SAASUM REVIEW 2021

Page 1

SAASUM REVIEW

YEAR IN REVIEW - 2021 EDITION


SAASUM Review ‘Year in Review’ 2021 Edition Published in conjunction with the St Andrews Africa Summit held on 6th March 2021

Cover Art: Chiizii - ‘Ogoni Future’ is a representation of what the Ogonis of Nigeria’s future could be like if action was taken now. The piece depicts fresh water, boats filled with palm fruit, coconut, palm trees, all native to Ogoniland. The piece hopes to portray the ‘ideal future’ with accompanying images of young people diving & playing and fresher air. In an ideal future, they should have the right to enjoy their home, prioritise leisure, and reap the fruit of their land.


SAASUM Review 2021 Edition EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Margaret DeLaMater EDITORIAL TEAM Charlie Webb Emefa Dzivenu St Andrews Africa Summit (SAASUM) is a student led initiative that promotes a versatile discussion about Africa, Africans and African affairs. The Review is the editorial arm of the St Andrews Africa Summit. We are a student-led publication, aiming to advance discussion about African affairs among the St Andrews community and beyond. We welcome interested writers from all academic disciplines, pursuing either postgraduate or undergraduate degrees. The Review contains the collective views of an international group of students and does not necessarily represent those of SAASUM. The information and material used in this publication is produced exclusively by/ for the St Andrews Africa Summit Review (SAASUM Review) unless stated otherwise. No part of this magazine may in any form by an electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or any other means be reproduced, sold or transmitted without the prior permission of the publisher, SAASUM Review. Contributing artists may retain the full rights to any unlicensed images. Any images in this volume have been reproduced for educational, non-commercial use. 2021 © The St Andrews Africa Summit Review www.saasum.com www.saasumreview.wordpress.com


04

CONTENTS Letter From the Editor...............................................................................................................................06 St Andrews Africa Summit 2021..........................................................................................................08 The Speakers..............................................................................................................................................10 In memoriam: Professor Ian Taylor......................................................................................................12 COVID-19 In Africa: Subverting Dismal Predictions....................................................................16 COVID-19 and Conflict in Burkina Faso..........................................................................................18 SARS: A Summary, Update and Message from Peers.....................................................................22 Africa is Not a Country So Why Do We Treat It Like One?.........................................................24 Tourism and Conservation: A Fragile Partnership in Danger......................................................28 In Praise of Still Boys Filled With Water: Interview with Julian Knox.......................................30 Behind the Veil of Tanzania: An Exploration of Censorship in a Retreating Democracy....35


ART CONTRIBUTORS Chiizii Chiizii is an Igbo interdisciplinary artist, designer and researcher. Born in London and raised in New York, she works heavily with painting, collage and textile design. Her work centres on the specificities of African and Black histories, cultures and present experiences. Chiizii holds an Hon. Bachelor of Fashion: Textiles Print from London College of Fashion and an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art.

Ethel Tawe Ethel Tawe is a Cameroonian multidisciplinary artist exploring African identity and diaspora cultures through visual storytelling. Cyclical conceptions of time are central to her practice which examines Africa’s ancient futures from a magical realist lens. Image-making, storytelling, and time-travelling compose the framework of her inquiry. She is interested in collage-making as a means of breathing life into colonial African visual archives. Ethel explores myth, intuition, social justice, gender, and the complexities of identity, through experiences of her own and those embedded in her DNA. She holds an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS University of London and a BA (Hons) in International Human Rights with a minor in Art History & Criticism.

Julian Knox Julian Knox is an artist and director who experiments with poetry, photography, art direction, and film. His Sierra Leonean heritage inspires him to embrace tradition – by passing down thoughts on gender, race, and faith with oral storytelling.

2021 Edition

05


06

Letter From the Editor: A year ago, at the St Andrews Africa Summit 2020, our

people and their environment. In regards to the econo-

speakers discussed the power of effective leadership

my, Mr. Awuondo celebrated the use of M-Pesa and oth-

and exciting entrepreneurship in creating measurable

er mobile banking services, which Dr. Nsenga cited as a

and sustainable development in Africa. With the out-

great way to reduce transmission of the virus. Dr. Obura

break of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent

similarly emphasized the use of capital for good, by in-

worldwide response only weeks after the event, these

vesting in natural capital, resilient systems, and ecosys-

topics discussed took on a whole new urgency. Accord-

tem services. In regards to a question on Africa’s newly

ingly, the theme of our sixth annual summit, on the

signed Free Trade Agreement, effective in 54 countries,

6th of March 2021, was ‘Global Problems, Local Solu-

Mr. Awuondo praised it but wished the agreement had

tions: Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic’.

come decades earlier, instead of ‘wasting too much time fighting over artificial borders’. When asked about han-

Our summit explored the impact of the pandemic on Afri-

dling the pandemic in multiple countries, Dr. Nsenga

can industries, cultures, and influence, and the solutions

reiterated a similar sentiment by saying, ‘disease doesn’t

for African countries going forward. We were honored

care about borders’. Their statements point to Africa’s

to host three speakers who are leaders in their respective

need for collective action in the waning stages of the

fields: Dr. Ngoy Nsenga (WHO Africa Incident Manag-

pandemic, and echo Dr. Obura’s environmental focus,

er for the COVID-19 Pandemic), Mr. Isaac Awuondo

where working collectively is key. In a time of extreme

(Chairman of NCBA Bank Kenya PLC), and Dr. Da-

separation and isolation, our speakers remind us of the

vid Obura (Marine Biologist & Director of CORDIO).

importance of cooperation, with our communities and environments, in order to rebuild our systems and move

Through the lenses of their unique sectors, each speaker

out of this pandemic stronger than how we entered it.

lent a valuable insight into the pandemic’s current and future effects in Africa. Dr. Nsenga emphasized ‘com-

We decided to name this edition of the St Andrews Af-

munity’ as the key to understanding and handling the

rica Summit Review our ‘Year in Review’ issue. With a

virus, which he monitored daily in 47 African countries.

year as historic as this, we felt it was necessary to gather

He also recognized that ‘health is a convergence of so

articles that explore not only the COVID-19 pandem-

many factors’, including social and economic, which

ic, but also the many key events and developments that

must be addressed in conjunction with public health.

occurred across the continent. Our writers examine a

Mr. Awuondo relayed the devastating economic figures

diverse set of topics, from the threat of the virus to tour-

of the pandemic, which caused a 1.5% economic con-

ism and conservation, to the #ENDSARS movement

traction, and the steps his firm is taking to combat these

in Nigeria, to censorship under Magafuli in Tanzania.

losses. In response to these comments, Dr. Obura posed

While not exhaustive, this set of articles provides a di-

a crucial question: ‘Do we rebuild the industries that

verse sampling of key events from this noteworthy year.

have collapsed? Or can we rebuild in more robust ways?’.

In addition to articles from our student staff writers, this

Each speaker agreed that moving forward, an emphasis

issue showcases the work of three prominent African

on technology and sustainability would be vital to ensure

artists. We are honored to include the work of Chiizii

the success of African industry, while protecting African

(featured on our cover), Ethel Tawe, and Julian Knox.

SAASUM Review


Each of their unique pieces explores diverse media and facets of African life—from Ethel Tawe’s digital collage exploring African myth and gender, to Julian Knox’s powerful, ruminative film In Praise of Still Boys, to Chiizii’s beautifully curated collages reflecting on the Ogoni 9. We encourage our readers to engage with their pieces featured here, but to also check out their more extensive collections online. On a final note, we would like to remember the great Professor Ian Taylor, who passed away last month. Ian served as Professor in International Relations and African Political Economy at St Andrews, in addition to serving as Professor Extraordinary in Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, a visiting professor at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and an Honorary Professor in the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, China. His doctorate was earned from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and an MPhil from the University of Hong Kong. In addition to holding these prestigious positions all around the world, Ian was invited to present his research in 55 different countries and visited 44 African countries. His diverse experiences and interests, along with his strong and generous values, enriched every community he was a part of, especially ours of St Andrews. Shortly before he passed away, he was awarded a DLitt by the Senatus Academicus, the highest academic honor bestowed by the University. In this issue of the review, we feature a ‘collective tribute’ from students and colleagues of Professor Taylor, who touched so many lives. A special thank you to Charlie Webb and Emefa Dzivenu, co-editors of this year’s SAASUM review, for all their help in assembling this year’s publication, and to Dr. Tim Zajontz, for his creation of the ‘collective tribute’ to Professor Ian Taylor.

Margaret DeLaMater Editor-In-Chief

2021 Edition

07


St Andrews

6th March

AFRICA SUMMIT 2021 GLOBAL PROBLEMS, LOCAL SOLUTIONS:

NAVIGATING THROUGH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC


The COVID-19 pandemic has infiltrated every corner of the world, and Africa is no exception. At SAASUM 2020, speakers and contributors discussed the innovation, enterprises, and resourcefulness coming out of Africa. Today, the state of the world puts Africans in a situation which requires these skills in order to progress and get through these trying times. The theme of our 2021 summit, “Global Problems, Local Solutions: Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic”, aims to explore the impact of the pandemic on African industries, cultures and influence now and going forward. In such unsteady times, every country acts in their own best interest-and that has tested relationships between African nations and the rest of the world. SAASUM hopes to encourage conversations with professionals from different industries in order to examine this current historical moment and propose the steps to navigate towards a better future for Africa.


10

The Speakers: Mr. Isaac Awuondo Isaac has considerable experience in the financial services industry having worked for more than 33 years in the Kenyan and regional banking industry. He is currently the Chairman of NCBA Bank Kenya PLC. He was Group Managing Director of Commercial Bank of Africa Limited (“CBA Group”) the largest privately held commercial bank in Kenya for over 20 years. CBA Group was one of the strongest and ethically managed commercial banks’ offering a comprehensive range of banking services, including Mobile and Digitally enabled financial solutions. NCBA Group presently serves in excess of 50 million customers in its five main markets. Isaac graduated from University of Nairobi in 1980 and then trained in London as a chartered accountant qualifying in 1984. On his return to Kenya he worked with the firm of Githongo and Company as an Audit Manager. In 1986 he was appointed Group Auditor of Nation Printer and Publishers Limited and eventually became the Group Financial Controller and Company Secretary. Isaac is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Institute of Certified Public Accounts of Kenya and Fellow of the Kenya Institute of Management. Isaac sits on the Board of several public and private organisations. He is Chairman of the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, University of Nairobi Alumni Association and WWF Kenya; former Chairman of The Rhino Trust, a conservation charity involved in preservation of environmental biodiversity; and Trustee of the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, an educational charity which provides scholarship support to disadvantaged girls from Africa (and presently operating in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Ghana) to Universities mainly in the US and Canada and more recently the UK and Japan. He is a keen golfer, music enthusiast and a collector of contemporary African Art.

SAASUM Review


Dr. Ngoy Nsenga Dr. Ngoy Nsenga is a public health Emergency expert with more than 25 years of experience managing outbreaks and other public health emergencies in Africa, working with government institutions, NGOs, and UN organizations. He has been working for the World Health Organization for the last 15 years. He has been involved in several major outbreaks and public health emergency across the African continent, including in the management of the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and DRC, the humanitarian crises in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Central Africa Republic, the Sahel, and South Sudan, and the famine in the Horn of Africa. Dr. Nsenga is currently the Team Lead for Emergency response in the WHO regional office for Africa and the WHO/AFRO’s Incident Manager for the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Nsenga has published several papers and contributed to several international fora on emergency management and disaster risk management. His areas of interest for research include vulnerability and risk analysis. Dr. Nsenga holds a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD), a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH), and a Ph.D. in epidemiology. He is fluent in English, French, and Swahili.

Dr. David Obura Dr. David Obura is a marine biologist with over 30 years’ experience in conservation and sustainability research in East Africa. He is a Founding Director of CORDIO East Africa, a knowledge organization supporting sustainability of marine systems in the Western Indian Ocean. CORDIO takes research to management and policy, builds capacity, and works with stakeholders, managers, politicians and policy makers. Dr Obura’s primary research is on coral reef resilience, in particular to climate change, and the biogeography of the Indian Ocean. He works to integrate conservation and development through inclusive blue economy principles and links provided by global sustainability goals and targets. Dr Obura holds an ungraduate degree from Harvard University and a PHD from the University of Miami. He chairs the IUCN’s Coral Specialist Group, and is on the Global Partnership for Ocean’s Blue Ribbon Panel, GEOBON’s Oceans Working Group 5 and on the Steering Committee of bioDISCOVERY.

2021 Edition

11


12

In memoriam: Professor Ian Taylor A collective tribute to a true friend of Africa and a wonderful teacher

O

n 22 February 2021, we lost Professor Ian Taylor. Ian has been a world-renowned scholar who made outstanding contributions in the fields of International Relations, African politics and China-Africa studies. Besides his remarkable academic achievements and output, Ian was an extremely passionate educator who has inspired generations of students at all levels of their studies and literally all over the world. He was genuinely interested in the opinions and lives of his students and truly cared for them. This ‘collective eulogy’ is a modest attempt to pay tribute to the important role Ian has played as a ‘teacher’, mentor or supervisor for many of us.

No doubt, he was an academic ‘superstar’ or, as the Cambridge Review of International Affairs once put it, ‘one of the most authoritative academics on SubSaharan Africa’s International Relations’. What made him special is that he never considered himself a ‘superstar’, let alone make others feel that he was one. He was incredibly humble and did not take himself too seriously. Occasionally, he would send us his newest publication. In the subject line of the email: ‘my latest nonsense’. Ian’s humble nature had a direct impact on how he interacted with his students. He was very approachable and genuinely interested in what students had to say. In class, he created a warm, very pleasurable learning atmosphere in which students felt comfortable to share their views. Throughout his career, Ian remained steadfast and loyal to his political ideals of a more equitable and just world. He was a radical – a very gentle radical. He never compromised on his convictions of what is right and what is wrong. What he most certainly considered wrong was the enduring systematic exploitation of Africa by external actors and economic interests. At the same time, he would never let African political and economic elites escape from their responsibility for the fate of their people.

In the typical Ian-esque manner, Prof. Taylor often joked that his only ‘claim to fame’ was that he, during his and his wife Jo’s time at the University of Botswana (2001-04), taught Kennedy Kamoli, who would later, in 2014, stage a coup d’état in Lesotho. Of course, everyone knew that his modesty was misplaced. Ian has done pioneering work in what is now a burgeoning subdiscipline, China-Africa studies. But his work and interests went far beyond ‘China in Africa’. Ian published highly influential books and articles on the politics, international relations and political economy of Africa, on African political thought as well as Gramscian and Marxist theory, on international institutions and regionalism, on the (under)development of Africa and on peace and conflict on the continent.

Ian was an academic who was fully aware of his privileges and reflective of his whiteness, class and gender. As a result, he was particularly eager to learn from others, not least from the less privileged. In contrast to many leading academics, he really listened when others spoke. He incorporated silenced voices, not least from Africa, into his work and actively engaged in the decolonisation of the institutions he taught at. He was puzzled about the fact that the University of St Andrews would offer a degree on International Political Thought without substantive input on Africa. He filled the gap by offering a module on African political thought. After all, he was a person of action not of talk. It was a pure pleasure sitting in his class listening to this incredibly knowledgeable man – sometimes dressed in his hoodie with the ‘University of Addis Ababa’ print – and discuss with him the thought and action of organic intellectuals such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Frantz Fanon, Thomas Sankara, Julius Nyerere, Walter Rodney and Steve Biko.

SAASUM Review


It was particularly important for Ian to be in exchange with students and academics from Africa. He taught courses at universities in Botswana, Ethiopia, Uganda and, for almost two and a half decades, at his alma mater in Stellenbosch where he had earned his PhD in the late-1990s. Amongst both students and faculty in St Andrews, his office was legendary for the colourful book walls Ian had erected around his desk. No doubt, his office hosted the biggest Africana library in Scotland. But there were also thousands of books on China, political economy, history, political thought and so on. It was indeed impressive to see the variety of literatures Ian delved into. At some point during my PhD, I simply stopped consulting the university’s library. I would knock on Ian’s office door, since chances were high he had the book I needed. On the few square metres of open wall that were not covered by books, there were photos of Amílcar Cabral, Antonio Gramsci, Chris Hani and Kwame Nkrumah. It was as if he wanted their eyes to watch his desk on which he carried on, in written form, their struggles for true liberation, social justice and emancipation. In the crowded bookshelves, the curious student who visited Ian in his office would spot busts of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Marx, next to souvenirs and gifts from all over the world.

underwent various therapies with stoic tranquility, despite their heavy side effects. He was immensely grateful for the help he received from the doctors and nurses. It was obvious that his firm belief in God gave him faith no matter what would come.

But one would leave Ian’s office not only stunned by its décor but, more importantly, always elevated by his positive spirit and attitude. Ian had an unbelievable gift to make others feel good. With his dry sense of humour, he could turn a shitty day (of which there are usually many in the life of a PhD student) into a brighter day. I remember a message exchange with him about football. Spending his teens in West London, for young Ian it was obvious which team to support. Brentford FC was his choice, since it was – in his words – a ‘100% local club’ and, he would jokingly add that only ‘the fascists and glory hunters in West London’ would support Chelsea. He was not done wisecracking, as he started to blame me and my tribe for the rather modest performance of his favourite team over the last 80 years. He wrote: ‘Actually, you should feel guilty about this. We were at the top of the First Division in the 1930s and then Adolf started his thing and we’ve been crap ever since… I blame ALL Germans :D :D’. It was not least funny moments like this that made Ian such a wonderful person to spend time with.

Two weeks before his death, I visited Ian for the last time, together with Pádraig Carmody, a long-time companion of his. We had an almost light-hearted, very pure time and laughed quite a bit. Jo and Ian showed us the very first issue from 1963 of the Journal of Modern African Studies whose co-editor Ian was. Ian told us stories of his family’s time in Botswana, where their daughter was born, of the time when he hitchhiked from Mauretania to Senegal and of the weekend trips during his stays in Addis Ababa. Thursdays or Fridays, he would check Ethiopian Airlines’ vast route network and book a flight to one of the few African destinations he had not been to. Wanderlust and curiosity were innate to Ian.

Even after the diagnosis last year, Ian did not lose his positivity but instead remained optimistic and full of zest for action. I recall him expressing his annoyance about Covid-19. The pandemic would not allow him to travel to Africa in 2020 – for the first time since 1992. At the same time, he fully accepted his fate and

Our thoughts and sympathy are with Ian’s family. To you, Jo, Blythe and Archie: We hope you might find some solace in reading about how Ian inspired and touched so many of us across the world. We wish you strength and faith in the future. Ian, it is a true honour to have known you. We shall meet again. Until then, we will live off the wonderful memories of you and shall aspire to honour your immense legacy. A luta continua! Dr. Tim Zajontz, St Andrews Ian’s PhD supervisee (2015-2020), University of St Andrews

2021 Edition

13


In the summer of 2010, Ian and I were at a Beijing market that sells all things “old China” to tourists. Browsing at a stall specializing in Cultural Revolution posters, we saw a poster depicting disgraced party leaders. Pointing at the caricatures, and to the utter disbelieve of the stall owner, Ian named each leader. Most Chinese people will struggle to name these old leaders, never mind a ‘lao wai’! Ian was always unassuming and quietly confident. His confidence and belief in my abilities supported me through the ups and downs of my research journey and will always remain with me. Dr. Steven Kuo, Cape Town Ian’s PhD supervisee (2007-12), University of St Andrews

Professor Taylor had a tremendous impact on my time at St Andrews. Always insightful, the stories he told were something of legend. His classes challenged convention and the commitment he showed to his students was unwavering. I feel enormously privileged to have been taught by Ian and have never met a student of his who would say otherwise. He will be greatly missed.

During the years in which I was Ian Taylor’s PhD student at the University of St Andrews, and the short time since, I had the privilege to have a mentor who was a committed scholar and teacher, and a very kind person. While perhaps a little intimidated at first, I got to know Ian as a supportive supervisor, unpretentious and open, driving every encounter with his many questions. I appreciated the freedom and confidence he gave me to explore research avenues that were not necessarily his own, while, at the same time, I could rely on his straight-forward advice and clear judgement. We also had the chance to meet during his various research and teaching trips to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Ian was well liked and respected. He took time to engage with his students, and delighted in looking for treasures in the little second-hand bookshops. I will miss him very much.

I came to Ian’s course with little knowledge about African politics and with the utter conviction that regional integration was the unfailing remedy to nationalism. His classes were a true eye-opener. I learnt that regionalism was not always pursued for lofty intentions but used and abused by elites for political incumbency and patronage, all with the complicity of the international community. And I discovered that beneath the fiction of regional organisations lied a whole world of actual regional-building forged by cross-border activities. His class turned out to be my starting point for an academic path dedicated to the study of regionalism ever since. My fondest memories, however, will be of later years of friendship - of laughing at ourselves, as he was sweating heavily under the thick tweed coat he refused to take off despite us having ordered plenty of spicy Szechuan food.

Dr. Katharina Newbery, Leipzig Ian’s PhD supervisee (2014-19), University of St Andrews

Dr. Frank Mattheis, Brussels Ian’s student, Political Economy of Southern Africa (2006), Stellenbosch University

Jake Eisenecker, St Andrews Ian’s student, Politics of Africa (AY 2019-20) and International Relations of Sub-Saharan Africa (202021), University of St Andrews I was fortunate enough to have taken two classes on Africa with Ian in my undergraduate years. Those classes triggered my passion for working on and with the continent and I’m glad to have spent five years’ living in various African countries since then. It is fair to say that my personal and professional trajectory was immensely influenced by Ian’s teaching and I remember his intellectual rigour and clarity - underpinned by personal empathy - with great fondness. He left a lasting impression on me as a great teacher and I will treasure his memory dearly. Peter Lang, Copenhagen Ian’s student, Politics of Africa (AY 2010-11), International Relations of Sub-Saharan Africa (2011-12), University of St Andrews

Professor Taylor taught me in my final year at the University of St Andrews. He was deeply knowledgeable, passionate about his research, hugely supportive in pushing me to challenge myself in my work, and always willing to chat football! He was kind enough to act as a referee for me as I sought both Master’s and PhD opportunities. Ian was intelligent, humble, and supportive of others. He will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace. Dr. James A. Malcolm, Coventry Ian’s student (AY 2004-05), University of St Andrews

Ian Taylor was one of the most exceptional minds I’ve ever had the privilege to learn from. I studied under him during the spring of 2019, while doing my Masters in International Political Theory at the University of St Andrews. That summer, he also supervised my Masters Dissertation. In that time, I was lucky enough to bear witness to the wide scope of his creativity, as he encouraged me to to work beyond the constraints of theoretical conventions and the limits of established disciplines- which ultimately helped set the tone for my work in my PhD. He was an incredibly kind individual whose generosity for sharing his wealth of knowledge was boundless. I will always admire him for his commitment to the shamefully neglected field of African Studies, and be grateful to him for the support and inspiration he provided in my academic career. Brenden Benjamin, St Andrews Ian’s MLitt supervisee, International Political Theory (2019), University of St Andrews


Professor Taylor was my PhD supervisor, mentor and friend. He steered me to discover my passion, pushed me out of my timidity, taught me how to defend my position. He believed in me—as he did in all his students in whom he invested his time and concern. He believed in our dreams and ambitions. Despite his stature as a world leading authority in his field, he never made any of us feel small at any point in time. While a lot of supervisors would just put us down on the list of their supervised PhDs and move on, Professor Taylor always took time to keep in touch. Over the last 7 years, I have had the chance to collect memories of him that I will always cherish in the form of email banters about everything and nothing. I miss him dearly, even more now that I know that there will be no cheerful email popping up in my inbox to reinstate my faith in the worthiness of fighting for the right thing. He would want us to keep up his legacy. He was and will always remain my guru. Dr. Honita Cowaloosur, Port Louis, Mauritius Ian’s PhD supervisee (2010-14), University of St Andrews

I will remember Professor Ian Taylor most of all for his curiosity. He had an extraordinary observational ability, and approached the world with a desire to know it. His curiosity was grounded in commitment rather than naivety: He was always ready to learn new things and to explore topics from unconventional angles. This resulted in influential and celebrated research, yet his most valuable legacy may come from demonstrating through personal example the importance of making the journey worthwhile. Prof. Heidi Østbø Haugen, Oslo Ian co-supervised Heidi’s PhD thesis (2009-12), University of Oslo More memories and tributes can be found on the SAASUM Review Website: https://saasumreview.wordpress. com/2021/03/09/a-collective-eulogy-for-professor-ian-taylor/

What I would like to share with everyone at this ‘shitest’ moment is what Ian said to me when I finally found him on the final submission day of my PhD thesis – I needed his signature for the submission and his phone had no signal whatsoever. And just as I was so anxiously looking for him around our little town, he showed up on North Street, looked at the pale me, and said, “but it’s OK (now you find me)”. And he went on signed my PhD thesis with his signature blue marker on a wheelie bin. Ian will be remembered a lot more than just a supervisor, but an irreplaceable companion, a friend who always has your back, or to myself, a family member who is just always there. I am sure that sadness is definitely not among one of those things that Ian would like to see from us, rather to be happy, kind, and stay just no matter how messy this world is becoming. Now our dearest supervisor has gone, “but it’s OK”, his spirit remains with us always, and we shall continue to make him proud. Dr. Cheng Zhangxi, Beijing Ian’s PhD supervisee (2010-16), University of St Andrews

Professor Taylor was one of the first tutors I had upon entering honours. I remember being blown away when speaking to him in his office, not just from the volumes of books and busts of African leaders on the walls, but from the well of knowledge and insight he could so easily draw from to guide you. I’ve reminisced about his classes many times with friends; he was truly loved by all of us. Leo Kelly, Manchester Ian’s student, Politics of Africa (AY 2019-20), University of St Andrews

During my MLitt in International Political Theory at the University of St Andrews, Ian managed to implant in me a great interest in African Political Thought. During the first seminar, he walked in, looked at the Crass (English punk band) logo stitched on my bag and, to my utmost surprise, exclaimed that he had seen them perform live. That set the incredibly awesome and interesting tone of the seminars that followed. Aristidis V. Agoglossakis Foley, St Andrews Ian’s postgraduate student, African Political Thought (AY 2018-19), University of St Andrews

The excitement of seeking advice from Ian stemmed from never knowing where, or when, his responses would come from; whether late at night, whilst negotiating a remote border crossing – and often through an intermittent internet connection. Regardless of circumstance, you always received a full and enthusiastic response. Ian first agreed to meet when I was completing my PhD at the University of St Andrews, in the School of Geography. His kindness, just like his work, bridged disciplinary divides and he made time to ensure I was prepared for my fieldwork, hours before catching a flight to complete his own. The next time we crossed paths would be a few months later in Cape Town as he headlined the latest Africa-China conference. His ever-present generosity was equalled by his modesty. As an early career academic, I continue to be reminded of the time I dared to refer to him as ‘the expert’, to which he simply replied, ‘there are no experts’. I know his work will continue to be an important source for those beginning their journey into Africa’s international relations, just as it was for me. Dr. Liam O’Brien, Rutland Ian provided advice during Liam’s PhD studies in the School of Geography, University of St Andrews

2021 Edition

15


16

COVID-19 In Africa: Subverting Dismal Predictions INES BIOLLAY

W

hen news of COVID-19 first

Atlantic warned of COVID-19 disasters for Africa by

began to rapidly spread in early

citing extreme hospital bed and ventilator shortages.

March, scientists and journalists

Similarly The Telegraph reported in May that the

were quick to make predictions

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

of Africa’s ‘impending doom’. And yet, six months

announced that Africa could expect 123 million

later, Africa has had the lowest amount of total

COVID-19 cases by the end of the year. We now have

reported cases apart from Oceania despite being

three months remaining in 2020 and the continent is

the second most populous continent. Because of its

currently reported as having under 2 million cases.

deviation from earlier predictions, these statistics

Kenya currently stands at a reported total of 38,115

continue to baffle scientists. By using Kenya as an

cases and 691 deaths. This stands in stark opposition

example for Africa as a whole, I will investigate why

to the U.K., which, although having a similar

Africa has seemingly avoided its grim expectations.

population size has a reported total of 439,000 cases

There are two ways to go about rationalizing Kenya’s

and 42,000 COVID-19 related deaths.

surprisingly low total case numbers: these results are either a product of skewed data and a shortage of

When observing statistics of Africa’s overall low

testing, or, on the other hand, a representation of true

infection and fatality rates, it is important to distinguish

low infection rates. If the latter of these possibilities

how much of these numbers should be taken as fact.

is the case, why? Exploring Kenya’s subversion of

A recent article from The Telegraph emphasized that,

expectations could be the key to understanding

because of Africa’s testing shortages, countries such as

statistical flaws or, on the flip side, give us an insight

Kenya are underreporting the number of cases. And

into a scientific mystery.

yet, the nation’s hospitals, once bracing for disaster, now lie nearly empty and are sparsely populated

According to the World Health Organization

with asymptomatic COVID-19 patients. Although

(WHO), Kenya suffers from overall poorer healthcare

under-testing is largely contributing to reports of low

in comparison to the United Kingdom, which has a

numbers in Africa, there are still enough gaps in data

much higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths

to allow for reasoning that, although under-testing is

and cases. The WHO reports that Kenya has a poverty

partly responsible for reported low COVID-19 related

rate of 46%, a high malnutrition rate, an average life

deaths, it is not the full picture. Of those who are being

expectancy of 62 years and comes in twelfth on the

tested, Kenya’s current case positivity rate remains

list of countries with the highest HIV/AIDS infection

low at 3.4%. The nation’s overall 2020 mortalities have

rates. These statistics are not dissimilar in many

also remained generally unremarkable. So, then, if

other African countries. Taking all this into account,

not under-testing, what exactly is preventing African

early predictions suggested that the continent would

countries from becoming COVID-19 hotspots?

fare terribly with the virus on the rise. In April, The

One potential theory is age-related. In the U.K., the

SAASUM Review


median age is forty. In Kenya, it is twenty. Apart from

This article was originally published on September 30,

age-related factors, scientists have also considered

2020 on the SAASUM Review website.

that Kenya’s above average malaria infection rates and experiences with other diseases have provided potential immunity. However, instead of continuing to search for scientific explanations as to why Africa has fared better than predicted, perhaps western countries should be analyzing the continent’s leadership tactics in order to see what we can learn from them. Africa’s past experiences with Ebola have rendered many nations familiar with social distancing precautions and contact tracing. Whereas many western countries took months to implement contact tracing, countries such as Rwanda were quick to utilise the procedure. Many African leaders were prompt and stricter about imposing lockdown restrictions than their western counterparts. For example, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced isolation measures, travel restrictions and social distancing requirements on March 13th—only two days after the country’s first reported case. It is this leadership quality that is also partly responsible for low death rates nearly seven months later. It is an understatement to say that so much about COVID-19 is still unknown—and Africa’s subversion of early dismal predictions stands as one of many unknowns about the pandemic. Whether or not skewed data, age statistics, immunities, leadership tactics or a combination of all of the above are responsible for the continent’s low numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, it may take years for us to truly know the answer. And yet, Africa’s virusrelated successes should not be overlooked by the Western world. With cases still on the rise in the U.K., perhaps now more than ever is a crucial time to look towards African nations for clues and answers.

2021 Edition

17


18

COVID-19 and Conflict in Burkina Faso LIVIAN STOKES

N

o corner left unscathed, the coronavirus

Islamist armed groups: Ansarul Islam, the Group to

pandemic has altered life on earth in

Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and Islamic State

unimaginable and undesired ways.

in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). These terrorist groups

It has brought upon us unexpected

have played upon existing tribal conflicts, and led

hardships and immense disappointment, as life’s

to extreme instability and violence throughout the

milestones and everyday routine are uncontrollably

country. Over 1 million people have been displaced,

altered. It has halted weddings, graduations, and

and last year an estimated 2,000 people were killed

shifted out classes, meetings, and societies online.

due to the violence. This means that one in every 20

Some of us have lost jobs and suffered economically,

people are forced to flee, and an estimated 5.5 million

and worse of all, some of us have lost loved ones.

citizens are in need of aid. In 2017, a five-country

In most developed countries, the pandemic is the

regional force was dispatched in addition to over

deadliest issue they currently face, and it has the full

5,000 French troops sent to assist in counter terrorism

priority of governments and the healthcare system.

efforts. But this has done little to bring stability to the

Somedays, the only redeeming thought is that this all

region, and terrorist attacks continue. Furthermore,

must end, and encouragingly--the vaccine is well on

France intends to withdraw troops, leaving the region

its way. Countries such as Israel are already at 73%

even more vulvernable.

of the population vaccinated, and the UK and US following behind at 25% and 18% respectively. The

The ongoing violence has seriously damaged

end is in sight seemingly, and there is hope that the

infrastructure and disrupted services - more than

vaccine process will run smoothly and proceed in

130 health centers have been forced to close, a

the fastest manner possible, with Biden securing 600

dangerous trend during the pandemic. Another 150

million doses by this summer for the United States.

health centers are functioning at half capacity - this leaves 1.5 million people without health coverage. An

But amongst all these hopeful headlines, we must not

estimated 65% of the country’s 1,000 schools have

forget the developing, poorest countries in the world;

also closed, leaving the remaining ones seriously

for them, the end is nowhere in sight, and COVID-19

understaffed and unequipped to deal with social-

is an additional trouble that has further complicated

distancing practices. There is an estimated 100 to

and harmed lives.

one student-teacher ratio, with students cramped in makeshift classrooms without masks or hand

In the small West African nation of Burkina Faso,

sanitizer. On top of this, schools have been a target of

the coronavirus is just about the least of everyone’s

the armed Islamic groups, with Human Rights Watch

worries. When the pandemic hit the country of

documenting more than 120 attacks against students

20 million, they were already suffering from a

and teachers from 2017 and 2020, and countless

humanitarian crisis due to jihadi attacks from three

schools destroyed throughout the country. For

SAASUM Review


many children, schools are considered a safe haven,

increase in internally placed people has put a strain

especially those left orphaned after family members

on resources, and so women are forced to walk

have been killed by extremists. Many children relied

further and further into the bush to gather firewood,

on school lunches, but that has long since been

putting them at high risk of rape by jihadis nearby.

offered. Now, 350,000 children are out of school,

It is estimated that more than 660,000 people will

creating irreparable hindrances to future generations.

need protection against gender-based violence, and

Food insecurity is also a major concern in Burkina

thousands of women struggle to receive support after

Faso, with 3.28 million people facing food insecurity

such traumatizing experiences. To these women, the

as of the summer of 2020, a sharp increase from

coronavirus pandemic is certainly insignificant, and

December 2019--due to the impact of COVID-19 on

likely the resulting restrictions and economic damage has only added to their desolate situation. This is the situation that Burkina Faso faces in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. As of February 14, 2021, the country had reported 11,227 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. While these numbers are relatively small in comparison to other parts of the world, the consequences of a larger outbreak in Burkina Faso would be deadly. With a strained health care system, extreme poverty, and a humanitarian crises already gripping

an already desperate situation. According to ACAPS:

the country, citizens are even more vulnerable to

‘COVID-19 mitigating measures resulted in a loss

malnutrition, malaria, and injuries, meaning the

in purchasing power, a decrease in agro pastoral

virus would have deadly consequences and easily

production, and disruption to food markets for

overwhelm the hospitals. There is some good news

the population of Burkina Faso’. Flooding has also

recently: ‘COVAX...announced plans for an initial

exacerbated the situation by destroying harvests and

distribution of 100 million doses worldwide by the

food stores.

end of March’. COVAX is a global collaboration effort to ensure vaccines are provided to developing and

Perhaps the most horrific impact of extremism in

medium-income countries coordinating with WHO,

Burkina Faso has been the increase in sexual assault

which has recently granted emergency approval to

against women. There are innumerable, traumatizing

Oxford’s vaccine. If everything goes to plan, in the

accounts of women who have been brutally attacked

coming weeks Burkina Faso could receive 1.6 million

and raped by community leaders or jihadists wearing

doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine created by the

masks and carrying guns. The situation has grown

University of Oxford. However, there are concerns

worse with time, as more people are displaced and

about the transportation and storage of the vaccine

forced to flee. Many women are targeted as they

in a country with poor infrastructure. With many

return to their homes to collect belongings, or as

vaccines requiring strict refrigeration, Burkina

they are forced to wander further beyond the safety

Faso is simply not currently equipped to receive

of their villages to collect firewood for cooking. The

and distribute such a vaccine. For example, one

2021 Edition

19


medical clinic outside the capital of Ouagadougou

only one solution to a multitude of crises that Burkina

went without a single functioning refrigerator for

Faso faces, and the situation desperately needs more

nearly a year--instances such as these are cases

coverage in the news to bolster international concern

where the cold chain of the vaccine could be easily

and support.

broken. International organizations have attempted to counter this hindrance by installing hundreds of solar-powered vaccine refrigerators throughout developing countries, however this is only one step of the process. The vaccine requires solid infrastructure and governmental organization to keep the doses secure and eventually distributed widely throughout the country. There are fears that the vaccine will be stolen or that cargos carrying the vaccine could be held ransom. In the coming months, Burkina Faso faces many complex challenges, from ongoing terrorist attacks to starvation to a worsening pandemic, all of which cause chain reactions leading to a dangerous humanitarian crisis. Burkina Faso lacks the resources and aid to deal with its ongoing jihadist attacks, which have consequently caused wartime sexual assault, the closure of schools and health centres, and the displacement of nearly a million citizens, with many more millions facing economic and food insecurity. Unfortunately, Burkina Faso also must deal with the coronavirus pandemic, which could quickly overstress the country’s already frail healthcare system and overburden the sick with unaffordable health bills, as well as diminish employment opportunities. Burkina Faso needs the support of the international community now more than ever; whether food and medical supplies, troops, or vaccines with assisting storage and distribution plans. Hopefully, Burkina Faso can receive doses of the emergency-authorized AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX, which would alleviate some of the stress of the pandemic for not only Burkina Faso, but also many other developing countries facing similar situations, most especially and well-known of which is Yemen. However, this is


Ethel Tawe - ‘Mawu’ (2017) references the unity and duality of human life. It is a symbol of African creation myth, repurposing an archival image from the ancient Dahomey Kingdom’s historic all-women rebellion: a reminder of local solutions by fearless women who have long challenged gender confines and hierarchies.


22

SARS: A Summary, Update and Message from Peers JANNAH BABAR

T

he global pandemic of COVID-19 has

SARS seems to rebirth itself with new feathers, but

persisted for nearly over a year and

with the same unceasing violence. Rights groups such

counting, whereby every morning, the

as Amnesty International have even documented the

news is readily updated on the number

units’ abuse of civilians including and not limited

of cases, deaths and more recently, vaccines. All over

to coercion, extrajudicial killings, illegal stop and

the world, the quarantines, lockdowns and isolation

searches and rape.

from normality has been an incredibly stressful journey. As a result of such unnatural circumstances,

In disgust of this unsettling reality, in early October of

all conversations revolve around the pandemic itself.

2020, many Nigerians took to the streets in protest of

Thus, it’s almost hard to believe that other pressing

the infamous police unit. Peaceful protests, organized

matters exist and affect people just as much as the

under the hashtag #EndSARS, spread across the

virus.

country of 206 million people and to Nigerian diaspora communities in the U.S. and Europe in

Although the coronavirus has been the culprit of

solidarity with the movement. The protests were

millions of lives, it has not been the only thing

inaugurated shortly after a video of a SARS officer

responsible for death and destruction. Pertaining to

shooting a man before driving off was released.

Africa, conflict is a continuing issue that currently

Sọrọ sókè werey, a Yoruba phrase loosely translating

exists which begs the question of ethics, human rights

to, ‘speak up fool’, had become an iconic statement

and morality if corruption persists within a global

associated during the protests. It was directly targeted

health crisis. A clear example of this can be seen with

at the government and their leadership calling for the

the SARS crisis that took place in Nigeria that resulted

disbandment of SARS, reparations and justice for the

in a protest, despite the dangers of the coronavirus.

victims, in a tireless effort to end police brutality. Since then, the #EndSARS movement has acted as a

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which

medium through which Nigerians have voiced their

was originally instated in 1992 to combat armed

distasteful experiences to the world. The #EndSars

robbery and other serious crimes, has now become

movement was trending on almost every single social

interchangeable with accusations of police brutality

media platform available since October 2020, but only

and indemnity. Interestingly, the crimes which SARS

2 months later and the circulation of information has

sought to combat were reportedly a result of a gap

reduced significantly. So, what’s happening now?

in policing, which resulted in desertion following the death of a military officer through the agency

The

of police operatives. Thus, SARS is somewhat of a

disbandment of SARS on the 11th of October and

phoenix birthed from the flames of police brutality.

agreed to numerous compensations: prosecution

It seems as though no matter how many fires are set,

of abusive police officers, reimbursements to the

Nigerian

SAASUM Review

government

announced

their


families of victims, higher police salaries, release of imprisoned protestors and the psychological

It is even documented by the Human Rights Watch

evaluation/retraining of all SARS personnel before

that the Nigerian government has frozen the

their redeployment. At first, this seemed as though the

bank accounts or taken the passports of activists,

demands of the protestors have been met as it reflects

journalists, and civil society organizations that

responsiveness, transparency and accountability yet

support or broadcast the protests. Nevertheless, the

this is not entirely the case.

power of the people is stronger than ever and the passion to resist such corruption is a driving force in

While SARS has been disbanded, in its place President

this movement.

Buhari has situated the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit. Naturally, many have felt skepticism and unease in response to this decision as it gives the impression of a rebranded SARS. As a result, the #EndSARS movement has now transcended it’s cause as it has developed to encapsulate wider concerns of the people to its government such as elite corruption, increasing food prices and extreme levels of unemployment.

‘’The #EndSARS movement represented so much

‘’I have family back home, and seeing places I recognise

more than the citizens standing up to police brutality;

getting torched to the ground is heart breaking. Yet,

it was the youths – us and our agemates – standing up

I am really impressed at how brave the citizens are,

and saying, ‘enough is enough’ to the establishment.

putting their lives on the line to ensure a better future

The movement was an adamant rejection of what

for them and the future generations.’’ - Oyinloluwa

Nigeria is today and the birth of what she can grow

Oke, BSc Medicine, University of St Andrews

to become.’’

- Omar Ibrahim, MSc International

Development Practise, University of St Andrews. It is certain that the world was already a violent place pre-covid but the fact that it has continued to be so On October 15th, 12 protestors at Lekki Toll Gate in

during the pandemic is a frightening reality. Thus, in

Lagos were sitting together holding the Nigerian flag,

order for a less violent arena, sustained cooperation

peacefully singing the national anthem when military

on a domestic and international scale is imperative

forces opened fire on them. Regardless of there

for peace and stability in regards to both the impact

being clear media footage of the event, the Nigerian

of violence and COVID-19.

military were quick to brand it as ‘fake news’. Thus, it is evident that the government has branded activists

This article was originally published on February 4,

and non-violent protestors as ‘terrorists’, and it is

2021 on the SAASUM Review website.

suspected that it is using its intelligence and financial arms to target them.

2021 Edition

23


24

Africa is Not a Country So Why Do We Treat It Like One? KIRAN HUGHES

A

frica is not a country. This may seem

West and the world more broadly thinks about Africa

like a self-explanatory statement, an

today is rooted in colonialist practices of knowledge

objective fact, so why is it that the world,

production in terms of how Africa’s experience of

and particularly the West, continues to

colonialism is talked about and taught. Outside of

subsume Africa’s 54 independent nations and over 1

Africa, African history is often taught as beginning

billion people under the single identifier of “African”?

with colonialism. There is little to no acknowledgement

To credit thinkers like Michel Foucault and Jacques

that African people or societies existed before Europe

Derrida, there is a powerful relationship between the

“discovered” them or that these peoples and societies

way that we talk about and represent the world and

were highly diverse and complex. Furthermore, in

the way that we think about and understand it. In

Western understandings, there is often an underlying

the case of how Africa is discussed and represented

assumption that all Africans had the same experience

in Western and Western-influenced media, politics,

of colonialism. Because all major colonial powers

and education, the persistent tendency to make

were European, and because they all engaged to some

broad remarks about the continent in general, rather

extent in practices of brutality, slavery, and resource

than its countries or people in particular, effectively

exploitation, many do not differentiate between, for

conflates a continent with a country. Nigerian author

example, British, French, and Portuguese approaches

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captures this sentiment

and philosophies of colonialism. Building on the

as she says that ‘before [she] went to the US [she]

notion that all Africans experienced the same

didn’t consciously identify as African, but in the US

colonialism, there is the assumption that all colonized

whenever Africa came up people turned to [her],

African countries experienced similar journeys to

never mind that [she] knew nothing about places like

independence and are in similar situations, facing

Namibia’. The generalization and homogenization of

similar issues, post-independence. Counter to the

African countries, people, and experiences is very

generalized Africa-as-a-country narrative that is

much rooted in colonialist practices of knowledge

perpetuated by this oversimplified understanding

production and is something that has become

of colonialism, we know that colonialism, and the

particularly evident in the context of the COVID-19

subsequent paths to independence, was experienced

pandemic. It is problematic not only because it is

dramatically differently by Africans not just across

simply not true that all African peoples and countries

different colonial territories but also within individual

are alike because they are African, but also because

colonial rules.

it has tangible consequences for the way that people outside of Africa think about, understand, and interact

Take, for example, a comparison between British

with the continent’s people, countries, problems, and

Kenya and Portuguese Mozambique. Under British

solutions.

rule, Kenya experienced indirect colonialism where the British oversaw a governing infrastructure which

One of the most influential factors in shaping how the

included locals in traditional positions of power.

SAASUM Review


Additionally, the British favored the Luo ethnic

to the pandemic and could set the example for

group above others in their territory and generally

other countries. While it is true that some African

placed Luo people in positions of power. By contrast,

countries handled the initial wave of COVID-19

in Mozambique, Portugal practiced a form of direct

well, it is also true that some African countries

colonialism where they assumed total control of the

responded to the virus poorly and some countries

country and removed most, if not all, locals from

had mixed responses. In an interview with Lena

traditional roles of power. Thus we see that, while both

Reuter, Sean Jacobs states that ‘the response by

“African,” Kenyan and Mozambiquan experiences of

African states cannot be generalized. It depends on

colonialism differed dramatically not only depending

the kind of regime, the region, the state of health

on which colonial power they lived under but also

services and infrastructure, how dense their cities

depending on how favored their ethnic group was with

are, among other considerations.’ Take, for example,

that power. Furthermore, as a result of the difference

Tunisia which was praised for its quick, effective, and

in the approaches to colonial rule that Portugal and

well-communicated response to COVID-19 which

Britain took, Kenya and Mozambique experienced

included implementing school closures, border

substantially different journeys to independence.

closers, nightly curfews, and a national lockdown.

Whereas

achieved

Furthermore, countries like Liberia that have delt with

(relatively) peacefully and successfully, Mozambique’s

the Ebola crisis have generally had a better response

was violent and drawn out as they fought to establish

to COVID-19 than those who did not because they

an entirely new government system. Furthermore,

already had the infrastructure in place to deal with a

post-independence we see these countries in different

large-scale disease. In contrast, countries like Republic

stages of development facing different challenges

of the Congo and Tanzania have demonstrated relative

particularly because Mozambique experienced a

indifference towards the disease and have bought into

15-year civil war from 1977 to 1992. Thus here we

an organic and unscientifically backed COVID-19

see that the narrative of a single, uniform “African”

cure being peddled by Madagascar’s president.

Kenya’s

independence

was

history which has contributed so much to the global, generalized understanding of Africa that dominates

Going beyond the differences in how African

today was constructed not on the reality of African

countries have responded to COVID-19, it is also

experiences but rather on a particular understanding

important to recognize that COVID-19 does not exist

of what colonialism in Africa was and what its impacts

in a vacuum and its impact will be different in different

have been.

countries depending on the particular factors at play in different contexts. The Central African Republic

In the current COVID-19 pandemic we see some of

(CAR), for example, would never be able to re-create

the consequences of treating Africa like a country

Tunisia’s response to COVID-19 not only because of

rather than a continent. Global discourses around

the country’s different social, political, and economic

Africa’s response to COVID-19 have been just that;

infrastructures but also because it is currently

about Africa’s response rather than the responses of

in the middle of a civil war. In another example,

individual countries or communities. Particularly

countries like Guinea and the Democratic Republic

during the first wave of the disease in 2020, we saw

of Congo (DRC), while possibly better equipped

one central discourse about Africa and COVID-19

to deal with COVID-19 because of existing Ebola-

emerging in the West, namely the narrative that

related infrastructure in their countries, are dealing

Africa was doing better than expected in responding

with a potential resurgence of Ebola which could

2021 Edition

25


26 significantly impact their ability to provide effective

the neocolonial and racist content which underlies

health treatment to both COVID-19 and Ebola

the Western “single story” of Africa. None of this,

patients. Thus we begin to see here how the generalized

however, is to say that there is anything wrong with

narrative of “Africa’s response to COVID-19” really

people from Africa identifying as African or taking

does not tell us anything about how African people

pride in an African identity. My aim here is simply

and countries are responding to COVID-19. There is

to address the global generalization of Africa in an

no such thing as an “African” response to COVID-19

effort to initiate a discussion and critical reflection

because COVID-19 is not being experienced or

about the ways in which we imagine the world around

responded to in the same way across Africa. Where

us and how those imaginings impact not only our

we begin to see the most tangible consequences of this

own tangible realities and lived experiences but also

generalization is when the world and organizations

those of people all around the world.

like the World Health Organization (WHO) start talking about potential pathways forward for the COVID-19 pandemic. The danger of perpetuating a single story of Africa’s experience with COVID-19 is that the solutions posed for COVID-19 in Africa will be inappropriate or ineffective because they will be intended to be implemented uniformly across the continent rather than tailored to particular countries

and

contexts

depending

on their particular COVID-19 experiences and needs. The

talk

given

by

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I quoted from earlier is titled “The danger of a single story.” I love this title because it encapsulates the idea that language is powerful and that it can have tangible, real world consequences. As we have seen in the “single story” that is perpetuated in and by the West about Africa, the continued tendency to treat Africa as a country has profound impacts on our understandings of, and interactions with, African people and places. As Adichie says, ‘I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with the place or person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person’. Here I think it is important to mention that, while I have looked at the nature of the frame under which African countries and peoples are subsumed, there is a much greater conversation to be had about

SAASUM Review


Chiizii - ‘Ogoni Past’ features a layered background illustrating the lush vegetation and rainforests native to Ogoniland. The work outlines how water fetching, boating, activities previously enjoyed by the Ogoni people, have been compromised. ‘Ogoni Past’ highlights the breakdown of the healthy connection to water the people of Ogoniland once had.


28

Tourism and Conservation: A Fragile Partnership in Danger ALEX DANO

A

frica’s

safari

parks

offer

a

fair

borders opened immediately. With no end in sight,

transaction: tourists are provided an

safari-related businesses are facing unprecedented

intimate experience with unmatched

decisions on how to proceed and what to prioritize.

natural wonders while Africans in

While the reduction in intercontinental travel has

the area profit from visitors’ tourism dollars. The

abated the spread of COVID to different areas, those

thousands of foreigners each year who travel miles

reliant on tourism, particularly safari parks, are now

to witness Africa’s diverse wildlife and scenery have

in dire need.

molded the African economy into one that caters to global tourism. According to the World Travel

The existence of wildlife conservancies and the animals

& Tourism Council, tourism contributes over €150

residing inside them is threatened with the decrease in

billion to Africa’s economy, provides jobs to millions

tourism, a matter that should be reflected upon with

of citizens and represents 7.1% of GDP. Tourism

the utmost seriousness. As the number of individuals

to African parks has encouraged the preservation

visiting the parks decreases, the parks’ profits act

of wildlife parks and transformed the economy of

in accordance, shrinking as well. Conservancies

villages. This mutually beneficial system has been

typically function by leasing out community-owned

successful for years, until now.

land to luxury hospitality companies, who utilize it to create wildlife habitats for animals. The money made

Similar to many other areas in the world, Africa’s

from showcasing the habitats to visitors benefits the

tourism sector has suffered enormously from the

communities by providing local jobs and preserving

COVID-19 pandemic. Government travel restrictions

land. The more wildlife grazes, the more people

have dissuaded many from traveling outside of their

want to visit the park, which encourages caring for

home countries, causing the tourism industry to come

the animals and disincentivizes poaching. The Mara

to a halt. Overwhelming testimony from doctors

Conservancies north of the Maasai Mara National

and government officials in favor of social isolation

Reserve in Kenya utilize this method, which resulted

has further decimated the once vibrant industry.

in 15,000 landowners making a collective $4.9 million

According to the World Tourism Organization,

in 2019. As tourism to Africa decreases, the luxury

African tourism for international arrivals in 2020

hospitality companies make less money and therefore

decreased by 47%. In a survey conducted by

won’t be able to pay for the leased land. Without the

Safaribookings.com, of over 340 tour operators in

involvement of these corporations, there is no one

southern and eastern Africa, companies reported

to advertise, market, or run the mechanics of safari

that over the past 6 months income decreased by an

tours. Aside from the threat to luxury hospitality

average of 75%. The abrupt halt in travel to safari

companies, safari parks demand large amounts

parks challenges their survival, with Time Magazine

of money to support the animals and maintain

reporting that 90% of safari-related businesses

employment for a myriad of individuals that make up

claiming they would not survive, even if international

the vast safari economy.

SAASUM Review


Hundreds of thousands of dollars are dedicated each

nearby villages. This behavior change amounts to a

year to feed, breed, and protect different animals in the

massive spike in intestinal parasites among people

park, an effort that helps keep countless endangered

and baboons. The food chain is a fragile system, one

species alive and defend regions of biodiverse land

that humanity is deeply affected by and should be

from industrial development. Conservation parks

treated with the utmost respect. Safari parks uphold

continue to face the ongoing expense of maintenance,

this system by sustaining endangered animals and

even though they are not creating any profit. If the

preserving the land that ensures their survival.

flow of money into African parks remains stagnant, hospitality businesses and landowners could decide

In recent months, reports of bushmeat poaching,

to give up on the idea of preservation, a choice that

the act of killing endangered wildlife for their meat,

would lead to dire circumstances.

have skyrocketed. Tumi Morema, a wildlife crime investigator who has worked with anti-poaching

The pandemic has forced local landowners to make an

protection agencies throughout South Africa’s Kruger

impossible decision: should they preserve their land

Park, described how the immediate disruption to

or support themselves? Without a demand to tour the

guide’s, ranger’s, and hospitality employees’ incomes

region, the land is worth more for crops than grazing;

due to COVID has caused them to resort to hunting

the animals are worth more poached than alive. It is

in the areas they once protected in order to survive.

a question of survival, but who deserves to survive?

No tourism equals no income, which means they are forced to kill the animals they once showcased,

The end of safari parks would lead to unknown but

selling the meat, or eating it themselves. The Uganda

predictable circumstances. Conservation parks have

Wildlife Authority reported a 125% increase in cases

played a critical role in preserving the existence of

of wildlife crime between February and May 2020,

animals such as leopards, rhinos, and elephants,

the vast bulk of which is due to bushmeat poaching.

all of which are categorized by the World Wildlife

The effects of wildlife crimes such as these have a far

Fund as endangered. Rhinos, who often face threats

greater ripple effect than just what occurs in safari

from humans because of their tusks, maintain eating

camps- it is the illegal wildlife trade that brought

patterns which are critical in dispersing seeds around

about diseases such as SARS, Aids, Ebola, and, most

their habitat that populates the ecosystem with

notably, COVID, a disease that has killed over one

different plants which are a food source to other fauna.

million people and wrecked the global economy.

Countless animals rely on these plants to survive, and if rhinos become extinct, these animals’ food sources

When the existence of African conservation parks

will be cut off. When a predatory species goes extinct,

is threatened, it is not the safari drives and luxury

the entire food chain is impacted, a phenomenon

accommodations that are at risk, but rather our planet’s

called a trophic cascade. While the institution of

entire ecosystem. Human health is intrinsically linked

safari parks has abated the end of many species, it

to the survival of animals in their natural habitats and

has been a herculean endeavor and one that is still

if a movement to support Africa’s ecosphere doesn’t

in process. Smithsonian Magazine described one

gain traction soon, humanity should prepare for the

recent trophic cascade that has been befallen parts

worst.

of Africa where lion and leopard populations have decreased dramatically. Without big cats, the olive

This article was originally published on November 17,

baboons’ population has grown and overcome many

2020 on the SAASUM Review website.

2021 Edition

29



“I didn’t want them to perform for me. I just wanted them to be.”: Julianknxx on In Praise of Still Boys and the Afro-Diasporic experience EMEFA DZIVENU In ‘In Praise of Still Boys’ you combine poetry, performance, and film to discover and depict boyhood in Sierra Leone. Can you discuss the background for this work and what your starting points were? Almost all my artwork begins with poetry. The piece began with a series of poems that were based on reflections that I had on Sierra Leone as well as my own personal history. The ambition for the work was for it to exist as a collection

you into a space and a world that most people just don’t understand. You moved to Gambia when you were nine after the Sierra Leonean Civil war forced your family to leave, later making your way to the UK. This type of dislocation has and continues to be a relevant theme for the diaspora. How do you think loss, memory, and cultural and spatial displacement inform this film, your other work as an artist, and the diasporic imagination as a whole? This type of dislocation in the black experience hasn’t just influenced my work; it’s influenced me. Being Creole or Krio in Sierra Leone is the epitome of displacement, with our identity as Africans who traveled to the Americas and then chose to or were told to come back home to Sierra Leone. But was it still home? This point of departure and return is at the core of being Krio. Language and culture emerged from the loss of identity and search for identity. This was a huge theme in this project; how we are displaced as people and how we are from nowhere in a sense. Another theme this touches on is persistence, the idea of staying resilient amidst all this exile and involuntary dislocation. The opening scene features my mother speaking in Krio telling the story of my birth. She talks of how she was on a contraceptive coil and she did not want another child, but it just so happened that she became pregnant with me. Like the Krio people in the West, I wasn’t wanted, but somehow, I persisted. I ended up coming into

of poems that can be read with both an audio and or a visual component. The film was the last element that I wanted to execute. I wanted to respect each form, which is why each aspect of the film can stand on its own. The standalone film does serve as a visual poem. Why did you decide to use both visual and written elements to tell the story? I’m a very visual person. I make sense of the world through imagery. Even my poems are very descriptive, and the words sketch out the pictures and ideas that I want to convey. I also feel that many art forms have incorporated technological aspects during our digital age, yet as poets we remain stuck to the page. I’m very interested in moving poetry from print into the world of digital technology in a way that speaks to my work and utilising various capabilities to expand my narratives. Relating to my film’s specific backdrop, most people don’t have references for a lot of the settings depicted in black art and literature. I can describe the beautiful beaches and people of Sierra Leone, but visuals help in terms of taking

this world with the coil in my hand. That’s what black people’s lives are, not being wanted or not feeling a sense of belonging in a certain place but persisting and asserting your right to exist above all else. What does it mean to you to tell these stories of complex transnational black identities? There’s an old African maxim that goes something like, “If you don’t know where you’re from, you don’t know where you’re going.” I think of this phrase often as an artist as I ponder what it means to be a British Krio Sierra Leonean. It is crucial to see all the questions and epiphanies centered around my identity and my origins reflected in time and art. I grew up calling myself Sierra Leonean, but I couldn’t


32

relate to all aspects of that identity. Even in terms of BlackBritish culture, I can relate to some aspects of it, but not all of it.

pain and, in turn, people tend to solely depict narratives of black struggle in order to benefit from this demand. But, as an artist, even though our stories and our history can be painful, I find them liberating. They show our determination, resilience, and awareness. Yes, it’s painful to know that much of our language and names are tied to Western influence, but it’s also liberating to be aware of this past. I think you can find freedom and joy in rediscovering your identity amidst displacement and coming across a whole world that you can connect with. There’s power in that.

I wanted to address these cultural complexities in my work by exploring Sierra Leone from my hybrid perspective and documenting its importance and influence in a global sense, with a focus on the ocean that connects Africa and the West. The ocean is a central motif in this work, and it’s interesting that it’s portrayed with wonder, nostalgia, and ethereality at some points, yet at other points there are allusions to the Middle Passage and the grim history behind it. Why did you choose to include these contrasting depictions, and what do you think they work to reveal about the duality of the African diasporic experience? You can’t talk about Sierra Leone without talking about the ocean. You can’t address its capital city, and hub of the transatlantic slave route, Freetown, without addressing water. The representations of the ocean stemmed from the legend of the Drexciya and the idea that pregnant African slaves were thrown overboard amidst the Middle Passage. There’s this approach often taken in Afrofuturistic art in which it envisions the babies being born underwater, seamlessly transitioning from the fluid of the womb to that of the ocean. The question is, are the children still alive? Did they take on a new form? I was thinking of this abstract notion but also just the concrete truth of the thousands of black bodies that we know to be under the Atlantic Ocean. This shows the dual nature of the ocean for the diaspora as both a place of pain and tragedy but also myth and contemplation. How does the tradition of transforming black pain into art inspire this film and your artistic imagination? There’s this idea of black pain being currently being commodified, in that, people seem to love to hear of our

You cited Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue as a point of reference for this film, what other artists inspire and uplift you as a creator? What other points of reference did you use for the film? I had a very emotional experience watching Moonlight, but I was also stunned by its aesthetics. The phrase “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” stood out to me and I decided to test it out on camera using natural light. I was told by my cinematographer that you could get this effect by shooting just before sundown. I was also inspired by a 1982 Richard Pryor quote about his visit to Kenya: “So I went to the motherland; it was so beautiful. Just seeing black people in charge of everything. I’m talking about from the wino to the President. It was black. Blue-black. Original black. The kind of black where you go, “Black!” The idea of blackness appearing blue was mesmerizing to me. The boys that are shown in the film weren’t paid actors; they were just in the area. I wanted to get some shots of them next to the water. Under the twilight, looking at their skin reminded me of raw, unrefined, ‘blue-black’ sapphire. The added element of them standing next to the beautiful yet dark blue sea was very significant for me and spoke to the essence of black beauty and the magic of our people and history, the magic that our skin carries. One of the main themes of Moonlight (2016) is the emotional stasis that is often forced upon black men, this expectation to be stoic as opposed to vulnerable and expressive. How does this manifest in “In Praise of Still Boys”? Is this where you drew inspiration for the title? In terms of black masculinity, it’s often associated with a level of rage and seriousness that you should carry. I think I was always still in that I never used to smile. At university, I was able to do away with that through exploring the nuances of my emotions. It wasn’t until I read, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity by bell brooks that I began to understand the layers to my masculinity.

SAASUM Review


In this film, it was important for me to speak to the boys I was filming and respect their humanity. I didn’t want them to perform for me. I just wanted them to be. I wanted to show them that just being was enough. It turned out to be beautiful, the simplicity of them just standing there has so much profundity to it. As mentioned, the work is filmed in Sierra Leone. As the setting of the liberation of African slaves, Freetown is a centre-point of the diasporic identity yet is not often depicted in artwork and media. What did it mean to you to highlight Sierra Leone as a setting, and why do you think the history of Sierra Leone remains so unspoken? Going beyond Sierra Leone, African nations have such rich and significant backgrounds, and it’s essential to showcase that. At the same time, our history and identity is distinct, intricate, and heavy. In portraying these narratives, we disrupt other perspectives such as the Western or imperial gaze. This might make people hesitant towards approaching these complex worlds, not only because there’s a lot to cover, but also for fear of many people not being receptive to their specific cultural message. But there’s beauty in persisting, despite this, and telling those stories anyway. You began the film with your mother’s telling of your birth in Krio and the film’s accompanying poem is depicted with Creole or Krio subtitles. This language is a mixture of European and African dialects. Why is the hybridity of Krio culture and people, and their disjointed origins as descendants of freed slaves in the West significant to you and to this film? I love the shape of the letters that Krio is written in. Most African dialects use this form, and I just think it’s aesthetically gorgeous. I wanted to put my narrative into this form to give it more visibility and showcase the pride I have for my heritage. I also think Krio sounds beautiful phonetically, and I wanted to speak to that in this piece. I didn’t want to go to Sierra Leone, shoot this film, and then only feature the poem in English. I didn’t want to adjust my work for the Western gaze. It was also important for the boys shown in the film to be able to identify with this piece through recognising their everyday language. As a kid, I wish I’d seen more of this to validate my existence. In terms of hybridity, my mother is half-Ghanaian and half-Sierra Leonean and my father is half-Sierra Leonean, a quarter Nigerian, and a quarter Portuguese. I’m fascinated by the mixture of identities and cultures that brought me here. For the Krio people, the language carries so much of our hybrid origins and it would be lazy of me to limit my artistic outlook to just one element of this ethnic experience.

2021 Edition

33



Behind the Veil of Tanzania: An Exploration of Censorship in a Retreating Democracy KATHERINE HUGHES

O

n April 29th, 2020, the Republic of

threatening the health of citizens’ basic freedoms, one

Tanzania, like all other states around

can’t help but wonder, what is the vaccine for a sick

the globe, filed an official report to the

and dying democracy?

World Health Organization updating

the amount of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in

Before examining the current status of freedom in

the country, bringing the number to a total of 509.

the Republic of Tanzania and the role President

However, that is the last report Tanzania would

Magafuli plays in poisoning democracy, one must

make to the WHO. By mid-June, President John

possess a certain degree of understanding in

Magufuli would claim the country to have been fully

regards to the characteristics and history of the

cleansed of coronavirus . How did Tanzania manage

nation. Acknowledging the history of the political

such an efficient response, when in reality, it took a

environment and social climate poses the opportunity

comparatively delayed amount of time to implement

to enhance one’s grasp on just how exactly Magafuli

policies? President Magufuli’s response to the

has been and continues to prey on a vulnerable and

pandemic has drawn both attention and suspicion

growing state. The United Republic of Tanzania

from nation-states and international organisations

was created in 1964 following independence from

alike from all aspects of international society.

imperial Britain, posing the premise of a clean-

However, Tanzania’s management of the pandemic

slate and endless opportunities. However, since the

is merely the tip of the iceberg, serving as just one

creation of the Republic of Tanzania, the same party

example of a democracy in retreat and a governmental

known as the Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or ‘Party of the

abuse of power. Through censorship and the

Revolution,’ has remained in power. While the party

minimisation of an individuals’ political rights and

was originally voted into the role to lead Tanzania as

civil liberties, President Magufuli has single handedly

a presidential republic, under the rule of the CCM,

transformed Tanzania from an emerging democracy

democratic elections in the state came to a halt

into a brutally strict autocracy, all under the guise of

from the early 1970s to 1995. Today, Tanzania has

a republic. Tanzania’s idiosyncratic management of

the largest population in East Africa, amounting to

the pandemic and consequent lack of transparency

around 60 million people as of July 2020. Considering

highlights a much larger issue at hand, begging the

the impressive size of the population, one may be

question, is COVID-19 the central crisis in Tanzania,

intrigued to hear that ⅔ of the population is reported

or is the true epidemic the rapidly increasing spread

to be under the age of 25. The reason behind such

of Magafuli’s influence? Censorship, governmental

a youthful population is sadly due to the inability to

abuses of power, and the withholding of civil and

properly vaccinate children and adults alike, with

political rights are the true symptoms behind the

malaria as the main source of mortality for children

illness that plagues Tanzania. While Magafuli

under five, and HIV as the main source of mortality

continues to spread his poison throughout Tanzania,

in adults . In addition to a poorly established health

2021 Edition

35


36

care system, the school life expectancy for both

The president instead advocated against practices

males and females only amounts to eight years.

such as social distancing and wearing masks, advising

The last vital component that aids to illustrate

citizens to utilise more traditional medicines such as

conditions in Magufuli’s Tanzania is how the state

steam inhalation and drinking herbal teas. Magufuli

is increasingly becoming a transit country for illegal

even went as far as to question the efficacy of testing

migrants in search of security and more secure

after reportedly sending numerous animals and fruits

economic conditions. Tanzania, since its creation,

out to be tested for COVID-19, where allegedly a

has continued to be a flawed democracy, producing

papaya, quail, and goat all tested positive. While we

the perfect template for an individual or group to

can’t be certain on the validity of this claim, we can be

manipulate and impose unfair, unjust, and most

sure that the testing incident served as a tool to instill

importantly, unfree policies. President Magufuli took

a sense of distrust and doubt regarding coronavirus

leadership of a fragile, unestablished system in a vital

among the people. In publicly denouncing the

phase of development, unravelling previous measures

authenticity and reliability of COVID tests, Magufuli

taken in efforts to achieve a more democratic state

attempted to rally support and elevate his own image

and consequently launching Tanzania into a state

in the eyes of the people by minimizing the virus

of autocracy. While the pandemic has demanded

itself. On March 22nd, a few days following the first

a constant stream of effective communication and

confirmed case of coronavirus, Magufuli made a public

collaboration from the global community, Tanzania

statement that ‘coronavirus, which is a devil, cannot

has strayed from international society and instead the

survive in the body of christ...It will burn instantly,’. It

citizens of the state have been forced to depend directly

was this exact mentality that contributed to the slow

upon the leadership of President John Magufuli. In

and delayed response. The only immediate shutdown

Tanzania, factors such as the unique approach to

was in schools, and it wasn’t for another month

containing coronavirus, lack of resources available for

that other restrictions followed such as a closing

proper treatment, and the lack of transparency with

of borders, limitations to public transportation,

the rest of the international community has launched

reduced operating hours for pubs, and other such

an array of questions. Can we believe reports made by

physical distancing policies. Meanwhile, all markets,

Tanzania? Why the hesitation to collaborate? What are

places of worship, and workplaces remained open

the motives behind keeping data so secretive? What

and operated as normal. Considering the delayed

is behind the veil that guards Magufuli’s Tanzania?

implementation of policies and practices, data on

As a country that has been supposedly COVID-free

COVID-19 supplied by Tanzania to the World Health

since mid-June, Tanzania has certainly captured our

Organization invites both suspicion and question.

attention. Magufuli’s response to the coronavirus

As of April 29th, 2020, the United Republic of

pandemic is anything but reliable, alluding to the true

Tanzania reported that from January 3rd to the date

epidemic plaguing Tanzania, a retreating democracy.

of report, there had only been 509 confirmed cases and 21 deaths (“United Republic of Tanzania: WHO

The characteristics of COVID-19 and its presence in

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard”).

Tanzania, or lack thereof, is anything but paralleled.

April 29th was the last date Tanzania published a

When coronavirus first arrived in Tanzania, the first

report to the WHO, and by early June, Magufuli

confirmed case reported on March 16th, Magufuli

claimed that the state of Tanzania was completely

didn’t believe in complete isolation, still encouraging

COVID-free, hence it would be closing isolation and

citizens to attend services at churches and mosques.

treatment centres. However, independent media and

SAASUM Review


non-governmental organisations were never granted

in regards to COVID-19 has served as a smoking

access into the hospitals, thus making government

gun, highlighting the broader issue of censorship in

claims impossible to verify and further reinforcing

Tanzania. Ever since Magafuli was voted into office on

Magufuli’s data darkness. Instead, Magafuli claims

November 5th, 2015, he has slowly and silently been

that the power of prayer helped purge the power of

installing policies that eat away at the remainders

the virus from the country . Meanwhile, the rest of the

of democracy. In January of 2016, only two months

world is not as convinced. In early August, the New

into his term, President Magufuli announced

York Times reported on a variety of contrary claims

that the state-sponsored TV program would no

and evidence, warning others of a possible cover-

longer continue to broadcast the live parliamentary

up. Some accounts included in the same article state

proceedings, claiming the decision to be an effort to

that videos of night burials with attendants wearing

reduce costs and redirect funds. This clear form of

protective gear were beginning to surface online,

censorship directly excludes the everyday citizen that

while others stated that Kenyan authorities denied

constitutes the voting population from government

entry to dozens of Tanzanian truck drivers who all

affairs by denying them the right to transparency.

tested positive at border check-points. Finally, after

How can citizens be expected to make an informed

three lawmakers in parliament died within days

and educated vote when they’re only receiving certain

of one another, and oppositionaries consequently

information? The government has been careful to

requested for mandated testing, parliament was

intercept any form of media or material that may

suspended ahead of the October general election . For

encourage other ideas and support for new leadership.

a country of 60 million, especially considering its role

Any form of opposition to Magufuli’s administration

as a transit state and the delayed response measures, I

is not tolerated. In 2017, Tanzanian rapper Nay wa

was curious as to how bordering states were handling

Mitego released a song that supposedly insulted the

the coronavirus pandemic. Upon examining the

president and maligned the government, an action

World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease

which had him taken into police custody the very

Dashboard, I found the reported numbers to be

next day. Despite Magufuli’s decision to release the

drastically different than that of Tanzania’s, with six

rapper a day later, the Tanzanian administration

out of seven border states having thousands of cases

advised Mutego to rework the song to include

ranging from 4,996 to 46, 647 (“United Republic of

lyrics that denounced other societal matters such

Tanzania: WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

as tax cheats. A clear abuse of power and censoring

Dashboard.”). While the concentration of

cases

of expression, Magafuli forcefully used Mitego to

in surrounding nations is not evidence enough to

promote government propaganda and clarify just

prove Tanzania is withholding and misreporting

who is good and bad in Tanzanian society.

information, creating a larger cover-up, it does inspire the question, is it possible that illegal migrants from

Over the years, President Magafuli has passed

surrounding border states are still passing through,

a multitude of unjustified laws such as banning

maybe bringing COVID with them?

Tanzanian school girls that were pregnant and gave birth from ever returning to their education. In 2018,

Magufuli’s idiosyncratic response to the pandemic has

the government passed a law decreeing itself to be

captured the attention of the world and consequently

the sole custodian of data and to punish anyone that

invited a further examination of the social and

questioned official statistics, invading the rights of

political conditions in Tanzania. The data darkness

both free thought and speech . While few people within

2021 Edition

37


38 the state of Tanzania have stood up to the invasive and

and in a vulnerable and vital stage of development. A

tyrannous actions of Magufuli, those that have done

weak, emerging state can easily become manipulated

so face consequences. Dozens of journalists remain

when those in leadership abuse their power. The

held in detention, while opposition leaders have

coronavirus pandemic has continued to test leadership

been jailed or simply disappeared. Zitto Kabwe, an

around the world, however, upon further analysis,

opposition leader, has been jailed at least a dozen times

it is evident that the true disease that threatens the

since 2016, however, other political figures aren’t as

health and freedom of Tanzania and other vulnerable

fortunate. Some disappear, while the main opposition

states is leaders like Magufuli. A democracy, when

candidate from the Chadema party in the October

exposed to autocratic rulers such as Magufuli, falls

28th general election, Tundu Lissu, was shot outside

ill and rapidly deteriorates, threatening the life of the

of his house in the capital city of Dodoma in 2017 .

state all together. Additionally, there is the fear that

After years of rehabilitation, the electoral commission

the disease, autocratic rule, won’t stop with just one

forbade Lissu from campaigning for a period of time

state, but will continue to spread and infect bordering

due to alleged ethics violations, specifically in regards

nations, consuming whatever it touches.

to remarks he made speaking outwardly and publicly against the president. More recently, Magufuli

I would like to conclude this article with one final

has suspended Kwanza TV for 11 months after the

note, a pondering thought more so. As I researched

network reported on a COVID-19 health alert from

Tanzania’s

the United States Embassy. Censorship in Tanzania

Magufuli’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I

has taken many forms, however, all efforts made by

couldn’t help but wonder why? What did Magufuli

Magufuli share the same intention. The president has

have to gain from cutting off the rest of the world

ensured loyalty from his people by monitoring the

from his response to the pandemic? Wherein lies his

flow of information and punishing those who dare

motivations? The more I researched the recent and

to think and speak freely, creating and encouraging

current political climate in Tanzania, I discovered

a conformity of thought. Magufuli has assigned

that the next general election for the presidency is to

himself the right and power to control what the

be held on October 28th, 2020. Then a sudden, albeit

people consume, limiting their parameters of thought

morbid, thought occurred to me. Was Magufuli’s

and other basic freedoms. The Tanzanian president

objectively peculiar response to the pandemic all

hijacked a weak institution, undoing the progress

part of an elaborate, self-enhancing re-election

of democracy by transforming himself into the sole

campaign? Magufuli cut his citizens off from the rest

proprietor of information and power. According to

of the world and vice versa. He censored information

the 2020 Freedom House Report, which rates people’s

that entered the nation, suspending media outlets

access to political rights and civil liberties, ranging

and groups that reported on statistics from outside

from the right to vote to freedom of expression and

sources not authorized from the state of Tanzania

equality before the law, Tanzania earned only a 40

itself. In taking an independent response, Magufuli

out of 100 possible points. Magufuli’s administration

portrayed himself, and himself alone, as the sole

offers only 17/40 political rights and 23/60 civil

savior of Tanzania. Through cutting out the rest of the

liberties, solidifying itself as a partially-free state and

international community, and claiming COVID-19

demonstrating the extent of the autocracy. States such

to have disappeared from the state entirely, he

as Tanzania that have been victim to imperial forces

illustrated himself to be a man that could lead and

in the past were immediately placed at a disadvantage

protect the people, an image quite convenient to have

SAASUM Review

history

of

censorship,

specifically


right before a general election. As I write this, I have complete confidence that Magufuli will be re-elected on October 28th, not necessarily because he will earn the majority vote, but because he has given himself the power to become an autocratic leader, one who has continued to lie and cheat the people for his entire leadership. What is stopping him from continuing to do so? We must be aware of the censorship and abuse in Tanzania and other such autocracies. Citizens of such states have had their voices silenced and stolen, unable to demand justice for themselves. When information

is

selectively

filtered for political agendas, how are citizens supposed to be aware of what they do not know? Tanzania’s unique response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a symptom of a man with power hijacking

democracy

and seeking to extend his own personal influence.. Leaders like Magufuli are the true disease, robbing citizens of their political and civil liberties, abusing their power

i n

search for more. This article was originally published on November 17, 2020 on the SAASUM Review website.

2021 Edition

39



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.