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Geopolitics

African Union Elects First Woman President – She’s Also Jacob Zuma’s Ex-Wife

AFRISCOOP, INFOPLUS GABON, BUSINESS DAY

Worldcrunch

For the first time ever, the African Union has a woman president: South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will lead the continent-wide body, after defeating incumbent Jean Ping following four rounds of voting.

Senegalese website AfriScoop reports that Dlamini-Zuma, 53, who had been serving South African Minister of Home Affairs and is the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, was elected President of the African Union Commission late Sunday.

Newspapers across Africa on Monday cast the election as largely a competition between the English-speaking and French-speaking nations. There was some bitterness in francophone Gabon, the home country of the defeated Ping, who'd held the post since 2008.

"The summit in Addis Ababa showed the French bloc was divided and indecisive," wrote Info Plus Gabon website: "The headquarters of the African Union were taken over by a large South African delegation, determined to win the seat of President of the African Union Commission."

The vote, some observers noted, raised an ongoing rivalry between continental heavyweights South Africa and Nigeria, as well as worries of the smaller countries about the possible South African control over the 54-nation organization. But Dlamini-Zuma, a longtime anti-apartheid activist who has served as bothe Health and Foreign Minister under previous South African administrations assured that: "South Africa is not going to move to Addis to control the African Union."

For the South African website Business Day, Dlamini-Zuma's election at the head of the African Union represents a ‘political coup" for President Jacob Zuma.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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