Why is the US army in Niger

Including another worrying thread of the American "war on terror" on the continent: the training of vigilantes. 

US special forces training Malian soldiers.

The Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina has written a Letter to All Kenyans. Kenyans were supposed to vote this week in a rerun of August’s presidential election, but the electoral commission postponed elections in opposition strongholds indefinitely yesterday. Here’s a taste: “In 1992, I voted for Mwai Kibaki. I was, then, a very conservative Kenyan. I believed in unearned privilege. I believed in English Kenya. I believed in Mwai Kibaki, not Matiba. I believed I was an elite Kenyan and deserved a president who would not rock the boat. I remember that election very clearly …”

(2) In US media, much has been made of the circumstances of the death of American soldiers in Niger. But the larger question is why is the US army in Africa in the first place. If you were wondering, like me, big US military presence is on the continent. This article, with links to stories from 2012 to now will be instructive. 

(3) And according to Pentagon war game simulations, there will be a full-scale invasion of the continent in the near future. 

(4) Another worrying thread, regarding the American “war on terror” on the continent, has been the training of vigilantes. 

(5) Can we develop the study of Africa so it is more respectful of the lives and struggles of African people and to their agendas?

(6) An increasing number of political PR companies are setting up shop on the continent, and the fact of the internet as a way of reaching more people than in the past, has led to the proliferation of propaganda in the stead of real political communications with constituencies. 

(7) A four-year-old child was raped in Ghana. The local chiefs said nothing could be done because community gods deemed the suspect innocent. National outrage has thankfully led to the opening of a police investigation, but the fact that no attempt was made before speaks volumes about how likely rape is taken.    

(8) A French court has charged Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President (his father is the Life President) with corruption, seizing his assets in the country. How African regional bodies react will tell us a lot about willingness to fight corruption on the international stage.

(9) Watch and learn why we should eat more indigenous African fruits and vegetables. 

(10) An exhibition showing the works of Chief S.O. Alonge, photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria in Nigeria marks the Smithsonian African Art Museums foray into exhibiting on the continent. 

(11) Meet the most decorated Congolese wrestler of all time; and

(12) Finally, for the young survivors of Ebola, cataracts—which usually only afflict the old—are another battle scar.

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.