The “exclusive” footage by SABC, South Africa’s state broadcaster, was rich in content as the country’s top leaders chuckled to the background of clicking and flashing cameras.
There was President Jacob Zuma, his shirt undone at the neck, looking relaxed and carefree. His deputy in the ruling African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, appeared equally jovial and casual.
But there was one major problem – the centrepiece of the clip, Nelson Mandela, looked anything but happy. Rather, the revered former liberation leader and South Africa’s first black president stared vacantly into the distance, frail and apparently unaware of the commotion around him.
The result was the unseemly spectacle of a bunch of politicians parading themselves around an old man lauded as a national treasure, causing a storm of outrage to erupt on social media.
Mandela survived 27 years in prison only to become a prisoner of the ANC marketing machine.
Richard Dowden explains why the next pope should be African. “The Catholic Church in Europe used to be… part of the warp and weft of society. And if it wanted to become so again, it should send for an African Pope.”
In Deputatskoye, residents are rooting around in the snow in the hope of digging up fragments of the meteor that exploded over the Siberian town to sell. The excitement over the value of pieces of meteors has even brought visitors to the town, “men who refused to answer questions but offered stacks of rubles worth hundreds, then thousands, of dollars for the fragments.”
Ursula Lindsey portrays the breakdown of law and order in Cairo, where activists “dream of more revolution, of the same giant peaceful crowds and sudden, improbable change of two years ago. But all they seem ready to offer is ‘awareness-raising’; the poor are well aware of their predicament, and the Islamists will be distributing food and gas canisters.”
America’s shale oil boom is now so big it is visible from space— night-time satellite images show North Dakota’s Bakken shale shining almost as brightly as Chicago. They highlight how development has outpaced investment in infrastructure that manages the unwanted associated gas released alongside oil production.
When Saudi religious police closed an educational exhibit of plaster dinosaurs, a Twitter hashtag #Dammam-Hayaa-Closes-Dinosaur-Show soon started generating theories about the reason for closure — an indication that the vigilantes might be heading the same way as the dinosaurs.
Police surround fallen miners near the Marikana platinum mine on August 16 (AFP/GettyImages)
by Ruona Agbroko
Mining has always been a dangerous business. But the tragedy that unfolded last month in Marikana, South Africa, threw a new and harsh light on the lives of those who spend their days toiling in the dark. On August 16, 34 workers were killed and 78 were wounded when police opened fire during clashes over pay at a platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. The violence evoked painful memories of state brutality during the apartheid era, and prompted a debate around how much progress the country has made in tackling inequality. As South Africa produces about 80 per cent of the world’s platinum supply, the unrest continues to spook global commodities markets, pushing up platinum prices and dragging gold futures up too. Three weeks after the killings, crisis resolution talks have restarted, but will they succeed? And what will be the long term legacy of Marikana? Read more
Gideon became chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times in July 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economist’s business and Asia sections.
His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation