Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Africa Category

Abderramane Sissako’s Timbuktu Blues

  • January 05, 2016
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I have nothing against cinema as recreational entertainment, or going to the movies for the sake of escapism.  Cinema has always served these purposes, and there is nothing inherently ignoble about them.   But such expectations also tend to produce an awful lot of mass-produced ephemeral dross and formulaic over-hyped blockbusters drenched in Dolby sound and  CGI effects, with emotions and messages pitched at the average 12-year-old with a full bag of popcorn.

2015, like most years, was dominated by films like this, whether it was the frenetic and vacuous inanity of...

The UN’s child rapists

  • April 30, 2015
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In a world order that seeths with the most insolent corruption, inhumanity and injustice in   so many places, the revelations that French soldiers with the United Nations Minusca peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic were sexually abusing starving and homeless young boys in exchange for food is a shocking disgrace.

The acts in question...

One, two, three viva l’Algerie

  • July 03, 2014
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Algeria is not a country that has had much to celebrate recently.     In the 1990s, the Algerian government’s refusal to accept an imminent Islamist victory in national elections prompted a savage conflict between the ruling FLN and an array of Islamist groups.

An estimated 150, 000 Algerians died in a war of massacres and...

Offshore asylum screening centres: towards a cordon sanitaire

  • June 05, 2014
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Europe’s annual migrant ‘boat season’ is getting underway, and already the numbers of migrants crossing the Mediterranean are already showing a dramatic increase on previous years.     According to the European Border Agency Frontex, 42,000 people have tried to reach Italy this year,   compared with UNHCR figures of 3, 362 arrivals by the...

Negotiating With Boko Haram?

  • May 15, 2014
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Is Nigeria intending to negotiate the release of the 276 kidnapped schoolgirls or it preparing to attack Boko Haram?     The answer to this question does not seem clear, even to the Nigerian government itself.     Throughout much of the crisis the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has dropped fat hints that it...

Hashtags, Militarism and the ‘Konyisation’ of Boko Haram

  • May 10, 2014
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In the last week the Boko Haram kidnappings of Nigerian schoolgirls have become the object of the same crusading zeal that was once directed at Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.     Hashtag twitter campaigns, celebrity condemnation, political outrage, and now Michelle Obama holding up a placard calling for the release of our girls –...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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