In the News: Ali Mazrui (1933-2014), Scholar, Teacher, Panafrican Activist

posted by Cilas Kemedjio

Ali MazruiChinua Achebe, in There Was a Country. A Personal History of the Biafra, claims that his generation has been referred to as the lucky one. Achebe’s generation bore witness to dramatic social and economic changes thanks to the modernization introduced by European colonizers. Besides the material changes that were transforming the African landscape, there was “a sense that we were standing figuratively and literally at the dawn of a new era.” They stood in-between the crumbling walls of tradition and the surging demands for independence. They witnessed and became, in their own right, « midwives » for the great cultural and political renaissance that vanquished the remnants of what Fanon termed a dying colonialism. The lucky generation is made of fraternity of great writers, artists, activists, and intellectuals who have brought African voices in the global village. This generation, as of late, is becoming more and more a disappearing act, thanks to the laws of biology.  The members of this fraternity—for it was mostly a fraternity—were recruited from the best students of the colonial schools. The trajectory of the brilliant pupil of the colonial school, to borrow this expression from literary scholar Lydie Moudileno, was familiar: “the gifted young student of the colonial school evolves in a world imprinted with both the classics of French literature and black diaspora movements of the beginning of the century, which lead him to a political awareness of his people, and translates into a political and literary engagement for a form of independence.”

Ali Mazrui, born on February 24, 1933 in Mombasa belongs to this exceptional fraternity of the brilliant student of the colonial school. As many of his fellow Eastern Africans, he Continue reading

In the News: (In)equality and Ebola

posted by Tanya Schwarz

What is the role of economic (in)equality in local responses to Ebola? What are the economic consequences of the Ebola outbreak? Raymond Gilpin tackles these and other questions for African Arguments. He says,

Ebola is a complex global security emergency that demands much more than a focus on the virus, as we learn from theories of social epidemiology.

He argues that more attention needs to be paid to economic factors including the lack of health care facilities in rural areas as well as the “dire economic ramifications” of the outbreak.

One of the lessons of this Ebola outbreak is that countries that ignore pronounced inequality do so at their peril.  Not only are such societies more fractured and unstable, they are also less resilient to socio-economic shocks.  Investing in basic primary health care and education facilities protects rich and poor, urban and rural, men and women.

Read “Ebola, Economics, and Equality in Africa” in its entirety here.

In the News: More on Ebola

For this series of posts titled “Ebola in Perspective,” anthropologists weigh in on their own experiences in West Africa with the aim of countering the dominant narrative portraying the region as “helpless and hopeless.”

In this NPR piece, “Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola In Its Tracks,” Jason Beaubien talks about how the Firestone rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia has successfully avoided an Ebola outbreak on the grounds. Interestingly, Beaubien does not delve into the complicated relationship Firestone has with the town of Harbel, but instead focuses on the ways in which one corporation’s resources were used to contain the disease.

“Aid workers ask where was WHO in Ebola outbreak?”: Daniel Flynn and Stephanie Nebehay address the political and economic factors leading to a lag in WHO response time.

The BBC report “Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone officials in aid row” notes that a container of materials intended to aid in the Ebola crisis are stranded in Freetown with politicians and health officials providing different reasons for the delay.

Daniel Drezner gives us “Seven things we now know about how the world has handled Ebola,” highlighting the shortcomings of the WHO and questioning to what extent the US could effectively stop an outbreak on its own soil.

Finally, Pambazuka News provides several interesting articles related to the Ebola crisis focusing on the (de)militarization of diseases in Africa and the mythologizing of health workers.

In the News: Farmers and Indigenous Organizations Protest World Bank Rankings

(reposted from the Oakland Institute)

Press Release: Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, and NGOs Take to the Streets in Ten Cities Demanding an End to World Bank’s Morally Bankrupt Development

Groups Will Stage “Creative Resistance” Outside of Bank’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.—and around the World—on October 10th & 11th

Washington, D.C. — On October 10, 2014, NGOs, farmers’ groups, and indigenous organizations from across the world are coming together as part of the Our Land Our Business campaign to denounce the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings. The campaign, endorsed by over 235 organizations, will be staging  “creative resistance” events at the Bank’s annual meetings in Washington D.C. and nine other cities around the world. The D.C. event is drawing support from a wide range of activist communities, including Occupy groups who will join representatives of impacted communities from Kenya, Mali, and Ethiopia.

“Under the banner #WorldVsBank, this movement is calling for the end of the Doing Business rankings and the new Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture project. They are tools of a pro-corporate, anti-poor, environmentally unsustainable model of development. If the World Bank keeps promoting economic activity that destroys biodiversity and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities, they should not have a mandate to exist,” said Alnoor Ladha of /The Rules.  Continue reading

In the News: Ebola and the aid industry

For Humanosphere, Gabe Spitzer talked with medical anthropologist James Pfeiffer for a podcast “How the aid and development industry helped cause Africa’s Ebola outbreak,” which critiques the development aid fraternity for reinforcing policies that compromise the recipient countries’ capacity to respond to pertinent humanitarian crises. Mis-action and poor policy systems (particularly structural adjustment programs) espoused by the IMF and World Bank in the 1990s led to the collapse of the education and health systems of many African countries. As argued in the podcast, this has continued to contribute to weak policies, reinforcing vulnerability to future humanitarian catastrophes.

Similarly, for African Arguments, Ashoka Mukpo, in “Ebola outbreak highlights Liberia’s crisis of development policy,” writes that the apparent complicity of the aid industry in the corrupt governance of the country has been hidden for so long but that the Ebola epidemic is showing the cracks had been there for so long.