AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

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Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Africa: where are your openly gay public figures?

Binyavanga Wainaina’s coming out last week was seen as a ‘bombshell’ by a wide range of media, including the New York Times, and Kenya’s Daily Nation. Certainly it was cheered by many, both publicly and privately, as courageous and timely. The question is: Will it inspire other prominent Africans to also come out of the closet? While...

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Homophobia from Kansas to Kampala

A few years ago, the documentary film Darwin’s Nightmare, told the chilling story of the social and environmental destruction wrought in Central Africa as cargo planes from Europe delivered load after load of arms to the region,...

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Gay Shame

Dear Tanya Harford and Jenny Green, At 3am in my hotel room last night, jetlagged and sleepless, I was dawdling online and read about the confrontation at Johannesburg Pride between you and a group of black lesbians...

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

The trouble with South Africa

I’ve been puzzled and not a little disturbed by the lack of empathy on South African social media with the horrific events at Marikana, where 34 protesting miners were killed by police on August 16th. Yes, someone has...

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Her Zimbabwe

A new Zimbabwean blog is starting to gain both readership and wider media attention. I put some questions to Fungai Machirori, the founder and managing editor of Her Zimbabwe.

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Spring revolution or a summer of discontent?

I’m still mulling over the Openforum 2012 conference, which took place a few weeks ago in Cape Town. The meeting’s theme was ‘Money, Power and Sex: the paradox of unequal growth’. The meeting brought together an interesting...

Friday, June 8th, 2012

New Media and Activism

A couple of weeks back I had the privilege of being able to bring together a few of the leading lights in social media in eastern and southern Africa, for a discussion about the role of social...

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes’s Nineveh

Nineveh, published late last year, is the latest book by South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes. It’s a strange and apocalyptic tale about a swarm of insects which overruns a luxury housing development outside Cape Town, causing mayhem...

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Intellectual Property Propaganda

In his recent State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama highlighted the need to reduce inequality, widen access to healthcare and education and create jobs in the US. It is unfortunate that his administration’s foreign and...

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Sending South African miners home to die

Epidemiologist Jonathan Smith is working to complete a documentary called “They Go to Die,” about the lives of four former mineworkers that were sent home from the mine after contracting TB and HIV in the South African gold mines....

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The health news that made the headlines

In November came the news that the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria was in a financial crisis, because of declining donor commitments and failure by donors to honor existing commitments. The Fund’s board cancelled...

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Helen Zille’s ‘AIDS Gestapo’

Just as South Africa is recovering from the havoc wrought by former President Thabo Mbeki’s AIDS denialism, now there’s a new politician spouting all sorts of nonsense – this time it’s Helen Zille, the leader of the...

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Zoo City to be turned into a film

Zoo City, the award-winning novel by South African Lauren Beukes, is to be turned into a film. Producer Helena Spring, also a South African, won the rights, and will be looking for a director. Spring’s credits range...

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Mobile phones and the new ‘digital divide’

By Brett Davidson Mobile phones are often touted as the solution to the digital divide, and the answer to a range of development problems. There is undoubtedly a huge growth in mobile phone access in the developing...

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

What’s So Funny

  Cartoonist Andy Mason recently published a history of the art form in South Africa. What’s So Funny? Under the skin of South African Cartooning is the only book of its kind that traces the origins and...

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

A history of the world?

This is an interesting little video, presented as a history of the world according to Wikipedia. They’re right it is a history, not ‘the history’ Some say it shows how Eurocentric Wikipedia is. Yes, but that in...

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Jonathan Jansen’s Burden

Coinciding with a senior government official in South Africa channeling the views of Apartheid ideologues about race, the online publication The Daily Maverick Online features a profile of Jonathan Jansen, the current vice chancellor of the University...

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Save the Museum (in Uganda)

Just about this time last year, Uganda lost a priceless part of its cultural heritage when the Kasubi Tombs were burnt down. The tombs were a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were built in 1882 – the...

Friday, March 4th, 2011

‘The Worst Place To Be Gay’

Brett Davidson In a documentary broadcast recently on the BBC, the British DJ Scott Mills travels to Uganda and reports on the rampant homophobia there. (That’s Mills, above, in a still from the film with Ugandan gay...

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Deafening Silence

Has there been a deafening silence from African artists and musicians following the murder of gay activist David Kato? This Is Africa seems to think so, and I can find nothing to contradict them. As that blog points...

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Preventing Project Prevention

After years of working in the United States, where they pay female drug users $300 to agree to be sterilized, Project Prevention has begun branching out to other parts of the world. Following a luke-warm reception in...

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

‘They’d love to meet you’

A new public service announcement by the South African alcohol beverage company Brandhouse, warning of the perils of drinking and driving, is perhaps a more powerful argument against copywriting while drunk. It’s also more evidence of the garden...

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Some Other Kenya

By Brett Davidson Back in February 2009, the Daily Metro newspaper in Nairobi wrote about young Kenyan bloggers mobilising to try to bring about political change, inspired by US President Barack Obama’s use of the Internet during...

Friday, November 19th, 2010

If I come across another book written by a white expat about his or her African childhood …

If I come across another book written by a white expat about their African childhood, I think I will be ill.  I have had this thought from time to time over the past few years, but it...

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Yoweri Museveni busts a move

Ugandans go to the polls in February for general elections, and campaigning is already underway in a big way. On a recent visit to Kampala, along with dodging potholes and the ubiquitous ‘boda boda’ motorcycles, we also...

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Where does the money go?

Brett Davidson How transparent are governments? How easy is it for citizens to get hold of information about how governments are spending their money? It is this question that a recent international research project set out to...

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Everyone’s an African

Brett Davidson Regional lobby group, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), has drafted an equal rights manifesto in conversation with civil society, cultural and religious leaders from around the continent. It presents the arguments...

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Just give poor people money

Brett Davidson It is interesting to see “Social Protection” take the fore in discussions of the Millennium Development Goals at the UN this week (see Jamie Holmes’ piece on the Huffington Post, for example). Over the past...

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Traffic Report

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, I had blogged about the proliferation of nonsensical press reports claiming 40 000 women would be trafficked into the country during that event. Shortly after the tournament ended,...

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Cape Town Styling

This blog post introduces my man, Brett Davidson, as the latest core conspirator of Africa is a Country. I first met Brett, a journalist, radio producer and media educator, when we hired him to work as the...