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The devastating beauty of “Timbuktu”
Arts and Culture / Literature and the Arts / Protest and Activism / West Africa

The devastating beauty of “Timbuktu”

As the French government announced this week a redeployment of troops back to northern Mali, citing the failure of the UN mission there (MINUSMA) to materialize and control the influx of Libyan arms into the region, I went to see the film “Timbuktu” at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Written and directed by Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, … Continue reading

Rwanda 20 Years On: Rose-Tinted Reconciliation
Central Africa / Civil War / Contested History and Memory / Ethnicity

Rwanda 20 Years On: Rose-Tinted Reconciliation

By Martha Unity Flynn, University of Leeds graduate in Politics and International Studies July 4th of this year marked the twentieth anniversary of the end of one hundred days of systematic and state-endorsed massacres that we know today as the Rwandan genocide. Twenty years on, this date not only commemorates the Rwandan Patriotic Forces’ (RPF) … Continue reading

Sibling Rivalry? The Unhappy Sisters of Journalism and Academia
Africa and Western World / Contested History and Memory / West Africa

Sibling Rivalry? The Unhappy Sisters of Journalism and Academia

I often joke that the only media attention Mauritania receives is on one of two subjects: 1) bidan (“white,” Arabophone) women who have traditionally strived to attain obese body size as a mark of wealth and beauty (See this BBC radio piece from 2004 or this video for examples); and 2) the persistence of slavery … Continue reading

“Mahama-OO!” President John Mahama’s Woes
Africa and Western World / Development / Economics / Health and Disease / Protest and Activism / West Africa

“Mahama-OO!” President John Mahama’s Woes

Two and four year olds play games amongst themselves called, “lights off-lights on.” “Lights off-lights on” is a local term used to describe the situation when the electrical power goes off and on. Accordingly, while the children play a game that requires electricity, one will suddenly shout, “lights off!” Immediately, all of them will simultaneously shout, “Mahama-oo!” After a few minutes of inactivity, obviously due to the lack of power, another shouts, “lights on,” and they all begin to laugh and continue where they left. Even when individuals cannot sleep well at night, they exclaim, “Mahama-oo!” Continue reading

Migration, Cosmopolitanism, and Africa in the Twenty-First Century
Africa and Western World / Contested History and Memory / Development / Nationalism

Migration, Cosmopolitanism, and Africa in the Twenty-First Century

The following is an excerpt from my newly published book, Africa in Fragments. It is lifted from the book’s conclusion, where I analyze Africa’s future or futures in light of globalization, migration, and cosmopolitanism. African peoples, problems, and issues have shifted radically as trans-national human mobility has intensified in a globalizing world. The resulting cosmopolitanism … Continue reading

Kenya at the Precipice: Al-Shabaab and the Coast Crisis
East Africa / Land and Inequality / Military Interventions / Terrorism

Kenya at the Precipice: Al-Shabaab and the Coast Crisis

Since mid-June, militias have terrorised Lamu and Tana River counties, killing more than 80 people and leaving a trail of destruction.  Local opportunists may be behind less grave incidents, but the evidence from Mpeketoni, Hindi, and elsewhere points to Al-Shabaab armed and trained militants. A close examination of the events reveals two other critical points. … Continue reading

Education / Religion, Spirituality, and the Supernatural / West Africa

On Secular Education and Boko Haram

Since publishing my essay, Toward a Better Understanding of Boko Haram, I have received some feedback, with respondents raising questions and issues they feel merit further exploration, explanation, context, and elaboration. One of these issues is the question of whether or not Boko Haram rose out of societal problems supposedly caused by Western education — corruption, poverty, and poor governance, or whether in fact these problems are traceable to Western education as Boko Haram claims. In this post, I respond to these and other issues. Continue reading