Monday, June 20, 2011

Reading on Africa

I'd like to share three pieces today.

The first, a short bit (with lots of links) from Africa Is A Country on who's buying up large tracts of land in various African countries and displacing/evicting local people: your university may be to blame. I tell you, you don't keep an eye on academia, and they're all saying one thing and doing another. It's like Columbia's Manhattanville expansion on a larger scale with fewer legal protections--at least that one went through the courts before eminent domain.

And a really nice, moving Op-Ed from Winstone Zulu on how people with disabilities are often overlooked when it comes to sex ed--resulting in that group having an HIV prevalence rate up to three times higher than the general population (I'm not sure where those stats are from--Zulu is from Zambia). In Sierra Leone, we worked with a pregnant woman who had a severe disability from polio--legs that literally bent backwards--and health workers and others at the hospital would express surprise when she came in with her round belly. As if people of all shapes, sizes, cultures, abilities, etc. don't have sex. I always found that expression of surprise weird.

Finally, FINALLY the UN has endorsed human rights for the LGBTQI community. FINALLY. The resolution was put forward by South Africa, which has been legislatively, if not culturally, (to the Wikipedia!) at the forefront of gay rights since the introduction of the new constitution in 1994. Unsurprisingly but disappointingly, Nigeria (along with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others) voted against the resolution, which passed 23-19 (Burkina Faso and Zambia abstained, as did China). Gay rights are going to be an uphill battle in many (most?) African countries, I'm afraid. On the bright side, as much as the Obama administration is sketching me out with its unprecedented crackdown on leakers, it's doing a good job on the gay rights front. Apart from the marriage thing. Oh well.

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