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This Happened

This Happened—November 2: Coronation Of An African Emperor

Do you know the man who fought Mussolini and is still an icon for rastafari around the world?

Updated on Nov. 2, 2023 at 12:45 p.m.

The emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, Haile Selassie sought to modernize the country, most notably by introducing its first constitution and abolishing slavery. But he also became a modern Messiah for the likes of Bob Marley. His coronation was held on this day in 1930.

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First Signs The China-Africa Love Affair Is Growing Cold

China has invested billions in multiple African countries in order to expand its influence. But both sides have been quietly scaling back the relationship, as Africans resent one-sided deals and China fears defaults on debt.


JOHANNESBURG — In December, Kenya's new president, William Ruto, broke a taboo that pertains to pretty much every Chinese loan agreement with African governments: the secrecy clause.

Ruto's predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta had refused to publish contracts for billion-dollar projects, citing clauses to that effect. But that caused so much public anger that Ruto made disclosure a campaign promise.

The ominous details relate to the construction of an entirely overpriced rail line from Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa worth $3.6 billion. The case explains why Beijing is so keen to keep such contracts confidential.

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Overselling The Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal Is One More Putin Scam

Moscow and Kyiv reached a much hailed accord in July to allow transport of Ukrainian agricultural output from ports along the Black Sea. However, analysis from Germany's Die Welt and Ukraine's Livy Bereg shows that it has done little so far to solve the food crisis, and is instead being used by Putin to advance his own ambitions.


Brokered by Turkey on July 22, the Grain Deal between Russia and Ukraine ensured the export of Ukrainian agricultural products from the country's largest sea ports. Exports by sea of grains and oilseeds have been increasing. Optimistic reports, featuring photos of the first deliveries to Africa, are circulating about how the risk of a global food crisis has been averted.

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But a closer look shows a different story. The Black Sea ports are not fully opened, which will impact not only Ukraine. The rest of the world can expect knock-on effects, including potentially hunger for millions. Indeed, a large proportion of the deliveries are not going to Africa at all.

As with other reported "breakthroughs" in the war, Vladimir Putin has other objectives in mind — and is still holding on to all his cards.

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Biden-Putin Call, Olympic Boycott, Lockdown Of Unvaccinated

👋 Mbote!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Biden and Putin go face-to-face on Ukraine, China threatens U.S. over Olympic boycott and the world marks 80 years since Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile, we go back to the small town that recorded Italy’s first coronavirus death back in February 2020, which is now a stronghold for vaccine skeptics.

[*M-boh-teh – Lingala, Democratic Republic of the Congo]

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Dominique Moisi

From Taliban To Taiwan, The Limits Of Military Power

China is beefing up its military arsenal, with Taiwan as its target. However, as with the continued difficulty to control the terrain in Afghanistan, we increasingly see that military power is far from ensuring the hegemony hoped for by stronger parties.


PARIS — "How many divisions does the Pope have?" once famously asked Joseph Stalin, highlighting that despite religious or political authority, military force can always prevail in geopolitics. However, in the 21st century, one can legitimately ask what military force is for.

In Afghanistan, more than three months after the Taliban's lightning victory, terrorist violence continues. It seems that members of the defeated regular army have joined the ranks of the "fundamentalist international" to continue the fight against the Taliban. In short, military victory on the ground has not solved anything. The Taliban face the resilience of those nostalgic for freedom and progress on the one hand, and Islamic fanatics on the other.

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Christian Putsch

Ethiopia's Civil War: Ethnic Atrocities Recall Balkans

Reports of torture, murder and gang rape are emerging from the civil war in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has spread across the country and an imminent collapse seems likely, spreading across the region. Now Turkey is also getting involved.

The news reaching the international community from the civil war in Ethiopia is deeply shocking. According to Amnesty International, many women in the Tigray region, where fighting is ongoing, say they have been imprisoned for weeks and gang-raped multiple times, sometimes in the presence of family members. They say some of the perpetrators assaulted them with nails and rocks.

These accusations are overwhelmingly directed at Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers who are fighting the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) for power in Ethiopia's northernmost state. At first, the Ethiopian government dismissed the accusations as "propaganda," but now the Ministry of Women's Affairs admits there is "no doubt" that rapes have taken place.

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Laura-Maï Gaveriaux

Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam Risks Diplomatic Blowup

Built by Ethiopia, the massive Dam project is fueling tensions with Sudan and Egypt. The second filling, set to take place next month, risks making the area even more explosive.

KHARTOUM — A sandstorm throws a thick red fog on Khartoum, making the Sudanese capital look like something out of a Martian chronicle by Ray Bradbury. Locals are used to these terrible haboubs, as they're called, tempests that can stop planes and paralyze traffic for hours. Still, Mariam feels like there are more of them now than there used to be.

The energetic 30-year-old runs a "guest house" in the al-Emtidad district. It's not the most popular part of the city, but not the most neglected either. The streets perpendicular to the main asphalt axis are only stony tracks, and mixed in with the small, newish buildings are coffee shops with plastic stools.

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Gonzalo Guajardo F. Caballos

Ethiopia: Shutting Down The Internet As Tool For Statecraft

Though it may undermine free speech, Ethiopians seem accepting of government-ordered Internet shutdowns to curb rioting fomented online.

ADDIS ABABA — Would you sacrifice your freedom to feel safe? Following days of deadly rioting this summer, Ethiopians are increasingly clear on the answer. Not for the first time, this former communist dictatorship in northeastern Africa decided to block the Internet to stifle a growing protest movement online, after the murder of a singer from Ethiopia's main ethnic group, the Oromo.

One wonders whether Ethiopia's reality justifies limiting people's rights and liberties to keep the peace. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin warned that "those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." It's a pertinent concept today in the face of challenges posed by new technology and online privacy.

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Olivia Han

Killer Software: Boeing 737 Max And Other Fatal Computer Bugs

PARIS — The so-called millennium bug, or Y2K, was the first time many began to understand the full potential of malfunctioning software to do harm. Of course, the predicted December 31, 1999 disruption of the internet, electricity, banking systems, and transportation didn't come to pass in the end. Still, the threat of bugs (and not the crawling kind) is very much still a reality, as the world has witnessed recently with the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX planes in less than five months, and subsequent grounding of the aircraft around the world. On Thursday, investigators in the Ethiopian Airlines crash eliminated human error from the equation, increasingly the likelihood that software was to blame.

The total death count of 346 between the Lion Air Flight from Jakarta in October and last month's Ethiopian Airlines Flight taking off from Addis Ababa is a sobering reminder that even the most intricate software systems can cause grave harm to humans. In recent decades, similar such incidents have occurred around the world:

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Migrant Lives
Magdalena Vaculciakova

Protecting Ethiopian Women Migrant Workers In Gulf Region

In 2013, Ethiopia announced a ban on domestic workers from going to the Middle East. Authorities estimate nearly 1 million Ethiopians working legally and illegally in the region. It comes with opportunity and risk, especially for women.

DEGA The house in Saudi Arabia was huge, with endless rooms blasted with cool air conditioning, recalls Tsega of her years as a migrant domestic worker. Now back in Dega, her village in northern Ethiopia, the 45-year-old mother of four describes her former life in the Gulf.

The air is thick with heat in this arid northern region of Tigray, which suffered greatly from the 1984 famine and more recent droughts caused by El Niňo. There is no electricity in Dega, no mill to process flour and women have to walk two miles to collect water.

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Emeline Wuilbercq

The Rise Of 'Made In Ethiopia' — With The Backing Of Beijing

HAWASSA — Peter Wan is smiling from ear to ear. The 50-year-old walks past huge warehouses, where dozens of Ethiopians are busy working on spinning and thread-dyeing machines. "We are in the production test stage," he says, at the Chinese factory of JP Textile at the entrance of the industrial park of Hawassa, some 270 kilometers south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Soon, the labor force will transform the thread imported from China into cloth fabric, explains Wan. Then this fabric will be shaped into "Made in Ethiopia" shirts for brands such as Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger, so they can be exported to wealthy customers in Europe and the United States. This park, which was built by the Chinese in just nine months, is officially operational. But it has not yet started to export garments.

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Gebeya: Shaping A Robust African Software Industry


In this technology driven world, Africa is still recording low iGDP compared to its neighbouring continents. Funding, infrastructure, electricity and IT literacy are among the key challenges hampering ICT development in Africa. Currently, only one percent of African children leave schools with basic coding skills yet Africa's population has been increasing at an average of 2.5% in the last five years. Africa will also have the largest working population by 2040. With this forecast, Africa's labour force ought to be well equipped to support and nurture the effective exploitation of ICT to benefit development.

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