Nicholas Westcott

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Telling Africans and their leaders what to do – or not do – is not in my nature. Outsiders do not have a good record in this area. But sometimes situations and events become so precarious and decisions taken are so obviously going to lead to disaster that you have no choice but to say something. This is Africa’s moment and the world is slowly but surely recognizing that the continent is no longer all about dictators, tribalism, wars and corruption. But some presidents –... more
When the journalist Lara Pawson asked me if RAS would host the launch of her book about an incident in Angola in 1977, I was in a dilemma. Loyalty to an old friend contended with the certainty that almost no one would want to waste an evening discussing an obscure massacre 37 years ago in Angola, a country we talk about infrequently. How wrong was I? When we held the launch it was standing room only. We had a fascinating evening as Lara and other Angola-watchers pealed away decades of lies,... more
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Written by Richard Dowden
Kaye Whiteman devoted his life to journalism in and about Africa. Outside Nigeria he was probably the most knowledge person in the world on the minutiae of Nigerian politics He had a lifetime fascination with its flow; the swirls and eddies, as well as the sudden torrents and spectacular falls. He wrote about it carefully and shared his passion generously with anyone who cared to listen. A thoughtful, gentlemanly man, he had a wonderful way of delving gently into political motivations. But his... more
Despite contradictory messages coming from within the Nigerian government it looks increasingly as if President Goodluck Jonathan has decided on negotiation with Boko Haram to secure the release of the 270 kidnapped girls. This could mean the release of Boko Haram prisoners from jails as well as cash paid to the movement’s leadership, according to a senior Nigerian security source. Although the girls may be released, the source said, Boko Haram will be enriched and strengthened and will... more
Where in the world would the disappearance of more than 240 schoolgirls have been ignored by the world’s press for almost two weeks? The answer is Borno state in north-east Nigeria. Had they died in a plane crash or a sinking ferry anywhere in the world it would have been global front-page news that day. So why wasn’t it? Because north-east Nigeria is one of the most neglected, least governed, least visited places on the planet. Tucked in the top-right-hand corner of Nigeria, it... more