Funny ol' Africa, a continent of contradictions - it's what keeps it interesting

Where war-torn countries outcompete their peacekeepers and welcome refugees...

ANGOLA says it will destroy 11 million eggs, not because they are unfit for human consumption, but on accounting of their having been imported illegally into the southern African nation.

Angola’s government ways it wants to boost consumption of domestically produced food and drink, and it sees the imported eggs as undermining that goal.

However, as it destroys the eggs, the country, which is Africa’s second-biggest crude oil producer has the world’s highest rate of child mortality under the age of 5: 167 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). That’s one in six.

READ: It’s sub-Sahara Africa’s 3rd richest nation, drives Porsches, wears Armani – but tops world in under-5 child deaths

Some might argue, why not give the seized eggs to programmes to feed it malnourished children?

These contradictions, an oil rich country, but crazy child malnutrition rates, destroying eggs is not a contradiction unique to Angola.

It happens on an even grander scale all lover Africa, making it a continent full of contradictions and surprises which can leave one wondering in bemusement, horror or just sheer exasperation, “how did that happen?” 

Here we take a look at some of the current political, social and economic situations that leave us all feeling a little bewildered. 

Somalia outcompetes peacekeepers

Somalia, a country with a war-torn reputation, in 2014 exported a record 5 million livestock to markets in the Gulf of Arabia. In fact, over the past few years Somalia has been very impressive in its livestock production and export figures. In 2011 for example, with almost 4 million exported, Somalia was the world’s leading exporter of sheep and goats. Second was Sudan, with over a million less in numbers exported. 

Ironically, Uganda, a stable regional friend that supplies the largest (6,223) number of troops to the stabilising African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) performs dismally in its livestock exports because of the prevalence of diseases, lack of an export-standard abattoir and the high demand of the national market. Instead, Uganda finds itself exporting graduates to the Middle East to work as domestic staff - specifically in July this year, they entered into a bilateral arrangement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to export graduates to work as maids. 

Bureaucratic Bourgeoisie

The breakup of the first modern East African Community, originally founded in 1967, was brought about by, among other things, ideological differences between Tanzania and Kenya. While Kenya embraced capitalism, Tanzania championed “Ujamaa”, a strong brand of African socialism. However today, while Tanzania continues to turn it’s nose up at what its intellectuals used to call Kenya’s “man-eat-man society”, the it suffers from a degree of hypocrisy on the matter. 

This can be seen most vividly in the country’s education sector - while the country’s leaders preach for children to be sent to public schools, they don’t send theirs there. Local reports even suggest that if a national census was to be conducted today it would show that “nearly 90% of the top leaders have their children schooling at expensive private schools, academies and the likes, which teach in English.” Many of the richer ones send their children to study in top international schools in “man-eat-man” Kenya.

Mugabe and white people

After a many years in which he was clear about the issue, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe does not seem to know how he feels about white people any longer. Most recently he laid the blame for xenophobic violence in South Africa on them, because he said they still owned most of the land and had most of the opportunities. 

Despite these calls against white people in South Africa, back at home Mugabe is back-tracking on his statements. 

Zimbabwe’s government has for the first time in 15 years suggested it may give official permission for some white farmers to stay on their land, this after it evicted over 4,000 farmers from their land, arguing it was stolen by their ancestors from local people, plummeting the country into an economic crisis. 

The surprising statement came in July this year, a couple of months after his statements on South Africa’s xenophobic attacks, when Lands Minister, Douglas Mombeshora, said provincial leaders had been asked to draw up a list of white farmers they wanted to stay on their farms deemed to be “of strategic economic importance”.

Djibouti, Islam and prostitution

More than 90% of Djibouti’s population is Muslim and the country even has a legal system which is based, in part, on Islamic law. This however has not stopped the Horn of Africa nation from becoming a sex hotspot and a major destination, illegal source and transit route for girls from the region. 

(Photo/Patrick MARTIN/Flickr).

Over 80,000 men, women, and children from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea are estimated to have passed through Djibouti as voluntary and undocumented economic migrants en route to Yemen and other locations in the Middle East. An unknown number of these migrants are subjected to conditions of forced labor and sex trafficking upon arrival in these destinations. The country’s domestic appetite for prostitution is in great part fuelled by the presence of thousands of foreign troops based there. 

Ethiopia’s water-jacking

With 14 major rivers running through it and massive underground water reserves, Ethiopia is often referred to as the “water tower” of Eastern Africa. Ironically, despite all these water reserves, the country will be harnessing water that will take water away from some of Kenya’s most water-needy populations. 

This is because the government has built the Gibe III dam, associated with the country’s largest hydropower plant on the Omo river. This dam will reduce the river’s flow into Kenya’s Lake Turkana, reducing it by about two-thirds and affect the livelihoods of at least 300,000 people in the North of the country - an extremely arid area. 

Refugee swopping! 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is characterised by ongoing conflict which has led to approximately 430,000 refugees being found in neighbouring countries, particularly Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.  

Surprisingly however, despite the conflict, poor infrastructure and challenging logistics that make it difficult for aid agencies to support refugee populations there, it is a major refugee destination. As of January 2015, the country has 75,000 from the Central African Republic, 129,440 from Rwanda and 40,000 from Angola and 2,150 from other places.

Lesotho water politics

Africa’s largest water transfer scheme, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, provides Lesotho with a source of income in exchange for the provision of water to the central Gauteng province in neighbouring South Africa where the majority of the southern African giant’s industrial and mining activity occurs. 

(Photo/John Pannell/Flickr.)

However, even though Lesotho benefits from a relatively high level of rainfall, and is able to export this water to its big neighbour, it suffers from severe water supply problems with 400,000 people, out of a population of about 2 million, not having access to safe water and three quarters of the population lacking access to a simple toilet. 

South African power push

South Africa is the fifth-largest coal-producing country in the world, producing an average of 224 million tons of marketable coal a year. About 25% of this is exported, making South Africa the third-largest coal-exporting country. 

Funnily enough, the country may now be looking to its neighbours to import coal. Once a net exporter of electricity to sub-Saharan African countries, South Africa could start importing coal and electricity from Mozambique and Botswana to compensate for its own power shortages.  

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