Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Must we see rape in Britain to understand rape in Congo?

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I was left somewhat traumatised after going to see a screening of a controversial new Hollywood-backed short released this week, aimed at highlighting the link between minerals mined for British mobile phones and the use of rape and murder as weapons of war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The highly graphic campaign video – appropriately called Unwatchable – starts with a little English girl picking flowers in the garden of her family’s multi-million pound mansion in a picturesque Cotswolds village.

This tranquil scene is shattered in an instant when armed men descend on the house, gang-rape her sister on the kitchen table and then murder her parents. It ends five minutes later with the girl running for her life.

“We placed it in a sort of cliché idyllic countryside, and tracing it back to mobile phones would make it relevant to people on the street,” Marc Hawker of production company DarkFibre told AlertNet.

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.

A tussle over trousers in Sudan

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One moment everything was quiet on the streets outside the Khartoum courtroom where Lubna Hussein was on trial this morning, charged with indecency for wearing trousers.

The next, a three-way fight had exploded between riot police armed with crackling electric batons, women’s rights protesters waving banners and posters, and Islamists fuelled with righteous indignation and pious chants.

Aid – a new model?

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A project in Ethiopia that helps destitute women become self-reliant by providing them with paid employment has attracted a lot of attention from politicians visiting Addis Ababa for an international get-together.

Alem Abebe is a 14-year-old girl who left home three years ago and made her way to the capital. She now earns 50 US cents a day working at the Abebech Gobena project in one of the city’s slums. It’s not enough to send money home, but enough to survive — and to pay for night school.

Women lead from the front in Rwanda’s parliament

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After next year’s election in Rwanda, women hope they will take around two thirds of the seats in parliament.

It would be an ambitious dream for equality campaigners in many countries, but after the 1994 genocide, women made up 70 percent of Rwanda’s population.
 
Rwanda became the first country in the world with a female majority in parliament after last year’s election.
 
Solange Tuyisenge has a rural constituency and has been a legislator for about four years. She says even more can be done to give women even more political clout.

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