Hi, Quartz Africa readers!
“She didn’t die, she multiplied.”
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela often welcomed guests into her living room. Simultaneously maternal and intimidating, her guests were made to feel at ease even as she delivered difficult truths about South Africa and the world at large. This week, her home in Soweto has been crowded by thousands of mourners who consider her the Mother of a nation and a revolutionary fighter, paying respect in the wake of her death on Apr. 2 at the age of 81.
I was once part of a group of young people she welcomed into her home. She entertained questions about the past and the future that she must have heard a thousand times before, each with an honest, considered answer. She may have moved slower than the she did in the fiery clips where she stared down the apartheid police, but her mind remained sharp and her vision for South Africa remained clear.
In that conversation she moved easily from her critique of the sunset clauses that brought an end to apartheid, the need to return land to disenfranchised black South Africans and the importance of controlling your own story, including her dissatisfaction with the documentaries and biopics that have tried to capture her own life. Madikizela-Mandela told her her own story in the book 491 Days, detailing the shocking brutality she endured and the extraordinary strength she drew from. She encouraged young South Africans to tell their own stories.
This week, women all over South Africa dressed in black and wrapped their hair in a scarf or wore a beret—in the style that Mam’ Winnie may have. They posed as she would have, fist in the air, posting their pictures on social media with the message, “She didn’t die, she multiplied.”
It was an effort to reclaim her legacy from the “flawed” and “complex” obituaries about how she resorted to violence in retaliation to years of harassment and abuse. But the effort also signaled the increasing radicalization of young South African women, no longer satisfied with post-apartheid compromises that have left many impoverished, unsafe and systematically oppressed. As women around the world lean into feminism, redefining it for today, South African women increasingly look to Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela-Mandela as an example.
Her complexity is no different to any figure in history, but observers have been particularly unkind. The imbalance has forced young South African women to tilt the scales in the opposite direction. Perhaps once the initial grief has passed, her legacy will inspire reflection, and action, on her legacy and what they mean for South Africa today.
— Lynsey Chutel, Quartz Johannesburg correspondent
Stories from this week
The Kenyan crack that reveals how Africa is physically splitting into two continents. In March, heavy downpours across Kenya exposed a fault line stretching several miles that tore through a major highway, homes, and farms. Geologists now say the gully is evidence of the major tectonic shift that over a period of tens of millions of years will tear East Africa from the rest of the continent.
Nigerians are conflicted about the death of a Russian conman. Sergei Mavrodi was a convicted Russian fraudster who had established the infamous MMM ponzi scheme which defrauded tens of thousands of Nigerians of their “investments”. Oluwatosin Adeshokan recounts the dark humor and bitterness which Nigerians used in the wake of Mavrodi’s death from a heart attack late last month.
Skepticism is hindering the full of potential of solar power in Africa. Africa has an electricity problem, and solar power has often been cast as the springboard to drive the continent’s energy ambitions. But conversations with industry leaders show that lack of commitment from governments is still holding back full-scale investment in the sector.
After Facebook-Cambridge Analytica we need to talk about data privacy in Africa. The scandal surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has surfaced concerns about privacy—especially for millions of people across Africa who think Facebook is the internet. Linet Kwamboka explains why it’s time policymakers introduced stronger data protection laws.
Rwanda is caught up in Trump’s global trade wars after it banned American secondhand clothes. The Trump administration suspended the tariff-free privileges of Rwandan exports after the country banned second-hand clothing imports from the US. But as Abdi Latif Dahir and Yomi Kazeem report, the policy choice will only enhance Kigali’s profile as the only East African capital standing up to Trump’s escalating trade wars.
The black natural hair care movement has arrived in South Africa. All over the world, more black women are embracing or experimenting products aimed at nurturing their natural hair instead of harsh chemical straightening treatments. Here’s how the natural hair movement is finding a footing in South Africa.
Chart of the Week
Mobile money is the key to growing Africa’s banking sector. A preference for cash and traditional high-cost systems has hobbled the rise of Africa’s retail banking institutions. But to entrench their place across the continent, the first step is to build smart solutions for customers by partnering with mobile money networks.
Other Things We Liked
Walking from Selma to Montgomery to protest Trump’s election. The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail is, at 54 miles, the shortest of America’s 19 national historic trails. In BuzzFeed, Rahawa Haile recounts hiking the path last year, sometimes against oncoming traffic, as an act of political protestation.
What it means to be a university student in the Central African Republic. A bloody conflict has for years now torn apart CAR, leading to looting, mass displacement, and religious strife. In Al Jazeera English, Azad Essa & Sorin Furcoi document the challenge and hassle it takes to attain a degree.
Why some history books about Africa still downplay the ill-impact of slavery and colonization. Economists have argued the demand for bonded labor damaged African people’s economic and political development to date, even though that correlation is not sufficiently conveyed. In the New York Review of Books, Howard French assesses why this history of denial is still pervasive.
Keep an eye on
African Union conference on combating terror financing (Apr. 9-10). Algeria will host high-level officials from the AU, European Union, and the United Nations to discuss ways of combating terrorism, money laundering, smuggling, and crime.
DR Congo humanitarian appeal conference (Apr. 13). The United Nations along with partner nations will hold a conference in Geneva to appeal for the largest ever funding for the country at $1.68 billion. Congolese officials are refusing to participate, complaining the country is being given “a bad image.”
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s burial (Apr. 14). A state funeral will take place at the Fourways Memorial Park, north of Sandton area in Johannesburg.
*This brief was produced while listening to Winnie Mandela, Beloved Heroine by Satima Bea Benjamin (South Africa)
Our best wishes for a productive and thought-filled week ahead. Please send any news, comments, suggestions, keys to MMM cash vouchers and natural haircare solutions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter at @qzafrica for updates throughout the day. This newsletter was compiled by Abdi Latif Dahir and edited by Yinka Adegoke.
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