Word association time: I say "peat", you say… "Scotland", right? Not necessarily! Peat is found around the world, including in many African countries
. Earlier this year, scientists trekked through a Congo swamp, braving gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, and more. Their reward? Discovery of a peat bog the size of England
. The team estimates
that the bog covers between 100,000 and 200,000 square kilometers (40,000 to 80,000 sq miles), with the peat-layer reaching up to 7m (23ft) beneath the ground.
posted by Lexica
on Jul 11, 2014 -
Photojournalist Micah Albert and I made the 1,000-mile journey from the Algerian capital, Algiers, to Rabouni to see if we could find evidence of this purported hotbed of extremism in the Polisario-controlled camps. After months of investigation, including two weeks spent in the camps last September, we didn’t uncover a wellspring of terrorists in the desert. Instead, we found a SADR government desperate to maintain its claim over the shores of the Western Sahara and whatever resources might lie there — like the rich fisheries and the mines that provide most of the world’s phosphate. We found a population, inclusive of the Polisario army, that the U.S. government is indirectly, and perhaps unknowingly, spending millions of dollars each year to feed through a multimillion-dollar aid package provided by the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Food for Peace.
For Foreign Policy
David Conrad reports about the forty year struggle for independence in the Western Sahara
and the impact the War on Terror, not to mention the threatened discovery of oil have had on the Sahrawi and their struggle.
posted by MartinWisse
on Jul 1, 2014 -
"Elephants are obviously amazing, or rather, they are obvious receptacles for our amazement, because they seem to be a lot like us. They live about as long as we do. They understand it when we point at things, which our nearest living evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, doesn’t really. They can unlock locks with their trunks. They recognize themselves in mirrors. They are socially sophisticated. They stay with the same herds for life, or the cows do, anyway. They mourn their dead. They like getting drunk. When an elephant keels over, its friends sometimes break their tusks trying to get it to stand up again. They bury their dead. They bear grudges against people who’ve hurt them, and sometimes go on revenge campaigns. They cry. So why would you want to put a bullet in one?"
... Journalist Wells Tower accompanied one of Botswana's final
elephant hunts. This article contains graphic content of an elephant hunt which some may find disturbing.
posted by zarq
on Jun 5, 2014 -
For forty years around the turn of the 20th century, ostrich plumes were the height of fashion, and a major industry: at its peak, ostrich feathers were, ounce-for-ounce, nearly as valuable as diamonds
, so much so that £20,000 of feathers went down with the Titanic. The market for feathers was, in large part, run by Jews
: Sephardi Jews exported feathers, Jews in London and New York traded them, and Eastern European Jews left Russia and Lithuania in the thousands to farm feathers, flocking to Oudtshoorn
"The Jerusalem of Africa." In 1914, the boom ended, leaving many destitute and leading to anti-semitic backlashes. A brief but entertaining history of the feather trade can be read in this PDF excerpt
. Some of the beautiful "Feather Palaces"
of Oudtshoorn still survive, as does a small Jewish community
and some vintage fashion
posted by blahblahblah
on Apr 8, 2014 -
There's been an ebola outbreak
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. With 122 cases so far, this is the worst outbreak since 2007's 264-case outbreak. The worst outbreak was 2000-2001's 425 cases. What makes this one different is the way it has spread so widely. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper
on Apr 1, 2014 -
Talking gender to Africa
International donors have sought to improve the social, political and economic position of women in Africa through an approach known as “gender”. This donor-driven strategy is failing. The jargon of gender programmes is ambiguous and easily misunderstood. It fosters inaction and lip service on the part of patriarchal African governments and civil servants. Gender has become the preserve of the educated elite. The voices of African women have been lost. [more inside]
posted by infini
on Mar 8, 2014 -
The Swahili Coast and its culture in the medieval period (roughly the tenth to fifteenth centuries) is relatively little studied, compared with other cultures of its size and influence, though it represents a key node in the development of global trade before the European Age of Discovery. Its history is known in broad strokes, but less is known about how the medieval Swahili lived and how they incorporated influences—from religion to architecture—from across the Indian Ocean world. Fleisher and his codirector, Stephanie Wynne-Jones of the University of York, looked for a site that would allow them to examine such questions in detail. “We had an inkling Songo Mnara would be that site,” he says, “but it has completely exceeded our expectations.
posted by MartinWisse
on Mar 5, 2014 -
The new TV show "The Samaritans"
is a mockumentary inspired by The Office about the perils – and pleasures – of the “NGO world”. Created by a Kenya-based production company, it chronicles the work of Aid for Aid – an NGO that, in the words of its creator, “does nothing.”
Over at Warscape, some wry advice
for a "development officer of a not-for-profit yearning for a celebrity of your very own" after Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern flubbed her "African adventure,"
mixing up Dakar with Darfur. “We have to break in our new celebrities slowly,” confides Sarah Wilson, a World Vision representative who is chaperoning McGovern on the trip. “There will be lots of breaks so she doesn’t get overloaded.”
) (more previouslier
posted by spamandkimchi
on Feb 10, 2014 -
Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka.
Called Kaffir, Siddi, Habshi, or Zanji, these men, women and children from Sudan in the north to Mozambique in the south Africanized the Indian Ocean world and helped shape the societies they entered and made their own.
Free or enslaved, soldiers, servants, sailors, merchants, mystics, musicians, commanders, nurses, or founders of dynasties, they contributed their cultures, talents, skills and labor to their new world, as millions of their descendants continue to do. Yet, their heroic odyssey remains little known.
The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World traces a truly unique and fascinating story of struggles and achievements across a variety of societies, cultures, religions, languages and times.
posted by infini
on Feb 6, 2014 -
The Hausa people of the north of Nigeria like Bollywood films so much that around 20 years ago they started making their own local productions. The films of Kannywood (for Kano, the capital city) feature song and dance - and the incredible music that defines Northern Nigeria: autotuned robotic vocals combined with frenetic drum machine rhythms and intricate, interwoven synths in a hybrid of local styles and Indian influence. Hear a generous sampling of it here
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Feb 1, 2014 -
Discover what patrolling pirate infested waters off the coast of the Horn of Africa is like with the Danish Navy. (6lyt)
posted by allkindsoftime
on Dec 10, 2013 -
Strap a camera to a
4 wheel drive remote control car and let it loose among a pride of Botswana lions. Curiosity and cuteness and some pretty amazing pictures ensue. SLYT
posted by mygothlaundry
on Dec 2, 2013 -
In the Shadows.
The healthcare and human rights challenges of the LGBT populations of Malawi -- where homosexuality is outlawed. Via
posted by zarq
on Oct 28, 2013 -
When the car exploded, the same two words occurred to him, and to the ticket taker, and to every other person who saw or heard the blast, which could be heard on the other side of Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city: Boko Haram. That neither they, nor practically anyone else in Nigeria, knew what Boko Haram was exactly or why it would want to bomb a bus station was beside the point.
Officially, according to the Nigerian government, Boko Haram is a terrorist group. It began life as a separatist movement led by a northern Nigerian Muslim preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, who decried the country’s misrule. “Boko Haram” is a combination of the Hausa language and Arabic, understood to mean that Western, or un-Islamic, learning is forbidden. In 2009, after Yusuf was killed [BBC, The Guardian]—executed, it’s all but certain, by Nigerian police—his followers vowed revenge. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Oct 27, 2013 -
The Lens Is Standard, the Photos Anything But
Jerome Delay has been on a quest for simplicity while covering some of the most important stories in Africa for The Associated Press. For the last year he has relied almost exclusively on one camera, and one lens, a 50-millimeter F1.4.
posted by ColdChef
on Sep 19, 2013 -
Why is Zambia so poor?
"I’m not going to tell Zambia how to run itself, what it needs to fix and in what order. The explanations I heard, they aren’t the whole puzzle, they aren’t even the biggest pieces. The only thing I’m able to conclude after my trip here is that it’s incredibly difficult for a poor country to go about getting un-poor. Just when you think you’ve got the right narrative, another one comes bursting out of the footnotes. It’s the informality. No, it’s the taxes. No, it’s the mining companies. No, it’s the regulators.
And that’s what makes fixing it so difficult."
This landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa isn’t a failed state in the traditional sense: There’s no dictator, no child soldiers. But most of its 14 million people live on less than $1 per day. How did things get this way, and can they ever get better?
posted by Guernsey Halleck
on Sep 13, 2013 -
In 2008 the actor Rupert Everett hosted (seemingly from his apartment) a rather strange documentary: The Victorian Sex Explorer
( 2 3 4 5
), an attempt to follow in the footsteps of famed Explorer, translator, and author Sir Richard Burton
and convince us of Sir Burton's passion for sexual experimentation while laying in lots of bathhouses and visiting brothels. [more inside]
posted by The Whelk
on Jul 4, 2013 -
The point being, an angry song about a political prisoner in South Africa, held captive for 21 years (at the time of writing), and written and performed by a bunch of chippy former pop stars who appeared hellbent on throwing their success back in the faces of their fans, has no business being this happy, this celebratory, and this powerful.
posted by nickyskye
on Jun 27, 2013 -