Africa

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In our Reporting Back series, we ask FT foreign correspondents to tell us about a recent trip. Katrina Manson, the FT’s east Africa correspondent, tells us about her visit to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Why now?

A year after civil war ignited in South Sudan, peace talks are continuing, with little prospect of a lasting deal. I went to Juba to mark the December anniversary of the start of the war and to find how the capital of the world’s newest country is coping, and also to see the work of the International Rescue Committee, the FT’s partner for this year’s seasonal appeal.

What impression did you take away about the situation on the ground?

Billboards across Juba honour those who gave their lives for South Sudan’s freedom – the country seceded from the Khartoum regime to the north in 2011 after decades of fighting. “Your freedom is the price of our blood,” says one. Others evoke unity: “We are many tribes, but one nation; We need each other to build a strong and united country.”

But they look like sorry prophecies. The civil war sparked by a political and military fallout last December quickly set ethnic groups against one another in five of the country’s 10 states. Residents of the ethnically mixed capital now live in an atmosphere of mistrust. Read more

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Moroccan supporters gesture next to a placard reading "Long life to a Morocco without Ebola". Morocco was stripped of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations, and thrown out of the tournament, after saying it wanted to postpone the tournament due to fears over the Ebola epidemic. Getty

It’s been a bad week for international football. Fifa is in disarray over bribery allegations, and now African football is grappling with controversy over its prestigious tournament, the African Cup of Nations. Read more

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  • Nigeria has risked its credibility by announcing a deal to free 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram before they are released safely
  • Poland’s lossmaking coal industry, once seen as a bulwark against reliance on Russian energy resources, is in dire need of reform
  • A severe drought in São Paulo is not just affecting Brazil’s coffee and sugar crops, it could also play out in Sunday’s presidential election run-off
  • A weakening currency should mean a boost to exports and inflation, but that theory will be put to the test in the eurozone
  • South Korea’s professional video game competitions, known as ‘e-sports’, are so popular they fill stadiums with 40,000 fans cheering on players

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  • Against the odds, Nigeria’s overstretched health service and chaotic public authorities have so far contained the Ebola virus through co-ordination and lots of water
  • A simple chart that looks like a fish is giving Spain’s ruling Popular Party hope that next year’s elections – as well as the turmoil over Catalonia’s future – will go its way
  • A former rebel who recently came out of hiding is threatening to shake up Mozambique’s election on a platform of more equitable development for the gas-rich but desperately poor nation
  • A coterie of celebrated chefs wants to bring back the ortolan, a coveted and sumptuous bird eaten in a mouthful that was banned from France’s restaurant menus in 1999
  • Fear not, Our Dear Leader lives: after making no public appearances for more than a month, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is back, but with a walking stick (and possibly a case of gout)

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The news that a patient with the Ebola virus is receiving treatment in an American hospital is making headlines in the US. But, even before the Dallas case was revealed, there was growing alarm in western capitals, about the implications of the virus for Africa.

When President Obama gave his speech to the UN last week, it was his remarks about war in the Middle East that made the news. But what the president had to say about Ebola was also striking. He warned that it was a disease that “could kill hundreds of thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destablise economies.” Read more

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Ebola virus (Getty)   © Getty

By Clive Cookson
Research into Ebola drugs and vaccines had been chugging along at a fairly leisurely pace for a decade or more – helped by some funding from the US government’s biodefence programme but not a priority for medical research in the public or private sector – until this year’s explosive Ebola epidemic in west Africa. Read more

Ebola: what risk does the virus pose to Africa and the wider world?
Parts of Western Africa are gripped by the Ebola virus, with more than 670 dead in the current outbreak. Gideon Rachman is joined by Clive Cookson, science editor, and Javier Blas, Africa editor, to discuss how serious a threat the virus poses to the region and to the wider world, and what the international community can do to thwart its progress.

When the already opaque language of diplomacy turns to allegories, you know you are on even thornier ground than usual.

In this case, it is the UK trying desperately to convince Kenya they are after all the greatest of friends – if mistrusting, sparring ones.

Addressing a crowd in a televised speech, Christian Turner, the UK High Commissioner to Kenya, likened the pair – once former colony and colonial power – to a lion and buffalo “locked in combat”.

He went on: “On stopping to gather their strength for a final assault, they saw some vultures circling up above. They at once stopped their quarrel, saying: ‘It is better for us to work together than to become a meal for vultures.’” Read more

The Kenyan military says it. The African Union says it. Even al-Shabaab says it. But President Uhuru Kenyatta not only refuses to say it; he actively denies it.

In a speech televised to the nation more than 40 hours after 49 of his countrymen were massacred in a terrorist attack on a coastal town, Mr Kenyatta has blamed not Islamist jihadis from al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked Somali militancy who claimed responsibility for the raid, but “local political networks”.

“The attack in Lamu was well-planned, orchestrated, and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons,” he said in the speech on Tuesday afternoon. “This therefore, was not an al-Shabaab terrorist attack.”

Few corroborate his view. Eyewitnesses, who say gunmen targeted men who could not recite the Islamic creed, are among those convinced it was indeed a terrorist attack. Western diplomats and security experts – who have heavily criticised the Kenyan government’s response to insecurity in recent months – say it is appalling the government is politicising the latest massacre rather than addressing the rising security crisis. Read more