Last week, Africa Is a Country, a blog that documents and skewers Western misconceptions of Africa, ran a fascinating story about book design. It posted a collage of 36 covers of books that were either set in Africa or written by African writers. The texts of the books were as diverse as the geography they covered: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique. They were written in wildly divergent styles, by writers that included several Nobel Prize winners. Yet all of books’ covers featured an acacia tree, an orange sunset over the veld, or both.
"In short," the post said, "the covers of most novels ‘about Africa’ seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King.”
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
“Drones Fight Poachers” has an undeniable sexiness to it as a news narrative. Who doesn’t want to read about flying killer robots battling machete-wielding criminals chasing innocent animals on the wild African plains? The instant appeal of a high-tech solution to a pervasive low-tech problem is also why Silicon Valley giant Google has given the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) $5 million for drones to stop poaching. But to actually stop poachers, WWF should focus less on drones and more on math—and some lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.
University of Maryland computer scientist Thomas Snitch is applying a mathematical forecasting model he developed for use by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan to Africa. Snitch is trying to overcome poaching networks’ advantages in money, opportunity, and manpower using his military model to put park rangers in the right places to intercept rhinoceros killers.
Read more. [Image: Edward Echwalu/Reuters]
How the continent’s many obstacles, from widespread poverty to failed states, allowed African entrepreneurs to beat the West at reinventing money for the mobile age
Read more. [Image: Mike McQuade]
A Chinese property company has pledged to build South Africa a new financial hub. On Nov. 4, Shanghai Zendai unveiled plans to transform Modderfontein, a manufacturing district in eastern Johannesburg, into a multi-use financial center “on par with cities like New York … or Hong Kong,” said Zendai chairman Dai Zhikang. The firm said it will spend about $7.8 billion on the development over the next 15 years.
The development—which has yet to be named and will include some 35,000 houses, an education center, and a sports arena—marks a departure from past forms of Chinese investment in Africa, many of which have drawn criticism. Over the past decade, state-owned and private Chinese firms have been been building African roads, railways, ports and other infrastructure in exchange for access to minerals and oil—a relationship that’s led some to call China a “neo-colonialist.” Chinese state oil firms now face resistance from their former partners in Niger, Chad, and Gabon.
Read more. [Image: AECI]
The occupation of the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya by the militant group Al-Shabaab is now over, leaving at least 60 civilians dead. The standoff lasted for four days and is likely to boost the image of the militant group in the region. Here’s what you need to know about the group and what it means for Africa’s terrorism landscape:
Read more. [Image: Noor Khamis/Reuters]
Islamists are able to take advantage of porous borders, weak central governments, undertrained militaries, and flourishing drug trades.
Read more. [Image: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]
In countries where many are performing surgery without any formal training, a Christian organization is educating surgeons who stay around despite little pay or prestige- sometimes despite real danger.
See more. [Images: Brian Till]
When an eight-month-old baby elephant fell into a well, it was up to a team of conservationists at Amboseli Trust for Elephants to figure out a way to get her out. They captured the rescue operation on video and the story has gone viral, thanks to a beautifully happy ending and rather hilarious commentary from off camera: “So this is Zombe’s calf, who we’re all delighted is so big and fat and healthy until we have to pull her out of a hole!” The nonprofit works to protect and study elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park and they have a fantastic YouTube channel documenting their work.
Protests against the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims have erupted in cities from Morocco to Somalia and Pakistan to Indonesia, an agglomeration of otherwise disparate societies that we sometimes refer to as “the Muslim world.” That phrase appears today in headlines at, for example, CBS News, the U.K. Telegraph, Radio Free Europe, and many others. […]
But, looking into the severity and frequency of the protests, their occurrence doesn’t seem to correlate as directly with the presence of Muslims as the phrase “protests erupt across the Muslim world” might lead you to believe. Even if that’s generally true, we might learn a bit more by looking also at who is protesting violently and who isn’t.
In a map above, I’ve charted the violent protests in red and the protests that did not produce violence in yellow. It’s an imperfect distinction; I’ve counted the stone-throwers in Jerusalem as a violent protest but the flag-burners in Lahore as non-violent. But it gives you a somewhat more nuanced view into who is expressing anger and how they’re doing it than to just say that the “Muslim world” is protesting. To help show what “Muslim world” means, I’ve used a map (via Wikimedia) that shows countries by their share of the world Muslim population. The darker blue a country, the more Muslim individuals live there.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia/The Atlantic]