From a 9-year-old published author in Nigeria to an activist spreading the word on why gender violence must stop, there were several memorable African voices this year.
ABUJA, NIGERIA (FILE) (REUTERS) – Splendour Joe Abisoye a 9-year-old Nigerian writer authored a book on terrorism in which she shares details of conversations with children displaced by violence in the country’s north where Boko Haram has been trying to carve out a state adhering to strict sharia since 2009.
“I was influenced to write this book because of the happenings around us, and the fact that terrorists we see today were once children like us and if they were properly educated on this subject, they may not have ended up as terrorists.”
Thrity four judges were investigated for taking bribes and extortion in the biggest corruption scandal to hit the West African nation’s judicial system in decades.
Kweku Ansah-Asare, a lawyer practising in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, says corruption in the judiciary is not new and worries that those involved in carrying out the investigations may be compromised.
“It is giving the misleading impression that there is no corruption in the court of appeal, there’s no corruption in the supreme court; there is. There are some court of appeal judges who are corrupt… in their marrow, corruption is in their marrow. There are some supreme court judges who are corrupt, it is in their marrow.”
In many parts of Africa, lighter skinned women are considered to be more beautiful, successful and are thought more likely to find a husband.
Skin lightening is a common practice among dark skinned people in many parts of the world and in Africa the growing trend has created a thriving market for dangerous skin-lightening products, despite health risks.
“Really, I married a fair lady. I get married to a fair lad, Rita Nipal Daniel, so I like fair girls. But I like to maintain my colour as a black guy,” said Nipal Daniel.
Living in Zimbabwe is a struggle for many people. A once thriving economy has all but collapsed. Jobs are scarce and unemployment is rife. A night out for a good laugh offers a much needed escape from daily realities.
Victor Mpofu also known as ‘Doc Vikela’ is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular comedians.
“Comedy has the power to heal, comedy has power to relieve stress, so what we are saying is we are removing the attention from the politics saying come on stop thinking about politics let’s just laugh for a moment but what are we laughing about, we are laughing about the things that politicians do, we are laughing at the things that happen because of politics, we are laughing because of our political landscape.”
Kenya’s first anti-corruption adviser, John Githongo quit in 2005 and later blew the whistle on one of the country’s biggest graft scandals. He said corruption in East Africa’s biggest economy is at its worst ever.
“This is the most corrupt Kenya has been since we began measuring corruption in the 90s, and I have been involved in this area for almost 20 years, this is the worst it has ever been. Before we had corruption, serious corruption, kleptocracy. We used to call Moi ‘Moibutu’. But that time we realize now that corruption was centralized, it was organized, it was managed. Now it is a free for all, everything is being eaten, everyone is eating.”
According to Somali author Nuruddin Farah, the impact of the violence perpetrated by militant group al Shabaab is felt even deeper within the Somali family.
“What happens with groups like Shabaab and others is that they have reversed the usual, known phenomenon which is older people are now burying so many young people. In the same way as AIDS, in the same way as catastrophes.”
Collins Omondi, is a project coordinator with ‘No Means No Worldwide.’ He teaches adolescent boys to stamp out violence against women and girls in Nairobi slums.
“Positive masculinity means using your strength as a man to fight for the rights of others. Yes that is positive masculinity not using your strength to fight others, using your strength to fight for others, especially the girls who are being assaulted in our community.”
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said other African nations should stop their citizens from migrating to South Africa to
prevent violence against foreigners.
“It’s not just one for South Africa to resolve, but one for us, we the neighbouring countries to resolve. Our people should
not have the instinct to rush into South Africa.”
In the first speech by a serving U.S. president to the 54-nation African Union, Barack Obama said violence unleashed in Burundi by the president’s bid for a third term in office showed the risks of ignoring constitutional rules.
“When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to try and stay in office, it risks instability and strife as we have seen in Burundi and this is often just a first step down a perilous path, and sometimes you will hear a leader say ‘well I am the only person who can hold this nation together’. If that is true then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”