Images of Africa in the western media are often characterised by famine and conflict. The discussion of poverty in African countries often overlooks the facts of everyday life. A new book The Ringtone and the Drumsets out to change this. Its author, an expert on development policy, presents the fast-changing politics and culture in three of the world’s poorest and least visited countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso.
Interview: Mark Weston, author, The Ringtone and the Drum
Why did you decide to travel around three of the world’s poorest countries?
I’ve worked in international development for quite a long time now, trying to work out what’s gone wrong in the world’s poorest countries. What can be done to help improve the lives of people living there? But although I’d spent time in Africa before, and in Asia on short trips, I felt as that I hadn’t really got under the skin of what it’s like to live in poverty. I wanted to find out what the people who lived in the world’s poorest countries talk about. What do they do every day? How are they adjusting to the onrush of modernity and globalisation that’s transforming so much of the developing world?
In a new book on Niger, Dutch author Klaas van Walraven charts the history of what he calls Africa’s first coup d’état. The Sawaba movement, formed in 1954, was opposed to French colonial rule and pushed for independence. It developed into a militant social movement, aligned with Eastern bloc states, as well as Algeria and Ghana. But it was stopped in its tracks, repressed by France’s fifth republic. Can we really call this Africa’s first coup?
The shooting of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid on Wednesday sparked protests in Paris, as well as across Tunisia itself. Around 200 demonstrators gathered near the Tunisian embassy in the French capital, shouting slogans and carrying placards reading, “in Tunisia, the Islamists kill”.
As the French military intervention in northern Mali continues, many countries in the region have been affected by the fallout. Mauritania, which shares a 2,000-kilometre border with Mali, has seen the arrival of thousands of refugees and has increased military patrols to try and stop Islamist armed groups from penetrating its territory.
Interview: Taleb Ould Abdi Vall, Mauritania’s Minister of Oil, Energy and Mining, at Ifri think-tank
A group of Eritean political refugees protested outside Eritrea’s Paris embassy on Friday in a demonstration against President Isaias Afewerki. There have been similar demonstrations at Eritrea embassies in other European capitals in recent days, including London and Rome. This comes following a recently reported army mutiny in the Eritrean capital Asmara, when some 200 Eritrean soldiers briefly occupied the country’s Information Ministry.
L’intervention française au Mali et la situation au Sahel ont réellement été le principal sujet d’actualité de la semaine selon les deux invités : Gero von RANDOW de l’hebdomadaire allemand “Die Zeït” et Daniel FINNAN, journaliste britannique à RFI (Radio France International).
La presse allemande a été critique sur la réaction du gouvernement de Mme Merkel ; il a affiché sa solidarité avec la France mais a passé plus de temps à expliquer qu’il ne pouvait agir plus loin. Les allemands ont-ils compris l’importance du Sahel ?
Réaction différente dans la presse britannique car comme la France, le Royaume-Uni a une longue histoire de guerres en Afrique. Londres apporte son soutien à la France.
Jeudi à Bruxelles, les 27 ministres des Affaires étrangères ont approuvé l’opération Serval, et certains ont annoncé un appui logistique. Tous sont tombés d’accord sur la nécessité d’envoyer vite des instructeurs européens pour la formation de l’armée malienne. Mais cela est-il suffisant ?
The co-director of a play banned in Uganda has told RFI he’s concerned about the repercussions of continuing to stage his production. But he believes Uganda’s Media Council is on shaky legal ground. John Ssegawa, co-author of State of the Nation, says the Ugandan authorities are limiting freedom of expression.
Interview: John Ssegawa, Co-Director, State of the Nation
Could you describe the play? What is it about?
The play is all about the history of Uganda from 1962, from independence, up to today. We talk about the political journey and what we thought would be, and what is not today.