1.2bn endowment (more than the GDP of several African countries), to tackle health and education problems. A recent African Philanthropy Forum in Rabat demonstrated the importance of creating formal settings where these foundations can share learning. A number of Nigerian philanthropists, unbeknown to each other, had been providing scholarships for students to study abroad. Recognising the potential space for synergy, they now work together to tackle the broader social issue involving the failing Nigerian educational system that has forced them to seek excellence abroad. Although each will continue to provide their own scholarships, they intend to also use 10% of their funds to create a joint fund to seek holistic responses to the underlying problems in the Nigerian educational system. This kind of strategic intervention and formalisation of African giving is critical if the third sector is to achieve scale and fulfil its enormous potential in driving African development. Take another huge area of African philanthropy that is particularly underdeveloped – the philanthropy of the African diaspora. According to the World Bank, through formal remittances the diaspora sent about $40bn to Africa in 2015. Of this figure, 20-25% was believed to be investment of various kinds, leaving up to $30bn for covering day-to-day living, education and the healthcare expenses of family and relatives. Money – vital on an individual level – can be made more efficient if it is pooled to leverage additional resources, and sometimes invested to tackle the underlying problems, which are invariably social. Efficient, effective governments investing in people, infrastructure creating the right environment; a dynamic private sector providing affordable business solutions to market or social failures; a third sector working together with them and plugging the gaps – the tools are at hand for our own internally driven development. NA

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