Over 50 Heads-of-State gathered in Addis Ababa to celebrate the establishment and 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU last weekend. The celebration of the Golden Jubilee was under the banner “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”, and various representatives of Governments spoke on the progress of Africa, peace and security, unity among nations and growth and development. The celebration came at a time when Africa is on the rise and growth is accelerating, it was noted during the celebratory events.
Although it is true that Africa has shown progress in various areas, the continent is still dealing with more than its fair share of problems. While African countries are in celebration of their achievements in many areas, they are also dealing with unrest, crime, corruption, terrorism, injustice and many more.
Here is how the month of May looked in AU member countries and other countries that have attended the 50th Anniversary celebration of the OAU/AU in no particular order.
May 24 - Niger
More than 20 people were killed in twin suicide bombings in central Niger. The two attacks, one inside a military camp in the city of Agadez and the other in the remote town of Arlit, inside a French-operated Uranium mine came just four months after al-Qaeda linked fighters claimed a desert gas plant attack in neighboring Algeria that left 38 hostages dead, also in retaliation against the intervention in Mali.
The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility for the attacks.
May 18 - Angola
Angola’s poor people were hit hard by urbanization clean-up in Luanda as forced evictions and illegal housing demolitions became the norm for the people living in the overcrowded capital.
The Angolan government says it is waging “a sustained war against chaotic urbanization”, but this appears to have become a war against poor people.
Angola has experienced fast economic growth, due to a booming oil and diamond trade. But the war left a ravaged infrastructure and weakened political and social institutions. Luanda is now one of the world’s most expensive cities, yet an estimated two-thirds of the people living there exist on less than USD 2 a day.
May 28 - Benin
More than 100 people, mostly children aged between 4 and 17, have died in the past four weeks from a disease yet to be scientifically identified in Benin.
The worst-hit area is Dekin of the Dangbo commune, which is situated 50 km southeast of Cotonou, a local private television station reported.
Several people were also reportedly in critical conditions and hospitalized in the local health center which does not have a nurse or a doctor, the report said.
May 28 - Botswana
The Botswana government has repeatedly attempted to evict Bushmen from their land, but many have defiantly resisted leaving their ancestral homes.
Bushmen from Ranyane in southern Botswana have been granted a court order which suspends planned evictions of the community by local authorities.
On Tuesday 28 May, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the case be suspended until mid-June, when the Bushmen will be forced to return to court to defend their land.
Government authorities had already arrived at Ranyane to remove the Bushmen, some of whom are pensioners that claim to have been born there.
May 30 - Uganda
The 10-day siege that crippled activities in the offices of Uganda’s Daily Monitor and Red Pepper ended after police officers who have been conducting searches in the premises vacated the offices.
The vacation by police follows an order issued by outgoing Internal Affairs Minister Hillary Onek who directed the Daily Monitor, a sister company to Kenya’s Nation Media Group to be allowed to resume operations.
Trouble started for the newspaper and three other media outlets, Red Pepper Publications, KFM and Dembe FM, after they ran stories of an alleged letter from Uganda’s director of Security Services General David Sesuja.
In the letter, General Sesuja allegedly claimed that there is a conspiracy to groom Brigadere Muhoozi Keinerugaba to succeed his father Yoweri Museveni as the next president of Uganda.
May 31 - Nigeria
Gay couples who display “public shows” of affection in Nigeria could be imprisoned for 10 years, under proposed new laws.
The measures, passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives, also outlaw any groups supporting gay rights and make gay marriage illegal.
The bill must now be signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, however, it is unclear if he will do so.
The UK has threatened to stop aid to nations that discriminate against gay people. However, the money given to the West African country is minimal.
The bill has been condemned by campaigners who say that it will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase or introduce stringent jail terms for homosexuals.
May 9 - Sierra Leone
The Freetown Court No.3 on May 6, 2013, charged Kasho Cole and Ibrahim Samura, Managing Editor and editor respectively of privately-owned Prime Newspaper, on eight counts of offences including criminal defamation for allegedly publishing an article about Lawyer Adekule King, an employee of the National Petroleum Directorate.
Despite pleas for bail by counsel for the journalists on many grounds including the significance of May 3, World Press Freedom Day, the Court refused.
May 29 - Egypt
With temperatures climbing, Egyptians are taking to the streets and the Internet to protest daily power cuts that have paralyzed cities across the country and generated fresh anger at the embattled government.
In a memo to the Cabinet, a local medical rights group said it had received at least 50 reports in just three days from hospitals complaining about equipment failures because of the blackouts. The Egyptian Center to Protect the Right for Medicine appealed for a quick solution, noting the diesel-powered generators at most public hospitals are old and unreliable.
The power cuts have also been a problem for thousands of students across the country who are preparing for their end-of-year exams. Governors in Cairo and other cities have urged authorities to refrain from cutting the electricity when students are taking the exams, but many complain it’s hard to study when the lights go out and there is no electricity to run the air conditioning.
(Los Angeles Times)
May 31 – Cote D’Ivoire
Cote D’Ivoire set up a truth and reconciliation commission after a brief civil war two years ago. But rights activists say the new government is less interested in reconciliation than settling old scores.
Two years after former President Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power led to a brief civil war that killed over 3,000 people, Cote D’Ivoire‘s formal reconciliation process has been hobbled by an anemic commission and courts focused squarely on prosecuting supporters of the former regime.
President Ouattara, a former official with the International Monetary Fund, has hoped that putting the country’s fiscal house in order will bring the two sides together. But many worry Ouattara’s government will ignore victims and allow killers to stay free, a recipe that would keep the venom behind the country’s trouble potent.
May 10 - Ethiopia
The Director of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), Melaku Fenta, and his deputy, Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis, were detained on Friday late afternoon due to allegations of corruption. 11 other suspects have also been arrested on suspicion of involvement in corruption-related crimes.
The Anti-Corruption Commission’s statement indicated that it has been carrying out several thorough investigations and compiled information from whistleblowers and documentation as evidence in collaboration with the Information Network Security Agency.
May 26 - France
Anti-terrorism investigators are hunting for a bearded man aged about 30, possibly of North African origin, who fled into a crowded train station after attacking the 23-year-old soldier from behind with a knife or a box-cutter on Saturday.
The French soldier survived the mid-afternoon attack, which was carried out three days after a British soldier was hacked to death on a busy London street by two men shouting Islamist slogans.
President Francois Hollande and Valls have both warned against jumping to conclusions about the attack, which security specialists said fit a pattern of radicalized individuals acting spontaneously in Western states.
However, Valls did say that France faced a growing threat from an “interior enemy” made up of Islamist radicals, many of whom he said wanted to punish the country for sending troops to Mali to help drive back an offensive by Islamist rebels.
May 25 - Brazil
A recent wave of rapes in Rio, some captured on video cameras have cast a spotlight on the unresolved contradictions of a nation that is coming of age as a world power. Brazil has a woman as president, a woman as a powerful police commander and a woman as the head of its national oil company and yet it was not until an American was raped that the authorities got fully involved and arrested suspects in the case.
In some ways Brazil’s experience echoes recent events in India and Egypt, where horrific attacks have prompted outrage and soul searching, revealing deep fissures in each society. In Brazil, it has unleashed a debate about whether the authorities are more concerned about defending the privileged and Rio’s international image than about protecting women at large.