A question of bias: Trophy hunting is a contentious industry and shaping research to get a desired outcome doesn’t help

 A visitor walks past a rifle brand advert during the annual Huntex held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 25 April 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook) By Don Pinnock Follow In the complex and urgent crises of climate change, biodiversity collapse and pandemics, it makes good sense to heed science and specialists. But what happens when scientists intentionally load the dice? The inquiry explored below began after a simple question by the editor of the highly respected journal Science to five researchers who submitted a letter opposing import bans on trophy hunting. Could they, asked the editor, declare any potential conflict of interests? It turned … Continue reading A question of bias: Trophy hunting is a contentious industry and shaping research to get a desired outcome doesn’t help

The South African model

What the United States and other settler societies can learn from South Africa’s push to create a nonracial democracy Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University in New York City and executive director of the Makere Institute of Social Research in Kampala, Uganda. His books include Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009) and Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities (2020) Edited bySam Haselby In the course of the struggle against apartheid, South Africans did something remarkable: they tried, with incomplete success, to destroy the settler and the native by reconfiguring … Continue reading The South African model

Africa writes back

European ideas of African illiteracy are persistent, prejudiced and, as the story of Libyc script shows, entirely wrong D Vance Smith is a medievalist and Old Dominion Professor in the Department of English at Princeton University. His books include The Book of the Incipit (2001); Arts of Possession (2003); and Arts of Dying: Literature and Finitude in Medieval England (2020). Edited by Sam Dresser Four different writing systems have been used in Algeria. Three are well known – Phoenician, Latin and Arabic – while one is both indigenous to Africa and survives only as a writing system. The language it represents is called Old Libyan or Numidian, simply because … Continue reading Africa writes back

See the horrifying place where your old clothes go to die

A landfill in Ghana is the final resting place for many of our fast fashion purchases. When author Maxine Bedat visited, it was literally on fire. BY MAXINE BEDAT One August day I found myself on top of one of the most impressive mountains I’ve seen. I’d scaled it with very little equipment, in the same Nike sneakers I wear on the treadmill. There were no harnesses, no guides, and no resupply stations along the way. In fact, it only took about 20 minutes to get to the summit, despite frequent picture breaks. At the top, I looked out into … Continue reading See the horrifying place where your old clothes go to die

After slavery

Abolition in Africa brought longed-for freedoms, but also political turmoil, economic collapse and rising enslavement Toby Green is professor of precolonial and lusophone African history and culture at King’s College, London. He is the author of A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (2019) and The Covid Consensus: Edited by Sam Haselby On one of my first visits to West Africa, more than 20 years ago, I went to the Fuuta Djalon (also known as Fouta Djallon) mountains of Guinea-Conakry. These beautiful mountains range across high waterfalls, cliffs and lonely paths leading from one village … Continue reading After slavery

What pastoralists know

Pastoralists are experts in managing extreme variability. In a volatile world economy, bankers should learn how they do it Ian Scoones is professor at the Institute of Development Studies, and co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre, both at the University of Sussex in the UK… Edited by Sam Haselby What are the connections between a banker working on a trading floor in London and a pastoralist herding animals across the grasslands of East Africa? More than you’d think. Let me explain how they’re connected; and why they can both learn from each other. Both bankers and pastoralists must, as a matter … Continue reading What pastoralists know

Bringing Traditional Healing Under the Microscope in South Africa

Traditional and mainstream medicine have long been at odds. But Covid-19 may be driving a new, evidence-based reckoning. BY SARAH WILD IN JUNE, Artemisia afra was in high demand on the streets of Johannesburg in South Africa. To treat Covid-19 symptoms, the Indigenous herb’s silvery leaves were for sale at roadside vendors and in the city’s popular traditional markets. Some people even pulled the plant from private gardens. And on the sides of nearby highways, people held signs for “mhlonyane” (A. afra’s isiZulu name) and offered bushels to passing motorists like bouquets. Between February and July, the herb doubled in price. People in the region have consumed the … Continue reading Bringing Traditional Healing Under the Microscope in South Africa

Neither nasty nor brutish

The Ik – among the poorest people on Earth – have been cast as exemplars of human selfishness. The truth is much more startling Cathryn Townsend is an anthropology research fellow at Baylor University. She lives in Waco, Texas.Listen here Edited by Sam Dresser Slabs of sunlight break through the mist, illuminating the bright pastel ripples of Oribo Valley, the valley I’m named after. I’ve been given this name by the Ik people I’m living with, in the remote highlands dividing Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan. The Ik woman I’m interviewing, Nangole (a pseudonym to protect her identity), rubs her baby’s … Continue reading Neither nasty nor brutish

Why South Africa’s Military May ‘Somehow Get Involved’ in Situation in Northern Mozambique

by Oleg Burunov Northern Mozambique has been in the grip of a jihadist insurgency since 2017, with the violence having reportedly already killed more than 1,000 people there. In an article published on the website Conversation, political scientist Theo Neethling from the Bloemfontein-based University of the Free State, focused on South Africa’s position pertaining to an increase in “deadly violence” in the northern parts of Mozambique. “There is now even a possibility that the South African National Defence Force might become involved in [Mozambique’s] most northern Cabo Delgado province, with a view to ending [… the] litany of atrocities, abductions and … Continue reading Why South Africa’s Military May ‘Somehow Get Involved’ in Situation in Northern Mozambique

A papyrus reveals how the Great Pyramid was built

A newly discovered papyrus contains an eye-witness account of the gathering of materials for the Great Pyramid. by ROBBY BERMAN The Great Pyramid in Egypt is the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. The tomb for Pharaoh Khufu — “Cheops” in Greek — sits on the Giza plateau about 3 kilometers southwest of Egypt’s capitol Cairo, and it’s huge: nearly 147 meters high and 230.4 meters on each side (it’s now slightly smaller due to erosion). Built of roughly 2.3 million limestone and rose granite stones from hundreds of kilometers away, it’s long posed a couple of vexing and fascinating mysteries: How did … Continue reading A papyrus reveals how the Great Pyramid was built