Top of the Blogs 2017 #12

Also available in Deutsch

This week Top of the Blogs looks at challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa, from presidential elections to environmental issues. While the results of last week’s Kenyan elections are being contested, the 2020 presidential elections in Burundi are already worrying the international community. Nigeria is facing challenges caused by severe flooding, but we end with a blog celebrating key African figures that have left their mark on history by tackling the challenges in their countries.

International Observers and the Kenya Election

The presidential elections took place in Kenya last week on the 8th of October, however the result remains disputed. The International Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Uhuru Kenyatta, the President-in-office, winner of the elections. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, however, rejects the results and says he has evidence that the elections were ‘stolen’. Even if President Kenyatta’s government is adopting a strong ‘law and order’ stance, critics of the brutality of the police are mounting. Amnesty International is also calling for an investigation into reports that police have shot and killed pro-Odinga protestors. Odinga recently expressed his disappointment in the international monitoring teams. Even if they can observe the polling on election day, observing the consolidation of ballot tallies nationwide is more difficult.

Burundi 2020: Is President Nkurunziza already at it again?

Burundi has been facing a violent political crisis for two years. Human rights groups and international observers are alarmed by the situation while President Pierre Nkurunziza gave assurances last month that “Burundi has gained peace and stability”. The crisis in Burundi began in April 2015 when President Nkrununziza announced he would run for a third presidential term. The declaration was followed by a failed coup in May and widespread violence. International and regional actors tried to get the government (CNDD-FDD party) and opposition (CNARED) at the negotiation table several times, but the government still refuses externally-mediated talks and claims that questions concerning the constitution and 2020 elections were already answered, while removing term limits and excluding opponents in exile from contesting the 2020 elections were also mentioned. The government’s actions alarm international actors who fear a reoccurrence of the 2015 scenario.

It’s only just started, flooding is going to get a lot worse in Nigeria

The country has been facing serious floods this year that have caused chaos in the Lagos and other areas. Dramatic pictures have been posted on social media with incredible scenes such as the capture of a crocodile in floodwater and thirteen people have been reported dead in Suleija, a town near the capital of Abuja. Two factors are mentioned to explain the phenomenon: very heavy local rainfall and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam, a lake in the northern province of Cameroon. Even if flooding is a regular phenomenon in Nigeria, climate change aggravates the situation: the storms are getting more intense and the sea level is rising in coastal regions. Another factor that contributes to flooding is the rapid unregulated urban growth in the country.

7 underrated African heroes you should know about

On a more positive note, blogger Jacqueline Traoré has compiled a list of seven underrated African heroes who are not often talked about but have left their mark on history. Among them are four women who played key roles in decolonization throughout Africa. Josina Muthemba Machel was a leading figure of the Mozambican struggle for independence; Yaa Asantewaa fought British forces in 1900; Funmilayo Ransome Kuti rose up against British colonialism in Nigeria and the writer Mariama Ba denounced the status of women in Senegalese society.

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