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African press review 16 August 2017


There's criticism of the way Kenyan authorities are dealing with post-electoral protests in the African press this morning. There's also a lot of talk of Robert Mugabe's wife and her notorious fighting skills.


“The assault on civil society spells doom,” reads the headline of the Daily Nation’s editorial this morning.

The paper is reacting to the government’s intention to shut down two human rights organisations, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the African Centre for Open Governance (Africog).

“This is totally unacceptable”, the paper says. “Kenyans should reject this attempt to roll back democracy.”

According to the Daily Nation, the government is trying to intimidate a robust civil society, before the dust has settled on last week’s elections.

“Jubilee may have no use for democracy and all the noisy institutions which make it work,” it says. “But totalitarianism is not what the rest of Kenyans want to bequeath to their children.”

"Ms Indiana Jones" strikes again

A lot of African headlines are focusing on the recent scandal involving Grace Mugabe.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife was accused of assaulting a 20-year-old woman with an extension cord in a Johannesburg hotel on Sunday night.

There has been a lot of speculation as to the suspect’s whereabouts.

The Citizen offering to help the police, with a tongue-in-cheek article listing some of the places where Mrs Mugabe has not been seen, such as the Moon, the North Pole, war-torn Aleppo and, funnily enough, the magistrate’s court in Johannesburg, where she was supposed to present herself yesterday.

“The police have been scratching their heads," it says, "wondering where Ms Indiana Jones of the Extension Cord could possibly be”.

That's a reference to cinema hero Indiana Jones's use of his whip to destroy his enemy.

A dangerous first lady

The Mail and Guardian has quite a bit to say about what they call “the madness of Queen Grace”.

The paper claims that “Zimbabweans [are] all too familiar with their first lady’s erratic behaviour”.

Loyalists describe her as “The Lady of the Revelation” or “Amazing Grace” but her critics prefer the nicknames “DisGrace”, “Gucci Grace” or “First Shopper”, in reference to her lavish spending.

She is also a bit of thug, according to the Mail and Guardian.

The paper goes on to list a string of cases in which she used diplomatic immunity to get away from criminal charges, including one case where she repeatedly punched a British photographer in the face.

The Mail and Guardian says the first lady is a leading candidate to succeed her ageing husband, as both leader of the ruling party and head of state in Zimbabwe.

“What might this scandal-prone first lady do with even more power at her disposal?” it asks.

Love on a massive scale

In Nigeria The Nation is welcoming the first mass wedding celebration in the south-west of the country.

Twenty-five couples were joined together in an Islamic wedding in Ibadan, Oyo State.

It was organised by Ebi-Alayo (“happy home”), an arm of the Al-Balag Islamic Organisation.

Since it announced the initiative in January, the NGO has received over 100 applications, mainly from Lagos and Ibadan.

In northern Nigeria mass weddings have already become a viable social welfare programme, according to The Nation.

Some 10,000 women have already registered in a programme in Kano, where the state government is assembling couples for marriage.

They are waiting to be linked to prospective spouses because of financial constraints.

In December 2013 over 1,000 couples were married in the state.

The Nation says that in an era of economic contraction, which makes it difficult for young Nigerians to get married, the phenomenon of mass marriage is “a heart-warming development”.

“It may seem odd that the state should be involved in so intimate a relationship as marriage,” The Nation says. “But these are unusual times; innovative approaches may simply be the most viable solution to a growing problem.”

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