In January 2021, Kenya will replace South Africa as one of the three elected African members (A3) on the United Nations Security Council, joining Niger and Tunisia. Kenya was elected for the 2021-22 term, together with India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway.

Member states need to ensure the council’s responses to peace and security problems are relevant and effective. For Africa in particular, membership is an opportunity to showcase coherent leadership in the world’s most important decision-making organ.

Joining the Security Council isn’t an isolated act for any African member state, but rather part of an ongoing relay to ensure collective African interests are effectively addressed. In recent years, the A3 have shown that, when presenting unified positions, they are more influential on the council, especially on African matters.

African countries usually have their candidacy endorsed by the African Union (AU) summit. Historically this has been a fairly uncontroversial process. Based on continental rotation, South Africa’s replacement was due to come from East Africa. In August 2019, Kenya secured an endorsement by the AU’s Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), the organ comprising all member state delegates to discuss day-to-day AU affairs.

Djibouti called on its links to the International Organisation of La Francophonie, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League. By questioning the AU’s endorsement process, it had important supporters from the UN Security Council permanent members, the P5 and France in particular.

Kenya engaged with a wide range of countries from the Commonwealth, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific, often using the PRC endorsement as an entry point for its legitimacy argument. It seems this approach paid off.

Despite the controversy with Djibouti, Kenya comes to the council as a regional power that frequently champions peace and security initiatives in Africa. It previously served as the UN Peacebuilding Commission chair, and was a key African voice in the negotiations for the Sustainable Development Goals. Kenya’s success during its term will however be determined by how it crafts a relationship with the P5 and navigates complicated council dynamics.

During the campaign, both Kenya and Djibouti claimed they had China’s backing. China was expected to be more favourable to a Djibouti victory, being heavily influential in the Red Sea through its only overseas military base. However Kenya is also a relevant regional player, and a vital Chinese trading hub in Africa. So the extent of China’s influence in Kenya shouldn’t be underestimated.

There are many lessons that Kenya can learn from previous A3 members on how to maximise its term. A Security Council analyst in New York told ISS Today that the sooner it completes its staffing process in New York, the better. When South Africa joined the council in 2019, it struggled to get its house in order in a timely manner, so it had a slow start.

Joining the council as an observer from October 2020 should give Kenya the chance to learn, practise and craft partnerships. It can identify the division of labour in its mission early on, and find ways to quickly and effectively develop positions in Nairobi, Addis Ababa and New York.

Emerging countries often have smaller missions in New York, so Kenya will need to beef up its mission to the UN. It will also have to be clear on where to focus its attention through an effective internal division of labour and balanced positions.

Kenya is expected to continue the role played by South Africa, and previously by Ethiopia and Egypt, to foster A3 unity based on AU positions. However, recent examples already show the difficulties it will face. The A3 was divided in approving a new political mission in Sudan, which is billed to replace the UN-AU peace operation in Darfur. Kenya has a key role to play in ensuring that the strategic partnership between the AU and UN is sustained.

Kenya has been active in the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and is expected to be a champion for the sustaining peace agenda. This will be particularly relevant for Kenya’s immediate region, which should dominate its strategic engagements on the council.

Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Abyei are all key issues on the council. Kenya will likely be an active member regarding negotiations in these countries. It should ensure the council supports the Horn of Africa as the region tackles its long-term peace challenges.

Kenya shouldn’t join the Security Council just for global visibility or to pursue only its national positions. Rather the term should be seen as an opportunity for coordination among African stakeholders. The two years on the council are short, and while it may seem like a sprint, if countries work together, the relay can transform the term into a coordinated marathon. Working with past and current members is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

In preparing for its term, Kenya has a great opportunity to learn from current A3 members in setting up its internal decision making and staffing systems, and to develop positions on specific issues. This will confirm that African member states can become more influential on the council, and effectively contribute to sustainable peace and development on the continent.

Source: ISS Africa

In Uganda and Kenya, it might appear that history is collecting dust. Attendance and awareness of museums is low, archives are inaccessible, and the reading culture is dwindling. The Internet, however, tells a different story. There is a new generation of young historians in East Africa developing online channels to educate people, preserve their countries’ heritage, and make history more accessible to the general public.

In 2018, there were 23.2 million mobile telephone subscriptions in Uganda and 49.5 million in Kenya. It is only natural that history and heritage conservation should move into this sphere as well. Many of the individuals behind these  initiatives are not professional historians, but promote the past digitally in their free time.

Here are six online museums and historical projects in Kenya and Uganda to check out and follow on social media:

HistoryKE
Sept. 1959: Tom Mboya (centre, in dark suit) poses with US-bound Kenyan students who were part of the airlift program.

The 2nd lady to Mboya’s left is Wangarî Maathai. The beaming, bespectacled man standing third from right of the photo is none other than Barrack Obama Snr.

View image on Twitter

Designed as an online museum for people to learn about and appreciate Kenyan history, HistoryKEpublishes photographs taken throughout various moments in Kenyan history on its handles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The photographs vary widely from those taken during Kenya’s colonial era; to street scenes of Nairobi, Mombasa or Kisumu over the decades; to politicians, colonial officials and or colonial-anthropological photographs.

History in Progress Uganda

This website collects and digitises old photographs taken in and around Uganda, sourced from institutional and personal archives. It was founded by two artists Andrea Stultiens and Canon Griffin who also post photographs to Facebook and Twitter pages. On both, the comments are often full of people sharing memories of the time period or location of the image or, occasionally, pointing out a grandparent or a great-grandparent. The audience also sometimes guides the project team in the direction of further photograph archives. This interaction ensures an increasingly personal relationship between the public and the history shared, as well as growing the project’s archives.

Uganda’s Built Heritage

This is a mobile app created by the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda and European Union. It depicts historical buildings and monuments across Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja. Enabling the location function on their phone, users are able to see what historical buildings are in their immediate vicinity. The app include short descriptions and guides users to the buildings, allowing them to recognise the historical value of buildings they may walk past every day.

African Digital Heritage
A screenshot of a 3D reconstruction, part of the Saving Railways project.

A screenshot of a 3D reconstruction, part of the Saving Railways project.

Apearheaded by Chao Tayiana, this initiative uses technology and digitisation “to increase awareness, participation and engagement with African Histories”. The team uses interactive maps, mobile apps and virtual reality to bring Kenya’s history to life in innovative ways. Past projects have included “Save the Railway”, which documented the history of Kenya’s railway (also known as the “Lunatic Express”) through photographs and oral history interviews, and “Changing Perspectives”, which traced Nairobi’s history through its buildings.

African Digital Heritage, in collaboration with the Museum of British Colonialism, have also worked on a project that mapped and reconstructed Mau Mau camps around Kenya, using 3-D technology, of which a digital exhibition is available online.

Wulira!

This is an all-women podcast about Ugandan history with a particular focus on the role of women. Producer Rebecca Rwakabukoza and co-hosts Jacky Kemigisa and Godiva Akullo are hobby historians who share their country’s history using humour and accessible language. The hosts discuss a range of topics from female politicians to women’s security in Uganda. They also discuss women missing from history books, such as Sugra Visram, who was instrumental in introducing family planning to Uganda. The podcast aims to create a medium the producer and hosts “wished [they] had access to when [they] were younger.”

Google Arts and Culture: Kenya National Archives and National Museums of Kenya

As part of Google Cultural Institute, Google Arts and Culture works in cooperation with museums around the world to publish images and collections online for the public to access for free. In Kenya, they work, amongst others, with the Kenya National Archives, featuring exhibitions of independence struggles, national heroes, carvings and sculptures. The National Museums of Kenya also have online displays that depict the craftsmanship, carving and pottery of Kenya’s various ethnic groups as well as advertising the country’s museums and UNESCO world heritage sites.

Source: African Arguments 

COVID-19 has only been around for a few months, so at this point scientists don’t know that much about it. But more is being learned every day. We now know, for example, it can live on surfaces for up to nine days and survives in the air for a few hours. We also now know that the virus particles are shed through saliva and fluids coughed up from the lungs. And that the virus can also be shed from our faeces.

It’s easy for an infected person to spread the virus particles through coughing, touching other people or leaving the virus on surfaces. Undoubtedly, hand-washing after being in public spaces is key to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But what should we be doing in our homes to eliminate it?

Two recent studies have investigated how long coronaviruses survive on different surfaces. The research looked at a number of different viruses including SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that has caused COVID-19. And it found that the survival times varied according to the type of surface.

The virus survived for longest on stainless steel and plastic – for up to nine days. The shortest survival times of one day was for paper and cardboard.

Table of time surviving in air and on surfaces. Lena Ciric

The amount of virus particles during this time does reduce, but it’s worrying that the particles can last for days rather than hours or minutes on a surface. So, how good are the cleaning products already in your cupboards at killing SARS-CoV-2? There is some good news in the list below.

Soap and water

Soap and water are your first line of defence to remove the virus from surfaces. Soap interferes with the fats in the virus shell and lift the virus from surfaces and this is then rinsed off by water. Of course, you also need to wash your hands when you come in from the shops and wash your food as normal.

Bleach

The active ingredient in bleach – sodium hypochlorite – is very effective at killing the virus. Make sure you leave the bleach to work for 10-15 minutes then give the surface a wipe with a clean cloth. The bleach works by destroying the protein and what’s known as the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus – this is the substance that gives the blueprint for making more virus particles when you become infected. Be sure to use the bleach as directed on the bottle.

Surgical spirit

Surgical spirit is mostly made up of the alcohol ethanol. Ethanol has been shown to kill coronaviruses in as little as 30 seconds. Like bleach, the alcohol destroys the protein and RNA that the virus is made up of. Moisten a cloth with some neat surgical spirit and rub it over a surface. This will evaporate and you will not need to wipe it off.

Target your home’s high-touch surfaces. Stock-Asso/Shutterstock
Surface wipes

The active ingredient in surface wipes in an antiseptic –- usually benzalkonium chloride. The wipes work by physically removing germs through the pressure you apply when you use them, and the germs then attach to the wipe.

They also leave a layer of the antiseptic on the surface that works to kill germs. The antiseptic works well on many different pathogens by disrupting the fats in their cells and has been found to be effective at eliminating SARS-CoV-2.

Hand sanitisers

A word of warning though about hand sanitisers. The main ingredient in hand sanitisers that will kill SARS-CoV-2 is ethanol, the alcohol in surgical spirit. But its concentration in the sanitiser is very important –- it has to be over 70 % or it will not kill the virus effectively.

One thing you can also do is make sure you air out the spaces you are spending time in regularly. An infected person will produce thousands of tiny droplets which contain the virus every time they cough. SARS-CoV-2 can survive in the air for up to three hours. So by opening the window, you can remove and disperse the droplets and reduce the amount of virus in the air – which will reduce the risk of infection for others.

We are living in uncertain times but it’s reassuring to know that we have some weapons we can use to fight COVID-19 in our homes. The bottom line: keep washing your hands, use 70% hand sanitiser, dust off the bleach and open a window to let in the spring air.

Source: The Conversation 

Scammers have been cheating people with a range of clever schemes to steal their cash and wealth. With the Covid-19 pandemic, fraudsters have been taking advantage of this situation to carry out scams.

Criminals have been faking to be NHS, Nottingham City Council or even as Government officials and they are asking for personal and financial information to scam their victims. Some are using the test and trace App to scam people while other offer vouchers and discounts to unsuspecting public.

To stop these criminal acts, the Citizen Advice has launched the Scams Awareness Fortnight 2020 to help and educate people on how to spot a scammer and how to protect themselves and their loved ones from being preyed upon. The campaign runs for two weeks from 15th to 28th of June. It will provide people with information about the various scams and what to do if one is confronted by these scammers.

You can find updates online at www.shorturl.at/irsUW

You can also see updates on our website www.mojatu.com where resources such as how to identify scams, getting your money back after a scam, reporting scams, and how to provide emotional support for those who have been tricked.

See full story at www.mojatu.com/can-you-spot-the-scammers/

Children and parents have struggled to adjust to homeschooling. Now, some have to cope with returning to schools which will seem very different to those they left at the beginning of lockdown. One group of children, though, are facing challenges beyond those experienced by the majority.

Children with special educational needs (SEN) make up around 15% of all pupils in mainstream education. Developmental dyslexia is the most common condition in this group, estimated to affect between 10%-16% of the UK population. Autism is much rarer, affecting about 1.1%.

Our research suggests that children with these conditions might find it especially difficult to adapt to changes in their education. We need to recognise the extra challenges homeschooling and online learning have posed for many children – and take this into account as schools reopen.

Extra challenges

Many people think of dyslexia as a language disorder, but it also affects the memory and people’s ability to verbalise ideas and to pay attention. Even in the best of learning environments, struggles in school are likely to lead to low self-esteem for dyslexic children.

Dyslexia can affect many aspects of a child’s life. Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH

These difficulties are also experienced by autistic children, who may perceive the sensory world differently. Sounds can be magnified, for example, making it hard for a child working at the kitchen table to drag their attention away from the ticking of a clock or the dripping of a tap. Their experience of “not fitting in” also affects their self-esteem.

Another aspect of autism is concrete, black and white thinking. Some autistic children struggle with homework because they think school is for work and home is for play. Routine and predictability is crucial for these children. The move to home education has been another change for them in a sea of turmoil caused by the pandemic.

In school, autistic and dyslexic children would often have specialist support in place to help them with these problems. Without this kind of support, problems with attention and self-esteem may make learning at home very difficult.

It’s also important to recognise that dyslexia and autism are often inherited. Educational and emotional support at home may be limited, further disadvantaging the child and reinforcing the parent’s own potential sense of inadequacy. Children with SEN are also more likely to come from poorer families, an additional layer of inequality.

Positive impacts

Recent research has found that while many children with SEN (and their parents) are indeed more anxious and sad than usual, some families actually report minimal or even positive impacts of distance learning under lockdown. For some children, lockdown is a respite. For dyslexic children, it means they are not the child who is taken out of typical lessons to catch up on other work.

Some parents of children with SEN have reported positive outcomes from home learning. MIA Studio

For autistic children, it may be an escape from the bullying which is tragically endemic in this group. Many autistic children, including those with a type of autism called pathological demand avoidance, are simply too anxious to attend school regularly.

Remote online education may offer children a greater opportunity for personalised learning at their own pace. For these reasons, many parents of SEN children choose to homeschool their children even under normal circumstances. They argue that home-schooling allows teaching to be built upon the child’s interests, while removing them from rigid standardised testing which is focused on the majority of learners and may set children with conditions like autism or dyslexia up to fail.

Back to school

As schools begin to reopen, advice is already emerging around how best to protect and support children. It’s important to make children feel safe and in control as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts suggest that emotional and social development should take precedence over school work. Some children may need special help with this. Autistic children, for instance, may need to be explicitly taught how to play appropriately, and may need adult assistance to make friends.

Learning in small groups may benefit children with SEN. iofoto/Shutterstock

Before the coronavirus pandemic, teachers were advised to set up small circles of friends for vulnerable children. As such, the current advice, which recommends that children should stay in small groups, may be well suited to those with special educational needs. However, teachers will also need to actively adopt other strategies to foster social bonds between the child and their peers.

As always, it will be important for parents and teachers to collaborate closely to ensure as much consistency as possible. There are things that teachers and parents can do to help children deal with difficult emotions. Children might also be dealing with bereavement and new financial insecurity at home. The involvement of other child specialists, like psychologists and social workers, might therefore be beneficial.

To help build a sense of control, we need to do more to help children with special educational needs succeed in school, respecting their own pace and learning styles. As this situation evolves, we must be mindful of its impact on the already entrenched inequality that hampers these learners. However, the situation also forces us to come face-to-face with the cracks in our previous systems and come up with new ways of doing things which might, in the long term, reap surprising benefits.

As Ahmaud Arbery fell to the ground, the sound of the gunshot that took his life echoed loudly throughout his Georgia neighborhood.

I rewound the video of his killing. Each time I viewed it, I was drawn first to the young black jogger’s seemingly carefree stride, which was halted by two white men in a white pickup truck.

Then I peered at Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, who confronted Arbery in their suburban community.

I knew that the McMichaels told authorities that they suspected Arbery of robbing a nearby home in the neighborhood. They were performing a citizen’s arrest, they said.

The video shows Arbery jogging down the street and the McMichaels blocking his path with their vehicle. First, a scuffle. Then, gunshots at point-blank range from Travis McMichael’s weapon.

My eyes traveled to the towering trees onscreen, which might have been the last things that Arbery saw. How many of those same trees, I wondered, had witnessed similar lynchings? And how many of those lynchings had been photographed, to offer a final blow of humiliation to the dying?

A series of modern lynchings

It may be jarring to see that word – lynching – used to describe Arbery’s Feb. 23, 2020, killing. But many black people have shared with me that his death – followed in rapid succession by Breonna Taylor’s and now George Floyd’s officer-involved murders – hearkens back to a long tradition of killing black people without repercussion.

Perhaps even more traumatizing is the ease with which some of these deaths can be viewed online. In my new book, “Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism,” I call for Americans to stop viewing footage of black people dying so casually.

Instead, cellphone videos of vigilante violence and fatal police encounters should be viewed like lynching photographs – with solemn reserve and careful circulation. To understand this shift in viewing context, I believe it is useful to explore how people became so comfortable viewing black people’s dying moments in the first place.

British colonialists hanging Africans in 1890s Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.The photo was so prized by British officer in ‘Rhodesia’ Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the ‘Boy Scouts’ and ‘Girl Guides’, that he kept it in a scrapbook entitling it ‘The Christmas Tree’. Still happening in 2020. When will it end?

Images of black people’s deaths pervasive

Every major era of domestic terror against African Americans – slavery, lynching and police brutality – has an accompanying iconic photograph.

The most familiar image of slavery is the 1863 picture of “Whipped Peter,” whose back bears an intricate cross-section of scars.

Famous images of lynchings include the 1930 photograph of the mob who murdered Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. A wild-eyed white man appears at the bottom of the frame, pointing upward to the black men’s hanged bodies. The image inspired Abel Meeropol to write the poem “Strange Fruit,” which was later turned into a song that blues singer Billie Holiday sang around the world.

Twenty-five years later, the 1955 photos of Emmett Till’s maimed body became a new generation’s cultural touchstone. The 14-year-old black boy was beaten, shot and thrown into a local river by white men after a white woman accused him of whistling at her. She later admitted that she lied.

Throughout the 1900s, and until today, police brutality against black people has been immortalized by the media too. Americans have watched government officials open firehoses on young civil rights protesters, unleash German shepherds and wield billy clubs against peaceful marchers, and shoot and tase today’s black men, women and children – first on the televised evening news, and, eventually, on cellphones that could distribute the footage online.

When I conducted the interviews for my book, many black people told me that they carry this historical reel of violence against their ancestors in their heads. That’s why, for them, watching modern versions of these hate crimes is too painful to bear.

Still, there are other groups of black people who believe that the videos do serve a purpose, to educate the masses about race relations in the U.S. I believe these tragic videos can serve both purposes, but it will take effort.

In 1922 the NAACP ran a series of full-page ads in The New York Times calling attention to lynchings. New York Times, Nov. 23, 1922/American Social History Project
Reviving the ‘shadow archive’

In the early 1900s, when the news of a lynching was fresh, some of the nation’s first civil rights organizations circulated any available images of the lynching widely, to raise awareness of the atrocity. They did this by publishing the images in black magazines and newspapers.

After that image reached peak circulation, it was typically removed from public view and placed into a “shadow archive,” within a newsroom, library or museum. Reducing the circulation of the image was intended to make the public’s gaze more somber and respectful.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, known popularly as the NAACP, often used this technique. In 1916, for example, the group published a horrific photograph of Jesse Washington, a 17-year-old boy who was hanged and burned in Waco, Texas, in its flagship magazine, “The Crisis.”

Memberships in the civil rights organization skyrocketed as a result. Blacks and whites wanted to know how to help. The NAACP used the money to push for anti-lynching legislation. It purchased a series of costly full-page ads in The New York Times to lobby leading politicians.

Though the NAACP endures today, neither its website nor its Instagram page bears casual images of lynching victims. Even when the organization issued a statement about the Arbery killing, it refrained from reposting the chilling video within its missive. That restraint shows a degree of respect that not all news outlets and social media users have used.

A curious double standard

Critics of the shadow archive may argue that once a photograph reaches the internet, it is very difficult to pull back from future news reports.

This is, however, simply not true.

Images of white people’s deaths are removed from news coverage all the time.

It is difficult to find online, for example, imagery from any of the numerous mass shootings that have affected scores of white victims. Those murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012, or at the Las Vegas music festival of 2017, are most often remembered in endearing portraits instead.

In my view, cellphone videos of black people being killed should be given this same consideration. Just as past generations of activists used these images briefly – and only in the context of social justice efforts – so, too, should today’s imagery retreat from view quickly.

The suspects in Arbery’s killing have been arrested. The Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired and placed under investigation. The videos of their deaths have served the purpose of attracting public outrage.

To me, airing the tragic footage on TV, in auto-play videos on websites and social media is no longer serving its social justice purpose, and is now simply exploitative.

Likening the fatal footage of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd to lynching photographs invites us to treat them more thoughtfully. We can respect these images. We can handle them with care. In the quiet, final frames, we can share their last moments with them, if we choose to. We do not let them die alone. We do not let them disappear into the hush of knowing trees.

Source: The Conversation

 

In February 2020, many analysts assumed Covid-19 would arrive in Africa before it reached Europe. From the outset, international humanitarian experts have worried about how the virus would impact Africa. While the long-term implications have yet to be seen on the continent, Covid’s impact in Europe – with hundreds of thousands of cases – is undeniable, creating as famed cartoonist Gado illustrates, a ‘new world order’. There is, of course, a certain irony to how these events have unfolded, particularly since African social and cultural norms are often blamed for outbreaks and epidemics on the continent.

Humour, particularly in the African context, has frequently been analysed as a source of social commentary and political resistance. Social commentators and comedians use different avenues – cartoons, standup comedy, memes, televised satire shows and impromptu everyday humour – to challenge politicians and subvert the status quo. Nigerian cartoonists, for example, have long poked fun at their politicians, but particularly in the midst of Coronavirus. These cartoons specifically comment on the propensity of their politicians to seek medical help abroad instead of using their own services.

 

 

The current Covid-19 crisis has extended this satirical social critique beyond just commenting on their own state structures and politicians (although there is certainly no shortage of these cartoons and memes across different African countries). Rather, these humorous critiques have extended to commentary about the global order.

African countries are frequently featured in media for health crises and outbreaks, most recently the Ebola epidemics in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both implicit and explicit narratives framed these epidemics often pointing to ‘backward’ social practices contributing to transmission, making it ‘their own fault’. By contrast, European narratives about Covid transmissions have not been so quick to victim-blame, rather pointing to structural and governmental issues.

During the West African Ebola epidemic too, people were victimised on a global scale. The outbreak led to a mass hysteria in the global North, leading many countries to impose restrictions and, in some cases, full bans from Ebola-affected areas. However, memes, like the one featured below, acted as social commentary during this period, pointing to how disease becomes ‘more prominent’ when it is seen as a problem in the global North.

 

In the midst of Covid, however, these narratives have been turned on their head. From March onward, many African countries began banning flights from Covid hotspots, including Europe. Indeed, most initial infections found in African countries did come from people who had travelled from European countries.

The irony of the epidemic’s transmission route has certainly not been lost on Africans. Both professional humourists, particularly cartoonists (but also ordinary people) have used the epidemic as a platform for broader colonial critiques. The cartoon below, designed by a Ugandan artist, has circulated across the continent through various social media platforms. It is of course poking fun at European immigration policies, which in recent years, have become more and more stringent. The epidemic, however, placed these restrictions on Europeans, thus creating an undeniable irony and opportunity for humorous social commentary.

Using an ambiguous joking medium permits people to comment and critique in ways that they may not usually feel comfortable. Covid in particular has allowed ordinary citizens the opportunity to subtly subvert not only their local status quo, but a global one. Humour has been used by Africans to express their Schadenfreude: the misfortune of the mighty, which has provided a form of psychological vindication. When a report leaked that the French Ministry was predicting conflict in Africa as a result of the Covid outbreak, some responded to these reports with satire that reminded the public of the long-troubled relations between France and its former colonies in Africa.

Social media has allowed for these critiques to be widely circulated across continents. Like the disease itself, which can infect anyone (though the economically disadvantaged and minorities are disproportionally affected), humour ignores the boundaries of social distancing. Virtually everyone with access to social media, regardless of status, engages with satire and irony through digital memes and cartoons. Such joking signifies who are able to have a laugh but are simultaneously critiquing the ongoing colonial order that has arguably contributed to the ever-worsening crisis.

‘ ‘For coronavirus, sunbathing. For Ebola, honey and lemon. And for diarrhoea, let it run, that will end it…’

While humour can certainly be used to comment on and even resist colonial structures, there is also a danger in it. Humorous memes and satire can have negative consequences. For instance, they can contribute to the spread of misinformation and fake news in both the global North and global South, as satire can sometimes be misappropriated in an effort to cast blame, resulting in intense social debates and scapegoats.

While satire and social media both have positive and negative consequences, the (post)colonial irony of Covid’s transmission route is noteworthy and African satirists have certainly taken note. Africans are now not only fighting and commenting on the Covid epidemic, but on long-established colonial narratives – and part of this battle is through the medium of humour.

Source: African Arguments 

The Nottingham City Council offers help for those who are struggling financially and/or mentally due to the lockdown. Below the available support is summarised:

Way2Work is for people aged 16 to 50 plus anywhere in Nottingham city and Nottinghamshire and is free to access. Way2Work also supports people who are facing personal and economic barriers to finding a job people such as lack of basic maths and language skills, single adult families, people from BAME communities, over 50s, and people with disabilities or health conditions which have a long-term and significant impact on their daily lives.

Find out more on the Way2Work webpage.

Nottingham Works aims to support young people aged 16 to 29 who are out of work and who live in the city of Nottingham. It is free to access and offers a range of activities to support young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) and young, unemployed city residents to help them into education, training and employment.

Find out more on the Nottingham Works webpage.

Welfare Rights Service 

Nottingham City Council’s Welfare Rights Service offers free, confidential and impartial advice including checks to make sure you’re claiming the benefits you’re entitled to, help with benefit claim forms plus support with Tax Credits and Debts.

Visit the Welfare Rights Service webpage for more information and how to contact the team or call 0115 915 1355 (lines are open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:50 pm). You can also email us at welfarerights@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

Source: Nottingham City Council 

There has long been a vast divide in perceptions of human smuggling between those with and without actual experience of it. In the international press, for instance, the industry is commonly presented as a multi-million-dollar criminal enterprise run by hardened criminals. By contrast, for many on the inside, smuggling is a perfectly legitimate livelihood. Human smugglers – not to be confused with human traffickers who use coercion or deception for the means of exploitation– are simply service providers who, for a fee, help migrants cross boundaries and overcome barriers.

With COVID-19, however, this may all be changing. New evidence gathered by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime suggests growing hostility towards human smuggling in regions where the activity is deeply entrenched in the political economy.

In areas of southern Libya – home to key hubs on the “northern route” to Europe – municipalities have called on the military to increase patrolling to combat smuggling. This is a significant shift given that the enterprise underpins many livelihoods in the area. In this region – as well as across Algeria’s southern borders and in northern Mali – smugglers also report that they are reducing their activities to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

For the same reason, various armed groups say they have imposed restrictions on movement within territories they control. The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), which has consolidated support across much northern Mali including in the important transit points of Timbuktu and Gao, has limited freedom of movement across the areas it controls. Meanwhile in southern Libya, Tebu militants have become markedly more hostile to human smuggling and intercepted smugglers coming through Niger.

From legitimate livelihood to crime?

Human smuggling – defined as the facilitation of unlawful entry of a person into a country for material profit – is only criminalised in a few places in Africa. In those countries, the activity can attract extremely high penalties. Far more countries prescribe administrative penalties to those found guilty of facilitating irregular migration, distinguished from human smuggling offences partly because they do not include the “material profit” element.

In Niger, a 2015 law became the first piece of legislation in Africa devoted solely to smuggling offences. It criminalised human smuggling in Niger for the first time. Enforcement of this law dealt a significant blow to the economy of the north where the activity forms the core livelihood for many. This change created a considerable disjunct between Niger’s legal position on human smuggling – making it punishable by imprisonment of 5-30 years – and the popular perception that smugglers merely provide a transport service for migrants looking for a better life.

In the short term, COVID-19 seems to be closing this gap. As has been the case around the world, the disease has created acute fears of contagion in Niger and created stigma around human movement. This fear is even greater with the coronavirus as it can be spread by asymptomatic carriers.

The Ebola pandemic in West Africa caused similar fears in 2014-15. It too prompted some community-led restrictions of movement. A local journalist at the time reported that the fear triggered by the disease contributed to the 2015 blockade of people smugglers in Zuwara, a town on Libya’s northern coast that had previously operated as a key disembarkation point for smugglers coordinating journeys towards Europe.

What will happen after COVID-19?

The impact on human smuggling caused by the Ebola context was temporary. The same is likely to be true of COVID-19. In fact, many smugglers have decided to continue their operations despite the pandemic, including in southern Libya, northern Niger and Chad.

After COVID-19, much of the Sahel is likely to be characterised by spiralling unemployment and decimated livelihoods, together with food scarcity. Fears of contagion are likely to linger, prompting states – and possibly some local communities – to maintain some restrictions on movement.

At the same time, however, demand for smuggling services is likely to spike. Migrants and refugees will need help to navigate journeys that had been made more difficult during the pandemic. Meanwhile, demand may also increase if pathways for legal migration narrow in the wake of COVID-19.

Smugglers themselves, who are often part of the communities they serve, will also face an increasingly limited set of livelihood options. In the face of renewed demand, the lure of smuggling profits is likely to trump lingering fears of contagion.

The smuggling market is experiencing a temporary lull in activity. This is due to both by government restrictions and community-led taboos. When the threat of COVID-19 subsides, this newfound stigma around smuggling may or may not last. But either way, the human smuggling market looks set to recover quickly and expand further. It may become even more crucial to migration within, and out of, the African continent.

Source: African Arguments 

Government campaign reminds us that help and support remains available for victims of domestic abuse and their children. 

The government is reminding victims of domestic abuse that police response and support services remain available for victims and their children during the coronavirus pandemic through the ongoing #YouAreNotAlone initiative. Domestic abuse includes physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and economic abuse and can be carried out not only by a partner or ex-partner, but also a family member. Whoever the perpetrator and whatever form the domestic abuse takes, all domestic abuse is a crime.

The campaign reassures victims of domestic abuse that they can still leave home to seek help during the COVID-19 pandemic, if this is possible. Anyone in immediate danger should call 999 and the police will respond. Anyone who is worried that they, or someone they know, may be experiencing domestic abuse can find support at gov.uk/domestic-abuse or by calling the freephone 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline being provided by Refuge on 0808 2000 247.

For victims of domestic abuse who are concerned about their immigration status, the message is the same, you are not alone, police response and support services remain available for victims and their children.

Wendy Olayiwola FRSA President, Nigerian Nurses Charitable Association UK (NNCA UK) said “At the moment we are being asked to stay home as much as possible to keep ourselves and others safe, but we know that for some people home isn’t necessarily the safe haven it should be.

“If you are living with someone who is hurting you, threatening you or doing anything that makes you feel scared, then it is really important you take action immediately. No one should have to deal with domestic abuse alone and there is no shame in seeking help. While it may seem a very difficult step to take, there is support out there for you. We’re supporting the Government’s #YouAreNotAlone campaign and we urge anyone who is worried about domestic abuse to seek support now.”

Find more support at gov.uk/domestic-abuse or call one of the following helplines:
– The Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge for victims in England: 0808 2000 247
– The 24-hour Live Fear Free helpline for domestic abuse victims in Wales: 0808 80 10 800 or text 078600 77 333.
– The Men’s Advice line offers support for male victims of domestic abuse: 0808 801 0327.
–  The National Honour-Based Abuse helpline run by Karma Nirvana offers support to victims of “honour”-based abuse and forced marriage: 0800 5999 247.
–  The national FGM helpline, run by the NSPCC, offers guidance and support if you are concerned that someone has experienced, or may experience, FGM: 0800 028 3550.

– The National LGBTQ+ helpline offers support for LGTBQ+ victims: 0800 999 5428