About a week ago, the International Criminal Court announced that Fatou Bensouda would succeed Luis Moreno Ocampo as Chief Prosecutor. This could be big news, but you wouldn’t know it from The New York Times, who barely reported the announcement.

Fatou Bensouda is from Gambia. And she means business. Some people think she may be exactly what is needed to set things right.

As a woman, as an African woman, she’s had it with waiting for the world to recognize violence against women as a crime against humanity.

According to Bensouda, part of the problem of addressing sexual and gender violence has been the logic of inevitability. By this logic, rape happens as an “incidental” and “necessary” part of the machinery of warfare. It’s like “tradition”. The word absolves practitioners, and everybody else, of responsibility as it cleanses the field of any history. Bensouda argues that the military use of sexual violence does have a history of change. For example, in recent years, it has begun to be used systematically as a weapon of war and as “part of the military machinery to fuel the fighting soldiers.”

But the core of the refusal to address sexual and gender violence is the refusal to care about women:

Outside a prison context, targets of gender crimes are overwhelmingly female. The victims of certain crimes, such as forced impregnation and forced abortion are exclusively women and girls. This may explain why the progress made globally in recognizing, prohibiting, and finally enforcing gender crimes perpetrated in armed combat has been extremely slow.

The world has been extremely slow to address sexual and gender crimes. Not ‘Africa’. Not ‘Africans’. The world. African women, like Bensouda and like the ICC women judges from Mali, Ghana, Kenya and Botswana, join with women around the world in being fed up. In an interview two years ago, Bensouda said, “I am speaking as an African woman… And the African woman’s voice is getting louder and louder, whether as advocate or whether as a victim.” Individually louder and louder. Collectively louder and louder.

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.