1 + 2 trends to watch out for in African politics in 2012

The (by now not so much) new year always provides a good opportunity to lift our eyes from the detailed aspects of our day to day and embark on broader analysis, general reflections and compilations of what will be important for the starting year – both personally and professionally. In many ways this is a totally arbitrary decision for in fact dynamics, movements and trends do not know anything about calendar years, and what was important a few months back will in all likelihood continue without disruption. So, taking the time to reflect on what may be important in 2012 is in fact partly taking note of what has been recently happening and is likely to continue. Sigue leyendo

8º Congreso Ibérico de Estudios Africanos – call for papers

Para todos aquellos que trabajamos de forma académica en temas relacionados con África en esta parte del mundo, este año tiene una cita ineludible con la celebración del 8º Congreso Ibérico de Estudios Africanos en Madrid del 14 al 16 de junio de 2012. El congreso, titulado “Bajo el Árbol de la Palabra” contará con un total de 49 paneles, entre ellos uno co-organizado por quien aqui escribe.

Hasta el próximo 31 de enero de 2012 está abiero el llamamiento a paneles, y tod@s aquellos interesad@s deberán enviar una propuesta con un máximo de 400 palabras, asociada a algún panel (cada panel puede tener más de una sesión) y presentarse a través del formulario de la página web.

Sigue leyendo

It’s that time of the year… On Africa’s eleven top posts in 2011

The end of the year brings with it all sorts of compilations, lists and summaries of the good, the bad and the ugly of the year that’s coming to an end. And On Africa is no exception to this – see here the top-10 stories of 2009 (in English and in Spanish/español), and the ten photos that summarise 2010 (although without photos 😦 since the links broke when I transferred from Maneno to WordPress earlier this year and I have not fixed it yet…).

This year, I have compiled a list of the most viewed original posts written this year (according to WordPress). What this means is that the list excludes posts written in the past (the post most viewed this year is this one on Conguitos, a politically incorrect Spanish brand of sweets, written in march 2010). Also excluded are those posts that serve as self-promotion for pieces published for other media but to which I have made reference here.

So, whilst technically incorrect, the list makes this up in relevance, for these posts reflect better some of the most important news and stories in the African continent and beyond; with some exceptions – South Sudan independence, the war in Côte d’Ivoire (both these stories have op-ed pieces devoted to them and can be viewed on the “Other Work” section), as well as cultural notes. What is there includes: Zambia’s presidential election, Bin Laden’s death, Kenya’s invasion of Somalia and the “Arab spring” among others…

Enjoy these stories, leave below any comments you may have, and have a wonderful festive season and end of the year and beginning of 2012! Sigue leyendo

Elecciones generales en España: ¿qué pasará con la cooperación al desarrollo?

Entrada publicada originalmente en Foro AOD – donde ha generado varias respuestas interesantes – el original y los comentarios pueden verse aquí.

Foto: María Manrique

Elecciones generales en España: ¿qué pasará con la cooperación al desarrollo?

Este domingo se celebran elecciones generales en España, en un contexto que es sin duda de los más complicados en la actual era democrática. En estas condiciones de crisis económica, el voto (o abstención) de castigo al PSOE parece ser que tendrá unas proporciones hasta ahora desconocidas – con lo que se espera que el PP alzance sin problemas la mayoría absoluta (aunque como siempre, hasta conocer los resultados, nada es seguro). En cualquier caso, la multitud de problemas existentes, han conspirado para prácticamente excluir de la agenda a los temas de política exterior (los no relacionados con Europa), y por ende, la cooperación al desarrollo. Sigue leyendo

There’s a new war raging in the Horn of Africa, does the EU know about this?

Catherine Ashton addresses the media after an EU foreign ministers meeting yesterday (Yves Logghe / AP)

We, Europeans, often feel frustrated at the way the EU – the most important and cohesive regional body in the world – is unable to punch its weight on international affairs. And all the more so at present, given our internal economic and political woes. However, when reading things like Catherine Ashton’s remarks following yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council, the surprising thing is that the EU is able to do anything at all. The Foreign Affairs Council discussed: Syria, Libya, Tunisia, the Common Security and Defense Policy, and the Horn of Africa. Here’s the extract on what Baroness Ashton had to say on the topic of the Horn: Sigue leyendo

Tense countdown to Liberia’s presidential election run-off tomorrow

Liberian riot police gather as they clash with supporters of presidential challenger Winston Tubman in Monrovia November 7, 2011. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

 From Reuters:

By Richard Valdmanis and Alphonso Toweh MONROVIA (Reuters) –
Clashes and sporadic gunfire rocked part of Monrovia on Monday, killing at least one person after Liberian riot police fired tear gas to disperse several hundred supporters of presidential challenger Winston Tubman.
Members of Tubman’s CDC party said at least three other people were killed, though this could not be confirmed. Two United Nations helicopters flew overhead as police and Tubman’s rock-throwing supporters clashed in side streets.
Liberian police firing tear gas and live rounds later stormed the CDC headquarters before they were repelled by U.N. peacekeepers, who have set up a cordon around the building.
Tension has risen in the Liberian capital ahead of a November 8 election run-off between Tubman and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf after Tubman called on his supporters to boycott the vote over alleged irregularities, despite international pressure on him to stand.
Violence erupted after police tried to break up a crowd of several hundred CDC supporters. Shooting then broke out and a police officer said both the police and Tubman’s supporters had fired, but it was not possible to confirm the information.

Johnson-Sirleaf took nearly 44 percent of the first round vote on October 11 and has since won the backing of the third-place finisher, former warlord Prince Johnson, all but sealing her victory in the second round run-off.
Former U.N. diplomat Winston Tubman – who took roughly 33 percent in the first round – announced last week he would withdraw from Tuesday’s race and called on Liberians to boycott the poll due to evidence of fraud.
But international election observers called the October 11 vote mostly free and fair, and the United States, regional bloc ECOWAS and the African Union have all criticized Tubman’s decision to boycott the second round.

And here‘s an interesting commentary from Clair MacDougall at African Arguments (extract):

Opposition leader Winston Tubman’s decision last week to boycott the runoff, has also suggested that Sirleaf is the frontrunner. However, if she wins, her government could be perceived as lacking legitimacy, posing further challenges for Africa’s first female president. But with an opposition that lacks coherence and political parties without clear policy platforms or core principles and ideals, will Johnson Sirleaf’s victory further enhance or inhibit the development of a multiparty system in the fledgling West African democracy?

15-0 united for #globalchange & Fela’s anniversary today!

Today, thousands (millions?) of people will go out to the streets in over 190 cities in 82 countries to demand political change and a system that puts people over profit. Here’s a video showing some of the protests that have already taken place this year, and giving you an idea of why today is important:

I will be attending the Madrid demonstration this afternoon and afterwards, if there is energy, may go to this tribute concert to Fela Kuti, whom today would have turned 73.
Fela was not only a great figure for African music, but also a political mind, who fought for the same reasons people are out on the streets today!

Here’s a 1978 Berlin performance of “Cross Examination”