Links this week: Elections in Rwanda and Kenya, Nigeria’s missing president, & more

In this week’s episode, we chatted with Anna Mwaba (@annakapambwe) about her research on the African Union (AU) and on election monitoring. Just before our episode went live, former South African president Thabo Mbeki called on AU observers to intervene should things go wrong in Kenya’s election. (We’re quite certain our chat had nothing to do with that.) During our conversation, we also talked about Anna’s piece in Africa is a Country about Morocco‘s readmission to the AU. Here are a few of the other things we mentioned in this week’s episode:

On Friday, Rwandans voted overwhelmingly to re-elect their president Paul Kagame for a third term in office. Everyone knew Kagame would win and the officially announced figures on voter turnout and Kagame’s vote share were as predicted: more than 90% of registered voters turned out to vote and Kagame won 98.63% of the votes.

NYU Abu Dhabi political scientist Melina Platas (@melinaplatas) has a piece in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog where she challenges some of the conventional narratives on Kagame’s support in Rwanda. Whatever you think about Kagame, or third terms, or free and fair elections, I encourage you to read Melina’s take. She was in Rwanda for the election, traveling to far-flung areas to try and see the election from the perspective of Rwandan citizens.

You will find a less sanguine view on the Rwandan elections in The Washington Post Op-Ed written by Diane Shima Rwigara, a Rwandan activist and former contender for the Rwandan presidency. Rwigara writes about the harassment she and her supporters faced after she announced in May that she would run for office. Global Opinions Editor at The Washington Post Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) interviewed Rwigara and also provides some context on gender and politics in Rwanda.

There will be another election in East Africa this weekin Kenya. A lot has happened since our chat with Ken Opalo (@kopalo) in Episode 23, including the recent death of the head of IT of Kenya’s Electoral Commission, Christopher Msando. Listeners and followers interested in understanding what’s going on should listen to the excellent BBC podcast Kenya Election Watch, hosted by Dickens Olewe (@DickensOlewe). The most recent episode posted online Thursday and it features insights from writer and political analyst Nanjala Nyabola (@Nanjala1), Birmingham University professor Nic Cheeseman (@Fromagehomme), journalist Christine Mungai (@chris_mungai‏), Africa Check Kenya editor Alphonce Shiundu (@Shiundu), and researcher Abdullahi Boru (@QulshTM).

On that note, if you’re not already following Nanjala Nyabola on Twitter, you really should be. See, for example, this awesome capture of the same Kenyan newspaper on the same day, but purchased in different parts of the country:

The featured song in this week’s episode was “Love” by the Kenyan band Sarabi (@sarabiafrica). We think they have a great message, fitting for these last couple of days before Kenya’s election. Here’s the video for Love:

As summer is drawing to a close, we hope you are keeping up with the African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular – a series of reviews and author Q&As for new books published in African politics. Laura Seay (@texasinafrica) has a post this week reviewing three books – all short histories of African leaders published by Ohio University Press. The books featured are biographies of Julius Nyerere, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and Thabo Mbeki.

Muhammadu Buhari, photographed in 2015. (Chatham House/Flickr)

There’s one really big news item we did not get to mention in this week’s episode: the continuing absence of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. I wrote last week about Buhari’s months-long stay in London, where he is seeking medical care for an undisclosed illness. In the post, I draw parallels to Umaru Yar’Adua, the last Nigerian president to take a long medical leavewho died in office shortly after his return to the country. Though Nigerian Governor Rochas Okorocha predicted in a BBC interview on July 24 that Buhari would definitely be back to Nigeria in two weeks, it looks like he was wrong.

What are you reading or learning about the continent? Leave us a comment or find us on Twitter at @UfahamuAfrica.


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