1Resuscitating the Central African Republic’s Healthcare
In May, Dr. Jean Chrysostome Gody congratulated the first-ever class of pediatricians to graduate from the country’s only medical school. The hospital has just opened a new multimillion-dollar malnutrition wing, doubling the number of beds and offering clean rooms with fresh paint and new mosquito nets. More patients than ever are coming through the doors — a sign not that more children are sick, Dr. Gody said, but rather that word finally is spreading that treatment there is free. Nearly seven years ago, Muslim rebels fed up with a lack of government services in rural areas — basics like schools, roads and hospitals — invaded the capital and clashed with Christian militias in fighting that slid toward genocide, the United Nations said at the time. Forty percent of the nation’s health budget is supported by international funds, said Dr. Pierre Somse, who is minister of health. A vaccination program that required cooperation from militias has succeeded in immunizing 74 percent of children, Dr. Somse said. And a new program has been created to offer free care to pregnant mothers and children under 5, based on Dr. Gody’s model at the pediatric hospital.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES
2Sudan Protests Take a Deadly Turn
Sudanese security forces are moving against a protest sit-in camp in the capital, besieging the site, witnesses and protest leaders said. Machine-gun fire and explosions were heard and smoke rose from the area. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said the TMC has killed another four protesters, including an eight-year-old child. This brings the death toll to 13, with more than 116 others wounded. Weeks after the removal of Omar al-Bashir as the president of Sudan, the fight for civilian rule continues as the Transitional Military Council (TMC) refuses to give in to the protesters’ demand to hand over power. The TMC, led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, says it will oversee a transitional period that will last a maximum of two years. Sudan’s opposition and protest group alliance said on Monday it was halting all contact and negotiations with the country’s military council after security forces launched a deadly raid on a protest sit-in. TMC spokesman Shams al-Din Kabashi told Al Jazeera security forces did not target the sit-in site. “What is going on is targeting Colombia [nickname because of alleged criminal activity there] adjacent to the sit-in area and not targeting the sit-in. Dangerous groups infiltrated among the protesters in the sit-in area,” Kabashi said.’
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
3South Africans Rally Behind a Man’s Act of Random Kindness
A petrol attendant in Cape Town has warmed the hearts of South Africans after he helped a motorist who had left her wallet home. And has now received money to help his children. Nkosikho Mbele gave $6,80 out of his own pocket to top up the tank of Monet van Deventer whom he feared would be left stranded on a notorious stretch of highway if she ran out of petrol. He asked her to return the money when she was in the area and did not ask for her contact details. Ms Deventer was moved by Mr Mbele’s kindness and started a crowdfunding campaign for Mr Mbele. The campaign has raised over $27,500 in just two days. The money will not be transferred to Mr Mbele’s personal bank account, for fear of crime, but rather will be administered by BackaBuddy, a not-for-profit company, at his request. The money will then be used to help pay for the education of Mr Mbele’s children.
SOURCE: NEWS 24
4Getting Nigerians Out of the Dark
The fact that even the Power, Works & Housing Ministry cannot secure a reliable electricity supply from the national grid is a consequence of decades of underinvestment by the state. For critics of the government, it is proof of President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to fulfill his promise to bolster Nigeria’s decrepit infrastructure. The Buhari administration argues that it has done more than previous governments. But as it begins a second term this month, supporters and critics alike say it must intensify efforts to fix the power shortages that make Nigeria one of the least electrified countries in the world per capita and serve as a brake on Africa’s largest economy. The ministry says “Hopefully by this time next year, all of these buildings will be completely solar,” he as part of a plan by the government to bypass the moribund power sector with a “massive deployment of off-grid systems,” with policies that encourage the private sector to do the same. This year, Tony Elumelu, one of Nigeria’s richest men, announced plans to invest $2.5 billion in power. His company Transcorp won a $293 million bid in May for a second power plant, in which it plans to invest $190 million, roughly doubling the firm’s capacity to about 2,000MW.
5Comics Inspired by African Heroes
Growing up in Brazzaville, Kiyindou Yamakasi began making comics at a young age sharing them with his primary school friends who would act out the scenes. His characters very closely resembled those he read about in Japanese and American comics. They took subways, they suffered through terrible winters and were White or Asian. His earlier work is a great contrast to his new fantasy comic series, Little Little Orishas that draws inspiration from Yoruba spirituality with his characters as revered deities. It is a story of overcoming barriers, dealing with bullies, class issues and resilience. All these are topics that are close to Yamakasi’s heart having endured similar hardships in school. With the support of his parents, he’s now equipped with the tools to get his stories to a larger audience using comics and hopefully in future an animated series. His parents wholeheartedly backed his decision to drop out of university in Brazzaville where he was studying economics and accounting and instead join AFDA in Cape Town where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Motion Pictures. He hopes to further his studies in film and television.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
6The Gorilla who Inspired Conservation Efforts Dies
The last of the “Gorillas in the Mist”, made famous by renowned American primatologist Dian Fossey, is believed to have died. A gorilla known as Poppy, who would have turned 43 on April 1, has not been seen by trackers since August last year. Poppy was born nine years after Fossey established a camp within Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in 1967 as part of an effort to study the area’s vanishing mountain gorilla population. Fossey was killed in Rwanda over 30 years ago but her nonprofit said in a statement about Poppy’s death that Fossey often wrote of the young gorilla in her journals. She described Poppy as a “little darling … winsome and appealing. She could do no wrong.” The Fossey Fund said Poppy hailed from one of the area’s “royal families.” Her mother, Effie, was the powerful matriarch whose members are now spread across many gorilla groups in the national park. Poppy’s other well-known relatives include two silverbacks, Cantsbee and Isabukuru, as well as her sister, Maggie, who was a favorite of Sigourney Weaver while filming the Academy Award-winning film “Gorillas in the Mist,” which was adapted from a book by Fossey.
7More Money Woes for Harare
As Zimbabwe’s economy struggles and the country faces scarce fuel supplies, some businesses are refusing to accept the ever-weakening local currency, insisting on doing business in U.S. dollars. One reason is that the local currency, known as bond notes, are not accepted outside the southern African country, making them useless for any companies that need to import goods. Zimbabwe abandoned its dollar more than a decade ago, when hyperinflation made it worthless. Now the bond notes, introduced two years ago, are also depreciating in value. The South African rand and British pounds are acceptable in many places, but very hard to find. Even some Zimbabwe government departments and companies such as the National Railways have started asking for payment in U.S. dollars, partly to protect themselves against the depreciating bond notes. Fuel is another scarce product in Zimbabwe, and the government continues to control its price. Some companies have resorted to selling it in U.S. dollars only.
8The Catholic Faith’s Evolution in Africa
As the Catholic Church goes through a global crisis brought on in part by the revelation of widespread sexual misconduct by its clergy, self-proclaimed Bishop Njogu says he has figured out how to save Christianity’s largest church from its own sins: Let priests marry and raise families. Njogu’s breakaway faction, the Renewed Universal Catholic Church, is Catholic in every way except in having optional celibacy for its priests. Its growth in Kenya is rooted in opposition to the practice of keeping secret families but reflects a growing worry among some Catholics that the celibacy requirement — to many a nonnegotiable tenet of the priesthood — creates a harmful culture of sexual secrecy. The Vatican has shown no interest in reexamining the issue for all priests, and Pope Francis has called celibacy a “gift to the church.” But the pontiff has also signaled that he is open to ordaining married men in remote parts of the world with a severe shortage of priests. More radical voices in the church have called for it to rescind the requirement altogether.
SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST
9Human Rights Group Closes Shop in Zimbabwe
Amnesty International has shut down its Zimbabwe branch over alleged abuse of donor funds and fraud by staff. The human rights group says it has launched further investigations with the help of police into suspected graft and misconduct involving millions of dollars and Amnesty Zimbabwe has indefinitely been placed under administration. The alleged fraud was exposed in a forensic audit conducted last year. The country director has resigned while the chair and finance officer are currently suspended. In a statement Amnesty said: “An extensive forensic audit was conducted in late 2018 which uncovered evidence of fraud and serious financial mismanagement by individuals in AIZ. National law enforcement agencies were notified of the findings earlier this year and the organisation also commenced the legal process of civil recovery in order to recoup lost funds. Amnesty Zimbabwe is one among many civil society organisations in Zimbabwe to be implicated in the abuse of donor funds. Last year USAid suspended funding for NGOs that included Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Counselling Services Unit (CSU) for alleged gross financial mismanagement.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
10How this Sudanese Baller Changed the Game
Asma Elbadawi, who was born in Sudan and raised in the UK, is a basketball player and coach. Throughout her career she has battled stereotypes and in 2014, she helped campaign to overturn a ban on hijabs in professional basketball. As the winner of this year’s British Muslim Awards, Hijab-clad basketball player Asma Elbadawi has become a role model for many Muslim women in Britain and elsewhere. Asma who won the award for Rising Star in Sports said, “We campaigned to FIFA to allow Muslim women to wear the hijab in professional basketball, which was a global campaign over two years, and we won in the end…. I try to play it (basketball) now, it’s a big hard with work, but I still try to play when I can.” In addition to being a first class athlete, Asma is also a successful spoken word poet, she also won BBC Radio 1Xtra’s ‘Words First’ 2015 Competition.