(CNN) Guggenheim: The future of design is Africa

By Thomas Page, for CNN

(CNN)Is African design having a moment?

Not according to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a denizen of contemporary art. Rather, the curators believe the continent’s artists and architects are shaping the future of design entirely.

In their latest exhibit, Making Africa — A Continent of Contemporary Design, the museum showcases some of the freshest names in the art world as a whole (they just happen to all be African).

Shaping a new world order

"The Guy with Style" (2013), from the series "Moments of Transition" by Mario Macilau Alito.

Co-curators Amelie Klein and Petra Joos note that despite common perceptions that shape Africa as a land of “famine, corruption, or imposing landscapes,” one of the most defining features of the continent is innovation.

“The world as we know it is in transformation — politically, economically, socially, culturally and technologically. Anyone wanting to know how design can facilitate or even accelerate this change would be well advised to look to the south, especially at Africa, where the changes are very evident,” she says.

“African design covers a fascinating spectrum of concerns that goes beyond recycling, traditional craft, or humanitarian design.”

Road to Bilbao

"Sunsum" (2015), by David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates.

Researching for the exhibition “was a long process” Joos says, telling CNN about the many trips she took to Lagos, Dakar, Cape Town, Nairobi and Cairo. However she adds that it was mainly local artistic communities calling the shots.

“We had think tanks with intellectuals, directors and artists,” she explains. They asked questions such as “What is design?” “What is Africa?” “What is African design?” the results of which found their way into the show’s prologue.

“It’s interesting because there was a lot of difference of opinion,” says Joos. “They agreed; sometimes they disagreed. The visitor will see that in the exhibition.”

Split into four sections, Making Africa negotiates many areas: “Prologue” addresses Western preconceptions; “I and We” looks at African solutions and responses to communication — both at an intimate and societal level; “Space and Object” discusses environmental influences on creativity; and “Origin and Future” explores the notion of time.

Overall, 120 artists helped participate in exhibition, which includes the work of design heavyweights like Nigerian photographer J.D. Ojeikere and British-Tanzanian David Adjaye. These titans of the scene make their presence felt alongside the likes of Afrofuturist Ikire Jones and sculptor Cheick Diallo. All have equal footing when telling the story of contemporary African design, and help showcase the diversity of its creative community.

Read more: David Adjaye imagines Lagos in 2050

Stretching out across the globe

The Kingdom of Taali M (2013), by Pierre-Christophe Gam.

Joos notes that the size of the African diaspora abroad has led to cross-pollination in the world of design, whereby Africans abroad influence and are influenced by the cultures that surround them.

“We did an exhibition a few years ago when we only invited African artists living on the continent, but now it’s absolutely impossible, because we have so many Africans going back and forth. They’re living in Africa, but also in Paris, in London, even the United States.”

This manifests itself in their work, she argues. “They’re absolutely connected to everything,” she says. “They are not limited by European design, for example. They know what’s going on everywhere, and filter that through their culture and traditions.”

Unlike European design however — which Joos argues is “more formal” and “industrially realized” — Africans are reveling in the journey towards the final object. “Africa [is] a hub of experimentation, generating new approaches and solutions of worldwide relevance, and [is] a driving force for a new discussion about the potential of design in the twenty first century.”

“The process is more important than the result,” Joos says; “this informal creativity is so African. It’s not European, it’s not American, and it makes a big difference to us.”

‘Making Africa — A Continent of Contemporary Design’ runs until February 21.

The article was published on CNN.


EADB Math, Science, Technology and Engineering University Scholarship Program

African engineer

East African Development Bank has launched the EADB Math, Science, Technology and Engineering University Scholarship Program, in partnership with The Africa-America Institute. Scholarships will be available to experienced teachers and lecturers with a bachelor’s degree in math, science, technology and engineering with an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in those fields in the United States at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology, world-class universities less than an hour away from New York City.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be:

  • A university graduate with a Bachelor’s degree with First Class/Upper Second Honours in Mathematics, Sciences or Engineering
  • Under 40 years of age and a citizen of the EADB Member States: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Experienced Teachers and Lecturers of tertiary institutions, secondary schools, and polytechnics with at least 3 years full-time teaching experience
  • Working full-time in public, government owned educational institutions
  • Committed to returning to their home country, to teach in a public government owned institution which is a mandatory requirement
  • Diligent in successfully completing the application process by the allotted deadlines at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology

This fully funded scholarship will provide full tuition, room and living expenses within a stipulated budget.


A qualified scholarship recipient will receive:

  • Full tuition, room and board plus living expenses and student’s annual health insurance so to pursue a Master’s degree in math and engineering.
  • Round-trip ticket to the USA at the beginning of the program and back to their home country in East Africa after the completion of the program.
  • Information about internships at top American and local companies working in Africa.

How do I apply for the scholarship?

Send your application to EADB/AAI to email, EADB@aaionline.org, with the below information. All submissions must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Terms and conditions apply. Application deadline is January 25, 2016.

  • Your name, age, and contact information including physical address
  • A copy of your Bachelors degree
  • Your final grades
  • One page essay on how you imagine the masters level education would advance your own career; and how you would then make a positive impact in advancing STEM skills development in your home country; also specify  why you should be added to the pool of the applicants who can apply to Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Letter of support from your employer committing to employ you on completion of studies.

Upon review of your application, we will notify those who have been selected to proceed with the application at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Only these candidates will be required to take the GRE and TOEFL standardized tests, see details below.

Key deadlines


  • Application deadline at Rutgers University for Master applicants: March 31, 2016
  • First day of school at Rutgers University for Bachelor and Master: September 6, 2016

Note: International students’ orientation week is the last week in August each year. 

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

  • Application deadline at New Jersey Institute of Technology for Master applicants: May 1, for the Fall and November 15 for the Spring Semester.
  • First day of school at New Jersey Institute of Technology for Bachelor and Master: September 6, 2016.

International Standardized Test Dates [PDF] for GRE and TOEFL

If you are invited to formally apply for the scholarship you will be required to take these two standardized tests.  Both of these exams are offered at testing centers in the following countries (and are administered as a digital internet based exam.

GRE:  You can register for the test online or by telephone by calling +1-800-473-2255

The cost of the exam is $195. USD  The exam is offered Year-Round Monday through Saturdays at testing sites in East Africa.  Call the number above or visit their website to determine the test center closest to your home.  If visiting the website, create a User Account and then select your home country before registering for a Test Site.

TOEFL: You can register for the test online or by telephone by calling +1-609-771-7100

The cost of the exam is $190. USD   The exam is offered at various dates throughout the year, at their testing sites in East Africa.  Call the number above or visit their website to determine the test center closest to your home. If visiting the website, create a User Account and then select your home country before registering for a Test Site.

Confirmed TOEFL test sites include: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

For both the GRE and the TOEFL, if an applicant cannot get to physically attend a test center, then a Paper Test can be ordered and sent to your home.

Note: International Applicants: It is recommended that international students begin the application process six months prior to the start of the semester to allow sufficient time for processing international credentials and applying for a student visa.

Student Visas:  Students who are accepted into the program as an EADB Math and Engineering University Scholar will be required to comply with all relevant student visa rules and regulations.  Valid student visas are required to apply to the Department of Homeland Security for admission into the United States at the port of entry. Students’ Form I-20 document (F and M visas) or DS-2019 document (J visas), which are issued by their institution, will allow them to maintain student status in the United States even if a visa expires during their studies. Click here for more information on the student visas. 

Contact us: For more information about the EADB Math and Engineering University Scholarship Program, please visit www.aaionline.org

The Partners

The Africa-America Institute

Founded in 1953, The Africa-America Institute (AAI) is a premier U.S.-based international organization dedicated to strengthening human capacity of Africans and promoting the continent’s development through higher education and skills training, convening activities, program implementation and management.  AAI raises funds to develop programs that focus on leadership and management, vocational training and entrepreneurship to help African youth develop leadership skills, become globally competitive and find sustainable employment.

East African Development Bank (EADB)

The East African Development Bank (EADB) was established in 1967 with the remit to provide financial and other support to its member countries, which currently are Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.  Burundi has applied to become a member state.  It was re-established under its own charter in 1980 after the break-up of the East African Co-operation in 1977. The new charter opened up the Bank to a wider membership and allowed for the introduction of consulting and advisory services.

The EADB’s loan portfolio is spread widely, but more than 60% of its lending is to projects in health and education, hotels and tourism, construction and building, electricity and water, and agriculture, all of which are central to the current and future prosperity of the region and its people.  EADB sees education as immensely important for the future of East Africa.

University Partners

RutgersRutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is a leading national research university and the state of New Jersey’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Established in 1766 and celebrating a milestone 250th anniversary in 2016, the university is the eighth oldest higher education institution in the United States. More than 67,000 students and 22,000 faculty and staff learn, work, and serve the public at Rutgers locations across New Jersey and around the world.

Rutgers University campus comprises:


NJITNew Jersey Institute of Technology

We’re proud of our 130 years of history, but that’s only the beginning of our story – we’ve doubled the size of our campus in the last decade, pouring millions into major new research facilities to give our students the edge they need in today’s demanding high-tech marketplace.

NJIT offers 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in six specialized schools instructed by expert faculty, 98 percent of whom hold the highest degree in their field.  We have amazing students from all over the world, and we rank #1 in New Jersey in awarding engineering degrees to African-American and Hispanic students.

(All Africa) 10 Things to Watch in Africa in 2016

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Joseph Kabila of DRC. Photo Credit: Paul Kagame

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Joseph Kabila of DRC.
Photo Credit: Paul Kagame


By Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen

Staying Power: Referenda in the Republic of Congo and Rwanda have paved the way for presidents Sassou Nguesso and Kagame to extend their tenures. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), President Kabila appears intent on remaining in power beyond the end of his second term in November 2016. Kabila’s political machinations have been met with violent protest and international opprobrium. By contrast in Benin, incumbent president Boni Yayi has resolved to step down when he completes his second term in February 2016.

Africa Debt Rising: Sovereign bond issuance rose dramatically as commodity markets peaked in 2014, before tailing off as the price of oil and export minerals collapsed. With budget deficits approaching unsustainable levels in many countries and the supply of cheap debt in decline, some African governments face tough choices – cut spending or dramatically improve domestic revenue collection. This new reality will be inescapable for Zambia and Ghana in an election year. In 2015, their currencies were devalued substantially and visits from the IMF further raised concerns about the sustainability of debt levels. 2016 may see the IMF revert to a more familiar role of supervising austerity measures, albeit in a less conspicuous fashion than during the structural adjustment era; whilst Ghana accepted IMF support, Zambia has so far rejected a financial bailout package.

Economic Opportunity: African economies that rely heavily on oil and other commodity exports – including Nigeria, Angola and Zambia – continue to suffer due to low or declining prices. But this setback also provides an opportunity to focus on diversifying their economies. In Nigeria, there is much talk of revitalising agriculture. In East Africa, efforts are being made to reduce economic inefficiencies and improve productivity: progress in regional telecom reform, for example, demonstrates much from which the rest of the continent can learn.

Insecurity in Nigeria: Many Nigerians voted for Muhammadu Buhari because of his campaign commitments to tackle corruption and defeat Boko Haram. The arrest of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki for allegedly overseeing illicit and financially fraudulent transactions worth billions of naira is highly symbolic. Despite an announcement that the government has “technically won the war” against the Boko Haram insurgency, military action has not yet been convincing and the threat remains. The renegotiation of the Niger Delta amnesty and recent agitation by Biafran separatists illustrate the security challenges facing Buhari’s government.

Urban Transport: In September 2015 Addis Ababa opened the first part of a new 17km light rail system funded in part by Chinese investment. A similar venture that forms part of the urban plan in Lagos has been beset by delays. However, Governor Ambode of Lagos State has promised that the first line will be operational by December 2016. Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system failed to open as planned in October 2015 but is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2016. New urban transport networks will need to be affordable for the everyday commuter if they are to successfully reduce congestion and improve the productivity of cities.

Flying Donkeys: The world’s first civilian cargo drone station is set to open in Rwanda in 2016. “Flying donkeys” will be capable of carrying small packages across distances of up to 80km and could help to overcome some infrastructure challenges. Regulation concerning the use of unmanned vehicles is in the process of being drafted by Rwanda’s civil aviation authority and a successful pilot should see a nationwide network of cargo drone routes established.


Sorting out the Union: The post-election crisis in Zanzibar has highlighted the shortcomings of Tanzania’s current political configuration and reignited calls for power to be shared more equitably among the constituent parts of the Union. Tanzania remains the only African nation to possess a dual-government structure, a lopsided arrangement that falls short of being a fully-fledged federation. Zanzibar retains its own executive, legislature, and judicial system; while a parliament in Dodoma and a president in Dar es Salaam take decisions for both the mainland and the Union as a whole. Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, may consider constitutional reform as a solution to the impasse in Zanzibar; however, he will face resistance from his own party, which has repeatedly rejected changes to the status quo.

The Prominence of Social Media: African youth harnessed the potential of modern communication tools to mobilise protests in Burkina Faso and South Africa, successfully preventing a military coup and halting significant rises in university tuition fees. Twitter hashtags are becoming important tools for mobilisation and are likely to become more prominent as the cost of communication decreases. Governments are already responding to this perceived threat. Tanzania rushed through four pieces of legislation relating to access to information, media, statistics and cybercrime in 2015, while Nigeria may adopt a social media bill in 2016.

The Battle for the ANC: In South Africa, rumours have been circulating about plots to oust President Zuma mid-term. Zuma famously usurped Mbeki as ANC president at the national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, positioning him to become head of state, following the April 2009 elections. Zuma’s decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister was an assertion of his authority that backfired. With the ruling party likely to lose control of important metropolitan authorities at municipal elections in 2016, the campaign to succeed Zuma will dominate South African politics right up until the next ANC national conference in December 2017.

A Changing Climate: In 2015, flooding in Freetown and Accra devastated urban areas whilst El Niño brought drought to rural Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Unpredictable weather will be a continuing feature in years to come, despite the agreement reached at COP21 in Paris. Long term commitments can work alongside short-term solutions: improved urban management and support for the growing of drought resistant crops like finger millet. But weather can also offer opportunity for the continent. Renewable energy, in particular solar, wind and geothermal, has been cited as a key avenue for tackling the power deficit on the continent by African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina.

Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen are researchers at ARI.

(Globe and Mail) Africa’s new brooms clean house

Robert Rotberg (The Globe and Mail)

Robert Rotberg (The Globe and Mail)

ROBERT ROTBERG | Special to The Globe and Mail | Published Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 8:00AM EST

(VOA) CPJ Report Highlights Journalists’ Struggles in Africa

The Committee to Protect Journalists has released its annual report on the killing of reporters around the world. The report looks at the state of media freedom in Africa. Forty-six-year-old Waweru Mugo has been a journalist in Kenya for the last 15 years and now runs his own media consulting firm.

It is not always easy. Last October, Kenyan lawmakers considered a bill that would ban the press from reporting on parliamentary matters. The controversial clauses were eventually removed amid protest from civil society and media organizations.

Intimidation, censorship

According to Mugo, journalists in Kenya and all of Africa face challenges, especially attempts by governments to intimidate and censor them. This, he says, has limited the growth of a free press.

“When you try to highlight some of these issues, the government tries to crack the whip,” he said. “The government demands that you do ABCD, that you’re not supposed to be unpatriotic, they label you as unpatriotic, they say that you’ve been bought off by foreign interests, you are working for the opposition. So the journalists also kind of bend to the whims of the government through self-censorship.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 69 journalists around the world were killed while on duty this year. Many died at the hands of Islamist militant groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State.

The biggest number came from Syria, but 11 were killed in Africa, including five in war-torn South Sudan.

Careful reporting

Felix Odimmasi, of the School of Law and Diplomacy at the University of Nairobi, says the lack of government support makes journalists cautious about reporting from conflict areas like South Sudan, Somalia and northern Nigeria.

“… Because one, they would not go out there and report, and two, those who dare to go out and report still know they are at risk, so they have to be very careful about what they report about and where they go. It’s the general lack, weakness of the rule of law,” he said. “The laws that exist are not necessarily being followed and there’s no strong legislation in some of these weak states to protect the media.”

Members of Africa’s Fourth Estate have come under fire across the continent from multiple regimes. Amnesty International says the South African government and ruling African National Congress party are pushing for a tribunal to regulate the media under the guise of “transformation.”

Amnesty notes that in Ethiopia, many journalists and media workers are currently in prison or have been convicted in absentia because of their work.

Benji Ndolo, a civil rights activist from the Kenya-based Organization of National Empowerment, says a concerted effort from non-state actors is the only way to halt the intimidation.

“International processes, civil rights movements, non-governmental organizations and even church organizations as well as the media will push these countries into a corner where they will be held to account for loss of lives. They will not have impunity forever and so change will absolutely come to these countries, accountability will be there,” said Ndolo.

Besides South Sudan, other African countries where journalists were killed in 2015 included Somalia, Kenya, Libya and Ghana. Another five were killed in Somalia’s neighbor, Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden.

This article was published on Voice of America.

(Vice) The Year Africa’s Strongmen Embraced the ‘Constitutional Coup’

By Kayla Ruble | December 22, 2015 | 12:35 pm

Thirty-six people died in Kinshasa in January during demonstrations sparked by perceived attempts by President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to stay in power after his second and final term. A few months later and just across the border, protesters took to the streets of Bujumbura in April when Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek a constitutionally tenuous third term in office.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s security forces in the Republic of Congo used deadly force against demonstrators in Brazzaville and put opposition leaders under house arrest in October, when they expressed disagreement with a constitutional referendum to allow the leader to run for a third term. And while mass street demonstrations were noticeably absent in Kigali, Rwanda’s parliament and judiciary successfully cleared several legal hurdles this year to enable President Paul Kagame to run again after his second, seven-year term comes to an end in 2017.

It was rare that a week went by without discussion related to these East and Central African leaders’ efforts to seek a third term in office. All four leaders have been accused of human rights abuses during their tenures, with some of the loudest allegations related to crackdowns against opponents and protesters who pushed back against the maneuvers to extend presidential mandates beyond existing term limits.

Despite the controversies, the leaders kept their titles and remained at the top. This made 2015 the year that the region’s strongmen found ways to legally cling to power. Using a term recently coined by Human Rights Watch, it was the year of the “constitutional coup.”

“Military coups are no longer de rigueur,” HRW deputy director Anneke Van Woudenberg and researcher Ida Sawyer wrote in Foreign Policy in November, noting that the shift was partially caused by the African Union’s decision not to recognize administrations that achieve power by force. “Instead, African leaders who are unwilling to abide by term limits, or unfavorable election results, prefer to simply change the laws and constitutions that stand in their way.”

Constitutional changes and legal judgments helped pave the way for these presidents to pursue lifelong leadership. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC, it was a proposed amendment that would have postponed the 2016 elections until a nationwide census was completed — a move critics believed would let Kabila sidestep constitutional term limits and stay in power for several more years.

After the deadly protests in January, the proposal was revoked. But in the months since, the government has detained protesters and opposition members in an attempt to silence peaceful activists, according to a December report from Human Rights Watch. It’s still unclear what Kabila will do.

Next door in Congo,  Sassou Nguesso used a constitutional referendum to lift both the age and term limits that would have made him ineligible. The changes passed with 92 percent voting in favor — although the opposition accused the regime of lying about voter turnout — and the president is expected to move forward and call elections by spring of 2016. Experts say he is unlikely to step down willingly; he has after all been president since 1997, and before that from 1979 to 1992. Sassou Nguesso has not groomed a successor who would protect the president from international criminal cases and look after the assets his family has secured during its reign, according to Stanford University fellow Brett Logan Carter.

“Sassou Nguesso doesn’t want to risk this,” Carter said ahead of the referendum vote, noting the leader has likely become more fearful after seeing fellow African strongmen like Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré fall from power. “There is no one else for Sassou Nguesso to transfer power to, so in a way he’s been forced into this position.”

Most recently, Rwanda held a constitutional referendum of its own on December 18, giving the public the right to chose whether to change the constitutional term limits. The country’s parliament and judiciary had already lifted several hurdles to allow President Kagame to extend his rule, and the referendum was seen as the final step. According to official results, 98 percent voted in favor of the changes that, in theory, will allow the leader to serve another seven-year term, followed by two five-year terms. In other words, he could be in power until 2034.

Earlier this year as the parliament and judiciary began to clear the way for these changes, University of Buffalo political science professor r Reverien Mfizi — a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide — explained that all those legal steps were part of an attempt to give the process a sense of legitimacy.

The constitutional changes have been framed, Mfizi said, as a normal process of Rwandans deciding for themselves whether or not Kagame gets to seek another round as head of state. All of this occurred without any public protest — in fact, the government has frequently referenced a nationwide poll showing an overwhelming majority was for Kagame running again.

“Kagame is a very smart, very thoughtful leader. I don’t always agree with him, but you have to admire how clever he is,” Mfizi said. “What’s missing from that story is it’s virtually impossible to oppose the regime.”

But arguably, the highest-profile power grab this year with the deadliest and most destabilizing effects came from Nkurunziza in Burundi. Almost eight months after the leader announced third-term plans, pushing demonstrators out into the streets to protest the move, the country has been engulfed in continued political instability and violence.

Nkurunziza pursued a new term despite a clearly outlined two-term limit in the constitution, which was established in 2005 as part of the Arusha peace agreement that ended the country’s decade-long civil war. The constitutional court cleared the former rebel leader to run, saying he had been appointed to his first term in 2005, not democratically elected.

Protests quickly turned violent as police cracked down on demonstrators, while opponents and Nkurunziza supporters clashed with each other in the streets. As dozens were killed and tens of thousands fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, and the DRC, Nkurunziza pushed on with his reelection campaign — even as regional and international organizations and governments called on him to step aside. He ultimately claimed victory at the polls in July, and the crisis shifted to politically motivated violence, disappearances, and assassinations on both sides.

A Burundian protester during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Bujumbura, on June 3, 2015. Protesters said they were disappointed that East African leaders didn’t ask President Pierre Nkurunziza to give up his bid for a third term. Photo by Dai Kurokawa / EPA

The situation has hit a critical point in recent weeks. To date, at least 300 people have reportedly been killed and more than 200,000 have fled the country since the violence began in April. On December 11, armed assailants waged a series of seemingly coordinated attacks on three military bases. Gunfire rang through the capital all day as security forces clashed with the fighters, and the next day 87 bodies were found on the streets of Bujumbura. In the day after the attack, a report from the International Federation for Human Rights found 300 young, unarmed civilians had disappeared, 154 of whom have since turned up dead. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein became just the latest to stress the looming risk of all-out conflict, stating that Burundi was on “the very cusp of civil war.”

In response, the African Union took a major step and approved the deployment of 5,000 peacekeepers to be sent to the country. Known as the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi, the plan is backed by the United Nations Security Council, while the Burundian government has said it would not allow foreign troops to enter its borders.

“If the situation continues, the African Union and international community cannot sit by and watch genocide, if it is going to develop into that,” said Erastus Mwencha, the deputy chairman of the African Union Commission.

The international community now awaits formal notice from Burundi and for the AU to decide whether it will send troops anyway, even if the Bujumbura authorities do not approve. Meanwhile, how Nkurunziza responds internally will be key. For months, observers have cited the leader’s perceived will to get a third term at all costs.

“Is there somewhere in the Bible where leaders are called on to massacre their people?”

A lot of the discussion surrounding Nkurunziza’s political ambitions has centered around his belief that he has risen to power by God’s will. The born-again Christian leader has stuck to the divine narrative particularly hard in recent months, even thanking God for winning the July elections and saying God would take care of the country’s rebels.

His fellow strongman on Burundi’s northern border, Rwanda’s Kagame, has questioned both Nkurunziza’s power grab and his belief in God. In a November speech, Kagame said Burundi should learn from the experience of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, while calling out the government’s failure to stop the internal violence.

“Burundi’s leaders pride themselves on being men of God, some are even pastors,” Kagame said. “But in what God do they believe?… Is there somewhere in the Bible where leaders are called on to massacre their people?”

The article was published on Vice News.

(CNN) Muslims shield Christians when Al-Shabaab attacks bus in Kenya

(Fortune) How Big Data is Helping Fight AIDS in Africa

Photo Credit: sorbetto — Getty Images

Photo Credit: sorbetto — Getty Images

By  |  | DECEMBER 14, 2015, 11:57 AM EST

Sometimes knowing the facts leads to surprising solutions.

HIV transmission from mother to child is a major, and preventable, factor in the ongoing prevalence of AIDS in Africa. While transmission rates are below 5% with effective prenatal treatment, the World Health Organization says they can range up to 45% without treatment—unfortunately, a common situation in the developing world.

Postnatal testing, then, is often vital in spotting infections in newborns, and treating them. But even as testing has become more accessible in Africa, it has remained slow, with devastating results—untreated infant HIV is usually fatal within a year. The problem isn’t just the time needed for the actual tests, but also the unpredictable ways that samples traveled from clinics to labs.

To tackle the problem, Mozambique brought in logistics expert Jérémie Gallien, a professor at the London Business School. Before looking at health systems, Gallien had consulted on retail logistics, including for the fast-fashion chain Zara and a dominant online seller he prefers not to name. And he’s found common ground between selling sweaters and saving lives.

Gallien says the basic conundrum of medical planning is the same as that in retail—striking the right balance between instant gratification and system-wide agility. When a retailer puts all its stock in stores instead of distribution centers, or a medical authority puts all of its drugs in clinics instead of a central facility, they can sell or treat patients at those locations much more quickly. But if they bet wrong on demand, moving materials where they’re needed becomes much more challenging.

Balancing those concerns comes down to understanding a specific problem, and in Mozambique, Gallien, with co-authors Sarang Deo and Jónas Oddur Jónasson, found a surprising answer. To speed the return of test results, they recommended that testing facilities, instead of dispersed, be highly centralized. While slightly slowing average sample transportation times, the added efficiency in test processing would more than make up for it.

That conclusion was based on tons of data, gathered through partnerships with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the National Institute of Health in Mozambique. “We got access to a data set of more than a year of shipments from clinics to the labs, then back, time stamped,” says Gallien. That was more than 30,000 records, also including information on patient outcomes and engagement.

Those records let Gallien get a precise but broad-scale view of transit times, which averaged 10 days.

“Increasing the transportation time to 13 days, you end up needing two lab locations,” he says. That would have led to a more complex problem of which samples go to which lab—which Gallien compares to the retail relationship between customers and warehouses.

The data also revealed a more complex human component of the problem—the relationship between turnaround time and caretaker followup. When test results took more than 30 days, babies’ mothers were much less likely to come back to get their results—or treatment.

“There’s all kinds of stigma and psychological impact having to do whether you transmitted the virus to your infant,” says Gallien. “It’s [a] very challenging, difficult psychological context in the first place,” and the discouragement of slow test results can trigger disengagement. Though far less dire, it’s not hard to see the parallels in retail—speedy fulfillment makes it easier for customers to make decisions, and stick with them.

Authorities in Mozambique are still processing Gallien’s recommendations, but he says Uganda has already begun to implement a similar set of solutions. The move to data-based planning, he says, opens up big possibilities for improving global healthcare.

“Particularly in these environments where there’s limited resources, limited time—this could really improve outcomes.”

The article was published on Fortune.

(VOA) Exiled Journalist Calls for Isolation of Burundian Government

 Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Voice of America (VOA)

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015.
Photo Credit: Voice of America (VOA)

By James Butty | December 14, 2015 12:45 AM

The Burundian government is seeking the extradition from Rwanda of four Burundian journalists working for several private media institutions, including Radio Isanganiro and Radio-TV Renaissance.

Also wanted is Patrick Nduwimana, director of Bonesha FM Radio. The request was reportedly made by the Burundian prosecutor general in a letter to the Rwandan Minister of Justice.

The Burundian government launched a crackdown on independent media after the May 13 failed coup attempt, accusing them of supporting the protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term. Critics said he was violating the constitution’s two-term limit as well as an agreement that ended Burundi’s 12-year civil war.

President Nkurunziza eventually did run for and win a third five year term in office after a constitutional court ruled in his favor.  However, unrest and violent confrontations have continued.

Patrick Nduwimana said the independent Burundian media has never taken sides in the Burundian crisis.

“They (the government) claimed that we have been involved or we are linked to the coup that took place in May, but all this is just nonsense. If we have put on air in our media the statement of the general who proclaimed the coup against Nkurunziza, this does not mean that we were linked to the plan of the coup. We did it as journalists; this is our job; that was a fact; that was the event which happened that time and we just broadcast the statement. So this cannot be the reason or justification for the government hunt and even want to kill journalists,” he said.

Nduwimana said the journalists fled to Rwanda because their safety was not guaranteed in Burundi, and the Rwandan government granted them and thousands of other Burundians asylum in line with international humanitarian law. As such, he said Burundian authorities have no right to ask for their extradition.

Also Sunday, the U.S. government urged its citizens to leave Burundi amid deadly clashes involving the military and police. More than 80 people were killed Friday when armed attackers raided army facilities in the capital Bujumbura.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said this past weekend that “high-level political dialogue” needs to begin immediately between the government and the opposition to try and defuse the situation or else things could “devolve into mass violence.”

The U.S. State Department said it has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. officials and the families of personnel.

Nduwimana said the Nkurunziza government should be charged with crimes against humanity.

“There were allegations or reports that an armed group which attacked three military sites or bases in the capital, Bujumbura. After that, police and government militia and some soldiers went into neighborhoods killing young people who were not armed. They rounded them up and shot them. They were not involved in the attack. I think the Burundi of today is guilty of crimes against humanity,” he said.

Nduwimana said the international community should do more to further isolate the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza.  He said the United Nations Security Council should stop issuing resolutions that are not backed by action.

The article was published on Voice of America. 

(The Conversation) African stories to get and keep kids reading during school holidays

Holidays are a great occasion for reading, whether kids are doing so alone or a family is sitting down together with a book. But what do you do if the bookstore doesn’t have books in your language, or they’re just too expensive? This is often sadly the case in Africa, a continent that’s home to more than 2000 languages.

A project that started in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Lesotho – and has spread to Niger, Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique – may hold some solutions for families who want to read African stories with their children.

The African Storybook has collected more than 2300 stories in 62 African languages. They are all free for download or printing, and offer fascinating insights into how people on the continent tell stories that explore sometimes tough themes and ideas.

Here are some stories from the project’s website that children of all ages can enjoy during the long school holiday – and once they’re back in class.

1. Leaving one home for another

Children’s books can tackle big themes in the simplest ways. African Storybook: Catherine Groenewald (CC-BY)

Holidays with grandmother is a story many children and adults can identify with: leaving home in the city to visit one’s grandparents and the countryside.

In rapidly urbanising Africa this is a familiar theme for many, as the older generation often stays behind while the younger generation looks for work in towns and cities. But family ties are strong, and visits to the ancestral village are cherished. In Holidays with grandmother, Odongo and Apiyo enjoy taking care of animals and playing in the bush, and of course their grandmother’s lovely cooking and chai.

It is available in English, Kiswahili, Lunyole, Ng’aturkana, Oluwanga and Sepedi.

2. The moral of the story

Traditional African stories often convey a moral lesson or caution against greed and other vices, such as the Ghanaian story Anansi and turtle. Anansi the spider greedily eats all the food before his dinner guest Turtle gets a chance. But what can Anansi do when Turtle invites him over to her place for dinner – under water?

African Storybook: Ingrid Schechter (CC-BY)

Other stories are far more serious, like Tingi and the cows. It is based on real events and is about soldiers entering a village as seen from the perspective of a young boy.

On the surface there is little drama beyond soldiers stealing cows and a boy hiding. But as we all know soldiers plundering villages is often far more serious than the theft of cows. Tingi and the cows invites the reader to think – and talk – about what happens when soldiers march into a village.

It is an excellent starting point for a conversation about fear and brutality that has affected people across the continent, including many children. It’s a reminder that not all children are lucky enough to fully enjoy the holidays.

3. Reading can be silly and fun

Adults may be concerned with teaching moral lessons and warning against dangers and transgressions, but children often prefer stories that are just funny, even silly or nonsensical. In Mr Fly and Mr Bighead the two characters want to cross a river. But Mr Bighead’s head is so big that he sinks. Mr Fly, on the other hand:

… laughed so much that his mouth tore in two from one side to the other!

Children love stories that are silly and nonsensical. African Storybook: Joshua Waswa (CC-BY)

Similarly, in The adventures of Supercow, a cow lives an ordinary life by day – well, not that ordinary for a cow, since she spends her days flying a kite and kicking a ball. But by night she is a supercow, saving lives and fighting crime.

This story has been translated into 21 languages, matched by only one other story on the African Storybook. This is A very tall man, and it’s another funny story that children will love. Although the number of translations is a weak proxy for demand, it hints at which stories are more popular.

Going global

The African Storybook caters, as the name indicates, to African languages. But sharing traditional and contemporary African stories is also important, not least for children from elsewhere to partake in the rich oral tradition and experience a positive picture of the continent.

The creation of the Global African Storybook Project has made this possible. Stories have been translated into Cantonese, Danish, Esperanto, German, Hindi, Jamaican Creole, Japanese, Mandarin, Nepali, Norwegian (bokmål and nynorsk), Persian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Tagalog – 16 languages in total, and growing.

This gives children from all over the world the chance to read stories from and about Africa.

Telling your own stories

The best stories are the ones you make yourself. This is not only possible with the African Storybook, it’s encouraged. Many of the stories on the website are adaptations of stories that others have written. The picture database has thousands of pictures that can be used to make a new story, or added to an existing story.

My favourite picture-based story is the brilliantly simple The hungry crocodile. In merely six concise sentences, which have been translated into six languages, the author Christian G. tells a story:

Pictures can tell a thousand words. African Storybook: Wiehan de Jager (CC-BY)

The hungry crocodile
Once there was a very hungry crocodile.
He searched for food slowly and quietly.
And then…
POW!!! The crocodile strikes!
After that he is no longer hungry, and he is happy.
Until he gets hungry again.

Adapting a story is an easy way for children or adults to start making their own stories. Holiday time, an adaptation of Holidays with grandmother by three Ugandan teachers, is one example of this.

Stories can serve many purposes, and with the African Storybook and Global African Storybook Project, African children stories are more accessible than ever before – in African and non-African languages alike. Happy holidays and happy reading!

This article was published on The Conversation.