News from Africa

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Rotting food scraps picked out of the dirt and the bins of the backstreets of Harare are piled together in a slimy heap on the ground with torn cardboard as a serving plate. Elias, 15, squats and pushes both hands into the pile, scooping out a chunk of something pink. He gnaws on it, then shouts: “Dinner! Come and eat.”

At the Makumbi children’s home, half an hour’s drive from the city, Sister Alois is upset to report she has had to turn away three abandoned babies brought in by social workers in the last week. “More and more children abandoned, it’s not the African way. There are so many now. They are being left in the bush, some are eaten by the ants.”


“When you walk through the markets, you can see that there is food here. The problem is that the ability to buy it has disappeared. People here depend on livestock to support themselves, but animals are being killed on the edge of exhaustion, and that means they are being sold for far less money. And on top of that, the cost of food basics has risen,” explained Gluck.

“Yesterday I saw women sifting through gravel at the side of the road, trying to find some grains that may have been blown from aid trucks.”


Mariam Tchado, 30, is a single mother of six who says her tiny plot hasn’t grown much of anything since drought descended on the Sahel region of west central Africa last year. “My family relies entirely on me, but I have nothing to give them. I’ve been digging up anthills to find grains and picking leaves off the trees to prepare food,” she said.


A gigantic, towering new tree species in the pea family, Leguminosae, was discovered in the lowland rainforests of Korup national park, Cameroon. Berlinia korupensis reaches a height of 42 metres with a buttressed trunk nearly one metre wide. The species produces stunningly beautiful white flowers, followed by incredibly large pods 30cm in length. The pods disperse their seeds violently for distances up to 50 metres. As the pods dry, their two halves curl in opposite directions, slowly building tension until they suddenly explode.

There are only 17 known examples and the species is critically endangered due to human pressures on the protected forest.

Berlinia korupensis

African prize for excellent leadership fails to find a winner

For the second year running, it has proved impossible to find a candidate worthy of a multi-million dollar award for improving the continent’s “quality of human life.”


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  1. Uganda

    We are shocked by child murder in Uganda because of its relative newness in the nation’s culture. Reports of infant murder were rare in Uganda as recently as 25 years ago. Some have attributed the increasing frequency of child murder to domestic violence, poverty, traditional beliefs, culture and family breakdown.

    While these may be contributory factors, I believe that these child murders are part of the complete collapse of Uganda’s moral foundation. Greed, a lost sense of value and respect for life and a subconscious acceptance of killing as a solution to political conflict have anesthetised the nation against violence.

    Just think of the uncounted children who have been kidnapped and maimed or killed, whether through sacrifice to the gods of greed, or in the various wars of modern Uganda, especially the 20-year war in Acholi.

    The Acholi are known to the outside world mainly because of the insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony, an Acholi from Gulu. The activities of the LRA have been devastating within Acholiland (though they spread also to neighbouring districts and countries). In September 1996 the government of Uganda put in place a policy of forced displacement of the Acholi in the Gulu district into displacement camps. Since 1996 this policy has expanded to encompass the entire rural Acholi population of four districts, one million people. These camps have some of the highest mortality rates in the world with an estimated 1,000 people dying per week.

  2. Kind of leaves me dazed and morally helpless. I would much prefer to pay my taxes to help the impoverished rather that make more of them.  

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