October 3, 2019Somalia
The re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia, is welcome news to many who have worked on U.S. policy issues in the Horn of Africa for decades. It represents not just a positive step in strengthening bilateral relations, but also a victory over those who would prioritize risk-aversion ahead of the actual work of diplomacy
September 16, 2019Eritrea
Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Eritrea "the most censored country in the world." That unsurprising conclusion is only the latest dubious distinction for Eritrea, a state that often seems frozen in an authoritarian limbo in the midst of region characterized by profound changes.
September 6, 2019Sub-Saharan Africa
Robert Mugabe, who ruled over Zimbabwe for 37 years, died on September 6. His was an undeniably epic life of glaring contradictions. He was a passionate voice for the liberation of the Zimbabwean people from the injustice and humiliation of white minority rule, but a brutal oppressor when those same people sought to exercise political freedom.
August 28, 2019Sub-Saharan Africa
Recently, Ugandan civil society organizations warned about the likelihood of increasing political violence leading up to the country’s 2021 general elections. Disturbing incidents of opposition figures like Bobi Wine being arrested and beaten, journalists being punished for covering those who challenge the state, and people associated with the new political opposition, like Michael Kalinda, being abducted, tortured, and even killed certainly support the case for sounding the alarm.
July 30, 2019Sudan
Despite some important progress toward a transitional framework for Sudan—on July 5, the civilian-led forces of the Freedom and Change coalition and the Transitional Military Council signed a deal on the structure for a three-year pre-election period—the country’s future remains deeply uncertain.
July 24, 2019Sub-Saharan Africa
Recently, scientists published the results of three related, extraordinarily labor-intensive efforts to strike a decisive blow against HIV/AIDS. For five years –significantly longer if one considers the work involved in preparing to launch such massive studies - teams in Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia worked to provide universal testing and treatment to communities encompassing well over a million people.
July 16, 2019Nigeria
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s international reputation has improved since conceding the presidency in 2015. What does that say about democracy in the country?
June 20, 2019Botswana
The feud between current President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor and former boss, Ian Khama, sometimes reads like highlights of an overwrought soap opera. The latest dramatic turn saw Khama renouncing his membership in the party his revered father helped found, complaining that his legacy was being dismantled, and encouraging others to throw away their BDP membership cards.
June 18, 2019Ethiopia
Anyone fishing for a good news story out of Africa recently has, rightly, celebrated Ethiopia, where dynamic young Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has dramatically opened political space, departing from decades or repressive, tightly controlled government. But Ethiopia faces real and urgent challenges, and it is critical that well-wishers not ignore them. Abiy has lifted the lid off of a pressure cooker—one his predecessors held in place with sometimes brutal force—and in some cases the result has not been euphoria, but rather messy, complex eruptions of communal violence.
June 11, 2019Sudan
The news out of Sudan, so recently full of fragile hope, is now deeply troubling. For over a week, the Transitional Military Council, or TMC, has been violently suppressing the very protestors whose bravery and persistence created the conditions for the security services to seize power from disgraced former President Omar al-Bashir. Over a hundred civilians have been killed, many more wounded, and the façade of shared goals and commitment to reform between citizens and security elites irreparably broken.