It’s another week, and Africa’s been hopping. From conflict development to genomes to billionaires, there’s a bunch to cover, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
Conflicts and Politics:
Things are looking bleak in Egypt again. President Mohammed Morsi, in November, issued a decree that put nearly all state powers in his hand, placing the executive branch squarely above the judicial branch. Many Egyptians feel like they woke up suddenly in an Islamist state and began to protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo with crowds numbering in the tens of thousands.
Mali is also in turmoil. Civilians are upset with the military for pulling out of northern Mali quickly, allowing Islamist extremists to take control. Militias are ready to fight and are unsatisfied with recent peace talks.
Update on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that I discussed last week: the UN has found concrete evidence that the Rwandan government has been backing the M23 rebels in Goma. Up until now, the UN has been hesitant to openly name Rwanda as supporters of this rebel group, although they have indirectly hinted at it through other documents. Although there are mineral deposits at stake in the eastern Congo, the real tragedy is the thousands upon thousands of Congolese civilians left vulnerable in the security vacuum caused by the conflict.
Kenyans who live in East Africa — but not in Kenya — will now be able to vote and participate in Kenyan elections without being in country.
South Africa, Africa’s most progressive nation, seems to be taking a few steps back. Although the country’s post-apartheid constitution guarantees gender equality and outlaws unfair discrimination, a lot of poor, rural South Africans only have access to traditional courts operated by tribal chiefs. President Zuma plans to make these courts the only option for millions of South Africans by denying them access to civil courts by passing the Traditional Courts Bill which will relegate those in rural areas to be subjected to a separate justice system.
Science and Health:
This opinion piece by Mary Beth Hastings, Vice President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, discusses the correlation between HIV/AIDS and gender inequality.
Currently, African scientists are poised to sequence the bioinformatics of 1,000 ethnic groups in the continent. This means that in the future, people will be able to carry their geno-information with them when they seek treatment, which means that they will be able to have the best treatment for their geno instead of going through guesswork.
Person of Note:
Oprah Winfrey is no longer the richest black woman in the world. That title has passed on to Folorunsho Alakija, a Nigerian billionaire oil tycoon, fashion designer, and philanthropist who began her professional career as a bank secretary.