Ofada Rice and stew is a Nigerian meal native to the Yorubas but in recent times, everyone, especially those living in Lagos and its environs has been influenced by the Ofada Rice.
Ingredients for Ofada Stew
40 pcs unripe habanero peppers (atarodo, ose oyibo, atarugu) Note: Ofada stew is very very hot and spicy.
Green tatashe peppers or green bell peppers
1 locust bean seasoning (Iru, ogiri okpei or dawadawa)
20cl red palm oil (at least)1 big onion
1 handful crayfish
850g assorted meat and fish. Which can include: Beef
Shaki (cow tripe)
Ofada Stew Prep
Wash and blend the peppers and the onion. Remember to remove the seeds from the green tatashe or the green bell peppers.
Grind the crayfish and the locust bean seasoning with a dry mill.
Cook all the meat and fish with the stock cube till tender.
Pour the pepper blend into a separate pot and cook on high heat till all the water dries up.
Pour the red palm oil into a clean dry pot and bleach till it turns clear. It should look like vegetable oil when done. Bleach on a low heat for atleast 10mins or more depending on your type of heater and the quantity of oil.
Leave the oil to cool down a bit then add the boiled pepper puree. Fry till all the water has dried from the pepper.
Add the crayfish and locust bean seasoning, the meat and fish and stir well.
Add salt to taste, leave to simmer and it is ready to be served.
Serve with boiled Ofada Rice.
Tips for bleaching red palm oil
Bleach the palm oil with a clean dry stainless steel pot. Aluminium pots work well too. Never use non-stick pots or enamel pots when bleaching red palm oil.
If possible, use a free flowing pure red palm oil. The congealed almost yellow ones contain some water.
Use low heat when bleaching the oil. This ensures that the oil is not very dark when done.
Do so in a well ventilated area. Turn on your kitchen extractor to remove the smoke as much as possible or leave your kitchen windows open.
Do not leave the pot unattended because the oil will catch fire if overheated. Check it constantly and turn off the heat once the bleaching is complete.
Do allow the oil to cool down a bit before adding the ingredients. This will prevent hot splashes of oil and will keep your food from burning due to the high temperatures.
Netflix’s international juggernaut Money Heist is returning for one last season. The upcoming fifth season will be its last, and production will begin Monday in Denmark before filming in Spain and Portugal.
When we last saw them, The Professor’s (Álvaro Morte) team was declaring war on the authorities during their job at the Bank of Spain as he was discovered by Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri), the inspector who’s been chasing him.
A heist began to save Rio (Miguel Herrán), but it cost them beloved team member Nairobi (Alba Flores). The show will be entering uncharted territory when it returns, going beyond the heist to avenge her death.
“We are moving from a chess game – a mere intellectual strategy – to a war strategy: attack and contention,” series creator Alex Pina tells EW of the gang avenging their fallen comrade. This new goal raises the stakes while keeping the story fresh and maintaining the adrenaline that has always run through Money Heist. The war they’ve been pushed to start results in “the most epic part of all the parts we’ve shot,” according to Pina.
The Professor and his team’s world will have some new faces in it next season. Actors Miguel Ángel Silvestre (above), known for playing Sense8’s Lito, and Patrick Criado (below) are joining the ensemble cast. While Pina didn’t reveal full details about the new faces and how they’ll fit into the story, he did tease what they’ll bring to the final season. “We always try that our opponents be charismatic, intelligent, shiny,” he explains. “In this case, in pure war film genre, we also look for characters whose intelligence can measure up against The Professor’s.”
Pina also says audiences will get to know Denver’s childhood friend Manila (Belén Cuesta) much better over the final 10 episodes, and teases a standoff between Sierra and The Professor.
“Adrenaline is within Money Heist’s DNA. Every thirty seconds things take place and disrupt the characters, a turn of the screw to the action. The adrenaline mixed with feelings arising from absolutely complex, magnetic, unforeseeable characters will continue until the end of the heist to the Bank of Spain,” Pina says. “However, the gang will now be pushed into irreversible situations, into a wild war: it is the most epic part of all the parts we’ve shot.”
Watching The Professor’s intricate plan come to life has grabbed the attention of tens of millions of Netflix subscribers. Not only is Money Heist one of Netflix’s most popular shows of all time, but it is also the most popular non-English series from the streamer; part 4 of the crime drama, which premiered in April 2020, was watched by 65 million accounts in the first four weeks of release — that’s a million more than Tiger King, which premiered a month earlier, and just two million less than Stranger Things 3, which debuted in summer 2019.
Pina points to the show’s constant movement between action and emotion, as well as its underlying messages, to its global appeal. From heists to standoffs, the series has always centered the gang and their stories. “It is action and feeling, it is black comedy and drama, romance and pathos,” he shares. As for the themes of the show, Pina says viewers relate to the political and socioeconomic stance of The Professor’s team. What makes the citizens on the show rally behind the gang has also worked in getting audiences on their side.
Money Heist Parts 1-4 are available to stream on Netflix.
Karaoke complexes might be relatively common now, but back in 2004 singing into a PlayStation was the closest most of us could get. SingStar’s discs of party classics formed the caterwauling soundtrack to millions of student gatherings, hen parties and five-pint Fridays all over Europe for more than a decade. Like Just Dance, it harnesses the infectious joy of pop music in a way that anyone can play.
Katamari Damacy (2004)
A gleeful absurdist masterpiece in which you start by rolling up pencils and apple peel and end up absorbing buildings, trees and, eventually, most of the planet in your big sticky ball, because why not? From the infectious soundtrack to the endearingly mad “plot”, it’s a work of pure joy.
Journey is a short and moving shared experience whose music, evocative colour palette and simple play come together as they only can in games, for a powerful emotional effect. It’s often picked as an ur-example of games as art – including by curators at the V&A, where it was front and centre at a recent exhibition.
Dead Space (2008)
Resident Evil meets Alien seems like such an obvious game pitch that it is incredible it wasn’t realised until 2008. In Dead Space, the player becomes lowly engineer Isaac Clarke, who finds himself investigating the “planet-cracking” ship Ishimura after radio contact with the vessel is lost. The craft is, of course, infested with alien creatures – the Necromorphs – who utilise the reanimated corpses of human victims in horrible ways. This is a dark, bloody and atmospheric survival-horror thrill ride.
The central character here is a boy on the run from death, or perhaps already dead. One of several games that kicked off the indie-game renaissance of the 2010s, Limbo’s monochrome style and relatively short running time belie the extraordinary effort and fastidiousness that went into its creation, evident in everything from the sinister movements of a giant spider to the precise physics that power its puzzles.
Papers, Please (2013)
You are a border officer in a war-torn country where people are constantly trying to smuggle things past you: drugs, weapons, falsified IDs. But what about the mother and young child using a fake passport to rejoin the rest of their family? Or an undocumented refugee who you could reject as a possible terrorist, but who may in fact be a desperate civilian? Papers, Please is a powerful illustration of how we can become complicit in inhumane systems, and the ways games can invite us to explore complex ethical dilemmas.
Forza Horizon (2012)
Combining an open-world structure with the energy of a music festival, Forza Horizon made arcade-style racing games fun again. Boasting a gigantic selection of cars and an inventive AI-assisted multiplayer component, the game was designed around simply letting the player have fun, no matter what they did or where they drove. Barn finds and destructible signs rewarded exploration, while a multitude of driving challenges provided structure and challenge. It’s an accessible, multifaceted racing treat.
Rocket League (2015)
“Football, but with remote control cars” is a likely pitch for Rocket League, but who expected it would become one of the most skilful and enduring multiplayer games released in decades? Rocket League is elegant and ageless: it will probably still be played in 20 years, in living rooms and in tournaments.
Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)
Guildford-based developer Criterion built its Burnout series of arcade driving games around two principles: speed and style. Taking place through traffic-packed city streets, the races rewarded players for risky manoeuvres, providing extra time to shoot past competitors. The third title in the series perfected the recipe, adding a “takedown” feature that encouraged players to smash rivals from the circuit. The detailed slow-motion physics engine heightened every smash into art.
After years of gritty, military shooters filled with macho spec-ops nobodies, Overwatch stormed on to the online gaming scene in 2016 like a giant kawaii robot bunny wielding a hot pink grenade launcher. This is a game about outlandish hero characters, joining forces in condensed team-based skirmishes. There is no levelling up, there are no weapons unlocks; it’s all about combining the different capabilities – from Mei’s endothermic blaster to Mercy’s healing staff – in effective ways. Loved for its brash, hyper-colourful aesthetic, Overwatch is the generation Z answer to Counter-Strike.
Gears of War 2 (2008)
Imagine a science-fiction war film directed by an early-career Kathryn Bigelow. Now imagine it’s interactive. This, in essence, is Gears of War, the definitive third-person space marine blast-’em-up – a game so macho, its machine guns have chainsaws. The second title in the series improved the cover system, added new weapons and bloody finishing moves and took the battle to the Locust alien invaders. It was thrilling, chaotic and beautiful and, with the brilliant co-op Horde gameplay mode, it invented new ways to play online.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (2000)
Fondly remembered by anyone who had a PlayStation in their dorm room, this is still probably the best skateboarding game around, and there hasn’t been much competition since (perhaps due to the sport’s waning cultural presence since the 1990s). It is a time capsule of energetic college rock, endless point-chasing skate combos and irresistibly fun play.
Super Smash Bros Melee (2001)
The 2018 game Ultimate is, well, the ultimate expression of Smash Bros’ maximalist tendencies, with 74 characters and hundreds of references to Nintendo history. But Melee is the game that turned Nintendo’s anything-goes brawler from a living-room classic into a competitive fixture. It is still the most popular Smash game at tournaments, beautifully balanced and extraordinarily fun.
Silent Hill 2 (2001)
Konami’s answer to Resident Evil ditched zombie shocks for psychological horror. The second title in the series is the most disturbing. The game follows grief-stricken everyman James Sunderland as he arrives in the eponymous town searching for his supposedly dead wife. What follows is a descent into Sunderland’s psychosexual dysfunction, a viscera-splattered nightmare of undead nurses, animated shop window dummies and the giant fetishistic monster, Pyramid Head. Toying with Japanese horror and exploitation cinema, it cast a sombre spell over all who played.
Derek Yu’s cave-diving platform game is fun to play on every single run, yet might take years to actually finish. Each time a different arrangement of cave creatures, unfortunate accidents and hostile geography conspires to bring your adventure to an abrupt close, and only the extremely skilled and extremely lucky will ever get right down into the depths. Even after years of play, Spelunky holds its mystique.
Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)
The original Assassin’s Creed promised a rich historical adventure with an interesting sci-fi overlay – Assassin’s Creed 2 actually delivered it. Set in a luxuriously detailed approximation of Renaissance Italy, the game sees attractive assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, taking on the dastardly templars while bumping into the likes of Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. The freeform structure of the game, its mass of side quests and objectives, along with its range of abilities and items set the blueprints for modern open-world game design.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
With a script by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini and all the key voice talent from the brilliant animated series, Arkham Asylum exudes authenticity from every pixel. This is the Batman of Frank Miller and Christopher Nolan – dark, twisted and violent – and it’s perfectly realised as a third-person action adventure. The combat is smooth and empowering, the silent takedowns are gratifying and the asylum setting is a superb gothic monstrosity. A comic-book lover’s dream.
Battlefield 1942 (2002)
With the first title in the Battlefield series, developer Digital Illusions brought large-scale cooperative combat and historical authenticity to the online shooter genre. Two teams of 32 players fought for dominance of vast environments, taking control points and commandeering vehicles. The multifaceted battles required players to assume complementary roles, some sniping from a distance, others running in as infantry. The excitement of a well-organised attack paying off felt like something truly new.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
Bringing cinematic verve and explosive pace to the military shooter market, 2003’s Call of Duty provided gunfights of epic intensity. But it wasn’t until Modern Warfare that the series made a major impact, introducing an innovative multiplayer online mode that offered character progression alongside unlockable single-use mega-attacks. Add in its blistering animation and intense, claustrophobic maps, and it’s little wonder this game defined the online deathmatch experience for a decade.
God of War (2018)
God of War still sets the bar for its genre of expansive, visually spectacular interactive storytelling. Guiding a reformed violent god and his more sensitive son through settings from Norse mythology, you’ll see things that take the breath away: the corpse of an immense giant, frozen where he fell; parallel realms of vicious elves and shining, endless lakes; crumbling relics to absent gods. The pleasing thwock of Kratos’ axe as it hits the skulls of mythological monsters punctuates video games’ grandest odyssey.
Shadow of the Colossus (2005)
In this meditation on the selfish nature of grief, a young man sets out to topple mountainous, mournful and majestic giants in the hope of reviving a lost love. Each colossus is a puzzle; clambering up their mossy fur and plunging a sword into their hides, we soon learn that this hero’s quest isn’t what it seems. Subtle and profound, Shadow of the Colossus is disciplined in its storytelling and artistic direction, with ample space for reflection in its bleak and beautiful wilderness.
Deus Ex (2000)
Combining first-person shooter and action role-playing with real-world conspiracy theories and cyberpunk mythology, Ion Storm’s agenda-setting sci-fi adventure was a cultural event. The player character, JC Denton, is a “nano-augmented” government agent caught in a labyrinthine, globe-stomping plot about bioengineered viruses and alien technology. There are dozens of routes through the story, providing incredible freedom and inspiring a creative community of modders and fan-fiction writers.
Wii Sports (2006)
Few games have been played as widely as Wii Sports, from grannies bowling to toddlers enthusiastically playing tennis. Wii Sports was the world’s introduction to the Wii and a whole generation’s introduction to Nintendo’s philosophy of game design: accessible, inclusive and great fun.
Guitar Hero (2005)
What warm-blooded person has never dreamed of busting out an impeccable guitar solo on stage, revelling in the adoration of a baying crowd? Anyone born after about 1995, it turns out. But Guitar Hero was a product of its time and catered so brilliantly to the near-ubiquitous rock star fantasy, with its impeccable soundtrack of 1970s, 80s and 90s power rock, that tens of millions of people were wielding plastic guitars in living rooms within a couple of years.
Left 4 Dead (2008)
A co-op online zombie shooter with an AI system that orchestrated enemy attacks based on player actions, Left 4 Dead was ridiculously ahead of its time. Valve built excellent mechanics around its collaborative gameplay, encouraging highly tactical teamwork, and loaded its apocalyptic world with brilliant monsters, such as the grotesque tongue-lashing Smoker and the terrifyingly lachrymose witch. It would do amazing business in the multiplayer-obsessed, YouTuber-streaming world of modern gaming.
Experimental designer Fumito Ueda built this quiet, thoughtful adventure around the idea of two people holding hands, which is what the eponymous lead character and jailed princess Yorda must do if they are to escape their castle prison. Using all the conventions of a third-person action game, Ico is really about fear, solitude and the possibilities awakened by making physical contact with another human being. A minimalist masterpiece.
The Last of Us (2013)
What looks at first like a standard entry in gaming’s extensive zombie-apocalypse canon soon turns out to be something more. Watching the relationship between grieving, grizzled Joel and guarded but optimistic teenager Ellie develop as they travel a ravaged America, creeping past unsettling “clickers” and coming face-to-face with desperate, violent fellow humans makes for an extraordinarily memorable game in an often boring genre.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
Possibly Nintendo’s most unsettling game, Majora’s Mask is also one of its most creative, trapping you in an apocalyptic time loop where the leering moon draws ever closer to the hapless Earth and its denizens cower in fear. Here, Link is a hero that nobody knows about, having gone forward in time to thwart an evil that was due to swallow up the world, before being returned to his childhood body and deserted by his only companions. Its time-loop structure and eerie atmosphere remain little-imitated.
Mario Kart 8 (2014)
We have yet to encounter a person who doesn’t enjoy Mario Kart, and Mario Kart 8 is as good as it gets: gleeful, freewheeling, with a marvellously jazzy score, colourful characters and courses that continually defy expectations. It is riotously enjoyable. One of the few modern games that is still best enjoyed shoulder-to-shoulder with friends, family or friendly strangers.
Mass Effect 2 (2010)
The defining chapter of BioWare’s space epic tackles everything: race, genocide, romance and heroism, all against a backdrop of impending galactic doom. It is brilliantly performed and exciting to play, with futuristic guns and biotic powers, and totally engrossing on a character level. Creating something of this scope that also feels personal to each player is no small feat.
Launched as a forgettable co-op zombie shooter in 2017, developer Epic Games saw the success of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and decided to create its own battle royale mode, inviting 100 players to land on an island, then fight it out until only one survived. Colourful, silly and filled with daft outfits and infectious dance moves, Fortnite became a global phenomenon, attracting more than 250m players. It’s been featured in everything from Fox News to Avengers: Endgame and shows few signs of slowing down.
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Niko Bellic comes to New York looking to escape the life of crime he had been leading in eastern Europe – but as in all Grand Theft Auto games, the American dream swiftly turns sour, and nihilistic violence turns out to be the only currency Bellic can deal in. GTA IV’s New York is stunning to inhabit, so detailed and full of life that it is hard to believe it’s powered by code.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
Only a developer with Rockstar’s extremely deep pockets and fanatical attention to detail could have made something like this, a re-creation of turn-of-the-20th-century US so lifelike that it is at times difficult to believe. Its story, of a dwindling gang of outlaws trying to outrun the march of time (and an ever-growing list of enemies) is impressive enough, but the world in which it takes place – vast, picturesque, full of people and strange encounters that most players will probably never even find – is a true monument to interactive achievement.
The Sims (2000)
One of the most successful and influential games ever made, The Sims is an outlet for megalomania, mad materialism or compassion – depending on the player. Controlling the lives of computer people, from their loves and careers to designing the homes they live in, is so compelling that it raises troubling questions about human nature.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (2009)
Indiana Jones-style hero Nathan Drake came into his own in this spectacular cinematic adventure sequel. Crammed with breathtaking action set pieces, exotic locations and exciting lore, Among Thieves established the Uncharted series at the forefront of big-budget narrative game design. From the wrecked train opening to the epic finale amid the ruins of the mythical kingdom of Shambhala, the pace doesn’t let up. While baby boomers have nostalgic memories of Saturday-morning action cinema, millennials have Uncharted.
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
This wasn’t just an exciting horror story about a supercop rescuing the US president’s daughter from a Spanish cult. With Resident Evil 4, the creator of Capcom’s survival horror series, Shinji Mikami, completely changed the structure and style of the games, abandoning the slow-burn tension of the original titles in favour of raw action while (crucially) shifting from an expressionistic third-person camera to an over-the-shoulder perspective. The game established a whole new era of third-person shooters.
Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
After his galactic adventures in the Super Mario Galaxy games, Odyssey brought the cheerful plumber back down to Earth. Well, not Earth per se, but a bunch of different self-contained planets that provide ample room for Nintendo designers’ wild imaginations. From possessing a Chain Chomp to bounding around in low gravity, chasing rabbits or racing yetis, Odyssey is irresistibly exuberant.
World of Warcraft (2004)
Launched in 2004, Blizzard’s massively multiplayer role-playing adventure was not the first entry in this complex genre (Ultima Online and Everquest got there earlier), but it perfected the key elements, from combat mechanics to quest design to background lore, building an obsessive fanbase that has stayed loyal through multiple add-ons and updates. The game reached 100m player accounts in 2014, but the real stories have been much more personal – with its emphasis on close team-play, WoW has hosted real-life weddings and funerals, becoming as much a part of players’ lives as their own families.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015)
Bloated, idiosyncratic and troubling in places, The Phantom Pain is the perfect culmination of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear vision as it has evolved over the last 30 years. Big Boss wakes up from a coma and finds himself carrying out covert missions during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, rescuing civilians, kidnapping military leaders and managing his aquatic Mother Base as the typically nonsensical plot rolls on. It is unlike anything else out there … at least until Hideo Kojima’s forthcoming game Death Stranding turns up.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
For decades, games have aspired to create a fantasy world that caters to your every whim – and Skyrim comes closest. Dragon-flavoured, largely unmemorable plot notwithstanding, it is an extraordinary playground where magic, might, words and weapons can all be wielded against the inhabitants and monsters that populate a snow-touched northern realm, and where subplots about assassins, vampires, lost relics and a thousand other things await the curious player.
An extraordinary work of horror, Bloodborne conjures a dilapidated city whose inhabitants, rather than abandoning God, have become so obsessed with getting closer to their eldritch masters that they’ve become diseased. Hunting the creatures of Yharnam, an exhilarating and sometimes painfully challenging endeavour, the player uncovers an extraordinarily intricate, disturbing fiction of blood, beats and human folly. There are sights and fights in Bloodborne that no player could ever forget.
Set in a doomed undersea utopia, BioShock is part shooter, part role-playing game, part morality fable, propelling players through a haunting and ambiguous quest to escape Rapture while learning its awful secrets. Famed for the hulking Big Daddy antagonists, the genetic modifications, the art deco architecture and designer Ken Levine’s exploration of objectivist philosophy, the game has been one of the most discussed and dissected of the century so far.
Portal 2 (2011)
Building on the solid foundations of its predecessor, Valve’s 2011 sequel adds a more involved narrative to the ingenious physics puzzles, with tyrannical computer system GLaDOS providing an endlessly funny and inventive exploration of humanity and hubris. Here, the Aperture Lab is a giant, almost gothic, ludological construction, its weird research rooms and robotic production lines crammed with light bridges and lasers. It is the combination of Red Dwarf, 2001 and Crystal Maze no one knew they were waiting for.
Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
One of the first shooters where the aliens fought back. Playing Halo today, especially on the Legendary difficulty setting, it is amazing how quickly those chattering, cackling Covenant can flush you out. Halo has spawned a beloved universe of space-opera shooters, but it’s the first game – released at a time when the idea of a first-person shooter on a console was laughable – that made the biggest impact.
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
In this, the best-selling entertainment product of all time, Rockstar painstakingly created a bizarre pastiche of southern California, seen through the eyes of three decidedly unheroic protagonists: a retired gangster whose family hates him, a young man from the inner city trying to escape a seemingly pre-destined life of crime, and a violent trailer-dwelling psychopath. Cleverly, these three characters also handily partition GTA’s split personality: biting satire of modern US, filmic storytelling, and directionless violent mayhem.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
Many games offer the superficial choice between good and evil, but the Witcher asks what happens when you’re adrift on waves of history and politics that are beyond your control. Geralt of Rivia isn’t a hero; he’s just an outcast, present at a tumultuous time in his realm’s history. Turns out that far more interesting stories can be found when you’re not preoccupied with a facile objective to save the world.
Half-Life 2 (2004)
Video games aren’t short of alien invasion stories but Half-Life 2 is so good it makes the whole concept seem fresh and frightening. Taking place several years after the original, Gordon Freeman wakes to find an Earth utterly subjugated by the Combine forces – but a resistance movement is forming. The shrewd environmental puzzles and the famed gravity gun exploit the intricate physics engine to make this hellish world feel authentic. You truly hate the enemies, you live every moment. One of the greatest narrative video games ever made.
Dark Souls (2011)
You are dead, which comes with few advantages, but at least you can’t die again – not for good, anyway. Plunging you into a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth in a world where almost nothing still breathes, Dark Souls sets you off with nothing and lets its horror-tinged dark fantasy unfold as you flail and struggle to survive. Invigoratingly uncompromising and influential, it was the breakthrough game of FromSoftware and visionary director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Despite two more Dark Souls games and a raft of imitators, there is still nothing like it.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
Doing for the open-world game what Half-Life 2 did for the first-person shooter, Breath of the Wild tears up and throws away all the things that make exploration a chore – checklists, objective markers, forests of icons – to make way for true adventure. Breath of the Wild counts on your curiosity, intelligence, self-determination and ingenuity, giving you a thousand ways to apply them. Its thrillingly open wilderness makes other games feel like a quaint miniature train ride by comparison.
Swedish coder Markus “Notch” Persson didn’t invent the concept of the block-based building game – Minecraft arrived just after Zach Barth’s experimental title Infiniminer. However, the founder of Stockholm studio Mojang took the idea of a Lego-like construction game based in a procedurally generated environment and perfected it. Originally launched as a work in progress in the summer of 2009, word about this unusual blocky simulation quickly spread on PC gaming forums and a community of enthusiastic modders started to gather around the project, downloading Persson’s version but adding their own rules and graphics. From the very beginning Minecraft was a shared endeavour – a labour of love, shared between creator and fans.
By the time of its full release in November 2011, Minecraft already had 10 million registered players. Later came conversions from PC to Xbox, PlayStation and smartphones, bringing in new audiences. The game was split into two experiences: the Survival mode where players had to battle zombies and giant spiders while mining for resources, and the Creative mode where they were given an unlimited inventory of wooden, glass and stone blocks to concentrate on crafting their own ambitious projects.
This has always been the vital element of Minecraft’s success and importance: it is a dozen experiences in one. It’s about making models, but also exploration, combat and resource management. Participants can build alone or join friends, introducing a new form of online creative collaboration. Using the game’s red stone component, which allows objects in the world to be electrically powered, fans began to build complex machines including working calculators. Others constructed scale models of the USS Enterprise, Hogwarts and King’s Landing. Art galleries and museums began to take notice. The Tate Modern commissioned expert modellers to create versions of modernist artworks in the Minecraft world; the British Museum was officially recreated in the game, as was Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Over the past decade, Minecraft has become a hobby and a social space. Servers have been set up for people on the autistic spectrum, providing a vital means of meeting with and communicating with others. Hundreds of schools throughout the world use the Education edition of Minecraft to teach physics, geology, drama, art, electronics and sustainable farming. The cultural and educational reach of the game is enormous. Minecraft was vital in the rise of the celebrity gaming YouTuber – with names like StampyCat and DanTDM familiar to millions.
With more than 175m copies now sold on an array of devices from smartphones to virtual-reality headsets, Minecraft has transcended the idea of what games are and what they can achieve. When you load the game, what you do is up to you – it gives you the experience you want, and that is different for everyone. There has never been an interactive entertainment experience like it. Game makers truly believe that video games have the power – just like literature, cinema and art – to change lives. This one unquestionably, demonstrably has. Time and time again.
Donors and civil society groups spend tens of millions of dollars every year trying to combat corruption. They do it because corruption has been shown to increase poverty and inequality while undermining trust in the government. Reducing corruption is essential to improve public services and strengthen the social contract between citizens and the state.
But what if anti-corruption efforts actually make the situation worse?
Our research in Lagos, Nigeria, found that anti-corruption messages often have an unintended effect. Instead of building public resolve to reject corrupt acts, the messages we tested either had no effect or actually made people more likely to offer a bribe.
The reason may be that the messages reinforce popular perceptions that corruption is pervasive and insurmountable. In doing so, they encourage apathy and acceptance rather than inspire activism.
Efforts to combat corruption in “developing countries” initially focused on law enforcement by political leaders and bureaucrats. But these strategies met with limited success and so efforts switched to raising public awareness of the dangers of corruption.
This change of approach made sense. One reason that leaders don’t deliver on reforms is that they benefit from the way things are. Encouraging citizens to reject corrupt leaders would give those in power an incentive to act.
The last 20 years therefore saw a vast array of campaigns, from newspaper and radio advertisements to Twitter messages. Short films, theatre productions and signs that proclaim that government institutions are “corruption free zones” were also included.
These messages are seen by large numbers of people, but until recently there had been remarkably little systematic research on whether they actually work.
To test the impact of anti-corruption messages we developed five short narratives like those promoted by civil society organisations and international donors. One message focused on explaining that corruption is widespread and damaging. Others emphasised the local impact of graft and the way it wasted citizens’ taxes.
To test the effect of more positive messages, one narrative talked about recent successes that political leaders had in curbing corruption. Another detailed the role that religious leaders played in promoting clean government.
We read the messages to 2,400 randomly selected people in Lagos. While corruption has often been identified as a major challenge in Nigeria, the Lagos State government has made some progress towards reducing government waste, ensuring all citizens pay taxes and delivering better services. It was therefore plausible that both positive and negative messages about corruption would resonate with Lagosians. The state is also ethnically diverse, with considerable poverty and inequality, and so reflects the kind of context in which anti-corruption messaging is often deployed.
Each person we interviewed was given one of the narratives. A control group was not given any anti-corruption information. This was to enable us to compare the impact of different messages. We then asked everyone a number of questions about their attitudes towards corruption.
In an advance on previous studies, we also invited 1,200 people to play a game in which they had an opportunity to win real money. In the game, players could take away more money if they were willing to pay a small bribe to the “banker” who determined the pay-outs. The game tested players’ commitment to rejecting corruption in a more demanding way than simply asking them if they believed corruption was wrong.
We were then able to evaluate whether anti-corruption messages were effective by looking at whether those who received them were more likely to demand clean government and less willing to pay a bribe.
More harm than good
In line with prior research, our findings suggest that anti-corruption campaigns may be doing more harm than good. None of the narratives we used had a positive effect overall. Many of them actually made Lagosians more likely to pay a bribe.
Put another way, the good news is that public relations campaigns can change citizens’ minds. But the bad news is that they often do so in unintended and counterproductive ways.
The reason for this seems to be that anti-corruption messages encourage citizens to think more about corruption, emphasising the extent of the problem. This contributes to “corruption fatigue”: the belief that the problem is simply too big for any one person to make a difference generates despondency. It makes individuals more likely to go with the flow than to stand against it.
This interpretation is supported by another finding that the negative effect of anti-corruption messaging was far more powerful among individuals who believed that corruption was pervasive. This reveals that the problematic consequences of anti-corruption messages are not universal. Among less pessimistic people, messages did not have a negative effect. And one message had the desired effect of reducing the probability of paying a bribe. This was the narrative that emphasised the relationship between corruption and citizens’ tax payments.
Our study therefore suggests that if we can target anti-corruption messages more effectively at specific audiences, we may be able to enhance their positive effects while minimising the risks.
We therefore need to take the lessons of these studies seriously. Anti-corruption campaigns that send untargeted messages should be halted until we work out how to target them more effectively. The most logical response is to embrace new ways of working.
This might mean identifying messages that persuade citizens that corruption is fallingand so “nudge” them to believe it is a problem that can be overcome.
Where that’s not possible, it is also worth considering a more radical break with the past. As others working within the Anti-Corruption Evidence Consortium have argued, the most promising approach may be to abandon traditional anti-corruption messaging in favour of working more indirectly. This would involve building public demand for greater political accountability and transparency without always talking directly about corruption.
Such an approach would be less high profile, but is far more likely to be effective.
Welcome to The Bloomgist review of the 2019-20 Premier League season. The Guardian, UK have nominated some contenders for this category but this is just to get the discussion going: offer your suggestions below the line …
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
This is only the third time the Guardian has had this category in its end-of-season awards, and Alexander-Arnold has been in all of them. Given that he doesn’t turn 22 until October, there’s still time for one more. It has been another season of wild achievement for the right-back, one of only three qualifying players to appear in every Premier League game (the others being West Ham’s Declan Rice, who hasn’t missed a single minute but who like his team has not always reached his full potential, and the excellent Burnley winger Dwight McNeil). For the second year in a row Alexander-Arnold hit double-figures in top-flight assists – only Kevin De Bruyne registered more – but he has improved his goal output; he scored with a lovely low shot in the Boxing Day thrashing of Leicester, probably his and his team’s finest display of the campaign. Jürgen Klopp says he is “one of the most relentless professionals I’ve met when it comes to focusing on getting better each and every day”. Cafu thinks “he will be regarded as one of the best players in the world”. He is still only 21.
Max Aarons (Norwich)
Most clubs are constantly searching for first-team-ready young talent, but Norwich seem particularly good at it. Perhaps, in fact, a little too good. The three defenders with the most appearances for the club this season are Aarons, a 20-year-old right-back, Jamal Lewis, a 22-year-old left-back, and Ben Godfrey, a centre-back born 10 days before Lewis in January 1998. All three qualify for this list, along with the midfielder Todd Cantwell, 22, while their key creative force, Emiliano Buendía, is only 23. But there is a value to experience, and starting a first Premier League season with a back four largely populated by players 21 and under with no top-flight experience is not the best way to secure a second Premier League season. They have duly conceded more goals than any other team. Individually, however, they remain excellent prospects, with Aarons perhaps the pick. Since making his league debut in the East Anglian derby against Ipswich in September 2018 he has started all but two league games and never been substituted, a remarkable record for one so young.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
Last season Greenwood made three league appearances and played three minutes in the Champions League; this season he has crept slowly into the team – he didn’t start a league game until December – but it ends with him in Manchester United’s starting XI and looking ready to stay there, having developed the endearing habit of lashing balls into nets with either foot. He is clearly a fine instinctive finisher, is a faster sprinter even than Marcus Rashford, and has a knack for taking shots early that befuddles goalkeepers. “He’s developed fantastically this season,” says Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “The sky’s the limit.” One of three players at Manchester United who might easily have made the list, alongside Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
In contrast to others on this list, Foden doesn’t really have the stats to back up his inclusion. For every game he has started he has spent one and a half on the bench; before the new year he spent more than 23 minutes on the pitch only once. But when he has played he has looked extremely classy. He is comfortable on either foot, has got more and more game time as the season has progressed, and has had Pep Guardiola gushing ever more effusively about his potential. “I’ve seen many players in my life – I have trained incredible, incredible players,” says the Spaniard, “and Phil will be one of them.”
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
It feels like a long time since England had so many young players bursting impressively into top-flight teams. Every side playing in Europe next season has at least one key player who is English and was 21 or younger when the campaign started (Leicester’s Harvey Barnes is the only one not to have got a mention elsewhere), and Chelsea have a handful (as well as the American Christian Pulisic, whose post-lockdown form has been sensational, and several impressive cameos from the 19-year-old Scot Billy Gilmour). Mount in particular has been exceptional. He has been involved in every league game but one – as well as every England match – this season, and brings dynamism and constant effort to midfield as well as attacking threat.
Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth)
Goalkeepers often catch the eye in struggling teams, but Ramsdale has played with consistency and maturity in his debut top-flight season despite the chaos sometimes taking place in front of him. He was particularly outstanding in the 2-0 defeat to Southampton, including a fine penalty save in which he refused to be taken in by Danny Ings’ mid-run dummy, and did not deserve the dejection with which he slumped to the turf on the final whistle. Six Premier League teams this season have first-choice goalkeepers aged 33 or above, and it takes a brave manager to put promise over experience in this of all positions. Not a lot has worked out for Eddie Howe this season, but for this at least, he deserves credit.
Speaker of the house of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has given Godswill Akpabio, minister of Niger Delta affairs, 48 hours to name the lawmakers who got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Speaking on the floor of the house on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila also commended Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, chairman of the house committee on NDDC, from withdrawing from the probe of the commission.
While appearing before the panel probing the NDDC on Monday, Akpabio said most of the contracts awarded by the agency were to members of the national assembly.
The speaker said if the minister fails to name the lawmakers, the full “wrath” of the house will be brought against him.
Gbajabiamila said Akpabio came to play games but “we do not play games here”.
“I am giving the minister 24 to 48 hours, to publish the names, the contracts, the companies, date, amount and the projects,” he said.
“Failing which, this house will bring the full wrath of the house on him. It is important that we set this record straight.
“The minister owes it to himself, to the committee, to people of Niger Delta, and the country to publish it. I will reserve my judgement. The minister came there to play games, but we do not play games here.”
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja.
Mr. Jonathan visited Buhari three days after Buhari named the railway complex in Agbor, Delta state, after his predecessor.
Though we are yet to learn the reason for the meeting, we strongly believe it may be linked to Jonathan’s appointment by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lead its mediation team to help resolve the socio-political tension Mali.
The former president paid his first visit to Buhari during his second term on October 10.
How should you navigate a date when you’re not sure a kiss goodbye, let alone an in-person rendezvous, is on the table? Certain dating apps are trying to ease the process. Bumble now lets its users add a badge to their profiles that signifies what kind of dates they’re comfortable with: virtual, socially distanced or socially distanced with a mask. And on Lex, which caters to the queer community, users often preface their personal ads with their Covid-19 or antibody test results, said Kell Rakowski, the app’s founder. Still, meeting up in person — and any physical contact, be it a touch on the arm or sex — requires some pretty candid conversations.
First, make no assumptions.
Some people are only comfortable with video dates; others, and this isn’t hypothetical, are still willing to suggest a threesome before noon on a Tuesday. “I definitely didn’t have that one on my pandemic bingo card,” said Jen Livengood, 37, a Nashville television producer. (She declined.)
If you have text or Zoom fatigue, or aren’t in the market for another penpal, find out within the first few messages whether meeting up in person is on the table. Matt Minich, a 33-year-old doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests asking, “What does social distancing mean to you?” “A woman asked me that, and it’s a really good way of phrasing it,” Mr. Minich said. “It’s also a way to ask somebody out.”
Other people are more direct, asking for proof of Covid-19 or antibody test results, or suggesting both parties get tested before a meet-up, especially if they live in an area where testing is free. Tarryn Feldman, 36, a makeup artist who works in Nashville’s music industry, gets tested frequently because of her job. She currently has a “friend with benefits” (her description) and is rigorously honest with him about banal interactions that she would never normally discuss. “We check in,” Ms. Feldman said. “I’m not afraid to ask him anything about what he’s been doing and where he’s been.” When a houseguest’s personal trainer tested positive for Covid-19, for instance, Ms. Feldman informed her friend-with-benefits, and everyone got tested. (No one, except the trainer, had the coronavirus.)
For a first in-the-flesh date, keep it outside, where the risk of coronavirus transmission is lower. For the nearly 20 people interviewed for this article, walks were by far the top choice, followed by picnics and then backyard barbecues or a drink at a restaurant with outdoor seating. A clothing designer in Pomona, Calif., who requested anonymity because she didn’t want to be judged for her choices, went over to a man’s house for a dinner of takeout lamb and hummus after he’d produced a screenshot of a negative Covid test — and he’d just had the place cleaned. “He sprayed me down with Lysol and he had a HEPA filter right by his front door, which he said would get all the germs,” she explained. But it didn’t matter: They weren’t a good match and didn’t meet up again.
Embrace the mask.
Nearly all the daters interviewed for this article skipped the masks except if there were other people around — though most know it’s not necessarily a rational choice. “There’s something psychologically when you like someone, you automatically trust that they don’t have the virus,” said Kaley Isabella, 31, who works in public relations in Los Angeles and has been dating a man she met during the pandemic. “It’s crazy. It doesn’t make someone safe just because you like them.”
Marie Helweg-Larsen, a professor of psychology at Dickinson College, says it’s true we are biased toward people we choose to go out with. We tend to underestimate our own risk, she wrote in an email, “and of course we want people we know/love to share our umbrella of invulnerability.”
This thinking can be tough to counteract; it requires recognizing your own bias in your risk assessment. “My best advice is to tell the date beforehand that you intend to wear a mask and would like the date to do so as well,” Dr. Helweg-Larsen wrote. “You can also practice what to say if the date is resisting (something simple like, ‘please put on your mask’ or, ‘you are protecting me with your mask’) or you can use non-verbal communication like stepping or turning away from someone.”
If you choose to mask up — and health experts say you should — expect some mixed signals, or no signals at all. Katie Kirby, 35, a delivery person for DoorDash in Pittsburgh, said face coverings also act as a dating filter; she doesn’t want to be out with anybody who won’t wear one.
But masks increase her anxiety. “I rely on facial expressions so when things are impeded it makes it harder for me to gauge things,” Ms. Kirby said. “And besides worrying that somebody might not be the best person, you’re also worried about a virus.”
Let’s get physical?
For most daters, the biggest question isn’t, “Do you ask before getting physical?” but, “When do you ask?” Inquiring before you’ve met up in person can sound forward, but, according to couples who have already gone on a number of video dates, it’s essential.
“You don’t spend this much time on the phone with someone you don’t want to be physical with,” said Ike Diaz, 39, a video producer in Los Angeles. Mr. Diaz met a marketing manager named Esprit on The League, an app that vets its users based on criteria like where they went to school, for example; they video-dated for more than two months before each got Covid-19 tests so they could meet up for a picnic in late May. Before the date, she asked: “If we were to see each other, would it be an option for us to give each other a kiss?” (Mr. Diaz said that the attraction between the two was “palpable,” but that he had resolved to wait for a signal from her that she was comfortable.)
“I liked that she framed it as a hypothetical, so it wasn’t aggressive,” he said. And, yes, they kissed — and are still together.
If you’re not used to being direct, Rae McDaniel, a certified sex therapist in Chicago, advises calling out any scared feelings. “Saying, ‘I want to ask you something, but I’m nervous you’ll think/do/feel… ’ can turn down the volume on fear quite a bit by naming it instead of trying to ignore it,” said Mx. McDaniel, who uses they/them pronouns. They also suggested following a conversation formula they said has long been used by educators for communicating desires and boundaries about safer sex: Share the risks you’ve taken, then ask about the other person’s risk level and interest in getting closer.
You should also expect to discuss your private life with roommates, even if — and maybe especially if — those are your parents. Jessie Sholl, 51, a writer, left Brooklyn in March to live with her father and stepmother in Minneapolis. After self-quarantining for several weeks, Ms. Sholl wanted to go on an in-person date with a man she’d hooked up with over Christmas and had been Facetiming since she’d been back in town. “I had to tell them he wasn’t some guy I just met — that we had spent the night together,” she said. For the couple’s first in-person date, a socially distanced walk in April, Ms. Sholl’s father and stepmother stood in the doorway waving.
“It was like being back in high school,” Ms. Sholl said. “And then I heard my dad yell, ‘Stay six feet apart.’”
Finally, remember that no amount of coronavirus precautions will protect you from the dogs. After a month of Facetiming, Ms. Livengood went to a man’s house for their first in-person date in his backyard. He grilled filet mignon; she brought Ketel One vodka and mixed French 75s. They stayed six feet apart as he showed her around, but as the cocktails kicked in, “like on any normal date, we got more cuddly and tactile,” she said. They kissed.
At the end of the evening, he took her hands, looked deep into her eyes and said, “If you could just lose 10 or 15 pounds, you would be a knockout and I would consider leaving my girlfriend for you.” Ms. Livengood promptly went home and left her doctor a message about getting a coronavirus test.
Beyoncé has released a trailer for her new visual album, Black is King, which aims to promote “the beauty of tradition and black excellence”.
The film will premiere globally on Disney+ on 31 July and is a reimagining of the live-action remake of The Lion King with music from Beyoncé’s album The Lion King: The Gift, which was released last year.
Little is known about the narrative elements of the project but Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland, Naomi Campbell and Pharrell Williams will all feature. It is described as a visual album that “reimagines the lessons of The Lion King for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns”.
Black is King was shot in South Africa, west Africa, Belgium, Los Angeles, New York and London over the course of a year, with Beyoncé serving as executive producer, alongside a creative team that included the Dutch-Ghanian film-maker Emmanuel Adjei, the Ghanaian pop star Blitz Bazawule and the Belgian visual artist Pierre Debusschere.
In 2016, Beyoncé released her sixth record, Lemonade, as a visual album with a premiere on HBO that featured poetry by the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, with segments that were shot by a group of film-makers including the Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas and Kahlil Joseph.Advertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Lemonade was one of the first times that Beyoncé had openly expressed her political views, with scenes that depicted the mothers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin holding photographs of their sons.
Black is King will focus on “the voyages of black families … [and] a tale about a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity,” according to a press release, which also says it is a celebration of “black resilience and culture”.
It adds: “His ancestors help guide him toward his destiny, and with his father’s teachings and guidance from his childhood love, he earns the virtues needed to reclaim his home and throne.”
She also wrote to the attorney general of Kentucky to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American woman killed by police officers while asleep in her home. Taylor’s death sparked Black Lives Matter protests.
Not a linear plot but a series of vignettes, Nothing Can Hurt You by Nicola Maye Goldberg (Raven, £12.99) is a superbly unsettling account of the aftermath of a murder told in 12 different voices, the last being the victim herself. In 1997, 21-year-old college student Sara Morgan was killed by her schizophrenic boyfriend Blake Campbell, her body left in woods in New York state. Acquitted after pleading temporary insanity, Blake went on to marry and raise a family. Sara was reduced to “just a name on a plaque in a community garden”, but her murder affected the lives of all those it touched, from the troubled housewife who discovered her body to the half-sister who was only two when she died. Reactions vary from grief and bafflement to voyeurism and obsession, with a subplot about a serial killer giving wider context to how society deals with violence against women. If you’re after a whodunnit, there’s nothing to see, but for a perceptive and moving account of people trying to process a senseless act, look no further.
Gender-based violence is also the subject of The Divine Boys by Colombian novelist Laura Restrepo, translated by Carolina De Robertis (Amazon Crossing, £8.99), an unflinching account of posh boys on the rampage in Bogota. Now pushing 40, but still wedded to their adolescent rituals, the members of the self-styled Tutti Frutti gang are, in their different ways, narcissists to a man. Hobbit, the least successful and most peripheral of the five, narrates the story of how Muñeco, the most dangerous of their number, kidnaps an unnamed little girl from the city’s slums. Initially, the others rally round to help him evade capture, but as the full extent of his crime is revealed, their loyalties begin to waver. This is a compelling story of toxic masculinity, entitlement born of privilege, and lost innocence.
The masonic intimacy of the old boy network operates in a rather different way in The Sandpit (Harvill Secker, £16.99), Nicholas Shakespeare’s first work of fiction in a decade. In this wonderfully written thriller, former foreign correspondent and single father John Dyer (first seen in Shakespeare’s 1995 novel, The Dancer Upstairs) has returned home from Brazil so that his young son can attend his alma mater in Oxford while he sits in the Taylorian library researching a book. Things have changed since Dyer’s time – the “school gates” set are now mainly foreigners whose wealth seems to be of dubious provenance and who are using the school to “launder” their children – and the only other parent he really connects with is Iranian scientist Rustum Marvar. When Marvar and his son disappear, after revealing that he has made a potentially revolutionary breakthrough in nuclear fission and handing over his research, Dyer becomes the focus of much interest and begins to consider the other parents in a new and dangerous light. The Sandpit is as much about love, loss and fatherhood as it is about intrigue. It is old school in the best possible way, with an insidious escalation of menace, and paranoia that fairly shimmers off the pages.
There’s more paranoia in Lottie Moggach’s literary thriller Brixton Hill (Corsair, £14.99). Rob is nearing the end of a seven-year sentence for manslaughter at the south London prison and, as part of his reintroduction to the world, is allowed out on day release to volunteer in a charity shop. As long as he keeps his head down on the inside and stays away from temptation on the outside, the parole board will look on him favourably, but a chance encounter with an attractive woman, Steph, threatens to jeopardise his release. As the narrative baton is passed between the two of them, we learn that Steph inhabits a different kind of jail – a soulless flat in an almost empty luxury development – with a different kind of jailer. All the requisite psychological suspense tropes are well orchestrated, but where this novel really stands out is in its realistic depiction of daily life in the nick: a toxic brew of boredom, myriad indignities, petty one-upmanship and fear.
Organised crime may not be an obvious splice with romantic suspense, but Caroline Mackenzie merges them to good effect in her debut novel, One Year of Ugly (Borough, £12.99). Having fled the dysfunctional socialist regime of their native Venezuela for Trinidad, the extended Palacios family find themselves forced to work for a crime lord in order to pay off a debt incurred by now-deceased Aunt Celia. The eponymous Ugly is a people trafficker, and the clan must play host to his newly arrived charges; narrator Yola falls for enforcer Roman and a clandestine affair begins. All the sneaking around is difficult enough, but when Yola’s devout spinster aunt becomes suspicious of her new “guests” and winds up shooting one of them, things go from bad to worse. A sharp, funny narrator and a cast of colourful characters make this a perfect staycation read.
‘Yes, here, you get out here.’ I’m not convinced but tumble out of the New York cab and stand in a street of mysterious frontages and even more mysterious smells. I’m on my way to meet the restaurant critic who writes the Hungry City column for The New York Times. This features simple restaurants off the beaten track, mom-and-pop hole-in-the-walls and the like.
I venture behind the heavy plastic curtain indicated by the cabby and am shouted at by a small, irate Chinese lady chopping a mountain of cabbages. Back to the map.
Forty minutes later I reach the Vietnamese restaurant where I’m supposed to have lunch, flustered and parched. I’m handed an iced coffee in a bucket-sized cup. I’ve had iced coffee before. I make my own iced coffee, carefully balancing coffee strength with milkiness, so this is no big deal.
But then I taste it: cold, strong and childishly sweet. I fall instantly in love.Forget all those cocktails with paper umbrellas. Simple summer drinks that you’ve put a little thought into are much more chic
When I get home I check recipes – they’re barely recipes, just coffee and sweetened condensed milk in specific proportions – and become an addict. Vietnamese coffee is what I drink on hot nights, the coffee making the most satisfying crackle at it’s poured over ice. Ideally you should use a special little Vietnamese metal filter called a phin ca phe, but a simple plastic filter does the trick.
It has been a hot summer so a lot of iced coffee has been downed in my kitchen, but so too has hibiscus agua fresca. Please don’t roll your eyes. I know hibiscus isn’t an everyday ingredient (and I hesitated many times before placing an online order for the dried flowers) but I’ve kept a jug of this in the fridge all summer.
Aguas frescas (Spanish for ‘cool waters’) are non-alcoholic Mexican drinks made from fruit, nuts, seeds or flowers mixed with water, sugar and (often) lime juice. Watermelon and cucumber aguas frescas are also thirst-quenchingly brilliant, but make the hibiscus version once and you’ll keep doing it (and people will beg you for the recipe and your precious flowers).
When you have friends round, an imaginative drink isn’t necessary but it shows that you care and, with a few small plates, can make a meal. It’s also, if you’re a keen cook, an interesting area in which to dabble.
A home-infused gin (my rhubarb stuff, made earlier in the year, is all gone now so I’m on the raspberry version below) provokes shrieks of delight and you get to line your kitchen shelves with colourful bottles.
Forget all those cocktails with paper umbrellas. Simple summer drinks that you’ve put a little thought into are much more chic (and Vietnamese coffee the best late-night vice you could develop).
This is a ‘quick’ infusion because raspberries (and other berries of a similar structure) flavour and colour alcohol quickly. It’s ready in two weeks. You can add more sugar if you want, once you’ve drained the raspberries off and tasted the gin.
About 1 litre
250g caster sugar
800ml good-quality gin (because the raspberry flavour is delicate)
Put the caster sugar in a 2.5 litre jar. (A preserving jar, with a good clasp on the lid, is best but any other large lidded jar will do. Clean it well in soapy water before using.)
Drop in the raspberries on top of the sugar. Add the gin and close the lid. Leave somewhere dark for a couple of weeks. If it sits in the sun the colour fades.
Strain the alcohol through a cheesecloth-lined sieve and bottle the gin. Drink with tonic water, or mix with tonic water and regular gin.
Ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee)
This is now the only iced coffee I ever make – there’s no mucking about with sugar syrup or adjusting the quantity of milk.
25g finely ground coffee
130ml just-boiled water
30ml (about 1½ tbsp) sweetened condensed milk
crushed or cubed ice, to serve
Put the coffee into a filter paper inside a coffee filter. Set over a jug and pour the water over.
Put the condensed milk in the bottom of a glass. Add plenty of crushed or cubed ice.
Pour the filtered coffee from the jug over the ice and stir to mix the coffee and milk together.
Hibiscus agua fresca
A fabulous citrusy Mexican drink. Check health-food shops or try souschef.co.uk for hibiscus flowers, or use hibiscus teabags from Ocado. I like it pure and simple but you can add slices of ginger root, strips of orange zest, mint or basil leaves to the hibiscus along with the boiling water.
About 1 litre
30g dried hibiscus flowers
750ml boiling water
125g caster sugar
juice of 4 limes
500ml cold water
ice cubes and lime, to serve
Put the hibiscus flowers in a saucepan with the boiling water and simmer the mixture very gently on a low heat for about 20 minutes.
Add the sugar and stir to dissolve it. Leave until cool.
Pour the mixture through a sieve, pressing on the flowers to extract as much flavour as possible. Add the lime juice and the cold water to the hibiscus-infused liquid.
Taste to see if you’re happy with the levels of sweetness and tartness. Serve over ice and add slices of lime (you can also use the leftover flowers).
You can make this a slightly easier way: just use San Pellegrino sparkling grapefruit juice drink – three parts to one part tequila – and add lime juice and ice (no agave or soda needed).
450ml pink-grapefruit juice
juice of 2 limes
4-5 tbsp agave syrup, or added to taste
200ml soda water
ice cubes, to serve
Mix the tequila and the grapefruit juice together with the lime juice.
Add the agave syrup (you can add it to taste if you prefer it less sweet).
Dating relationships are central to adolescents’ lives. This is true all over the world. Between 66% to over 70% of adolescents will have been involved in a romantic relationship by late adolescence (that is, 18 to 19 years).
But the experiences – and the tensions and strains of dating – can be different in different contexts.
We conducted research among young people aged between 10 and 19 in Oyo State, Nigeria.
Our study examined dating patterns, dating disclosure and parents’ awareness in Ibadan metropolis. We also looked at the association between involvement in romantic relationships and risky sexual behaviours.
We found that adolescents were confronted with a range of dilemmas in negotiating the boundaries between privacy and disclosure. These ranged from cultural to religious and situational. Some were also self-imposed.
We also found that adolescents who were currently involved in romantic relationships were twice more likely to be involved in risky sexual behaviour compared to those who were not in a relationship.
The prevalence of romantic relationships among adolescents is on the increase. Given the negative effects that can come with them, parents, teachers and researchers need to pay more attention to building the capacity of adolescents to manage these relationships. The involvement of parents is likely to produce positive effects.
Romantic relationships among adolescents
We conducted a study among 1200 in-school adolescents. The group was equally divided between male and female students.
We found that over 70% of the adolescents said that they had been in a relationship. About 36% said they were currently in a relationship.
We measured the association between being in a romantic relationship and participating in risky sexual behaviour.
Risky sexual behaviour was considered to cover a number of factors. These were: having multiple sexual partners, engaging in transactional sex, having sex before age 15, use of substances before sex and incorrect use – or non use – of condoms.
About 14% of the young people we interviewed had been involved in at least one of these. Those involved in a romantic relationship were significantly more likely to have been involved in at least one risky sexual behaviour.
We found that adolescents who had high family connectedness (felt love and support from their family) were significantly less likely to be involved in risky sexual behaviour even though they had been involved in romantic relationships.
In an earlier study, we found that parents generally frowned on romantic relationships among their adolescents.
Historically, parents and family members would initiate and monitor romantic relationships between two young people intending to become a couple. But in more recent times, individuals have been freer to make their own choices.
Despite this shift, we found that parents still frowned at – and discouraged – adolescent romantic relationships. They worried about their children’s exposure to sexual risk behaviours.
This disapproval meant that adolescents were likely to hide their romantic relationships from their parents.
Generally, there have been more reports of the negative influences of romantic relationships than the positive. The presence of caring and supportive parents can significantly delay the involvement in romantic relationships. Parental support in a relationship can also help reduce the negative effects of romantic relationship that an adolescent may have otherwise experienced.
Positive experiences – such as receiving support and affection contributes to healthy self-esteem – can improve communication skills and conflict management skills. It contributes to their growing sense of self-identity, improves self-worth and can increase their levels of acceptance and popularity among their peers.
The way forward
The desire for romantic relationships among adolescents should not be treated as a ticking “time-bomb”. Parents and communities need to see it as an opportunity to be involved in the sexual development of adolescents. The more an adolescent feels comfortable discussing their feelings with their parents, the more likely they are to enjoy positive experiences in their relationships.
The culture of silence has not helped proper sexual development among adolescents. It has only increased their curiosity and driven them to other, less safe sources of information.
Parents need to engage adolescents in sexual and pubertal discussions early. This can ensure that adolescents make the right decisions in and out of a romantic relationship.
Romantic relationships are not entirely bad during adolescence. But without the involvement of parents, adolescents are more likely to encounter the negative effects. Since romantic relationships are unavoidable among adolescents as most of them will be involved in a relationship before their 18th birthday, it is important that parents do not avoid the topic of sexual development.
The World Health Organisation reported more than 230,000 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday — the world’s largest daily increase during the pandemic. The surge has forced governments in many places across the world to order new lockdowns.
This includes Melbourne, which is back in a six-week lockdown after a second wave of new cases exceeded the city’s first peak in late March.
But Melbourne’s not the only city to suffer a second wave of the pandemic. Cities including Beijing and Leicester had lifted COVID-19 restrictions, only to re-enforce them when new outbreaks occurred.
So how have other cities gone about their second lockdown, and have the measures been effective in tackling the COVID-19 resurgence? Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Though there’s no strict definition of a lockdown, it describes the controls imposed by governments to restrict the movement of people in their communities. It’s often achieved through a combination of police presence and applying public health regulations.
It can be implemented partially, progressively or fully. The latter is called “hard lockdown” when the freedom of entry to, and exit from, either an entire building or geographic area is prohibited or limited.
The Segrià region in Catalonia, Spain re-entered an indefinite partial lockdown on July 4 following a significant spike in cases and COVID-19 hospitalisations.
The city of Leicester in the United Kingdom has gone into a second lockdown after it accounted for 10% of all positive COVID-19 cases in the country at the end of June. The city has been in lockdown for the past two weeks and despite this, the latest data show an increase in the numbers of cases.
Alongside this was extensive and widespread testing, with a peak capacity of 300,000 tests per day. This approach proved successful – the city reported zero new COVID-19 cases on July 7.
While there are increasing examples of a return to some lockdown measures, there are no examples demonstrating the success of a second lockdown — other than in Beijing — because it’s too early to tell.
Clear public health messaging is key
When entering a second lockdown, it’s useful to consider the lessons learnt from the first. Initial lockdowns in both Italy and India provide cautionary tales on what happens when public messaging and enforcement is flawed.
Italian media published information about internal movement restrictions a day before the Italian prime minister officially announced it and signed the decree. At the time, only northern Italy was heavily affected by COVID-19.
After the news spread, workers and students, many of whom carried the virus, rushed back home across the country, flooding the train stations. Even though the goal was to reduce the spread of the virus, the effects were the opposite. Soon after, it was discovered that new COVID-19 cases in southern Italy were families from students who came home from the north.
Similar panic among migrant workers occurred in India when the prime minister gave the public only a few hours notice before the start of the lockdown. This is just one reason why India’s lockdown has been labelled as “a spectacular failure”.
Lockdown, relax, lockdown, relax
After a lockdown, the majority of the population remains at risk of infection without a vaccine. So as restrictions ease, cases are likely to increase again, leading to a pattern of lockdowns, relaxation and renewed lockdowns
So why can’t governments just aim to eliminate the virus? An elimination strategy requires strict, intensive lockdowns and closing external and internal borders to eradicate local transmission and prevent the virus being imported.
Elimination strategies have worked in only a few countries and regions, such as New Zealand which imposed an early and strict lockdown.
The effectiveness of lockdowns can be diminished by increasing population fatigue in response to reimposed restrictions.
Locking down a given country can cost up to 3% of GDP per month, according to UBS Global Wealth Management.
Lockdowns can work if we use masks
It’s clear that lockdowns cannot be maintained indefinitely. That’s why the rapid development of a vaccine to achieve herd immunity, without extensive infection, is critical – along with the development of drugs to relieve the symptoms of COVID-19.
So how long should Melbourne’s lockdown last? The Grattan Institute has argued it should continue until there are no more active COVID-19 cases in the community to eliminate the virus – and after that, should remain in place for another two weeks.
We argue that the duration of the lockdown could be halved if paired with mandatory universal use of face masks. Wearing masks lowers the risk of spreading and contracting the disease.
The venue is booked. The invites are sent. You’ve found The Dress. And then the pandemic happened.
The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have left many couples unsure what lies in store for their 2020 weddings.
Weddings have been able to restart since July 4, with up to 30 people able to attend under social distancing rules. However, only two households will be permitted to attend a reception held at an indoor hospitality venue.
With these conditions in place, some couples might be uncertain about going through with their wedding this year.
We have spoken to wedding industry experts to find out what a socially distanced celebration might look like, and whether you should postpone your wedding for the foreseeable future.
Are weddings back on in Nigeria?
Yes – but not as you know them. The Government announced that there will be gathering of not more than 20 people – this is including the couple, guests, suppliers (such as the photographer), and registrar or celebrant. This is provided they comply with social distancing rules. Guests will have to stand or sit at least one metre apart, as well as take other safety precautions – such as wearing a face mask.
For those who were originally planning a big bash, this means seriously downsizing if your venue is still able to accommodate you safely; although the measures may come as a blessing for couples already grappling with a spiralling guestlist.
What are the new safety measures?
Wedding ceremonies in England should be kept “as short as reasonably possible” and limited to just what is legally binding, according to the new guidelines for gathering. Religious ceremonies which would usually take a number of hours or days will need to adapt to a very short and limited number of people.
As mentioned above, no more than 20 people should be in attendance and only two households should be present.
Wedding receptions which typically follow the ceremony are “strongly advised not to take place at this time”. If you do want a wedding reception, government guidelines state only two households can attend an indoor venue or six guests from different households can attend an outdoor celebration.
Should I postpone my summer wedding?
If you have a wedding booked for this year, should you postpone it? It depends on whether you are comfortable with having a socially-distanced celebration of only 20 people, with only two households allowed in an indoor reception venue.
“All my couples up until October have postponed because they want the weddings that they dreamed of, and have spent months, if not years, planning,” she says. “These days, weddings involve so much more than just a legally binding ceremony; they’re a celebration of friendship and families, and this is something that the current guidelines don’t allow.” While many of her clients remain “optimistic” about their weddings next year, she said that whether future ceremonies will be able to operate at full capacity remains uncertain – particularly if there’s a second wave.
Another popular option is to press on with a small ceremony with a handful of guests this year, and postpone the big celebration until we can party properly again
Some might opt to have a small ceremony in the summer, with a handful of guests, and postpone the big party to next year. “I can see an increase in couples having a simple ceremony this year when allowed for just them, the registrar and witnesses,” says Chapman. “And in 2021 they will plan a larger wedding for all their guests but opting for a celebrant ceremony.”
Will my wedding next year be OK?
It’s all a matter of “speculation”, Otter says, and the situation could change so rapidly. “At this present time, no, I do not see 2021 being an issue,” she explains, “but have this conversation with me in two weeks’ time and I might be saying something totally different.”
If you do postpone your wedding to next year, you might face another challenge: finding an available date. Given that most weddings this year will be postponed to 2021, on top of the weddings that were already planned to go ahead next year, suppliers and venues might have limited dates available. As such, a lot of couple are having mid-week weddings, according to Otter, “so they can keep their suppliers”.
She tells me that one couple wanted to move their wedding, which was supposed to take place this September, to any Saturday between the beginning of April and end of October 2021. There was only one date that the suppliers could do.
When restrictions are lifted, what might the weddings look like?
“I feel like we will need have to look at bigger venue options,” he says. “For instance, if you’re working with a couple that are inviting 150 guests, instead of looking for venues that hold exactly 150 people, we’re going to have to look for venue options that are larger.”
This would be to allow guests to socially distance – which, he thinks, will still be our mentality after lockdown is over. “After this whole situation is finished, people are still going to have that in their way of life – of ‘I don’t want to be close to you,’” he says, adding that venues and suppliers might be more “protective” about their contact with guests.
Other wedding venues have also found creative solutions. Bijou Wedding Venues, which specialises in country house weddings, will use “airport quality” temperature reading cameras to test all staff and guest temperatures on arrival, and will live-stream the ceremony to different areas of the venue, so the mandatory witnesses can be present at the ceremony and the other guests can view it from a safe distance.
The wedding venues company also plans to replace buffet queues with table service, install marquees and gazebos to maximise time outdoors, and hold ceremonies outdoors where possible.
Otter does not see the need for such changes. “I think when we are allowed to get back to weddings as they used to be, weddings will go back to how they used to be,” she says, adding that “if social distancing rules are relaxed, things will very quickly get back to normal”.
Some couples might opt for “alternative” ceremonies on Zoom, even when the restrictions are lifted, but this won’t work for everyone. “It’s going to work for some couples,” Otter says. “It’s definitely not going to work for the majority.”
What about international weddings?
Whilst travel restrictions are slowly starting to lift, Oliver does not imagine there will be any international weddings this year because “people are scared”.
If weddings are able to go ahead in the coming months, he says they “might be smaller weddings, they might just be elopements”.
Most of his clients have postponed to next year, or cancelled altogether. Usually, he takes on between 15 to 20 weddings this year, but says next year he will have double the number due to the postponed weddings from this year.
He’s still getting new bookings for 2021, as “people are looking past this whole situation,” he says.
Have you postponed your summer wedding? Share your experience in the comments section below.
In Nigeria, football betting has a long history that can be traced to colonial times, when pool betting was popular, especially among older adults. Since then, more younger people have taken up betting on the results of football matches, including European league football.
The country has many betting outlets where people can place a bet manually. They can also open an account online with a betting company, using a debit card, and place bets on the website or app.
A report revealed that about 60 million Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 40 are involved in active sport betting. They spend almost ₦2 billion on sports betting daily. This translates to about ₦730 billion annually. In an economy where the 2020 national budget is almost ₦11 trillion, this is huge.
Two factors are responsible for increasing football betting among youth in Nigeria. One is the increase in poverty and unemployment. Among Nigeria’s estimated population of around 200 million, around 87 million are said to be extremely poor. The youth unemployment rate in 2018 was put at 36.5%.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 29.7% of youths between the ages of 15 and 34 were unemployed at the third quarter of 2018. Betting may appear to be a way to make quick money, either as a betting operator or as a gambler.
The second factor driving and enabling football betting in Nigeria is the growing use of the internet and smart mobile phones. In 2017, 84% of Nigerians had mobile phones. The number of internet users in Nigeria is 122 million based on figures from the Nigerian Communication Commission. This is more than half of Nigeria’s estimated population. The increase in internet users in Nigeria can be attributed to affordability of internet access; with less than ₦100 (less than US$1), internet connectivity is assured. It is easy and convenient for people to place bets online using their phones.
I was interested in the potential consequences of this situation for Nigerian society and particularly for young people. I wanted to know whether the ease of online betting for economically hard-pressed young Nigerians was creating any social problems such as conflict, crime and addictive behaviour.
For my study, I collected data from in-depth interviews with fans of European football clubs, betters, parents and guardians of fans and betters, security personnel, owners and operators of betting outlets as well as football viewing centres in Lagos, Ibadan, Oyo State, south west Nigeria and Yola, Adamawa State, north east Nigeria. In addition, I observed betting activities and collected data from recent online news reports and other published works.
From the various interviews conducted and my observation, I found there was a link between football betting by young Nigerians and a perceived increase in violence and criminal activities. But in my view the answer is not to ban such betting but to address the unemployment and poverty which propel people into it.
Behaviour around betting
My interviews and observations in the field show that there is a concern about teenagers stealing to fund their football betting. I was in a security meeting in Adamawa State where parents complained to the police that they had noticed unprecedented theft of their money by their teenage children/wards to fund football betting. A parent interviewed in Adamawa State explained that:
I noticed that money was getting lost in our house on daily basis. At first I thought it was mere misplacement. Later I started to hear from my neighbours also complaining of loss of money within their homes. We later got to know that our sons were the ones stealing the money to play football betting because we always see them with receipts of bet and we know that they do not have business from where they can get money for betting.
Interactions with these teenage betters show that they spend between ₦1,000 (about $2) and ₦3,000 (about $7) on betting daily. But the jackpot rarely comes. At football viewing centres, customers are routinely warned about fighting. One operator of a viewing centre in Yola told me:
In recent times, we have witnessed outbreaks of violence among our viewers. Some of these fights are over unresolved longstanding issues. Sometimes, it is as a result of anger sustained from major loss in football betting.
Football betting may also sometimes promote ritualism, especially the use of “good luck charms”. I spoke to one gambler who said:
You cannot just go and put a huge amount of money into betting without any form of spiritual enhancement that will guarantee and insure you. If you do that without spiritual enhancement, you will just continually give your money to bet companies with their managers and staff to feed fat on while you continue to stay broke. Even bet company operators use spiritual power to ensure that their clients do not win…
There have been calls from moralists, especially in religious circles, for the government to criminalise betting, especially football betting. I witnessed two such discussions during an Islamic preaching in Yola, Adamawa State. In fact, one state has been urged to take the first step. I believe this is unlikely to be effective. It would only push betting into the background and make it more difficult for the government to regulate and control it. Government should instead pay more attention to widespread poverty and unemployment.
Time management is the art of scheduling and allocating time to several activities for efficiency and better result. The ability to manage time effectively is one of the essential skills for accomplishing goals and achieving success. Developing effective time management skill is highly dependent on our daily habits. If time is not well managed, productivity is unlikely to be achieved. Having 24 hours a day may not seem to be enough to get things done. However, if we have to get things done, we must learn to get more things done in the less time.
Here are few time management tips to help you achieve better productivity.
Set Clear Goals – Write down goals you need to accomplish. Your goals should be SMART- specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. When you set SMART and clear goals, they are more likely to be reached with less stress and better productivity.
Plan Out Each Day Using A To-Do-List – You could write out list of task you need to achieve for each week and assign task to weekdays or create a to-do-list of tasks you need to achieve the next day at the end of each day or you create task list in the morning before starting out your day. Planning ahead allow you focus on achieving your goals and lessen distractions. Avoid creating a long list of task for a day. Assign 3-4 tasks to each day and be sure to carry out the task with optimum attention. Doing less is more.
Prioritize Task And Set Time Limit For Each Task – Make sure to list task in order of their importance. Urgent, important and challenging task should be done first in the morning. This should be followed by important but not urgent task. Urgent but not important task could be delegated or outsourced. Tasks that are not urgent and not important should be eliminated.
Stay Organize – Stick to your schedule and try as much as possible not to lose focus. Ensure all you need to carry out the days task is readily available and your work environment is tidy and in order.
Do Not Multi-Task – In as much as you want to complete the entire task in your schedule for that day, it is advisable to avoid carrying out different task at the same time. Multi-tasking in reality waste time, reduces work quality and lessen productivity. Rather than dividing your attention between two tasks try focusing all your attention on one task.
Keep Track Of Time – Time tracking let you know how many minutes of your time is spent on a particular task, average amount of time it takes to complete a task, your most productive time in a day and so on. Time management apps or online calendar such as Toggl, RescueTime, Google calendar, Evernote, TickTick, FocusMe e.t.c. can also be use in tracking time.
Schedule Recess Between Task – Take breaks between tasks e.g. you could take 10 minutes break after every 1 hour. This gives you time to refresh, clear your mind and improve productivity.
Avoid Perfection And Distraction – Striving for perfectionism makes nothing seem good enough. This doesn’t mean you should give less attention to a task rather; you do your best and move on. To avoid distraction, trying going offline, putting off your phone, keeping your phone outside your work room, working in a quiet room, taking breaks, etc.
Get Enough Sleep – Sleep for about 6-7 hours each night. This enable you get enough rest and prepare ahead for the next day schedule.
Ofe Nsala is one of the fastest and easiest Igbo Soup to prepare and it’s also called the White Soup.
Nsala soup is prepared with pieces of yam, ogiri, utazi leaves and any of fish, chicken or liver. The soup originates from the Eastern part of Nigeria. A major ingredient of Nsala Soup is the cat fish which gives the soup a unique taste. Some times most people choose meat also, like chicken or cow liver to give them different tastes.
1 big Catfish
8 small pieces white yam
5 Utazi leaves
2 small seasoning cubes
Small piece of ogiri okpei
A handful crayfish
Habanero pepper (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Kill and cut it up the Catfish if you purchased the live one. Then pour hot water on the pieces of fish to remove the slime on the fish as well as toughen them. You want to toughen the catfish so it does not disintegrate in the soup.
Quickly rinse off the slime with cool water and place the fish in the cooking pot.
Peel the yam and cut into medium pieces.
Chop the utazi and pound in a mortar with the pepper, ogiri okpei and crayfish. Just give them a rough pound. Same with if you are using a blender.
Procedure for making the Ofe Nsala (Nsala Soup)1,Add the seasoning cubes (crushed) to the pot of fish.
Add the pieces of yam.
Pour water to cover everything and start cooking.
When the yam is soft and moist, bring them out and place in a mortar.
Add the pounded crayfish, pepper, ogiri okpei and utazi into the pot of fish and continue cooking.
Pound the cooked yam in a mortar till smooth and stretchy.
Add the yam into the pot of Ofe Nsala in small lumps, cover and continue cooking.
Once the yam dissolves and thickens the soup, it is done. If you achieve medium consistency before all the yam is dissolved, take out the undissolved yam because you do not want the Ofe Nsala to be too thick.
Add salt if necessary, stir very well and Ofe Nsala is ready for devouring.
This weekend recipe is brought to you by Ifeoma Nnalue Channel. For more recipes, Subscribe to her YouTube Channel with free weekly videos you won’t want to miss.
Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, has invited President Muhammadu Buhari for a state visit.
This is coming after the federal government approved the disbursement N78.9 billion as reimbursement for the amount spent on executing some federal road projects in the state, including Port Harcourt-Owerri road.
The approval for the refund was granted at the virtual federal executive council (FEC) meeting presided over by Buhari on June 3.
In a newspaper advert on Monday, Wike thanked the president for approving the refund, saying the gesture has shown Buhari’s love for the people of the state and as a president for all.
The governor said his administration is willing to work with the federal government to develop the state.
“I wish to on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State appreciate and most sincerely thank you for graciously approving the refund of the sum of 78.9 billion naira to Rivers state Government, as cost of the execution of Federal Government Road projects in Rivers State,” Wike said.
“Let me also through you thank the vice president, His Excellency professor Yemi Osinbajo GCON as well as other members of the Federal Executive Council for the support they provided for our request.
“Mr President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also demonstrated expressly that you are indeed a President of every state of the Federation and Nigerians.
“I assure you that Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the development aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.
“I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr President to kindly obliged us a State visit, when invited to see what we have accomplished for the state and our people with the money.
“Once again, thank you Mr President, and please, be assured of our profound esteem, as always.”
Wike is a known critic of the Buhari administration. He once accused the federal government of playing politics with COVID-19.
He alleged that federal authorities were working to compromise the health protection system of the state and make it vulnerable to the disease.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s justice minister, Célestin Tunda ya Kasende, was released from custody on Saturday just hours after his arrest in the capital Kinshasa, the city’s chief of police said.
Tunda was questioned by prosecutors for several hours at the court of cassation after surrendering to police at his home on Saturday afternoon.
“He’s been released,” said Kinshasa’s police chief, Sylvano Kasongo.
The action against Tunda on Saturday came a day after he clashed with President Félix Tshisekedi over the contested legal changes, according to a ministerial source.
The reforms, proposed by supporters of the still influential former president Joseph Kabila, have caused a damaging rift in the fragile government coalition.
Tunda, a lawyer by profession, had told AFP by phone shortly before his arrest that about a dozen officers had surrounded his Kinshasa home.
“I am serene. I’m a member of the government and I have immunity,” said the minister, a supporter of Kabila.
The controversial reforms include proposals to define the powers of judges, which critics said is a ploy to muzzle the judiciary. They were put forward by the Common Front for Congo (FCC), a coalition close to Kabila, who remains a behind-the-scenes force in national politics.
The FCC, in which Tunda is a senior figure, sits in an uneasy coalition with Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) and it accounts for most of the 66 government ministers as well as the prime minister.
Over two days this week, angry demonstrators, mainly UDPS supporters, some of whom were armed with petrol bombs, blocked traffic outside parliament, erecting barriers and burning tyres in a protest over the legal changes.
Former parliament speaker Aubin Minaku, one of the people behind the proposed amendments, said this week the aim of the reforms was “to define the authority the justice ministry exercises over the judges”.
But Tshisekedi’s party on Monday lambasted the proposals as a ploy to “undermine the independence of the judiciary and increase the power of the justice ministry”.
The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has tested positive for coronavirus. Governor Akeredolu had last week submitted himself for COVID-19 test after denying going for self-isolation.
The governor said he is already in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for someone who is asymptomatic.
“Earlier today, I got confirmation of a positive result for Covid-19. I am asymptomatic and not displaying any symptoms,” he said.
“I am currently self-isolating and supervised home management will be administered by the wonderful team at our Infectious Disease Hospital. I ask that we all stay safe and be well.”
Akeredolu joins a growing list of top public officers who have tested positive for the disease. They include Abba Kyari, the late chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari; Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna; Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi, and Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo.
Sudan-based Hajooj Kuka set out to document life in refugee camps. His films include Beats of the Antonov – on war, music and the resilience of the people of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains – and Darfur’s Skeleton, which tells the stories of Sudanese people displaced by conflict. He co-founded the Refugee Club, bringing together artists with similar backgrounds to highlight the plight of displaced people in Sudan.
A new film, aKasha, is a comedy, despite being set in a conflict zone. “The revolution needs to be fun,” he explains. “You can’t achieve change with just one election – you need to go on and on, and the struggle must be creative, it must be hopeful.”
Six years ago, a cashless policy became fully operational in Nigeria. The aim was to encourage electronic transactions with a view to reducing the amount of physical cash in the economy. The logic was that this would minimise the risk of cash-related crimes.
But a major downside of the policy has been pervasive electronic banking fraud (e-fraud). Although the cashless banking system was designed to foster transparency, curb corruption and drive financial inclusion, it’s threatened by the growing perpetration of fraud.
About N15.5 billion was lost to bank fraud in 2018. About 60% of the fraud was perpetrated online owing to available internet-based and tech-rated banking services.
Our research investigated dimensions of electronic fraud in Nigeria. We found three: internal fraud carried out by banking staff; external fraud carried out by ordinary Nigerians; and collaboration between fraudsters and banking staff.
We found that inefficient supervision, non-performance of oversight by regional heads of banks, and poor follow-up on customers’ addresses (Know Your Customer) accounted for the fraud that took place.
Our study provides the banking industry, banking public and investors with critical pointers on how to reduce fraud.
Our study involved collecting data as well as conducting interviews with 30 people. These included victims of bank fraud, bank customers who did not subscribe to the cashless policy and fraud detectives at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
These were the common patterns we uncovered.
Insider fraud: By insider, we mean those working with banks or those in a relationship with account holders. Here, the fraud was exclusively executed by members of staff in the banking system who exploited the strategic position they held in the system and their grasp of how it works. Banking institutions and customers were their victims.
An example we came across during our research was the case of a N90 million (US$452,261) fraud perpetrated by an account officer of a major eatery in Lagos State. The job of this account officer was to collect the eatery’s takings and deposit them at the bank. A fraud detective told us that:
As the account officer he would collect money on a daily basis and was expected to credit the company’s account. However, he would collect money on Monday and lodge it and collect on Tuesday and not lodge it. He was missing one day out. He did this continuously until he was able to rake in N90 million. At this time, when the eatery management raised the alarm on their account, he ran away and could not be found. We however used his sister to arrest him. We were only able to recover N8 million naira from him. He had used part of the money to organise his wedding, had a baby and almost completed a four-bedroom bungalow at another area in Lagos.
Bank fraud is often successful because many Nigerians don’t subscribe to transaction alerts. The eatery management trusted their account officer but did not know that he was dishonest.
Outsider fraud: These perpetrators were external to the banking system. They thrived on their internet skills and sometimes on their understanding of the victims’ routine and identity.
An example we came across was the fraudulent use of bank verification numbers (BVN). These were made compulsory by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2014. All bank account holders had to undertake biometric registration. The intention was to ensure security and check fraud.
But fraudsters have found a way to cheat the system by sending bank customers false emails asking for their bank verification details. As one victim explained to us:
I needed to make some transactions and I headed for my bank. I had called my account officer ahead of time. On getting to the bank, I connected my computer and got a mail from a supposed same bank. I was asked to click on a link and supply my BVN details for update of my account or face service suspension on the account. I just clicked the link and supplied my details and behold, N1 million debit alert came on my phone within five minutes! I was shocked and devastated but before we could do anything they had withdrawn everything.
Collaborative fraud: This involved collaboration between bank staff and fraudsters outside the banking system. Banks and individual account holders were the victims. For example, bank staff could provide account details of customers to the collaborating fraudster.
Despite this weak governance architecture, which is still not fraud proof, bank executives reported having in place mechanisms which had limited the incidence of fraud. One was sending out information to customers who subscribed to electronic alerts. Through this, banks contact and send anti-fraud messages to their customers.
Owing to reputational risk, banks try to refrain from public prosecution of erring staff. We found that banks adopted shaming as a mechanism for instilling discipline within their organisations while attempting to ease out “bad eggs” through flagging of their images on computers and across the banking industry.
There is a need to check fraud through customer awareness and financial literacy education.
While fraudsters continue to design new ways of working on customers’ vulnerabilities, Nigerian banks need to use the Cybercrime Act to prosecute offenders as a way to boost confidence in the banking sector and deter fraud in the future.
The federal government has lifted the ban on interstate travel and also approved the reopening of schools for graduating classes.
Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, broke the news at the presidential task force briefing on Monday.
He said students in primary six, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3 will be allowed to return to school.
Mustapha, who is the chairman of the task force, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave the approval when his team met with him earlier in the day.
“I am pleased to inform you that Mr. President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020,” he said.
”Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:
“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the National Coordinator;
“Permission of movement across State borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;
“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
“Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations.”
South africa had a plan for slowing the spread of covid-19. As outlined by Salim Abdool Karim, chair of the medical committee advising President Cyril Ramaphosa, on April 13th, the country would draw on its earlier experience using community health workers to deal with hiv and tuberculosis. It would screen millions of people in poorer areas. Those with symptoms would be tested and then treated and quarantined if necessary.
Yet a sound strategy has been undermined by, among other things, testing failures. State-run laboratories suggested they could do 36,000 tests per day by the end of April. Since April 5th they have managed to do just one-fifth of that. Results have also taken too long. As of June 6th the average turnaround time was 12 days.
Such delays mean the hiv-inspired strategy is “totally futile”, argues Marc Mendelson, an infectious-disease specialist at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Waiting 12 days for an hiv test is agonising, but the patient will probably not infect anyone during that time. In the case of covid-19, by the time a result arrives, a patient may have infected scores of others.
Delays put more pressure on hospitals. In the wider Western Cape province, which has 0.5% of Africa’s population and 17% of its known coronavirus cases, intensive-care units are filling up. Others in South Africa may soon follow suit. The country had the 11th highest five-day moving average of confirmed new cases as of June 16th—and the rate of growth is accelerating.
If South Africa—which with Ghana accounts for about half of all tests in sub-Saharan Africa—is not testing enough, then nor are most other countries in the region. At the start of June African countries had tested, on average, fewer than 1,700 people per 1m, a fraction of the number in rich countries (America had done 26 times more per million people). “Testing is our Achilles heel,” says John Nkengasong of Africa cdc, a pan-African health institution. It is also symbolic of broader weaknesses in African health systems that mean the continent is less able to cope with mass outbreaks than rich parts of the world.
The challenge of testing has long been recognised. In February the World Health Organisation (who) overhauled African labs. Today 43 of the 47 countries in its Africa region can do molecular testing for covid-19, up from just two at the start of the year. Nevertheless, most countries still lack resources. Nigeria has the capacity to do at least 10,000 tests per day, but has averaged fewer than 900 since announcing its first case on February 27th. Some countries have had to wait more than two months for orders of test kits to be delivered.
The problem is that African countries are competing in the market for testing materials with rich countries, many of which are regular customers of the manufacturers and often buy in bulk. Some small African countries have placed orders for fewer than 10,000 kits, as many as Germany uses in a few hours.
Philanthropy has helped. In most African countries most of the testing kits used are those donated by the charitable foundation of Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder. He has given at least 20,000 kits to every country in Africa. Yet this is far short of what is required. On June 3rd Dr Nkengasong said Africa needed at least 20m new test kits within 100 days.
To try to meet that goal, countries are pooling their resources and placing large joint orders. Africa cdc has agreed with manufacturers that 90m kits will be bought over the next six months. A bulk purchase establishes trust, argues Fatoumata Ba, a Senegalese venture capitalist and one of several African executives lending their expertise to the Partnership to Accelerate Covid-19 Testing (pact) scheme.
pact is a step forward, but problems remain. The first kits bought under the agreement are due to arrive only by the end of the month. And having kits does not obviate the need for technicians; South Africa laboured to keep pace even when it had enough materials.
The struggle to increase testing augurs ill for the broader response. The number of confirmed cases in Africa has been rising by about 30% a week over the past month. But that glosses over trouble spots, such as South Africa or Guinea-Bissau, where almost one-tenth of health workers have been infected. And it means that the absolute number of cases is mounting: it took 98 days for Africa to go from 1 to 100,000 cases, but only 18 days to reach 200,000.
The overall numbers matter, because African health systems will tend to be overwhelmed at an earlier point than those in Asia or Europe. Such weaknesses are the main reason why a study published by the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank, projected that death rates in Africa could be many times higher than predicted by other models that do not account for scant staff and cash-strapped hospitals. Already countries such as Kenya and Nigeria are planning ways to care for people in their homes rather than in hospitals.
Others are trying new ways of gauging the disease’s progress. Just four African countries keep high-quality records showing causes of deaths, according to the un. In many places most deaths are not recorded, let alone their cause. That makes it hard to calculate whether death rates are higher than average, a useful measure of the disease’s effects. In the absence of excess-mortality data, countries such as Rwanda and Senegal are doing “verbal autopsies”, where next of kin are interviewed.
South Africa does have mortality data going back years. In the three weeks to June 9th deaths from natural causes were unusually high in Cape Town, and on the rise elsewhere, too. At this point more testing would help, says Dr Mendelson, but the focus must be on reducing deaths. With that in mind the Western Cape is rationing public testing to those over the age of 55 and opening field hospitals. “We cannot test our way out of the crisis,” he says. ■
Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Bloomgist, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our coronavirus page
This article appeared in the Middle East & Africa section of The Economist under the headline “African countries are struggling to keep track of covid-19“
On the hunt for a new men’s grooming essential? Every week, grooming expert, Lee Kynaston, will be rounding up the best grooming products that have earned his seal of approval.
This week, he talks all things scents and the four fragrances that will whisk you away…
A fragrant world tour
Places have long provided perfumers with inspiration for their creations, with fragrance the perfect medium for transporting us to exotic locations and far-off destinations. After all, when a perfumer uses a note of French lavender they’re effectively dropping a pin in Provence.
So if your holiday plans have become a casualty of coronavirus, as mine just have, how about taking an olfactory adventure instead, courtesy of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed (an evocation of Ireland that’s only missing the Guinness); Heinrich Barth’s delicious fig and sage body wash (a personal fave that’ll have you longing for the Aegean); The Library of Fragrance’s Caribbean Sea; or 4160 Tuesdays’ excellent Dark Heart of Old Havana, all coffee, tobacco, and overripe fruit?
OK, so I might not be able to go to New Mexico as planned, but Ireland, Greece, Cuba and the Caribbean? Thanks to fragrance, they’re all still on the menu.
After months of slow burn, recorded coronavirus cases are beginning to rise sharply in Africa.
On Sunday night, Africa passed the 300,000 case mark with an overall death toll of around 8,000, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
While these cases amount to just three per cent of the world’s total, experts have warned that the pandemic is now accelerating in many parts of Africa, where poor health services make the virus an acute threat.
It took almost 100 days for Africa to record its first 100,000 coronavirus cases. It took another 18 days for Africa to reach 200,000 cases and a further 11 days to hit 300,000.
John N. Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has warned that the continent could be the next ‘epicentre’ of the pandemic as cases begin to overwhelm fragile health systems.
Covid-19 has spread more slowly across Africa than many thought it would. This is mainly because most African governments took quick and robust steps to limit the spread of the virus early on, while officials in the UK and US dithered.
As early as January 2, Ivory Coast started screening passengers who had visited China recently. Many other countries followed suit soon after.
When the pandemic began to take Spain and Italy by storm in March, Africa sealed itself off from international travel. Some form of lockdown was implemented in almost every country on the continent when there were still relatively few cases. Many African governments doubled down on preventing these cases from spreading with contact tracing teams.
Experts at the World Health Organization say that Africa’s real caseload is probably far higher than the official tally. Many African countries have struggled to do more than a few hundred tests a day, as wealthier countries buy up kits and lab materials en masse.
Earlier this month, the WHO warned that coronavirus was spreading out of cities and towns into rural areas, where healthcare services are limited.
One medical worker in Eastern Congo told The Telegraph that they feared a ‘wave was about to hit’ the troubled region and that the official figures did not show what was happening on the ground.
According to official statistics, South Africa is the continent’s coronavirus epicentre. Since Africa’s most industrialised economy relaxed its draconian lockdown several weeks ago, recorded cases have soared to about 100,000 — one third of Africa’s total case load.
However, South Africa may be disproportionately represented in Africa’s Covid statistics due to it effective testing. South Africa has conducted more than 1.3m tests for a population of about 58m, this is ten times what Nigeria, with its giant population of more than 200m, has managed.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO emergencies programme, said that the picture was mixed across the African continent.
“We’ve seen increases of the disease in some countries in excess of 50 per cent in the last week, and we’ve seen other countries with very very stable numbers.”
But while numbers are on the rise in general – with substantial jumps in places like South Africa, Benin, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Burundi – the continent is yet to report a large rise in the number of deaths, he said.
Dr Ryan added that there are caveats to these numbers – while hospitals do not appear to be overwhelmed, “testing is not as frequent in Africa so there could be under reporting of cases”.
He warned that there is “no room for complacency on the African continent.”
“Will Africa be the next epicentre for this? I certainly hope not,” Dr Ryansaid. “The health systems in Africa is, in general, weaker than elsewhere in the world.
“While they have the benefit of an age profile that’s much older, there are still many elderly people and many with underlying health issues.”
This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
Dan Foster had a big voice, a love of giving away gifts and a light touch with a story. And when he arrived in Nigeria to work in radio in 2000, he found a public that was ready for him.
The country’s airwaves had only recently emerged from state control, and Mr. Foster’s mix of plain talk, folksy humor and American swagger — calling himself the Big Dawg or the Top Dawg — made him a new kind of morning radio host, one of the most popular in the country.
“It was the first time in Nigeria we had someone who sounded different from us, who brought that American flavor, brought stories and just changed the way everybody saw radio,” said Osikhena Dirisu, a morning host at The Beat, a station in the main city, Lagos.
The Big Dawg parlayed his celebrity into roles in movies and on reality television, as a judge on “Idols West Africa” and “Nigeria’s Got Talent.” He also promoted concerts. The Nigerian website Pulse called him “the God of radio,” waxing, “There are two eras of radio in Nigeria. Before and after Dan Foster.”
Mr. Foster died on June 17 at a hospital in Lagos a day after receiving a positive test result for the coronavirus, his wife, Lovina Okpara, told Nigerian media. He was 61.
Daniel Leon Foster was born on Sept. 26, 1958, in San Francisco, and grew up mainly in Prince George’s County, Md., outside of Washington, the oldest of four siblings. His father, Samuel Leon Foster, was a 21-year Air Force veteran; his mother, Sarah, died when Dan was 11, leaving him to spend much of his childhood with his grandmother.
He played football in high school, and put on neighborhood shows with his sisters and brother. After high school he joined the Marines, then enrolled at Towson University and, later, Morgan State University in Baltimore, studying drama and communication.
He worked at various radio jobs in between stints in college, but by the mid-1990s his life seemed headed in the wrong direction. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated stalking in Florida, and was sentenced to three years of probation.
He kept working and married twice in the United States, fathering a son, Joshua, before receiving a job offer in Nigeria.
It was the beginning of a new life. He was an instant sensation, embracing his new country and being embraced in return. He told stories about his father and his time in the Marines, and struggled on-air with the local languages, which only endeared him to his audience. His romantic life and career moves became fodder for entertainment websites.
He married Ms. Okpara, a Nigerian woman, and started a new family, sometimes inviting their three young children — Kayla, Daniella and Somtochukwu — onto the air with him. They survive him along with his father, three siblings and son in the United States.
Late last year Mr. Foster told Owen Gee, a top comedian, that he planned to start his own radio station. “It was something that we were waiting for, for a long, long time,” Mr. Gee said, adding, “Dan is the best thing to happen to modern radio in Nigeria.”
Alain Delaquérière contributed reporting.
John Leland, a Metro reporter, joined The Times in 2000. His most recent book is “Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old,” based on a Times series. @johnleland
Determined to blunt the economic trauma of COVID-19 and minimise its impact on poverty, unemployment, insecurity and violence, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced the establishment of an inter-ministerial Economic Sustainability Committee. He gave it the remit to recommend measures that would prevent further economic collapse. Headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the committee submitted its report to the President in mid-June.
There are two main pillars to the economic sustainability plan. The first is job creation and the second an infusion of cash. These will be achieved through targeted investments in agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing, renewable energy, housing, information technology. The proposal also included cash transfers as well as “survival funds” for medium and small scale enterprises. The plan is remarkable by its emphasis on the use of local contents to support its initiatives.
But most of what’s in the plan is neither novel nor ground-breaking. It includes projects that had been bandied around by previous administrations, with little success.
The difference appears to be the scale and intensity with which the projects are to be undertaken.
In fact the plan sounds very much like the doomed Vision 2020, which was a long-term strategic intent launched by the Nigerian government in 2009 to promote economic growth, socio-economic development and structural transformation. The overarching goal was to enable Nigeria to become one of the top 20 economies in the world, as well as achieve an annual GDP of at least $900 billion and a GDP per capital of $4000. These goals are far from being achieved.
Post COVID-19, what Nigeria urgently needs are initiatives and projects that instantaneously infuse massive cash into the coffers of severely cash-strapped individuals, households, traders, small enterprises and corporations.
Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of the report is that it delegates implementation to government ministers, each of whom is expected to set up an implementation committee. This is very reminiscent of previous government efforts.
It is no secret that the wheels of the Nigerian bureaucracy grind excruciatingly slowly. The economic recovery plan should have set up a special implementation taskforce outside of the bureaucracy.
History may offer a useful lesson here. During the post-World War II when European economies were devastated, the US led its allies to launch the Marshall Plan for Europe’s economic reconstruction. Rather than delegate implementation to government bureaucracies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were specifically created to undertake the task.
In times of unprecedented crisis, your worst enemy is the bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, Buhari’s Economic Sustainability Plan has fallen into the same trap as its antecedents: it is likely to gather dust in government ministries and agencies.
Apart from the lack of novelty, the report is vague and speculative about how initiatives would be accomplished.
For instance, the plan proposes the creation of 5 million jobs within 12 months by bringing 20,000 – 100,000 hectares of land per state into cultivation. The private sector is expected to drive the process. But it’s unclear what mechanisms would incentivise profit-maximising enterprises to employ this number of farm workers.
And how might state governments be encouraged to provide land for farming, when many of them vehemently refused to provide land for the Federal Government’s botched Rural Grazing Areas scheme?
Some of the key provisions in the plan are not implementable without the cooperation of state governments. The frosty relationship between the Buhari administration and states controlled by the opposition People’s Democratic Party, which now stands at 16 out of 36 states of the Nigerian federation, suggests this could be a bottleneck.
More intriguing, however, is the fact that most of the projects proposed in the report may not be completed before the end of the Buhari administration. One such example is the solar energy project. The plan proposes supplying 5 million Nigerian households (or about 25 million individuals) with solar energy. The report requires that solar power equipment be produced in Nigeria.
Another proposal that has a very murky implementation plan is the goal of creating 1.8 million jobs through the construction of 300,000 homes (400 in each local government area). The Ministry of Works and Housing is tasked with its implementation. But the report concedes that the ministry is yet to figure out the “design and template” for the houses. This is a manifestation of the lack of preparation for this project.
The report recommends an increase in the number of cash transfer recipients. But it doesn’t say how big the cash transfers should be and what mechanisms will be used to transfer cash to the new recipients, many of whom are expected to be rural dwellers.
Furthermore, the funding of the plan is nebulous. Recognising that the Nigerian economy would contract by 4.40% if no measures were taken, the recovery plan opted for a Naira 2.3 trillion stimulus package. This, it’s been estimated, will ensure that the economy doesn’t decline by more than 0.59%.
But the report is evasive about how the proposed projects will be financed. While about 70% of the estimated cost of the plan is expected to come from “Special Accounts” and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s “structured lending,” the source of the rest is not clearly defined.
The plan calls for local sourcing of most of the inputs to be used in the various projects. But it does not discuss in detail the foreign exchange implications, especially in light of uncertainties in the global oil market.
To hedge against foreign exchange risks and avoid inflation from high cost of imported goods, the plan should have specified a forward exchange rate at which participants in the plan can purchase foreign exchange.
The plan should have been divided into phases, starting with one devoted to initiatives that would immediately pump cash into the economy.
Without an instantaneous infusion of massive cash, the Nigerian economy risks an inexorable slide into stagflation, which is a lethal combination of a recession and hyperinflation.
The governor of Edo, Godwin Obaseki has joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The announcement was made on the official Twitter handle of the PDP on Friday afternoon.
“Breaking News! The governor of Edo State, H.E. @GovernorObaseki has defected to our great Party, the @OfficialPDPNig. The declaration was made this afternoon at the state Secretariat of our party in Benin city, Edo State. Power to the people. #EdoIsPDP,” the tweet read.
Obaseki also confirmed the decision via his Twitter handle shortly after the announcement by PDP.
“I have officially joined the @OfficialPDPNig to advance my ambition to seek re-election as Governor of Edo State. I, as always, remain committed to engendering good governance and sustainable development of our dear state,” he wrote.
On June 12, Obaseki, who was elected governor of Edo on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), lost the chance of seeking a second term with the APC after he was disqualified by the screening committee from participating in the governorship primary scheduled for June 22, 2020.
The governor had called on his supporters to remain calm after the disqualification, stating that he would announce his decision on the matter after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, after meeting with Ibrahim Ganbari, the chief of staff to the president, on Tuesday, the governor announced his resignation from the APC, while still maintaining that he had not defected to any other party.
Philip Shaibu, his deputy, also followed his principal’s decision by announcing his resignation from APC.
Crime and detective fiction continues to top bestseller lists across the world, spawning TV series and films. In the hands of African writers, though, the genre offers a particularly textured world view.
That Ever-blurry Line Between Us and the Criminals: Re-Visioning Justice in African Noir is a colloquium paper by Sam Naidu. It focuses on African crime and detective fiction as a complex and disruptive variety of classic, Western crime and detective fiction.
Aretha Phiri: Your paper addresses classic noir and African noir, sub-genres of crime and detective fiction?
Sam Naidu: African crime fiction builds on and extends classic crime fiction to explore philosophical questions about identity, knowledge and power. Referencing the same dark aesthetic of classic noir – characterised by themes of alienation, pessimism, moral ambivalence and disorientation – African crime fiction amplifies political awareness. And, occasionally, it destabilises the conventions of classic crime fiction, which arose during the aftermath of the two world wars when the world was in the grip of the Cold War.
Aretha Phiri: What is the ‘political’ relationship between classic and African crime fiction?
Sam Naidu: African crime fiction builds on and extends classic crime fiction’s exploration of philosophical questions about identity, knowledge and power in the modern world.
Politically, there is a deliberate shift to consider fundamental questions about Africa and its specific requirements. The novels I have read demonstrate a preoccupation with the ambiguity of justice. They express a poignant, Afro-pessimistic lament for a continent and its injustices.
They provide this focus in terms of colonialism and the power differentials of neo-colonialism in Africa. So, you find that economic exploitation and inequalities, race, war, genocide, corruption and state capture are common subject matter.
Aretha Phiri: You read Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ’s novel Black Star Nairobi (2013) as a valuable way of demonstrating the disruption of the classical by the African? What’s it about?
Sam Naidu: It’s set mainly in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2007. It’s the eve of Barack Obama’s election as the first black US president and presidential elections in Kenya. O (short for Odihambo), a Kenyan former policeman who still works part-time for the police, has teamed up with Ishmael from the US, a former cop. Together they’ve formed a detective agency, Black Star, which is given a lucky break when O’s former boss hires them to investigate the murder of an unidentified person whose corpse is found gruesomely disfigured in the Ngong Forest outside Nairobi.
Aretha Phiri: You conclude in your paper that the predominant effect of African crime fiction is not so much a ‘dark’ sensibility as it is one of obscurity and poignant Afro-pessimism?
Sam Naidu: I reach this conclusion based on the literary texts. This is not my opinion of the state of the continent. The novels are very dark. They overwhelm the reader, with the mess, tragedy, garbage, cruelty, indignity and inhumanity that Africans face in reality. Due, of course, to historical and ongoing systemic oppression and corruption. For characters – and for readers – this can lead to muddledness and despair.
But the novels also offer a counterpoint – in the form of fearless detectives on the quest for justice. In the midst of the disquiet there is a faint flicker … It is this murkiness, taken to new depths, which makes African crime fiction particularly effective and significant. For example, the novel closes with a highly lyrical and metaphorical scene of African musicians in a market. Ishmael describes the competing rhythms of African music – a metaphor for the strife and power struggles of the continent. Despite the discord he detects a harmony –- “a tense harmony”.
Aretha Phiri: How does Black Star Nairobi manage to disrupt classic crime fiction?
Sam Naidu: For example, through its innovative use of setting, characterisation, pace and conclusion to comment on ontological, existential and ethical themes to do with justice, it’s an exemplary African noir text. It explicitly extends classic noir into the realms of neo-noir.
Its blend of previous influences, use of setting, and its specific thematic concern with Afro-pessimism prompt the observation that African crime fiction extends classic noir into new literary, geo-political, and moral territories.
Murkiness, so characteristic of classic noir sensibility, mutates, at times, in African crime texts such as Black Star Nairobi and Leye Adenle’s When Trouble Sleeps, to a deliberate generic nebulousness. And thematically, to a moral blurriness so obscure as to disorient the reader and dismantle the basic binaries on which classic detective and crime fiction were predicated.
In classic noir or classic crime fiction there are clear detective heroes set up against indisputable villains (think of Sherlock Holmes) but in African crime fiction the heroes and villains often exchange roles or are complicit in some way.
Aretha Phiri: You describe this evolving genre as occupying a kind of borderland. How does this connect to your research in migration and diaspora?
Sam Naidu: In my work on literature of migration and diaspora I am mainly concerned with the experience of migrants. I am, however, also interested in how literary genres migrate. What processes of cross-pollination occur as a result of diaspora?
Aretha Phiri: What do you see African crime fiction contributing to Black Atlantic scholarship?
Sam Naidu: As a form of postcolonial, transnational writing, African crime fiction points to the relations between Africa and America. Gilroy’s Black Atlantic puts forward that race is fluid and ever-changing, rather than static. That it is transnational and intercultural, rather than national. I am arguing that African crime fiction represents race as a transnational or diasporic phenomenon while at the same time engaging with the notion that race is closely bound up with both nationality and ethnicity.
So, look at the detective hero figure Ishmael. He is an African-American who returns to Africa, gesturing, of course, to transatlantic slavery and colonialism. He’s neither African nor American – he is both. The novel explores his hybridity. At the same time, the novel presents Kenya as nation marred by ethnic clashes and wide-scale civil unrest.
African crime fiction, being the second most popular literary genre on the continent after romance, is worthy of study because of its accessibility, wide-spread, diverse readership and also its capacity for socio-political analysis. It is the ideal vehicle for such pertinent ‘detection’.
Tens of thousands of women took part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda but their role is rarely spoken about, and reconciliation with their family is hard. Journalist Natalia Ojewska has been talking to some female perpetrators in prison.
What started as a mundane trip to fetch water for breakfast ended with Fortunate Mukankuranga committing murder.
Dressed in an orange prison uniform and speaking in her dimmed, calm voice, she recalls the events of the morning of Sunday, 10 April 1994.
As she was on her way, she came across a group of attackers beating up two men in the middle of the street.
“When [the two] fell to the ground, I picked up a stick and said: ‘Tutsis must die!’. Then I hit one of them and then the other one… I was one of the killers,” the 70-year-old says.
Haunted by killings
These were two among 800,000 murders of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus that took place over 100 days.
After her involvement in the slaughter, Mukankuranga, an ethnic Hutu, returned home to her seven children feeling deeply ashamed. Flashbacks from the crime scene would not stop haunting her.
“I am a mother. I killed some children’s parents,” she says.
Just a few days later, two terrified Tutsi children, whose parents had just been butchered with machetes, knocked on her door asking for refuge.
‘Tide of guilt’
She did not hesitate and hid them in the attic, where they survived the massacres.
“Even though I have saved the children, I have failed these two men. This help will never turn the tide of guilt,” says Mukankuranga.
She is one of an estimated 96,000 women convicted for their involvement in the genocide – some killed adults, like Mukankuranga, some killed children, and others egged on men to commit rape and murder.https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.32.11/iframe.htmlMedia captionBetween April and July 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days.
On the evening of 6 April 1994, an aeroplane carrying Rwanda’s Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it was approaching the airport in the capital, Kigali.
Although the identities of the assassins have never been established, Hutu extremists immediately accused Tutsi rebels of carrying out the attack. Within hours, thousands of Hutus, indoctrinated by decades of hateful ethnic propaganda, joined in with the well-organised killing.
The women’s participation challenges a stereotype in Rwanda of women as protectors and providers of a calming voice.
“It is very difficult to understand how a mother who loves her children, would go to her neighbours’ [home] to kill their children,” says Regine Abanyuze, who works for Never Again, a non-governmental organisation promoting peace and reconciliation.
Yet, once the spark for the atrocities was lit, thousands of women acted as agents of violence alongside the men.
Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former minister for the family and women’s development, was one of the few Rwandan women who took on a powerful leadership position in the male-dominated political scene. She played a critical role in orchestrating the genocide.
In 2011, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found her guilty of genocide. She remains the only woman ever to have been sentenced for rape as a crime against humanity.
Nyiramasuhuko bore command responsibility over militiamen who raped Tutsi women at the Butare Prefecture Office.
But while she sat at the apex, some ordinary Rwandan women were also inciting men. Others did not hesitate to use every available weapon to butcher their neighbours.
There are no separate rehabilitation programmes for female genocidaires and many struggle with reconciling what they have done with traditional perceptions of a woman’s role.
Two views of a massacre
Martha Mukamushinzimana is a mother of five children, who secretly carried the burden of her crime for 15 years, before she decided to report herself to the judicial authorities in 2009 as she could no longer live with the burden of her crimes.
Defining themselves through the prism of motherhood, many are too overwhelmed with shame to admit to their loved ones that they failed in their role as caregivers.
“Time is the main rehabilitation tool we use. We want to give them as much time as necessary to listen to them and to slowly bring them to the point of confession,” says Grace Ndawanyi, director of the prison for female inmates in Ngoma, in Rwanda’s Eastern Province.
“Because my house was located near the main road, I heard all the whistles and saw my Tutsi neighbours being rounded up and taken to the church,” says Mukamushinzimana, sitting in a small, bare prison room and sometimes crying.
Thousands of Tutsis, crammed in and around the Nyamasheke Parish Catholic Church, fought for their lives for a week. Stanislus Kayitera, now 53, was one of the few survivors. His forearm bears a large and irregular scar from grenade shrapnel.
“I remember women collecting stones and giving them to the men, who were throwing them at us. Men were also shooting, throwing grenades and pouring fuel over people and then setting them on fire.
“Then, they stormed the church and started to kill us with clubs,” says Mr Kayitera, who survived by hiding under the dead bodies.
Mukamushinzimana says she felt compelled to follow the orders.
“I took my baby on the back and joined the group collecting stones used to kill people hiding at the church,” says Mukamushinzimana, who had given birth just two weeks earlier.
When she was jailed in 2009, not one of her relatives was willing to take care of her five children.
“Genocide is a crime against whole communities. It damages not only the dignity of the victims, but also that of the perpetrators. And those people need healing as well,” says Fidele Ndayisaba, executive secretary at Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
Female genocidaires who revealed the truth are encouraged to write letters to their families and relatives of their victims in order to regain the lost trust step by step.
Once released from prison, female genocidaires face very different challenges on their path to reintegration to the men.
Some of their husbands have remarried and disinherited them from their property. Their home communities do not welcome them and they struggle with rejection by their closest family.
But there is a lot of emphasis that healing takes time and there are still some prisoners reluctant to reject the ideology of ethnic hatred.
“Yes, we have some people denying their crimes. They are those hard ones, but their number is declining,” says Mr Ndayisaba.
‘I couldn’t hold back the tears’
Fortunate Mukankuranga only found the courage to confess to her crimes four years after her conviction in 2007.
She remembers feeling nervous before asking the son of one of her victims for forgiveness.
Against her expectations “he was happy and enthusiastic when he met me and I couldn’t hold back the tears as I embraced him,” she says.
Mukankuranga now looks cautiously at the future, hoping she will be able to rebuild the fragile ties with her loved ones.
“When I go back home, I will live in peace with my family and I shall be more loving and caring about people. I am paying now for the consequences of my crime. I wasn’t supposed to be in prison as a mother,” she adds.
Pandemic life is tough on everyone. But for a single person, the prospect of dating and sex — while social distancing to avoid a potentially life-threatening respiratory illness — feels impossible.
How do you date without touching or kissing? How do you have sex without breathing on your partner and putting each other at risk?
“I’ve gone at least two months without sex or other physical connection, and even in my 50s, that’s a long time,” said one man from Austin, who asked not to be named to protect his privacy. “My only venture outside has been to walk the dogs and run a very rare errand, for Pete’s sake. Dating seems even a more remote possibility.”
When the man, who is gay, raised the issue with his online therapy group, he was surprised by the compassionate response. “Over all, folks were supportive, knowing that we need connection, dating and sex,” he said. The fact that the topic hadn’t come up sooner “spoke in some ways to how inhumane the pandemic is.”
A number of public health agencies have offered tips for dating and sex during the pandemic, but the New York City health department has recently updated its Safer Sex and Covid-19 fact sheet with more-detailed and descriptive advice. The new guidelines still say “you are your safest sex partner,” and that the “next safest partner” is someone in your household.
However, the guidance also acknowledges that not everyone has access to an exclusive sex partner at home. People who are dating or “hooking up” should still try to minimize close contacts. Safer sex during Covid-19 also means wearing a mask and avoiding kissing. “Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further,” it says. A recent commentary from Harvard University researchers also recommended that people wear a mask during sex with someone from outside their household.
The New York City guidelines discourage group sex, but give advice for those who do “decide to find a crowd.” “Pick larger, more open, ventilated spaces,” it states, among other things.
Individuals can try to find creative alternatives to traditional sex, such as sex toys, masturbating together and sexy Zoom parties, or they could try to “make it a little kinky,” the guidelines state, suggesting, among other things, people can avoid close contact by having sex through holes in walls or other barriers. “Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face-to-face contact,” the guidelines state.
If the language seems surprisingly direct, it’s supposed to be, said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for disease control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“Our health department has a really strong record of being very sex positive,” said Dr. Daskalakis. “Abstinence for the duration of the pandemic is not going to work. We tend not to shy away from giving people realistic recommendations. There’s no reason for Covid-19 to be different.”
Dr. Daskalakis said the updated guidelines are in addition to existing guidelines for safer sex to lower risk for sexually transmitted disease, and they are a response to hundreds of questions New Yorkers are asking. The new rules also advise people who decide to hook up to get tested monthly for coronavirus, or within five to seven days of a hookup. They caution that a confirmed case of Covid-19 or a positive antibody test isn’t definitive proof that you are immune from re-infection. Dr. Daskalakis said the tone of the updated guidelines was inspired by a 1983 pamphlet, written during the start of the AIDS crisis, called “How to Have Sex During an Epidemic,” which pioneered the public health strategy of harm reduction and safer sex.
“You can’t tell people to stop being human,” said David Lauterstein, founder of the Nasty Pig men’s clothing brand in New York and an L.G.B.T. community leader who helped with the concept of the guidelines. “People are going to have sex. When they’re not educated, they’re going to make bad choices.”
While the new guidelines give people detailed advice about safer sex, many single people say it’s tough to imagine even getting to the point of having sex because of the limits imposed by social distancing and the challenges of trusting other people to take needed precautions.
Wendy Worthington, 45, who lives in St. George, Utah, had hoped to stay connected through online dating during the pandemic. She was excited after meeting someone on a dating app, but after some promising “witty banter” from him, she expressed wariness about meeting in person during the early stages of the crisis. The man immediately blocked her.
“When that happened, it was the tip off that not everyone was going to view what’s going on the way I do or take it as seriously as I was taking it,” she said. “Most people were too nonchalant about it. I realized it was going to be an exercise in futility to try dating.”
Ms. Worthington says she does not expect to go back to dating any time soon. “Now we’re not even worried about S.T.D.s so much as, I just hope you weren’t around someone who coughed on you,” she said. “Dating is already so hard as it is, and then you don’t think people are taking the necessary precautions. I’m putting all of my energy into D.I.Y. projects instead.”
Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the guidance for single people who want to date is much the same as for people who have partners: Practice social distancing, socialize and dine outdoors, and keep your overall number of contacts low to reduce risk.
But single people have the added challenge of minimizing risk while trying to date. While there’s no formula to tell you how many dates with different people are safe, try to reduce your other contacts — like shopping or work events — if you want to expand your circle to include dates. Anyone who is dating should be mindful of their personal risk of coronavirus and the risk of others in their circle, like parents and grandparents.
“The more dates you go on, the higher your risk,” Dr. Marcus said.
If you meet someone who is worthy of mask-free time, talk about how they live their daily life. How many contacts do they have? Do they live with multiple roommates? Or do they have a grandparent they see regularly, which would require you to take extra precautions if you become intimate?
“Now you have to have those conversations before you even make out with someone,” said Dr. Marcus. “You basically have to have the safe sex conversation before kissing.”
In the Netherlands, public health officials advised that locked-down singles find a “seksbuddy” — a trusted person with whom to have an exclusive sexual relationship even if it wasn’t a potential long-term partnership.
A 47-year-old woman from Fayetteville, Ark., who asked that her name not be used, said she does have occasional sex with a trusted friend, although she has continued to try to date during the pandemic. “I have physical contact and sex with someone. We care about each other, but it’s not love,” she said. “It’s harder to date because everything is closed. The drive to date is not as intense because it’s less convenient.”
Some relationship experts say that in addition to the obvious challenges, the pandemic poses a unique opportunity to foster deeper connections with others because we are forced to slow down the dating process.
“It takes people out of that swipe circuity, the hookup circuity, and it makes people rethink what they’re looking for,” said Ken Page, a psychotherapist and co-founder of DeeperDating.com. “This is the time to build new muscles and skills of intimacy that so many of us desperately needed but didn’t have time for.”
Despite the challenges, including uncomfortable conversations and the need to wear a mask, starting a new relationship during a pandemic is possible. Sam Goldman, 28, a finance director for a Boston media company, was resigned to giving up dating for at least the rest of the year. But he happened to connect on the dating app Hinge with a woman who had relocated to the city to live with her parents during the pandemic. The couple texted, spoke on FaceTime and then decided to meet for a picnic. They wore masks walking to the park, stayed on opposite sides of the blanket and talked for five hours, and agreed that a hug goodbye would be safest.
“I don’t think I would have asked to go for a picnic for a first date,” Mr. Goldman said, but it “ended up being such a fun time. She mentioned she loved playing tennis, so I asked her to play tennis for the second date. I definitely would not have done that before.”
Mr. Goldman lives alone, while his date lives with her parents, so he has tried to be more careful, taking precautions like social distancing, staying six feet apart and limiting contacts to protect both the woman and her family. He said he hopes his experience gives other people hope that it’s possible to explore new relationships despite the pandemic.
“I’ve had friends who are struggling with dating during coronavirus time,” he said. “And now I’m in the midst of what seems to be a new relationship that’s blooming and working out.”
When Daniel Khan Mbuh died in a hospital in northern Cameroon, the hospital declared the cause of death to be Covid-19 — then released the body to the family instead of arranging for a safe burial, his daughter Stella said.
Ms. Mbuh said she was told the house where she had been caring for her father in the city of Bamenda would be disinfected. Nobody came. When she tried to get tested, the hospital refused, saying there were not enough test kits. And she was never advised to self-isolate, so she simply imposed her own two-week quarantine on herself and her siblings.
“They said they are following contacts,” Ms. Mbuh said of health officials, “but I am one of the contacts. And I am not being followed.”
The spread of the new coronavirus is now accelerating in many countries in Africa, where medical resources are stretched, rumors are rife and efforts to stop the pandemic are sometimes haphazard.
The World Health Organization said last week that confirmed cases in Africa had doubled in 18 days to reach 200,000; the first 100,000 took 98 days.
“Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3 percent of the global total, it’s clear that this pandemic is accelerating,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Africa, said in a video briefing last week.
She said that until there was a vaccine available, the continent would have to live with a steady increase of cases.
Most African nations staved off the initial spread of the virus for several months, partly by closing borders early, banning public gatherings and, in some countries, effectively tracing contacts using past experience of infectious diseases.
But the extra time this bought was not enough to bolster weak health care systems and to prepare for the predicted explosion of cases.
And now that many African countries, like others across the globe, are lifting their restrictions in order to restart their economies, the virus has new opportunity to spread and potentially, to overwhelm health care systems.
Nigerian doctors announced a nationwide strike starting on Monday over the lack of personal protective equipment in government hospitals and hazard pay for treating Covid-19 patients. Dozens of Nigerian health care workers have been infected, partly because they had no protective gear.
Epidemiologists at the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of a “catastrophic shortage” of health care professionals, and a drastic reduction of medical supplies because of border closures, price increases and restrictions on exports imposed during the pandemic.
“Africa needs to intensify its efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic,” they said in an article published last week in the journal Nature. They said that the continent needed financial support to stop the pandemic and tackle its economic and humanitarian effects.
The early spread of the pandemic in many African countries was driven by foreigners and the economic elite: people from Europe, and those with the means to travel there.
It has continued to spread among elites. Ghana’s health minister caught the virus “in the line of duty,” the country’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said on Sunday. Four people in the Kenyan president’s office tested positive and have been taken to the hospital, according to a statement from the office.
However, what has often been perceived in Africa as a foreigners’ disease is increasingly reaching all sections of society. Testing is still extremely limited in most countries, so it is impossible to know how widely the pandemic has taken hold. But a month ago, the W.H.O. predicted that between 29 and 44 million Africans could become infected in the first year.
Truckers are carrying the coronavirus across borders, just as truckers had also spread H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Countries now have set up border controls, which can intensify the points of contact and possible spread of infection.
In the border town of Garoua-Boulaï in the Central African Republic, dozens of truck drivers jostled outside a tarpaulin tent waiting to get tested for the coronavirus. Some wore masks, but many did not, or had pulled them down below their chins.
They had to wait for many days for results until their samples could be driven 370 miles across the country to the capital, Bangui. But as they waited, other citizens crossed back and forth at the border without being checked. No truck, no problem.
Rumors and lack of information have also contributed to the spread. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli said that the country had eradicated coronavirus “by the grace of God.” His government stopped releasing any data on cases after April 29.
In Madagascar, the president touted an unproven herbal drink as a cure.
In Nigeria, most of the public health messages have been released in English, which many Hausa speakers in the north do not understand.
In some countries, many say that hospitals, health authorities and governments are inflating their Covid-19 numbers in an attempt to attract extra funding, though there is little evidence to support such a claim.
In several cases, patients have run away from hospitals and quarantine centers; some believed themselves to be perfectly healthy, others objected to the conditions.
One man said he pulled into Bangui, two weeks ago when the bus he was on was stopped by police working with health authorities. He was tired and “felt malarial,” he said, and was pulled off the bus.
He tested positive and was hospitalized, but he said that the conditions were so bad that he ran away. He spoke on condition of anonymity, scared that the police would track him down.
“There was not enough water and very bad food,” he said. “They are still looking for me and I think that they would like to punish me, but they will never get me.”
Ruth Maclean reported from Dakar, Moussa Abdoulaye from Garoua-Boulaï, Central African Republic and Brenda Kiven from Douala, Cameroon.
Over the last 10 years, the award-winning musician has popularised “bongo flava” – a uniquely Tanzanian offering: romantic melodies with an urban beat influenced by traditional taarab music from the East African coast.
“Diamond Platnumz is very hard working and has great showmanship,” says DJ Edu, who hosts the weekly pan-African music show This Is Africa for the BBC World Service.
And with more than 43% of Tanzania’s 55 million people having access to the internet, mainly via mobile smartphones, there is a huge home-grown Swahili-speaking audience ready to lap up his love songs.
Other Tanzanian musicians like Harmonize are also huge on YouTube.
So how big is a billion views on YouTube?
It is difficult to assess the real significance of the one billion figure, given that Diamond Platnumz has more followers on Instagram than he does subscribers on YouTube – 9.7 million compared to 3.7 million.
DJ Edu says Instagram is more of an influencer of lifestyle and new platforms such as TikTok, which allows a 30-second copyright free use of songs, are a great way of getting younger fans.
“Some songs are becoming viral through TikTok, like Diamond Platnumz’ new one called Quarantine,” he says.
This can drive people to YouTube, where money can be made through adverts.
More importantly for musicians in Africa, over the last decade YouTube has allowed them direct access to an audience, rather than relying on TV stations.
How does he compare with other African stars?
Diamond Platnumz still languishes behind some North African stars, who have huge followings in the Middle East.
And then there are African artists based elsewhere such as Malian-born singer Aya Nakamura, who trumps the be-jewelled Tanzanian musician, with more than 1.7 billion YouTube views.
The 25-year-old, who moved to France when she was a young girl, is best known for her 2018 hit Djadja.
And Akon, the Senegalese-American rapper, smashes them both with 3.5 billion views.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Diamond Platnumz’s main competitors in the YouTube numbers game are Nigerian Afrobeats stars:
P Square – 810 million
Davido – 618 million
Flavour – 617 million
Tekno – 574 million
Burna Boy – 507 million
StarBoy TV (AKA Wizkid) – 480 million
Davido’s and Burna Boy’s numbers are particularly impressive given they only opened their YouTube channels in 2018. Diamond Platnumz has been on the platform since 2011.
And StarboyTV is Wizkid’s record label, so if you add the figures to his other channel, he has 802 million views.
Some stars opt to have their own channels to promote songs and cut bureaucracy as record labels take time to issue new releases.
Other notable mentions are Magic System from Ivory Coast – with more than 477 million views. The group is particularly popular in French-speaking West Africa and France.
“This following is literally built on their 2001 song Premier Gaou – it’s the one song that really connected the whole continent,” says DJ Edu.
While lower YouTube figures for South African musicians mask their popularity – they are able to make money through local labels, says DJ Edu.
And of course YouTube is not the only streaming service.
WizKid worked with Canadian rapper Drake on the 2016 hit One Dance – that alone has been streamed more than 1.8 billion times, but it was not officially released on YouTube.
What about globally?
Drake has more than seven billion views on YouTube and Beyoncé, who worked with African artists for last year’s Lion King album, has more than 12 billion.
To put that all into perspective, Justin Bieber, the 26-year-old Canadian singer who found fame in his teens, has a whopping 21.6 billion views.
K-pop stars can also gain huge YouTube audiences quickly – Blackpink, a girl group formed in 2016, has more than nine billion YouTube views.
And Africa’s female singers?
Surprisingly female Afrobeats stars Yemi Alade and Tiwa Savage have far fewer views than their male counterparts, with 434 million and 239 million YouTube views respectively.
This may be because it has been harder for women to break through in Africa, where the music industry is so male-dominated – they have to spend time fighting their corner, concentrating on their image and less time churning out tracks, says DJ Edu.
“And until very recently they weren’t booking female artists for big shows – and if you’re in front of big audiences you can generate a following,” he says.
I find gospel singers have an unfair advantage – lyrically they just pick a few verses from the Bible and the following is already there”
Ahead of both Alade and Savage is phenomenally popular female Nigerian gospel singer Sinach, with more than 472 million views – no doubt boosted by her international tours and her following at the Christ Embassy mega church where she is a worship leader.
“I find gospel singers have an unfair advantage – lyrically they just pick a few verses from the Bible and the following is already there. They don’t have to fight for their followers,” says DJ Edu.
Which is better – online or live shows?
Some musicians, like Uganda’s Eddie Kenzo, with 388 million YouTube views, focus on building an online audience.
For others, like Angola’s C4 Pedro, it is more about touring. The Kizomba star can pack stadiums around the world – Diamond Platnumz’s appeal is less global.
Generally YouTube is where new and younger artists in Africa thrive and strive to make their name.
Take Zimbabwe, where 32-year-old musician Jah Prayzah has 99 million YouTube views, while Afro-jazz legend Oliver Mtukudzi, who was on tour until a few weeks before he died last year, did not even have an official YouTube page.
“Oliver was too busy touring to be bothered with YouTube. If you looked at his tour dates, he was touring the whole year round – and sometimes it’s better to do 50 shows than to have 100 million views,” says DJ Edu.
“For one million views [you earn] about $3,000 [£2,400] – if you were to do a show you’d make 10 times that.
“It’s not so say that Diamond Platnumz doesn’t perform, but you pick your poison.”
Spike Lee has shown up with an insurgent filmic uproar to match the uproar in the world. Da 5 Bloods is a paintball gun loaded with real bullets: a blast of satire and emotional agony about race and the American empire, the evergreen wound of Vietnam, African-American sacrifices on the field of battle, and the fact that black deaths matter.
It’s an outrageous action painting of a film, splattering moods, genres, ideas and archive clips all over the screen – with many a Brechtian-vaudeville alienation. It feels sometimes like an old-style war movie such as The Dirty Dozen but maybe Godard’s Le Petit Soldat, with playful riffs on Hollywood Vietnam standards and even John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The movie tricks you into thinking that it’s going to be a gentle, bittersweet picture about middle-aged guys with giant guts and prostates sadly coming to terms with their past, and the importance of letting go … and then it detonates a shock of fear and greed, which itself is always verging on action-movie melodrama and farce. It’s all so inventively bizarre that you could treat it simply as a black comedy, but in the final 15 minutes there is an amazing crescendo of emotion.
The bloods of the title are Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr) and Eddie (Norm Lewis), four ageing Vietnam veterans who have returned to south-east Asia on what appears to be a luxury vacation trip down memory lane. All four are haunted by the memory of their squad leader Norman (Chadwick Boseman), who died in action before their eyes and whose memory they have romanticised.
Lee creates flashback combat sequences for the five men, but without Irishman-type youthification for the four survivors. They appear in the past the way they are now, as sweaty, out-of-condition and very scared old guys in the jungle, surreally led by the impossibly handsome young Boseman who has grown not old as those that are left grew old. He was and is their leader; Lee shows us that he now looks like their son. And this is especially powerful when they hear about Martin Luther King’s assassination from the communist Radio Hanoi announcer (Van Veronica Ngo), and Norman angrily tells his men to ignore her recommendation to mutiny because they owe their racist commanders nothing.
Yet the four guys’ reappearance in Vietnam now is even more complicated: they are convinced they can recover a secret cache of US gold bullion intended to pay South Vietnamese troops, which they found in a burnt-out plane and had to abandon. And Paul, a recent Trump convert in a Maga cap, finds nothing therapeutic in their journey into the past. He gets more and more disturbed.
Lee has taken the battle-scarred old movie trope of Vietnam and found something relevant and intersectionally complex: black people, because they largely didn’t have the contacts or resources to avoid the draft, or to finesse the avoidance of dangerous frontline duty, found themselves engaging the enemy and being a major though under-reported part of the Vietnam story. Paradoxically, it meant taking on oppressed people with whom they had no quarrel – that is, those people that Mohammed Ali famously said had never tainted him with the N-word – but also feeling ambiguous and conflicted about warfare, patriotism and America itself. They had fought, sacrificed and felt proud.
All of these ideas and feelings swirl around in Da 5 Bloods, knockabout rhetoric mixed in with grandstanding sentimentality and action, right up to the old-school “curtain-call” credits, like something from The Great Escape. There are some uproarious war-movie-type flourishes, including a graphic shot of what happens to a snake when you shoot at it hysterically with your M-16 assault rifle. Lee mixes up the tone and mood, and, with the knowing cinematic references and consciously contrived scenarios, it’s possible to feel detached or amused or bemused. But all that paves the way for the final 10 minutes, in which Lee brings in an outpouring of sadness and grief and determination that is almost overwhelming. For all its craziness, Da 5 Bloods finds an operatic anguish and yearning.
There were 717 rapes in Nigeria between January and May this year, amounting to one rape every five hours, the country’s police chief says.
Mohammed Adamu described rape as a serious and wicked offence and urged Nigerians to report any case.
Speaking to journalists after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential palace in Abuja, the police chief said that 799 suspects had been arrested and 631 had appeared in court.
But Mr Adamu did not speak about the sentences or number of convictions. Activists are concerned that not many trials result in someone being found guilty.
Some of the recent victims were allegedly murdered after being raped prompting a series of protests across Nigeria demanding action from the authorities and communities.
The police chief said security agencies are partnering with non-governmental organisations in the areas of training, working with victims and evidence gathering for successful prosecutions as part of efforts to tackle the issue.
The daily fatality toll in Nigeria increased on Tuesday as 31 persons were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 complications.
A total of 455 COVID-19 deaths have now been recorded in the country.
According to the update by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for June 16, 2020, the 31 deaths included 25 fatalities which occurred in Lagos between Friday and Monday, but were announced on Tuesday.
In the data released at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, the agency also confirmed 490 new COVID-19 cases in 15 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).
While Lagos had 142 new cases and FCT recorded 60 cases, Bayelsa confirmed its highest daily toll with 54 cases, increasing the state’s figures from 32 to 86.
Bayelsa has now moved 11 spots upwards from being the fourth state with the least number of cases; it is now the 22nd state with the most COVID-19 cases in the country.
However, a record total of 274 persons were discharged on Tuesday, increasing the number of recoveries from 5,349 to 5,623.
A total of 17,148 cases have now been confirmed in 35 states and the FCT.
2020 schedule of events, which comprises of returning & new events, announced
Set to launch COVID Took My Job initiative to support industry professionals
“The pandemic may rage on but the music must keep playing,” so said the Make Music Lagos 2020 organizing committee, comprising of Showgear and its partners, as they announced the schedule of events for MAKE MUSIC LAGOS 2020 as part of the buildup to the upcoming celebrations of WORLD MUSIC DAY in Lagos which will run for a week from Monday 15th June to Monday 22nd June.
Make Music Lagos, which is now in its fifth year of existence, is going to be exclusively online for the first time following the restrictions on large public gatherings by the Lagos State Government. A move and experiment, by its organisers, that promises to be interesting and could possibly offer a solution to the near collapse of activities in the Nigerian music and associated industries.
The Chair of the organizing committee and COO of Showgear, Mrs Deola Akinyemi, had this to say about the announcement, “The 2020 edition of Make Music Lagos had been in the works long before the pandemic struck and many feared that we would not be able to pull through with this edition, but I am thankful for the tenacity of my team and the availability of the technology to power a virtual edition. We are in uncharted waters, but we believe that we can make a positive impact in the lives of music enthusiasts as well as in the industry as we go on this exciting journey.”
The MML 2020 organisers have also announced that they will be launching the COVID Took My Job initiative to provide support to select industry professionals whose livelihoods have been adversely affected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
This fifth consecutive edition of Make Music Lagos kicks off on Monday 15th June with a two-day LEARN TO PLAY event in partnership with Rainbow Fingers, The Saxophone School, Chrysolite and host of other music schools/teachers. The event, which will take place simultaneously across multiple free-to-access digital platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Zoom Skype etc., is designed to provide music instrument lessons to as many music fans as possible at no cost.
Another learning event for people to look forward to is the LEARN TO DJ event, which comes up on Wednesday 17th June on the Zoom and Instagram platform. In the past years, MML has collaborated with A-list DJs like DJ Jimmy Jatt and DJ Magnum to teach and inspire the next generation of DJs, and 2020 will be no exception as DJ Nana, DJ Obi and DJ Cypha have already confirmed their participation.
And next on the lineup on Thursday 18th June on the Zoom/YouTube platform is the MUSIC BUSINESS CONFERENCE, a new addition in 2019 that was a surprise hit. Expect hard-hitting conversations from industry insiders and influencers on the Nigerian music industry during and post-Covid-19.
While on Sunday 21st June, which is World Music Day, Make Music Lagos is going to be hosting a variety of FREE ONLINE MUSIC EVENTS to get the music fans super excited. There is the HOME STUDIO, a new addition to the lineup, which will have leading music producers (like Music Magnate, Olaitan Dada, Mr. Wols, Crackermallo, etc.) make beats from their home studio in real time. In the past, these beats would have been made on the streets of Lagos as part of the STREET STUDIO events. There are also the MAKE MUSIC LAGOS CONCERTS, hosted in collaboration with partners, which will give many upcoming acts the opportunity to perform to large audiences on YouTube and Instagram. And finally, there is the DJ ONLINE PARTY, another addition to the lineup, which will have a leading DJ and Hypemen hosting a high-energy online party.
Last on the list of events for the 2020 edition of Make Music Lagos is the LAGOS SHUTDOWN CONCERT, hosted by L’avenida Multipurpose Centre, which historically has had the largest audience and some of the biggest names in Nigerian music on stage each year, on Sunday 21st June on YouTube.
The full schedule of activities for MML 2020 and other exciting content from the pre-event activities and past editions are available on the Make Music Lagos website (www.makemusiclagos.org.ng) and social media pages @MakeMusicLagos.
Make Music Lagos 2020 is a member of and endorsed by the Make Music Alliance (the global body promoting the World Music Day with HQ in New York) and supported by TVC, Max FM, and a host of other partners. And the organizing team is led by SHOWGEAR and its partners: IMPREVA, IPC EVENTS, LEGACY PLANET, and ZANNOZA ENTERTAINMENT.
Our Media Partners are TVC/MAX FM, Accelerate TV, COOL FM, Guardian. We welcome more partnerships.
And as it is the global practice of Make Music Day, ALL EVENTS ARE FREE. Meaning that you do not pay to attend or perform at any of the events. It is open to all without any strings attached.
Ten days after South Africa reported its first case of COVID-19 on 5 March 2020, the government moved quickly to declare a national state of disaster. Within days a National Coronavirus Command Council had been formed, travel restrictions imposed and schools closed. A national lockdown was announced on 23 March. This remains in force though restrictions are being lifted slowly.
South Africa’s response has been praised by the head of the World Health Organisation. But it has also come under intense scrutiny from those who cite major shortcomings in how the government has arrived at decisions. Specifically, it’s been criticised for whose advice it has sought and who it has chosen not to engage.
These limitations are exposed in three dimensions.
The first is the reliance on a small subset of the science community in deliberating on the response. South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 is dominated by medics and medical professionals.
The third dimension is the absence of engagement with the public and civil society organisations. Here, the government could learn from one of the country’s provinces – the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature – which has gone online to strengthen public participation during COVID-19. The Democracy Works Foundation and Westminister Foundation of Development developed an online engagement series that allows communities to bring their challenges to the legislature.
Policy implementation is about the execution of political decisions, informed by evidence. But part of it is also about politics – being informed by the electorate. It is therefore important that government decision making and interventions be judged in terms of their capacity for effective problem solving. And for generating legitimacy.
Diversity of scientific expertise is needed
The economic, health and socioeconomic effects of the lockdown are multidimensional and far reaching. This suggests that advice from social scientists would be essential to inform the government response. Yet the voices of social scientists and civil society are filtering through to government opinion pieces and commentary in the print and social media – not through structured institutionalised advisory committees.
A public statement on COVID-19 recently released by the South African Academy of Sciences cautioned:
it is crucial that the National Coronavirus Command Council, and the structures reporting to it, such as the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, include in its advisory bodies scientists from a much broader range of disciplines. While it is important to have epidemiologists, vaccinologists and infectious disease experts on these bodies, we believe that the pandemic is not simply a medical problem but a social problem as well. This means that social scientists and humanities scholars should also form part of these advisory structures.
Yet this isn’t happening.
Even the advice from scientists who have formally been drawn into the process of advising government has its limitations.
Scientists on the ministerial advisory committee typically frame the issue based on their involvements and expertise.
What South Africa needs now is scientists to move from being issues advocates who seek to reduce the scope of available choices. They need to become what political scientist Roger A. Pielke refers to as honest brokers of policy alternatives.
This would involve scientists engaging in decision making and integrating scientific knowledge with stakeholder concerns, thus embracing the politics of expert advice. These stakeholder concerns would include business, labour, women’s organisations, religious organisations, professional societies and civic groups.
The government has recently moved from a strict lockdown to a differential risk-adjusted model of alert levels.
The five risk-adjusted levels are guided by a set of criteria. These include the level of infections and rate of transmission, the capacity of health facilities, the implementation of public health interventions and economic and social impact. Built into the model is the possibility of a differentiated approach to deal with those areas that have far higher levels of infection and transmission. Decision makers in the Department of Health say they are currently implementing what is practical and implementable. This, it’s envisaged, would be done in a way that’s “coherent and aligned to many factors”.
The question is: why are ordinary citizens not involved in decisions about what is practical and implementable, coherent and aligned?
It turns out that Funnel Cakes are not cakes after all. They are special desserts served at themed events and are so fun that the young and old love to indulge in it. For those who are keen on serving something new and quick to your guests, here is a simple recipe for your pleasure.
3 eggs, beaten
1 tspn, baking powder
3 ½ cups, vegetable oil
2 cups, milk
2 ½ cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar for dusting
Whipped cream, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla or any complimentary sauce of your choice.
Combine the two mixtures and whisk everything together until everything has blended together. You’ll want it to be thin enough to pour easily, but not too watery or runny. Mix up your batter, then let it sit for a few minutes while you heat your frying oil.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk until blended. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until it forms a smooth thin batter. The thin batter should not be too watery or runny.
Allow the batter to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes as you heat your oil or prepare any complimentary sauce.
Heat oil over medium heat or temperature of 375 degrees.
Now is the imperfect but perfect time. In the funnel where you have poured ½ or 1/4 of your batter, pour the batter in a large spoon and into the hot oil in a spiral form. OR hold the funnel above the hot oil, then move it in a circular motion.
Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest jihadist groups, has long threatened the security of the vast swathes of West and Central Africa. But now the coronavirus pandemic is adding a new dimension of danger.
Boko Haram – whose name means ‘Western education is forbidden’ – reached the height of its power five years ago, soon after it kidnapped 276 of mainly Christian schoolgirls from their school in the town of Chibok, northeastern Nigeria in 2014.
In 2015, the jihadists controlled an area of Nigeria equivalent to the size of Belgium. The fighters sought to turn themselves from insurgents to rulers and impose their ruthless interpretation of Islam over a so-called ‘caliphate’.
Since then, national governments helped by their Western partners have beaten the group back, shrunk its territory and forced it into a gruesome guerrilla war.
Just before the pandemic struck, many political actors around the Lake Chad Basin in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad were discussing how to consolidate these gains and ultimately, defeat Boko Haram.
But now, local governments are scrambling to shore up their healthcare systems and redeploying precious resources away from fighting the jihadists. At the same time, Western nations are turning in on themselves, fretting about post-virus austerity and retrenchment.
The fight against Boko Haram has cost thousands of lives and displaced millions. But now there is a real risk that the group could make up lost ground and make the coronavirus pandemic worse.
Escape from Boko Haram | ‘If you gave me a gun, I would finish them all’
The terror group horrified the world when it kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria in 2014. But what happened to those who survived? In Maiduguri, photographer Simon Townsley meets those who escaped. Words by Will Brown. Read more
I was born in Borno State and grew up in Yobe State, the group’s epicentre and have family members who still live in the region. I have received three death threats from Boko Haram’s leaders for my work analysing the conflict. But now the joint threat of Boko Haram and Covid-19 terrifies me.
Boko Haram’s attacks are a significant distraction for those trying to stop the virus from spreading.
Take Chad. The nation of around 15 million people confirmed its first case of coronavirus on March 19. The pandemic is bringing some of the most advanced health care systems in the world to their knees and Chad only has ten intensive care beds.
But the jihadists are making things far worse. Four days after Chad confirmed coronavirus had come to the country, Boko Haram launched a huge attack killing nearly 100 local soldiers, in one of the deadliest incidents in the country’s history.
The damage was so significant that Idriss Déby, Chad’s dictator of thirty years, was forced to leave the capital and his country’s Covid-19 response behind and rush to Lake Chad with his troops to direct a military intervention.
On the same day in March, at least 47 Nigerian soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram ambush, as the country recorded a sharp rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The head of Nigeria’s army had been preparing his troops to enforce lockdowns, transfer patients to hospitals and prepare for mass burials. But he was forced to leave the army headquarters and mount an offensive against the group.
It is clear that both attacks drew attention away from efforts to fight the virus and forced governments to fight on two fronts with stretched resources.
There is no doubt that Boko Haram recognises the opportunity that Covid-19 offers them. Boko Haram’s breakaway group, Islamic State West Africa Province, recently boasted that the pandemic is an opportunity to step up efforts and expand activities.
In an editorial in Isil central’s bi-weekly Arabic language magazine, it celebrated recent attacks in the Lake Chad region. It said the virus and subsequent economic downturn would divert government attention, weaken capacity and increase fragility, giving its fighters more inroads.
The jihadists have a long history of targeting health and aid workers which will certainly imperil coronavirus testing and treatment efforts in remote areas.
The group has attacked polio immunisation campaigners, executed workers from Action Against Hunger and the International Committee of the Red Cross. If a vaccine were developed, Boko Haram would almost undoubtedly slow distribution in the areas they operate in.
The preachings may also damage the local people’s compliance with health measures and feed into widespread misconceptions about Covid-19.
The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, has released recordings claiming non-Muslims and their Muslim puppets are using Covid-19 to attack Islam by stopping Muslims from practising their faith. He has encouraged people to keep taking part in group prayers and other religious activities.
In the most recent death threat I received from them last month, the 24-minute audio also mocked the government’s Covid-19 efforts.
So far there have only been just over 20,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and fewer than 700 reported deaths in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad put together.
However, we must not be complacent. There have been reports of hundreds of unexplained deaths across northern Nigeria and testimonies from health care workers point towards a major outbreak of the virus.
West Africa has many of the same characteristics that made Afghanistan a hotbed for extremist violence. If there is anywhere Isil can replicate its territorial achievements in Iraq and Syria, it is there.
While Western governments have their own struggles with the pandemic, they must recognise that the virus will only exacerbate the security situation in West Africa. They must keep up their support for the fight against extremist violence in the region.
The UK should proceed with the proposed deployment of an additional 250 British troops to the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, which is another crucial part of the fight against jihadi groups that are becoming more and more connected. The US should also reconsider its reported move to withdraw its forces from West Africa.
Meanwhile, in my part of the world, families and governments alike face an unholy alliance between brutal militias claiming to fight for God and a deadly new enemy in the form of the coronavirus.
Bulama Bukarti is Africa Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
Even before smartphones, I had a tendency to what was quaintly called chicken neck. Short-sightedness, incorrect desk ergonomics and sloppy posture have conspired to make me Not Audrey Hepburn. So what are the solutions?
I asked Mary Helen Bowers, founder of Ballet Beautiful. She recommends pulling in the core, keeping your shoulders back, lifting your chest – standing like a ballerina, in other words – and holding your phone at eye level. I’ve tried it all week and it does make a difference.
Coronavirus cases are beginning to soar in South Africa three weeks after the country eased one of the most draconian lockdowns on earth.
Over the weekend, Africa’s most industrialised nation recorded more than 8,100 new cases of Covid-19 bringing its total up to 70,000.
In late March, South Africa imposed sudden and sweeping lockdown measures to limit the spread of the virus bringing life to an almost complete stop. South Africans were only allowed to go out to buy food or visit the doctors, while the sale of alcohol and cigarettes was banned entirely.
The South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis says that cases will continue to rise until they peak between early July and August and that a total of 35,000 to 50,000 South Africans could die from the virus.
However, these statistics must be treated with caution. South Africa has carried out over 1.1 million tests since the crisis began, fifty times more than Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad have done combined.
The news of the surge in cases in South Africa follows warnings from the World Health Organisation a few days ago saying that Covid-19 was now spreading rapidly out of Africa’s urban areas into rural areas where health services are often limited or non-existent.
Africa accounts for only about 3 per cent of the world’s confirmed coronavirus cases. However, the pandemic is now accelerating rapidly. It took three months for Africa to reach 100,000 confirmed cases, but it took less than three weeks to get to the 200,000 cases.