Paterson Joseph as Brutus in Gregory Doran's 2012 production of Julius Caesar (RSC)
Should William Shakespeare be taught in Africa’s schools and universities? It’s a question that emerges, sometimes flippantly and sometimes in earnest, when conversations about post-coloniality and decolonisation turn to literature and culture.
It’s a useful and necessary question that I - as a scholar who teaches and writes about Shakespeare in a South African context - am often asked. Indeed, it’s one that I ask myself frequently.
But it is also a clumsy question and it needs rephrasing – or, at least, the terms in which it is couched need further investigation if we are to attempt a nuanced, coherent answer.
Countries from Sub Saharan Africa were amongst those that ranked high on the various lists and indexes in “Doing Business 2015”. Mauritius, for instance, was first on the “Ease of doing Business Index” and in the 230 business reforms recorded worldwide, over half came from African countries, mainly dealing with the reduction of complexity and costs in starting a business. A quarter of the global reforms concerning the strengthening of legal institutions also come from Africa. Five of the countries that were ranked among the top ten in economic progress were from Sub Saharan Africa, and Nigeria was on the same page with 10 other countries comparing the ease of doing business at a city level.
Nigerian youth celebrate presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s victory. Youth unemployment will continue to threaten the continent’s growth. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
The world’s eyes have turned to Africa after what many consider to be an unprecedented economic performance. Even the most cautious analysts are so sanguine about the continent’s economic prospects that they are willing to bet on its rosy future.
The International Monetary Fund expects sub-Saharan Africa to grow at an average annual rate of 5.7% between 2014-2019. This will make the sub-continent among the three fastest-growing regions in the world over that period. It would also mark the first time that Africa would have maintained a robust growth rate continuously for more than a decade.
Muhammadu Buhari’s convincing defeat of incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in the Nigerian presidential election is an event of global significance. To his credit, President Jonathan promptly conceded defeat, thereby discouraging any attempt to impede the transfer of power.
The election was held even as the world’s attention was further drawn to the gruesome brutalities committed by the Boko Haram insurgency. Inexplicably, Africa’s largest armed force, which has been given enormous financial outlays, has not been able to subdue a ragtag militia.
The world desperately needs a victory against cultist jihadism. Nigeria can provide it. As commander-in-chief, Buhari can oversee a coordinated effort to squelch the insurgency.
His victory is also significant because it has been achieved via democratic elections.
Harambee International has launched a global video contest to showcase what is right about Africa. The contest is open to professional journalists and to students and will cover everyday topics such as the role of education, the family and sustainability, as well as positive stories of societal integration. The winner in the professional category will have produced a programme that has aired between January 1 and June 30, 2015, and will go home with a prize money of 5,000 Euros, while the winner in the amateur category will win 1,500 Euros.
As Mrs Rossella Miranda of Harambee, from her headquarters in Rome, explains in the video on this page, the story of Africa is more than wars, about disease, poverty or terrorism. This is why the contest organisers want to highlight the dynamic and often unpublished but positive stories from the continent.
Nigerians may know who the winner of the forthcoming presidential election is without having fto rely on government confirmation first. This is because of the many Internet apps that local tech geeks are deploying to help citiizens monitor and report the process. Voters are able to confirm their eligibility as well as monitor vote counts. This promises to mirror and even better the 2011 elections when voters used Twitter to share live votie counts direct from the polling centres.
Some of the citizen-powered websites have information on what to do on election day and how to lodge complaints. Others like "Thumbpower" say "It's a simple thing really, just vote".
The two main contenders are the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, and the former military dictator General Muhammadu Buhari. It is the closest election the country has witnessed in recent history and seems too close…
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Owning a quality smartphone in Africa a few years ago was something only for the rich and the lucky. Today, at a price of less than 100$, (and thanks to competition, even as low as 70$) and with prices dropping fast, many African consumers no longer see them as an exclusively luxury item.
Over one-third of the continent’s 1.1 billion population owns a mobile phone and it is expected that this year, the smartphone market will grow by over 40% (up from a penetration of 15%), putting 70 million new smartphones in circulation. A recent study by Deloitte (published on February 16) showed that by 2017, an expected 350 million smartphones will be in use. These will be connected to rapidly expanding broad-band infrastructures that are being installed to keep up with the demand, and will go hand in hand with a boom in digital content, internet access and mobile-phone paying services, the…
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Part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) project for African countries was to ensure that people have access to safe drinking water, and specifically, to reduce the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by half in 2015. Efforts to meet this target have been praiseworthy. However, the main challenge is to turn water access into a resource for sustainable economic development, and not just for domestic use.
Africa will be able to feed itself in the next 15 years. That’s one of the big “bets on the future” that Bill and Melinda Gates have made in their foundation’s latest annual letter. Helped by other breakthroughs in health, mobile banking and education, they argue that the lives of people in poor countries “will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history”.
Their “bet” is good news for African agriculture: agronomy and its natural twin, agricultural extension, are back on the agenda. If Africa is to feed itself, the women and men who grow its crops need access to technical expertise on how to manage their variable natural resources and limited inputs and market intelligence on what to grow, what to sell and what to keep.
As 2014 grinds gradually to a halt, some good news of startups that rocked Africa is not misplaced. For most techies, software development and entrepreneurship are usually two concepts that find it difficult to mix well in the continent. Some African countries, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya in the lead, hold out exceptional hopes for a bright future.
Africa is a continent that is big, joyful, generous, enthusiastic and optimistic. Harambee tells its stories: from its love of life and family, to people who have withstood great odds to stories of innovation achieved with limited resources. Our partner is Harambee Africa International, a Rome-based NGO. We want to hear from you. Contact Eugene Ohu, the editor, at email@example.com.