Report from the blue zone: some scant observations on race and security in South Africa

When it rains the whole area goes tick-tick as drops fall on the electric fences. Visitors are greeted with a sign saying ”Warning criminals you are entering a Blue Zone 24 hours dedicated patrols in operation”; we are in the thriving white ghetto Umhlanga outside Durban, South Africa. It is my first visit to South Africa and it is a very different and to some extent disturbing experience compared to my previous stays in West and East Africa. It is altogether a different zone – a blue zone. Indeed the airport works smoother than any in Sweden. Roads in Kwazulu-Natal are great. Traffic is flowing; traffic police monitoring our moves. Huge farms are impressive and scenery fantastic. People are all nice and talkative. And we all talk security. Maybe it is unfair, maybe we make them do so, but with my landlords, with taxi drivers and people in the street we always end up talking security. Our interpreters are white, black and Indian. Security is central to our discussions.

Big Brother is watching you. But he is not the state.

Big Brother is watching you. But he is not the state.

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How seven Norwegian small warships ended up in the hands of a former Niger Delta militant, by Morten Böås

Norway is rarely an issue of debate in Nigeria, but on Sunday 14th December 2014, every major online newspaper in the country published articles about the sale of Norwegian warships to a security company controlled by a former Niger Delta militant. The main issues raised was not only why Norway had sold seven warships to former Niger Delta militant, but equally important what consequences this would have for the tense and possibly violent elections 14th February next year. Continue reading

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Stereotyping Africa: an appeal for a normal people perspective, by Robert J. Pijpers

The recent Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea has spurred a range of responses from all over the world. Some of these responses exemplify the ongoing stereotyping of Africa and Africans. Public discourse, unfortunately, still has the tendency of addressing Africa as a country, a war ridden space full of sadness and its inhabitants as savage and helpless. But stereotypes are not limited to these images of misery.

Other stereotypes romanticize Africa and Africans, they convey an image of the exotic and unspoiled continent. Moreover, various perspectives convey an image of poor people as a noble poor. These images may be highlighted in the context of Ebola, but they are always present. They are part of many people`s understanding of Africa, part of ignorant perspectives on the continent and the people. Continue reading

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Fighting the War with the Ebola Drone, by Kristin B. Sandvik

A particularly interesting and puzzling corner of the War on Ebola imaginary is inhabited by the triad consisting of Ebola, humanitarian governance, and unmanned technology, drones more precisely. Out of this triad has emerged what will here be called ´the Ebola Drone`. The Ebola Drone has materialized from a confluence of ideas about the relationship between diseases and (inter)national security; the means and ends of effective aid delivery; and the potentiality of drones to «be good». Continue reading

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Hereditary Office and the Tribulations of Power: A View from Togo, by Nadia Lovell

Togo seems to be next in line, after Burkina Faso and Mali, to flare up in violence and instability, albeit so far on a limited scale. Old conflicts relating to the political legitimacy of power holders, and perennial questions over the establishment of fairer democratic institutions, have led to vociferous demonstrations in Lomé, the capital and, particularly, in the Quartier de Bé, a known hotbed of trouble-making for the regime, as it houses not only some of the poorer strata of the population, but also religious leaders, students, and other political activists and opinion makers. The Quartier de Bê often acts as a barometer of political tension. Violent clashes between thousands of pro-democracy advocates and security forces took place last week-end. The protests were very efficiently and quickly quietened through the use of force. Riot police intervened to squash what could herald the beginning of renewed long-term political unrest. Continue reading

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Nigeria’s 2015 elections and the politics of (avoiding) violence, by Henrik Angerbrandt

The opposition is called “cockroaches” to be “crushed” by a governor. The speaker of the House of Representatives is teargased by the police. Security agents raid a party data office. Several events last week indicate that Nigerian elections are approaching. When the president and 28 (out of 36) governors are to be elected in February next year, more than who will be voted into office is at stake. The elections are anticipated to be more competitive than previous ones, and there are concerns that violence will erupt in relation to the elections. Apart from the Boko Haram insurgency, the behaviour of the political elite contributes to raise tension. Continue reading

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The Math behind the Numbers: When Cash and Promises Soar, by Charles Lawrence

Liberia’s bi-cameral legislature comprises of 73 members of the lower house, called the House of Representatives and 30 members of the upper house, called the Senate. In 2014, Liberians will go to the polls to elect 15 of the 30 Senators for a tenure of nine years. These ‘mid-term’ elections are a constitutional requirement that ensures that all the Senate seats are not vacant at the same time. In this piece, I argue that elections should be a growth industry where best ideas and character flourish above cash and false promises. Continue reading

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