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1Here’s Why a Congolese Activist is Undeterred by Jail Time in the US

Therese Patricia Okoumou scaled New York City’s revered Statue of Liberty on July 4, 2018, in protest of President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. By doing this, Okoumou became the first woman in history to successfully climb Lady Liberty’s pedestal but she could spend up to 18 months behind bars for doing so. As a child growing up in the Congo-Brazzaville, she loved climbing things, particularly houses. Since the stunt, Okoumou has received widespread coverage from the media. Elle magazine recognized the act as “one of the most powerful events for women in 2018”; she was featured in a photo shoot with Teen Vogue, and even immortalized in street art.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

2What 2019 Will Mean for the African Continent and the African Union

Robert Malley, President and CEO of International Crisis Group, weighs in on the trends that African leaders need to address during their summit in Addis. Malley looks at the first transition “occurring at the local level, where entrenched governments face a perilous mix of social unrest and political contestation. 2019 is still young, but it already bears ugly scars of violent repression, in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Cameroon, as well as older wounds from persistent crises in places like the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia or South Sudan.” His commentary suggests that if pertinent governance issues aren’t address could change how African and the rest of the world view the organisation.

SOURCES: MAIL & GUARDIAN

3The Dangerous Side Hustle Migrants are doing to get out of Africa

Desperate to reach Europe, migrants from Africa are travelling to Egypt and selling body parts to pay for their passage. According to a 2018 report, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has collected data on 700 incidents of organ trafficking, primarily from North Africa and the Middle East. Anecdotal evidence suggests organ brokers are increasingly approaching migrants with the offer of a passage to Europe in exchange for donating an organ. The irony is that the trade is being driven by the broad EU policy to “externalise borders” by increasing the capacity of African states such as Libya, Egypt and Sudan to manage migration, given a boost by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

4Bulawayo was once Zimbabwe’s Answer to Chicago

In its heyday it was an industrial, farming and railway hub. Today its decline, tracking that of the southern African nation, is measured in dormant factories and mothballed cold-storage facilities that shipped meat to Europe. Some of the city’s poorest residents try to eke out a living selling mouldering fruit or dealing black market U.S. dollar by the side of the road. The country’s second-largest city exploded with unusual fury during nationwide protests in January following decades of economic despair. Frustrated citizens were called onto the streets by trade unions after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that petrol and diesel prices would be doubled overnight. This had come in response to a crippling shortage of U.S. dollars that had led to empty fuel stations.

SOURCES: OZY

5Algerian President Says He’s Fit to Lead

Algeria’s 81-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been infirm since a stroke in 2013, is planning to run in April’s presidential elections. His candidacy has spurred at least 186 people to request the documents needed to declare their candidacy too. That is more than double the number of potential candidates at this stage in the last presidential campaign, in 2014. Even before Mr. Bouteflika announced that he planned to seek a fifth five-year term, his fitness for office had  been  questioned, as the 2014 election came a year after a stroke left him speaking and moving with difficulty and largely in a wheelchair. He has been seen in public only a few times a year throughout his fourth term — yet analysts say that many Algerians would most likely vote for him again, for fear of the instability that his departure could unleash.

SOURCES: NEW YORK TIMES

6Nigeria’s ‘Melanin Movement’

According to a 2011 estimate from the World Health Organization, 76 million Nigerians, mostly women, use skin-lightening products regularly.  For many women skin bleaching could increase chances at getting work in the entertainment industry where directors want “camera friendly” skin tones. Some darker-skinned Nigerians are pushing back against the idea that lighter is better. They say black is beautiful with the so-called “Melanin Movement.” The beauty industry in Africa is worth several billion dollars and increases by 8 to 10 percent every year.

SOURCES: VOA

7How African Newsrooms are Using Data

Newsrooms in Africa, like their counterparts around the world, are embracing new media tools like analytics or editorial metrics to aid in the editorial decision-making process. Very few studies have looked at how readership data are used in the production and distribution of news in Africa. To fill this research void ‘The Conversation” carried out a study to understand how journalists determine what to publish. To gather data researchers interviewed online editors and journalists from newsrooms in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Kenya between 2017 and 2018. Researchers found that the use of analytics has become widespread and entrenched in East and southern Africa newsrooms. The problem with using data to make news judgements is that this is followed by a desire to manipulate the news for business and marketing purposes. In turn, this manipulation of the news gaze feeds into the proliferation of fake news, misinformation, and cyber-propaganda, as well as the growth of sensational blogs.

SOURCES: THE CONVERSATION

8Sierra Leone President Listens to Activists

President Julius Maada Bio has declared rape and sexual violence a “national emergency,” following a series of cases involving minors in the country. Bio said those found guilty of raping minors could face life imprisonment and directed all public hospitals to provide free medical services for victims of sexual assault.
“As a nation, we must address this scourge. Sexual penetration of minors is punishable by life imprisonment,” Bio said.

SOURCES: CNN

9Where Fact-checking is a Life or Death Situation

Sentinel is an organization that tries to build peace between different communities in Kenya’s Tana River, by using technology. Community members are encouraged to use an app and a community radio station, to check the validity of rumours, and therefore reduce tensions caused by misinformation.

SOURCES: BBC

10Soweto Gospel Choir Wins Best World Music Album Grammy

The Grammy Award winning album Freedom was recorded in June 2018 as part of the group`s tribute to the 100 Years of Mandela celebrations. It features a selection of South African struggle songs including their scintillating version of Johnny Clegg`s poignant Asimbonanga. The Soweto Gospel Choir are no strangers to international and African accolades and awards, having previously won an Emmy for their collaboration with global pop icons U2 as part of ESPN’s 2010 FIFA World Cup coverage. The group was also nominated for an Oscar for their collaboration with Peter Gabriel on the theme song for the film Wall-E.

SOURCES: CHANNEL 24

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