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Focus on Africa: a round-up of Christmas news

Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi female student still under the captivity of Boko Haram in Nigeria after releasing her school mates
Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi female student still under the captivity of Boko Haram in Nigeria after releasing her school mates

Tenacity of young Boko Haram hostage Leah Sharibu,


Leah Sharibu, Nigerian of the Year?

While millions of Nigerian parents were locked in a buying spree for gifts for their children, on Christmas Eve, The Nationnewspaper reported on Monday that there is one woman who won’t be celebrating Christmas.

She is the mother of Leah Sharibu, the young Christian school girl abducted by Boko Haram insurgents since February, who will be locked in prayer for the life of her daughter. This is, as the insurgents press demands for a $10 million dollar ransom to free the girl.

The popular campaign for her freedom received a fine boost, after Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka offered strong backing of Leah Sharibu’s nomination as Nigeria’s Personality of The Year.

In a piece published in Monday's issue of The Nation newspaper, Soyinka, described Sharibu as "a national and universal heroine", adding that making her Personality of the Year, "offers a desperately needed salve of conscience for those to whom the abduction, and continued imprisonment of innocent children remain a dereliction in the moral existence and sense of civic responsibility of Nigerians".

Sam Omatseye is Editorial Board Chairman at The Nation newspaper whose readers picked Leah and Nigeria's Personality of the Year. He told RFI that The Nation shares Soyinka’s conviction that Sharibu’s "nightmare will remain with Nigerians throughout Christmas as a severe bruise of their collective pride".

Dampened Celebrations

In Kenya, the Standardnewspaper expresses concern at the rather high cost of living, insecurity and thoughts of next year’s school fees which have dampened the celebration spirit among Kisumu residents.

According to the publication, the situation has also been coupled with natural calamities such as floods, stubborn water hyacinth weed and strong winds that have left a trail of destruction in the city.

A junk food festival organized in one of the local top hotels and scheduled for yesterday was cancelled following slow uptake of tickets. The Standard reports that traders at the famous Lwang’ni group of hotels along the lake shore in Kisumu were reportedly staring at huge losses.

Travel chaos

In South Africa, the Sowetan reports that as the clock ticked down to Christmas, the department of home affairs is urging travelers heading home to neighbouring Zimbabwe to remain calm after hours of congestion at Beitbridge this Monday.

The paper says officials of the department had been advised by their counterparts in Harare that there are some delays in processing documents for vehicles and people moving through the border on their side, which is causing congestion on their side.

Home affairs media manager David Hlabane said many people had been stuck at the border since the early hours of Monday, adding that senior managers have been dispatched to Beitbridge and other ports of entry to monitor and improve the flow of traffic.

Reckless Christmas?

And in Uganda, Daily Vision leads with a special Christmas message from the King of Tooro. Avoid reckless sexual behavior and enjoy Christmas responsibly said Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV to his subjects.

New Vision notes that the monarch of one of Uganda’s five traditional kingdoms, who is also the UNAIDS Good will ambassador in Eastern and Southern Africa, is committed to ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

The newspaper quotes UNAIDS as saying that Uganda registers an estimated 33 new HIV infections per day among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years and comprehensive knowledge of HIV, as well as uptake of HIV prevention and treatment services among young people, remains low.


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