Lara Bourdin
The ‘balanced’ movie about a ship hijacked by Somali pirates has been widely praised. But it’s Captain America all the way, with ant-sized Somalis and equally little context. In the promotional poster for Captain Phillips currently pasted to the sides of bus stops, buildings and billboards, a stony-faced and steely-eyed Tom Hanks peers resolutely forward. With jaw clenched, lips pursed, and brow furrowed, his face is a study of robust determination. The poster conveys most of what one needs to know... The ‘balanced’ movie about a ship hijacked by Somali pirates has been widely praised. But it’s Captain America all the way, with ant-sized Somalis and...
Bart Luirink
When intrepid journalists discovered, two years ago, that South African President Zuma’s home in KwaZuluNatal was being refurbished, there was outrage in that country. Yet again, an African leader had built a palace with tax payers’ money. How could things ever come right on this continent? Public protector Thuli Madonsela, who by all accounts runs an independent institution of integrity, has now reported that, even if too much money was possibly spent on possibly not the best decisions, there... When intrepid journalists discovered, two years ago, that South African President Zuma’s home in KwaZuluNatal was being refurbished, there was outrage in...
ZAM Reporters
Lagos Photo 2013, titled ‘The Megacity and the Non-City’, a look at urbanisation and technology The development of urban centers in Africa and the influences of technology, the internet, and the digital revolution, have, the curators of the exhibit say, transformed photography and ‘our sense of place in a globally connected world’. The ‘Megacity’ element of the exhibit presents a photojournalistic perspective that documents the fast pace of change occurring in Africa today; the ‘Non-City’ extends... Lagos Photo 2013, titled ‘The Megacity and the Non-City’, a look at urbanisation and technology The development of urban centers in Africa and the...
Muno Gedi
Somalia | The soup goes to the cattle, the rice to the traders It may be bad for the economy, but it helps to pay the doctor’s bill, feed the cows and rebuild the farm in the village: selling food parcels, donated as aid to refugees, is a blooming business in Somalia. “I can’t vegetate here as a beggar. I need to invest in my farm. So I sell this packet of rice.” Sumaya Abdi Axmed (24) and her two children are standing outside the food centre in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district with a 10 kg rice... Somalia | The soup goes to the cattle, the rice to the traders It may be bad for the economy, but it helps to pay the doctor’s bill, feed the cows and...
Magdy Samaan
Two million unbelievers aren't scared anymore Ever since the free-thinking philosopher Hypatia was killed by a Coptic Christian mob, in the fifth century, Egypt has been ruled by monotheistic religion: first Christianity, later Islam. Those who questioned religious leadership, like Hypatia, were often persecuted. But lately, those who do not believe in any God have started to demand secular rule. “We have noticed how the last Islamic government failed spectacularly. Poverty got worse and they kept... Two million unbelievers aren't scared anymore Ever since the free-thinking philosopher Hypatia was killed by a Coptic Christian mob, in the fifth...
Charles Rukuni
Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement. In the movie Godfather III, Mafia don Michael Corleone tells his protégé, Vincent Mancini, never to hate his enemies: “It affects your judgment,” he says. This is the lesson that the West should have learnt about 89-year-old Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe. Western governments hated the man so much that it clouded their judgment and, as a result, helped him win the 2013 elections instead. The thinking at the... Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement. In the movie Godfather III, Mafia don Michael Corleone tells his protégé, Vincent Mancini, never to...
ZAM Reporters
Artists engage with race and migration at ZAM Newsroom The event, held in partnership with Gallery 23, featured Zimbabwean artist Admire Kamudzengerere and his work in which race, cultural psychology, migration and gateways between the industrialized and developing world are major themes. The location of the gallery, within a stone’s throw of the Amsterdam harbour and the old colonial vessel displayed by the adjacent Dutch Shipping Museum, was strangely in tune with a major canvas by Kamudzengerere... Artists engage with race and migration at ZAM Newsroom The event, held in partnership with Gallery 23, featured Zimbabwean artist Admire Kamudzengerere...
Evelyn Groenink
A Nigerian troubleshooter “Many Nigerians are dejected. They feel nothing can ever change, so they accept injustices and shrug their shoulders. I cannot be like that. I know that things can change. Those rapists are in jail and that hospital is functioning well now.” Solomon Adebayo (42) is state broadcaster Radio Nigeria’s ace investigative reporter. In his now ten-year career he has unearthed secret city detention centers in the country’s government capital, Abuja; brought rapists in the... A Nigerian troubleshooter “Many Nigerians are dejected. They feel nothing can ever change, so they accept injustices and shrug their shoulders. I cannot...
ZAM
‘Africa seems to be in torment’, said a letter to ZAM Chronicle this week. ‘Religious fanatics, mass murder, corruption, hundreds trying to escape and drowning in the Mediterranean. What is one to do?’ At ZAM, our usual response would be to blame the dominant narratives that highlight little but horror in the (still) poorest part of the world. We would feel for those Westerners who, like the letter writer, seem to feel sad, hopeless and powerless; who would like to do something, but what? Send food... ‘Africa seems to be in torment’, said a letter to ZAM Chronicle this week. ‘Religious fanatics, mass murder, corruption, hundreds trying to escape and...
ZAM Reporters
How a photograph stains your brain The persons on the wall are fat and thin, tall and short, sporting shaved heads and fountains of braids. Each individual pair of solemn eyes bores right through you. These are Zanele Muholi’s portraits of the black South African gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. A ‘visual activist’, as Muholi calls herself, she uses photography to ‘claim a space that is now vilifying and degrading us.’ In documenting a community and a movement, in encouraging... How a photograph stains your brain The persons on the wall are fat and thin, tall and short, sporting shaved heads and fountains of braids. Each...
Eric Mwamba
The secrets of the Congolese elite's wealth “My official salary is less than 750 euros. And yet I can make up to 225,000 euros per month,” says Jean-Pierre Mushizi (40), a respected member of the political elite in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Mushizi, who wears a diamond watch and glasses of pure gold, was a counsellor at the Ministry of Economics between 2006 and 2011. The job set him up for life. He doesn’t mind talking, anonymously – Mushizi, like many names in this story, is a... The secrets of the Congolese elite's wealth “My official salary is less than 750 euros. And yet I can make up to 225,000 euros per month,” says...
the Nugal Female Journalists Club of Garowe and Muno Mohamed Gedi
“I only had a little cut and it doesn’t bother me.” Somalia used to be known for its radical, painful and unhealthy female circumcision practices. These involved cutting off a girl’s clitoris and labia and sewing up the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood. The closed vagina was then to be cut open again after marriage. But there has been a change in recent years: a ZAM investigation shows that a large majority of young women now report to have been circumcised ‘only a... “I only had a little cut and it doesn’t bother me.” Somalia used to be known for its radical, painful and unhealthy female circumcision practices. These...
Evelyn Groenink
A former child soldier, a peacemaker, a South Sudan Pioneer At age ten, John Penn de Ngong became a child soldier so that he could go to school. After South Sudan’s independence, he continued the fight for human rights in his community and country as a journalist. Opposing fresh military brutality and corruption, he and his fellow civic leaders then found they had to battle oppression again. “People like the Murle live the same way they did hundreds of years ago. Their lives are bad. And they are... A former child soldier, a peacemaker, a South Sudan Pioneer At age ten, John Penn de Ngong became a child soldier so that he could go to school. After...
Chief Bisong Etahoben
How ambition and fear fuel witchcraft in politics Where power is seen to come from witchcraft, and witchcraft is called upon to slay one’s enemies, good governance doesn’t feature, explains Chief Bisong Etahoben. The Paul Biya regime in Cameroon bears much of the features of the ill-fated King Macbeth, who also derived his ambition and bloody reign from a witches’ cauldron. But will all end well in Cameroon, with good rulers and natural order restored, like in the play? Or will the country in the... How ambition and fear fuel witchcraft in politics Where power is seen to come from witchcraft, and witchcraft is called upon to slay one’s enemies, good...
ZAM
The noble savage and the starving child are part of an altogether very white discourse “Against stereotypes”, we announced our mission in the first ZAM Chronicle. And to our great delight, many news sites, print media and individuals welcomed our effort to publish contributions from African investigators, thinkers and artists that contradict tired old clichés about helplessness and misery, of noble savages and banana skirts. It is good to note a growing international fatigue when it comes to... The noble savage and the starving child are part of an altogether very white discourse “Against stereotypes”, we announced our mission in the first ZAM...
ZAM
Zanele Muholi and Mario Macilau spoke to photographers, journalists and activists in Amsterdam The first ZAM Newsroom (held on 5 September in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) featured visual activist Zanele Muholi, who has won multiple awards for her intimate portraits of the black lesbian and gay community in South Africa. Another celebrity presenting his work was Mozambican photographer Mario Macilau. The event was attended by a number of Amsterdam-based photographers and authors — notably renowned... Zanele Muholi and Mario Macilau spoke to photographers, journalists and activists in Amsterdam The first ZAM Newsroom (held on 5 September in Amsterdam,...
Lara Bourdin
Snapping back at stereotypes In the catalogue for his 2006 exhibition “Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography”, renowned Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor noted the troubled connection between the medium of photography and Africa. He drew attention to the ‘stock images’ that have endured as the “iconography of the ‘abandoned’ continent” and the need to move beyond them. Al Jazeera’s “The New African photography” Over six weeks in April and May 2013, Al Jazeera took up... Snapping back at stereotypes In the catalogue for his 2006 exhibition “Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography”, renowned...
Theophilus Abbah
Nigeria | Boko Haram reaps what state abuse and neglect have sown The deafening explosion shook our office, and our walls and ceiling trembled. Looking out of a now precariously loose window, I saw smoke oozing out of a high-rise building, located about two hundred metres away. The ‘This Day’ newspaper office had caught fire. There was tumultuous noise and people from the nearby market and bus terminal were running helter-skelter. One tweet at a time, we gradually understood that a Jeep left... Nigeria | Boko Haram reaps what state abuse and neglect have sown The deafening explosion shook our office, and our walls and ceiling trembled. Looking...
Benon Herbert Oluka
How a community campaign in Uganda did what 'Stop Kony 2012' and US$ 2 billion aid money could not do. Janet Akello was forced to kill a small boy who had tried to escape from the Lord's Resistance Army camp where she, too, was held captive. Phoebe * had a gun to her head when Joseph Kony raped her for the first time, when she was 14. Victoria * remembers fighting three armies handling a machine gun; abducting, burning, looting and serving as a wife to four commanders. They are now back home and,... How a community campaign in Uganda did what 'Stop Kony 2012' and US$ 2 billion aid money could not do. Janet Akello was forced to kill a small boy who...
ZAM Reporter
Exhibit B: Racism tours Europe South African playwright and artistic director of the group Third World Bun Fight Brett Bailey's EXHIBIT B was recently presented at the Holland Festival. The production draws together several threads concerning European racism towards Africans from the mid-19th century to the present. It looks at ethnographic exhibitions, social Darwinism and today’s increasingly xenophobic policies of the EU. As it was made for festivals in Austria and Germany, it also focuses on... Exhibit B: Racism tours Europe South African playwright and artistic director of the group Third World Bun Fight Brett Bailey's EXHIBIT B was recently...
Sean Jacobs
Not all protests are 'Arab Springs', and not 'authentic voices' are always right. In analyzing the relationship between a “global public sphere” and social media on the African continent, the generalizations hide a far more interesting set of observations. Debates and discussions about what passes for a global public sphere often overlook and obscure dynamics of power or take themselves too seriously. What is defined as the global public sphere by most observers and scholars is still very much... Not all protests are 'Arab Springs', and not 'authentic voices' are always right. In analyzing the relationship between a “global public sphere” and...