Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Thiong’o's memories of a time of war

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thiongoNgugi wa Thiong’o had been hesitant to write his memoirs, but wanted to give his children a wake up call about what life was like when you had to walk miles to school - not to mention being a political prisoner.

A giant of African literature, he has never been afraid to challenge the establishment. Yet while he recounts his time in prison with humour today, he has never moved back to Kenya full time since going into exile nearly 30 years ago despite being one of the country’s best-known writers. 

Thiong’o was imprisoned without charge in December 1977 after peasants and workers performed his play “Ngaahika Ndeenda”,  which criticised inequalities in Kenyan society.

Thiong’o went into exile in 1982 and only returned in 2004, when he and his wife were assaulted in what he maintains was a politically motivated attack.

Motor-rickshaws changing face of transport in Mali

 

Mali introduced Chinese-made motor rickshaws in 2006. They’ve been such a hit that most of Mali’s bigger cities are overrun with them and competition between drivers is pushing down prices. They’ve now been barred from the centre of the capital, Bamako, but in Mali’s third-largest city, Segou, the rickshaw-taxi is the main means of public transport.

“I have a wife and seven children,” rickshaw driver Bassidi Baba Djefaga told Reuters Africa Journal. “This
rickshaw is what enables me to feed my family. Before I had the rickshaw, I was a taxi driver and had two taxis. But when the new rickshaws arrived, I saw that taxi cars weren’t going to be good business any longer. So, I sold my two taxis and bought a rickshaw.”

Hotter in the long run?

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marathonEthiopia’s long-distance runners are among the best in the world, winning seven medals at last year’s Olympic Games. Generations of athletes have trained in the cool highlands of Asella but the weather there is changing, apparently as a result of climate change. There are now worries that this could have an impact on the country’s future runners.

For many young Ethiopians, this is where dreams are made. Internationally famous athletes like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenanisa Bekele have trained in these very parts.

The dangers of witchcraft

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carEvery year, hundreds of people in the Central African Republic are convicted of witchcraft. One man, who received a 4-year sentence, says his case highlights some of the failures of the country’s judicial system.

Ange Mberkoulat was convicted of witchcraft after his village chief accused him of trying to kill a relative. He is officially a convict but is serving his sentence outside jail because of lack of resources in prisons

Uganda gays feel threatened by bill

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ugandaBeing gay or lesbian in Uganda is illegal and those who are risk being locked away for up to 14 years. Now, a new parliamentary bill wants gay people to face even stiffer penalties and is proposing life imprisonment and even death sentences in some cases.

Pepe Julia Onziema and her partner, who asked that her identity be hidden, spend most of their time together — indoors. They are a lesbian couple living in Uganda where homosexuality is against the law. Pepe is also a gay rights activist in Kampala and is openly vocal about her sexuality and because of that she is often victim to discrimination and harassment.

Sweet potatoes to beat climate change?

A major obstacle to producing enough food has been the dry weather which hit many African countries last year, including Kenya, where 10 million people urgently needed food when rains failed. Now Kenyan farmers have been asked to grow drought tolerant crops to help prepare for the effects of climate change.

Nancy Opele has been growing sweet potatoes on her farm in Kenya’s western Trans Nzoia district. She started growing the potatoes in 2003 after researchers approached farmers and introduced them to the crop.

House calls for an HIV test

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It’s easy to avoid going to a hospital or clinic for an HIV test but what would you do if those carrying out the tests came to your house? The Kenyan government recently launched a door-to-door testing campaign and here’s how people in the country are reacting to the programme.

In the village of Asega in the Rift Valley, life is slow and newcomers are rare, so when health workers turned up recently there was a lot of curiosity. They came to test residents for HIV as part of a government initiative.

Out of Africa — and into China

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At a meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh this month, China promised to double the aid it gives to Africa and even forgive the debt of some of the continent’s poorest countries.

We’ve known for some time that Chinese are migrating to Africa to exploit business opportunities. But it’s perhaps less known that growing numbers of Africans are also moving to China to live and work.

Young at art

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Five-year-old Onarietta Remet is Nigeria’s most popular child painter. She’s been painting for four years now and has even sold some of her pieces.

Her father, Pius Remet, says everybody in the family is into painting and other artistic pursuits.

Life with the lions

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Kenya’s Maasai warriors are known for being fearless lion killers but times have changed and the country’s lion’s population is in danger of being wiped out. Now the Maasai in southern Kenya are taking part in an initiative to preserve the big cats.

For thousands of years the Maasai co-existed with huge herds of wildlife. Their lion-killing rituals kept down the number of lions preying on the game while their fearsome reputation as warriors kept the herds safe from other humans. The result, Kenya’s wildlife heritage is a wonder of the modern world.

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