Themes

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.

The 60th Mandated Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was held from 14th to 24th March 2016. What are the resulting implications for women all over the globe? Joan Birika gives her thoughts on the just concluded event.

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.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation explores some of the approaches and instruments that communities and their NGO partners have developed to create room for community-centred stakeholder participation, and to champion community interests and rights.

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?  

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.

This video is a short peek into the experiences of a handful of women who have tried their hand in elective politics.

On January 28th, 2016, HBS Nairobi convened a panel to discuss the relationship between civilians and the police in a discussion dubbed “Missing Voices”. The panel, comprised of L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director for Amnesty international in East Africa; Wanjeri Nderu, a social media activist and the founder of the Empowering Communities Community Organisation and Ruth Mumbi, a community organiser and activist, and moderated by Yvonne Okwarah from the Kenya Television Network (KTN), aimed to give voice to victims of police brutality and violence, but also the challenges facing the police, in order to point out some of the contextual issues that have led to an alarming rate of police brutality in the country and completely eroded the trust between individuals and police.

Shrinking – closing – no space: Governments across all continents villainize civil society actors. Where does their sense of threat emanate from?

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. 

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