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.
While Sisulu’s political career was less celebrated than Nelson Mandela, his wasn’t much less remarkable.
The “practice of museuming” perpetuates coloniality, whereby Europeans still act as arbiters of value.
Mass monitoring poses a threat to democratic freedoms as the case of Tunisia shows.
The world is out of joint and Immanuel Wallerstein, one of its great public intellectuals, has left us—albeit with tools to battle the dying kicks of capitalism.
A new film by Aiwan Obinyan explores the origins and “ownership” of a now-famous cloth.
Philanthropy and celebrities are not enough to remedy the inequalities that persist in Kenya.
Riason Naidoo talks to the curator and editor of a book and traveling exhibition about the work of the legendary, 90 year-old Ghanaian photographer.
Reflecting on white joy, black celebration, and the meaning of the Springbok win at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
After having a heart attack, a white American falls in love with his Nigerian nurse in the CBS TV sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola. It is also about Nigerian-Americans’ visibility on mainstream US television.
Opposition parties, inequality, and the politics of failure in the Southern African region.
We should not let the achievements of a multiracial Springbok rugby team, led by its first black captain, be commodified and commercialized in the service of neoliberalism.
Historian Marissa Moorman wrote an important book about radio and modern state power.
The late Springbok rugby wing’s legacy needs to be sustained, and the hope that he represented is perhaps more critical than ever.
November 1, 2019, is the 65th anniversary of the War of Liberation against French colonialism. The ongoing protests in Algeria is expected to enter a new phase: civil resistance.
October 30 marks the 5th anniversary of the start of Burkina Faso’s October 2014 insurrection. We revisit and assess those events.
Mobile-phone-based, person-to-person payment and money transfer systems are innovative—but are they really good for poverty reduction and development?
It’s going take a fully democratic anti-capitalist movement to fight climate change. The case of South Africa shows how long we have to go.
The guardians of women’s femininity and virtue and their use of public space come up against a women’s football team in the Sudanese capital.
A conversation with the founding editor of Bakwa Magazine—created to amplify new writing from Cameroon and from the African diaspora.
Medical anthropologist Julie Livingston argues that the conditions of capitalist modernity in which we live are not sustainable and are leading to increased rather than lessened inequality.