Naked Protests in Africa and Other Reports

Every week, Rural Reporters collate reports on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles which have been carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues. Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:

Here’s a rundown of the top stories making headlines in rural Africa this week.

Naked protests in Africa—they cause mayhem; are they necessary, useful or effective?

Last week, two “naked protests” by women in Africa have attracted much controversy and commentary, as expected, but it wouldn’t be the first time that women have stripped to make a statement.

More importantly, it raises the broader question on the use of naked female bodies as a protest weapon. Is it necessary, justified, useful, or effective?

In Uganda, academic Dr Stella Nyanzi brought Makerere University to a near standstill – and  set social media aflame – when she stripped in protest at being locked out of her office. It seemed like a professional disagreement – as a member of academic staff at the Makerere Institute for Social Research, she is supposed to teach 50% of the time, and do research 50% of the time.

Rural South Africa Is On a Precipice

The murder of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, a leading opponent of titanium mining in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, marks a crisis that has been building for over two decades around land and chiefs in rural black South Africa. Rhadebe, chairman of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, was killed on 22 March 2016. The context of his murder is a scramble for self-enrichment by chiefs which is not confined to the Wild Coast.

The countryside is sliding into ever more violent confrontations between people and their supposed customary leaders. The government just keeps making things worse. This has become obvious with regard to landholding and decision-making about communal land in recent years.

Buruli Ulcer – Africa’s Neglected but Third Most Common Bacterial Disease

Buruli ulcer is a skin infection that kills the cells and tissue in an affected area and creates ulcers on the skin. It is caused by a bacteria and is the third most common bacterial disease after TB and leprosy. The disease is most prevalent in impoverished rural communities. Children under the age of 15 are the worst affected but there is no gender specificity. It often starts as an itchy nodule or papule on the skin. This develops into a massive skin ulcer if left untreated.

This is followed by complications that can include muscle contractions, limbs becoming deformed and, in extreme cases, needing to be amputated, as well as organ failure. In some cases the disease is fatal. In a few cases it can lead to the development of bone infections or tetanus, or begin haemorrhaging, with patient death as a result.

Grant money for children ‘not enough’

A recent study has shown that grant money given to children in South Africa is not enough to stop them from starving.

In its findings, the Health Systems Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) concluded that the child support grant did not match the high levels of food insecurity and rising food prices.

In his comments, principal investigator Dr Wanga Zembe of the Medical Research Council said while the grant was a major poverty alleviation strategy, it was inadequate to meet the basic needs of children in contexts of extreme poverty.

E-commerce gains traction in Rural Kenya

Kenya’s rural population is increasingly taking to the internet and aggressively placing orders online catching up with their urban counterparts, an internal survey by Jumia Kenya has revealed.

According to the survey, which was revealed by the company, of the over 3,000,000 web visits sampled, urban traffic to the Jumia site stood at 77% in 2014 with rural traffic at 23% while urban deliveries accounted for 61% and rural 39%. In 2015, urban traffic maintained lead at 60% as rural traffic recorded a 17% rise to stand at 40%. Urban deliveries receded by 6% to 55% compared to 61% the previous year with rural deliveries climbing to 45%.

Urban Africa’s Big Chance

Africa’s rural population has always been larger than its urban population. But that is changing, and in 2030, the number of urban and rural Africans will be roughly the same: nearly 1.6 billion people altogether. By 2050, nearly two-thirds of all Africans will live in cities. By the same year, nearly a quarter of the world’s workforce will be African—and these workers will be overwhelmingly  young.

Urbanization does not automatically translate into prosperity. But it does seem to be a prerequisite for sustainable growth. As Africa’s growing, youthful workforce moves to cities, they will become a growth engine for the continent’s economy.

By concentrating consumers and their spending, Africa’s cities can serve as new markets for goods and services. In just fifteen years, consumer spending in African cities is projected to reach $2.2 trillion, a three-fold increase from current levels.

As Leaders Sign Climate Deal, Africans Go Hungry Amid Drought

 In New York, world leaders will put their signatures to the most far-reaching global climate agreement ever, the result of the COP21 talks in Paris last year. But while the celebrations at the United Nations provide an important opportunity to raise the profile of climate change, the agreement is already being tested in what is building up to be one of the biggest climate emergencies yet.

Millions of people across Africa are currently suffering from one of the worst droughts in history, but world leaders are failing to act. Climate change is providing the lethal spike in a cocktail of unusual weather patterns in several African nations.

How driving around the world gave me a crash course in cultures

You learn things about a culture when you drive its city and rural roads that you wouldn’t otherwise. Learning a language is the best to way discover a culture from the inside, but driving — excuse the phrase — is the crash course.

For instance, perhaps you’ve heard that South Africa is a scary place. Which leaves aside the amazing hospitality I’ve found in Johannesburg and Soweto. But I really got a sense of the country’s enduring kindness when I took a 600-mile-round drive from Cape Town, north to the Little Karoo desert, through the Swartberg mountains and to Cape Agulhas, Africa’s southernmost point.


Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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