Top of the Blogs 2017 #17

Free speech and freedom from consequences

University of Cape Town lecturer Jacques Rousseau questions the statement by Brendan O’Neil, the editor of Spiked, about free speech and freedom from consequences. O’Neil recently posted on Facebook that “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences”. When someone says “You can say what you like, but you might suffer for it” it’s another way of saying, “best not say it, eh”. Rousseau explores these ‘consequences’ of freedom of expression in the life of people who choose to express themselves no matter what could happen after.

Could a former winner of the Ballon d’Or become Liberia’s next president

On the 10th of October, citizens of Liberia will elect a new president. The current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is required to step down after two terms in office and even though the current vice-president, 72-year old Joseph Boakai is the candidate who would provide the most continuity, he is not expected to win the elections. It is 50-year old former footballer George Weah, presidential runner-up in 2005, who is drawing the huge crowds. He gained fame in the 1990s becoming the first African player to win the football’s prestigious Ballon d’Or and it seems his popularity with young people and his political alliances could lead him to the head of state despite his short political career.

The trade in body parts of people with albinism is driven by myth and international inaction

Attacks on people with albinism in sub-Saharan Africa are a real issue. In the last decade, 200 people with albinism were killed in 500 attacks. The main reason behind the murders is the rising demand for the body parts of people with albinism for rituals made by traditional healers. Myths say that their body parts possess distinct powers and can bring wealth or success. Most of the victims are from Tanzania yet the governments of all sub-Saharan countries are not engaged enough in the fight against this illegal trade. The issue will be one of the key points at the upcoming United Nations expert meeting on witchcraft and human rights in Geneva.

These vintage photos capture the lives of young Ethiopians in Addis Ababa 50 years ago

The Swiss publisher Philipp Schütz, photographer Wongel Abebe and documentary photographer Nafkot Gebeyehu recently started a project called “Vintage Addis Ababa” which aims to collect photographs from the 60s, 70s and 80s of ordinary people in Addis Ababa submitted by Ethiopians. “For Ethiopians, the project is a lot more about identity rather than just art,” said Schütz. Vintage Addis Ababa focuses on an active period in Ethiopian history – from the first conference of the OAU in 1963, to the 1974 coup which overthrew Haile Selassie, then the war between Ethiopia and Somalia that began three years later.

Fifty years Later: U.S. Intelligence Shortcomings in the Nigerian Civil War

During the Nigerian Civil war (1966-1970) Igbos in their south-eastern homeland organized an independent state, Biafra, and attempted to secede from the Nigerian Federation; the resulting civil war left an estimated 1.5million dead. Fifty years later a new report analyses the foreign policy challenges this presented for the Johnson and Nixon administrations in the US. It particularly highlights the intelligence community’s biases and faulty assumptions that led to distortions in policy making and tilted judgments in favour of Biafra.

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