Archive for March, 2009

An idea first planted by Nelson Mandela has borne fruit with the appointment of a leading African scholar to a new Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Professor Thandika Mkandawire, currently Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, will take up the post in September. Of Malawian origin, he is an economist with particular expertise on development issues. He was formerly Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen and has taught at the Universities of Stockholm and Zimbabwe …

More details here.


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China’s plummeting exports are worse than many economists had expected but the country’s slowdown does not necessarily spell doom for Africa. Africa and China escaped the worst direct effects of the global slowdown last year, Africa because its banks were not integrated into international credit markets, and China because its banks were barred from investing in the complex financial products that wrecked several Western banks. But the second and third waves of the slowdown have been breaking on the shores of the African and Chinese economies ­ and wreaking havoc. For Africa, commercial bankers now predict the biggest downturn in trade and investment for two decades, mainly due to the loss of markets for African exports in both the West and the increasingly important Asian markets. China, which buys African raw materials for its massive infrastructure works and cheap manufactures for Europe and North America, is caught in the middle of this financial nexus. As China is exporting less to the West, its growth has slowed by at least two percentage points and it has sharply cut back its purchases from Africa. On 18 March, the World Bank revised its gross domestic product forecast (GDP) for China down a percentage point to 6.5%, citing ‘very negative trade data’ from the first two months of 2009 …

More at Africa-Asia Confidential.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted with vodpod

I recently discovered the Youtube channel of the Canadian public radio program, Studio Q. (I was looking for an interview with British writer Hanif Kureishi after reading a feature on him in Prospect Magazine).

Which is how I got to this recent interview with K’Naan, the Somali rapper based in Canada. (It also includes videos of a live acoustic set by K’Naan of the songs “Take a Minute,” “Waving Flag,” and “Fire in Freetown.”

Good stuff.

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The first four issues of Kenyan literary magazine, Kwani!, (the brainchild of writer Binyavanga Wainania, can now be viewed via Google Books.

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… The world was dissolving ahead of the ageing Mercedes’ long, hail-dented bonnet as we powered south through the heat-baked platteland on the Johannesburg-to-Cape Town road. Turning away from the mirage, I gazed out of my window at the puffs of clouds in layers above empty miles of grassland and across a vast sky reaching away to Lesotho. A squatter camp started up, rusted corrugated iron huts in red dirt yards. “What the hell do people do out here?” Chris sighed. Beyond the shacks a tower emerged from the plain like something Sauron might have occupied in The Lord of the Rings. “And what the hell’s that?” I asked. We pulled off the highway, skirted the camp, and turned onto the broken asphalt leading to the tower’s base. It was flung upwards as a series of concrete sails towards a god who had clearly forsaken its architect. It turned out to be a monument to the Trekboer, the Afrikaners who drove their wagons out of the Cape in search of freedom from British oppression. Or, as Chris said, “in search of the freedom to own slaves” …

Ruaridh Nicoll in The Observer on road trip through South Africa’s Karoo region.

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It stands for London; Harare South is Johannesburg. That’s the title of young Zimbabwean writer Brian Chikwava’s just published new novel. A good friend, who I trust on matters literary, recommended it.

The advance word from the mainstream: “… the darkest of comedies, fuelled by an electric, wholly convincing voice,” “… wit and suggestiveness…” etcetera, etcetera …

I need to get my hands on it.

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A new exhibition in New York City on the Italian-born, French “explorer,” Pietro Savorgnan di Brazza as a ‘good’ colonialist in contrast to Henry Stanley, because Brazza worked for the French. In 2009.


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