By Finbarr O’Reilly
“If you want to learn about a city, look at its walls.”
-Greek graffiti artist iNO
In springtime, the fields around Sderot are carpeted with red and yellow flowers swaying in the breeze. Yet the pastoral setting is at odds with drab concrete tenements rising up from the impoverished Israeli city under constant threat of attack.
Nowhere in Israel has been as heavily bombarded as Sderot. More than 8,600 rockets fired from Gaza, the Palestinian territory controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, have landed in and around the city since 2001 according to the local media center. Ten people have been killed by rocket fire in Sderot since June 2005 and dozens more have been injured. Psychological stress also takes its toll.
DAKAR (Reuters) – Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade backed down on a proposed change to the country’s election rules on Thursday, completely withdrawing a bill that sparked running clashes between riot police and protesters in the capital.
Wade’s rivals said the proposed change would have guaranteed his re-election against a fragmented opposition in a February poll and had threatened a popular uprising over it in a country long seen as an island of stability in West Africa.
ABIDJAN (Reuters Life!) – While fighting raged on the streets outside his studio in Abidjan and stray bullets hissed through the air overhead, Ivorian artist Aboudia painted.
Only when the walls of his studio shook from the concussions of nearby explosions did Aboudia, 26, seek shelter in a basement.
ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo was overthrown by Ivorians, not by foreign powers, the United Nations said on Thursday amid rising criticism of its role in the removal of the former leader.
Gbagbo was captured this week by forces loyal to internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara — ending a bloody power struggle — but only after French and U.N. forces pounded Gbagbo’s heavy weapons stockpiles.
KUNJAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) – U.S. Marines were exchanging heavy fire with insurgents during a recent battle in the southern Afghan town of Nabuk when a woman and child suddenly appeared from a Taliban gunner’s position.
“The Taliban were using them as screeners,” said Sergeant Thomas James Brennan, a platoon leader with the U.S. Marines.
Children walk through a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 6, 2010. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly
Sitting in a deck chair at a white South African squatter camp, Ann le Roux, 60, holds a yellowing photo from her daughter’s wedding day.
“Don’t ask me to smile, I don’t know how to smile,” says Fumana Ntontlo, as she poses for a portrait, hands folded in her lap, on the bed of her one-room shack in South Africa’s Khayelitsha township.
The walls and roof of her tiny home are made from corrugated metal, insulated on the inside with splintered and stained plywood, from which hangs a faded blue fabric pouch holding several pairs of well-worn shoes. Some yellowed and curling magazine pictures are taped at eye-level and a lace curtain flutters in the breeze of a small window protected by metal burglar bars. A bare bulb hangs from the ceiling by a wire.
When I first started reporting from Africa eight years ago, it was almost impossible to generate any interest in the Western media for a story about Congo. This was immediately following the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the world was still reeling in the aftermath.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have since dominated our news coverage and resources during the first decade of the millennium.