African Celebrities Join Fight Against Coronavirus With Donations, Songs

(FILES) This file handout illustration image obtained February 3, 2020, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Lizabeth MENZIES / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP.

 

Footballers and musicians have been on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus in Africa, reaching not just for social media to spread awareness of the dangers of the virus but also for the cheque book.

Among the first to step up was Senegalese winger Sadio Mane — a key player in Liverpool’s push for the English Premier League title this year –- who donated 30 million CFA francs ($50,000) to his country’s National Medical Commission to fight the deadly microbe.

In Ivory Coast, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba gave masks to the cathedral of Abidjan, with the warning: “My sisters, my brothers, I ask you to take the matter very seriously… we tend to be too light about our reactions to the situation.”

Another great African striker, the Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, also now retired, was quick to urge African communities to adhere strictly to precautionary measures.

“My African brothers and sisters! Corona Virus has taken over our lives. With malice, arrogance and without notice,” Eto’o wrote.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Forcing Parents To Skip Kids’ Vaccinations – UNICEF

“It knows neither race, religion nor political parties. It kills the rich and the poor. Even in countries where research is done well, the consequences are disastrous. Unpredictable.

Eto’o spent most of his playing career in Spain.

“For all these reasons my brothers, sisters, dear parents, I ask you to respect the instructions given by the authorities of our countries and the World Health Organization.”

Affected after Asia and Europe, sub-Saharan Africa has recorded only 1,642 cases and around 20 deaths, according to an AFP count at 1100 GMT Thursday from officially declared cases.

The continent, however, fears a lightning-like spread that would overwhelm its already fragile health structures.

In South Africa, the most affected country on the continent, Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi released a couple of videos online showing himself at home with his children, adhering to the isolation regulations laid down by President Cyril Ramaphosa

“Stay safe, stay strong, let’s fight this together,” he says.

– Musicians give support –

African musicians are also stepping up as the continent faces one of its bleakest hours.

Youssou N’Dour, described by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 as “the most famous singer alive” in Senegal and Africa, handed over a batch of medical equipment to the health ministry in Dakar in mid-March.

Fellow Senegalese rappers collective “Y en a marre” (‘Had enough’) set aside their usual antipathy towards corruption and current politics to release a song called “Fagaru Ci Corona” which warns of the dangers of the virus and advises on washing hands and wearing masks.

They are among other artists who have temporarily laid down their protests against governments to join forces and rally around messages being put out by the authorities.

In Uganda, singer Bobi Wine, a member of parliament who was arrested in early January for his opposition to President Yoweri Museveni, has asked his fans to “watch the social distancing and quarantine”, in a video on Twitter.
– ‘We want to live!’ –

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, rumba star Fally Ipupa stepped away from romance for once to post a video on Twitter called “Fally in confinement mode, the kisses stop”, an improvised melody on an acoustic guitar.

“Stay at home, respect the instructions given by the authorities and the WHO,” Kinshasa crooner said.

The authorities of DRC have not imposed confinement yet but they have closed borders, public places, and put the capital Kinshasa in lockdown.

His compatriot Koffi Olomide, a soukouss singer, a modern version of Congolese rumba, warned fellow countrymen against the “Kuluna-virus”, deftly weaving in the term “kuluna” which indicates armed gangs of Kinshasa, one of the urban legends and terrors of the capital.

In Ivory Coast, the singer DJ Kerozen also alluded to the virus in a new song: “‘There’s a corona, let’s respect the hygiene instructions, the deal is serious, oh..(. ..) Even Mbengue (slang for France), over there, it’s spoiled… we want to live! ”

The Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, who had become a reference for just about every musician in Africa, died in France this week at the age of 86 as a result of the coronavirus.

The composer of “Soul Makoss” was the first world celebrity to succumb to the virus. Congolese singer Aurlus Mabele, a figure in soukous, also died a week ago in Paris from the virus.

AFP

Economic Fears As Africa Escalates Coronavirus Response

A Port Health Service staff member stands next to a thermal scanner as passengers arrive at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 27, 2019. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

African nations have ordered curfews and lockdowns in response to the growing coronavirus epidemic, raising fears of turmoil for low-income workers and cash-strapped governments across the continent.

Cases have risen across the world’s poorest continent over the past week to a total of 2,137 and 62 deaths, according to an AFP tally, prompting countries to enact strict counter measures.

South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy — which at 554 cases has Africa’s largest outbreak — on Monday announced a nationwide lockdown.

“Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase… to hundreds of thousands,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the time.

There are fears that weak health infrastructure in Africa will leave the continent particularly exposed to an outbreak on the scale of virus-stricken Europe.

Other countries are following suit with similar measures. More are expected to be announced in the coming days.

On Monday, Senegal and Ivory Coast both declared states of emergency and ordered night-time curfews.

Ivory Coast on Tuesday said it had recorded 73 coronavirus cases in total and would lock areas down progressively, depending on how the virus spreads.

Senegal has recorded 86 coronavirus cases to date, its health ministry said on Tuesday. Ivory Coast has 25 known coronavirus cases.

Ivory Coast PM in self-isolation

In a sign of coronavirus’ increasing reach, Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly said on Twitter on Tuesday that he was in a self-isolation after coming into contact with a positive case.

As the virus spreads, there are also fears that poor and debt-saddled countries will unable to provide an adequate response.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday asked G20 leaders for $150 billion in emergency funding to deal with coronavirus, saying that it “poses an existential threat” to the economies of African countries.

He added that creditors should partly write off national debt for low-income countries.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France’s parliament on Tuesday that there would be a European financial aid package for poor countries fighting the virus.

“I’m thinking in particular about Africa,” he said.

‘How do we pay the rent?’

Adopting lockdowns and social distancing measures in poor African nations is also generating economic worries at the local level.

Homes are often overcrowded, and workers in the informal economy cannot self-isolate at home without abandoning their livelihoods.

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa, admitted these difficulties in a briefing with reporters last week.

She said such measures were “quite a challenge” and that the WHO is working on other approaches such as making hand sanitisers more widely available.

Locals are increasingly concerned as containment measures bite.

“They’re closing down the stalls, the restaurants, but how are we supposed to feed our families?” asked Nemy Fery, who runs a street-food stall in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s main city.

He added that he would try selling takeaway meals — and look for another job.

There are similar concerns in Muslim-majority Senegal, where the authorities were already struggling last week to enforce a ban on praying in mosques.

Sabah Amar, who works in a souvenir shop, said that Senegalese people “will die of hunger” before they succumb to coronavirus.

Several people interviewed by AFP in Dakar nonetheless said they supported the government’s coronavirus measures.

“I prefer that everything closes. We’re not selling anything anyway,” said Amar. “Otherwise we’re all going to die.”

In the north of the continent, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli on Tuesday announced a two-week night-time curfew.

And in the east, cases have doubled in Rwanda, to 36, while South Sudan has closed its air and land borders, except for food and fuel supplies.

– Rising cases –

The archipelago nation of Cape Verde on Tuesday announced its first coronavirus fatality after a 62-year-old British tourist died.

Cameroon also recorded its first death — a man who had contracted the disease in Italy and tested positive on March 14, according to Health Minister Manachi Manaouda.

Four people have died in Burkina Faso, which is West Africa’s worst-hit country with 115 confirmed cases.

Countries that have announced strict containment measures are turning to the army to enforce them.

Military patrols in Senegal will ensure people respecting the dusk-to-dawn curfew, for example.

South Africa’s president has also said the army will enforce his country’s lockdown.

Nombulelo Tyokolo, 41, a domestic worker in Cape Town, who shares a one-bedroom shack with her son, told AFP she was worried about how the lockdown will work.

“I am scared, worried and panicking about 21 days indoors,” she said.

“We have to fetch water outside and go outside to the toilets. God have mercy.”

Airlines Need Up To $200 bn In Emergency Aid – IATA

 

 

Up to $200 billion is needed to rescue the world’s airlines during the coronavirus crisis, the global aviation association said Thursday, appealing especially to African and Middle Eastern countries to provide emergency assistance.

“Support measures are urgently needed,” the International Air Transport Association said in a statement, adding that “on a global basis, IATA estimates that emergency aid of up to $200 billion is required”.

Airlines worldwide face an unprecedented existential threat as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 9,000 people around the world, shuts down global travel.

“Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is the top priority of governments,” IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac said in the statement.

“But they must be aware that the public health emergency has now become a catastrophe for economies and for aviation,” he said, pointing out that “the scale of the current industry crisis is much worse and far more widespread than 9/11, SARS or the 2008 global financial crisis.”

“Airlines are fighting for survival,” he said, warning that “millions of jobs are at stake.”

IATA expressed particular concern for the situation in Africa and the Middle East, where many routes have been suspended, and where demand has fallen by as much of 60 percent on the remaining routes.

READ ALSO: Tokyo Olympics May Be Postponed Due To Covid-19 – Athletics Chief

It pointed out that the air transport industry’s economic contribution in Africa alone is estimated at $55.8 billion, supporting 6.2 million jobs and contributing 2.6 percent of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In the Middle East, the contribution stands at $130 billion, some 4.4 percent of GDP, supporting 2.4 million jobs, it said.

“Airlines need urgent government action if they are to emerge from this in a fit state to help the world recover, once COVID-19 is beaten,” Juniac said.

Carriers across Africa and the Middle East had begun implementing extensive cost-cutting measures to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic, IATA said, but warned that airlines in the regions on average held enough cash reserves for approximately two months.

“Due to flight bans as well as international and regional travel restrictions, airlines’ revenues are plummeting (and) outstripping the scope of even the most drastic cost containment measures,” it said.

IATA called on governments to provide support in various ways, including through direct financial aid to passenger and cargo carriers, loans and loan guarantees and tax relief.

AFP

First Virus Death In Sub-Saharan Africa As WHO Warns ‘Prepare For Worst’

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference following a WHO Emergency committee to discuss whether the Coronavirus, the SARS-like virus, outbreak that began in China constitutes an international health emergency, on January 30, 2020 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference following a WHO Emergency committee to discuss whether the Coronavirus, the SARS-like virus, outbreak that began in China constitutes an international health emergency, on January 30, 2020 in Geneva. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Sub-Saharan Africa has recorded its first COVID-19 death, a high-ranking politician in Burkina Faso, as the head of the World Health Organisation urged the continent to “prepare for the worst”.

“Africa should wake up,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday, pointing out that “in other countries, we have seen how the virus actually accelerates after a certain tipping point”.

Africa has lagged behind the global curve for coronavirus infections and deaths, but in the past few days has seen a significant rise in cases.

Experts have repeatedly warned about the perils for the continent, given its weak health infrastructure, poverty, conflicts, poor sanitation, and urban crowding.

Medical authorities in the poor Sahel state of Burkina Faso announced Wednesday that the number of infections there had risen by seven to 27 — and that one of them, a 62-year-old diabetic woman, had died overnight.

The country’s main opposition party, the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), said in a statement that the victim was its lawmaker Rose-Marie Compaore, the first vice president of the parliament.

South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised economy, reported a more than one-third jump in cases, with 31 new infections bringing its tally to 116.

Nearby Zambia announced its first two confirmed cases — a couple that returned to the capital Lusaka from a 10-day holiday in France.

As of Wednesday, a tally of reported cases compiled by AFP stood at more than 600 for all of Africa.

Of these, 16 cases have been fatal: six in Egypt, six in Algeria, two in Morocco, one in Sudan and one in Burkina Faso.

Those figures are relatively small compared to the rest of the world — the global death toll has passed 8,800 with almost 210,000 total infections.

WHO chief Tedros said sub-Saharan Africa had recorded 233 infections, but warned the official numbers likely did not reflect the full picture.

“Probably we have undetected cases or unreported cases,” he said.

– ‘We live day-to-day’ –
Watching from afar as the disaster unfolds in Asia and Europe, some African countries have wasted little time in ordering drastic measures.

Air traffic has been particularly hard hit, as many of Africa’s initial cases were detected in people who had returned from affected countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Some countries, such as Somalia, Chad, Guinea-Bissau and, most recently, the island of Madagascar have moved to stop all flights into their countries.

On Wednesday, Cape Verde — a tropical archipelago off Africa’s west coast that is heavily dependent on tourism — and the continent’s most populous nation, Nigeria, joined others in banning flights from the countries most affected by coronavirus.

Burkina Faso has ordered the closure of all schools and barred all public and private gatherings until the end of April.

There was concern on the unusually quiet streets of the capital Ouagadougou on Wednesday.

“It’s worrying what is happening with this virus, but we cannot barricade ourselves like developed countries. We lack everything here — we live day-to-day,” said bicycle seller Boureima Baguian.

“We cannot, for example, close the big market. If that happens, it’s not the coronavirus that will kill us but misery and hunger.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo announced similar measures as it reported its first local case, banning flights from affected countries and closing schools and universities for four weeks.

South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s worst-hit country, has banned cruise ships from its ports. More than 1,700 people are stranded on a liner off Cape Town over fears that some have the virus.

It is just the latest blow to tourism across the continent, with coronavirus fears also cancelling sporting, cultural and religious events.

Christian and Muslim leaders in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Senegal said they would suspend services to protect their faithful.

– ‘Disease hot spot’ –
A 2016 analysis by the Rand Corporation, a US think-tank, found that of the 25 countries in the world that were most vulnerable to infectious outbreaks, 22 were in Africa — the others were Afghanistan, Yemen, and Haiti.

The report identified a “disease hotspot belt” extending across the southern rim of the Sahara through the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, where many countries are struggling with conflicts.

“Were a communicable disease to emerge within this chain of countries, it could easily spread across borders in all directions, abetted by high overall vulnerability and a string of weak national health systems along the way,” the report warned.

Tedros recommended that mass gatherings be avoided, urging Africa to “cut it from the bud, expecting that the worst can happen”.

“The best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and prepare today,” he said.

-AFP

COVID-19: Africa Should Prepare For The Worst – WHO

 

The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that while Africa so far had seen few cases of COVID-19, the continent should “prepare for the worst”.

“Africa should wake up,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in a virtual news conference.

Tedros said that to date, 233 cases of the new coronavirus had been registered in sub-Saharan Africa and four people had died, making it the least-affected region in a global pandemic that has infected more than 200,000 people and killed more than 8,000.

But he warned that the official numbers likely did not reflect the full picture.

“Probably we have undetected cases or unreported cases,” he said.

And even if there truly were no more than 233 cases of the disease in Africa, he warned that that number could scale up quickly.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: More than 850 Million Students Shut Out of School – UNESCO

“In other countries, we have seen how the virus actually accelerates after a certain tipping point, so the best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and prepare today,” he said.

“WHO’s recommendation is actually that mass gatherings should be avoided,” he said, urging Africa to “cut it from the bud, expecting that the worst can happen.”

“My continent should wake up,” said the former Ethiopian government minister.

AFP

Burkina Faso Reports First Coronavirus Death In Sub-Saharan Africa

Men crossing a road wear face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus in Ouagadougou, on March 16, 2020. – The Burkina Faso government announced the closure of schools and universities until March 31, 2020, as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. The government also ordered the suspension of public and private demonstrations and rallies until the end of April 2020. OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP.

 

The Sahel state of Burkina Faso on Wednesday announced its first death from coronavirus, which is also the first known fatality in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We recorded the death overnight of a female patient aged 62, who suffered from diabetes and was in intensive care,” Burkina’s national coordinator for responding to the virus, Professor Martial Ouedraogo, told the press.

With the addition of seven new cases, “the number of patients (in Burkina Faso) stands at 27, comprising 15 women and 12 men”, Ouedraogo said.

The tally includes a case in the town of Bobo Dioulasso, the first outside the capital Ouagadougou.

Africa has lagged behind the global curve for coronavirus infections and deaths, although the reasons for this are unclear.

As of Wednesday, a tally of reported cases, compiled by AFP, stood at 576 for all of Africa.

Of these, 15 cases have been fatal: six in Egypt, five in Algeria, two in Morocco, one in Sudan and one in Burkina Faso.

READ ALSO: Zimbabwe VP In China For Medical Check

Experts have sounded loud warnings about the vulnerability of sub-Saharan countries to the highly contagious respiratory virus.

Many countries are at high risk, given weak health systems, poverty, urban slums, porous borders and poor sanitation.

A 2016 analysis by the Rand Corporation, a US thinktank, found that of the 25 countries in the world that were most vulnerable to infectious outbreaks, 22 were in Africa — the others were Afghanistan, Yemen and Haiti.

The report put the finger on a “disease hot spot belt” extending on a line of countries, running across the southern rim of the Sahara through the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, many of which are struggling with conflicts.

“Were a communicable disease to emerge within this chain of countries, it could easily spread across borders in all directions, abetted by high overall vulnerability and a string of weak national health systems along the way,” the report warned.

On Saturday, Burkina Faso ordered the closure of all schools and a ban on all public and private gatherings until the end of April.

AFP

S.Africa Stock Market Tumbles As Coronavirus Restrictions Intensify

 

Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.

 

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) plunged 12 percent on Monday as South Africa imposed tough restrictions after declaring a national state of disaster in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Africa’s most developed nation would close its borders from Wednesday to all foreigners from countries highly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools are closing down and gatherings of more than 100 people have been prohibited.

The JSE fell below 38,784 points on Monday, its lowest level since August 2013, following a downward trend in markets around the world sparked by concerns about the economic fallout of Covid-19.

The JSE Africa All-Share Index tumbled as much as 12 percent, while the rand currency lost 2.2 percent against the US dollar to trade at 16.64 rand.

Nedbank economist Nicky Weimar said South Africa’s economy and markets were being hit on multiple fronts by “weak demand (both locally and abroad), contained inflation, the volatile rand and an uncertain global environment due to the coronavirus.”

Shares in the industrial metals, food producers and mining industries also fell.

To date 62 people in South Africa have tested positive for the virus — the second-highest number of cases in Africa after Egypt, which has reported at least 110 cases.

South Africa’s economy has already been battered by internal factors such as power outages and weak business confidence.

It slumped into recession in the last quarter of 2019.

Economists forecast that the central bank will cut interest rates by at least 50 basis points.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Monday said despite having funds available through the National Disaster fund, the country may need to set aside further funding to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The impact of the virus on an already struggling economy has piled pressure on Ramaphosa who took over from graft-tainted Jacob Zuma two years ago promising a new start.

“We are going through a period which we have never gone through since (end of apartheid in 1994),” he told reporters on Monday. “It is going to be a testing period on all of us”.

“It is going to have a negative impact on our economy, our economy which is already in technical recession”.

AFP

DR Congo Hopes To Declare End To Ebola Outbreak In April

 

DR Congo health officials said Monday they were “keeping fingers crossed” to declare the end of the devastating 19-month epidemic next month.

While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus, the last patient under treatment for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday.

If no more cases are diagnosed, the epidemic will officially end on April 12, or 42 days from the date of the last confirmed patient’s second negative test.

“Today, March 9 is the 21st day without any new confirmed case,” said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, who is in charge of the Ebola fight.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that until then, there are no incidents,” he told a news conference.

“The greatest challenge for us today is to follow up on survivors because some continue to secrete the virus in their seminal fluids,” he said, adding that they were being treated to avoid infecting their partners.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Attacks Kill 43

DR Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak was first identified in August 2018, and WHO declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” last July.

It has killed 2,264 people in DR Congo in the vast central African country’s 10th Ebola epidemic since 1976.

It is the second-most deadly Ebola epidemic in history after an outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

Since that time, the health authorities have gained a more powerful weapon against the disease: vaccination. Nearly 320,00 people have been vaccinated so far in DR Congo.

AFP

Netflix’s Debut ‘Made-In-Africa’ Original Series, Queen Sono Makes Waves

 

Online streaming giant, Netflix’s first made-in-Africa production, Queen Sono, a spy thriller starring South Africa’s leading actress Pearl Thusi, has been making waves since its launch on Friday.

Created and directed by leading local satirist and actor Kagiso Lediga, Queen Sono is part of Netflix’s broader “Made in Africa, Seen by the World” strategy and one of its first investments on the continent.

 

 

Shot at more than 37 locations including in Kenya, Zanzibar, Nigeria and South Africa — Queen Sono is the first original script-to-screen series from Africa.

Netflix’s Africa manager Dorothy Ghettuba describes the movie as “a gripping action pact thriller (that) … follows the life of Queen Sono, a highly trained secret spy who works for South Africans”.

“I have always been the face of a strong African woman; it’s not new to me but I’m now representing a character on screen who is, I think reflecting all the women in Africa that are strong, black African women,” said Thusi, who is also a star of US FBI thriller series “Quantico”.

The production shows “exactly what we wish to do which is telling stories about Africa by Africans,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief content officer at Netflix.

For creator and director Lediga “there are so many stories, there are so many great filmmakers on the continent, I can’t wait to see what comes up after this”.

“It shows that we as Africans we can to do things by ourselves, we don’t need Europeans or Asians or anyone to tell our own stories. We understand ourselves and we can actually tell our story better than anybody else”.

Days after its release, many have expressed huge love for the series across social media, saying it is time Africa started telling its own stories.

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Kenya Bans Controversial Donkey Slaughter Trade

A volunteer from the county government sprays pesticide on February 25, 2020 at a hatch site near Isiolo town in Isiolo county, eastern Kenya where locust nymphs have hatched en masse. TONY KARUMBA / AFP.

 

Kenya has decided to ban the slaughter of donkeys for use in Chinese medicine, a practice condemned by animal rights activists as cruel, unnecessary and devastating to donkey populations in Africa, a minister said on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Peter Munya told AFP that the ban, imposed earlier this week, came after “people petitioned my office to ban the slaughtering of donkeys because theft of donkeys to sell had increased”.

A ministry statement said rampant theft of donkeys was hitting farmers who use them to transport agricultural produce and water, and causing “massive unemployment”.

Four abattoirs dealing in donkey meat have been given a month to stop the practice.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) hailed Kenya’s decision to “cut ties with a cruel trade that sentences gentle donkeys to miserable deaths by the millions.”

“No one needs donkey skin except the animals who were born in it,” said PETA Senior Vice President of International Campaigns Jason Baker.

Donkey skins are exported to China to make a traditional medicine known as ejiao, which is believed to improve blood circulation, slow ageing, and boost libido and fertility.

It was once the preserve of emperors but is now highly sought after by a burgeoning middle-class.

A PETA investigation last year showed donkeys being cruelly beaten by workers, or dead after long truck journeys from neighbouring countries.

UK-based animal welfare organisation The Donkey Sanctuary told AFP at the time that there were tales of the animals being rounded up and machine-gunned or bludgeoned to death

China is increasingly looking to Africa to satisfy demand as its own donkey population has nearly halved in recent years.

However several African countries have now banned Chinese-funded abattoirs or implemented policies to stop the export of donkey skins to China.

Donkeys reproduce slowly and do not handle stress well, and activists have raised fears that populations could be wiped out in east Africa in a matter of years.

AFP

Pompeo Closes Africa Tour With Warning About China’s ‘Empty Promises’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa on February 19, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP.

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday closed a three-nation Africa tour with a thinly-veiled swipe at China as he talked up Washington’s ability to stimulate growth and entrepreneurship on the continent.

“Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency,” Pompeo said in a speech to diplomats and business leaders at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“They run the risk that the prosperity and sovereignty and progress that Africa so needs and desperately wants won’t happen.”

Pompeo in his remarks did not explicitly mention China — Africa’s largest trading partner — but analysts predicted ahead of his trip that he would attempt to pitch the US as an alternative source of investment.

On Wednesday Pompeo name-checked US companies operating in all three countries on his Africa tour, the first by a US cabinet-level official in 19 months: Bechtel in Senegal, Chevron in Angola and Coca-Cola in Ethiopia.

He also hailed the free market generally, blasting “failed socialist experiments of years past” in places like Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

And he criticised a proposed constitutional amendment in South Africa that would allow private property to be expropriated without compensation — a plan that seeks to overcome inequalities set down in the apartheid era.

The amendment would be “disastrous for that economy and most importantly for the South African people,” he said.

Pompeo left later for Riyadh.

Mixed messages

Pompeo’s attempt to lay out a positive vision for US cooperation with Africa has been undermined by President Donald Trump’s Africa policy so far, analysts say.

Critics are quick to cite Trump’s widely-reported remarks in 2018 when he used a profanity to describe African and poorer Western Hemisphere nations whose citizens migrate to the United States.

Washington is currently discussing military cuts in Africa, and the US recently announced tightened visa rules targeting Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, as well as Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea.

“Pompeo is unlikely to undo the damage from the Trump administration’s travel bans, the proposed budget cuts, or the president’s disparaging comments about the region,” said Judd Devermont, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington.

But African leaders would nonetheless “welcome his long-overdue engagement and focus on the positives as much as possible,” Devermont said.

Even so, countries like Ethiopia have benefitted from Chinese engagement, rendering Pompeo’s message less effective, said Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst.

“It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for many years,” Abel said.

He added that much Chinese money has gone toward tangible projects like roads and buildings, while American money is more often funnelled to “less visible” fields like education and health.

“The fact that Chinese loans and sometimes grants have less bureaucracy also makes it quite convenient for Ethiopia and Africa at large,” Abel said.

China has funnelled cash and loans into infrastructure projects across the continent.

However Beijing has faced accusations, which it denies, of saddling poor nations with debt, siphoning off mineral resources and leaving environmental damage.

Pompeo insisted Wednesday that Trump was eager to play a bigger role on the continent.

“If there’s one thing you should know about our president –- my boss –- you should know that he loves deals,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“He wants more to happen between the United States and nations all across Africa.”

How African Players Performed In Europe Last Week

A picture combination of Victor Osimhen (right) of Lille and Sadio Mane of Liverpool
A picture combination of Victor Osimhen (right) of Lille and Sadio Mane of Liverpool

 

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Sadio Mane scored the goal that brought Liverpool victory at Norwich and moved the Reds closer to a first English league title in 30 years.

The 27-year-old Senegalese came off the bench to strike on 78 minutes and break the resistance of the gallant home side in the lively top-versus-bottom clash.

Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ivorian Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal were other African scorers in the Premier League at the weekend.

ENGLAND

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG/NICOLAS PEPE (Arsenal)

Pepe teed up Aubameyang for his 17th goal of the season with a towering header to open the floodgates in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Newcastle. The Ivorian then found the net himself with a trademark left-foot finish and set up another goal late on for Alexandre Lacazette as the Gunners returned to winning ways after four straight draws.

SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

Mane scored the only goal in Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Norwich to continue their relentless run towards the Premier League title. He was making his comeback from a hamstring injury, but showed no signs of rustiness by controlling Jordan Henderson’s through ball with his right foot then firing home with his left.

SPAIN

JOSEPH AIDOO (Celta Vigo)

Ghanaian Aidoo found himself lined up against a stellar cast of strikers as he played on the right side of Celta Vigo’s back three at Real Madrid. Real recalled Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale but Aidoo and the defence conceded only two goals to earn a draw in Madrid and keep just above the relegation zone. Aidoo came within a finger nail of making an even bigger splash. In the final minute of the first half he outjumped the Real defence at a corner and smashed a header toward the far corner of the goal, only to be denied by a world-class save from Thibaut Courtois.

ITALY

GERVINHO (Parma)

Ivorian forward Gervinho returned for Europa League hopefuls Parma, tapping in on 25 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Sassuolo, for his fifth goal this season. The 32-year-old had been exiled from the first team and dropped for four games after trying to force a move to Al Sadd, the Qatari club coached by former Barcelona star Xavi.

GERMANY

ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)

The Morocco wing-back again proved why he is one of Dortmund’s most potent forces going forward with two assists in a 4-0 drubbing of Eintracht Frankfurt. The 21-year-old, on loan from Real Madrid, spotted captain Lukasz Piszczek free on the edge of the area to give Dortmund a first-half lead. Hakimi then claimed his ninth league assist this season just after the break, getting in behind the defence to square for Norwegian teenager Erling Braut Haaland to score his ninth goal in six games.

JAMILU COLLINS (Paderborn)

The Nigeria defender failed to stop bottom side Paderborn losing 2-1 at home to Hertha Berlin after deflecting a shot by Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha into the net. At 1-1 in the second half, Collins was on the goalline when Cunha hit a shot with the side of his foot, which cannoned off the defender.

FRANCE

VICTOR OSIMHEN (LILLE)

Nigerian international Osimhen gave Lille a 51st-minute lead against second-placed Marseille, pouncing onto Jonathan Bamba’s pass to beat goalkeeper Steve Mandanda for his 13th goal of the season, the same number as PSG’s Brazilian superstar Neymar. However, their Champions League rivals hit back with two goals in two second-half minutes to earn the three points.

 

AFP