News in Africa: 02/21/2013

It’s Thursday, Persephoneers, and I’m back with another round of news from Africa! After the jump, we’ve got updates on the Pistorius case in South Africa and a whole lot more.

Last week, Olympic and Paralympics sprinter Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, four times in their home, claiming that he thought she was a burglar. This week, the trial is on in what the media are calling South Africa’s “O.J. Simpson trial” – a rather adroit comparison, even if it does smack of sensationalism. This is a tragic story, and although Pistorius’ story sounds fishy, the whole scenario is depressing, especially since Pistorius’ personal story is so uplifting.

A French family of seven (four children) was kidnapped Tuesday presumably by Islamist militants in Cameroon. French special forces have been deployed to try to locate them and bring them safely back to France. This abduction is close on the heels of France’s involvement in subduing the conflict with Islamist militia in northern Mali and points to the heightened danger for French expats at this time.

Kenya is not as progressive as it seems. Although its newest constitution states that women are guaranteed a third of the seats in parliament, it still has not passed the necessary legislation to put the constitution into practice. In Kenya’s last parliament, women held a mere 10% of the seats, half of the sub-Saharan average, and only one of the eight presidential runners in next month’s election is a woman. Women in politics are constantly harassed, told that their place is in the kitchen, threatened with rape, and shunned by elders for violating tradition. The problem with sidelining women in politics is that women represent over half of Kenya’s population and not including them creates a “sham democracy.

There is a new drug for treating malaria, and it comes quickly after the discovery of a pump protein in the malaria parasite. This pump protein works to flush out sodium from the malaria parasite’s cells, and by blocking it from working, salt builds up and kills the cells from sodium overload. It is, essentially, an Achilles’ heel for the parasite.

That’s what I have for this week! Leave any further news you’d like to discuss in the comments below.

By Dormouse

Bilingual (and a half) white girl who spent thirteen of her formative years in Africa. She is a writer, mentor, coffee drinker, wife, cat owner, language lover, photography dabbler, aspiring speaker, and a lifetime student. She keeps her writing going over at

6 replies on “News in Africa: 02/21/2013”

The Steenkamp killing is rough to keep up with (although this is the first I’d heard it compared to the OJ trial – so true!). The stories I read make a big deal about how much Pistorius breaks-down crying whenever they describe her wounds/condition, but that could just as easily be a) he really feels guilty, which he should, whether he meant to or not he still killed his girlfriend, or b) his body is coming down from the testosterone they found at his place. Even if they’re calling it an “herbal supplement” and that it’s not a banned substance, added testosterone will still do what testosterone does: increase aggression. One of the most basic, interesting arguments I’ve heard is that he is guilty because he intended to kill. Whether he knew it was Reeva in the bathroom or an intruder, he shot to kill. Death was intentional.

I also love hearing about other countries’ burgeoning elections (Afghanistan being the other I’ve recently heard about via the Daily Show). Kenya has 10% women in parliament! For some reason that seems not too bad (although the social repercussions and the way they are treated once in the parliament still have a long way to go…) considering that the US has just under 20% women in Congress and Senate. And we only get maybe one female candidate for President (which is an incredibly recent political trait). I imagine Europeans might have better ratios in their governments??

I’m not a European expert, so I can’t speak to that, but as far as the rest of the African continent goes, they’re doing all right for having women in positions of power, and African women are leading in higher positions in international organizations as well. (And I think America could do better with electing more women to political positions!)

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