Homophobia in Africa

Human rights are indivisible and the precondition for any true democracy. The right of any human being to choose their identity, including interpretation of their own gender, and thus to diversity and non-conformity in general, is equally important. Whether the rights of marginalized or minority groups such as homosexuals are protected is therefore a good test of the democratic nature of any nation.

Worldwide homophobia

Homophobia is a global problem. 80 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, mainly in Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean, and homosexuality carries the death penalty in several countries (mainly in the Middle East and Africa). Other regions, such as Latin America, have also experienced widespread homophobia and homophobia-related killings, but have tried to deal with it through legislation in an effort to protect the rights of homosexuals. Europe also has its share of homophobia, as a survey that found that over a third of all European homosexual youths had experienced bullying at school indicates. Read more of this post

The power of land administration: Zambia

Land is a very important means of subsistence, status and identity for many Africans.  But due to the power politics of both the colonial and post-colonial periods, where the issues of land administration and domination have figured prominently, many African countries have ended up with a very uneven distribution of land ownership. Zimbabwe and South Africa are obvious examples that are relatively well reported in the news. Less well known, however, is the case of Zambia where land distribution has proven equally problematic. Read more of this post

Pre-colonial Africa

Before Africa was colonised, the continent was characterised by a large degree of pluralism and flexibility. The continent consisted not of closed reproducing entities, equipped with unique unchanging cultures, but of more fluid units that would readily incorporate outsiders (even whites) into the community as long as they accepted its customs, and where the sense of obligation and solidarity went beyond that of the nuclear family. An example of such inclusiveness were the Xhosa who limited Xhosadom not along ethnic or geographical lines but along political. All persons or groups who accepted the rule of the paramount chief became Xhosa. Read more of this post

Morten Nielsen: Democratisation in Swaziland must come from below

The repression and persecution of the democracy movement in Swaziland has increased. “Repression in Swaziland has historically come in waves, and the appointment of the acting Prime Minister was a message to the democracy movement that it would be increasingly pressurised”, says Morten Nielsen from Africa Contact. On the positive side, there has been a attitudinal change in Swaziland that can be seen in the strikes by 10-20.000 women in the textile industry in 2008, as well as in the of the steady progress of the democracy movement.”These strikes violate all gender and cultural norms in Swaziland”, says Morten Nielsen, “and the democracy movement is gathering strength. The regime is worried”. Amongst other things, this change in attitude is due to the increasingly repressive nature of the regime and because the Swazi economy is “in free fall”, he claims. This has led to cuts in public services and benefits such as pensions, education and the health system, which in turn has led to “an increasing social anger in Swaziland that can be felt when speaking to Swazis, although people are also scared”. Read more of this post

Are the Danes xenophobic?

Since the present Liberal-Conservative minority government assumed power in 2001, Danish immigration policy has become increasingly unforgiving. This is very much due to the government needing either the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP) or the Social Democrats to command a majority, and that most immigration-related legislation has been planned with and heavily influenced by the former.

Not being satisfied with Denmark having probably the most exclusive and discriminatory immigration laws in the EU, however, the DPP has now suggested even harsher legislation. Read more of this post

History and politics in Swaziland

Swaziland, the last autocratic monarchy in Africa, is a country in an almost constant state of crisis. The repeated human rights violations and harassment of the Swazi democracy movement by the Swazi regime, the huge inequalities between a small Swazi elite and the poor majority, and an Aids prevalence rate of over 40% should make newspapers and governments around the world react. In recent months the house of the Swaziland United Democratic Front National Organising Secretary has been bombed, maybe by the Swazi police; the President of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions has has his house searched by no less than 12 police officers; the leader of the largest opposition party, PUDEMO, Mario Masuku has been charged with acts of terrorism for speaking his mind and is more or less constantly harassed by police; student leader Pius Vilakati has gone missing after having been attempted abducted by police; and human rights activist and PUDEMO member Sipho Jele died in police custody, probably at the hands of the police. Read more of this post

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