In the News: Yet Another June 16?

Yet another June 16? A formidable day in the history of a country still grappling with a painful past, a rather uncertain present, but for many a promising future. Commemorated under the theme ‘Youth Moving South Africa forward’ this remarkable day recalls the 1976 Student uprising in Soweto that challenged the law imposing Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in Black schools. This was seen as a move by the Apartheid government to subjugate and annihilate Black history and identity through a highly controlled pedagogical framework that disregarded the educational agency of black South Africans.

Forty years down the road, enormous strides have so far been made. However, the country continues to encounter numerous challenges, some of which are inherited from this turbulent colonial past. CIHABlog’s Co-Editor Akosua Adomako’s article – #Black Lives Matter, #Rhodes Must Fall and Afro Knowledge posted on June 10th expounds upon some of these challenges and more. Brooks J. Spector in his article ‘Soweto, 16 June 1976: ‘Freedom Is Coming, Tomorrow published in the Daily Maverick at this year’s commemoration analyses the events of the 1976 uprising and its implication on the lives of South Africans today.

Soweto, 16 June 1976: ‘Freedom Is Coming, Tomorrow’                                             by J Brooks Spector for Daily Maverick 

In the News: Coping (or Not) With Refugees in East Africa

An arial view of the world's largest refugee camp. Dada.

An arial view of the world’s largest refugee camp. Dadaab.

The refugee crisis is not only happening in Europe, but as most in Africa well know, it is countries in the Global South that shelter the vast majority of the world’s refugees. We bring together a recent critique of the Kenyan government’s stated decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp which houses mostly Somali refugees, the little-known influx of Syrian refugees into Sudan (with the general approval of the Sudanese state), and a statement by religious leaders across the continent to do more to reduce violence among peoples. We exhort religious leaders, along with states in the Global North as well as Africa, to provide welcome and resources for those fleeing untenable situations, wherever they may be. Continue reading

In the News: The Continuing Relevance of Biafra / the Nigerian Civil War

One of Nigerian Gov. Airforce War planes being captured and recovered after the Biafran War in Nigeria Presently located at the National War Museum, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria

Nigerian Gov. Airforce War plane captured and recovered after the Biafran War in Nigeria.

Recently, The CIHA Blog posted two reflections from our conference on Biafra/the Nigerian Civil War:  The Problem of How to Enact Diakonia: The World Council of Churches and the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970 and Biafra Faith-Based Humanitarian Intervention: Basis in the World Council of Churches. Today, we post an ‘In the News’ piece that demonstrates how the relevance of this conflict persists to the present day. A recent editorial in the New York Times titled “Block the Sale of Warplanes to Nigeria” persuaded Dr Herbert Ekwe Ekwe to write a separate piece called “‘Block the Sale of Warplanes to Nigeria’: What is Missing in an Otherwise Excellent NYT Editorial.” Dr. Ekwe Ekwe praises the author for calling out for the prevention of the US government selling warplanes to the Nigerian government. However, Ekwe Ewke also critiques the editorial, positing that the current situation with Boko Haram and the Buhari regime is directly related to Biafra. The author’s perspectives demonstrate the continuing significance of Biafra/the Nigerian Civil War as the history of the conflict endures within the contemporary politics in Nigeria. Continue reading

In the News: Who Owns Local Knowledge and Resources in Africa?

by Professor Chidi Oguamanam

19350363660For so long developing countries, including African countries, have been told that stronger protection of intellectual property rights is required for economic progress. This hypothesis is rooted into neo-liberal economic thinking driven by familiar institutions such as the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the World Trade Organization among others. United States and its allies have over decades linked stronger intellectual property to market access. The ability of African countries and others to fully participate in the international trade is now tied to the extent they are able to have robust intellectual property laws. However, this approach has failed to recognized the nature of knowledge production that goes on in indigenous and local communities that constitute the majority of African States. Because of their close relationship with nature and biological resources, most knowledge production in these communities is linked to the uses and dealings with biological and natural resources through traditional knowledge, including African religions. Yet the global standard of intellectual property articulated under the WTO framework through the international agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) does not recognize traditional knowledge. Continue reading

In the News: Things People Who Want to Help Africa Should Know

7589129198_d2196a1d7c_oThe CIHA Blog is starting a new series called “Things People Who Want to Help Africa Should Know,” which we hope students, activists and scholars will use and contribute to. Here is the newest piece in this series, about the problematic programs of some advocacy groups to focus on minerals to end the conflict in the DRC. In “The Problem With Western Activists Trying to Do Good in Africa”, author Ben Radley discusses the negative impacts of the “conflict minerals” campaign, (which follows on the work of scholars like Severine Autesserre’s The Trouble With the Congo). Continue reading

Who is Fooling Whom? Unveiling the 2016 Ugandan Presidential Election Puzzles

In the following article, Gyaviira Kisitu grapples with the semantics and the complex-political nuances encapsulated by the notion of “free and fair” in the democratic discourse. He centers his analysis on the recently concluded presidential elections in Uganda. Kisitu argues that the mere pronouncing of an election as “free and fair” is often debated by opposing groups and is in fact much more complicated. 

By Gyaviira Kisitu, Ph D Candidate – University of KwaZulu-Natal

Davis KisituA common assumption implied by a simplistic description of political elections as free and fair is that they have served justice. While the means and end of the principle of justice are to serve a common good, it remains contestable whether the so described ‘free and fair’ elections are always in the interest of the masses. The phrase itself appears ambiguously used, politicized, ritualized and at times merely uttered for the sake of it. It may not matter that an ‘independent’ electoral commission of a country can both admit that electoral violence occurred, and assert a free and fair outcome of the elections. On one hand some observers may declare a certain election as a true reflection of the peoples’ will while others see the same election far less of the sort. Atuobi (2008:15) rightly argues that “In most cases, elections declared as free and fair by some observer groups are called a sham by other observer groups”. One wonders then, who is fooling whom? What does it entail for an election to be free and fair? Is it just a perceived peaceful turnout or when a certain election is not challenged in the court of law of that particular state? Continue reading

In the News: Short Story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Translated into more than 30 Languages

Kenyan author Ngugi wa ThiongÕo, Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at UC Irvine

Kenyan author Ngugi wa ThiongÕo, Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at UC Irvine


We at The CIHA Blog are very eager to publicize the pan-African writers’ collective site, Jalada. In this issue, Jalada publishes 32 translations of a new story by our friend, supporter, and freedom fighter Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the founding director of the University of California Irvine Center for Translation. Jalada‘s multiple translations (and translations of translations) provides a terrifically innovative way to value the [the creative genius of the African continent and beyond. We encourage our readers to consult the site regularly.  African writers, from the very beginning of modern african writing, have consistently provided a critical reading of  humanitarian and religious interventions in the continent. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o entire oeuvre, in particular the Wizard of Crow, a novel. A translation from Gikuyu by the author (2006), provides a trenchant critique of humanitarianism, focusing on the genealogy of Western humanitarian interventions from the colonial age to the contemporary global humanitarian industry. Reading Ngugi is already engaging in the practice of critically investigating humanitarianism in Africa. And we hope our readers who intervene in the field would consider the teachings of Ngugi; as we, in the Blog, believe these teachings can improve both the understanding and the practice of humanitarianism.

Jalada Translation Issue 01: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Nous sommes très enthousiastes de partager sur le blog du CIHA le site du Collectif des Auteurs Panafricains Jadala (Lien du site), et la parution du nouveau roman de notre ami et supporter Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, traduit en 32 langues. Les multiples traductions de Jalada (et les traductions d’ouvres déjà traduites) offrent une façon extrêmement novatrice d’apprécier la richesse linguistique à travers le continent et au-delà. Nous invitons nos lecteurs à visiter régulièrement le site, puisque le travail des auteurs africains est capital pour la compréhension du paysage humanitaire et religieux du continent. Le travail de Ngugi en particulier, qu’il faut lire et dont il faut s’imprégner est décisif pour tout humanitaire potentiel, et tout critique, à l’intérieur comme à l’extérieur du continent

In the News: Demanding Change in Humanitarian Aid


This piece presents a very strong articulation of some of the problems that plague the humanitarian system, and that we on The Blog have seen and experienced as well. It is not everyday that righteous anger about the humanitarian system is conveyed with such clarity and conviction. Highly recommended reading!

‘We are demanding change’: the Somali woman taking on international NGOs

In the News: Liberia’s Public Schools Go Private

Anti-corruption poster, Liberia, 2004

For a number of years, reports of corruption in Liberia’s education system, reaching all the way to the Ministry of Education, have been numerous, and the country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has called for a reform of the education system.

But now, the Liberian government has decided to outsource its entire primary and early childhood education programs to a private company, Bridge Academies, which has been backed by Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. As reported in The News of Liberia, Kishore Singh, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to education, stated, “This is unprecedented at the scale currently being proposed and violates Liberia’s legal and moral obligations.”

The company already runs education projects in Kenya and Uganda, where lessons are provided on mobile phones, reports Front Page Africa, so that “the teacher does not have to be sophisticated to teach.” Following on previous posts on The CIHA Blog discussing “effective altruism,” paternalistic interventions in education, and attempts to innovate out of poverty, this is yet another example of how problems on the local and national levels in many African countries can set the stage for philanthrocapitalist innovations/interventions that do not address the root causes of the problems.

Don’t Outsource Primary Education System
The News of Liberia

Education Minister Negotiates Public–Private Partnership Deal
Front Page Africa

An Africa first! Liberia outsources entire education system to a private American firm. Why all should pay attention
by Christine Mungai for Mail & Guardian Africa