Photographed in Malawi.
What is disaster pornography? Africans define it as the Western media’s habit of blacking out Africa’s stock markets, cell phones, heart surgeries, soaring literacy and increasing democratization, while gleefully parading its genocides, armed conflicts, child soldiers, foreign debts, hunger, disease and backwardness.
By Zuleyka Zevallos, PhD
In honour of Nelson Mandela’s life, I thought it would be useful to take a critical look at the sociology of Mandela’s leadership. As the world mourns the death and humanity of Mandela, let’s also reflect on the social bases of Mandela’s courage and strength. This is as an opportunity to better understand how Mandela’s social experiences inspired his search for social justice.
In their excellent study, Davide Morsellia and Stefano Passini draw on social psychology and sociology in order to compare the social and political influences on three world leaders of civil rights movements in three different societies: Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi in India and Martin Luther King Jr in America. The researchers argue that these three world leaders engaged in “prosocial moral disobedience” – that is, they actively went against authority despite the personal persecution that followed. They did so not simply due to personal qualities, but as a direct result of their socialisation. Mandela will always be remembered as an extraordinary individual, as will Gandhi and MLK. This post will show that this is not the way these leaders understood their lives and activism. My post will explore how Mandela’s moral development and personal attitudes were affected by social context. Continue reading Nelson Mandela’s ProSocial Moral Disobedience
Photo: Looted and burned houses in Pinga after fighting between armed groups caused the majority of the town’s population—together with many of MSF’s Congolese staff—to flee the area in October. DRC 2012 © MSF
Armed groups have clashed in the last few days, causing widespread panic and alarm in the area. Fearing for their lives, people grabbed whatever they could carry and ran into the surrounding forests. While displaced from their homes and villages, people’s access to health care is extremely limited. Some of those wounded in the fighting were brought to the MSF-run hospital 50 kilometers [about 31 miles] away in Mweso where doctors treated 24 people for violent trauma. Twelve more managed to reach the Mpeti health center 18 kilometers [about 11 miles] away from Pinga.
“What we see in Pinga is the tip of the iceberg,” said Grace Tang, MSF head of mission. “This kind of violence and mass displacement is happening throughout the province of North Kivu. We’re trying to respond as best we can in very difficult and challenging circumstances.”
Mali: No Quick Fixes for a Complex Crisis | allAfrica
By Gilles Yabi
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has agreed on a revised concept of operations for the deployment of an international military force of 3,300 soldiers to help the Malian state wrest control of the northern part of the country from Islamist fighters.
This step, taken on November 11 following a collective effort by regional and international partners, is welcome. But military intervention alone cannot solve the country’s deep crisis.
The situation in Mali is desperately fractious. A military coup toppled the government in March, while separatists and al-Qaeda-linked fundamentalists took over the northern half of the country. Mali is now divided geographically, politically, militarily and religiously.
It must develop an effective common security policy framework, improve coordination with international partners, harmonise and clarify its role with other SADC structures, broaden engagement with civil society, ensure member-state commitment to African Union (AU) efforts on human and people’s rights and build capacity for evaluation and monitoring.
from Crisis Group’s latest report, “Implementing Peace and Security Architecture (II): Southern Africa”
“It is no accident that such a high state of culture existed in Africa and you and I know nothing about it.”
| Malcolm X
The Republic of Mali, located in Western Africa, is experiencing a humanitarian crisis as thousands of people flee extremist violence. A military coup forced President Amadou Toumani Toure out of office in March. Interim President Dioncounda Traore was sworn into leadership in April but his appointment was met with violent political resistance. Two armed groups have formed an uneasy alliance to take control of the Northern region of Mali. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Islamist insurgent group Ansar Dine hold tenuous control over locals, using torture and other forms of severe punishment, such as amputating hands of suspected thieves and reportedly stoning a couple who had a child out of wedlock. The New York Times reports that the groups are having trouble providing basic services for locals, including electricity and food.
In recent weeks, over 90,000 people have been forced to the Mauritania-Mali border in search of asylum and medical aid. They are living in overcrowded refugee camps. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 53,000 Malians have fled to Niger and 96,000 to Mauritania.
I’ve lived my entire adult life in Nigeria. My primary struggle has been to speak. There are elaborate social structures that brutally silence women and children; at home, at school, at work, in your community, in the media. I struggle to speak my truth, to retain my values, to speak my mind, my reality. I was constantly told my views were minority, exceptional and problematic. I was taught not to question authority, which usually meant male authority. I struggle to articulate my thoughts and feelings through all the layers of social and religious inhibitions and restrictions I was taught as a girl child. I rebelled until I found my voice as a feminist and a space to speak.
Now I try to ensure that my voice is heard by my Afro-feminist sisters. I’m not trying to speak to white feminisms just yet. My primary audience is my African sisters, to share ideas with, define strategies and make decisions with. I believe we Afro-feminist sisters must speak to white feminism as a group, as a community, not as individuals. White feminism drowned out our voices with their privileged access to the media. I’ve heard their stories, I want to hear from my African sisters and not just the ones with Ph.D’s. Before the internet I mostly heard what white feminism and their black students had to say about me and about us. Now I can hear what my African sisters say about me and about us and compare our experiences, our priorities and our needs and articulate those when speaking to white feminisms. Maybe then when we speak in a loud voice together they will actually listen to us.
Agams is a Nigerian lawyer who blogs about feminist issues from Africa (here). This is a great interview with Ms. Magazine. Agams talks about her struggle to reach out to other women around Africa who are also interested in a uniquely African feminism, one that is not dictated by white, privileged Western feminists. She finds that Twitter has helped her make this connection.