Newspaper

The fertile world of Nigerian patois

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NO COMPLIMENT was too flowery at the launch in May of “Antidotes for Corruption”, a book by Dino Melaye, a Nigerian senator who has fended off numerous allegations of graft. “What is being launched today is, ipso facto, a new potent Intercontinental Ballistic-cum-Cruise missile—an unassailable Assault weapon against, arguably, Mankind’s Enemy Number One: Corruption,” read the opening sentence of a leaflet handed out at the event. The 43-year-old politician was described as a “unique, strong-willed, opinionated, stubborn, determined, intelligent, prolific and even sexy young man in his prime”. It is not just Nigerian politics that is prone to verbal flourishes. In December Arik Air, an airline, blamed flight cancellations on the “epileptic” supply of aviation fuel (it was bailed out by t

How climate change might affect the Nile

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TO THE untrained eye, the satellite photos of north-west Ethiopia on July 10th may have seemed benign. They showed a relatively small pool of water next to an enormous building site on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile river. But the project under construction is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is more than halfway complete. And the water is why it is so controversial. Since Ethiopia announced its plan to build the dam, it has inspired threats of sabotage from Egypt, which sits downstream and relies on the Nile for electricity, farming and drinking water. Egypt claims that it is entitled to a certain proportion of the Nile’s water based on colonial-era treaties. Ethiopia dismisses those agreements. The pool of water in the photos suggested that it was beginning to

Israeli spy shows are conquering the world

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What’s “Allahu akbar” in Chinese? THERE are only about 9m Hebrew-speakers, yet Netflix, an online video service, now offers a dozen Hebrew-language shows to its subscribers. Most Hebrew-speakers will have already seen them on Israeli television, but Netflix is betting that, subtitled, they will attract viewers around the world. Like other television companies, it is excited about drama from Israel. As well as investing in television series, it is behind a new Israeli film, “The Angel”, based on the life of an Egyptian spy run by Mossad. Most of the Israeli shows on offer deal with terrorism, espionage or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is irony here. While Israeli politicians grumble that their country is unfairly portrayed by the media, its television producers are cashing in

How developers deal with “hijacked” buildings in Johannesburg

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A column of Red Ants prepares for battle BACK in 2010, Gerald Olitzki could only survey his new building from a safe distance across the street. He bought the downtown property for redevelopment, even though criminals still controlled it, extorting rent from poor tenants. Squatters peered warily out of broken windows; inside, a warren of shacks faded into the gloom. At that time, he did not dare approach to give your correspondent a closer view. Fast-forward seven years, and Mr Olitzki now strides proudly towards a building that, like many in Johannesburg’s inner city, has been transformed. What was a vertical shantytown is now a bright, clean shopping arcade bustling with small businesses—a nail salon, a bridal shop, a penis-enlargement clinic—along with floors of office space. Downtow

Will violence flare again in Kenya?

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WHAT does it say about the fairness of a vote when a senior election official is murdered a week before polling day? On August 8th Kenyans will pick a president, governors, MPs and senators. Yet instead of being excited about the chance to elect a new government, many are terrified. On July 31st Chris Msando, the chief technician in charge of the electronic voting system, was found dead in Nairobi, the capital, his arm broken and his body displaying signs of torture. Who killed Mr Msando is far from clear. The opposition blames the government; a spokesman for the president calls this accusation unfounded. The killing removes one of the few people trusted to ensure that the voting system works and sends a message to other electoral officials that they, too, are at risk. The chairman of t...

Morocco and Algeria keep building more barriers

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Not the best way to enhance trade HAD Algeria and Morocco honoured their agreement back in 1989 to form an economic union, along with Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania, they would be among the Middle East’s largest economies. Their poor border regions would be booming crossroads. Over the decade to 2015, reckons the World Bank, their two economies would each have almost have doubled in size. Instead, Algeria grew only by 33% and Morocco by 37%, as both governments instead reinforced their barricades. Their north-west corner of Africa remains “the most separated region on the continent”, says Adel Hamaizia, an Algerian economist. While sub-Saharan countries agree common currencies and trade zones, Algeria digs deeper ditches. Morocco revamps its berms and renews its razor wire. Concrete wall

How to tackle one of Africa’s nastiest problems

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Incurable, but preventable IN A clearing close to the entrance of Kenya’s Meru National Park, a bronze statue of a buffalo can be seen standing on a plinth. Despite the best efforts of local elephants who occasionally mistake it for a real buffalo and attack it, it is there to commemorate the site of the final outbreak of rinderpest, a cattle disease similar to measles, which was eradicated in 2011. Rinderpest has plagued Africa and other parts of the world ever since cattle were domesticated. In the 1980s an outbreak, originating in Sudan, killed millions of bovines across the continent. Eradication was a triumph of veterinary medicine, as rinderpest became only the second disease, either animal or human, to be wiped out, the first being smallpox. It is exciting, therefore, that a tea