“You want to cut hands? Here are two! Cut them!” So dares a fishmonger to the occupiers of her hometown, theatrically presenting the officer leading them with her fileting knife. The scene is one of the most memorable from the Franco-Mauritanian Timbuktu, directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, released in December 2014. (More…)

Many have noted, with amused or outraged disdain, the contortions with which right-wingers from Dick Cheney to David Cameron are seeking to appropriate a piece of the Madiba magic. Few have as yet noted its converse: icons of the modern left condemning Nelson Mandela for not being socialist enough. (More…)

Somalia’s PR strategy is violence. Or so one might be inclined to think, based on press coverage of Nairobi’s spectacular Westfield mall attack by al-Shabaab gunmen (and apparently women.) The last time that Somalia fanned comparable ripples in US media culture was during the Battle of Mogadishu, a highfalutin moniker for the botched commando raid in 1993, in which 18 American soldiers and an estimated 1000 Somalis were killed. (More…)

Kenya’s elections went better than expected. True, accusations of vote rigging have led the losers to contest the result. More alarming, however, both the newly-elected president and his running mate are under indictment by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. On the other hand, given that the December 2007 elections resulted in over 1,000 deaths and 300,000 refugees, the ICC cases are infinitely preferable. (More…)

It was supposed to be over. The conflict in Mali, which was said to be on the verge of resolution, has devolved into an old fashioned guerrilla war. With French and Malian forces battling Ansar al-Dine rebels around the eastern city of Gao, François Hollande’s triumphal visit to the country, to declare victory, recalls George W. Bush’s mission accomplished event aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, in 2003. (More…)

I’ve got this thing about airplanes. Especially if I am taking them in the forgotten corners of the world. There was that Yerevan to Moscow flight, stopping off in Vladikavkaz for fuel paid for by us, the passengers, dropping various currencies into our begging pilots’ cap. There was that Yak40 linking Ulanbaatar to God knows where in rural Mongolia, with more goats and clucking hens than humans as passengers. (More…)

Monsieur Richard Ndeudjui, from Makenene in central Cameroon, is a contented man. Thanks to his Moringa leaf tea, he has vanquished the symptoms of his malaria. His son, a student at the University of Yaoundé, brought back the idea and convinced dad to try. (More…)

Military occupations bring certain themes to mind: human rights abuses; poverty; crowded refugee camps, and so on. Geographic references are equally synonymous: Palestine, Kashmir or West Papua, to cite the most recent example. Rarely, if ever, is the miserable situation in the sparsely-populated province of Western Sahara cited. (More…)

Zimbabwe’s Shona kitchens are grand affairs: sturdily-built round brick huts, always covered with a prettily tailored thatch roof. The walls are clad in mud or plaster, and often painted in traditional designs. By contrast, the houses are simple, almost slapdash: roughly put-together brick boxes, with a corrugated iron roof. (More…)

It was late. The two of us were cradling our drinks on the verandah of Shane Bartlett’s camp. We were rehashing the day’s events and discussing potential projects, but mostly discussing the principles under which Shane and Allan Savory, the prophet, visionary and former owner of the surrounding lands, are managing this farm near Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe. (More…)

In the Dogon country of Mali, something astonishing is happening. In a dozen villages northeast of Koro, facing the hot Sahara desert, food is in plentiful supply, despite the drought affecting the region. Dogon farmers reaped a bumper crop a year ago, ensuring their villages would have enough food to carry them through the dry season. (More…)