Home African Development African Education Theories & Empirical Data
FundraiseScholarship Awards Links Contact Us Contact Us


Mar. 20, 2017 (GIN) – Bulldozers approaching the communities of the southern state of Cross River, with orders to raze up to a million homes and cut down an ancient tropical rainforest, were stopped in their tracks as an environmental impact statement for a proposed superhighway was rejected by officials. As conceived, the roadway would link northern Nigeria to a proposed deep seaport in the south, covering 162 miles and displacing along the way some 180 indigenous communities, a national park and adjoining forest reserves that are home to some of the country’s most endangered species.

But this week, at a public hearing with government ministers and stakeholders, the Minister of the Environment admitted the project could not go forward. “The EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) is not of standard, it is too primary and does not qualify as a working document for such an international project,” Minister Ibrahim Jibrin was reported to say.

The so-called Cross River Superhighway, the brainchild of the state’s governor, Ben Ayade, has been on the drawing board for years. Two years ago it was announced that the “much anticipated construction” was “on course” and that President Muhammadu Buhari would be performing groundbreaking ceremonies Sept. 21, 2015.

The roadway would have cut through several protected areas such as the Cross River National Park, Ukpon River Forest Reserve, Cross River South Forest Reserve, Afi River Forest Reserve and Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary - home to various threatened species, including Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, drills, Preuss’s red colobus monkeys, slender-snouted crocodiles and African gray parrots, among others.

Among the impacted communities is the Ekuri, whose conservation skills were recognized by the U.N. Development Program with a Equator Initiative Award for protecting biodiversity and reducing poverty.

Ekuri leaders say they supported the highway project at first, believing it would bring better transportation and greater economic opportunities to their people. But in a letter to the governor of Cross River State sent Feb. 7, the leaders withdrew their support, calling the project “a land grab in the guise of a Super Highway.”

Ekuri communities manage some 83,000 acres of community-owned forest – one of the largest in West Africa. “We require schools, water, electricity but not the kind of road that will take our forest away,” village leaders Stephen Oji and Abel Egbe told Premium Times news. w/pix of Ekuri woman protesting superhighway


Mar. 20, 2017 (GIN) – Under heavy police surveillance, Angolan women rallied in the capital city Luanda to protest a draft bill that would criminalize all abortions and punish anyone who has an abortion or performs one, without exception, with up to 10 years in jail. Among those objecting to the bill was the president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, who used her Instagram social media account to denounce the “criminalization of women.” At the rally, hundreds of women carrying placards chanted “Freedom for women,” “Prison will not solve anything” and “Let us decide.” Church leaders had reportedly lobbied hard for the bill. Speaking for the Episcopal Conference of Angola, Dom Manuel Imbaba told the French AFP news service that they supported the anti-abortion legislation. “To decriminalize abortion is to approve murder,” he said. Currently, in Angola, abortion is only permitted to save the life of the woman. An abortion performed with the consent of the pregnant woman is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. A woman who induces her own abortion is subject to the same penalty.

If the abortion was performed to conceal the pregnant woman’s “dishonor”, the maximum penalty is reduced to two years. Further north, in Ghana, women’s health organizations have been denouncing the country’s high rate of unsafe abortions that are a major cause of maternal death. More than one in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions, notes the New York-based Guttmacher Institute in their report “Abortion in Ghana.” “Some 13% of Ghanaian women who have had an abortion experience complications resulting from unsafe procedures, and fewer than half of them received the needed follow-up care,” cited Guttmacher.

“These statistics are all the more remarkable because Ghana is one of the few African countries where abortion is legal under fairly broad grounds, and abortion performed by a qualified profession under proper conditions is an extremely safe procedure,” they added. Meanwhile, the few African countries which allow a woman to terminate a pregnancy without punishment may soon be facing disciplinary action from the U.S. under President Donald Trump’s Global Gag Rule.  According to his executive order, recipients of U.S. funds may not mention abortion, refer women to a provider or tell them about their legal rights. w/pix of Angolan women at pro-choice rally




Mar. 20, 2017 (GIN) – President Jacob Zuma finally addressed the long-unresolved matter of land reform, a demand of thousands of black landless people whose properties were confiscated in the Apartheid era. In his State of the Nation address, President Zuma pledged to break up white ownership of business and land to reduce inequality. He called on parliament to change South Africa’s constitution to allow the expropriation of white owned land without compensation, along the lines of his counterpart, President Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe.

  “People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” he said. Although progress has been made in transferring property to black South Africans, land ownership is believed to be skewed in favor of whites more than 20 years after the end of apartheid. But to Zuma’s request for a preliminary racial breakdown of the country’s rural landowners, the Institute of Race Relations, an independent research body, called it “almost impossible."

Not unexpectedly, Zuma’s comments caused outrage among groups representing Afrikaans-speaking farmers. The Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, which claims to have 40,000 members, said its members would take land expropriation without compensation as “a declaration of war”. Zuma’s “October surprise” on land reform comes as the party faces some of its harshest criticism yet for failing to renew a contract with a company that pays out pensions to the old, the sick and the disabled.

Some 17 million vulnerable South African depend on government social grants which in many cases are as little as $27 a month. The prospect of missing their welfare support has triggered a wave of anger among core ANC supporters. The ANC “don’t care, as long as they’re fine,” said an unemployed father to a reporter. “I think they just forgot about the people.” Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), a subsidiary of Net 1, a US group, which mails out the checks, was found unfit for the job in 2014. Their contract, which expires March 31, was not renewed but neither did government replace them. The constitutional court intervened —ruling that CPS had to continue payments for the next year under its close supervision. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has decried the government’s handling of the matter, asking rhetorically: “How do we get to this level of incompetence?” w/pix of Presidents R. Mugabe and J. Zuma



Mar. 20, 2017 (GIN) - In an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, authorities in the city of Boston believe their new school map offers something closer to the geographical truth than that of traditional maps, and hope it can serve an example to schools across the nation and even the world. The school district will drop the Mercator projection, which physically diminished Africa and South America, for the Peters, which cuts the developed world down to size. The Gall-Peters projection shows land masses in their correct proportions by area, putting the relative sizes of Africa and North America in perspective. When Boston public schools introduced a new standard map of the world this week, some young students felt their world had changed.

The USA was small. Europe too had suddenly shrunk. Africa and South America appeared narrower but also much larger than usual. And what had happened to Alaska? For almost 500 years, the Mercator projection – designed to aid navigation along colonial trade routes - has been the norm for maps of the world. In the Mercator system, North America and Europe appear bigger than South America and Africa. Western Europe is in the middle of his map. South America is made to look about the same size as Europe, when in fact it is almost twice as large, and Greenland looks roughly the size of Africa when it is actually about 14 times smaller. Alaska looks bigger than Mexico and Germany is in the middle of the picture, not to the north. The switch to the Gall-Peters Projection sees Boston's public schools follow the lead of the United Nations, which has advocated the map as a more 'fair', less Eurocentric representation of the world, as have several aid agencies.

Teachers in the 2nd, 7th and 11th grades have already received their new maps, and say the reaction from their students has been fascinating. “It’s “interesting to watch the students saying ‘Wow’ and ‘No, really? Look at Africa, it’s bigger’”, Natacha Scott, director of history and social studies at Boston public schools, told The Guardian. “Some of their reactions were quite funny,” she added, “but it was also amazingly interesting to see them questioning what they thought they knew.”