Op-Ed Series – Vol.3 Issue: 4

June 25, 2020


Food and Leadership: The Scarce Ingredients of Survival during the Covid-19 Crisis in Kenya

David Mwambari* 

In Summary

  • There are many young Kenyans, and many more around the youthful continent of Africa, who without obligation to do so are emerging to offer leadership during this COVID-19 crisis.
  • The Food4Education was founded by Wawira Njiru, a young Kenyan nutrionist and food scientist and the first ever Global Citizen Prize winner because of her work with Food4Education.
  • The mutuality that the local intervention leaders have nurtured with communities over time enables them to sustain influence during this crisis and other situations where they may emerge.
  • Leadership is a process; it emerges in everyday actions and decisions as we navigate COVID-19 and other crises.  

Paul closed his shop, unsure of when he would resume the tailoring business because it dawned on him that unlike food, his clients will not order clothes to go put on in the house. Heading home, he walked past mama mbogas chopping vegetables, boda bodas traipsing the narrow roads of the informal settlements and the euphoric sounds of children playing; seemingly oblivious to the looming crisis. He arrived to find that his wife, a kindergarten teacher at a low-cost private school, had been laid off with no salary henceforth.

Op-Ed Series – Vol.3 Issue: 3

June 18, 2020

Beyond Remittances: Covid-19 And The ‘Future’ Of African Diaspora – Homeland Relations

Adeoti Dipeolu* 

In Summary

  • COVID-19 provides a window for reflecting on the African diaspora and their relationship with their homelands, exploring continuities and changes, and paradoxes in the months or even years to come.
  • COVID-19 could strengthen or weaken the relationship and commitment of African diaspora to homeland communities with serious socio-economic implications for the ‘poorest’ of the poor.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic gives the impetus for a new kind of relationship, a broadening and deepening of engagement. It is possible and desirable that the relationship transcends remittances by expanding and deepening into a ‘two-sided’ or ‘multi-sided’ exchange.
  • What COVID-19 has shown is the possibility of many African countries tapping into the expertise knowledge of their transnational citizens. This can be key in efforts at addressing the service gaps in their homeland countries.

It is incontrovertible that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to redefine everyday life across the world, including continental Africa. COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures such as social distancing, lockdowns, and suspension of local and international travels are the new normal. This has implications for a variety of relationships and interactions, including those between the African diaspora and their homelands. It is no secret that members of the African diaspora are essential to the development stories of their homelands, and they are a core social support network.

Op-Ed Series – Vol.3 Issue: 2

June 11, 2020

COVID-19 in Africa: Challenges and Responses to Violent Insurgency in Northeast Mozambique

 Nayanka Paquete Perdigao

In Summary

  • The interconnected nature of the public health crisis, economic interests and violent extremism has had searing effects on the population of Cabo Delgado.
  • Paying attention to the colonial and historical trajectories that have caused and shaped the disconnect between central government and Cabo Delgado remains critical in the search for lasting solutions.
  • An exclusively military and ‘hard security’ approach may have limited outcomes, especially in tackling the underlying causes of the insurgency and the historical neglect of the people of Cabo Delgado.
  • COVID-19 has created further challenges for Cabo Delgado’s population, but it has also exposed the urgent need to rethink how to effectively respond to the escalating humanitarian crisis.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the development, conflict and security nexus in Africa. Whilst much of the focus has been on African governments’ approaches to the emerging public health crisis, few links have been made between responses to the virus and ongoing violent conflicts. The first case of COVID-19 in Mozambique was confirmed on 20 March 2020. The first confirmed infections were linked to an outbreak in the Cabo Delgado region, in the northeast of the country, at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility under construction by Total. By this time, the Mozambican government had reacted swiftly by closing its borders, suspending public gatherings and shutting down schools. As Mozambique declared a state of national emergency in late March 2020, fighting between the government and militias in the North had been escalating.

Op-Ed Series – Vol.3 Issue: 1

June 4, 2020

COVID-19: Time for Africa to Root out the ‘Old Pandemic’

Moses Tofa* 

In Summary

  • It is not acceptable that in the 21st century, Africa’s fight against COVID-19 is heavily dependent on gifts, donations and loans from the international community.
  • An inward-looking but externally ferocious form of globalisation is emerging. An outward-looking Africa in an in-ward looking global context will be more devastating to the African people than the COVID-19 pandemic itself.
  • Africans in Africa and the diaspora need to unite and work towards the common good of the continent. There has to be a perpetual wind of pan-African consciousness.
  • Posterity will judge African leaders and Wananchi harshly if they fail to discern and use the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to unapologetically and irrevocably sculpt a new African order.

 ‘If Africa’s multiple resources were used in her own development, they would place her among the modernised continents of the world. But her resources have been and still are being used for the greater development of overseas interests’ Kwame Nkrumah.

Of all the pandemics which have bludgeoned Africa, the ‘old pandemic’ whose agenda has been and will always be to appropriate and exploit its resources is the oldest and the most resilient, stubborn, ferocious and unforgiving one. This ‘old pandemic’ is the exploitation of Africa’s resources by external actors. It is a ‘pandemic’ which cannot be contained or annihilated through enforced lockdowns, the wearing of surgical face masks, sanitisation, or physical distancing. While it is important for Africa to put a tenacious fight against COVID-19, it is more important for it to take steps to root out the ‘old pandemic’. Africa may win the battle against COVID-19, but this would be a Pyrrhic victory if the ‘old pandemic’ continues to engulf the continent. In fact, Africa must realise that the ‘old pandemic’ is making capital of the COVID-19 pandemic by strategically positioning its interests in the continent, particularly through gifts, donations and loans. A tour into the history of the colonisation of Africa shows that coercive and persuasive measures such as gifts were used to facilitate colonisation. For example, the Rudd Concession shows how these strategies were used as a path to the colonisation of Africa. When Africa finally emerge from the woods of COVID-19, it may find itself deep in the jaws and claws of the ‘old pandemic’. Some scholars argue that COVID-19 is characterised by the ‘new scramble for Africa’. Africa needs to take a number of steps to root out the ‘old pandemic’, but this op-ed focusses on four key ones: changing the approach to politics, particularly electoral; promoting regional cooperation and integration; addressing historical inequalities and creating the space for democratic state-society conversations and contestations.

Op-Ed Series – Vol.2 Issue: 7

May 28, 2020

COVID-19: Three Things to Think of in the Context of Africa Day 2020

Professor Maxi Schoeman* and Roland Henwood **

In Summary

  • Most states on the continent turned to epidemiologists, virologists, immunologists, and infectious diseases specialists for advice on policy, planning and implementation. Their knowledge and advice came to dominate responses to the pandemic.
  • States and international organisations need to create the space for other scientists to become involved – social workers, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, psychologists, legal scholars, engineers, environmentalists.
  • African scholars can play a leading and transformative role in re-conceptualising human security in a way that takes stock of the lessons learned not only during this pandemic, but also from previous large-scale threats, such as the Ebola virus.
  • African solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps one of the continent’s greatest achievements in a world in which regional support and collaboration proved to be rather weak as countries opted for national responses over regional cooperation.

Africa Day commemorations across the continent on 25 May this year passed with little fanfare: we are all caught up in the disruption (some would say destruction) wrought by the global pandemic and uncertainties around the future. From ordinary individuals, families and communities to the halls of continental and global politics, fear and foreboding seem to stalk the land and few, if any, are taking note of what we had hoped to achieve continentally in 2020: silencing the guns and implementing the African Continental Free Trade agreement.


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