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 weakening of Nigeria’s oil trade unions has a devastating impact on workers. Now workers are paid by Shell and others to sabotage union strikes and actions.
The United States must make the choice to side with the majority of Ugandans who would like to see democracy take root in Uganda.
Ugandan activist and politician Dr. Stella Nyanzi challenges a new generation of women to take up the struggle for political freedoms and revolution.
Fatma Alloo (of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association) on how women used the media and cultural spaces to organize and challenge gender norms.
How did popular music become the battlefield of Uganda’s future? And what are the consequences?
What a year. Stay safe, wear a mask, social distance and when the vaccine becomes available where you are, get vaccinated.
Despite the media’s wish for a neat story, the African continent’s response to COVID-19 is all over the map.
An excerpt of an essay, titled “Nongoloza’s Ghost,” in Lapham’s Quarterly. It’s published in partnership with Africa Is a Country.
As countries expand investment in decentralized renewable energy, its worth keeping an eye on who’s profiting.
A new project from Cuban rapper El Individuo humanizes the Cuban perspective, inadvertently flying in the face of the United States Republican Party’s agenda.
What counts as “authentic” decolonization as the term takes over our social media and influencer bubbles? And how we can sharpen our activism.
For the peripheries and proletarians of the world—most of the world—Maradona is a symbol of defiance against the football aristocracy, corporate bosses and empire itself.
Members of the Capitalism In My City project reflect on the commodification of education in Kenya.
Speculative fiction by writers from Africa explore viral apocalypses. What can we learn from art on catastrophe?
What was behind the assassinations in the 1980s of two key anti-apartheid figures: Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, and senior ANC official, Dulcie September?
How has Nigeria’s film industry responded to the protests of #EndSARS?
Can we move from temporary shame about our endless consumption of unethically sourced jewels and smartphones to concrete action?
The Ugandan government quells public unrest with violence. What won’t it do in the name of “security”?