Some Africans to remember from 2016

A chief that ends marriages, a 12-year-old boy who is a ballet dance prodigy and an opposition leader’s death that was expected to change the landscape of politics in Sudan – just some of the people that made headlines in Africa in 2016.

DEDZA, MALAWI (REUTERS) – Chief Theresa Kachindamoto has become a star and an idol for girls in Malawi because of her courage to break up more than 850 child marriages. Malawi only last year passed a law banning child marriages. Managing a population of close to 900,000 people, Kachindamoto has developed a system that enables her to find children in unlawful unions and sending hundreds of young girls back to school.

“Yes, they said no we have the rights for our girls and even the men, we have the rights with our boys so there is no one who can change what we are doing. I said, well enough is enough but this time I want to change. I do not like this. I want these children to be educated. Because if you educate a girl child, in future, they will take care of you,” said the chief.

Mozambique marked 30 years since the death of Samora Machel – a charismatic military commander and ardent Marxist who became the country’s founding president, in 1975 after the nation gained independence from Portugal.

Investigations into the plane crash that killed Machel have been inconclusive but speculation has long persisted that South African apartheid-era security agencies brought the plane down to rid Pretoria of a hostile neighbouring president.

“For Mozambique, the handover of the dossier about the death of Samora Machel, continues to be a national priority, and a patriotic imperative. We appreciate and encourage the efforts underway that the South African Government owes us with regards to the clandestine circumstances in the tragic accident that took the life of Samora Machel,” said Mozambican Prime Minister, Carlos Augusto de Rosario.

Hassan al-Turabi, a prominent Sudanese politician considered by many to be the spiritual leader of the country’s Islamists died after suffering a heart attack, according to medical sources.

Once a political ally of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, he became an influential opposition leader who was jailed several times.

Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) was considered the most prominent opposition group participating while many others have boycotted the process.

Thousands of mourners filled the streets in a procession and funeral that was aired on national television.

Twelve-year-old Faakhir Bestman, a ballet dancer from South Africa won a place at the renown American Academy of Ballet Summer School for Excellence in New York, a training program for gifted, young dancers.

Even though he only started dancing about three years ago, Faakhir’s skills and talent garnered him attention and acclaim, locally and internationally, beyond his home in Hanover Park, a low-income gang-infested neighbourhood on the outskirts of Cape Town.

“It’s not nice to live in Hanover Park but there is peace there. They are shooting people, innocent people, it’s not nice, (but) people like to say negative things about Hanover Park and it’s not nice to say negative things about other places so there must always come good things because people say there is never good things coming from Hanover Park only bad stuff,” Faakhir said.

For many years, in South Africa, dance genres such as ballet were often associated with the white, wealthy minority.

There are more black dancers now but for children from the poorest townships ballet can be a far-away dream, more so for boys.