Our Latest Column, “What’s Going On” Will Tally Notable News Headlines From Across The Continent — The Good, The Bad, And The Horrible — As A Way Of Ensuring That We All Become A More Sagacious African Generation. With This Column, We’re Hoping To Disseminate The Latest Happenings In Our Socio-Political Climate All Over The Continent, Whilst Starting A Conversation About What’s Important For Us To All Discuss. From Political Affairs To Socio-Economic Issues, ‘What’s Going On’, Will Discuss Just That.
Ever so often, we have to remind the Western world that Africa is not a country. This isn’t due only to their significant lack of enlightenment, but also because of the continent-wide similarities when it comes to social, political, and economic issues. For one, Africa is teeming with corrupt and inept leaders—many of them one would call dictators— who have failed to invest in meaningful infrastructure, all while derailing and rejecting systemic change through violent means if necessary. In addition to this, they are fully aided by deeply patriarchal, religious deferring, and ultra-conservative social constructs.
At the same time, across the continent, the current generation of African youth are pushing against these systemic boundaries, in order to continue the arduous work of rewriting the narrative. Even with all of the endeavours, talent and records being witnessed from music to tech, the limitations put in place by the continent’s political landscape still looms large. Every week, disparaging headlines from around Africa make their way to the news, reminding us of the bumps affecting these perceived stripes, and the roadblocks which delay our growth towards more wholesome and enabling societies for all Africans. Below are few news bits of what’s been going in on in the past few days.
Dozens killed during militant attack in Mozambique
Last Wednesday, hundreds of militants stormed Palma, a town in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, targeting shops, banks, military barracks, and the site of a gas project. Militants who are allegedly linked to the Islamic State (IS) group have been said to be behind the deadly attack, however, no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility. This current attack is the latest in a series of attacks within the country which has left more than 2,500 people dead and 700,000 displaced since the insurgency began in 2017.
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According to CNN Africa, dozens of people were killed and attacked following last Wednesday’s attack. Omar Saranga, a spokesman for the Mozambique Defense and Security Forces, said in a broadcast statement on Sunday that the fatalities included both locals and foreigners working in the region. Hundreds of people are said to have fled the scene, running into forests, mangroves or nearby villages, while others tried to escape the hotel in a convoy of vehicles on Friday, aiming for a nearby beach. At least 20 people were reportedly flown to safety in helicopters, but others were ambushed outside the hotel. The attack came hours after Total, the principal investor in a billion-dollar gas project, had announced that it was gradually resuming work after it had suspended all construction work in January due to a spate of attacks.
The extremist fighters have, since October 2017, raided villages and towns across Mozambique’s northern region, causing almost 700,000 people to flee their respective homes. The violence has left at least 2,600 people dead, half of them civilians, according to the US-based data collecting agency, Armed Conflict Location and Event Data. However, the total amount of fatalities following the most recent attacks are currently unknown with reports stating that many people who have been living and working in Palma remain out of reach due to a communication blackout in the town. Efforts are still ongoing by the country’s leaders to ensure the safety of everyone in the Palma and surrounding environs, and international governments have begun condemning the violent attacks which are said to have involved foreign casualties.
Protests against the arrest of student activists continue in Algeria
Back in February 2019, the Hirak movement was sparked in Algeria over the then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in political office. Protesters first marched on a national scale on February 22, 2019, repeating the act every Friday until the pandemic hit a year later. Although Abdelaziz was forced to step down from power a week later, protests continued as citizens demanded the departure of the ruling elite and a transition toward more democratic governance since the country’s independence from France in 1962.
— Khaled Drareni (@khaleddrareni) March 19, 2021
The Hirak movement has now marked its second year anniversary, which has seen a renewed spark in the country’s activists and citizens to take to the streets once again, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, thousands returned to the streets of the country’s capital, Algiers, chanting slogans such as “let the system fall”. They also demanded reforms to Algeria’s government and were vehemently against President Tabboune’s call for an early June election in response to the country’s ongoing socio-economic crisis. In Algiers, authorities are reported to have arrested activist and poet Mohamed Tadjadit, along with six protesters, while the demonstrations held in Oran and Mostaganem ended in armed officers using pepper spray to disperse crowds protesting.
On Sunday, more protests erupted across the country, as citizens demanded the release of the student activists who were arrested during Friday’s anti-government Hirak movement protest. According to reports, hundreds of people gathered outside the Sidi Mohamed Tribunal in the capital Algiers which resulted in the eventual release of Mohammed Tadjadit and those arrested alongside him, a statement from one of the detained protesters lawyers reads.
Sudan signs a deal separating state and religion
In what could soon be regarded as a landmark case for democracy across the African continent, this week, the Sudanese government has just signed a declaration of principles that calls for freedom of religion and cultural identity in the country. The agreement also seeks to separate religion and the state, according to the BBC. The agreement was signed yesterday with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a predominantly Christian rebel group that operates in the Nuba Mountains, and the transitional government of Sudan with a mind to ending years of war in the country.
Declaration of principles between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation-North (March 28, 2021), Juba, South Sudan: text of agreement… pic.twitter.com/6IRyLfjw47
— Eric Reeves (@sudanreeves) March 28, 2021
The declaration of principles signed in Juba stipulated “the establishment of a civil, democratic, federal state that guarantees freedom of religion, religious practice, and worship for all people.” This essentially means that the state no longer imposes any religion on citizens of the country and guarantees and protects freedom of religion and religious practice for all people. Sharia law was first imposed in Sudan in 1983, and maintained by the country’s now-deposed president Omar al-Bashir for the duration of his 30-year-long Islamist rule.
Apart from declaring the country a secular state, the declaration of principles also stipulates the sanctity of human, women’s, and children’s rights, and emphasises that the government of Sudan will now take the necessary measures to adopt international and African human right charters that have not yet been ratified into the country’s constitution. The country will also now have a single unified army which will reflect Sudanese diversity, and their allegiance shall be to the country and not to any other political parties or groups.”
Head of #Sudan Sovereign Council Lt Gen Abdulfatah El-Burhan and Gen Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hilu of SPLM-N sign declaration of principles mapping out roadmap to peace.
— Radio Miraya (@RadioMiraya) March 28, 2021
COVID-19 variant found in Tanzania
According to findings, a new strain of COVID-19 has been discovered in Tanzania, and scientists from around the world have called for the country to monitor and observe COVID-19 guidelines after largely ignoring it in the past year. A report submitted to the World Health Organization and regional bodies shows the strain has 10 more mutations than any other version, according to Tulio de Oliveira, Director of Krisp, a scientific institute that carries out genetic testing for 10 African nations.
The institution will continue to monitor how this strain interacts with antibodies as it was also reported that it is still uncertain whether the variant found in three Tanzanian travelers could more infectious or severe than other strains. Concerns still remain, however, as the country’s recently deceased President, John Magufuli, stopped the release of data on coronavirus infections and opened up the economy including the resort island of Zanzibar, which attracts international tourists. With the swearing in of the country’s new leader, Samia Sulu Hassan, many are keen to see whether she will take measures to revert her predecessors concerning health and safety decisions.
Breaking News: Tanzania identifies new COVID-19 variant pic.twitter.com/XR76iq0nuw
— SABC News (@SABCNews) March 27, 2021
Featured image credits/Aljazeera