Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Africa Category

Hashtags, Militarism and the ‘Konyisation’ of Boko Haram

  • May 10, 2014
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In the last week the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram have become the object of the same kind of international 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 – all these manifestations of international condemnation have transformed Boko Haram into the personification of evil.

The kidnapping of these girls is undoubtedly a crime against humanity, like many of the actions carried out by Boko Haram, and those who...

Nick Cohen’s Mad Mad World

  • May 05, 2014
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Even by his standards, Nick Cohen’s column on Boko Haram in The Guardian on Saturday is a stunningly lazy and incoherent piece of gibberish. Pretending to care, really really care, about the 230 schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram, Cohen seeks to indict ‘the left’ not only for not caring as much...

Complexities: Boko Haram

  • April 24, 2014
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I was in London today, participating in a radio discussion for the Voice of Russia about Boko Haram.     I was probably the most anomalous presence there, given that I’m not – to say the least – an expert on either Nigeria or Boko Haram, so it was a really interesting and thought-provoking experience...

Westgate:  God’s Trashy Gangsters

Westgate: God’s Trashy Gangsters

  • September 30, 2013
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Killing in the name of religion invariably provides an aura of moral grandeur on even the most squalid and disgusting acts, at least in the minds of their perpetrators and supporters.

The last week has produced   a real bumper crop of such acts by ‘Islamist’ groups in various parts of the world.   On 21...

Evan Davis, Mali and the Cock-up Theory

Evan Davis, Mali and the Cock-up Theory

  • January 25, 2013
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The mainstream British media tends to view foreign policy through a very narrow lens at the best of times,   and the BBC’s worldview tends to be more circumscribed than most.     On Monday Evan Davis interviewed William Hague on the Today programme about Britain’s role in Mali.     During his gentle interrogation...

Money makes the (neo-imperial) world go round

  • August 21, 2012
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The ‘international community’ is making cautiously optimistic noises regarding the highly-selective attempts to conjure up a new government in Somalia.   The new parliamentary institutions are intended to replace the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that Western governments and their African allies so disastrously supported both before and after the 2006 Ethiopian invasion.

Shadows continue to flit...

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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