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.
Burundian refugees in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda are enacting grassroots responses to COVID-19.
Western media coverage of Ethiopia’s political crisis turns a blind eye to the grassroots movement behind the protests.
In Sudan’s capital, security forces arbitrarily enforce a haphazard lockdown.
Local traditions of crisis management—especially those resistant to predatory capitalism—have largely been forcibly shed along the path to “development.” The age of COVID-19 is the time to recover them.
We’re back with another playlist of songs for your weekend!
Regular Kenyans try to survive the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Eko Atlantic in Lagos, like Tatu City in Nairobi, Kenya; Hope City in Accra, Ghana; and Cité le Fleuve in Kinshasa, DRC, point to the rise of private cities. What does it mean for the rest of us?
Three activists from the Assembly of the Unemployed talk to us about the challenges facing working-class communities in South Africa.
Rather than addressing food scarcity, genetically modified crops may render African farmers and scientists more, not less, reliant on global markets.
Plutôt que de pallier l’insécurité alimentaire, les cultures génétiquement modifiées risquent de rendre les agriculteurs et les scientifiques africains plus, et non moins, dépendants des marchés mondiaux.
The exhibition, ‘Men Lebsa Neber,’ features a staggering collection of the clothes and stories of rape survivors across Ethiopia.
Chambi Chachage’s tribute to Annar Cassam, assistant to late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and a key figure in anti-colonial movements.
The blitz on monuments signifies not the abandonment of history, but rather the rejection of a narrative of modernity created by the heirs of global plunder.
The task is to recapture progressive thought and policies from post-independence Africa for our times.
Pressure on African writers to avoid the criticism of poverty porn limits the imagination of the writer and the ability to speak truth to power.
Political solutions to confront Boko Haram’s violence around Lake Chad, need to include regional integration; solving the problem of colonial borders.
How do we deal with the unfinished business of the past? Cape Town has a surprisingly poetic answer.
COVID-19 re-affirmed journalism is a public good, yet as newsrooms collapse, journalism is in danger.
Drummer Asher Gamedze’s new album is a groundbreaking body of work in the musical trajectory of South African jazz.
Leila Hassan and Farouk Dhondy worked at the UK publication Race Today that chronicled the early 1980s struggles against racism there.