First Street, Harare, Zimbabwe | Photo By Gary Bembridge (Reused under CC)

Traditional Healers, Ukuthwala and Other Reports

Every week, collate reports on development issues in rural Africa and its environs.

This report includes some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, blogs, and in-depth articles, carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues.

Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:

Ukuthwala: The sex trafficking scandal devastating rural South Africa

“Back home in the Eastern Cape, ukuthwala is normal and has always been, so long as one has the means to pay lobola and if the girl’s family consent to have her married,” a man at the Clare Estate taxi rank at the busy Durban market tells me. Five other men on the taxi from Mbizana agree with him. The abduction of girls is commonplace in their village.

The practice of ukuthwala involves the abduction of a girl or a young woman by a man and his accomplices with the intention of forcing her family to agree to a marriage, and is prevalent in rural parts of South Africa. Ukuthwala is goes hand-in-hand with other offences like kidnapping, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Why Traditional Healers Could Have a Role to Play in Fighting HIV

Seeking help from traditional healers can have a detrimental effecton a patient because it can delay them getting the care or treatment they need from health facilities. This is a particularly pertinent challenge when it comes to treating HIV because getting access to treatment as early as possible after being diagnosed has been shown to be very important. In addition, studies have shown that traditional medicine can affect the efficacy of antiretroviral treatment. We were keen to understand how people living with HIV in rural communities in South Africa consulted traditional healers, and how this affected whether or not they sought treatment from local clinics. Our study, done in rural northeastern South Africa, has an HIV prevalence of 19.4% among adults. This is one of the highest figures in the world.

While the push for a functional cure and more effective treatment and treatment delivery systems are important, so too is understanding and mitigating barriers to existing care. Keeping a cautious, yet open mind to the complementary role that traditional healers can play could help further reduce – and support the ultimate end of – the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Forty Billionaires and Forty Million Beggars

But Kenyan elections are more than a “ruthless game of thrones.” While ethnicity plays a role in stoking tensions at the polls, it cannot explain the nation’s political fissures. The victims of Kenya’s deep inequities are not any single cultural or regional group; they are the urban and rural poor. And their marginalization — a product of endemic corruption, repression, and pro-capital development — will continue adding fuel to the raging political fire.

Can Nigeria’s yams power a nation?

Can Africa’s biggest economy swap its addiction to oil for the starchy tubers that millions line their bellies with each day?

“It’s our biggest hope,” says Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh.

The global slump in oil prices has hit the West African nation hard, where oil exports make up more than 70% of government revenues.

Yam production meanwhile is thriving – in fact the UN’s food agency says Nigeria produces more than 60% of the entire world’s yams. Despite this, Nigeria is not one of the world top exporters.

How a rural community built South Africa’s first ISP owned and run by a cooperative

Mankosi is a remote rural community in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. It is home to almost 6,000 people. The nearest city is Mthatha, about 60 kilometres away, as a bird flies. Most homes are not connected to the electricity grid; residents charge their cellphones at a local shop or shebeen, for which they must pay. Both data and airtime for those phones also cost a lot: a survey shows that people spend up to 22% of their income on telecommunications. This is money that could be spent on food, education, transport and other needs.

Yet, things are changing in Mankosi. A research team at the University of the Western Cape has worked with residents to develop a solar powered wireless community network. The Zenzeleni Networks project – Zenzeleni means “do it yourself” in isiXhosa, the Eastern Cape’s most prevalent language – is, as far as we’re aware, the South Africa’s first and only Internet Service Provider (ISP) that’s owned and run by a rural cooperative. Just like any ISP, Zenzeleni installs and maintains telecommunications infrastructure and also sells telecommunications services like voice and data.

MTN cuts out-of-bundle data prices for rural South Africa

MTN, Africa’s biggest cellphone company, has cut out-of-bundle data prices for the 5million poor customers mainly concentrated in South Africa’s rural areas and townships, amid calls for data to fall.

Yesterday’s data cut comes months after the company unveiled a strategy aimed at boosting the business and regaining lost market share. As of today, MTN South Africa will offer lower-end customers who use less than 5megabytes out-of-bundle data pricing by up to 80percent to 29cents a megabyte.

Future of cattle Ranching: Concerns, praises dot Nigeria’s road to ranching

The controversy stirred up by the Benue State open grazing prohibition law continues to generate heated arguments in several quarters not in only in the state but across the country, and even beyond.

Since the coming into effect of the law one month ago, people have expressed divergent views about how the law could permanently solve incessant crises between herders and famers without any of the parties feeling cheated or having the source of their livelihood truncated.

While the law to many; especially citizens of the state, has become a watershed to end unnecessary killings of rural farmers, destruction of farm produce, as well as farms and property of local folks, sections of pastoralists have an axe to grind with the change.



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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