Top of the Blogs 2017 #14

This week Top of the Blogs has a focus on diversity: diversity in the electoral landscape as demanded by the citizens of Togo, the diversity of languages and the logic behind linguistically-rich regions of Cameroon and diversity of opinions on leaders such as Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame. We end with an open letter to African politicians lamenting how the continent’s leaders have failed to mend the gaping rich/poor divide.

50 years of hurt: Togo protesters vow to continue

On Saturday 19 August, thousands of citizens took the streets in Togo to demonstrate against half a century of rule by the Gnassingbe family. The protesters, who peacefully demanded democratic reforms and the restoration of the 1992 constitution, were shot by the police in the city of Sokode, killing at least two. The event is a reminder of the early-1990s, when similar events led to severe repression by the regime of Gnassingbe Eyadema. The general installed a dictatorship after coups in 1963 and 1967 and ruled until his son Faure Gnassingbe succeeded him in 2005 when he died. The junior Gnassingbe is now in his third term and citizens are still waiting and fighting for democratic change, as the recent protests show.

Threatened languages and how people relate to them: a Cameroon case study

Experts predict that half of the world’s languages could disappear within a century, meaning a huge loss of a key part of a community’s heritage and identity. This article explores the language dynamics of the Lower Fungom region of Cameroon, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, with 300 languages spoken. Lower Fungom has a particularly multilingual population - in an area of 100 square meters, nine languages are spoken. The author found that each village has its own language and it is a way for the inhabitants to signal that they are part of a community and can access some resources. Therefore, the more language you speak, the more resources you can claim access to.

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame has some pointed advice for journalists

Controversial president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, recently gave advice to journalists during the TEDGlobal Conference in Tanzania: “Be honest!” According to Kagame, journalists should be “responsible” in their reporting and “let the people listening to them make their judgment based on the facts.” How this advice is received is likely to be based on people’s diverging views on the president. While his 17-year rule has enhanced peace-building and women’s empowerment and increased economic development in Rwanda, his critics accuse him of repressing the opposition and independent media.

Dear Mr. African Politician

This piece is an open letter from Kenyan blogger Wangari Mwangi to African politicians. She compares the colonialist Africa of her grandparents to the Africa she’s living in today. And she doesn’t understand “how poachers, illegal loggers, illegal fisherman, drug dealers, rapists, terrorists and human traffickers” can be part of it. She writes about the dreams of people on her continent and how after the colonialists left, there was hope, but she is now disappointed. But, she warns, no situation is permanent and the leaders won’t have the power eternally. It is the same for the population: “the poor will get tired of being poor, the oppressed will find their freedom and the stupid electorates will be enlightened.”

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