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African press review 2 September

Today's African press looks at the state of South African hair and condoms... as well as a new WHO study that suggests resistance to antibiotics is making it harder to stop common sexually transmitted infections.


Business Day

In South Africa, Business Day Columnist Lindiwe Mazibuko- addresses the week's hot topic.

Hair styles! Bear with me, it's an important story.

"My heart broke when I first saw the images of 13-year-old schoolchildren at Pretoria High School for Girls protesting their right to "wear" their hair as it grows out of their delicate young scalps," she writes.

"By the time I clicked on the shaky cellphone video of what appeared to be a school official threatening to have pupils arrested for their protest, while the girls shouted "Arrest us then! Arrest us!", my tears were full-blown, as was my anger.

This word "hairstyle" has been variously used in coverage of the protests at home and abroad, obtusely ignoring the fact that for a black woman or man, an "Afro" is not a style, it is precisely how the hair grows out of your scalp.

This is the heart of what is at stake in this debate. It is not about "neatness" or "order" or "rules". Those are merely fig leaves intended to distract from the central premise: black hair in its natural state is still considered by many institutions to be, alternately, frivolous, untidy, unkempt, disorderly, in need of taming.

The courageous protests mounted by the pupils at Pretoria High School for Girls   and the solidarity protests that are slowly spreading across Gauteng’s education system   are about racism, not rules and regulations.

Over time, these rules become social norms, and before long, black girls become black women who believe their hair is an aberration that should be tamed and controlled."

Something with which Mazi-Buko, and many others, does not agree?

The Sowetan

The popular daily The Sowetan tells us that South Africans turned off by state issued noisy condoms.

Answering questions in the National Assembly‚ Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the old government issued condoms “did not smell so well and made a noise whenever it was used“.

However - new government brand condoms, called Max condoms, were scientifically designed for “maximum pleasure and maximum protection” - Ramaphosa said.

“And they don't make a noise“.

 They were available in various fruit flavours, the deputy president said.

“If you want a grape flavour‚ you can get a grape flavour‚ if you want an apple flavour‚ you can get an apple flavour."


Daily Nation

Kenya's Daily Nation headlines a reports from the World Health Organisation which says that growing resistance to antibiotics has complicated the containment of common sexually transmitted infections.

The WHO urged countries to update their national gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia treatment in response to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. WHO estimates that at least 131 million people are infected with chlamydia, 78 million with gonorrhoea and 5.6 million with syphilis each year.

According to the WHO, the three common infections, which are generally curable with antibiotics, were facing more limited treatment as they often go undiagnosed and are becoming more difficult to treat with cheaper and more accessible antibiotics.


Equally alarming news from the Guardian in Nigeria, which tells readers that food scarcity threatens 35 million Nigerians.

Eleven frontline states in northern Nigeria are threatened with food scarcity due to extreme weather conditions.

Between 50 and 75 percent of land is are under threat of desertification due to global warming, the paper says.

The National President of the Nigerian Environmental Society, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, revealed that over 350,000 hectares of land was lost annually to desert encroachment.

Last but not least, a trawl through Africa's English language press delivers barely a mention of unrest in Gabon, where Ali Bongo is claiming victory over former Africa Union chief Jean Ping in presidential elections, while Ping is claiming fraud.

Newsworthy, surely.

Though I'm reminded of the yardstick we journos use; man bites dog is news. Dog bites man is commonplace and unremarkable.

Maybe that explains the lack of attention.

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