Townsfolk tell of brutality and death under the Islamists’ yoke

The Times of London
Bamako, Mali

For seven months Ibadassane Walet hardly left her parents’ house. She feared the armed Islamic militants who patrolled the sand-blown streets and narrow alleys of Timbuktu, enforcing the strict Islamic laws imposed on the town when they took over last April.

Like any 20-year-old woman, she missed her friends and her school, nightclubs and dancing. Most of all, she said, she missed the music. “Before the Islamists came life was so good. We had fun. But now there is a complete lack of freedom,” she said. Continue reading Townsfolk tell of brutality and death under the Islamists’ yoke

Malians want the French to stay

GlobalPost
Diabaly, Mali

A boy stands next to a charred pickup truck in Diabaly, Mali (Issouf Sanogo/AFP)
A boy stands next to a charred pickup truck in Diabaly, Mali (Issouf Sanogo/AFP)

Twisted carcasses of incinerated vehicles tucked between Diabaly’s mud-brick houses were the first signs of the devastating French strikes in northern Mali.

The French air strikes, which began on Jan. 11, were in response to a southward advance from Islamist forces that had wrested control of the northern half of the country.

Continue reading Malians want the French to stay

This season we’re mostly wearing…

The Times Magazine

A century of war and colonial occupation has resulted in the curious dress of the Herero people. Photographer Jim Naughten documents their look
A century of war and colonial occupation has resulted in the curious dress of the Herero people. Photographer Jim Naughten documents their look

For most of the 20th century, Namibia’s history was one of hidden violence and brutality. Unspoken horrors were perpetrated by its occupiers – first Germany for 31 years and then South Africa for more than twice as long. It was only in 1990 that Namibia won its independence.

Six years later I went to Namibia to teach. Arriving in the capital, Windhoek, I found a strange and orderly place. Outlying shanties, spread across the city’s arid plateau, gave way to a high-rise centre bisected with paved roads. Continue reading This season we’re mostly wearing…

Chaos in Congo: Part-I

GlobalPost
Rutshuru, DR Congo

M23 rebels in Rumangabo, eastern DR Congo (Jan-Joseph Stok)
M23 rebels in Rumangabo, eastern DR Congo (Jan-Joseph Stok)

Part-I: The horrors of eastern Congo

The figure in military fatigues and rubber boots stood on the rutted road, framed between green walls of tangled equatorial forest. He leveled his assault rifle at a small huddle of people kneeling in the mud next to their truck.

Around them were their scattered, meager belongings: burlap sacks of grain, cooking pots and small suitcases of clothes.

Continue reading Chaos in Congo: Part-I

Chaos in Congo: Part-II

GlobalPost
Rumangabo, DR Congo

A ranger in Virunga National Park, eastern DR Congo (Jan-Joseph Stok)
A ranger in Virunga National Park, eastern DR Congo (Jan-Joseph Stok)

Part-II: Africa’s oldest park is under attack

“We can’t move it, unfortunately. If we could, we would,” said Emmanuel De Merode, the director of Virunga National Park for the Congolese Wildlife Authority.

He is responsible for protecting a 3,000-square mile expanse of eastern Congo that is Africa’s oldest and most diverse nature reserve, home to at least a quarter of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

It is also home to the M23 rebels and a breeding ground for insecurity.

Continue reading Chaos in Congo: Part-II

Chaos in Congo: Part-III

GlobalPost
Lake Edward, DR Congo

Virunga National Park (Jan-Joseph Stok)
Virunga National Park (Jan-Joseph Stok)

Part-III: Virunga National Park has a new enemy, oil

It is not just war threatening the future of Africa’s oldest and most diverse park. Oil is too.

“A more recent pressure which is of very great concern for the future of the park is petrol. There is a belief that there are large oil deposits under the park,” said Emmanuel De Merode, director of Virunga National Park, home to the storied mountain gorilla.

Continue reading Chaos in Congo: Part-III

Chaos in Congo: Part-IV

GlobalPost
Vitshumbi, DR Congo

A colonial-era house in Vitshumbi, eastern DR Congo (Jan-Joseph Stok)
A colonial-era house in Vitshumbi, eastern DR Congo (Jan-Joseph Stok)

Part-IV: There may yet be hope for Congo

On the face of it, Vitshumbi is a typical contemporary Congolese town: there is no running water, no electricity and no paved roads.

Belgian colonialists put up the only brick buildings more than half a century ago. The local economy has collapsed under the weight of national corruption and neglect. At first glance, it might seem that Vitshumbi has been stuck in reverse since the end of colonialism. You might think there is little hope here.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading Chaos in Congo: Part-IV