When you write about Africa, make sure to always include sad and starving characters, advises Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana in his famously ironic essay “How to write about Africa”, which takes aim at Western prejudices. In the same way that everyday laughter has been excluded from all-too-familiar depictions of the continent, African humour and satire as a form of social and political engagement remains underexplored.
We hosted a conversation with three women, Julia Ojiambo, Daisy Amdany and Njoki Ngumi, representing different generations of activists. The coffee table dialogue seeks to find out the extent to which global plans and strategies have informed activists at different moments and how feminist action develops across generations.
As Zanzibar gearsup for a rerun of Presidential, Legislative and Local Councils Elections annulled in October 2015, the Regional Commissioner (RC) of Mwanza, Magessa Mulongo on March 8th while commemorating International Women’s Day made some remarks worthy of a response. Mr. Mulongo used a familiar trope to try to explain women’s low numbers in representative structures-elected or nominated: he chastised women for being each other’s worst enemy.
The potential of Africa’s growing youth population fuels the narrative of a continent on the rise. In Kenya, however, young people have been largely marginalised in governance as well as in development. Unless this is addressed, they are likely to be a threat to peace, a hindrance to development and an obstacle to building a strong democracy.
In February, Kenya edged closer to commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops after the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) approved open-air field trials of Bt-maize. If the new trials prove successful, it is likely that authorities will allow commercial cultivation. Consumers have been uninformed about their consumption of genetically engineered foods in the past and the regulating bodies that are supposed to protect our right to information fail to do so. We should ask ourselves, do we support or do we disagree with open-field testing and the move towards lifting the ban on producing genetically modified food in Kenya?
Globally, political leaders are lauding the acceptance of the global and legally binding Paris Agreement on Climate Change at COP 21 as a historical moment. It achieves a goal long believed unattainable. However, judged against the enormity of the challenge and the needs and pressure from people on the ground demanding a global deal anchored in climate justice (“system change, not climate change!”), the Paris Agreement can only be called a collective failure and disappointment. Read a critical assessment by HBS colleagues from around the world.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Regional Office took part in the 2015 German Week. Our Office hosted an Exhibition of Who I Am Who We Are – a Public Art Project on the Kenyan Identity – and opened its doors to the public on the 18th and 19th May which was the Foundation's Open Day.