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The bestselling pan-African magazine

Founded in 1966 • December 2017 • N°578

Most influential Africans of 2017 ZIMBABWE: ALL CHANGE Exclusive: ‘I survived Mogadishu truck bomb’ Ghana: Land title quagmire Opinion: Wanted – eyes that see and ears that hear + Kaleidoscope; Knowledge is power; Back to the future; Native intelligence • 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 • 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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Africa 2016 Under the High Patronage of H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Business for Africa and the World

“My country is committed to Africa and will spare no efforts to extend and strengthen ties Drivingacross Investment forcountries Inclusive and integration all African in Growth order to help it drive its economic and social development. Africa 2016, th thfollowing the historical launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area 7 - 9 December 2017 between COMESA,Sharm EAC and SADC,Egypt on June 10th in Sharm-el-Sheikh, is a testimony of El Sheikh, Egypt’s keen determination to enhance trade and investment in our beloved continent.”

Africa 2016 Join us at Africa’s Leading Business and Investment Forum Abdel Fattah El


Africa 2017 President of the Arab Republic of Egypt builds on the success of the

Business forAfrica Africa, and inaugural Forum Egypt in 2016 which sawthe the World participation 6 heads of state andtomore “My country is committed toof Africa and will spare no efforts extend than and strengthen ties and integration across all African countries in order to help it drive economic and social 1,000 delegates from 45 countries. Thisitsyear, development. Africa in 2016:Africa 2016, following the historical launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area programme hasonbeen enhanced to include between the COMESA, EAC and SADC, June 10th in Sharm-el-Sheikh, is a testimony of • A GDP in excess of $2 tn Egypt’s keen determination to enhance trade and investment in our beloved more case studies and industry and expert continent.” • A growing middle class of over 313 million consumers briefings as well as a Young Entrepreneurs • Consumer spending projected to reach $1.4 tn • 382 million-strong labour force Fattah El Sisi Day bringing Abdel together a group of young and

dynamicPresident of the Arab Republic of Egypt leaders from across the continent

As Africa continues its unprecedented growth, regional integration and trade agreements at the helm of promising projects and new between African countries will prove critical. This is why Africa 2016, a landmark platform businesses. dedicated to enhancing pan-African international trade and investment, is the Africa in 2016: must-attend African investment forum of 2016. • A GDP in excess of $2 tn • A growing middle class of over 313 million consumers Africa 2017 is a must-attend event for anyone doing • Consumer spending projected to reach $1.4 tn business in Africa or wanting to gain unique insights • 382 million-strong labour force

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into latest developments across key markets in • As Africa continues its unprecedented growth, regional integration and trade agreements Meet with high profile government and business decision-makers Africa, including latest trends and updates • between African countries will prove critical. This is why Africa 2016, a landmark platform Understand the role of Egypt as a gateway to Africa dedicated to enhancing pan-African international trade and investment, is the • must-attend Identify business opportunities and key projects across Africa African investment forum of 2016. • Build new partnerships with country-specific stakeholders For more information, please contact: Attend? • Why Network with serious investors looking for opportunities and key partners in the region info@businessforafricaforum.com • and partners in government Meet with high profile government and business decision-makers www.businessforafricaforum.com • Understand the role of Egypt as a gateway to Africa • • Discuss the challenges of doing business across Africa Identify business opportunities and key projects across Africa Build new partnerships with country-specific stakeholders • • Gain an insight into current and future developments across Africa • Network with serious investors looking for opportunities and key partners in the region and partners in government • Discuss the challenges of doing business across Africa • Gain an insight into current and future developments across Africa

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p. 18 100 most influential Africans

The men and women who have made an indelible mark on Africa and beyond this year. R eaders’ views

04 Your comments and letters

K aleidoscope

06 Photo of the month 08 Briefs 13 Quote/Unquote


32 Science, tech and innovation 35 Education 36 Media 38 Arts and culture 44 Sport

Speakers’ corner

48 Preserving history for posterity

A round africa

58 Zimbabwe: Wheels within wheels – the inside story 62 Somalia: Mogadishu truck bomb – a survivor’s tale 66 Ghana: How to start a fight in a peaceful country


15 The decline and fall of Robert Mugabe

K nowledge is power

50 Creating your own talent pool

68 Lewis Hamilton: The ace of pace

Baffour’s beefs

Talking business


52 Trump ruling a boon for African coal

The arts

71 Review: The majesty of Cleopatra, and Earl Cameron at 100 not out

Native intelligence

Book review

16 Wanted: Eyes that see, ears that hear

18 Introduction 20 Politics and public service 26 Business and finance 30 Civil society and activism

54 If Spain were Uganda

Letter from london

56 The enormous influence of African heritage women

72 Nigeria/Biafra: Fresh look at an old story

Back to the future

74 Reformation without reform

NewAfrican The bestselling pan-African magazine, founded in 1966. December 2017 ISSUE 578 www.newafricanmagazine.com

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Readers’ Views LET TERS & COMMENTS

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The UK’s wartime debt to the colonies Referring to Clayton Goodwin’s article, “Brixton – A slap in the face of racial animosity” (NA, November 2017), discussing the monument erected in Brixton in honour of the contribution of African and Caribbean soldiers in the two world wars, I would like to add that apart from the many who fought for Britain, the “Mother Country” could not have survived/fought/won WWII without: the food sent from the colonies – for example, cattle from Tanganyika (now Tanzania); wheat and tea from Kenya; fish, grain and sugar from India. The bauxite and other minerals, as well as rubber needed to manufacture planes, ships and weaponry came from the colonies; much of the oil to fly the planes came from Trinidad. Workers “conscripted”, if paid at all, received even less than the pittance paid to regular workers. The companies involved made fortunes: for example, the “consolidated net profit” of the British branch of Unilever, one of the major British companies supplying produce from (and to) Africa, was £8.6m in 1945. (Lever Bros. & Unilever Annual Report, 31/12/1945.) Enormous financial donations were also made by the colonies: in the first three years of the war they gave £23.3m as gifts, £10.7m as loans free of interest and £14m as interestbearing loans. (House of Commons, 21/10/1943.) There were about 50,000 seamen from the colonies in the merchant marine of whom an estimated 5,000 were “colonials”. M. Sherwood, London, UK Message to Bill Gates Mr Bill Gates (New African, November 2017), I hope you read The Uneasy Truths Project report carried out by ZAM Magazine in 2015. It seems malaria is a growing problem, not one that is decreasing! The investigative reporting, carried

out in several African countries, shows that in the DRC alone, few if any get affordable drugs. “This is in spite of the fact that the Global Fund against Malaria, TB and HIV/Aids (famously established by millionaire Bill Gates and mainly funded by the US and Europe) makes over $40m available for free medicines and test kits alone to health centres in the DRC every year,” says the report. Many health workers confess that they sold the free drugs to pharmacies or patients. They accuse the NGOs charged with distributing the drugs of enriching themselves at the expense of health workers, and being forced to then take matters into their own hands. What can you do to stop this, Mr Gates? Marion Augusteijn, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

A big thank you to Swaniker My colleagues and I would like to express our gratitude to and admiration for Fred Swaniker, whose writings on education in New African magazine have been invaluable. No doubt Knowledge is Power, as the column title says. All development is based on knowledge and knowledge itself can only come from good education. There can be no doubt that many of us teachers and educators are facing large obstacles in terms of irrelevant syllabuses, poor planning and a serious lack of facilities and resources. We worry about what kind of education we are able to impart to our students and how this will help them in their later life. Swaniker not only understands our issues and problems and what we are trying to achieve, but month by month he presents workable solutions that can easily be imparted. His columns should be a “must read” for all of Africa’s education hierarchy if they really wish to provide education that is useful and valuable for the present time. Daniel Chiluba, Lusaka, Zambia

4  New African december 2017

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When it’s quiet we create. Africa innovates. We’re using world-class technologies to make the most of our vast, expansive landscape. As a hotbed for the cleaner, safer energy sources of tomorrow, we are poised for electrifying growth. Let’s take our continent forward, together. standardbank.com/neverstop

Authorised Financial services and registered credit provider (NCRCP15). The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited (Reg. No. 1962/000738/06). Moving Forward is a trademark of The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited. SBSA 243920-8/16

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The #CelebrateAfrica photography competition, sponsored by Canon and hosted by Picfair in association with New African, generated a stunning array of entries celebrating all the fascinating aspects of African life. Each month, we publish one of the prize-winning shots.

Photo of the month

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Above: taken during the Birqash Camel Market in Egypt by Adel. 3rd runner’s up prize in the City Life Category

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Kaleidoscope Libyans put politics on hold for horse racing About 45km west of Tripoli in a town called Zawiya, horse riders gather every Friday to race. The races are a tradition in the area, and despite ongoing

Namibia abolishes visa requirements for Africans As Africa slowly moves towards the continent-wide free movement of goods and people, Namibia has got the ball rolling by scrapping visas for African citizens. Namibia’s cabinet having authorised the implementation of the process, the country will start issuing African passport holders with visas on arrival, although some reciprocal arrangements

political turbulence, always draw large crowds. Horse rider Hussein al-Marmouri said: “I like the traditional riding, it has been my passion since childhood. This sport was practised by our parents and grandparents. I hope that the

general public will practise it too.” In fact, the races have helped boost the local craft industry, which manufactures saddles, jewels and leather – all used to adorn the horses. “In the past, such items

were used by our ancestors during the Italian invasion, they fought on horseback and had special tools. Then, the tools evolved and were used at celebrations, events and parties,” said Ibrahim Sueidan, a local manufacturer.

South African best female chef in the world South African chef, Chantel Dartnall, the owner and head chef of Restaurant Mosaic near Pretoria, has been named the best female chef in the world. The award was presented to Dartnall at the Best Chef Lady Awards, held this year

in Poland. Dartnall was also placed at number 32 in the Best Chef Awards Top 100 list for 2017, the highest-positioned woman and one of only three to make the top 50. “It feels pretty insane. To win exceeds all my wildest dreams,” she said.

with other countries still need to be finalised. “African nations offered refuge to our people as they fled the brutality of apartheid. Many of our young found shelter in African countries, enabling them to continue with their education, which would in turn equip them with the means to contribute to our national development,” a State House statement said, elaborating on the benefits of ease of movement between countries.

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2017 PIDA Week Regional Infrastructure Development for Job Creation and Economic Transformation

The first two decades of the 21st century ushered in real transformation of the African continent. Africa is regaining the growth momentum of the 1970s, as reflected in the 5.4 % GDP growth from 2005 to 2013, and Human Development Index shows 1.5% annual growth. Africa therefore remains on course to achieving the aspirations and goals as encapsulated in the African Union Agenda 2063 – the 50-year guiding vision for the transformation of the continent. Realising Agenda 2063 will not be possible without increased investment in Africa’s infrastructure, a critical engine for continued economic growth and development. If managed prudently and effectively it can contribute to creating employment opportunities and re-position the continent to becoming competitive in the global trading environment. The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), developed by the African Union Commission (AUC), NEPAD Agency, African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), promotes regional economic integration by building mutually beneficial infrastructure and strengthening the ability of countries to trade and establish regional value chains for increased competitiveness. Since its adoption in January 2012, progress has been made towards the implementation and development of the 51 PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA PAP) programmes (circa 430 individual projects) at country as well as regional levels. To complement the project level progress, several other activities and initiatives have been undertaken in the areas of creating an enabling environment, human capacity building and advocacy towards high-level decision makers in support of regional infrastructure development. PIDA programmes and projects are expected to lead to an integrated continent, job creation and sustainable economic growth fuelling continental trade. Building on the achievements of the inaugural event in 2015 and the second event in 2016, the theme for 2017 PIDA Week is, “Regional Infrastructure Development for Job Creation and Economic Transformation”. The Week will centre on the critical role that PIDA plays in streamlining the continent’s major infrastructure projects, and

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enhance PIDA as a brand and framework for regional infrastructure development. As a continental platform, the upcoming 2017 PIDA Week, 1014 December in Swakopmund, Namibia, will showcase the PIDA Projects under implementation and market those at financial close to investors. Projects which will be featured at the event include: • • • • • • • •

The Central Corridor, Dar es Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road; The Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge; The Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Interconnection; The Batoka Hydropower Plant; The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor; The INGA III hydropower project, which is an AU Agenda 2063 flagship project PIDA ICT projects; and PIDA water sector projects.

PIDA Week will thus provide space for discussions on PIDA project implementation, creating synergies between the different implementing institutions, partners and stakeholders. Among the stakeholders expected at PIDA Week are continental and global infrastructure investor communities, development finance institutions, export credit agencies, project sponsors (public and private) and governments. For more information, visit www.nepad.orgcontent/2017-pida-week Or write to: PIDAWeek@nepad.org

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DRC homemade bikes push profit in Goma Makeshift wooden bikes known as chukudus are providing income and employment in DRC’s easternmost city, Goma. The bikes are made from recycled car and motorbike

Incarcerated Equatorial Guinea cartoonist wins top award Ramón Esono Ebalé, a graphic novelist and cartoonist, has been awarded the 2017 Courage in Cartooning Award, by the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), for his outspoken criticism of the government. Ramón was arrested this summer in Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo, as he returned to his country to

parts, fashioned around a homemade wooden frame, and cost around $100 to build. The bikes are used to transport goods and allow owners to earn up to $10 a day, which is five times the average wage in Goma.

renew his passport. The government has charged him with money laundering and currency counterfeiting, which the CRNI has described as “cooked up and outrageous”. The award will be given in absentia in the US, and Human Rights Watch have called on President Teodoro Obiang Nguema to repeal the defamation statute, which allows criminal prosecution of the government's critics.

Nigerian Twitter craze of taking cars out for a date After a picture of man sharing a glass of wine with his Mercedes Benz on the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge was posted to Twitter, the hash tags #DateNightChallenge or #BenzIsBaeChallenge have gone viral, as Nigerians try to mimic the scene. So far photos of people next to their wheelbarrows, generators, bicycles and cars have been uploaded as people aim for the funniest photo.

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Rwanda next up to bat Rwanda has recently inaugurated its first $1.3m international cricket stadium, the Gahanga Cricket Stadium, after a push from the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation. The stadium has been built

Tunisian start-up pioneers bladeless wind turbine Tunisian start-up, Saphon Energy, have developed a bladeless wind turbine which is capable of capturing twice as much kinetic energy as the normal three-blade machines, and is 45% cheaper. The technology was invented by Anis Aouini, who together with partner Hassine Labaied set up Saphon Energy in 2011. The pair are hoping the new turbine will be a useful answer to Africa’s energy problems. “The Saphonian is highly efficient on account of its revolutionary design and

the use of a radical new 3D Aouinian kinematics. The bladeless convertor was invented and designed by Anis Aouini, who challenged the existing conventional technology and came up with a new radical way of harnessing wind energy,” said Labaied.

Ugandan sign language app to ease communication An app to help people with hearing impediments has been launched by the Uganda National Association of the Deaf. UGsign Mobile was developed in partnership with SPIDER, a Swedish

programme for ICT in developing regions, and will make the learning of sign language accessible via digital platforms. The app also contains sign language interpretations for all words and will be mainly implemented in schools where deaf students have little access to special facilities.

to international standards, making it the first of its kind in the East African region, and the Rwanda Cricket Association estimates that 10,000 Rwandan citizens now play the game. Eric Dusingizimana, the national team captain, said:

“This is an exciting development for us and the younger generation is going to benefit heavily from this.” The other top African cricket countries include South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

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Kaleidoscope Moroccan football team crowned African champions

#MeToo sparks conversation on the continent

Wydad Casablanca have become champions of Africa for a second time, when they defeated Al Ahly of Egypt 1-0 in the second leg of the CAF Champions League final. Walid El Karti scored a 69th minute goal to put Wydad Casablanca ahead 2-1 on aggregate, after a 1-1 draw in Alexandria the week before. Wydad won a record $2.5m for their victory and are guaranteed at least another $1m by competing at the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates during December.

The MeToo hash tag – motivated by the Harvey Weinstein scandal – has provided space for global discussion and debate concerning the abuse and mistreatment of women. The campaign has motivated many in Africa to engage with the issue of sexual harassment, for instance, in Senegal and in Nigeria, yet many remain hesitant due to cultural norms encouraging silence for fear of

bringing shame to the family. According to a 2016 World Bank report, one in two African women say they accept domestic violence and about a third have suffered abuse. However, women are beginning to speak up, for example, Nigerian Faustina Ayanwu (left), who used the hash tag to post on Twitter about experiencing harassment when she worked as a nurse. Senegalese Mona Chasserio, who runs a shelter for women who have been abused, commented: “Women are starting to speak out, little by little, but we’re only at the very beginning.”

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Quote/unquote ‘The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood’

‘Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family’

‘I don’t know anywhere where the people are hungrier for education than South Sudan’




‘Already each of ‘Africa’s regional economic entities have plans for regional integration. We are integrating stock exchanges from Casablanca to Johannesburg. The walls are coming down faster than people think; by 2018, the African Union expects to conclude the African Free Trade Area.’ AKINWUMI ADESINA, PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

‘Our country is peaceful and blessed with abundant resources, but the majority of the people are poor and endure suffering. We have opened up to investors, but whoever comes to our country, comes on our terms’ NAMIBIAN PRESIDENT HAGE GEINGOB

‘There are things even love can’t do. If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks,gender comes ‘Achieving close to breaking and equality isdoes about sometimes break. disrupting the But even when it’s in a status quo – not thousand pieces around your feet, that it’ doesn’t negotiating mean it is no longer PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, love’ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


‘I think that the trouble we now face in the world is caused mainly by the refusal to try and see another man’s point of view, to try and persuade by example – and the refusal to meet a rather passionate desire to impose your own will upon others, either by force or means’ SERETSE KHAMA, FIRST PRESIDENT OF BOTSWANA

‘In the rainy season, sometimes to get to the first lesson we had to run really quick, because we had to cross the river to school and we’d have to go up and down the bank to find a place to cross because there is no bridge’ HAILE GEBRSELASSIE, ETHIOPIAN LONG-DISTANCE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALLIST

‘Where there is no struggle, there is no strength’


‘I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me’ KWAME NKRUMAH, PAN-AFRICANIST AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF GHANA

‘This is now a party (Zanu-PF) controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the First Family’ EMMERSON MNANGAGWA ZIMBABWE’S SACKED VICE-PRESIDENT.

‘Nigeria is not an oil-rich country, we are an oilproducing country’ EMIR MUHAMMADU SANUSI II, EMIR OF THE KANO EMIRATE, NIGERIA  

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From the Editor

Anver Versi

The decline and fall of Robert Mugabe


hen it happened, it happened at lightning speed. One minute Robert Mugabe was trying to consolidate a dynastic succession by stabbing his old-time ally Emmanuel Mnangagwa in the back, by firing him from his post as Vice President, the next, his whole world had turned against him. As we were going to press, thousands of Zimbabweans had poured into the streets and their joy was unconfined. They wanted Mugabe “gone yesterday!” Any anti-Mugabe protest a week earlier would have been met with tear-gas, baton charges and rubber bullets. For almost 40 years Mugabe had ruled the country with an iron fist, like Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play: Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world Like a Colossus, and we petty men Walk under his huge legs and peep about To find ourselves dishonourable graves. But Caesar had fallen, cut down by the same people who had put him in power, and Mugabe now faced the same fate. His party, Zanu-PF had turned against him, unanimously calling for his expulsion under threat of impeachment; the veterans he had fought with generations ago wanted him out; his supporters had vanished in the night and the army, which he had called his iron fist in a velvet glove, had been the first to strike the blow. But throughout the revolution – there is no other word for it – the army under Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, was mindful not to call it a coup lest it triggered considerable negative connotations, domestically as well as internationally. The aim had been to find a constitutional way to ease Mugabe out of power. However, the unbridled joy of the people – “from today, we can live again, we can be Zimbabweans again, the tyrant is gone!” to quote one – and Zanu-PF shutting the door firmly in Mugabe’s face, show that developments had accelerated. Mugabe’s time was clearly over. One cannot help reflecting on what all of Mugabe’s scheming, and killings (the Matabeleland massacre); the intimidation and beatings of opposition figures; the cowing of the population; the destruction of one of Africa’s most promising economies; the

exodus of millions of Zimbabweans to foreign lands just to keep body and soul together; the unchecked looting of the national treasury; the pomp and arrogance while ordinary folk were scrambling around for food for their children; and the endless misery of being Zimbabwean, has amounted to? What degree of ambition, narcissism and hubris is needed to consider all this worthwhile? What drives a man like Mugabe, with his intelligence, his reading, his eloquence, his innate leadership qualities, to become so corrupted by the chimera of power that all human values are jettisoned and he becomes deaf and blind to the plight of his country?

At what price? Is the price he and his wife have had to pay in order to sit like a king in a British limousine or rattle about in a mansion that can house a hundred comfortably, or bedeck themselves with expensive clothes and glittering stones, worth the destruction of his country and the murder of the dreams of its children? Now it is all gone in a puff of smoke in just one week and the people’s joy at his discomfiture must taste like ashes in his mouth. Given his qualities, what a leader he might have made if the false gods of ambition not lured him away, if his values had shouted out to him, “thus far and no further”. Is this how he, or for that matter anybody, would want to see out the remaining days of their lives? Can there be a blow more cruel than to see the people he once led to freedom reviling him and calling for his head? To see comrades he fought with in the jungles despise him? To realise that all the bowing, scraping and singing of his praises was because of the fear he had instilled and not love? The fall of Mugabe should be a salutary lesson to all our leaders who put themselves and their families above the people. To be called to national leadership is a rare and honourable privilege, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rise above oneself by serving the nation; to be loved, as well mourned when one cashes in one’s chips. What an opportunity, not only missed, but hideously distorted in Mugabe’s case. Perhaps he now realises, as others have done before him, that all the riches of the world are as trifles compared to the genuine love, respect and honour that a man can get by truly serving. NA december 2017 new african  15

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Why is there a tendency for Africans to skim over the most obvious and critical issues staring them in the face and instead chase after impossible utopias?


Oh for eyes that see, ears that hear

Baffour Ankomah

I know no national boundary where the African is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free – Marcus M. Garvey


don’t know why, but sometimes we Africans behave much like the people described in the prophecy of Isaiah in the Bible, (Isaiah Chapter 6: 9-10): “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” I was reminded of this injunction as I sat in over four days of deliberations at a UNECA-convened conference in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, at the end of October. The conference was in two parts: the first two days were taken by an ad hoc expert group meeting on

“Deepening Regional Integration in Southern Africa: The role, prospects and progress of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA)”; and the last two days by the 23rd Intergovernmental Committee of Experts of Southern Africa, who discussed the topic: “Trade Facilitation in Southern Africa: Bridging the Infrastructure Gap”. Established in 2015 by 26 countries in Southern, East and North Africa, the TFTA is an attempt to resolve the difficulties posed by the overlapping membership of the 26 countries in multiple regional economic communities (RECs) such as SADC, COMESA, EAC and others, which seek to do the same things. Thus deepening regional integration in these overlapping RECs is long overdue. But two things struck me most at the Bulawayo conference. The first was the realisation that even after 60 years of African independence, we are still loath to do the right things first. The second was that Africa is just not willing to free its citizens from the depressing restrictions imposed on their movement in their own continent by the colonial borders. Having worked closely in the last 10 months with the African Capacity

Building Foundation (ACBF) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), I knew, before attending the Bulawayo conference, about the infamous issue of “capacity deficit” in Africa that is said to hinder African development and even the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063. Both ACBF and ARIPO have been calling on African nations to take the capacity deficit issue seriously, or otherwise the continent will be left still treading water come 2063. But do we have ears to hear or eyes to see? This is where Prophet Isaiah comes in. Africans appear to have ears that hardly hear and eyes that cannot see even the most obvious things around us, one of which is the lack of capacity on the continent – an issue that interestingly came up on the first day of the Bulawayo conference. It was said that in Southern Africa the implementation of integration programmes under the TFTA had been delayed because of the lack of capacity at the SADC Secretariat. SADC is an REC made up of 18 member countries; and yet it is said to lack the capacity to push the TFTA forward. Can you imagine such a monstrosity? Eighteen good member states do not have the

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capacity to make the TFTA work! Yet instead of finding ways of overcoming the capacity deficit, the SADC countries that met in Bulawayo just mentioned the problem in passing and went on their merry way until two delegates and myself (I moderated a roundtable discussion on the fourth and final day) forced the issue back on the table for proper deliberation.

Shocking lack of capacity

Nobody has to be a rocket scientist to deduce that without having the requisite capacity, Africa cannot implement any of the grandiose plans and strategies formulated at the institutional, national, regional, and continental levels. ACBF’s Exec-

As Prof Adejumobi, Director of UNECA’s Southern African Office noted, at the organisation’s recent conference on regional integration and other concerns, ‘Foreigners visiting Africa are tourists and investors. But the African is a criminal who must be denied free movement in his own continent.”

utive Secretary, Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie, keeps reminding the continent of this crucial fact. “The institutional capacity deficits on the continent affect every level of African life,” Prof Nnadozie said in early September 2017. “They affect the AU Commission and its organs and prevent them from effectively coordinating the continental development agenda. “They affect Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and inhibit them from effectively playing their role as building blocks of the continental development architecture and accelerating regional integration. “They affect national institutions and take away their ability to align national development plans to continental and global agendas. “They also affect Africa’s ability to retain, harmonise and fully utilise the capacity that it may have already sweated to acquire … Unless we can slay the ghost of the capacity deficits, it will be difficult to implement Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.” I have always wondered how a continent besotted with PhDs still lacks the capacity to implement anything. It shows how badly we have educated ourselves. Last year I saw a statistic that said Africa had over half the world’s arts and humanities students, doing courses that equip them with no practical skills. So we come out of universities with PhDs and Masters and Bachelors degrees that add little or no value to African life, except wearing big suits and ties even in the hot African weather and speaking high-sounding English and French. Our ancestors must be ashamed of us – surely! As I told the Bulawayo conference, if Africa does not take the issue of capacity development seriously, we will one day call a conference to tell the world that we don’t even have the capacity to eat. We must therefore do the right thing now – not later – by tackling the capacity deficit on the continent and overcoming it.

Preference for foreigners

While still at it, we must also slay the other monster – the lack of free movement in Africa for Afri-

cans. Surprise, surprise, the TFTA countries are campaigning for free movement in Africa for ‘business persons’, instead of for all Africans. On behalf of Africa’s great unwashed, I took advantage of the roundtable discussion to appeal for the broadening of the campaign to cover all Africans. “The African does not have free movement in Europe or America, and most depressingly in his own continent. So what are we talking about, giving preference to business persons?” I asked the conference. I cited my harrowing experience in 2015 when my Ghanaian passport could not earn me a transit visa in Ethiopia but my British passport did. Same person. Same day. Same time. But the Ethiopians did (shamelessly, I should say) give me a transit visa when I produced my British passport! May God help us Africans to see beyond our feeding spoons! What sort of people have we become – who deny their own citizens free movement in their own continent yet allow foreigners to roam free in the same continent? “Foreigners are tourists and investors,” as Prof Said Adejumobi, director of the UNECA Southern Africa Office sarcastically put it on the first day of the Bulawayo conference, “but the African is a criminal who must be denied free movement in his own continent.” Prof Adejumobi was uncompromising. “The discourse on the free movement of business persons in the TFTA, though a good idea for trade and production flows, seems rather narrow in the context of the African development agenda,” he told the conference. “It is not only business persons that require to move, but all citizens of the TFTA. If it is easy for nonAfricans to enter our member states whether they are business persons or not, then why ‘quarantine’ our own citizens in national borders? “Deconstructing Africa’s national borders will not only make for good economics but also good social and political re-engineering of our continent, as contained in the pan-African ideals.” NA I rest my case. 

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THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL AFRICANS OF 2017 18  new african december 2017


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Welcome to our annual listing of the 100 most influential Africans of 2017. This has been a firm favourite of our readers since we first started publishing the listing in 2012 and we are confident you will find this year’s selection just as intriguing, thought-provoking and inspiring. There are eight categories: politics and public service; business and finance; civil society and activism; education; science, technology and innovation; media; arts and culture; and sport. Inevitably, there are some overlaps – real life rarely follows strictly defined occupational borders but by and large, we believe we have got it right. As to who is “influential” and who is not, it depends very much on one’s point of view and how one defines “influential”. It is a word that hardly ever fails to arouse debate whenever similar lists are published and no doubt our list will bring out the cudgels among our readers. We will be delighted to hear your views. Our own criteria for “influential” is a fairly simple one – it is applied to people whose work or activity has had some sort of transformative effect outside their main calling. In many cases, as the following profiles reveal, this effect results in a change of perception or provides inspiration to others. Many in our selection have shattered the proverbial glass-ceilings

and done so with great bravery, determination and personal sacrifice. Others are shining examples to others of what can be achieved, no matter the odds stacked against you – both in Africa and the diaspora – if the dream is real enough and the drive is powerful enough. What this listing also reveals is that Africa’s often dire economy and unstable politics have not held civil society back. Many on our list have not waited for permission or support from higher authorities to do what they deem is right for themselves and others. The listing also shows just how far Africans have progressed in a variety of fields, including business, the arts, sports and activism and how many of them are now major global leaders. It is also pleasing to note the almost bewildering diversity, in terms of racial, ethnic and national diversity, that our champions represent. This list, if nothing else, displays the beauty and power of the diversity that Africa should be so proud of and it also shows, without any shadow of doubt, that no matter how difficult one’s environment, it is possible to rise to great heights and receive the salute and accolade of the world – as we are giving in this issue. Written and edited by Anver Versi and reGina Jane Jere with Tom Collins, Ahmed Idris, Taku Dzimwasha, David Thomas and Sam Nkirote McKenzie december 2017 new african  19

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Most Influential Africans

Politics & Public Service


Amina J. Mohammed

World’s second most powerful diplomat Her work in the private, civic and development sectors spans over three decades. She has served as Minister of Environment in Nigeria, and as Special Adviser to former UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning, a role where she was instrumental in shaping the current Sustainable Development Goals. But since taking up the post of UN Deputy Secretary-General in February, the soft-spoken yet astute mother of six has been the world’s second topmost diplomat and as such, has become one of the most well-known African faces and influencers this year. Amid growing uncertainty in the world today, her authority on global issues including poverty elimination, women’s rights, climate change and governance, is undoubtedly crucial, and will be under scrutiny in her new role.



President Alpha Condé

Yemi Osinbajo

President Condé has been a bundle of energy. As current chair of the African Union, he has had a key role in cajoling and persuading other heads of state to push through its much-needed reforms. He has been vocal on a number of subjects, such as the longstanding issue of the French CFA, and the fact that a large chunk of the foreign reserves of those countries using it sits with the French Treasury. He has also been an important mediator when crises have arisen in the region. His role during his tenure, in standing up to mercenaries in the mining sector in Guinea, has been bruising but one which will prove to be a watershed moment in terms of exploitation of the continent’s resources.

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was thrust into the top job after President Muhammadu Buhari was debilitated by illness for the majority of the year. Osinbajo proved to be a safe pair of hands as he implemented a series of business-friendly reforms and helped navigate the country’s economy out of recession. The vice president also helped resolve the militant uprising in the oilrich Niger Delta, allowing Nigeria’s oil production to return to pre-disruption levels. Osinbajo has moved to refocus the economy towards agriculture and away from oil dependency.

Mediator supreme

Stalwart presidential stand-in


George Weah

Talisman of a new political era As one of the most gifted footballers of his generation and the only African ever to win a FIFA World Player of the Year award, as well as the first African to win the Ballon d’Or, George Weah’s popularity has never waned. His transition into politics and public service has been marked with the same ambition, determination and focus that made him such a great footballer. He ran for president in 2005, losing to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. This year, after a vigorous campaign,

he secured a substantial lead over Vice-President Joseph Boakai but failed to gain 51% of the vote, necessitating a second round run-off. As we went to press, the Supreme Court had halted the run-off, citing irregularities. As a footballer, a former Unicef goodwill ambassador and now as a politician, Weah’s influence on the youth Africa-wide has been exceptional. He is seen as the talisman of a new era of socially conscious leaders.

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King Mohammed VI

Nana Akufo-Addo

Although the king is not having the easiest of years at home where his popularity among the masses, who have hitherto revered him, has taken a knock, his campaign to be readmitted into the African Union fold has succeeded. Early this year, the country once again became a member of the AU, 30 years after it had left the Organisation of African Unity, when the body recognised the disputed territory of Western Sahara. King Mohammed VI commented: “Africa is my home; I am coming back home.” His next move: joining ECOWAS, with the hope of Morocco forming a formidable partnership and political axis with the region’s largest economy: Nigeria.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has made strides towards reviving the country’s economy since becoming president at the beginning of the year. Shortly after Akufo-Addo was inaugurated, it was revealed that Ghana’s debt burden was larger than first thought, almost scuppering his key pledges – including building one factory in every district in the country, providing free high school education and tax cuts. However, by cutting government spending and creating a business-friendly environment, the president has been making good on his election promises. The veteran leader has steadied the ship and Ghana’s economic outlook for the next year remains positive.

Ending a 30-year stalemate

Leading from the front


Justice David Maraga Fearless lawmaker

Kenya’s Chief Justice and his colleagues at the Supreme Court shook the country’s political system and struck a rare blow for judicial independence in Africa when they overturned President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in August’s disputed presidential election. In a strongly worded judgement, Maraga slammed the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which had “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution”. The decision stunned Africa, where powerful incumbents are rarely challenged in the aftermath of contentious elections. Kenyatta was declared president after a re-run, boycotted by the opposition NASA party. At the time of going to press, three petitions had been filed with the Supreme Court, two arguing the election was invalid and one accusing NASA of violating the rights of citizens. Whatever the outcome the court has laid down its mark.

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Most Influential Africans

Politics & Public Service CHAD


Sophia Abdi Noor

▼ Vanessa Moungar

Sophia Abdi Noor has made history this year by becoming the first woman from North-Eastern Kenya to be to be elected a member of parliament. For decades the region has been stuck with some of the most outdated religious and cultural traditions, where women play a subservient role to men. When the former teacher, Abdi Noor began her political campaign in 1997, the elders warned that her attitude “would lead to the decay of society”. On the campaign trail, confident of a win, she said: “I will win because people here are tired of men who only think of themselves ... People want me as their member of parliament, because I speak for Ijara [her constituency] and I speak for the millions of women who have their rights violated on a daily basis.”

In a year that saw women and youth issues dominate global debate, the July appointment of Vanessa Moungar as director of gender, women and civil society, at Africa’s leading continental financial institution – the African Development Bank (AfDB) – was apt. Prior to this appointment, the youthful trailblazer was already a respected voice on developmental issues, including as manager of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Demographic Dividend – shaping public and private policy to maximise the demographic dividend through youth and women’s empowerment. In her new role she takes on one of the Bank’s key cornerstone strategies: “Investing in Gender Equality for Africa’s Transformation”. In September, Moungar was one of 10 people appointed to French president Emmanuel Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa – formed to advise him on France’s African policy.

Breaking cultural glass ceiling

Fighter for gender equality


Vera Songwe

First female to head UNECA


Akinwumi Adesina Food for all is the goal

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has set into motion an ambitious infrastructure investment and development plan, although it has not been all plain sailing at the helm of the Bank. There have been HR challenges within the institution and Adesina will have to convince the board and the Bank’s partners to support his vision by committing to an increase in capital. Adesina came to prominence as the reforming Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Implementing bold policies on fertiliser use as well as involving the private sector, he injected new life in the sector, increasing yields and profitability many times. He is confident the changes he has made at the Bank will yield similar results. His focus on agriculture earned him the 2017 World Food Prize, for “helping Africa get it right in agriculture and making it a key player of securing food for the world.” He donated the $250,000 prize money he received to the development of African youth in agriculture.  

Vera Songwe made history this year by becoming the youngest and also first female executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Songwe’s understanding of the continent’s needs comes from nearly 20 years working for multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and International Finance Corporation. She counts Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister of Nigeria, as a close friend and mentor. Her professional experience has given this highly talented economist insights into the workings of both the public and private sectors, which should help the institution in designing relevant and effective policy advice.

“Vanessa brings much creativity and dynamism to our work at the Bank” Akinwumi Adesina (President, AfDB)

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▼ Paul Kagame

Unrelenting reformer


Moussa Faki Mahamat New broom, old problems

A seasoned diplomat and politician, Moussa Faki Mahamat left his decade-long role as Chad’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to take up the reins as chairperson of the African Union Commission in March. Since then, he has been active in raising issues of conflict resolution, economic growth and economic integration in numerous countries. His most significant challenge to date has been handling the ongoing internal AU conundrum concerning the Western Sahara, which prompted Morocco to leave the regional organisation in 1984, after a decision was taken to recognise Western Sahara’s independence. Morocco re-joined the AU earlier this year, and the issue has resurfaced in a debate over whether the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) of Western Sahara will be represented in the 5th AU-EU Summit at the end of November. At the time of going to press, the SADR said it had been invited by the AU, like other members, but host Côte d’Ivoire is understood to have disputed this. Faki will need his consummate diplomatic skills to negotiate the matter. He will also need to address the calls to make the AU and its Commission much more proactive, especially in conflict resolution, human rights abuses and ensuring the primacy of the will of the people in elections.

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Though Paul Kagame originally came to prominence by commanding the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, his legacy has been informed more by impressive decisions as president of Rwanda. As president, Kagame has prioritised national development, launching a programme to develop Rwanda as a middle-income country by 2020 (Vision 2020). Hitherto, his record when it comes to transforming the economy speaks for itself. As of 2013, the country was developing strongly on key indicators including healthcare and education; and annual growth averaged a record 8% per year between 2004 and 2010. Despite some tensions with DRC and some human rights groups, Kagame remains highly popular in Rwanda and was easily re-elected this year. His influence has spread far beyond the confines of his country as he has established himself and his nation as icons to be emulated by other African nations. He has also undertaken the Herculean task of reforming the AU’s finances, aiming to make the continental body less dependent on foreign donors. A tireless proponent of African homegrown solutions, and arguably the most effective advocate for Africa abroad.


Pravin Gordhan Pillar of integrity

Pravin Gordhan, a veteran of the liberation struggle, was perhaps the most internationally respected member of the cabinet under the Jacob Zuma administration until his shock sacking in April. With the ANC-led government, and Zuma himself, battered by allegations of corruption and “state capture”, the sacking of Gordhan, seen as Mr Clean, was the last straw and saw a rapid depreciation of the rand and an outcry from the international business community. It also split the party, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa describing it as “totally, totally, unacceptable”. The reverberations of the sacking of a man seen as a “pillar of honesty and integrity in a swamp of corruption” continue to influence political and economic debate, both in the country and outside it.

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Most Influential Africans

Politics & Public Service


Sibeth Ndiaye

Macron’s campaign champion Ndiaye was the charismatic African face seen at France’s Emmanuel Macron’s side throughout his electoral campaign for the presidency. The 38-year-old Senegalese oversaw Macron’s campaign communications and was part of his inner circle of strategists and advisors. Ndiaye grew up in Senegal before going to France to study at the age of 16. Not many would have entrusted someone relatively young and inexperienced to run the all-important communications strategy, but Macron saw in her the drive and loyalty he was looking for. She repaid his trust by running a victorious campaign. KENYA

Prof. Ruth Oniang’o

Food and nutrition champ


Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus First African to head WHO

In July this year, Ethiopian Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus became the first African to be elected director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The UN organisation has come under fire for it tardy intervention in some health crisis issues, especially the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as well as inefficiency and a top-heavy bureaucracy. Dr Ghebreyesus, a former health and foreign affairs minister in the Ethiopian government, was expected to crack the whip and made his mark by giving 60% of the top leadership positions to women. However, not all of his selections have been popular and the new directorgeneral received global criticism for appointing the controversial Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador. The appointment was rescinded soon after.

What the late Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai was to championing environmental protection, Professor Ruth Oniang’o is to food and nutrition. This year she was named a joint winner of this year’s Africa Food Prize, for her efforts in promoting the cultivation of traditional crops; something she has done in various capacities over the years. From the late 1970s she worked as an academic, becoming the first nutrition professor in Kenya, and in the 1990s she founded a rural outreach programme to support greater nutrition and food security. From 2003, as an MP, she continued her work in parliament, lending her support to legislation that promoted better nutrition, especially against the prevalent incidence of stunting. Since she left public office, Ruth has chaired the board of Sasakawa Africa; and continued to run the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, which she founded in 2001.


Bola Tinubu

Nigeria’s next president? As ex-governor of Lagos State, All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, and Buhari’s most powerful ally in southern Nigeria, Tinubu wields substantial political and economic clout. He is a staunch proponent of federalism, arguing that it will foster equity, fairness and justice – a view that helped the APC into office in 2015. Aside from politics, Tinubu is heavily involved in business. He owns Nigeria’s TV Continental, which runs TVC news and TVC entertainment channels. He has shown that he can hold his own in Nigeria’s notoriously cut-throat environment. A N150bn libel suit that he filed against Africa Independent Television (AIT), over their 2015 documentary about his life, arguing that it had been created to tarnish his reputation, was settled in his favour.

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Most Influential Africans

Business & Finance


Aliko Dangote

Indispensable African business czar Celebrating his 60th birthday in April, Aliko Dangote, known internationally simply as “Africa’s Richest Man”, continues to cement his position as the continent’s indispensable business czar. Assured of a red-carpet welcome

wherever he now sets foot, Dangote has achieved a level of influence only dreamed of by the continent’s political elite. The bedrock of this success remains Dangote Cement, the Lagos-listed firm that continues to pursue a takeover of PPC, South Africa’s largest cement maker. And he continues to make headlines through mullti-billion dollar announcements such as in energy, in agriculture or in finance. While success in business remains a priority – rice farming and oil refining projects are in the works – Dangote is increasingly unafraid to weigh in on politics. In October, Dangote criticised Tanzanian President John Magufuli for scaring away investors. Having already opened a $650m cement plant in the country, Dangote may be well placed to give “Bulldozer” Magufuli second thoughts.


Moulay Hafid Elalamy Overseeing foreign expansion

Moulay Hafid Elalamy has had great success in positioning Morocco as an important trade and logistics hub for sub-Saharan Africa. Steering Morocco’s expansion for a number of years as Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy, he looks set to foster plenty more deals for Morocco in the future. He is still the majority shareholder of insurance giant Saham, which itself is spreading its wings beyond its borders.


▼ Isabel dos Santos Coming into her own


Lionel Zinsou Mr Africa in France

The former prime minister of Benin, Lionel Zinsou, or “France’s Mr Africa,” as he is often called, continues to be a force in the business and political scene in Africa. He may not have won the presidential elections last year in his home country of Benin, but in France he is a go-to adviser on Africa for the business and political class. Since leaving his post as prime minister in Benin, he has created the Africa-France association, a new organisation that encourages partnerships between African and French companies as well as launching, alongside former AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, Southbridge – an investment and advisory firm which advises African presidents. He is one of Africa’s strongest advocates and a regular on the conference circuit.

As daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos, the recently retired long-serving president of Angola, Isabel dos Santos has often been accused of being where she is because of her family ties. There was a lot of noise and disapproval was made over her appointment as chairperson of Sonangol, the state-owned oil and gas company (the lifeblood of the Angolan economy). But in the 18 months she was at the helm, she led a formidable turnaround, reducing costs and shaving off 30% of the company’s debt, mainly through structural reforms based on three pillars: transparency, efficiency and profitability. Nevertheless Angola’s new President João Lourenço dismissed her and six other executives in a move that is seen as largely political, rather than a reflection of her abilities. She remains perhaps Africa’s richest woman with interests in several sectors as well as countries.


Mohamed El Kettani Planting flags across Africa

The King of Morocco has been courting the rest of Africa by strengthening business and economic ties and Mohamed El Kettani, CEO, Attijariwafa Bank, has been at the forefront of this process. Attijariwafa Bank has been planting its flag across the continent, with big ambitions and bold steps to advance them. El Kettani has been the biggest proponent of the African growth story and this year has launched the African Development Club, on the back of his African Development Forum, an annual event that brings together business leaders from the countries the bank does business in.

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▼ Elon Musk

An unquantifiable genius It is difficult to quantify Elon Musk or to calibrate the extent of his global influence. As an entrepreneur, his net worth in 2017 was nearly $21bn; as an inventor, he has initiated a cornucopia of projects including solar energy “cities” and space exploration projects – aside from mass producing the Tesla electric car. This year, updates of the already advanced autopilot system on new models make the car virtually drive itself. In mid-November, the all-electric Tesla truck, powered by two large battery packs and with a range of 800km, as well as advanced autopilot features, was unveiled in the US. Musk says his aim is to reduce global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption and to reduce the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars. Since 2014, he has paid himself an annual salary of one dollar, with the rest of his income in the form of stock and performance-based bonuses. Elon Musk is one of those geniuses who seem to be able to just decide to do something and then make it happen, no matter how impossible it might seem.

“This will blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension” –


Abdoullah Coulibaly

Pulling the investment strings Founder of the Bamako Forum, Abdoullah Coulibaly has been charged to organise all important events taking place in Mali, including the Mali Investment Forum, sponsored by French and multilateral organisations. This has given him unrivalled access and he has gained in influence and notoriety in Mali and also internationally. Preferring to operate outside the public glare, he has gained the trust of the president and international partners. He was the founder of the Institute of Management Studies in Mali and sits on the board of its African network. Despite him denying it, there is word that his next steps may be in the political arena.


Alioune Gueye

Building business bridges to Morocco Making the connection, French-Senegalese businessman Alioune Gueye has long been lobbying Moroccan interests in Africa and South East Asia. Considered to be close to the Makhzen, as the Royal Court is often referred to, he has been a central operator in attracting businesses from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to Morocco, and then bringing them together.

Elon Musk on Twitter last month, announcing a new innovation BENIN

Olga Johnson

Universal electrification the goal From her position as secretary general of the Energy for Africa Foundation, Olga Johnson has been working to establish universal electrification in Africa. Also a French politician, Johnson joined the foundation under France’s “Mr Green”, Jean Louis Borloo, who was very heavily involved with the Paris Climate Change Accord. Yet, rumour has it that Johnson will soon be changing tack, and is now looking to advocate a greater role for women and the private sector in Africa.

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Most Influential Africans

Business & Finance ETHIOPIA

▼ Abebe Selassie

Implementing IMF mantra


Issad Rebrab

Still steaming ahead Issad Rebrab, founder and CEO, Cevital, is arguably the “Dangote” of North Africa in terms of his boldness and his ambitions. This accountant by training may seem unassuming but he packs a punch and won’t lay low. For the past year he has been having a squabble with the Algerian government, who feel he has become too big for his boots. Already a newspaper owner, his proposed purchase of El Khabar media group was denied. In addition to issues with the authorities, there are rumours that a clear succession plan has not been defined within his organisation. But Rebrab seems unperturbed. His next dream: to connect the whole of the continent by railway. Don’t bet against him making it happen.

In an era of sluggish growth and economic challenges, investors look to the International Monetary Fund to keep African governments on their toes. The Washington-based lender – led in Africa by Ethiopian director Abebe Selassie – retains market-moving influence with its battery of economic reviews and status as lender of last resort for beleaguered economies. While far from a popular presence on the continent – countries increasingly look to China for less restrictive financial support – the IMF’s unbending principles of responsible finances, low deficits and institutional reform continue to set the economic agenda for dozens of Africa economies.


Mohammed Dewji

Pledge to create 100,000 jobs Anointed by Forbes as “Africa’s youngest billionaire”, with a net worth of some $1.1bn, the 42-year-old CEO of Tanzanian conglomerate MeTL Group is certainly not short on confidence or ambition. Already juggling interests in trading, agriculture, manufacturing, energy & petroleum, mobile and much else besides, Dewji last year pledged to invest $500m over four years to employ 100,000 Africans. Much of that is expected to be in Tanzania, where MeTL – the country’s second-largest employer – will have to carefully negotiate President John Magufuli’s erratic business climate. Having grown company revenues from $26m in 1999 to over $1.5bn, his pledge seems to be within reach.


Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

Restoring shine to the crown jewel


Strive Masiyiwa

Ready for the next battle Few entrepreneurs have had as much influence on Africa’s remarkable telecoms sector as Zimbabwean Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless. Masiyiwa’s fierce battle to break down the Zimbabwean government’s monopoly on the sector acted as a spur to sector innovation and investment across the continent. Yet as the mobile market reaches maturity and stunning growth gradually gives way to saturation, all operators face a new battle for relevance. For Econet, that means branching out into the underexploited markets for TV and broadband. Masiyiwa continues to oversee this ambitious strategy from the UK and South Africa, where he balances his time between business and philanthropic interests.

The former Exxon employee is being credited with cleaning up the notorious Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and getting production back up, thanks to his careful handling of negotiations with leaders from the Delta region, where much of the production sabotage was taking place. With the Nigerian leadership and the economy stuttering, a lot of hope is being put in his stewardship of what is the government’s main revenueearner. To date, he has courageously gone about his business, establishing order in the state-owned company. Will he be bold enough to convince the powers that be to divest some of its assets and truly transform the country’s crown jewel?

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▼ Dr Sahar Nasr

Makhtar Diop

Pulling in the investors

As Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Dr Nasr is the woman driving both domestic and international investment to and between Egypt’s international partners to spur economic growth. The former lead economist and manager at the World Bank has this year been instrumental in making Egypt attractive to foreign investors, mainly by setting up economic policy reforms and legislation that have improved the country’s business environment across crucial sectors such as agriculture and tourism. With an admirable resumé that includes writing over 60 research papers, reports and books on subjects including international finance, economic development, private sector and financial reform, as well as women’s economic and financial empowerment, Dr Nasr is a truly formidable trailblazer.

World Bank’s boss in Africa


Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais Controversial tycoon

Bastos de Morais was recently the subject of a number of reports related to the Panama Papers. The founder and CEO of Quantum Global has been accused of being too close to the Angolan elite which, it is claimed, is the reason why his group is managing 80% of the country’s sovereign wealth fund’s assets. In letters to the UK’s Guardian, he assures that everything is above board and that the fund has already seen positive returns from its investments. On the philanthropic side, Bastos de Morais has committed significant personal resources towards two initiatives, the African Innovation Foundation, which gives out annual prizes for Africa’s top innovations and also, the African Law Library, which provides free, easy access to legislation.

The time of the Washington Consensus may be over, but the World Bank retains a vibrant presence in Africa under the regional leadership of its vice-president, Makhtar Diop. The Senegalese economist drove the distribution of some $9.4bn in development funds for sub-Saharan Africa over the course of 2016 by investing in projects as diverse as food security, sustainable energy and youth employment. While no-strings-attached Chinese loans may be ever more attractive to African governments, the continent’s huge development demands mean that Diop - and his chequebook - will always be welcome visitors. “I don’t see any competition,” he says. “The needs are so massive in Africa, and there is space for everybody who wants to work with African countries on their development objectives.”


James Mworia

Set up East Africa’s largest shopping mall As MD and CEO of Centum Investments, Mworia is one of Kenya’s most high profile young business leaders. He started at Centum Investments as a junior, filing company documents and devouring their content while doing so. He was quickly promoted to Chief Investment Officer, and after briefly leaving the company, returned to head it. This straight-talking businessman has in the past year opened the largest shopping complex in East Africa: Two Rivers Mall in Nairobi, a $70m investment. He has also been active buying land in Uganda, where he hopes to develop a large-scale agricultural project. He compares Centum with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, but contrasts the way the latter can invest in companies with a good track record while in Kenya his company actually has to build them.

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Most Influential Africanss

Civil Society & Activism


▼ Haben Girma

World’s first deafblind person to graduate Harvard Law Haben Girma was born in California, US, to Eritrean mother and Ethiopian father. Deafblind since birth, she has overcome incredible odds and is hitherto the only deafblind person in the world to graduate from Harvard Law School. She has since become one of the most powerful advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities around the world. In 2017, she received the Secret Strength Award to add to the Obama Champions of Change award she received last year. Deafblindness is not just a deaf person who cannot see, or a blind person who cannot hear. The impairments increase each other’s effects, making it a much more serious disability. An inspiration to millions, she is a much sought-after public speaker – her TED talk is considered one of the highlights of the programme. She says:“Unbeknown to most employers, people with disabilities sparked the creation of many of the technologies we use today. Through my work as a disability rights lawyer, and my personal experiences as a deafblind woman, I have spent a significant amount of time studying the disability experience… employers who remove barriers from their workspaces receive benefits in the form of increased growth and innovation.”



Biram Dah Abeid

Dr Fatima Akilu

Anti-slavery hero

Biram Dah Abeid is a Mauritanian politician and advocate for the abolition of slavery. In recent years Abeid has run for president in his home nation, founded a mass anti-slavery movement and been fêted internationally for his work as an abolitionist, which includes being named in PeaceLinkLive’s list of “10 People Who Changed the World You Might Not Have Heard Of”. In Mauritania, however, Abeid’s campaigns have seen him jailed on three separate occasions. Nevertheless, he has become a hero to his supporters and a thorn in the side of those he says refuse to address the slavery issue. He remains hopeful that 2018 can see a breakthrough in generating the political will to combat slavery in Mauritania.

Rehabilitating Boko Haram victims The atrocities and abductions by Boko Haram in Nigeria are well-documented – most notably the story of the 2014 Chibok girls’ abduction, where the latest group was released in May this year. Less well documented, however, is what happens to the freed abductees, some of whom become so radicalised that they even escape back into the hands of Boko Haram. This is where Dr Fatima Akilu’s work through her organisation, the Neem Tree Foundation, becomes so critical, as it seeks to rehabilitate the freed victims back into society. It is a particularly difficult task given the lack of available resources and the very strong sense of stigma that attaches to the victims. Dr Akilu, a psychologist, provides counselling and therapy, as well as deradicalisation programmes. This year her foundation launched the “Counselling on Wheels”, a tricycle outreach programme, which takes the Neem Foundation’s services to Boko Haram survivors in the remotest parts of Northeast Nigeria, many of which are unreachable by car. It is a truly laudable effort conducted against immense odds.

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Patrick ‘PLO’ Lumumba

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

Jaha Dukureh

Boycotted primates’ meeting

Brave anti-FGM and child marriage activist

Uganda’s Archbishop Stanley Ntagali led an African boycott of the global Anglican Communion, held in Canterbury, UK, in October. The primates meeting gathers the highest ranking bishops, including archbishops, from around the world to discuss issues related to the Anglican Church. Archbishop Ntagali said he could no longer tolerate “people with an un-Biblical view of marriage”, as the Bible says that marriage must be between a man and a woman. He was joined in the boycott by archbishops from Nigeria and Kenya. The implications could be far-reaching, with other, Western churches and groups taking a different stance on same-sex marriage.

Founder of “Safe Hands For Girls” – a global movement fighting to end any form of violence against girls – Dukureh is today one of the mostrespected young campaigners against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. A survivor of both herself, she led the successful campaign that forced former President Yaya Jammeh to ban both practices. She has since won international support, including from the UN, and the Obamas are huge admirers of her work. This year, she was picked to star in the much-talked about and unprecedented, all-black 2018 celebrity Pirelli calendar. This international exposure is bound to draw further attention and support to her cause.

Powerful good leadership advocate

The former director of the Kenya AntiCorruption Commission – where he oversaw biting reforms against corruption – Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba has today become a legendary and eloquent advocate of pan-Africanism and good leadership across Africa. Widely praised for his principled stance on what Africa can be with good leadership, his commentary has become attractive fodder for aspiring politicians. A lawyer by profession, he consistently strives to use his legal knowledge to convey his message. As the 2017 Kenyan election troubles took hold, it was no surprise to see PLO involved, as a lawyer picked to defend the beleaguered electoral commission during the election-annulment and petitioning saga.


Kumi Naidoo

Building a new pan-African movement


Ikponwosa Ero

Fighting stigma of albinism The abuse and crimes committed against people with albinism in some parts of Africa makes for a sad and tragic tale that has been unaddressed for decades. In an effort to combat this, the UN’s Human Rights Council appointed Ikponwosa Ero as its Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. As a person with albinism herself, Ero has spent the last seven years pushing for the strengthening of laws and protection for persons with albinism. Ero is an international advocacy and legal officer of Under the Same Sun, an NGO focusing on albinism. She recently organised a groundbreaking workshop at the heart of the UN in Geneva to highlight key issues relating to the condition.

Naidoo is a rights activist with a background which includes having been the head of Greenpeace International. In August last year, he helped bring together over 250 activists to Arusha, Tanzania, for the launch of a new civil rights movement – Africans Rising – which adopted The Kilimanjaro Declaration condemning the plunder of Africa’s natural and mineral resources and the continued suppression of its people’s human rights. The movement is also demanding more accountability, good governance and transparency in African leadership. In May, under the theme “Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity”, and to coincide with Africa Freedom Day, Naidoo helped organise events in 42 African countries using the hashtags #AfricansRising and #25May2017 – much increasing the prominence of the movement on social media worldwide. December 2015 New African  31

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Most Influential Africans

Science, Tech & Innovation



Nunu Ntshingila

Tebello Nyokong

Nunu Ntshingila is the head of the African division of the world’s biggest social media site, Facebook. She is now working to boost Facebook’s penetration in Africa – already at 170m users, including trialling free Wi-fi for all in Kenya. Hailing from Soweto, she studied in the US before starting work in the advertising industry in South Africa. A trainee at giants Ogilvy & Mather, she worked her way up the corporate ladder to become the chair. She says that when she moved from O & M to Facebook, she had to start all over again. “It is so important to understand people - to understand the dynamics, and to always treat people with a great deal of humanity and humility,” she says.

At the forefront of Africa’s science and technology scene for some time, Nyokong is currently researching an alternative cancer treatment to chemotherapy: photo-dynamic therapy. Nyokong studied in Lesotho, then America before returning home to lecture and research at Rhodes University, South Africa. She has been a vocal supporter of women entering science-based careers, and is a holder of the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Award for Scientific Excellence.

Running Facebook Africa


Anne-Marie Imafidon

Leading African chemist


Adamu Waziri

World-class animator Nigerian Adamu Waziri has put African animation on the global map. His educational cartoon series, Bino & Fino has helped teach children around the world about African culture and geography. The series, which began life as a DVD series sold online in Nigeria, has allowed Waziri to create an animation studio that develops African content. It is comparable to programming from US giants such as Disney and Nickelodeon. The Bino & Fino series has also been translated into Portuguese for the Brazilian market, where many African descendants reside.  


Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji

Prodigious brain power

Leading the African IT wave

While most primary school students were struggling with basic arithmetic, Imafidon was already positioning herself for a bright future, passing GCSEs in mathematics and information technology at the age of just 11. She went on to study at the University of Oxford at 15,, becoming the youngest ever graduate with a master’s degree at 19. After working for Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard and Deutschebank, she co-founded a social enterprise called Stemettes, encouraging women to take up Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. She also co-founded the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls, the Outbox Incubator, and was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for her services to young women in the STEM sector.

He may be known as “the Nigerian Mark Zuckerberg invested in”, but Aboyeji, in true entrepreneur spirit, has not let this get to his head. He left Andela last year to start Flutterwave, a payment solution provider. Flutterwave reportedly processed $200m of transactions in the second half of last year. Between January and July this year, it handled $1.3bn. He was recently in the news, having raised another $40m for Andela from a number of investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. In many ways, he personifies the emerging talent that is shaping Africa’s start-up scene.

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▼ Sara Menker

Changing perception of agriculture

Sara Menker has made the understanding of issues affecting global food security her calling. Through her tech startup, Gro Intelligence, Jelani Aliyu Dr Helena Ndume she is changing the way Car designer extraordinaire Restored sight for 30,000 the world understands Aliyu is best-known as the designer of “Dr Miracle”, as she is popularly agriculture, and helping to Jelani the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car, for General known in her home country, is the (GM). unsung heroine who came to the confront some of the most Motors He has now been appointed director general world’s attention in 2015 when she was of Nigeria’s National Automotive Design and immediate global issues bestowed with the first-ever UN Nelson Development Council (NADDC). The awardwinning design genius has been chosen to Mandela Prize, awarded to those that facing the sector. drive the country’s strategy to boost local car have dedicated their lives to the service production and reduce vehicle imports. There is This year, during her of humanity. probably no better African to have at the helm The once would-be fashion designer well-received TED talk, she of implementing the strategy because of his is perhaps one the world’s most prolific extensive background gained working for GM, ophthalmologists. As 2017 draws to a offered a vision of how to one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers.     close, she has performed over 30,000 ensure food security across sight-restoring surgeries on patients in Namibia and neighbouring countries. the world. The former Remarkably, she does this for vice-president of Morgan absolutely free, using equipment and donations from institutions such as See Stanley’s Commodities International. Group has used her vast experience to provide innovative solutions to the issue of boosting food security for the whole planet.     NIGERIA


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Most Influential Africans

Science, Tech & Innovation


Yvonne Mburu

Bridging the gap in African science Scientist Yvonne Mburu is the cofounder of Med in Africa, a social enterprise that aims to facilitate global collaboration between scientists and health professionals in Africa and in the diaspora. In August, Mburu was asked to join French President Emmanuel Macron’s recently established Presidential Council for Africa. This appointment brings her one step closer to her goal of revolutionising health and science in Africa. Above all, she remains stubbornly optimistic that African expertise can and will solve Africa’s challenges.



Rebecca Enonchong She has what it ‘techs’

Cameroonian-born entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong has been at the forefront of promoting tech in Africa. Many new African tech entrepreneurs learn about the industry from Enonchong through her Twitter handle @Africatechie. This year has seen the founder of AppsTech, a global provider of business apps solutions, serving clients in more than 50 countries. She has been elected to the board of AfriLabs, a pan-African network of tech and innovation hubs. The appointment of one of Africa’s leading female tech entrepreneurs has brought a wealth of experience and contacts to AfriLabs. She has also been vocal about the internet shutdown in the English-speaking region of Cameroon.


Bozoma Saint John

Uber’s new image guru

Bozoma Saint John is no stranger to injecting a bit of class and dynamism into any situation, and has recently been enlisted by Uber to do just that. She joined the company as the first Chief Brand Officer, with a specific mandate to “change the perception of the brand” after it had suffered various scandals. Saint John is an astute businesswoman with a background in tech, and worked her way up the Apple ladder to become global head of marketing for Apple Music and iTunes. If anyone can change Uber’s image it would be her, given her impact on diversifying Silicon Valley.

Professor Yaye KèneGassama Dia Scientist of many firsts

The former Minister of Scientific Research in Senegal is co-chair of the 10-member expert panel of the African Union (AU) Commission appointed in January to advise African governments on existing and emerging technologies to foster economic development. A professor of plant biotechnology at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, Professor Yaye is highly respected and celebrated for many firsts, including her study on the utilisation of the Neem tree in the treatment and prevention of malaria. She is also the first woman to attain the level of full professor in fundamental sciences in Senegal and remains one of the few high-profile women scientists dedicated to the field in Africa today.   As a member of the Advisory Board of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and Female Education in Mathematics and Science in Africa (FEMSA), she not only promotes the education of girls in science and mathematics, but mentors young girls and encourages them to become more involved in science. Hence she brings a wealth of experience and influence to the AU’s High Level African Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET).

“As a mother of two, one of the challenges that Prof. Yaye has faced is proving that a woman can have her place in the world of science.” – Women in Science: Inspiring Stories from Africa (NASAC)

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Most Influential Africans

Photo: Bartek Szmigulski





Fred Swaniker

Noëlla Coursaris Musunka

Carlos Lopes

Africa’s educator-in-chief Fred Swaniker is Africa’s educator-in-chief, if such a title can be bestowed on anyone. He believes that the single greatest impediment to Africa’s progress is the poor education that has become the staple across the continent. This in turn leads to weak leadership, perpetuating the cycle of underdevelopment. While still a student at Stanford University in the US, he set out to change this state of affairs by raising funds from Silicon Valley contacts to launch the African Leadership Academy in South Africa in 2004. As 2017 comes to a close, well over 1,000 students, many sponsored on condition that they return to Africa after graduation, will have passed through the Academy, and 80% of graduates go on to further education at prestigious institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Princeton. He wants to expand his vision by creating a network of 25 African universities to train three million future leaders.

A decade dedicated to educating girls This year marks the 10th anniversary of Malaika, a foundation set up by the model turned philanthropist, Noëlla Coursaris Musunka. She has spent the past decade relentlessly working with the local community in the Kalebuka region of Lubumbashi, DRC, where she has built a school and has been providing free education to Congolese girls and their communities. She has also built eight wells that supply clean water to 16,000 people in the area. In 2017, Noëlla was also chosen as an Ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


Tom Ilube

Helping girls into maths and science Tom Ilube topped the recent UK Powerlist of the 100 most influential people of African or Caribbean descent. He is an entrepreneur, an educator, a “serious geek” (techie) and a philanthropist. He helped found the UK’s first online bank, Egg, the Noddle credit reference system, and is now CEO of Crossword Cybersecurity. But it is his work as an educator that most impressed the Powerlist judges, as he is the founder of the African Science Academy for girls in Ghana, a unique school for gifted children with a passion for maths and science.


Patrick Awuah Africa’s Wise man

Patrick Awuah was presented with the $ 500,000 WISE Prize for Education during the eighth World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha, Qatar, in November. He becomes the first African to win the award. Awuah left a good private sector career in the US to return to Ghana to bring about positive change within the

Clear-eyed view of African development Although the globally respected economist Carlos Lopes no longer heads up the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), he remains one of the most influential advocates for development on the continent.Now a professor of economics at the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, University of Cape Town, Lopes is a recognisable fixture at development gatherings around the world and prolific on Twitter, where he imparts his wisdom on African urbanisation, trade and technology to over 37,000 followers. Although an academic at heart, Lopes brings a fresh, holistic and clear-eyed view of how to accelerate African development and tends to eschew the traditional, theory-heavy but impractical approach favoured by many of the African academia. During his time at the ECA, he also succeeded in reaching out to the public on matters of development and transformation through his excellent relations with the press.

education sector. He established the Ashesi University in 2002 in a rented room and with only 30 students. Today, Ashesi University College has a worldclass campus of 100 acres, overlooking Accra, with nearly 900 students. He says: “I decided to create a new university in Ghana, not because of a lack of universities in my country, but a lack of universities teaching 21st-century skills. There was too much emphasis on rote learning and memorization, much less on critical or independent thinking, ethics or collaboration. At the presentation, Stavros N. Yiannouka, the CEO of WISE said: “He recognised that the tools for acquiring and interpreting knowledge are at least as important as the knowledge itself. In placing leadership at the core of his commitment, Patrick Awuah stands as a model for all of us who are dedicated to empowerment through education.” december 2017 new african  35

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Most Influential Africans


Trevor Noah

The rise and rise of the African satirist South African comedian and satirist Trevor Noah has done the “virtually impossible” – breaking into the charmed circle of American Late Night shows, which are hard to crack for Americans, let alone a hitherto unknown African. Noah is today one of the most widely recognised faces in the world. 2017 has been a special year for him. Apart from having his contract as host of the top-rating Daily Show renewed for another five years, his autobiography Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood became a bestseller. He won seven prestigious awards this year alone – including Best Host at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, an NAACP Outstanding Literary Work award and of course, the much-coveted Emmy for The Daily Show – Between the Scenes. But he totally can #dropmic.


Adedoyin Adepitan Intrepid champion

Adedoyin Adepitan was part of the gold medal-winning GB wheelchair basketball team at the 2005 Paralympic World Cup. With his affable personality, he has since become a global face following his move to TV, where he has made his name as a presenter at international sporting events, but also, presenting series like The Travel Show. He has consistently used his profile to campaign against racism and disability discrimination. SOUTH AFRICA

Khadija Patel

Keeping a finger on the pulse


Khanyi Dhlomo Media mogul with a Midas touch

As the successful founder and CEO of Ndalo Media, the 100% black-owned firm which publishes some of South Africa’s biggest titles – the magazines Destiny and Destiny Man, as well as Sawubona (South African Airways’ inflight magazine) – Dhlomo is without doubt one of South Africa’s leading media moguls. In April this year, the mother of three went one step further, acquiring the licence for both Elle South Africa and Elle Decoration magazines. It is the first time in the existence of the 71-year-old Elle media brand that it’s being published by a wholly black company. At a time when magazine revenue and circulation figures are in free-fall globally, in the first quarter of 2017, Destiny magazine, a women’s lifestyle and fashion title, recorded a circulation rise to 27,544 copies from 26,560 the previous year, according to ABC figures. This former editor must be doing something right.

A familiar figure in South African journalism, Khadija Patel has risen to the top and is now the editor of the Mail & Guardian. Previously, she was a senior reporter specialising in international relations for T he Daily Maverick. Patel is well-known for finding new ways to present news, and co-founded a digital platform, Digital Vox, in a bid to amplify the voices of young South Africans – an overdue change she introduced at the Mail & Guardian. An activist who takes pride in holding leaders to account.


Julie Gichuru

Kenya’s media diamond TV presenter Julie Gichuru is an entrepreneur with interests in the media, fashion and entertainment sectors. She is the founder and CEO of Arimus Media Limited, a production house focused on quality African content, and Mimi Holdings, a fashion retail business. She conceptualised and hosts the Africa Leadership Dialogues, a current affairs show, and is also a TV host for East Africa’s leading broadcaster, Citizen TV. She has pioneered groundbreaking programmes such as Sunday Live with Julie Gichuru, and Fist to Five for Change, which sought to bring about reconciliation to victims of Kenya’s election violence. Julie has promoted peace in what has been a politically tumultuous year in Kenya; facilitated discussions about early childhood development; and worked with Footprints Africa, the foundation she established with her husband to “empower and grow healthy, dignified and informed societies in the region”.

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▼ Edward Kobina Enninful Editor-in-Vogue

In an industry known for being notoriously white and routinely dismissive of ethnic diversity, the appointment of Edward Enninful as editor-in-chief of British Vogue in April was perhaps one of the biggest stories in the fashion world this year. For the first time in its 100-yearold history, the so-called fashion bible was thrust into the hands of a black, Ghanaian-born man. For his much-anticipated first edition – December 2017 – Enninful chose fellow Ghanaian, model Adwo Aboah as his cover star, with contributions as ethnically diverse as can be – from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Naomi Campbell and Skepta to the Hollywood director Steve McQueen and even the controversial author, Salman Rushdie!

“Enninful is an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music that shape the cultural zeitgeist.” – Jonathan Newhouse, chairman, Condé Nast International


Zeinab Badawi

Defining Africa’s heritage Zeinab Badawi, who began her career as one of a very small number of black newsreaders on mainstream UK television, has become one of the most recognisable faces on global TV. Despite the enormous respect and admiration she has garnered from the industry as well as viewers from around the world (mainly through BBC World Service TV shows), she has never lost sight of her roots in Africa or her determination to present a more positive image of the continent. Last year, her magnum opus, a project she has worked on for years, was finally completed and the magnificent nine-part history of Africa, from an African perspective, was shown by the BBC. Mary Wilkinson, head of commissioning at BBC World News, said of the series: “The History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi will be a revelation to audiences around the world. It’s an enormous, fascinating subject that deserves this sort of ambitious, in-depth treatment. Zeinab’s passion and compelling storytelling makes this a series not to be missed.”


Koos Bekker

Media giant stands firm It’s been a tricky year for relations between South African media giant Naspers and its shareholders, but chairman and former CEO Koos Bekker remains an unapologetic defender of the firm’s performance. As shareholders lined up to criticise Naspers for perceived overreliance on a $132bn stake in Tencent – the rapidly expanding Chinese internet giant which Naspers bought into at a bargain price in 2001 – Bekker stood behind a controversial pay structure and remained bullish at the AGM. In a scathing editorial, shareholders at the Raith Foundation labelled Bekker “a man who has never had to brook opposition; a man who has enjoyed unfettered control for too long.” But for them and other malcontents who want to see improvement elsewhere, Bekker has a blunt message. “Five years ago there was also a lot of unhappiness,” he told shareholders. “If we had sold then, you would have gotten HK$45, now you get HK$325.”

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Most Influential Africans

Arts & Culture


Ruth Negga

Shero rising in Hollywood The daughter of an Ethiopian doctor and Irish nurse, Ruth Negga is among the African actors and actresses making waves in Hollywood, where she links up with the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, who win a sheaf of awards, such as an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave. Playing the lead role in Loving, a story of prohibited interracial love that has historic consequences, she was nominated for the 2017 Oscar for Best Actress Award, where she was up against those such as Meryl Streep but lost out to Emma Stone (La La Land). To crown her autumn, Negga was declared Woman of The Year 2017 by Harper’s Bazaar magazine at its 150th anniversary celebrations in November. Prepare to see Negga in the much-anticipated sci-fi thriller Ad Astra, alongside Hollywood greats Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland.


C4 Pedro

King of kizomba

The Angolan musician Pedro Henriques Lisboa Santos has been riding high, with a chest-full of prizes to his name. He has been popularising the kizomba genre of music in both Africa and the West. Generally known by his stage name, C4 Pedro, he won three categories, including Best Lusophone, and Crossing Boundaries with Music, at the African Muzic Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) in October. A month later he was nominated for Best African Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards, where he lost out to Nigeria’s Davido. His hit “Love Again”, featuring Kenya’s Afro-pop band Sauti Sol, was one of biggest floor-fillers in Africa this year.


Imbolo Mbue

New author-to-watch Cameroon novelist Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, which follows a Cameroonian family navigating life in 2008 post-recession New York City, received widespread critical acclaim for its many-layered treatment of a familiar theme. In August this year, the novel was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her Book Club, thereby ensuring blockbuster sales. It entered the New York Times bestseller list and won the 2017 PEN/Faulkner Award.


Roye Okupe

An African superhero TUNISIA

As African narratives are largely omitted from the cartoon world, Roye Okupe decided to fill in the blanks, and create his own Nigerian superhero. While completing a master’s in computer science at George Washington University, US, Okupe took an animation class at the Art Institute of Washington, which led to the eventual creation of his superhero Wale Williams – a twentysomething Nigerian who suits up in high-tech armour. Unable to find any backers, Okupe founded YouNeek Studios, recruited a team of four Nigerian artists, and selfproduced his first comic book, E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams.

Dorra Bouchoucha

Championing the art of film making Producer Dorra Bouchoucha has been part of the Tunisian film fabric for many years. She is known in Tunisia for being daring, audacious and socially committed. She has also been a great supporter of the African film industry, promoting African directors internationally, and coaching and training young filmmakers, writers and producers from Africa and the Arab world. Recently she was part of the jury at the Berlin Film Festival. This was a recognition of her role as one of the leading lights in African cinema, and one loyal to the true art of film making.

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▼ Laduma Ngxokolo

Fashion inspired by his heritage Laduma Ngxokolo is perhaps one of the most innovative designers of his generation. His MaXhosa by Laduma line is not just an ordinary fashion brand – it is Xhosa culture packaged in a modern and internationally appealing way. Few of the brand’s fans know that Ngxokolo’s designs are inspired by what young initiates wear on celebrating the end of amakrwala (a Xhosa initiation ceremony into manhood). Laduma, an initiate himself, has now developed premium knitwear that celebrates traditional Xhosa aesthetics. It is winning him awards galore and a high international status. This year he won the Pride of Africa prize at the Africa Fashion Week Barcelona awards. Not many African designers have turned their cultural heritage into a respected global fashion brand at the level this young Xhosa man has achieved.

“Ngxokolo is an agent of change, shifting and evolving with the changing times and further engaging in dialogue that pushes Xhosa culture into the future.”


Alexandra Amon

Breaking the mould in French Africa’s TV industry Alexandra Amon is the first female, as well as the youngest producer, to have signed a broadcasting contract with CANAL+. BET France has secured the rights for her self-directed TV series, Boutique Hotel. This means that the series, which was written and created by Alexandra (and in which she also stars as the main character), will be broadcast on BET in more than 25 French-speaking countries around the world. She is an industry pioneer who is paving the way not only for the growth of the African film industry but also, actively assisting with the creation of more roles for women in the entertainment business.

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Most Influential Africans


Duckie Thot

From racial taunts to international stardom


Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Winner, MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship Njideka Akunyili Crosby is a Nigerianborn visual artist who lives in the US. Beyond all doubt, this has been her year. In May, a number of her works were for up for sale in prestigious New York auction houses; her paintings are now the subject of two solo museum exhibitions and she was recently named one of the 24 winners of the 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. Based in LA, she has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University School of Art and has participated in a number of prestigious group shows in the US and Europe. Her solo show Front Room: Njideka Akunyili Crosby | Counterparts at the Baltimore Museum of Art, runs until 18 March 2018 while Opener 30: Njideka Akunyili Crosby: Predecessors is on at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York, until 31 December 2017.


Sindika Dokolo

Reclaiming stolen African art Entrepreneur and art connoisseur Sindika Dokolo has had a tremendous influence globally in promoting African art. He has been an avid collector of exceptional African art pieces and is reputed to have a cache of around 3,000 objects. His major impact, in addition to showcasing African art in major galleries and exhibitions around the world through his foundation, lies in his campaign to return African art objects “stolen during the colonial period” back to the continent. “Works that used to be clearly in African museums must absolutely return to Africa,” he says. With the support of an international team, he has forced a number of Western art galleries to comply. His other mission, as he told New African, is that “contemporary African art should be accessible to Africans and impact their lives”. He also wants to make art relevant “not only for what was produced, but also for the place of art in society – for that is how we define artists and works, how we live art”.

As a fledgling model and as the only black-skinned contestant on Australia’s Next Top Model show three years ago, Nyadak “Duckie” Thot was teased for her dark skin and hair, experiences she has openly shared in the media. But steadily and bravely, she rose above the pull-her-down taunts to become one of the most recognised and inspirational black faces in her industry. She is clocking off 2017 with some of the world’s most envied fashion gigs including landing a spot in Pirelli 2018 – the world’s most famous calendar – alongside Naomi Campbell, Adwoa Aboah, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Whoopi Goldberg, and Lupita Nyong’o. She is also singing superstar Rihanna’s muse for her highly acclaimed Fenty Beauty range launched in October.


Idris Elba

The blockbuster king Established as one of the most recognisable and well-liked celebrities today, Idris Elba has come a long way since his breakthrough role in TV series The Wire. With an acting repertoire that extends from drama to comedy, Elba can be seen in the 2017 releases The Mountain Between Us and The Dark Tower. Three of his four films this year have already been tipped for global commercial success. As someone from a demographic that is often faced with overwhelming challenges when it comes to achieving success, Elba takes tremendous pride in helping the next generation of underprivileged inner-city youth who aspire to be actors.

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▼ Wizkid

His Afro-beat goes on and on...

The prolific awards-winner and Afrobeat sensation the world has come to love has done it again this year – bagging his second Adwoa Aboah BET Award for Best Model of the moment International Act: Africa in This month, Adwoa Aboah is the cover star of the “new” British Vogue – without doubt the Los Angeles. most anticipated fashion magazine cover of recent years. Its new editor, Edward Kobina A month later, Wizkid Enninful (see page 37) made it clear from (real name Ayodeji Ibrahim the outset that he would be pushing for more inclusiveness in the iconic and hitherto, Balogun) released his third diversity-shy fashion magazine. With Aboah for his debut cover, he has lived studio album, Sounds up to his clarion call and made a promising The award-winning Aboah, born to a from the Other Side, which start. Ghanaian father and English mother, is by the most famous model of 2017 – not just features collaborations with far for her modelling, but also for her activism, her popular online platform Gurls some famous names such through Talk, which empowers and encourages selfas Chris Brown, Drake, Trey acceptance among young black girls. Songz and Ghanaian star, Efya. GHANA/UK

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Feminist and global icon

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has emerged as not only perhaps the most outstanding contemporary African writer, but has also become hugely influential as a creative icon and thoughtleader, both among her legion of fans in Africa and globally. Her mantra “We Should all be Feminists” has become a global rallying cry for gender equality. This year, the French high fashion brand Dior even released a $710 t-shirt emblazoned with the saying – it was one of the favourite celebrity fashion items of the 2017 summer. In order to attract attention to Nigerian fashion, the author only wore and promoted Nigerian designers throughout 2017. The year also saw the release of Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – which was hailed critically. The book is an extended version of a letter Adichie wrote to a friend who, after having a baby girl, asked for advice on how to raise her daughter to be feminist. This year also saw Adichie in the “most influential people” lists in magazines including Time, The New York Times Style Magazine, and Glamour Magazine, in their Women of the Year awards.

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Most Influential Africans

Arts & Culture SOMALIA

▼ Halima Aden First hijab-wearing international model



Calling out sexism in music industry Tinashe, born in the US with Zimbabwean parentage, made made headlines this year when she called out the sexism and racism in the American music industry. A former backing singer for the likes of Britney Spears, Tinashe has enjoyed success in her own right, releasing two albums and touring with superstars Katy Perry and Maroon 5. But while Tinashe has accomplished a great deal, she still does not shy away from being vocal about the injustices facing black female artists. SUDAN

Bushra al-Fadil

Winner of 2017 Caine Prize Bushra al-Fadil has won the £10,000 Caine Prize for African Writing – considered the leading literary award in Africa for short stories. “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” is also part of a collection, The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction. The story vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion. The chair of the judging panel, Nii Ayikwei Parkes said: “ ‘The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away’ is a very modern exploration of how, assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace, we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”


Diébédo Francis Kéré Architect of dreams

Earlier this year, a temporary pavilion in the grounds of London’s famous Serpentine Gallery, designed by Burkinabé Francis Kéré, was given a lavish opening and generated a crescendo of plaudits from critics. Every year the gallery invites one outstanding global architect to design the pavilion; an honour and a privilege that is very keenly sought after the world over. This was the first time that an African was chosen. Kéré, who runs his own architecture firm from Berlin, is among a handful of globally outstanding architects, like David Adjaye, Kunlé Adeyemi, Mokena Makeka and Mphethi Morojele, but none of them have backgrounds that are rural or indeed traditional. Kéré’s unique and extraordinary achievement is to negotiate both worlds – the global and the indigenous. He recalls that the school he went to in his home country was hot and dark inside and he started thinking about how it could be designed better. Thus began his extraordinary career and indeed, after qualification, he returned to design the Gando School in 2001. The project won the Aga Khan Award for architecture. Kéré combined traditional styles and colours, such as indigo, with the best contemporary designs to produce outstanding buildings that functioned at several levels – setting into motion a trend that is gaining ground among architects around the world.

Halima Aden is the first hijab-wearing model to stride on international runways, thus breaking yet another Western taboo, about Islamic headwear. But the story of how she ended up as a queen of the runway is itself extraordinary. She was born in the world’s then largest refugee camp, Kakuma, in Kenya after her family had fled war in their native Somalia. After seven years in the camp, she was relocated to St. Louis in the US and immediately thrust into the unfamiliar world of schooling. She hardly spoke any English, but amazingly, she soon not only caught up but began to surpass her schoolmates. Despite constant social pressure, she continued to wear her hijab as demanded by her Muslim faith. In 2016, she became the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a burkini and hijab. She was signed up by IMG Models and in February this year, made her debut at the New York Fashion Week. She has modelled for such renowned designers and fashion labels as Max Mara, and Alberta Ferretti. Mid-year, she also became the first hijabwearing cover star for Vogue Arabia and Allure magazine.

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▼ Triplets Ghetto


Raw, world-conquering talent The Triplets Ghetto Kids first caught the attention of many African YouTube viewers when they featured in the 2014 Eddie Kenzo smash hit “Sitya Loss”, which has currently logged 21.6 million views (and counting). Today, Ada, Patricia, Kokode, Nyangoma, Fred, Isaac, Ronnie, Manking, Ashley and the late Alex are a global phenomenon. But this year has been truly special for the kids from the streets of Kampala. They have helped catapult the Moroccan-US rapper French Montana to his first ever number 1 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Billboard chart, for “Unforgettable”, in which they feature. They later performed with him at the BET Awards and toured America. The TGK, as they are now known, have concluded 2017 with a cover feature in Vibes magazine and the news that they will perform at next year’s prestigious Grammy Awards.

“These kids dance better than Chris Brown” – French Montana


Porky Hefer

Designing with ethical conscience Porky Hefer is perhaps one of Africa’s most innovative designers. His human-scale nests and living pods are both fantasy world and furniture – beautifully crafted, functional yet alive; somehow evocative of the wilderness. A staunch environmentalist, and fascinated by the weaver bird, Hefer’s life-size nests, woven with Kooboo Cane, are a result of his in-depth study into this social bird’s nestbuilding skills. Making use of traditional techniques and crafts that focus on the hand rather than machinery, he ensures that age-old skills are preserved and kept relevant in a modern era. His designs have become much-loved fixtures on the global design circuit. A recipient of the 2013 Design Foundation Icon Award, this year Hefer represented South Africa at the inaugural London Design Biennale, as well as having a solo show at R & Company in New York in January. His “Fiona Blackfish”, which formed part of the show, was acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria and is the first museum acquisition in the field of collectible South African design.

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▼ Anthony Joshua

Top of the heavyweight world

Since making the decision to become a professional boxer, after winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics, Anthony Joshua’s exploits in the ring have been exceptional. He boasts a perfect record so far, having won all 20 of his 20 professional fights. Some of his opponents have included boxing heavy-hitters like Eric Molina and Wladimir Klitschko.


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He is currently a unified world heavyweight champion, having held the IBF title since 2016, and the WBA (Super) and IBO titles Mo Salah since April 2017. The toast of the Pharaohs Joshua is a strong Following a phenomenal season with Italian proponent of the benefits football club Roma, 2017 saw Mohamed Salah become Liverpool FC’s biggest signing of the of African food to help summer. In his second spell at the highest tier football, Salah posted one of the him maintain his strength, ofbestEnglish starts in Premier League history, with 10 goals in 16 appearances for his new club. But his and has even suggested crowning moment this year must undoubtedly be the 95th-minute penalty he had to convert to that regular enjoyment of take Egypt to the 2018 World Cup, the first time the team has made it since 1990. The hopes of Nigerian food may be the 90 million Egyptians rested on his shoulders and he delivered. secret to his success. EGYPT


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▼ Mo Farah

Crowning year for Sir Mo One of the all-time greats of middle and long-distance running, Mo Farah retired from the track after once again winning a World Championships gold medal in the 10,000m, aside from the silver in a hardfought 5,000m. He also won the 5,000m in the Diamond League and the Great North Run for the fourth consecutive time. His fabulous year was topped off with a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth ll. This brought an end to a great career, which included two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, and a successful defence of both medals four years later at the Rio Olympics. This puts him in select company with the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. The last six years saw the Brit, who was originally born in Gabiley, Somaliland, redefine the 5,000 and 10,000m races, routinely beating household names like Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop. Farah’s new desire is to become as fine a marathon runner as he was on the track. Do not be surprised if you see the MoBot on the marathon circuit.


Caster Semenya

Storming back to gold South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya has had one of the most unique experiences as a female athlete. Having beaten her previous 800m best by four seconds at the 2009 African Junior Championships, and following her victory in the 800m at the World Championships in 2009, her speedy improvements came under scrutiny and questions were raised about her gender. The combination of her rapid athletic progression and her appearance culminated in the International Association of Athletics

Federations asking her to take a sex verification test to ascertain whether she was female. Overcoming the prejudices she faced from the media as well as her competitors, Semenya won the 800m gold medal at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, taking the bronze in the 1,500m. Semenya has described the ordeal as “one of the most embarrassing of her life”, and has subsequently worked to raise awareness of hyperandrogenism – or high natural testosterone levels – in women, to stop others facing similar barriers.


Eniola Aluko

Exposed darker side of the UK FA With electrifying speed as a forward, Eniola Aluko has long been the scourge of defenders and is unquestionably one of the standout players in women’s professional football. However, it has been her off-field activities that have garnered her the most attention in 2017. Aluko was instrumental in the English FA’s decision to part ways with the long-time

women’s football national head coach, Mark Sampson, after it emerged that he had made racist and inappropriate comments about her colour and Nigerian heritage. A former student of law, Aluko was unfazed during testimony hearings in the House of Commons and the FA eventually helped to reveal the darker side of the beautiful game.

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Most Influential Africans



Elijah Manangoi


Wayde van Niekerk

A switch that worked wonders

World record holder

At the age of 24, Elijah Manangoi is already turning heads over his middle distance performances. Hailing from a country which consistently produces some of the world’s best athletes, including the likes of Brimin Kipruto, Asbel Kiprop and Timothy Kiptanui, Manangoi has big running shoes to fill. Quickly making his mark, Manangoi came second in the 1,500m at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China, but it was not until earlier this year that the young athlete really came into his own, taking gold at the World Championships in London in 3:33.61. Manangoi’s story seems all the more remarkable when considering that until 2014, he ran the 400m. In fact, he was one of Kenya’s finest 400m exponents at the time, and it was only when he realised his natural ability during endurance training, that he persuaded his coach to make the shift to 1,500m. Now going from strength to strength, Manangoi is one to watch on the track.

South African track and field sprinter, Wayde van Niekerk, is considered by many as the one to beat, being the only sprinter in history to have run the 100m in under 10 seconds, the 200m in under 20 seconds and the 400m in under 44 seconds. The 400m is Van Niekerk’s main event, holding the world record at 43.03, winning gold at the Rio Olympic Games, and also at the Beijing and London World Championships. Unfortunately, at 25 years old, he has been forced to pull out of the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia due to a knee injury, but is expected to make a return late next year. Despite this setback, he has made the shortlist for the prestigious IAAF World Athlete of the Year award, due to his electric performances in the London World Championships, and goes into the final round against Great Britain’s Mo Farah and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim.


Asisat Oshoala

Women’s football royalty A household name in women’s football, 23-year-old Oshoala stands out as one of Africa’s most successful female footballers. Oshoala has previously been named the BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the Year, the African Women’s Player of the Year – twice – and most recently, the top goal scorer in the Chinese Women’s League. Having played at Liverpool Ladies from 2015 to 2017, Oshoala now plays her football for the Chinese club Dalian Quanjian, where the she scored 12 goals this season. However, Oshoala still puts in a solid performance for her national team, the Super Falcons, and was named the top goal scorer in the 2014 African Women’s Championship, which the Falcons won. For her contribution, she was made a Member of the Order of Niger by then-President Goodluck Jonathan.


Hellen Obiri

Going the distance Kenyan middle distance runner Hellen Obiri has been carving out her 5,000m niche by warding off all competition to win this year’s World Championships in London. The medal marks Obiri’s first major gold after narrowly missing out at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Buoyed by this success, the Kenyan has now set her sights on the world 5,000m record. The current record is held by Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba at 14:11.15 – well in striking distance of Obiri, who ran 14:18.37 this year in Rome. Indeed, Obiri’s time is ranked fifth overall fastest in the world, and looks like being improved in the future. Further plans include recapturing the World Indoor 3,000m title, which she won in 2011, and aiming for a 10,000m gold at the Commonwealth Games.

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▼ Faith Kipyegon The runner with the Midas touch

If there’s a 1,500m race to be contested it’s likely that Faith Kipyegon has already taken gold. Kipyegon took gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and this year strengthened her ascendancy by winning at the World Championships in London, becoming only the third woman in history to secure both titles. Pacing onto the scene at the 2011 World Cross Country Championships, the Kenyan was widely tipped for senior stardom on the track and to date she has not disappointed. Aside from incredible athletic ability, Kipyegon has joined forces with former European 800m champion Bram Som as coach, making a force to be reckoned with. Looking towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kipyegon is considering running the 5,000m as well as the 1,500m and has revealed that she has long-term marathon-running ambitions.

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Kagiso Rabada

World’s most feared bowler Few players in international cricket history have made such an explosive impact on the game in such a short time as South Africa’s 22-year-old fast bowler, Kagiso Rabada. KG, as he is popularly known, one of the small handful of black players to make the national side, silenced sceptics who had suggested his selection was due to the country’s “quota system” when, after making his debut in 2014, he tore through some of the world’s most formidable batting line-ups to emerge as perhaps the most feared bowler in modern times. Over a very short career so far, he has

already collected 102 Test scalps and 70 One Day International wickets, and in 2016, broke all national records by winning six Cricket South Africa awards. The quietly spoken bowler has also made it clear that he will not be fazed by the sledging tactics employed by some national sides to undermine a player’s confidence. By standing up, he has won admirers around the world. In 2017, his influence not only on the sport but on young black people everywhere, was enormous. His dignity, discipline and outstanding achievements have made him the new model for millions to emulate.

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The real history of Africa, including South Africa’s liberation struggle, resides in the stories of the people who helped shape that history. But these stories, often transmitted in fragile oral form, are in danger of being swept away unless preserved and protected, which an exciting project in South Africa has set out to achieve.

Preserving history for posterity


he seed of the idea of what has now developed into the African Oral History Archive (AOHA) was laid seven years ago when my son, who was at school at the time, said: “Dad, tell me about apartheid.” My immediate reaction was one of disbelief; I wondered how this child was unaware of the struggle and where we as South Africans had come from. How can he not understand the impact of apartheid? I asked myself. But on reflection, I realised that being born in 1994, he would have no real understanding of this history. It was not part of his sphere of reference. I also realised that many of his generation, and those perhaps older, were in the same boat. As so often happens, the concerns of day-to-day life and events tend to overshadow the past and significant aspects of history, so essential to understanding the present, often slip away and are relegated to dusty academia. I was, and am, convinced that in order to better understand our history, for people of my son’s generation, it’s not as much about place and events as it is about people. What really struck me was that in South Africa, we had a very limited

window of opportunity to capture the history of the struggle and constructive engagement through the real stories of people and the unique personalities that made the history. To make up this shortfall, made obvious to me by my son’s question, we founded the AOHA as one of the key programmes of my foundation, the Ichikowitz Family Foundation. The Foundation commits resources to the kind of active citizenry that champions the preservation of our heritage, the conservation of our environment, the education of our people, and actively promotes nation building. We started the AOHA with gusto, knowing we had limited time before some of the history-makers passed on. Much of our history was politically sensitive, or considered subversive; some of it has remained hidden, even forgotten. So AOHA was created as a global effort to record and showcase both the continent’s acclaimed and unknown historymakers, giving unprecedented access to all those who were at the heart of events that shaped South Africa and Africa’s modern history. These narratives are the entry points for us, young and old, to

SPE A K ERS’ CORNER Ivor Ichikowitz*

embark on the journey to know our past.

Original testimony

In a South African context, we now have probably one of the largest libraries of original testimony from the players and also the luminaries who were involved in the struggle; and not just from one side, not just from the African National Congress or the apartheid regime. We believe that we should be gathering perspectives from everybody that was involved in shaping our history. This includes stories from external forces such as the Americans and Cubans, and ranges from the perspectives of presidents and political elites to those of soldiers, as well as, for example, the mothers of activists. It’s become a passion for me and I think, irrespective of our politics today, those of us who have lived through liberation struggles and other conflicts across Africa have an obligation to ensure that we contribute to the continent’s future by preserving its rich history for future generations. It has developed into a fascinating project, as part of which, many untold stories have been uncovered. For example, one such

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story, which we have turned into an acclaimed documentary currently screening in Tunisia, examines the critical role that the “Frontline States”, namely Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe played in South Africa’s liberation struggle. We interviewed African leaders such as Joachim Chissano, Sir Ketumile Masire, Thabo Mbeki and Denis Sassou Nguesso, as well as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, all of whom reveal why the Frontline

The project has uncovered many untold stories. Leaders reveal why the Frontline States put themselves in danger for S. Africa’s liberation struggle.

States put themselves in harm’s way for South Africa’s liberation struggle. It is a proud African story of unity against oppression and an important history lesson for the continent’s future leaders.

Vivid and interactive

The rich and extraordinary content has enabled us to develop educational packages for schools, broadcast documentaries, books, feature films, art collections, the performing arts and dialogue forums, to bring Africa’s history alive in a vivid and interactive manner. But the archive is not just about preserving Africa’s modern history, it’s also a tool to encourage debate and dialogue around current issues

‘Farewell Madiba’, depicting Mandela’s journey from militant campaigner to global peace icon. It was part of a series of superrealistic drawings on display in the Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s “It’s a Fine Line” multi-media exhibition, held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. The exhibition brought key moments in South Africa’s liberation history to life

that are shaping our future. It’s a tool to promote democratic values and good citizenship. Today, the challenges of being a responsible, effective citizen are more diverse, nuanced and complex than in the past. Sustaining democracies, strengthening economic competitiveness and meeting local, national and global challenges demands a broader vision of citizenship for the 21st century. In view of this, my foundation launched the hashtag #IamConstitution – a nationwide awareness and educational drive in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic constitution. #IamConstitution encourages citizens to celebrate one of the greatest achievements of South Africa’s democracy by reading, embracing and choosing to live by the constitution. Millions of South Africans were touched by the campaign, which included innovative art forms, such as beatboxing (a form of vocal percussion), fine art, sand sculptures, graffiti and mural walls, drama performances, heritage tours, and an award-winning TV series, in order to reach the widest possible audience. It is our objective to expand the reach of the AOHA from Southern Africa to the rest of Africa, capturing more inspirational stories, and sharing them in innovative ways that have lasting educational value, so as to provide strong examples of how we can all be good citizens by creating positive economic, political, and social change. One day, when we are all gone, students and researchers, as well as ordinary Africans, will hopefully be able to get to know the individuals who shaped the most important historic moments in Africa and make up their own minds about them – at a human level. In the words of Spanish philosopher and poet, George Santayana: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ NA

*Ivor is an African industrialist and philanthropist. He is the Founder and Chairman of The Ichikowitz Family Foundation.

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We are living in a world that is dynamic and technologically driven. Yet, our institutions of higher learning are still using methods that prepare their students for a time that has long gone. We need to look closer at not only what our young people learn, but how we teach them as well.


Time to modernise


ight centuries ago, the fabled Emperor of the Mali Empire, Mansa Musa, built the sprawling Sankoré quarter. During his reign, the area, with its mosques, established itself throughout the known world as an important centre of learning in the merchant settlement of Timbuktu. At its peak, it functioned as the largest university in the known world, with close to 25,000 students, a quarter of the city’s population. Although the Koran formed the bedrock of its learning tradition, scholarship was also offered in astronomy, law, maths, geography and the languages of the Sahel. Sankoré offered four levels of education, similar to the hierarchy of degrees we have today. Scholars would progress from a BA-style degree to pass through two graduate levels, the MAs and PhDs of their time, to a final postdoctoral level known as the “circle of knowledge”. The primary objective of the Sankoré education was scholarship and not vocation. Eventually students who completed the first three degree levels could become judges, professors, or priests and were highly valued as educated citizens. However, only those admitted into the circle of knowledge would

have the opportunity to rise to prominence and become learned advisors to the kings of empire. Teaching at Sankoré was ingeniously appropriate for the world it occupied. At the lower levels, lessons were conducted by a single professor, or sheikh, in the form of an oral recital. Students would take down the lesson, in text known as silsila, and read it back to the sheikh in order to commit it to memory. At the graduate levels, students would return to their silsila and argue the concepts within, building vast research volumes as a result. These volumes formed part of a larger writing tradition that produced millions of manuscripts which eventually became a currency of their own. In fact, the Timbuktu manuscripts were some of the most prized commodities of their day – more dear than gold or livestock. If this sounds familiar, it is because it is an earlier iteration of our contemporary higher education system. It was appropriate for Mali, and indeed the ancient world at large, because knowledge was scarce and the purpose of education was to arm its holders with as much of it as possible. This model was a precursor of universities founded later like the University of Bologna in Italy, which

opened its doors in 1088, and this model has largely continued to drive scholarship over the years. Given that a lot of these early institutions were founded as a means of religious education, methods of teaching were not very far from traditional liturgy. A learned member of the institution would pass on a culture of ideas, schools of thought and miscellaneous knowledge through speech. Scholars who memorised, and sometimes wrote down, these teachings would aspire to be as learned as their tutors, to become individual catalogues of information, continuing the tradition by concentrating great knowledge within themselves. This gave rise to pedagogy that centred teaching around concepts and ideas “just in case” scholars would require them for later use. There was a societal imperative for this because there was a relatively small pool able to join full-time education and the world at the time did not rely as much on literacy as it did on labour-intensive activity.

Knowledge on demand

After the development of the printing press in the 15th century, knowledge became more democratised, forming the basis for mass media and open-

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ing up more avenues to education. Texts like the manuscripts of Timbuktu became more ubiquitous and literacy levels rose. Unfortunately, this innovation only reinforced the “just in case” model. While knowledge had become more accessible, it was still constrained by geography. One had to travel to a physical library at a physical university, or locate a bookseller to access specific volumes of information. Thus, accumulating information remained a tradition of our education systems and was never truly replaced with an alternative. We are now living in a moment in history where information is ubiquitous. The advent of the internet age in the last three decades has given

Men resting from restoration work on the Mosque of Sankoré, around which the renowned “University of Sankoré” established itself in the 16th century

us access to entire libraries at the click of a button. There are several authorities we can borrow knowledge from and there are multiple sources we can use to confirm the legitimacy of information. We can acquire, produce and disseminate information at an unprecedented scale and speed now. There is less reliance on an intermediary to study new or foreign concepts. Anyone willing to learn does not have to travel far or even travel at all. This is a time of “knowledge on demand”, where the prerogative to store catalogues of scholarship in our minds should be obsolete. This era opens up entirely new possibilities for education. This imperative for innovation is particularly acute

Technology has provided the opportunity to remove learning from the old domain of the lecture hall and to make it a far more interactive, holistic, social and continuous experience.

in Africa, where we face massive resource constraints because our education systems exist in a paradigm that is no longer applicable. Teaching at African universities has relied for too long on the scholarly professor orating to packed lecture halls. PhDs on the continent, a scarce resource in themselves, would be required in far larger numbers to enable these institutions to meet the demands of a rapidly growing youth population. In Africa, we cannot continue with the prevailing teaching model. There is a real opportunity to distribute the responsibilities of teaching to a variety of actors. Peer-to-peer learning has been proven to be particularly effective because if student A has to teach something to student B, it enables student A to understand the concept much better themselves. Industry experts, retired professionals, research staff and learning facilitators (not necessarily with PhDs) can all contribute to learning. As can internship experiences with organisations. The idea is to remove learning from the domain of the lecture hall and to make it a far more interactive, social, holistic, and continuous experience that is applied to the real world as much as possible and is as relevant as possible to the student.

Learning how to learn

Our entire world evolves at the speed of technology. We have a unique opportunity to leverage it in rethinking our education models as well. With technology, students can interact with the subject matter in real time and through a variety of sources and media. Technology also has tremendous potential for students to personalise their learning – choosing courses from various universities with the best content, and not being constrained to the limited (and often badly taught) content at their particular university. Technology enables students to take ownership of their own education. The idea is to build a culture of scholarly independence, to enable students to “learn how to learn” versus simply memorising facts and figures, as was the case in the past. NA

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TALKING BUSINESS With over 600m people in Africa without access to electricity, governments have been struggling to meet development targets. But with the US recently relaxing its opposition to the use of coal to provide power, fortunes could change for a continent that is sitting on 50bn tonnes of reserves. Desmond Davies looks at the prospects of this new development.

Trump ruling a boon for African coal


n July, the US Treasury, under pressure from President Donald Trump, announced that it would relax its opposition to Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) funding the building of coal-fuelled power plants worldwide. The Treasury said it would like to see MDBs such as the World Bank helping countries to access fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently, to provide much-needed power that would aid socio-economic development. This decision was welcomed by African countries, not least because over 600m Africans do not have access to electricity on the continent. The economic reality of this is stark: “Africa loses up to 4% of its annual gross domestic product from energy bottlenecks and inefficiencies, while 645m people in Africa have no access to electricity; 137 years after the invention of the light bulb,” noted the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Africa has the lowest electrification rate in the world, with the lowest power consumption per capita, estimated at 613 kWh per annum, compared to 6,500 kWh in Europe and 13,000 kWh in the US. Therefore, African countries are calling for the chance to make use of the 50bn tons of coal reserves on the continent, to

provide access to electricity for more people while making use of clean technology. When former US President Barack Obama launched his administration’s Power Africa Initiative in 2013, to add more than 30,000MW of electricity generation to the continent, it was well received. But his administration soon came up with guidelines under the US Climate Action Plan that stopped American funding for coal projects abroad. So, the MDBs that had been funding such projects had to rethink their policy. In Africa, power shortages are the bane of economic development

US President Donald Trump in a hard hat, delivering the news about the US’s change of approach in regard to MDB funding for coal power projects abroad

and poverty reduction. “There’s never been a country that has developed with intermittent power,” Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, has said. The Bank’s figures show that of the 600m people lifted out of poverty in the last 30 years, almost all are in China. In the rest of the developing world the levels of poverty alleviation have been negligible. Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, is keen for the country to make use of its coal reserves. “We have an existential need for power in this country and we have to do something about it, and we can get power from coal which we have in abundance,” he said recently. In Nigeria, 98m people are without electricity while 65% of schools in the country lack access to power, according to the UN. As a result, Nigerian school children could not be guaranteed an education involving technology. The UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, told a recent education conference: “The facts have shown that students who have access to electricity have been confirmed to perform better because they have access to modern facilities.”

Coal for breathing space The Kenyan government is planning a 1050MW coal plant, to be co-funded by the AfDB, as

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part of its plan to provide electricity to 95% of the population by 2020. “Coal will give us some breathing space,” said Richard Muiru, an advisor at the country’s energy ministry. “We see it as a shot in the arm as we continue to develop our renewables.” The Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum, Charles Keter, said recently: “Given that Kenya requires over 30GW to be an industrialised nation, we require all kinds of sources of power.” African governments have pointed out that the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) places development first when it states: “Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priority of the developing country partner.” But climate change activists have been clamouring for less use of fossil fuels for energy provision and more use of renewables on the grounds that the former cause emissions that are detrimental to the environment. However, technical advances have meant that today, the production of coal is less hazardous environmentally. The World Coal Association (WCA) says that the new carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) technology can capture up to 90% of CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing the CO2 from entering the atmosphere. The AfDB, of which the US is a member, where it has the second largest voting power after Nigeria, approved $1.7bn in 2016 for power projects, ranging from policy-based operations to power generation, public sector transmission and distribution projects. Adesina called on the West to recognise that Africa needed to take a pragmatic approach to energy access. Speaking during the launch of the Japan-Africa Energy Initiative in Addis Ababa, he said: “Africa must develop its energy sector with what it has. Endowed with many different energy sources – both renewable and conventional – Africa needs a balanced energy mix. This must include renewable and conventional sources of

power for lighting and heating homes, for cooking, for schools and hospitals, and for powering offices, manufacturing plants and factories.”

Clean coal technologies

He said that many African leaders had shown “keen interest in accessing Japan’s world-renowned energy technologies, including its ultra-supercritical clean coal technologies”. He added: “Japan has answered our call to make it easier for African governments to adopt a balanced energy mix of all available energy sources and technologies, including the best low-emitting clean coal technologies, where they form part of a least-cost sector development plan.”

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Africa Progress Panel, has also backed the use of fossil fuels to bridge Africa’s huge energy gap. “What we are advocating is that African governments harness every available energy option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient manner as possible, so that no one is left behind,” Annan said. “Each country needs to decide on the most cost-effective, technologically efficient energy mix that works best for its own needs. Governments and their partners need to seize the opportunity to re-imagine their energy futures. Africa’s energy deficit continues to stifle economic growth, job creation, agricultural transformation, and improvements in health and education,” Annan added. The Paris Agreement on

New technology means that up to 90% of CO2 emissions caused by the use of fossil fuels like coal, can be prevented from entering the atmosphere

climate change, which came into effect last year, calls for countries to act to achieve low emission targets. Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria have included low emission coal technology in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are the foundation of the Agreement. In implementing the Agreement reached in Marrakesh, it was agreed that there was an important need for technology transfer and financial support for low emission coal technologies. South Africa’s coal industry has been providing low-cost coal-fired electricity for energy-intensive mining and heavy industry, and the government is planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2025, while the Department of Energy aims to achieve 30% clean energy by the same time. In September, the country’s electricity provider, Eskom, using GE’s Steam Power System’s UltraSupercritical technology, launched one of the most efficient coal-fired power plants on the continent, Kusile Unit 1. Its air quality control system is the first of its kind in Africa, guaranteeing the cleanest and most environmentally friendly coal power processing, according to GE. Ultra-Supercritical power generation technology has achieved 47.5% efficiency in the world’s most efficient coal power plant in Germany, well above the global average of 33%, GE notes. It adds that each percentage point improvement in efficiency is significant, as each point reduces CO2 emissions from coal power plants by 2%. This coal debate is coming at a time when pressure is mounting on African national oil companies to balance their books, as prices continue to tumble. An analysis released last month by PwC warned: “African countries that have for decades depended on their national oil company as a key source of revenue will need to rethink business models and strategies to avoid being captive to a single energy source and to allow them to rebalance budgets.”  NA december 2017 new african  53

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A few years ago, Spain’s prime minister made a disparaging comparison between his country and Uganda. Now the wheels have turned full circle as Catalonia has opted to leave the nation and strong-arm tactics are being deployed. How would the Western media have covered this event, had it taken place in Africa?


If Spain were Uganda


ay back in 2012 (how the internet remembers to make us forget...), the Spanish Prime Minister sent his now infamous “Spain is not Uganda” sms message to his finance minister. It was intended as a pep talk for a man he was sending abroad to do what previously only African finance ministers and their president bosses had done best: beg for cash to bail out a tanking economy. His point was that just because Spain was now doing what African countries did, it should not accept the kind of treatment Africans normally get – hence, “Spain is not Uganda”. The storm came and went. Now Prime Minister Rajoy is caught up in far more serious set of problems: Catalonia, a very productive region, is now saying it is “not Spain”. You will recall that the Catalonia regional government organised a referendum in which the population of the region was asked whether or not they wished to become independent from Spain. Having called the referendum illegal, Rajoy also had to show he meant business by sending in hordes of police from elsewhere. Amid a lot of demonstrations, police beatings and anger, some “guerilla voting” took place.

The regional government then claimed victory, and declared independence in early November. The Catalonian authorities asked for talks with Spain but Rajoy has instead opted to take direct control of the region, and has basically overthrown its government. The leader of the movement, Carles Puigdemont and several of his cabinet had fled to Belgium to avoid sedition charges. If this is not “Uganda”, then it should be. At this rate, the African Union may have to mail Spain some membership application documents. But of course, the news coverage over this issue in the Western media is very different from the approach they would have adopted, had they been talking about an African country.

Three tips

Let me therefore offer three tips to the Western media on what their approach should be in reporting the events in Spain as if it were Uganda. First Catalans must be described as a “tribe”, their motives unknowable, and their history described in only the vaguest of terms. The fact that quite a few of them are not necessarily in support of the secession idea should be drowned out by assertions of a blind termite-like

Carles Puigdemont (centre right), president of the Catalonian government, among a crowd of supporters in early November, prior to the region’s declaration of independence from Spain

tribal loyalty of all Catalans to their leaders. Second, the incidents of brutal policing should be attributed to general Iberian tendencies towards violence, and far more photos of the victims should have been aired. Third, every effort should be made to liberally drag the name of General Francisco Franco, Spain’s own Idi Amin, into the narrative. For those who do not know Spanish history, Franco ran a dictatorship from 1936 to 1975, after overthrowing the government and then winning the brutal Civil War that was a precursor for the European-led 1939-1945 conflict. Adolf Hitler’s Germany supported Franco’s side during that war and, in return, Franco’s Spain (while officially neutral) provided valuable assistance to Hitler’s war effort. This part would be easy, because in fact Rajoy’s People’s Party actually traces its roots to a man called Manuel Fraga Iribarne, who served as a minister and ambassador in the last decade of General Franco’s 39year rule, and calls him its founding chairman. Fraga was not a nice man, directly overseeing censorship, and at least two executions of government opponents. But clearly Spain is not Uganda, because all that nefarious ancestry to Rajoy’s party

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has not been brought into play as it would have been if the story had been set in Africa. But while one can rightly question its relevance to current affairs, one could make the same case for the bulk of the ridiculous Western “journalism” when covering African politics and conflict, when events long gone and buried are routinely dredged up to flesh out half-understood current issues. In fact, Spain still retains the trauma of the Franco era. Autonomy for Catalonia and other regions was one of the slow compromises made to help the country democratise itself after Franco’s death. Since then, the regions – especially Catalonia, which was one of the major battlegrounds of the civil war, and Catalonians are among those ethnic minorities whose language was banned under Franco – have grown increasingly uncomfortable. Part of the current crisis is rooted in the condition of Spain under Rajoy – the government allowing itself to be the means by which the European Central Bank and others have imposed severe austerity measures on the Spanish people as a whole. There has also been a growing suspicion that Spain was undermining regional autonomy in practice, while pretending to remain faithful to the new federal arrangement. Rajoy’s latest moves will only help cement that feeling. This again, is a very African situation. Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cameroon and a few others all began life basically as federations, as part of the post-colonial settlements, only for these arrangements to be later dismantled, usually by force and often leading to lasting conflict and tensions. And we are in our third decade of austerity, and we were already tired of it before the Europeans had started on theirs. Conversely, Western journalists could all finally recognise that these problems of identity and belonging are global and universal, and write about Africa’s conflicts with the same intelligence they have tried to bring to discussing Spain. Then, Uganda might be Spain, but without Catalonia. NA

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Enormous influence of African heritage women 2017 will go down as the year that the United Kingdom changed on many fronts. What these changes will lead to is an open question but what is not in doubt is that women of African heritage have played a decisive part in the more positive changes the country is undergoing.


his has been the year that the United Kingdom changed. The direction and manner of that change may as yet be unclear, but it has changed. Two women of African heritage have had a profound influence on that change. While the country has drifted towards the perceived chasm which many have foreseen but few have tried to prevent, they have stood out and shown that with conviction, things “can be done”. Gina Miller gave the UK government a sharp shock in its assumption that it could ignore the rights of a sleep-walking public. The sympathetic reaction, too, to politician Diane Abbott’s refusal to yield to the slings and arrows of an outrageous hate campaign has indicated that maybe the British public has started to react with some shame against the xenophobia which spread like a malaise the year before.

Their approach has humbled and shamed those in national life who have put career prospects and fear of a media mauling ahead of principles. Ms Miller crowned the year by being nominated the country’s most influential person of African and Caribbean heritage in Powerlist 2018. The award was made at a black-tie occasion sponsored by EY, held at Draper’s Hall in the heart of the City of London. Michael Eboda, publisher of the list, said: “Gina was a shoo-in for number one. Brexit is the most important political event to happen this century and Gina’s role in ensuring that the sovereignty of parliament was recognised by the courts has been monumental and has set a precedent that will last for hundreds of years.” The recipient herself observed: “It’s amazing to get an accolade when what I’ve done has solicited


a huge amount of abuse. To have somebody acknowledge me is extraordinarily kind and counters a lot of what I still get on a daily basis.” Gina’s achievement has been to force the government, by action through the courts, to give parliament a vote on whether the UK could commence the process of leaving the European Union – by triggering Article 50. Her championing of the primacy of parliament was in contrast to those politicians, many of whom had originally supported the country remaining in the EU, whose conviction and resistance evaporated in the light of the referendum result, and shattered on the “Brexit means Brexit” mantra of Theresa May’s administration. They bent the knee and went in the direction towards which the political gale was blowing.

‘Bloody troublesome’ immigrant

Since making her stance, Ms Miller has endured a torrent of racial and political abuse and threats of violence, acid attacks and attempted murder. In the most highly publicised case, Rhodri Philipps, the Fourth Viscount St Davids, who

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had called for her to be “accidentally” run over, was sentenced to imprisonment. “This bloody troublesome first generation immigrant”, as Philipps had described her, is a lady of exceptional character and experience. Gina Nadira (née) Singh, born in Guyana in 1965, is the daughter of Doodnauth Singh, who became that country’s attorney-general. She graduated with an MSc in human resource management at the University of London and has a record of commercial success. Perhaps, before Brexit, she was known best for setting up the True and Fair Foundation in 2009 in the wake of the world financial meltdown, to “limit the possibility

Gina Miller (c), who won a legal challenge against the UK government over its authority to implement Brexit without a vote from parliament, was voted the UK’s most influential black person in Powerlist 2018

of future mis-selling or financial scandals through greater transparency”. Nor is Ms Miller deterred by threats and controversy, for in the general election of 2017, she launched a “Best for Britain” campaign calling for tactical voting. That election, in which Prime Minister May sought to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations, provided many surprises. The result was not what the humiliated May had expected as her government clung on by the narrowest of threads.

Rising from the ashes

The election should also have ended the political significance of Labour’s Diane Abbott, the then 63-year-old

POWERLIST 2018 The UK’s Most Influential People of African and African Caribbean Heritage: GINA MILLER ‘Best for Britain’ campaigner, and founder of SCMDirect.com, MoneyShe.com, SCM50.com, and the True and Fair Foundation RIC LEWIS Founder/Chief Executive & Chairman, Tristan Capital Partners ISMAIL AHMED Founder/CEO, WorldRemit SHARON WHITE Chief Executive, Ofcom DR NIRA CHAMBERLAIN Mathematician JACKY WRIGHT Corporate Vice-President and Interim CIO, Microsoft (current), Chief Digital and Information Officer, HMRC (incoming) SANDRA WALLACE UK Managing Partner, DLA Piper PROFESSOR LAURA SERRANT Professor of Nursing, Sheffield Hallam University SHIRLEY J. THOMPSON Composer, Conductor & Reader in Music, University of Westminster EDWARD ENNINFUL Editor-in-chief, British Vogue

shadow home secretary, who was subjected to a barrage of criticism. Instead the veteran, first elected to the House of Commons in 1987, emerged fortified and more relevant to the national political picture than she has ever been. Her loyalty to Labour party leader and personal friend Jeremy Corbyn, a rare quality in politicians, which had seemed to be a weakness, was vindicated. A tide in British politics – a kinder, more sympathetic tide – has turned against her abusers. During the campaign Ms Abbott, who stumbled from error to error, cut such a poor figure in her radio interviews that she was withdrawn from the Labour frontline before election day. Corbyn acknowledged that she was “not well” and it became known that her diabetes condition was out of control. Yet Diane apparently never considered becoming anything that she was not. Critics had relished the prospect of her electoral oblivion. Nevertheless, Ms Abbott triumphed with an increased majority – securing some 75% of votes cast – in her North London constituency of Hackney North & Stoke Newington. The electorate warmed to her humanity with sympathy for her ordeal and steadfastness. Just “being Diane” was not the drawback that had been assumed. By refusing to bow before the media monsoon, Ms Abbott held up a mirror to national opinion and humanity. In doing so, she showed that the proclaimed British “spirit of fair play”, though often traduced, was not yet dead. Gina Miller and Diane Abbott have shown that African heritage politicians and people of conviction here cannot be ignored or maligned with impunity. This year the influence of Africans on the reality of politics, as well as in other fields such as the theatre [see cover story, p. 18], technology and the world of business has been pronounced. The value lies as much in the example set, the leadership shown, as in the deed itself. This has been the year that the UK started to change. NA

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The dramatic and perhaps epoch-making events in Zimbabwe are still unfolding as we go to press. But exactly what has happened and why is still a matter of conjecture for most of the African and international media. Baffour Ankomah, who has followed events over the past few years from his perch in Zimbabwe, gives the insider’s perspective on the wheels within wheels of the “coup that wasn’t”.

Wheels within wheels – the inside story A

s we go to press, thousands of Zimbabweans were in a jubilant mood in the streets. They were calling for Mugabe to go and the ruling Zanu-PF party had made it clear that he was expected to go with some dignity by resigning

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his position as party leader, or he would be forced out through impeachment. However the issue is resolved, and the army has been careful to try and keep within constitutional guidelines, there is no doubt that the era of Robert Mugabe has come to an end.

When you read this, he will have been put out to grass, even if the new powers shaping the political future of the country may feel it is prudent to let him stay on in some capacity or the other. What is unfolding now is the post-Mugabe dispensation of power. Time will

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tell how this turns out. In the meanwhile, this is a good time to look back over the events that have led to this pass, to work out the wheels within wheels informing them and by understanding the mechanics, plot out a chart for the future. Let us go back to the beginning of the seismic week in Zimbabwe which began on 6 November. In what is a first in post-independent Southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s military moved against the government of President Robert Mugabe on 15 November and took control of the levers of power, yet they insisted that it was not a “military takeover of government”, even though the 93-year-old president and his family were confined to his private residence and some government ministers and other apparatchiks were arrested and taken into custody. What had been exercising minds, and the media in Africa and elsewhere, was whether this was a coup d’état or not. The army said it was not a coup but a “rearrangement of power” and that without their intervention, there would have been an outbreak of violence following the shock sacking of Vice President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Incidentally, his middle name Dambudzo means trouble. In the November issue of New African, we concluded that the tensions between the First Lady, Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa, and their factions, had reached boiling point, and predicted something would snap. It did, sooner than we had expected. But to get back to the military action. It was not a coup, at least not in the classical sense. In a classic coup d’état, the army takes over the government, dismisses the president and parliament, suspends the constitution, shuts the borders of the country for days or weeks, and gives hourly bulletins of decrees. There may even be a curfew as well. In the 15 November “military intervention” in Zimbabwe, however, none of the above happened, except perhaps the playing of Chimurenga (liberation

All things considered, the intervention might be the best possible solution to return Zimbabwe to normality and for a new, more hopeful era to begin.

Left and above: Citizens took to the streets to celebrate the end of the Mugabe era. Top: Mugabe attending a graduation ceremony in Harare, a few days after the army intervention

war) music on national TV for much of the morning. Tanks and other military vehicles were used to block strategic roads and streets in Harare’s central business district, but much of the city was free of military presence. Strikingly, all the tanks and military vehicles were withdrawn from the streets within 24 hours of the “intervention” and Harare was back to normal, except that an uncertain calm hung over the country. Later, when the people took to the streets in an explosion of joy, they thanked the army and posed for selfies with soldiers. A few days after the intervention, Mugabe attended a university graduation

ceremony in Harare, a clear indication that he was expected to play some role in the re-arrangement – whatever form that took. That brings to mind the comments of the NA editor, Anver Versi, who was interviewed on several news channels a day after the take-over. He said that given the fact that the sacking of Mnangagwa had cleared the path for Grace Mugabe to contest the VP position during the party congress in December, and from there to be catapulted into the same position following the elections next year, the only process that could prevent this was either a military intervention or a party rebellion. It also had to be done quickly before Mnangagwa ceased to be a factor. Hence, by his reading, the intervention was inevitable. He added that he believed that some sort of political accommodation would be made and that Mugabe would be allowed to remain in position but with his powers curbed until at least the elections. He expected the army to return to barracks after that. At the time of going to press, this scenario seemed to be what was unfolding, although Versi had not foreseen the abrupt about face of Zanu-PF or the massive demonstrations against Mugabe in the streets which had accelerated the process. All things considered, this might be the best possible solution to return Zimbabwe to normality and for a new, more hopeful era to begin.

Revisiting the build-up But how did we get to this stage? It might be worth revisiting the build-up. The military intervention had come after months of embarrassing infighting in the ruling Zanu-PF party over who will succeed Mugabe when he finally retires. At 93, and with 37 years as president under his belt, Mugabe was still the official Zanu-PF candidate for next year’s elections, but as his energy levels have waned and his ability to command authority has been eroded by a few hangers on, including his wife, Grace, there was a rush of senior december 2017 new african  59

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party colleagues seeking to position themselves for the eventual day when he retired. The fight for supremacy saw the First Lady using political rallies and other public platforms in recent months to mount a devastating campaign against Mnangagwa and his allies. The First Lady, who is the leader of the Zanu-PF Women’s League, can be vitriolic when she chooses to be. Many in the country were shocked at the level she chose to pitch her public rebuke and dressing-downs of government officials, and party members who crossed her path, particularly Mnangagwa and his allies. For months, many people wondered why the president was allowing his wife to be that strident and shrill. But no reprieve came, especially for those at the sharp end of her outbursts. It is this campaign that finally resulted in Mnangagwa’s sacking as vice president on 6 November, and his expulsion from Zanu-PF, apparently to pave way for the First Lady’s rise to the vice presidency – and the presidency in due course – as mentioned above. With Mnangagwa’s sacking came threats of a massive purge of as many as 100 of his allies at the party’s impending extraordinary congress in mid-December 2017.

Having served as a former defence minister, Mnangagwa (who had worked closely with Mugabe for 54 continuous years) had strong sympathisers in the military, especially among senior officers including Chiwenga, who wanted him to succeed Mugabe. His sacking, therefore, and the manner in which it came, left a sour taste in many military mouths.

Top: News of Mugabe’s detention spreads. Above: Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking by Mugabe was a trigger to the army’s intervention

The special relation Incidentally, because of its special history, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) occupies a special place in Zanu-PF and national affairs. Unlike many armed forces in the world, the ZDF grew out of the liberation struggle prosecuted by the two nationalist movements – Zanu and Zapu – that won independence for Zimbabwe in 1980. During the struggle, both Zanu and Zapu had armed wings that fought the hot war proper, while the political wings took charge

of the political warfare. When independence came, and Zanu and Zapu turned into political parties, their political leaders went into government while the military wings morphed into the ZDF. In 1987, Zanu and Zapu joined forces and became known as ZanuPF, having seen their military wings already grow roots as the ZDF over the previous 7 years. Thus, for all intents and purposes, Zanu-PF and the ZDF are one and the same, because they come from the same tree. If readers do not understand this “special relationship”, they will not understand what is happening in Zimbabwe today. It is why in previous elections, Zanu-PF and the ZDF have fought from the same trenches against the opposition MDC and all other opposition groups that have sought to wrestle power from Zanu-PF. It is this “special relationship” that has informed President Mugabe’s many homilies over the years on how the “gun follows politics” and not the other way round. To their credit, the military have dutifully listened to Mugabe’s sermons and have allowed the gun to follow politics, until 15 November when they felt that things were getting out of hand. What followed is of course, now history. NA

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CO-LOCATED WITH: NTU 1/4 page Dec2017.indd 3



6-8 February 2018 Kampala, Uganda

Held with the full support of:

MINI & OFF GRID SUMMIT Her Excellency Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda

POWER BEYOND THE GRID strategic partners

The 1st Africa Energy Forum: Off the Grid 2016 was officially supported by:


www.aef-offgrid.com | #AEFOGS18

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Faarah Adan, a freelance journalist based in the UK and US, was visiting his home city of Mogadishu when he was caught up in perhaps the world’s biggest and most devastating bomb explosion of recent times. His graphic account captures all the human horror and tragedy of this callous act as well as the staggering incompetence of the government.

Mogadishu truck bomb: A SURVIVOR’S STORY

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had always heard about explosions going off in Mogadishu, but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to witness. It was a bright Saturday afternoon in October at Mogadishu’s busy Zoobe junction, one of the city’s vital arteries leading to the airport. A string of shops, hotels and restaurants lined the length of the road. Street vendors, donkey carts, tuk-tuks and buses all jostled for space, slowing down the traffic stream and leading to some altercations.

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It was my first visit to Mogadishu in 20 years and I was all expectations. People went about their businesses at a sedate pace, undeterred by the monotonous rituals of life in Mogadishu.  Everything seemed quite normal, the surroundings with a serenity enriched by the cool wind drifting across from the ocean. Intuitively, however, I refused to be at ease just yet, for I had learnt during my short stay here that things in Mogadishu could change quite abruptly. And they did. I was walking through the

In the immediate aftermath of the mid-October bomb blast, some of the first to respond were courageous ordinary civilians who came to rescue the injured

streets with tremulous enthusiasm, accosted by the delectable smell of aromatic spices wafted by the breeze, when all of a sudden, the sound of bullets cracked through the air, followed by screeching tires and blaring horns. “Lie down! Lie down!” screamed my friend, Abdi Nur, a 27-year-old Mogadishu resident who was showing me around the city. Instinctively, I took cover behind one of the vehicles parked alongside the road and surveyed my surroundings. In the distance, a large truck was speeding towards us. Not far

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behind the truck, Somali forces in “technicals” – improvised military vehicles with a machine gun on top – gave chase, aimlessly shooting at it. People began crouching down in order to avoid the bullets, shoving and pushing each other as they did so. Some barely managed to crawl back into the shops they had just exited. Others ran for their lives, but before they could reach safety, a huge explosion ripped through the junction, destroying everything in its path. In less than a split second, the force of the blast violently wrenched vendors’ carts from their stands, burned vehicles, demolished buildings and broke windows over a kilometre away. For a moment, the situation seemed surreal. Everything appeared to be moving in slow motion. Wooden planks, cardboard boxes, pieces of metal, fruits, and debris all flew in the air.

Slammed against a wall

The force of the blast picked me off the floor and slammed me hard against a wall. I felt my ribcage crush against it. The sharp stabbing pain in my chest constricted my breathing. I collapsed to the ground. My head throbbed and my entire body ached, but the pangs of the pain, benumbed by a sudden paroxysm of fear and confusion, were the least of my worries. Another series of powerful explosions occurred at a fuel depot nearby, igniting a huge blaze. The raging inferno devoured nearby buildings and vehicles and incinerated dozens of people in an instant. Razor-sharp tin roof fragments, pieces of metal, and shards of glass all showered down on us like shrapnel, cutting through human flesh with lethal force and maximising the damage of the explosion. I struggled to stand, but my legs could not carry me. I tried to run to safety, but no sooner had I started to crawl than the wall above me came crumbling down, burying me, along with two other young men, under the rubble. It was hard to grasp exactly what was going on. I was confused,

shaken and frightened. I tried to claw my way through the rubble in order to extricate myself, but to no avail. Concrete blocks had firmly pinned me down. I lay beneath the heaped tiers of wreckage, inhaling the smoke and dust, desperately waving my hand through a small opening, until I was pulled out by some civilians. My guide, Abdi, was nowhere to be seen. I was fortunate enough to have survived with minor injuries and mild concussion, but dozens of people were buried under the demolished buildings, their bones pulverised under the weight of the rubble. Others were burnt beyond recognition in the explosion and the subsequent fire at the fuel depot. I managed to walk a few dreadful steps before stumbling and falling on the ground. In front of me, plumes of thick black smoke billowed out, soaring into the sky. Dozens of dismembered corpses littered the scene, while smouldering remnants of fire continued to tear at the surrounding area. Dazed survivors and rescuers

stumbled upon one another. Confused, shambling figures emerged from the collapsed buildings and poured down onto the road, going from one corpse to another, searching for any hint of life in them. Some of the survivors were completely covered in blood while others simply wandered around, vacantly staring into the burning vehicles, unable to comprehend what had just occurred. Outside the demolished wall of one of the buildings, a woman

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Instead of addressing the causes of Somalia’s insecurity, the government pounced on the truck blast in a fit of political opportunism to revive its dwindling prestige.

was screaming. “Ahmed! Ahmed!” she repeated frantically, searching for her son. She ran to and fro, rummaging through the debris and gesticulating wildly, until a group of women restrained her. “Calm down, Amina, calm down,” they told her, “it is God’s will.” She dropped to the ground in despair. Tears gently rolled down her eyes. As the crowd consoled the grief-stricken woman, I rolled over onto the pavement and, edging forward with great difficulty, peered through the cracks in the debris. The lifeless body of a young man lay under the rubble, alongside other bodies. A group of young men helping the survivors quickly rushed to the scene. Grimacing with pain, they dug through the rubble and uncovered four bodies. Amina’s son and three other men, lying next to each other, were all covered in blood and almost unrecognisable. Dressed in what seemed like a once colourfully embroidered shirt, the state of Amina’s son, no more than twenty-five years of age, was perhaps the most shocking. His face

Scenes of devastation – the aftermath of the 14 October bombing. The government of Somalia and its leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (left) have received a stream of criticism over issues such as the slow response by government officials, firefighters and paramedics to the explosion

was badly deformed. Shrapnel had punctured his body and the bone in his lower arm was bent backwards and protruding through the skin. It was a scene too gruesome to continue observing.

Pile of mangled wreckage

More than 350 people died in the blast and the collapsed buildings, according to official government figures, and nearly 60 are still unaccounted for. As I stood there, all that remained of the oncebustling Zoobe Junction was a pile of mangled wreckage and a blackened road bestrewn with rubbish and human body parts. It was only when I was admitted to Madina hospital, however, that I began to fully fathom the magnitude of the explosion that I had just barely survived. The corridors of the hospital were flooded with victims with injuries of varying degrees of severity; from minor cuts and bruises to major lacerations and third degree burns. All were in shock and all clearly gripped by intense fear. In addition to the nauseating stench of blood and pus that had vitiated the atmosphere, there was a cacophony of piercing wails and painful groans. Distraught relatives searched for their loved ones as the casualties filled the hospital in overwhelming numbers. The charred remains of more than a hundred human corpses were scattered in a corner. None of them was recognisable. My guide, Abdi Nur, was later also admitted to the hospital on a stretcher, with a crushed shinbone. Despite the frantic efforts of the doctors, however, his leg – barely attached to his body – was amputated.

Incompetence and wilful negligence

Since the bomb blast, a stream of criticism has continued to assail the government of Somalia and its leader, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, commonly known as “Farmajo”, meaning “cheese”.  In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, the first responders were courageous ordinary civilians

who came to rescue the injured. Government officials, paramedics and firefighters took hours to respond to the explosion, allowing hundreds of innocent victims to be incinerated in the fire. Dozens of lives that could have been saved by a swift call to action were, as a result, tragically lost due to the deplorably sluggish government response, incompetence and wilful negligence. The explosion revealed flaws in intelligence gathering, highlighted government weaknesses, and exposed its failures. The Somali government and the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) have not been quite forthcoming with the facts of the bomb blast, focusing instead on mobilising the wave of public anger generated by the attack in order to garner moral support, marshal the public and muster the morale of the fragile nation’s dispirited forces. Instead of addressing the root causes of Somalia’s insecurity – the endemic corruption that gnaws away at the heart of all its institutions and the prevalent social injustices – Farmajo’s government pounced on the incident in a fit of political opportunism to revive its dwindling prestige. The Somali government has the tendency to capitalise on human tragedy in order to make shortterm political gains when, in the broader perspective, it is failing abysmally. The Mogadishu truck bomb was a clear indicator of that phenomenon. In the face of such damning failures, it is always easy to blame the al-Shabaab bogeyman in order to absolve the government of all responsibility. It is time for the government to come up with viable and enduring solutions to Somalia’s security problems rather than clinging on to the oft-repeated mantra of “we have defeated the terrorists”. For, if anything at all, the truck bomb and the constant wave of car bombs in Mogadishu boldly demonstrate that the capital city is still woefully insecure and the Somali government still woefully inadequate. NA december 2017 new african  65

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Ghanaians are renowned for their distaste for violence – until it comes to land disputes. The current chaotic system of land ownership has enabled some to swindle others with impunity and the courts are buckling under the weight of unresolved cases. Is there a way out of this maze? David Wood reports.

How to start a fight in a peaceful country


n a typical Monday afternoon in August, a crew of builders fled in terror from the Believers House of Worship church in Okpoi Gonno, Accra. They had been chased out of the construction site by around 10 thugs armed with guns and machetes. The gang poured kerosene all over the near-finished church and set it on fire. The attack had catastrophic results. “They just left the structure,” says Reverend Abraham Lamptey, head pastor of the Believers House of Worship. “Everything we had got burnt.” The congregation had held its first church service at the site only 24 hours beforehand. Why would an armed gang burn down a church – in broad daylight, in a devoutly religious country like Ghana? Nobody was surprised when news broke that there had been a months-long legal dispute over who owned the land on which the church stood. Most Ghanaians have had some exposure to these socalled “land guards” – mercenaries who violently enforce rival claims to owning property. In general, Ghana enjoys an enviable reputation for peace. Since winning independence in 1957, Ghana has been a beacon of stability in West Africa, avoiding the bloody civil wars that have plagued many of its neighbours. While religious fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram and al-

Ghana does not have a comprehensive register of property ownership, with the result that buildings throughout the country are adorned with graffiti advertising their status

Qaeda cause panic in the region, Ghana’s Christian and Muslim communities live alongside each other harmoniously. Yet competing claims to land ownership are driving Ghanaians into bitter disputes, many of which degenerate into violence. In 2014, a government official estimated that land accounted for four out of five community disputes in Ghana’s Northern Region alone. Buildings throughout the country are tainted with angrily scrawled pieces of

graffiti, each advertising some claim to the property concerned. Kofi Bentil, the managing partner of Accra law firm Lex Praxis, has many years of experience handling land disputes. “If Ghanaians ever go to war over anything,” he says, “it will be over land.” The main source of this civil strife is institutional. In most countries, the state regulates how land is transferred between citizens. A purchaser can usually access a

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centralised database to confirm that a given vendor in fact owns the property, and has the authority to sell it. Ghana does not have a comprehensive register of property ownership, largely because the state has taken more of a backseat role in land transfers. The Ghanaian Constitution recognises traditional claims to land ownership by families and stools (tribes), and these claims apply to roughly 80% of Ghana’s total area. Families and stools can deal with land according to customary law rather than through regular legal channels.

A legal maze

The Lands Commission maintains a government database of property ownership, but its records are complete for only a fraction of Ghanaian land. Families and stools have handled countless land transfers without involving the Lands Commission, using their own haphazard procedures and record-keeping. This means that Ghanaians have incredible difficulty figuring out who is the true owner of a given piece of land. “It is a maze you have to go through,” says Dr Benjamin Armah Quaye, the national project coordinator of the Land Administration Project, a government taskforce for improving the regulation of property ownership. Unscrupulous families and stool leaders exploit the current confusion at will. Vendors will often sell one piece of land to different purchasers, before disappearing with the money and leaving the buyers to fight amongst themselves. In other situations, a purchaser will pay one family member for a piece of land, only for another relative to emerge at a later point, demanding more money. These practices have become so commonplace that some vendors do virtually nothing to cover up their treachery. Quaye recalls one chief who agreed to sell the same piece of stool land to multiple purchasers, and then signed each separate contract in his own name. Chiefs can act so brazenly because, in Quaye’s experience, “chiefs are on

a higher level … [and] it is very rare for a chief to be prosecuted for land fraud.” This rampant culture of exploitation leaves purchasers with fairly unsavoury options to defend their investment. Some go to court, or just keep paying bribes until their rivals disappear. Others turn to a blunter instrument – the land guards. For a fee, these gangs will harass, intimidate and beat anyone who dares to approach the property. Each option requires money, and lots of it, which exposes Ghana’s impoverished masses to ruin if they enter the property market. The state cannot offer much protection to purchasers. A buyer can try to register the

In 2014, a governmental official estimated that land accounted for four out of five community disputes in Ghana’s Northern Region alone. purchased property with the Lands Commission, which in theory would give proof of ownership. But the registration process is often drawn out and complicated. “People find [the process] so difficult that they don’t want to do it,” Quaye says. To make matters worse, the court system is buckling under the weight of endless property cases. In his general law practice, at least half of Kofi Bentil’s typical workload relates to land disputes. And for many Ghanaians, litigation costs are beyond their means anyway.

Vain attempts at clarification

At the Land Administration Project, Quaye’s team is trying to clarify who owns land in Ghana. Their efforts include re-surveying the entire country to confirm land boundaries, speeding up court proceedings and introducing dispute prevention measures. Bentil is sceptical about these state-led efforts achieving meaningful change. The Land

Administration Project has been under way since 2003, and has spent over $100m to date. “It is not possible to explain to a room full of intelligent people that you cannot properly map and properly determine the space of land in this country,” Bentil says. “It’s either gross incompetence, or someone deliberately doesn’t want to solve the problem.” Some people clearly stand to gain from the chaos surrounding land ownership in Ghana. Yaa Agyeman Boadi, director of the Lands Commission (Land Registration Division), acknowledges that corruption is a problem amongst her staff. Some employees have been accused of fast-tracking registrations and even fraudulently amending survey plans in exchange for bribes. Boadi has trouble investigating these allegations due to a department culture of “officers shielding themselves and asking, ‘what about our families?’” Yet Bentil is convinced that the corruption runs far deeper than a few crooked public servants at the Lands Commission. “Any person of power can play the system and try to benefit from its weakness,” he says. “If he wants land, then he goes to a place where it is a 50/50 (legal) situation … where the one who has more power is likely to win.” For Bentil, this dominant figure could be anyone in the community – from a chief, to a senior civil servant, to a police officer. No matter their identity, these powerbrokers have a vested interest in Ghana’s land management system remaining ambiguous, chaotic and vulnerable to manipulation. This assessment offers little comfort to Reverend Lamptey and his congregation, whose church was reduced to ashes. When they rebuild, they will install extra fortifications at the church’s entrance and exit. Such precautions have become necessary in Ghana, where violent crimes are part and parcel of land disputes. It remains to be seen if the state can overcome this critical problem, or if the current, broken system will stagger on – conferring danger on the masses, and opportunity on a corrupt few. NA december 2017 new african  67

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Lewis Hamilton became the first British Formula One driver to win four world championships when he clinched the title in Mexico City, with two races of the 2017 F1 calendar still to go. By dominating a sport that has traditionally been a white monopoly, Hamilton, like Tiger Woods before him, has become a powerful icon for tens of millions of fans around the world. Clayton Goodwin profiles the world’s first black F1 driver.

Lewis Hamilton the ace of pace

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ewis Hamilton has attained an almost unparalleled global mystique. Champions in sport don’t come more glamorous and exalted than those of the F1 circuit. But until Hamilton, the sport was a closed shop, restricted to white drivers, although individuals from over 40 countries have participated at some time or the other (including a few from South Africa as well as “Rhodesia”, as Zimbabwe was called before independence). There were a sprinkling of non-white drivers from India, Malaysia and Thailand who made no impact whatsoever and whose names can hardly be recalled. Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born on 7 January 1985 in Stevenage in Hertfordshire. He is of mixed-race – his father, Anthony, is a black man from the Caribbean and his mother, Carmen, white British. When they separated, young Lewis lived at first with his mother and then, from 12 years old, with his father. Anthony recognised his son’s fascination for wheels, buying him a radio-controlled car in 1991. The young Lewis showed his determination in the much-viewed Blue Peter television picture of him, then a schoolboy of 7, with his father, purposefully manipulating a radio-controlled model car. Anthony juggled his own working life to manage him and attend all the races. Lewis was also adept at playing cricket and football – he is an Arsenal fan. Neither, however, could match his devotion to sport on wheels, and he joined Rye House Kart Circuit when he was only eight years old. Such was his confidence, born of frequent early success, that he approached Ron Dennis, the McLaren F1 team boss, for an autograph at the age of 10, telling him that he had won the British Championship and wanted to drive one of his cars one day. Dennis asked him to call back in nine years. In fact, such was the young man’s progress that it was the McLaren boss who called him and he moved swiftly and successfully through the Formula Renault,

Formula Three and GP2 stages of competition. His GP2 triumph in 2006 led to McLaren giving him an F1 seat for the following year. Lewis came third on his debut in the Australian Grand Prix, and early in the season became the youngest driver to lead the championship. Although Hamilton had a clear lead on his rivals coming into the ultimate race in Brazil, he finished seventh in the race when his tyres gave out. This allowed Kimi Raikkonen to beat him by a single point. The outcome was equally tense the following year, 2008. The loss of penalty points offset the lead the Briton had established, leaving him needing to finish at least fifth in the last race to become champion. He overtook the fifth-placed man on the very last corner of the final lap,

An archive of overachievement: The exceptional young go-kart racer (bottom); Lewis sharing a moment of victory with his father Anthony (below); and (left) celebrating his fourth F1 title after the Mexican Grand Prix this year

“He’s an outstanding driver – as good as there’s ever been. He’s also a good guy, he gets out and supports F1” 

Bernie Ecclestone

to became the youngest driver, at the age of 23, to win the title. The first victory by a black driver was marred by isolated outbursts of racial abuse, especially in Spain and in Brazil on the eve of the concluding showdown. Hamilton’s relationship with his team-mate, Spain’s Fernando Alonso, much more senior to Lewis and a twotimes world champion, had been fractious and Alonso left McLaren at the end of the season. On-track tussles with Brazil’s Felipe Massa, which Hamilton won overall, incensed the Brazilian’s fans.

Birth of a new star

Nevertheless a new star was definitely gaining momentum. The next five seasons, however, were frustrating as he finished fourth three times and fifth twice. For the 2013 season Lewis moved to Mercedes. This aroused sustained criticism in the UK as Mercedes had been struggling in the previous seasons. Hamilton stuck to his guns and joined Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes driver line-up. He had known Rosberg since his go-karting days. The 2014 season started on an auspicious note. Drivers were permitted to choose a unique number which they could use for the rest of their career. Lewis selected No. 44, which had been his number while he was karting, and won the opening race in China. Hamilton and Rosberg set the pace for the championship before Lewis won five consecutive races to clinch the title by a wide margin. He repeated his outstanding performance in 2015, winning the championship with three races still to go. But 2016 was a nasty season for Hamilton. His relationship with Rosberg had hit rock-bottom and he suffered a series of mysterious car failures. There was suspicion that sabotage was at play in order to help Rosberg, of German-Finnish nationality, win in a German car, Mercedes. Despite the mechanical and other technical breakdowns, the outcome of the championship was not decided until the final race in Abu Dhabi, which Hamilton december 2017 new african  69

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Hamilton is an international star with huge followings in Asia, the US and the Middle East, where people idolise him far more than the rather aloof Europeans or Brazilians.




















Vodafone McLaren Mercedes



























































































Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

* Season still in progress. won, but where Rosberg came second, thus still managing to win the world championship. Rosberg announced his retirement from F1, leaving Hamilton and his arch-rival, Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, to fight it out for the 2017 championship.

No slip-ups this time

The achievement of clinching the fourth championship in Mexico City was in itself an anti-climax. Hamilton won because he had already established an overall lead that was all but unbeatable. The previous season he had lost his chance of winning a hat-trick of titles by finishing as runner-up to Nico Rosberg. Lewis would not let himself slip this time. He took an early lead, with first places in China, Spain, Canada and in Britain, but other drivers had also shared in the honours, including former champion Sebastian Vettel,

who was close in his wing-mirrors with three wins. Hamilton delivered the knockout blow with three victories in a row in Belgium, Italy and Singapore, achieved in just over a fortnight from the end of August. It was the beginning of an amazing run for, although Max Verstappen stopped the sequence in Malaysia, Lewis came back to take the top step of the podium in Japan and the US. The triumph in Mexico had been set up by the earlier win in Austin, US. Sixty-six points ahead of his competitors, Lewis had only to finish fifth to take the title. The issue was settled early on. The cars of Hamilton and Vettel, the only rival with a realistic chance of beating him, clashed, causing sufficient damage for both to have to make pit-stops and return to the race at the back of the field. Although Lewis, impaired, limped

Above: Hamilton’s performance record in F1 over the years. Top: Driving the sleek 2017 Mercedes. Aside from Lewis winning the drivers’ title, Mercedes won the Constructor’s Championship again this year

home in ninth, the German could manage no more than fourth place. It was enough to see Hamilton home with two races in the programme still remaining. Thus he joined Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel as the only drivers to have won four or more F1 titles. Lewis has now won more races (62) than any other British driver, after having attained the most pole positions (72) in the race at Austin. Despite the fact that Hamilton is the most successful British F1 driver, he has many detractors in his home country who would rather see anyone one else win than him. The reasons for this hostility, directed more at his “lifestyle” and his image (he likes partying and mixing with international celebrities, and wears earrings) are hard to fathom. There is no doubt that race has a major part to play, especially as Hamilton has been accused of not “knowing his place” in class-ridden Britain. Like most other F1 drivers, Hamilton has moved to Switzerland to avoid punitive taxes back home, although he does pay into the British system. While there has been little criticism of other British drivers who have done the same, his detractors accuse him of disloyalty and cheating the tax system. But Hamilton, like Tiger Woods in the world of golf and the Williams sisters in tennis, has become an international superstar with huge followings in Asia, the US and the Middle East. It seems that many more people around the world can identify with him and enjoy his lifestyle. They idolise him far more than the rather aloof Europeans or Brazilians. Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s premier magnate, underlined this by saying: “As a driver he is absolutely outstanding – as good as there’s ever been. Apart from his talent, he’s a good guy, he gets out on the street and supports and promotes Formula One. He is box office, 100%.” Hamilton has many more years of racing ahead of him and targets to aim at: chief on his list is Michael Schumacher’s record of winning seven world championships. NA

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Arts, Performance

Longevity is the hallmark of theatrical and film success. Here, Clayton Goodwin reviews a new take on Shakespeare’s evergreen Antony and Cleopatra, and reprises the career of renowned actor Earl Cameron, now 100, with a catalogue of significant roles to his name.

The majesty of Cleopatra – and Earl Cameron at 100 not out


ew present-day politicians can match the influence and acclaim of Egypt’s fabled Queen Cleopatra. For this theatre season in London, she has been brought to the stage by actress Josette Simon in a production of Antony and Cleopatra by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Simon’s interpretation of the role has won high critical acclaim. Simon, a 59-year-old actress of Antiguan descent from Leicester, has mastered just about every type of role in the theatre, including a wide repertoire of Shakespeare. She has also been a force on television since she first burst into public consciousness in the sci-fi series Blake’s 7. She has been in the forefront of “colour-blind casting” in taking parts which were initially thought of as being white. Cleopatra has been described as the “single most powerful figure in any of the [Shakespearean] plays”. Simon described Cleopatra, who, in her opinion, has traditionally only been portrayed from a male point of view, as “an incredible politician”. There can be little doubt that she brings distinctiveness as well as distinction to the part. The much-quoted description from the play of Cleopatra being a person of “infinite variety” could apply just as well to Josette Simon herself. This production of Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Iqbal Khan, is currently playing at the Barbican until 20 January 2018.

Grand old man

Let, too, a gentleman of the theatre take a bow. What a gentleman! Earl Cameron is truly the grand old man

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Right and below: Earl Cameron in The Pool of London (1951), which featured British cinema’s first inter-racial romance; and now, at the age of 100. Bottom: Josette Simon plays the lead in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production of Antony and Cleopatra

of the acting profession. Earlier this year – 8 August to be exact – Earlston Cameron celebrated his 100th birthday. For many years he was the only “home” black actor to be seen in British films and television – certainly the only one to play more than a minor part. I can remember watching him first as the doctor brother of the victim in the film Sapphire (1959), one of the earliest, though inept to present eyes, attempts at depicting multi-racial society in London. The following year he played the main character in The Dark Man, a thought-provoking small-screen film about the reactions of white residents to the first black cab-driver in their hitherto restricted locality. By that time Cameron had already been in top-flight acting for years. His first starring part was in the noir film, Pool of London (1951), in which he played a Jamaican merchant seaman who had arrived in London, a role that could have been written for him. Earl, who was born in Bermuda, worked initially as a merchant seaman on routes between the UK and the West Indies. He was stranded in the former on the outbreak of WW2, during which time he found himself a few low-level acting parts, and moved on from there. Even now Cameron, who lives at Kenilworth in Warwickshire, is not entirely convinced that he has retired from acting. He is impressed by the number of good black British actors there are today – especially compared to earlier times when he was the only one – but still does not think that enough good parts are being written for them. NA

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Book Review

NIGERIA AND BIAFR A – MY STORY Nigeria’s Biafran War, one of the bloodiest in African history, ended in 1970 but reverberations of this seismic event continue to cast a shadow on modern politics. Peter Ezeh reviews three new books on the subject by authors who were involved in the war in one way or another.

Fresh look at an old story


he Biafran War of 1967–1970 has been the subject of more publications by local and foreign authors than any other event to do with the West African country since its independence from Britain in 1960. Despite this, there is a feeling that the proper story of the war, in all its dimensions, has not been told. Perhaps this is also because the issues that led to the war have, in the minds of many people, not yet been resolved. In many ways, the subject of Biafra is far from dead. There is currently a movement to revive the spirit of the insurrection (see New African, November 2017). Similarly, the literature on the Biafran War continues to be produced and to resonate. The three recent publications under review extend the inquiry into the war and its consequences and in the process, increase understanding of the forces that were at play half a century ago, allowing us to better comprehend the present. All the three authors, one Nigerian, one American and one a South African, were involved in larger or smaller degrees with the war and

its aftermath and all bring their own perspectives and conclusions to provide a much fuller picture of what happened all those years ago and why the reverberations continue to influence contemporary Nigeria. Philip Efiong was a high-level combatant on the losing side. He became Chief of General Staff of Biafra under Head of State, Odumegwu Ojukwu during the Biafran War and was later Acting Head of State as Biafra collapsed. He was the one to sign the articles of surrender in 1970. Al Venter served in the South African navy before going to Nigeria to work for the conglomerate, John Holt. He arrived in Nigeria less than a month after the coup of 15 January 1966. The American David Koren had come as a Peace Corps volunteer to teach English in a secondary school. After travelling home, he returned to Nigeria on the day of the putsch to continue a library project that he had started in the South. The January 1966 coup had been staged mostly by junior Igbo Southern soldiers who assassinated



Right: The military governor of the south-east, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, who declared secession from Nigeria and proclaimed that Biafra was an independent sovereign state

several Northerners, including Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Northern Region Premier Ahmadu Bello. The coup was suppressed by Major Johnson Aquiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo who then took power, suspending the constitution and dissolving parliament. But in July, Northern soldiers staged a counter-coup and Ironsi was shot. By 1 August, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon assumed office in Lagos as Nigeria’s second military Head of State. The countercoup was bitter. The country became divided along ethnic and religious lines. The expectation of war was such that it was sometimes discussed in Koren’s classroom. In May 1967, the military governor of the Igbo-dominated southeast, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu declared secession from Nigeria and proclaimed the independent state of Biafra. This led to one of the most brutal and ruthless wars in African history before it came to an end in 1970. David Koren describes the enormous enthusiasm of his students

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for the war but once it had started, even during the first battles, some were killed. How he dramatises that grim era says something about his writing style, which cannot be compared with anything that I have read elsewhere on the subject. He says for example of his students: “They had no concept of the horrors of modern warfare ... Isaac Mba, a short, tough, energetic student said, ‘We will fight them. If we win we will rule them. If they win they will rule us.’ A year later Isaac was killed, shot in the head during Biafra’s hopeless defence of Nsukka.” Philip Efiong on the other hand, clearly puts distance between his emotions and his analysis and sets out to write on the events as dispassionately as possible. As a result, he provides us with


a depth of information on the war itself, as well as the events leading to it, in a measure that has not been available in any other account of the events. He gives a clear account of the politics at the Nigerian High Command and later, the tensions within the Biafran elite. Readers will be surprised to learn that the more experienced Biafran officers did not support going to war with Nigeria. When the war became inevitable, officers on both sides expected it would be of short duration. There is also an illustration depicting a facsimile of the surrender instrument that he signed on 15 January 1970, bringing the hostilities to an end. I found the book a superb account; human, humane, humble, honest, and dispassionate.

Readers will be surprised to learn that the more experienced Biafran officers did not actually support going to war with Nigeria. The commercial dimension

However, to gain an insight into the international dimensions of the war, including foreign rivalries and commercial interests, Venter’s book is invaluable. After all, the southeast, the theatre of war, is where most of Nigeria’s enormous oil and gas wealth is located and access to and control of oil has long been a passion for the major industrial powers. Someone’s war can be another’s business opportunity. Venter brings out this sordid side of conflict admirably in his book. In the last chapter, Venter warns of the dangers of the present insurgency groups in Nigeria. It also illustrates how personal interests and prejudices can have a serious bearing on historic events. Citing sources that are not familiar to Nigerians, he shows that the reports that the then British High

Commissioner in Lagos dispatched on the Nigerian crisis were biased, for personal reasons. The diplomat hated Ojukwu’s profile, which even by the British standards, was outstanding. To make matters worse, after divorcing his first wife, the next woman that he went for was a Lebanese-Greek Lagos-based belle who happened to be Ojukwu’s girlfriend. “The British High Commissioner detested the Ibo [sic] military leader,” he quotes another source as saying, adding: “He was simply a crashing snob and covert racist.”

A complicated, twisted endeavour

David Koren’s account of the international airlift that was designed primarily for humanitarian purposes also illuminates an aspect that is rarely considered in all such interventions – humanitarian activities are also business operations. He describes an incident that occurred as part of his library project in Umuahia before the war. While a consignment of books that he had requested from the Americans was being sent, a bureaucrat added 350 50-pound bags of powdered milk that no one had asked for. The consignment became merely a nuisance in the school as no one was used to such food. This was one example of the way foreign aid “can be a complicated, twisted endeavour with spurious intentions and unintended consequences.” In this case, the unwanted food consignment came as a result of the US government subsidising American dairy producers by buying up their surplus produce and shipping it to Africa in order to avoid expensive stockpiling or depressing market prices. Thus countries at war, or about to go into war, or where natural disasters had occurred, provided the perfect excuse to dump the surplus and gain a halo in terms of humanitarian largesse in the process. What was driving such activity was not a genuine concern for the welfare of the suffering people, but commercial considerations. This set of books is not only timely but also brilliantly illuminates a subject that continues to cast a long shadow on Nigeria today. NA

december 2017 new african  73

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Recent celebrations marking 500 years of the Protestant Reformation and the wider impact of Martin Luther’s revolution on Europe, and in particular the UK, provide interesting insights for Africa.

BACK TO THE FUTURE Onyekachi Wambu

Reformation without reform


gainst the wider backdrop of the turmoil unleashed by the Reformation, the British break with the Catholic Church began with Henry VIII’s need for a divorce from a wife unable to provide him with a male heir to protect his dynasty. Following the breach with the Pope, legislation was quickly passed from 1532 onwards overturning the old order. He first appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church, usurping the authority of the Catholic Church. He then moved immediately to establish his new order, while destroying the old structure and its supporters. The old still had enormous power through leading personalities unhappy with the changes and their access to land and money. Further legislation enabled Henry, through the dissolution of the monasteries, to take control of Catholic Church property and land and distribute the assets to his supporters, thus creating an elite invested in the new order. Those who subscribed to the old power (Catholics) were marginalised, and in some cases seen as traitors. They in turn fought back, as the dispute and plots (e.g. Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot – celebrated every 5 November with fireworks)

rumbled on over the next hundred years. They occasionally won the support of short-lived British kings/ queens, interested in reasserting the old religion through alliances with European powers, principally Spain, which was also threatened by the new Protestant order. However, over the years Catholics were pushed to the margins and this marginal status was codified. From 1701 Royals could no longer be Catholic or marry one, to prevent a reopening of the old treacherous allegiance to the Pope. A suspicion of Catholics echoes even today. Tony Blair felt that being seen as a Catholic would damage his prospects as prime minister, so he waited until after he left office to convert to Catholicism. It was only in 2013 that Royals were finally allowed to marry Catholics, the last group of people you were legally allowed to discriminate against in the UK.

Old structures remain unchanged

So what has all this got to do with Africa? The period of decolonisation involved a rapid switch in authority and power from one ruling order/ elite to another. The structures of the order remain largely in place, with homage and allegiance to the old power centres, now abroad,

In South Africa, the rulers say a legal programme of faster land reform cannot be attempted because of the constitution. But they actually have the means to change the constitution.

continuing. Even some of the new neocolonial rulers continue to be ambivalent about whether they are serious about building the New Jerusalem in their independent countries, or whether they are merely engaged in a Japanese-style, Kabuki theatre, where make-up and deception is built in as part of the reality.  We can contrast Britain’s Reformation with what has happened in all the post-colonial African states, but let’s contrast it with just South Africa. Unlike in Britain after Henry’s break with the old order, there was no confiscation of land and assets to redistribute to new supporters, which left economic power in the hands of the old. The new rulers have only been able to offer their supporters the opportunity, through corruption, to loot the state. A legal programme of faster land reform, or a more interventionist policy of state nationalisation and economic redistribution, cannot be attempted, they say, because of the constitution. But they actually have the means to change the constitution. The supermajority threshold for a constitutional change is 267 votes in parliament. Between them, the ANC and the EFF, which are both, on paper, committed to more rapid land reform, have 274 votes, enough to pass constitutional amendments that would speed up the process of land reform and the redistribution of state assets, within a wellconsidered legal framework that would also protect individuals. Why in the Kabuki-style theatre that is South African politics, do the ANC, EFF, and Inkatha, that purport to speak on behalf of the disenfranchised, pretend they do not have this power? Why have the new elites who currently run the new order, chosen the option of corruptly looting the state to reward their followers, while also treacherously allowing, as Pravin Gordhan noted, wealthy foreigners such as the Gupta brothers access as well. Perhaps the South African elite should watch how it is done, as the British, 500 years after Henry, embark on yet another seismic break with Europe. NA

74  New African december 2017

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New African, December 2017  

New African once again presents its all-time favourite listing – the 100 Most Influential Africans 2017. A host of high-achievers who have m...

New African, December 2017  

New African once again presents its all-time favourite listing – the 100 Most Influential Africans 2017. A host of high-achievers who have m...

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