Richard Dowden

Dowden on Africa

A regular blog from  Richard Dowden, RAS Director and author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

Richard writes on African news, politics, business and the word on the street from his unique perspective as a journalist with 30 years' experience of covering Africa for various publications including The Independent, The Times and The Economist.

Richard writes regularly for publications including The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and The Times, a selection of his recent writing published else can be read here

 

Thursday, 21 September 2017
Written by Richard Dowden
Kgalema Motlanthe should be basking in the glow of a well-lived life. Born in 1949 his youth was dominated by the steady advance of apartheid in South Africa. He talks slowly, describing the 1950s carefully without exaggeration or anger. His father was a social activist in Alexandra Township, the small black slum in the rich white northern suburbs of Johannesburg. In his youth, he says the African National Congress (ANC) was a talking shop, an aspiration, but as the apartheid barriers... more
Friday, 1 September 2017
Written by Richard Dowden
The cancellation of Kenya’s recent election shows that – so far – Kenya’s new constitution has held. The legitimacy of the election was called into question and the result was annulled by a panel of seven senior judges. What happens next is a test of the politicians. Will they accept the court ruling or resort to violence?  It is significant that one of the two judges who did not vote for a rerun is Luo – ethnic allegiances cannot be taken for granted even in... more
Thursday, 24 August 2017
Written by Richard Dowden
Angola is different. The clues are in the names. Check the names of the Central Committee of the ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Out of its 47 members, only 10 have African-sounding names. The rest, including President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, have what derive from originally Portuguese names. Several of them do not speak an African language but use Portuguese.   These families have lived in Africa long before European imperialists took over Angola... more
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Written by Richard Dowden
In the debate about future trade deals post Brexit one destination has been almost completed ignored: Africa. China and India are the targets for future UK trade but why is Africa off the list? Too poor? Too strange? Too corrupt or violent? Mainstream media content reflect images of poverty, disease and war and Africa sometimes throws up some real horrors. That reflects a reality but it is not the whole story of Africa. It is the most diverse continent on the planet. Snow on the equator, dense... more
Monday, 28 November 2016
Written by Richard Dowden
In Cuba it seems there will forever be two histories of Fidel Castro. One is the revolutionary who succeeded and became the guiding star for all who saw the world through the lens of Marxist Leninism. The other is the brutal dictator who suppressed democracy and kept his country poor. There is one place where Castro undoubtedly made a difference: Angola. In 1975 a military coup in Portugal overthrew the dictatorship of Antonio d’Oliveira Salazar. The country was tired of fighting wars in... more

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