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Spotlight on Africa

RFI France

A round-up of the week's news in Africa

A round-up of the week's news in Africa
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RFI France


A round-up of the week's news in Africa




Post-crisis Kenya seeks to affirm its status as East Africa's powerhouse

After months of uncertainty, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga agreed to put aside their differences on 9th of March, for the good of the country, but also the economy. Their dispute has cost Kenya around €800,000 and seen some of its trade re-routed to Tanzania. "When Kenya sneezes, East Africa catches a cold." The saying, which is widely known in the region and was often quoted by commentators at the height of Kenya's 2007-08 violence to explain the impact of the...


Cameroon: The president who likes to go on holiday

New research published this month reveals that Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has spent at least four and a half years on private travel during his time in power. A group of journalists analysed copies of the state-backed Cameroon Tribune newspaper spanning the last 35 years to determine exactly how much time Biya spends outside of the country. The reporters discovered that the Cameroonian head of state spends the bulk of these holidays in Geneva, France and the US. The report estimates that...


Telecom firms giving Africans less digital rights than Europeans

A new report published by advocacy group Internet Without Borders says that telecoms companies operating in Europe and Africa are affording their users different digital rights. The study compares Orange and Vodafone’s subsidiaries to ask whether users in Senegal and Kenya are given the same right to access, use and create digital media as well as access and use devices and networks. The research provides a detailed assessment of respect for freedom of expression and privacy, concluding that...


Free speech 'non-existent' in Zambia, says exiled musician

Freedom of expression has deteriorated under Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, according to a leading musician who fled the country after receiving death threats. Fumba Chama, who goes by the stage name Pilato, fled Zambia at the start of January following a series of intimidating messages. His song Koswe Mumpoto (Rat in the pot) was seen as critical of the government and resulted in menacing voice and video messages. Rights group Amnesty International described the threats to Pilato’s life as...


Tunisia's ruler fail to live up to Arab Spring promise

Nearly one thousand people have been arrested in Tunisia in the biggest wave of social unrest since the revolution. Anger at new austerity measures has brought hundreds of Tunisians back onto the streets with the same demands they did back in 2011. Seven years on, protesters say the government has failed to live up to the promises of the Arab Spring. Every January since the 2011 revolution, Tunisians have taken to the streets to vent their anger over high unemployment and corruption. Seven...


Picture what it means to be a Chadian woman

They work as pilots, potters or footballers, sometimes against incredible odds, to build a better future for themselves and their families. Now for the first time, more than two hundred women are being honoured in a new book called "Portraits of Chadian Women", by artists Salma Khalil and Aché Coelo, who are challenging the way society sees African women. It was a sweltering day in March when Salma Khalil first began work on her joint project with fellow artist Aché Coelo to capture the...


Why did Zimbabwe's war veterans ditch Mugabe?

What finally led to the fall of Robert Mugabe on 21 November? The liberation leader turned authoritarian president was toppled by his erstwhile allies, the war veterans. So what sparked their divorce? Zimbabwe was plunged into chaos on Tuesday 14 November when soldiers and tanks were seen heading towards the capital Harare. "There were soldiers at strategic points, no police to be seen, and that was a tip-off that something major was happening," Knox Chitiyo, an Associate Fellow at...


Has world forgotten Somalia's huge terror attack?

Tuesday 14 November marks one month since a truck bomb exploded in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing hundreds of people – many of whom were never identified. It was the worst bomb attack in the history of Somalia. In Britain, home to the largest Somali community in Europe, members feel the world has already forgotten the tragedy. "We haven’t seen the kind of media coverage that we normally see when one person shoots another in downtown Manhattan, or even in cities like Paris and London,"...


Uganda spy case puts strain on relations with Rwanda

In Uganda up to nine people, including senior police officers, are being investigated for allegedly kidnapping the former bodyguard of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. A Rwandan ex-general and a Congolese national have also been charged with espionage in connection with the case. It's feared the arrests could put new strain on relations between Kampala and Kigali. Four years after the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Joel Mutabazi in Uganda, questions still linger about the extent to...


Cameroon presidential candidate calls for federal government

Barrister Akere Muna recently announced that he is to stand in Cameroon’s 2018 presidential election. In the context of unrest in the anglophone part of the country, the anti-corruption campaigner's decision has aroused crticism from his fellow English-speakers. Talking to RFI, he defended his decision. The dynamic barrister certainly did not expect the reaction he received when he made his political ambitions public on Sunday 8 October. He said he ’s been getting messages of support from...


Hurricane Irma shatters paradise image of Caribbean

Shortly after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean, the islands were awash with tales of looting and claims of discrimination in the repatriation of islanders. In the dual nation island of Saint Martin, the storm has unearthed deep-rooted frustrations. This week’s Spotlight on Africa is a special report on the Caribbean disaster, home to Africa’s first Diaspora community. In the days after Hurricane Irma ravaged several Caribbean islands, scenes of looting and violence began to emerge...


Kenya election ruling wins Africans' admiration

The Kenyan Supreme Court's decision to scrap last month's presidential election, has been held up as an example of judicial independence on a continent where judges are often seen as corrupt. Opposion parties across Africa hope the shock overturn will have ripple effects in their own countries. The court found that the electoral commission “committed irregularities in the transmission of results.” That was enough to convince a majority in Chief Justice David Maraga's panel to annul the...


It’s just gotten tougher for Israel's African migrants

New tax rules in Israel could leave hundreds of African migrants worse off than they are. In May, the government introduced a new deposit law, enabling the governemnt to take 20 percent of migrants' salaries each month and place it out of reach. The money can only be accessed once they leave the country. Rights groups say the policy is designed to force them out of the country. "We're not pressuring you to leave but will make your life miserable so you decide to leave," Anwar Suliman, a...


Is Africa with Saudi over Qatar crisis?

Saudi Arabia recently issued a tough ultimatum to African countries in relation to the ongoing, dispute with Qatar – “You're either with us or you're against us.” The ultimatum has revealed the extent to which Middle Eastern rivalries are being played out on the continent. "The fact that everybody in the Horn of Africa at the moment is feeling under pressure to take sides is a very dangerous situation," Edward Paice, Director of the African Research Institute in London, told RFI. Several...


Hijarbies - the unlikely star of Instagram goes global

In this edition of Spotlight on Africa, RFI's Zeenat Hansrod speaks to the Nigerian artist who makes Hijarbies, that's Barbie dolls wearing the hijab. They are already Instagram celebrities and are being sold worldwide.


Fate of Kenya's Somali refugees overshadowed by general election

Three years after Kenya put in place a voluntary scheme for Somali refugees to go home, the UN's refugee agency, (UNHCR) announced on Friday that over 65,000 of them have done so. Nairobi has previously threatened to shut down Dadaab, one of the world's largest camps. Critics are worried that the fate of its refugees will be overshadowed by the general election. “I’ve seen many people write their names to the UNHCR to go back to Somalia, but mine not yet," Somali refugee Mohamed Aboubakar...


Ugandan survivor speaks out against human trafficking

With mounting reports of abuse against its citizens, Ugandan authorities in March issued a warning to job hunters to avoid some countries in the Middle East. RFI's Christina Okello spoke to one victim, *Maria, who agreed to share her story. *Maria was 23 when a recruitment agent approached her with the promise of a lucrative 500 dollar salary per month and benefits. "It was easy because the person who got me the job had people he was working with. So you don't really know what's going on....


French ex-minister joins African diaspora to reject National Front

With just days to go before France elects its next president, opponents of National Front leader Marine Le Pen fear a victory for her could mean a rise in xenophobia. One organisation is trying to break down barriers through cooking. RFI's Christina Okello went to meet them. The power of a shared meal to break down cultural barriers - this is what one group of French people ais counting on to resist the rise of the far-right National Front (FN). The organisation Culture without Borders...


"This democratic hold-up is killing Africa" Mamane

An African failed state with an autocratic leader, rigged elections, a complacent international community, angry and persecuted activists: deja vu you may argue. It’s also the ingredients of comedian Mamane’s first movie, Welcome to Gondwana. Released in France on April 12th. “This movie deals with reality. All these things happen all over Africa in Gabon, Congo, Cameroun, Chad… There’s a president who doesn’t want to leave power. So, he rigs elections”, says Mamane. “And the international...


Laws in Africa failing to prevent rape; keeping tabs on Guinea’s president

Spotlight on Africa this week looks at how laws against sexual violence are failing to protect women and finds out about a new project which aims to keep Guinean President Alpha Condé to his word. A report released this week analyses 82 different legal systems across the world and reveals how they are failing to prevent sexual violence. The investigation by human rights organisation Equality Now coincides with International Women’s Day on 8 March. As well as not preventing rape, many legal...


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