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Africa

A woman at a clinic in Mogadishu holds the paperwork she will need to complete to receive care for her infant.

A Violent Prone, Poor People Zone

The Dadaab Refugee Camp and the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi have seen an influx of hundreds of thousands of Somalis seeking a better life—but, as often as not, Kenya can offer them little.

 

The Fire: The Price of Oil in Africa

Nigeria should be a massively rich country. It’s the most populous nation in Africa and the world’s sixth leading oil producer. Over a quarter trillion dollars in oil has been lifted from Nigerian soils and waters in the last four decades. But after years of military rule and rampant corruption, fueled by these oil monies, the country is mired in billions of dollars in debt and is wracked by poverty.

On Dambudzo Marechera: The Life and Times of an African Writer

The second sentence in The House of Hunger is: The sun was coming up. It must have seemed pretty sunny and promising on the plane after the initial difficulties. But then the third sentence reads: I couldn’t think where to go. With Dambudzo things always had a way of falling apart just at the moment when they seemed most promising. In Berlin he was promptly arrested by the frontier police and threatened with deportation to London. By the time he was rescued by the conference organizers, the news had spread through the conference halls that a writer was being detained. The festival, tagged “Berlin International Literature Days,” had brought to Berlin almost all the prominent African writers: Bessie Head, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Dennis Brutus, Nuruddin Farah, and many others. When he finally arrived at the festival hall, Marechera—perhaps the youngest writer there at twenty-seven—was already a star. Though his name was not on the leading list that night, he was given the opportunity to read. He gave an impassioned reading from The House of Hunger, which was greeted by a standing ovation, and from that moment on, the German media had discovered a hero. The truth is that the audience had never met an African writer quite like Marechera before—a man with such a sense for the dramatic, a man to whom the boundary between the fictitious and the real is so thin as to be almost nonexistent. He was hijacked from the main conference by another, left-leaning, group who had organized an alternative conference and who now wanted him to give a press conference on his “travails” in the hands of the German police.

 

Genocide In Rwanda

It is more than sixty years since the end of World War II, when the world became aware of the Holocaust, the Third Reich’s conscious decision to murder every Jewish man, woman, and child in German-occupied Europe. The Nazi state-sponsored murder of six million Jews was subsequently labeled genocide, a term unknown before the war, but first used by Raphael Lemkin in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Laws of Occupation-Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress, published in the United States in 1944. A Jewish refugee who fled Warsaw when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Lemkin eventually made his way to the United States, where he taught law at Yale University, and subsequently contributed to the passage of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in December 1948. Lemkin had faith that the implementation of the genocide convention would “never again” allow a state to murder a people as was the case with Hitler’s “Final Solution.” In time, the Holocaust emerged as the paradigm case of genocide, whereby all future instances of state-directed mass murder would be measured against the Nazi annihilation of the Jews.

The Scourge of AIDS in Africa

In August 2001, I was strapped into the passenger seat, speeding along the highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the capital of South Africa. On the edge of every shantytown and encampment, we passed two invariable landmarks: shacks with men sel [...]

AIDS and Africa’s Hidden War

One October evening in 2001, in an impoverished shantytown in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, David Potse entered the house of a former girlfriend, and raped her 9-month-old daughter. The child was later taken to a nearby hospital, where her internal injuries were found to be so severe that she nearly died. The nurses nicknamed her “Baby Tshepang” which means “have hope.” After a series of operations, she miraculously survived. Potse was apprehended soon afterwards. At his trial, he said that he was out drinking on the night of the assault. However, DNA tests showed his semen was present in the child’s rectum, and his current girlfriend testified that she walked in on him during the rape. Potse was sentenced to life in prison in 2002.

The Underground Economy of AIDS

In 2001, a group of scholars at University of California, San Francisco came up with a scheme that they hoped would protect African women from HIV. They had been working in Zimbabwe, a poor, politically troubled nation in Southern Africa, where the epidemic had killed more than a million people over two decades. Virtually everyone in Zimbabwe was aware of AIDS. The country had been exposed to anti-AIDS media campaigns since the 1980s and a school-based AIDS education program since 1994. Nevertheless, by 2001, around a quarter of all Zimbabwean adults were infected with HIV, and the virus was spreading rapidly, especially among teenage girls. It was urgent for researchers like them to come up with a solution.

 

The Edge of Nowhere

February 2003 We drive out of Niamey, the capital of Niger, through a mishmash of taxis and trucks and camels and goats and endless streams of people walking. After about ten kilometers, we stop at a checkpoint and pay a toll. A sticker is affixed t [...]

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