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African press review 11 September 2012

Text by: Vladimir Smekhov
6 min

The return of a bustling nightlife to Mogadishu and a Chinese company's plan to convert prisons in Zimbabwe into shopping centres, are among the stories in today's African dailies.


The day after the election of Somalia’s new president, the country’s Sabahi online features an unusual story. “Nightlife returns to Mogadishu as security improves” proudly announces the title.

After years of being afraid to venture out of their homes at night because of the lack of security, residents of the capital are witnessing dramatic changes - main roads are bustling with activity and shops are open until late at night, says the paper.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

The reporter interviewed shopkeepers, restaurant-owners and people who run webcafes and they're happy about the developing business.

"When al-Shabaab used to control parts of the city, life would come to a complete standstill before sunset, as residents preferred to stay indoors and no one would dare leave their home," noted a pastry shop owner.

"I hope that peace will continue in Mogadishu," a supermarket owner told the paper. "I pray for safety and stability throughout the country and that Somalia will avoid slipping into chaos once again."

From prisons to city malls. Zimbabwe’s Standard leads with a surprising story. ”Chinese take over several prisons”, says one of the top stories.

According to the paper, a Chinese company plans to buy several prison complexes located close to central business districts in cities and towns in Zimbabwe and convert them into China City malls, as the Far Eastern nation continues to increase its presence in the country, highly-placed sources have said.

The newspaper quotes one of the prison authority officials saying that the Chinese wanted to raze the prison complex and staff houses and develop China City with several shops, a hotel, wholesale shops, a market and restaurants, in a deal said to be worth millions of dollars.

The paper says that Chinese investments throughout the country (like the construction of the National Defence College and other infrastructure development projects) continue to be the cause of raised eyebrows, amid suspicions they could be mostly financed from proceeds from the mining of diamonds in Marange.

Still in Standard, the country celebrates with relief, a great occasion. The government has finally found a hangman after a several years of protracted search. Meanwhile, says the paper, the number of prisoners awaiting execution has grown to a huge backlog of 71.

We now have a hangman who is raring to go”, an official from the ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs told the paper.

However, the raring hangman may feel a bit frustrated since, from 1995 Zimbabwe has implemented a moratorium on executions, under heavy international pressure.

Rwanda’s New Times features a special report on Madagascar. “Madagascar’s luxury chocolate thieves strike fear into farmers”.

Madagascar is home to some of the world’s finest rich orange and red pods of cocoa, increasingly used today by Europe and America’s finest chocolatiers. Raw cocoa beans, used to make premium chocolate, have quite simply never been in higher demand.

A surge in appetite for high-end chocolate sourced from single-origin growers has created a frenzied rush for the “dark gold”, says the paper.

The cocoa farmers’ livelihoods are under threat, reports the daily. Armed bandits are running rampant in remote areas, hijacking stores and road shipments of the precious beans that make chocolate. In some villages, bandits have stolen hauls worth around 788 euros - a fortune in one of the world’s poorest countries, notes the paper.

“We are suffering here. Our cocoa is amongst the best money can buy but we cannot protect it. People are coming into our forests to take it” complains one of the robbed farmers.

Have you ever heard of a cocaine tea? If not, you should read South Africa’s Sowetan. According to the daily, the mysterious cocaine tea has made its way back onto the shelves in Polokwane and in Johannesburg.

Coca Tea reportedly had so much cocaine in it that people drinking it would fail drug tests.

A police spokesman told the paper that the origin of the tea had not been established. He told the media, “Thorough investigations ensued and all the endeavours to bring the perpetrators to book reached a cul-de-sac after the addresses stated at the back of the tea packet were false".

And finally, the joke of the day in Benin’s The Morning Daily: A married couple’s confidence crisis. A wife is convinced that her husband is sleeping with the cleaning lady.
One evening, without first notifying her husband, she tells the cleaning lady not to come to work.That night, her husband gets out of bed saying “Sorry honey, I’ve got a stomach ache”, and goes off to the toilet.The wife runs into the cleaning lady’s room, gets into her bed and switches off the light. A few minutes later the man gets into the bed and starts making love to the wife.

After they have finished, the wife exclaims “You surely did not expect to find me in this bed, did you?”. “No Mam..” says the house watchman.


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