The Great Lakes Research Journal

In-depth reviews of issues and challenges facing Central Africa – ISSN: 1554-0391

According the the group Human Rights Watch (HRW) there needs to be more money and more boots on the ground to fight off the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The UN currently has less than 1,000 peacekeepers in the region, but it simply isn’t enough for such a vast area with rough terrain.

Between 2008 and 2009 over 1,200 people have been killed by the LRA, with 321 of those deaths coming in one massacre in the northeastern part of the country.

In a report, HRW recommended that there needs to be an establishment of community radio, helicopter support, donor funding, better coordination, and that the Congolese government must work in conjunction with mobile phone companies to bring better coverage to the area.

The report said “High-level attention, bold steps and courageous leadership are necessary to develop and implement a comprehensive regional strategy that resolves the LRA threat.”

Human Rights Watch is doing a good job of bringing to light what’s needed in the area to resolve the issue of the LRA, but now it’s up to the governments in the area to put into place the recommendations.

Hopefully once the the threat of the LRA is eliminated the area can grow economically and bring prosperity and some peace to the people who live there.

Share

Jonathan Jansen, president of the University of the Free State, is out to try and integrate the university and end the racial tension that is instilled in the institution. Mr. Jansen is the first black president in the school’s 106 year history.

While the university does have diversity (60% of the students are black), but students don’t really study or live together, which makes it difficult to integrate them. Jansen wants to change this, stating “If you want to study here, then you’re going to have to learn to live together.”

One of the biggest issues is that of language. Most of the white students only know Afrikaans, while the black students know English. So classes have to be taught in one language or another, meaning it’s separating the students even more.

During his inaugural speech, Mr. Jansen said that he would attempt “open discussion on ways in which we can get every white student to learn Sesotho … and every black student to learn Afrikaans, and all our students to learn to write and speak English competently.”

Mr. Jansen is a big believer of reconciliation rather than retribution, which will be necessary to try and unite the university, as well as the nation.

This is a huge issue for South Africa, especially if it wants to continue to grow as both a country and a society. It’s pretty obvious that there are still a lot of racial tensions throughout the country, and it’s not just among older people who remember the past.

Mr. Jansen is doing great work, but it’s going to take a lot of work and time to try and bridge the two sides.

Share

Kenyan farmer Zack Matere is using the Internet to help his business, and is now trying to involve the rest of of his rural community.

When faced with the problem of people encroaching on the community’s water supply, Mr. Matere used Facebook to get assistance from the Forest Action Network, who helped him protect the area.

Mr. Matere was also able find a fix for his dying potato crop. He hopped on his bicycle and made a 10 kilometer trip to a local cyber cafe, where after a little bit of searching he was able to find a cure. He was also able to find a local buyer for his crop, too.

Unfortunately, the cost of accessing the Internet is too high for most farmers in rural Kenya. It costs Mr. Matere about 50 Kenyan shillings (.66 US a day) to access the Internet with his mobile phone.

To help his community, Mr. Matere plans to setup a notice board where he can share information on agriculture, health and education that he’s found on the Internet with everyone else.

Cultural barriers are also impeding Internet usage. Mr. Matere doesn’t believe people will be willing to use the Internet on their mobile phone in the isolation of their homes.

“The internet is quite an individual pursuit. But a noticeboard is more of a group thing.

“So if I post an item on a noticeboard on potato disease, for example, the community can read it, talk together and come to a decision,” said Mr. Matere.

It’s extremely important to have people such as Mr. Matere leading the way for Internet usage in rural communities in Africa. As seen with his experience, it can greatly improve people’s quality of life, and will also enable them to enter the global marketplace of ideas and business.

Share

Goodluck Jonathan, the country’s current acting president officially dissolved the cabinet. Elected president, Umaru Yar’Adua, is currently too ill to hold office.

This move is seen as a way for Mr. Jonathan to solidify his power, since it will be up to him as to who the replacements will be.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili said “He did not give us any reason and so I cannot give any reason. There is no vacuum in the government as permanent secretaries will take charge.”

The country has been facing serious violence between Christian and Muslim groups, as well as armed groups who are fighting for a piece of the country’s oil wealth.

There are really two views on this decision to dissolve the cabinet. One is that this is something that should have happened sooner, and will aid in the solving of the violence problems. Another view is that what Mr. Jonathan has done is going against the constitution.

Share