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, 10 April 2014
Written by Richard Dowden
I don’t know why I keep them, but I have never been able to just throw them away. Two small green folded cards found at a road block in Rwanda in 1994. “Karita Y’Ibiranga Umuntu – Carte d’Indentite Republika y’u Rwanda”. The name on one is Mugema. Resident of Gatore. No 0422828 Ethnie – Hutu. A boy of 20 with a round head and wearing a neat white shirt stares out. The name on the other is Gahigi Protais. Resident of Nyirabujali. No 781123 Ethnie... more
Richard Dowden spent last week touring South Africa looking at projects where the country leads the world or is working on things you would not expect to find in Africa. This is the first of his reports. Each day this week he will add a short description of another project.    In South Africa last week I saw: a mobile robot being programmed, a magical film studio, a radio telescope system that explores galaxies and dark matter, polluted mine water being purified. And I went down... more
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Written by Richard Dowden
The referendum in Crimea is a dangerous precedent reminiscent of the Austrian Anschluss and the other uprisings in eastern Europe to join Germany in the 1930s. I used to think that Europe’s states had grown naturally, organically – in contrast to Africa’s imposed borders. That I thought was a major reason for Africa’s weak states and small local wars. Then I read up on the post World War One settlement and discovered that Europe’s borders had been reset by three... more
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Written by Richard Dowden
  Uganda’s war over homosexuality threatens to spread to other African countries and has further damaged the increasingly strained relationship between Africa and Western donors. For the donors it is a matter of human rights for minorities – a corner stone of democracy. For Africa it is part of the push back against the Western donors and the assertion of an African agenda. In Africa’s very religious – Christian or Muslim – societies, it is a matter of... more
The monastery at Debre Damo, Northern Ethiopia No wonder the monastery at Debre Damo has survived unmolested for some 900 years among the vast Tigrayan Mountains of Northern Ethiopia. Getting to it is arduous – the last stretch is achieved via an 80 foot rope. A few feet from the top my arms gave out and I couldn’t move. I dangled desperately searching for a foothold. There wasn’t one. The drop was dizzying. After what seemed like an hour, I felt the second rope, made of... more

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