Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Africa Category
Guest Post: Robert Mugabe (1924-2019): A History of Wounds

Guest Post: Robert Mugabe (1924-2019): A History of Wounds

  • September 07, 2019
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Guest Post from Richard Drayton, Professor of History at King’s College, London.

Robert Mugabe is a hate figure in the West, especially in Britain, where the political right had such important family, economic and political connections to white-minority Rhodesia. And he did his own memory no favours: he was a man with very serious flaws, whose regime was marked by episodes of state violence and many authoritarian mutilations of Zimbabwe’s democracy.

But while the word ‘dictator’ is bandied about, he was not a dictator: Zimbabwe retained elections, opposition parties and an opposition press, a surprisingly independent...

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...

The UN’s Child Rapists

The UN’s Child Rapists

  • April 30, 2015
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Even in a world that seethes with 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 have been sexually abusing homeless young boys in exchange for food is a shocking disgrace.

These acts allegedly took place between December 2013 and...

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?

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?    Throughout the crisis the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has hinted at some kind of behind-the-scenes dialogue with the kidnappers.

The content of these negotiations, if they have taken place, is not known.   But reports...

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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