Mar 31 2014

Empowering Adolescent Girls in Uganda

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Professor Oriana Bandiera discusses how a new project is improving the lives of young girls in Uganda through skills and information.

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Mar 27 2014

Book Review: Fragile States: War and Conflict in the Modern World, edited by Lothar Brock et al

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Fragile States shows how the monopoly of violence is a crucial element in maintaining state fragility. By taking case studies from The Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Afghanistan, the authors intend to define and clarify the meaning behind fragile statehood and to determine why outside intervention is often very limited in its actions to halt or prevent war and conflict in these countries. Ramona Wadi values the book’s analysis which, in addition to imparting a deep insight into the complex nature of fragile states, gives a coherent historical framework which defines political trends in today’s era.

Fragile States: War and Conflict in the Modern World. Lothar Brock, Hans-Henrik Holm, Georg Sørensen & Michael Stohl. Polity Press. January 2012.

Fragile States: War and Conflict in the Modern World assesses war and its implications through a detailed account of history, colonialism and institutions such as the United States, NATO and the United Nations. Based on the premise that fragile statehood and violent conflict are interdependent, the book delves into the impact caused by exploitation within fragile states and by decisions made within the international community.

The authors dispel the definition of war as a solely hostile conflict between nations. They note that since 1989, 120 out of 128 armed conflicts have been caused by intrastate violence. The book brings forward the characteristics of fragile states and attempts to analyse the role of foreign intervention. Ultimately, it brings to light the contrast between limited action and the further enhancement of conflict when taking sides in a civil war.


The book portrays the monopoly of violence as a crucial element in maintaining state fragility by focussing on three states – The Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Afghanistan. Many factors such as religious and ethnic divides, geopolitics and colonialism, have aided in undermining state legitimacy and the conflicts are exacerbated by outside intervention. This is especially true if a state is rich in natural resources or provides a strategic geographic location. The book matches also these countries against more successful states like Botswana and Costa Rica to further understand what constitutes state failure and why some countries have avoided such a fate. Continue reading

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Mar 26 2014

LSE Africa Summit: Entrepreneurship as Africa’s Tool to Reclaim Power

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LSE’s Abdul Abdulrahim lauds the role of entrepreneurship in giving rise to the new caring and sharing innovative elite.

I want hear every African say Africapitalism. I want to see it written in every newspaper and magazine. I want it to ring so loudly that everyone who hears it will have to ask: “What is Africapitalism?” The days of demeaning African aid are ending and Africapitalism is the future.

Africapitalism is about creating value within Africa for the long-term. It is about transforming the continent in a way that is both profitable and sustainable. It is also a call-to-action for Africans to take primary responsibility for our own development and for non-Africans to evolve their thinking about how best to channel their efforts and investments in the region. (Source: Tony Elumelu Foundation) This simple word is all about a power shift that has been long coming. It is about Africans taking responsibility for our home, something that we have not been able to do for a long time.

Africa’s power has always been concentrated among those who best survived the brawl to the top. Once there, the newly-established political elite found it so comfortable that those left behind were forgotten. Then another route to rise emerged – entrepreneurship.  It has no bias, no qualms with gender while rewarding hard work. It is finding a way to rebalance the power that has for so long been held by African aristocrats. Best of all, it is real. Entrepreneurs such as Evans Wandongo, Juliana Rotich and Njideka Harry have stepped up to create change. There was no waiting for aid, pity or lengthy discussions.  Another stand-out entrepreneur is Saran Kaba Jones, founder of FACE Africa, a firm that funds and implements sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects in sub-Saharan Africa utilising local labour, materials and resources.


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Mar 25 2014

Ghana President comes at LSE

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The President of Ghana John D Mahama will deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science on Saturday 5 April 2014.


Mr Mahama will deliver the keynote address at the LSE Africa Summit business conference which will run alongside a research conference and the Alistair Berkley lecture from 3-5 April. Continue reading

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Mar 24 2014

Co-education is undermining gender stereotypes in the Zambian Copperbelt

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By seeing girls perform equally well in class, many co-educated Zambians are rejecting widespread presumptions that men are typically more competent and more deserving of status – finds LSE’s Alice Evans. 

‘Through co-educational school I saw that girls can do what boys can do.  I started looking at boys and girls as the same.  I used to look at them as people who are unable but after knowing that they can compete with me, we are only different in sex, I started giving them respect.  It changed me in the way I was perceiving them’, narrated one male participant (Hamadudu, 29, Art teacher).

By contrast, boys interviewed at single-sex schools commonly regarded women as less intelligent.   They tended to see male-female interactions as exclusively sexual and portray girls as potential sexual partners.  Fights sometimes break out between nearby boys’ schools over presumed rights of sexual access to girls at the adjacent single-sex school.

With limited first-hand evidence of girls’ equal competence, single-sex educated boys tended to be dismissive of abstract messages of gender equality.  Although all secondary students in Grades 8 and 9 are taught and examined on the social construction of gender roles and responsibilities,single-sex educated boys typically denied its veracity.  They generally perceived “gender equality” as something to be written about in the exam and then forgotten.

Boys at a single-sex school ‘learning’ about gender equality as part of Civic Education

Boys at a single-sex school ‘learning’ about gender equality as part of Civic Education

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Mar 20 2014

Book Review: After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts by John R. Bradley

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Violence and political instability remain across Tunisia, Egypt, and the Arab region as old regimes continue to be challenged by protesters seeking justice and fresh elections. In After the Arab Spring, John R. Bradley argues that what we think we know about the uprisings is wrong - political change has destroyed a stable order and that the new “moderate” parties are myths designed to fool both voters and the West. Dr Matthew Partridge looks closer.

After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts. John R. Bradley. Palgrave Macmillan. January 2012.

Things were so simple a year ago. The fall of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak was a sign that Arab democracy was finally on the march. Twitter and Facebook meant that despots could not longer contain dissent. A year later, Islamists have won elections in Egypt and Tunisia, while protesters die on the streets of Cairo. In After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts,  John R. Bradley predicts a bleak future for the region.

Bradley was no fan of either leader. His last book, Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution, predicted Mubarak’s fall. He also freely admits Ali was corrupt. However, he claims that both regimes maintained law and order and were socially moderate, promoting education and women’s rights. Strong central government checked religious tensions and extremists were kept out of power.


Bradley argues that political change has destroyed this order. Riots now occur daily, hardliners target secular forces and Christians, and the new leaders lack popular support. The tourist sectors of both countries have been hit severely. Worst of all, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia are set to gain power. Bradley believes that the “moderation” of these two parties is a myth designed to fool both voters and the West. Continue reading

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Mar 19 2014

Somalia’s Sullied Security

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Abukar Arman examines Somalia’s perilous security crisis and potential future roles for the international community.

“We cannot have our right hand tied in our back and be asked to defend ourselves with our crippled left hand.” – Abdirahman Sheikh Issa

The recent al-Shabaab attack at the heart of the government’s compound, Villa Somalia, marks a turning point; both in terms of the audacity of the group’s militancy and the massive military campaign that the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and AMISOM are set to unleash.

This may cause a considerable loss to al-Shabaab, especially in terms of territories and hardware, but to count the overtly advertised March campaign as the deadly finale in which these militant extremists would be buried is a quixotic wish, to say the least.

Should Amisom troops be placed by UN blue berets in Somalia?

Should Amisom troops be placed by UN blue berets in Somalia?

When a security failure of such magnitude occurs, the natural reaction is to ask: how did it happen and who dropped the ball? This type of crisis-inspired scrutiny and discontent often provides an opportunity to institute new policies, improve or overhaul strategies; but, only when natural reactions are not subservient to the politics of exploitation.

Relentless Arrows

With lingering political polarization, damning report by UN Monitoring Group, and seemingly relentless media campaign, any kneejerk reaction to write off the current government—hence any opportunity to salvage the Somali state—is understandable, though not acceptable. Indeed, FGS has made some strategic mistakes and in the process drained much of its political and social capital, but throwing it under the bus, at this critical juncture, is not an option. Continue reading

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