Tanzanians Begin the Week with Heavy Hearts
Tanzania has laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded. The deadly blast, which took place on Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa. President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He was represented at funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa. Majaliwa spoke at a ceremony in Kola, less than 20 minutes from where the disaster occurred some 200 kilometres west of Dar es Salaam. White coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers and tossed handfuls of earth on them. A Pentecostal pastor named Mechak said in a service broadcast on television that “this should serve as a lesson to us. When there is an accident like this we should steer clear and let rescue workers do their job.” DNA tests will be carried out on bodies that were burnt beyond recognition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.SOURCE: NEWS 24
New Evidence Suggests Ancient People have Been Living in Ethiopia’s Mountains for Centuries
Scientists have discovered what is by far the oldest evidence of human occupation at extreme altitudes: a rock shelter strewn with bones, tools and hearths 11,000 feet above sea level. People lived at the site, in the mountains of Ethiopia, as long as 47,000 years ago. The research contradicts the long-held view that high elevations were the last places on Earth settled by humans. That notion was based more on assumptions than hard evidence, it now appears. In East Africa, paleoanthropologists have long focused their attention on the Rift Valley and other archaeological sites at lower elevations. In Africa, even more tantalizing clues have come to light. Simple stone tools have been found at high elevations in Ethiopia, and they appear to be hundreds of thousands of years old. They might have been left there by members of our species — or an earlier hominid species. Still, it’s hard to know whether these findings mean that humans were living at these altitudes, or just making a brief sojourn.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES
Here’s Why Living in Lagos Can Take a Mental Toll
The city is unhealthily crowded. Despite being the smallest state in the country, it has the highest urban population with an estimated population of 22 million people and counting, more than double New York or London’s tally. More than eight million people, moving in five million vehicles cram into a tiny network of just 9,100 roads every day. This is the reason why Lagosians spend an average of 30 hours in traffic each week — or 1,560 annually — while drivers in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic spent only 128 and 210 hours respectively in the whole of 2018. Traffic congestion, with its noise and environmental pollution, takes a huge toll on workers’ mental and physical health. Health professionals have even linked its overall damage to the increasing rate of suicide in the city. The situation is also killing workforce productivity. While working conditions across the globe are fast evolving, some Nigerian companies are reluctant to enable their employees to work from home. Traffic jam stifles both state and national economies. The Lagos business community alone loses $30.5 million monthly. While the gridlock at Nigeria’s largest seaport, Apapa, costs the country $19 billion annually — a loss higher than the country’s 2016 budget.SOURCE: CNN
The Growing Tribe of Musicians Challenging Museveni
Inspired by rapper Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine’s quick rise from a political nobody to the Ugandan opposition’s strongest bet against incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, a wave of music artists is joining politics in the country, seeking election to positions ranging from the presidency to legislators, and mayors to district and village leadership. In a country with the world’s second-youngest population — only Niger’s median age is lower than Uganda’s nearly 16 years — they’re replacing mainstream politicians as torchbearers of hope for youth against Museveni’s government. In July 2018, Wine’s candidates won a third of all village-level elections across the country, even though their movement was less than a year old. Those wins also demonstrated that the campaign he is leading to unseat Museveni is finding resonance not just in urban Uganda, which mostly listens to pop music, but in the country’s rural hinterland too.
Luanda’s Rep as the Most Expensive City in the World has Come to an End
In contrast to the Angolan capital’s established ranking at the top of the annual cost of living index compiled by global consulting firm Mercer, it has tumbled in the last two years. Rankings released in June show Luanda placed 26th out of 209 cities—a twenty place drop from last year when it ranked 6th. In fact, Luanda is now the fourth highest ranked African city, behind Ndjamena, Kinshasa and Lagos. Mercer’s index is based on the prices of goods and services including food, utilities, transport logistics and accommodation (collectively referred to as a “basket”), that expats purchase. It then compares costs by converting prices from local currencies to US dollars. And that’s the root of Angola’s fall in the rankings: in Jan. 2018, the government ditched its currency peg to the dollar and essentially devalued its local kwanza currency. Luanda becoming cheaper for expats doesn’t make it cheaper for locals given their vastly different shopping preferences.
SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
Residents of Tunisia’s Gabes Go on an Environmental Pushback
Close to the Chott Essalem beach and in front of a rare coastal oasis, the state-owned Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT) has been processing phosphate since the 1970s. Around 13,000 tonnes of chemicals and waste are channelled into a Tunisian bay that was once a rich spawning ground for marine life. Now devoid of the formerly plentiful fish and crabs, the locals call it the “fatal shore” and believe it is responsible for an increase in cancer and disease. As Tunisia plans to increase its export of phosphates, used in agricultural fertilizer, environmental groups are warning of the damage being done to land and sea. The Gulf of Gabes is an important spawning ground for Mediterranean fish. But phosphate mining and processing, industries that are important for Tunisia’s economy, have left it heavily polluted.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
Does Zimbabwe have a Plan to Bring the Lights Back On?
Government has secured two loans of more than $42.5m from India to boost the generation of electricity in the country. The Herald Newspaper says the loans of $23m and $19.5m obtained from the Export-Import Bank of India are for upgrading power plants in Bulawayo and Hwange. Business representatives believe the blackouts have cost the country $200m in lost revenue and that the new deal will unlikely ease rolling blackouts in the short term. Declining water levels in Lake Kariba have plunged most parts of the country into darkness for longer periods per day. There are fears that if the water levels continue to decline in Lake Kariba, power generation could stop by early October, which will almost complicate the situation.
SOURCE: THE HERALD
The New Crop Keeping Kenyan Farmers Afloat
As drought and erratic weather wreak havoc across rural Kenya, a growing number of farmers are abandoning traditional crops such as maize and rice for the more lucrative muguka, a potent legal stimulant that relieves fatigue. A variety of khat, which produces a mild high when chewed, muguka is fast-growing, making it less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions, and uses about half as much water as maize. But it is bad news for food supplies, said agriculture experts and local politicians, who warned of a potential food crop shortage as farmers clear their fields of staples to make way for muguka. There is no official record of how many farmers have switched from growing food crops to muguka, said Mwangi. Nor is there data on how much land is being used for muguka, according to Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). But Francis Kimori, chair of the Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco, a savings and credit co-operative, estimated that four out of every five households around the Mount Kenya region, including in Embu County, are farming the stimulant in some quantity.SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE
Conflict and Climate Change Affect Religious Practices in Cameroon
Cameroon Muslims are looking for alternatives for the sacrifice as recommended by prophet Muhammad on the day of the Eid al-Adha feast. Sheep, traditionally slaughtered, have become very scarce as a result of the Boko Haram conflict and separatist war in the country’s main production areas. In 2016, the World Bank approved a $100 million fund to help Cameroon improve the productivity and competitiveness of livestock production over six years. It said besides replenishing what had been lost as a result of the Boko Haram conflict, the program would help build resilience to climate change and improve the nutrition status of vulnerable populations.
The First African to be Made into a Barbie Doll
South African musician and businesswoman Lerato “Lira” Molapo has coined the term “African Barbie” by becoming the first African to have a Barbie doll made in her image. The ‘Lira doll’ is part of Barbie’s 60th-anniversary campaign to inspire more girls through diversity. Lira joins the global list with likes of tennis star Naomi Osaka, who tweeted earlier this year about being viewed as an influential female figure to young children. Other artists include Frida Kahlo, NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson, supermodel Adwoa Aboah, US actress Yara Shahidi and US filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Lira further announced how proud she is to be awarded a one-of-a-kind Lira Barbie doll.