The bigger question is not why France decided to intervene but why America has held off. Is it simply imperial overstretch and war-weariness? That seems a little thin, given the hue and cry in Washington about ‘ungoverned spaces’ and ‘terrorist safe havens’. After all, the Sahara is six times as big as Afghanistan and Pakistan combined. And why sink money into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership – more than $1 billion since 2005 – or foot the bill for Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara, if at the end of it all al-Qaida is allowed to march on Bamako? Why would Obama order more drone strikes than his predecessor against the leaders of Somalia’s al-Shabaab, a group with relatively weak links to international terrorism, but not lift a finger to stop AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Maghreb) from taking over Mali? Unless, of course, in addition to a division of labour with the French, the point is to ‘disaggregate’ the multiple terrorist threats in Africa, tackling each individually rather than addressing any common denominator, and so deny jihadism a chance to coalesce. In this regard, even if the French were drawn into the quicksand in Mali, Nigeria would most likely remain the region’s focal point for the US: with 150 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state as well as the biggest oil producer south of the Sahara, and has an active homegrown salafist-jihadist group, Boko Haram (‘Westernisation Is Sinful’). When I put these thoughts to a US military staffer involved in anti-terrorism in Africa, he replied tersely: ‘What we’re doing in Africa is a sort of Whac-A-Mole’ – a reference to an arcade game in which players force moles back into their burrows by hitting them on the head with a mallet. He went on to quote the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams: ‘America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ Well, not any longer perhaps. But France has done precisely that.
The film, ‘We are Zama Zama,’ about illegal miners in South Africa, is a social commentary on the failures of post-colonial liberal democracies in Southern Africa.
The multifaceted effects of gender-based violence on girls in Malawi.
The Mo Ibrahim Prize rewards African presidents for promoting democracy. But there’s no proof the prize has had any effect or that it is needed.
The best support that the Sudanese revolution can get from international allies is for them to reject and fight their own governments’ efforts to force a government of killers on Sudan for the second time.
The impressive debut album of the Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O marks the arrival of a unique genius in post post-apartheid South African jazz.
After unrest in July and municipal elections in November, it’s clear South Africa is in the midst of a serious social, economic and political crisis. What are the roots of it? Listen to this episode of AIAC Talk to find out.
Africa Is a Country Radio is back with a new season. Each show will be inspired by the work of a different African author. First up, we explore the Ethiopian Tizita with Mukoma Wa Ngugi.
In both the rebuke and lionization of F.W. De Klerk, who recently died, there is an attempt to squeeze power into the zone of emotional sentiment.
How the film, ‘I am Samuel’ about a gay Kenyan couple was banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board.
This week on AIAC Talk: 2021 has been declared a great year for African literature, but what does that actually mean?
In a country like South Africa where government trust is low, gangsters and criminals who provide assistance to their communities are seen as the people’s champions.
On the back of a failed COP26 climate conference: how e-waste dumping by European countries in Africa contribute significantly to climate change.
In the last video for our Nairobi edition of Capitalism in My City, we meet the Organic Intellectuals Network.
Xenophobia and questions of belonging haunt Indian South Africans. What does that mean for solidarity with Black South Africans?
La longue histoire du classisme et de l’homophobie dans les espaces publics et médiatiques au Cameroun.
The long history of classism and homophobia in public and media spaces in Cameroon.
The mass atrocities of the 1899 French invasion of what is Niger today are finally being treated with the gravity and consequence they deserve in Western popular histories.
Street names are political weapons. They produce memories, attachment and intimacy—all while often sneakily distorting history.
We have to become more open to the possibility that what our society needs is not better policing, but less. And ultimately no policing at all.
In November 2017, Robert Mugabe was toppled in a coup. Amid this epochal change, life—and cricket—simply went on for Zimbabweans, who are still in search of a better future.