Links this week: Mogadishu attacks, Kenya’s elections, Sudan’s film archives, and more

This week’s episode featured a conversation with Kiara Hill, one of the curators of “5 Takes on African Art,” an exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) at the University of Massachusetts. (It was a prominent topic in last week’s episode with Amy Halliday). Kiara was one of the five curators; her exhibit is titled “[WOMB]an” and it explores the saliency of femininity and womanhood in West African cosmology. For folks in Western MA, admission to the museum is always free and this particular exhibition has been extended through to April 29, 2018. During our conversation, Kiara recommended Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route.

Here are a few of things I mentioned in this week’s news roundup:

There was a bombing and subsequent hotel siege Saturday in Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu that killed at least 25 people and injured another 30. The Associated Press reports that among the dead “were a mother and three children, including a baby, all shot in the head.” Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility. The bombings come within two weeks of Somalia’s deadliest attack, during which more than 358 people were killed. Al Jazeera has a running tally of attacks in Somalia, and report that there have been at least 20 bombings since the start of this year, with more than 500 dead.

Infographic of casualties in Mogadishu, Somalia thus far in 2017. (Al Jazeera/CC license)

  • Read a piece Alexis Okeowo (@alexis_ok) wrote in the New Yorker earlier this month titled, “Where is the empathy for Somalia?” Okeowo goes beyond the call to increase coverage of terrorist attacks in Africa and asks why existing coverage tends to be so dispassionate, missing the intimate stories about victims.
  • For folks interested in just that kind of perspective, I highly recommend Okeowo’s recently published book, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, which is a moving but quick read.
  • See also this Voice of America piece from last week by Mohamed Olad Hassan and Sahra Abdi Ahmed. They write that in the wake of the earlier bombing, hundreds of Somalis rushed to hospitals to donate blood for victims injured in the blast. Two Somali doctors have been working to destigmatize and reduce fears around blood donation. Their Facebook page, “Somali Blood Donation Volunteers,” received more than a half million views the day of the major blast.
Are you inspired by the Somali Facebook group “Somali Blood Donation Volunteers”? Donate blood. It can save a life. (USAF Staff Sgt. J.D Strong II/CC license)

Kenya held its court-mandated re-run of the presidential election on Thursday. A major boycott by opposition leader Raila Odinga, however, meant significantly reduced turnout and in some areas, election-related violence.

  • Check out this piece in The Monkey Cage by Jeremy Horowitz, Eric Kramon, and Brandon Bartels. It draws on a nationwide poll they conducted between Oct 17- 24 measuring citizen views of the current electoral crisis. What I found most useful in their post was the clear data showing partisan division in support of Kenya’s Supreme Court and its electoral commission, but also general agreement across party lines on adopting alternative methods for choosing leaders – something other than elections.
  • See also Winnie Mitullah and Abel Oyuke’s post using Afrobarometer data to give us some optimism despite electoral upheaval in Kenya. They conclude saying, “the Kenyan people’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law suggests that, given time and good faith effort, the nation’s democracy will rebound.” (Inshallah!)

And here are a few more BONUS links:

  • Global Opinions Editor of The Washington Post Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) issues a warning against ramping up U.S. ‘aggression’ in Africa in the wake of the deaths of four American soldiers ambushed in Niger. Her tl;dr explainers for WaPo are 💯.
  • Take time to read and sit with Dionne Searcey’s (@dionnesearceybackground piece about her recent NYT article — featuring beautiful photography by Adam Ferguson (@AFergusonPhoto) — with girls sent on suicide missions by Boko Haram.
  • Related: You can read excerpts from diaries written by a young woman who was abducted by Boko Haram from her school in Chibok in 2014. Naomi Adamu and her friends kept a diary for the three years she was in captivity.
  • If you ever wondered about the importance of archives, don’t miss this short documentary by Al Jazeera’s Witness program on the preservation of Sudan’s national film archive, one of Africa’s largest film archives.

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