Posts Tagged 'West Africa'

Africa Snapshot: Sierra Leone

Located in West Africa, Sierra Leone is nestled between Liberia and Guinea on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Population: According to the CIA Factbook, the estimated population for July 2012 is 5,485,998.


English is the official language of Sierra Leone, but the regular use of it is limited to the literate minority.  Mende is the vernacular in the south, and Temne is the vernacular in the north.  Krio, an English-based Creole, is spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who settled in Freetown.  It is understood by 95% of the population.

Religion: 60% of the country is Muslim, 10% are Christians.  30% of the population practice indigenous beliefs.

History: The first slaves were brought into North America from Sierra Leone in 1652. Their rice-farming skills were in great demand by plantations in Georgia and South Carolina during the 18th century.  In the 1780s, the British returned 400 freed slaves from various parts of the world back to Sierra Leone. They settled in an area they called “Province of Freedom,” which is now the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. Britain colonized Freetown in 1792. Thousands of returning Africans, who were originally from all over Africa, settled in Freetown. They came to be known as Krio.

During the 19th century, Sierra Leone become a prime spot for education in West Africa. Modeled after European universities, Fourah Bay College was established in 1827. It became the foundation of the present-day University of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone achieved independence from Britain peacefully in April 1961. Controversial elections in 1967 led to multiple coups.  Finally, in April 1968, Siaka Steven, the Freetown mayor and All Peoples Congress party leader, become the prime minister and the constitution was restored. Steven was the head of state until 1985, when Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh took power.

Under Steven’s leadership, the constitution was changed to ban all political parties except the All Peoples Congress. The multi-party system was restored in 1991, a Major General Joseph Saidu Momoh took power. , who practiced many abuses of power.  Eventually, a coup forced Momoh into exile in Guinea, leaving a new group, the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) as the ruling authority.

The 1990s saw much turmoil over the control of the country, including coups. A group called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) took over much of the countryside by the mid-90s and repeatedly tried to overthrow the government. Eventually, in 1999, President Kabbah and the RUF leader signed a peace agreement that included an international peacekeeping force. Fighting, though, continued into the 21st century, prompting help from Guinean troops.

In January 2002, President Kabbah declared the end to the civil war. He was re-elected in May 2002. The UN peacekeeping mission wrapped up in 2005.

Ernest Koroma was elected president of Sierra Leone in 2007. Both presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2012.

Economy: Sierra Leone relies on other countries for financial assistance. Nearly half of the country’s exports come from alluvial diamond mining. Almost half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture.

Relationship with the United States: The United States established an embassy when Sierra Leone gained its independence in 1961.  Assistance from the U.S. focuses on health education, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS, human rights and the development of human resources.

Sources: CIA Factbook , State Department Background Note – Sierra Leone , Britannica Online, the University of Sierra Leone


Africa Snapshot: The Gambia

The smallest country on the continent of Africa, The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal and borders the North Atlantic Ocean.  From June 4 to 8, 2012, a workshop on “Practical Tools for Surveillance, Diagnosis, Prevention and Control of Major Transboundary Animal Diseases” is being held in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.  The workshop is supported by US Africa Command and organized by the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Office for West and Central Africa, in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development-United States Department of Agriculture Sanitary and Phytosanitary adviser for West Africa and the Ministry of Agriculture of The Gambia.  Epidemiologists and lab technicians from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone will be learning practical tools for the surveillance, diagnosis, prevention and control of six transboundary animal diseases. These diseases hamper the production of livestock and constrain economic development.

Population: According to the CIA World Factbook, the population was 1.78 million in 2009.

Languages: English is the official language, but Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Jola, Sarahule and other indigenous languages are also spoken.

Religion: 90% of the population is Muslim.  8% practice Christianity, while 2% practice other religions. Gambians officially observe the holidays of both Islam and Christianity and practice religious tolerance.

History: Through written accounts of Arab traders coming through the region in the ninth and tenth centuries A.D., it is known that The Gambia was once part of the Mali and Kaabu Empires.  Arab traders established a trade route in that area for ivory, gold and slaves.  Using maritime routes, the Portuguese took over trade in the 15th century.  Exclusive trade rights to the Gambia River were sold to English merchants in the late 1500s.  In 1783, after years of struggle between England and France for control in the region, the Treaty of Versailles granted England possession of The Gambia.

It is believed that as many as 3 million slaves were taken from the region while the transatlantic slave trade operated.  In 1807, slave trade was abolished in the British Empire, and England tried unsuccessfully to abolish slave trade in The Gambia.   It finally came to an end in 1906 when slavery was abolished.  By that time, The Gambia was almost completely self-governed.

The Gambia’s troops fought with the Allies in Burma during World War II.  During this time in history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the night in Banjul while en route to the Casablanca Conference.  This was the first visit to the continent by an American president in office.

Full self-government was granted in 1963, followed by independence from Great Britain in 1965.  The Gambia became a republic on April 24, 1970. The Gambia and Senegal signed a friendship and cooperation treaty in 1991, but tensions have sporadically flared between the two nations.

Economy: Agriculture accounts for 24% of the gross domestic product.  Peanuts and other crops are grown in the region, but livestock, fishing and forestry are also important.  Manufacturing activities include peanut processing, soap  and clothing.

Sources: CIA Factbook , State Department Background Note – The Gambia

USAFRICOM-related news stories for April 29, 2010 (From the Beltway/From and About Africa)

Recent Publications on Sudan, Uganda, Swaziland, Nigeria, Guinea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Niger

Sudan’s Future Is Now, U.S. Envoy Says (New York Times)

WASHINGTON — A day after Sudan’s leader coasted to victory in a fraud-tainted election, a senior Obama administration official defended the vote, and said the United States should turn its attention to getting southern Sudan ready for its likely future as an independent state.

American Corps to Serve As Teachers (New Vision)

KAMPALA, Uganda — American Peace Corps Volunteers will serve as teachers and also support economic development activities countrywide.

Nigeria, Spain agree to collaborate on security in Gulf of Guinea (

ABUJA, Nigeria – Nigeria and Spain have agreed to collaborate in providing security in the Gulf of Guinea and the West Africa sub-region, Mr Angel Fernandes, the Spanish ambassador to Nigeria, said in Abuja on Tuesday.

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AFRICOM AOR-related news clips for 20 January 2010

Recent articles on Kenya, Algeria, DR Congo, Guinea, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe


Nairobi – Last week’s protests in Nairobi revealed radicalisation among Nairobi’s Muslims and inter-faith resentment that Kenya should redress while working closely with the United States, which is involved in interconnected regional initiatives.


Nairobi – Barack Obama’s inauguration was greeted with euphoria in Africa, perhaps nowhere more than here in Kenya, but a year down the line Obama’s Africa policy is just coming into focus.


Kano – America has already gone too far in its terrorism-enlistment against Nigeria, and now it seems to run the risk of intensive humiliation of the Nigerian people at port of entries.


Lagos – Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, whose son allegedly attempted to bomb an American airliner last month, is awaiting clarification from the U.S. Senate asking him to appear before it tomorrow to testify on the alleged bombing attempt.


New York City – Christian and Muslim antagonists in central Nigeria’s religiously volatile city of Jos have been fighting for three days in sporadic clashes that have left dozens dead. Estimates ranged from 30 to 300 deaths.

NEW YORK: China’s Africa Play (CBS NEWS)

New York City – China’s main concern in Africa is its unprecedented drive to take the preeminent role on the continent, fuelled by China’s vast energy, mineral and food stuff requirements.

UN News Service Africa Briefs Full Articles on UN Website

  • UN agency says 63,000 Somalis already uprooted by fighting this year
  • DR Congo: UN official visits new military operation to ensure civilian protection
  • UN envoy in Sudan to leave post at end of next month
  • Guinea: Ban welcomes steps to restore constitutional order

SOMALIA: TFG Soldiers Join Al-Shabab (Shabelle)

Mogadishu — Transitional Federal Government soldiers with a vehicle have joined to Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen, officials said on Tuesday.  

 US designates Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula “AQAP” terrorist group (AFP) 

Washington, D.C. – The United States named Tuesday Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) a terrorist group in a bid to cut support to the outfit blamed for the plot to bring down a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day.

UN: UNSC terrorism Panel adds two individuals, one entity to consolidated list (KUNA)

United Nations – The Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee late Tuesday added the names of two Individuals and one Entity to its consolidated List of individuals and entities subject to the assets freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo, pursuant to council resolution 1904 adopted last month under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

NIGERIA: Jos Crisis Escalates  (Leadership) 

Abuja – The religious crisis in Jos, Plateau State, snowballed to alarming proportions yesterday, leading the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to order a deployment of troops into parts of the state to forestall further bloodbath. 

NIGERIA: Why Senate Can’t Impeach Yar’Adua (Daily Independent) 

Abuja — Regardless of national agitation, the Senate leadership is against the invocation of Section 143 of the Constitution, which could lead to the impeachment of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

NIGERIA: Yar’Adua’s Fate Now Uncertain (Daily Champion)

Lagos – At the end of yesterday’s closed session, Senate tied its next action to the presentation of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, who is expected to the brief the lawmakers tomorrow on the state of the health of the president.

RWANDA: Libya to Expand Investments (The New Times) 

Kigali — The investment arm of the Libyan government, Libya African Investments Portfolio (LAP), is keen on investing large sums of money in other sectors of the Rwandan economy.

NIGERIA: China May Dominate Oil Sector, Analyst Predicts (Daily Independent) 

Lagos – The next ten years in Nigeria will be the years of China’s dominance in Nigeria’s multi-billion dollar oil industry, analyst Mark Dominic predicted at the weekend.

CONGO: UN Official Visits New Military Operation called “Amani Leo” to Ensure Protection of Civilians (UN NEWS SERVICE)

Kinshasa – The top United Nations official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been visiting the war-torn east of the vast country for talks on reinforcing the protection of civilians within the context of a new anti-rebel operation launched by the national army with UN support.

SOMALIA: Hisbul Islam Says Will Start Operating Port, Airport in Out Mogadishu (SHABELLE)

Mogadishu – The Islamic organization of Hizbul Islam has said that they were planning to start operating a port and airport in the out of the Somali capital Mogadishu; officials told Shabelle radio on Tuesday.

SOMALIA: An MP of Puntland Wounded in Bosaso Town (sHABELLE MEDIA NETWORK) 

Bosaso — An MP of Puntland has been wounded by unidentified gunmen in the coast town of Bosaso in Bare region tonight, witnesses said on Tuesday.

ZIMBABWE: PM resists pressure for polls (NEWS24) 

Harare – Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday resisted pressure for elections next year, in opposition to calls made by South African President Jacob Zuma over the weekend. 

ZAMBIA: Politician’s threat to ‘gang rape’ (NEWS 24) 

Lusaka – The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) youth chair leader Chris Chalwe of Zambia’s ruling party on Tuesday threatened to “gang rape” a female politician Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) leader Edith Nawakwi unless she stopped criticising President Rupiah Banda’s leadership ahead of next year’s elections. ”

GUINEA’s Dore appointed PM (NEWS24)

Ouagadougou – Guinea’s leaders have appointed an opposition veteran as prime minister, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday, a key step to prepare the West African nation to transition from military rule to democratic elections later this year.

ALGERIA will be exposed to an earthquake before the end of January (ENNAHAR)

Algiers – Lot Bonatiro, Ph.D. in astronomy and space technology: “Algeria will be exposed to an earthquake before the end of January”.


Lagos – Several West African countries have seen the populace and the wider world community come to terms with the fall-outs of absentee-leaders, including Nigeria, Cameroon, and Guinea.

AFRICOM-related news clips for 8 January 2010

Nigeria as a terror ground: U.S. African commander "not aware" – By Prince Ofori-Atta

 7 January 2010

Nigeria’s emergence on the US State Sponsored Terrorism list has not gone without official criticisms and ultimatums from Africa’s most populous state. Claims over a possibly "rushed" United States directive, in the wake of a terrorist attempt on a plane carrying 284 people, have been rife. What influenced this crucial decision that affects a country of 150 million people? Was the decision only influenced by the mad act of one British educated and radicalized Nigerian?


Africom – Latest U.S. Bid to Recolonise Continent

The Herald (Harare) – By Tichaona Nhamoyebonde

7 January 2010


Harare — AFRICAN revolutionaries now have to sleep with one eye open because the United States of America is not stopping at anything in its bid to establish Africom, a highly-equipped US army that will be permanently resident in Africa to oversee the country’s imperialist interests.


Sudan Clashes Seen as Threat to Peace Treaty

New York Times – By Jack Healy

7 January 2010

At least 140 people were killed in clashes in recent days in a remote corner of southern Sudan, a United Nations official said Thursday, deepening worries that the American-backed peace deal ending decades of war there could collapse amid spasms of ethnically motivated violence.


Aid groups: Southern Sudan may return to war

Associated Press – By Malkhadir M. Muhumed

7 January 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya – Sudan’s volatile southern region could collapse into chaos again if the international community does not do more to strengthen the 2005 peace deal that ended more than 20 years of civil war, a group of aid agencies warned Thursday.


U.S. Army Africa Focuses on Long-term Threat Reduction – By Non-attributed Author

7 January 2010

WASHINGTON | Since the thwarted terrorist attack against Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, news reports detailed the possibilities of security threats from Africa.


Challenges for West Africa

Business Day – By Kaye Whiteman

7 January 2010

Having expatiated at length last month on tasks facing Mohammed Ibn Chambas in his new job as secretary-general of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group in Brussels, I left no room to reflect on the organisation which he is still heading until March – ECOWAS. There is a logic in his ‘translation’: during his eight years at the helm of the Economic Community of West African States he saw the adoption of the operating system of the European Union in Brussels.


Christians demand US/UK action in central Africa

Spero News – By Non-attributed Author

7 January 2010

"After the November 2009 report of the Group of United Nations experts on the situation in North and South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the great powers of the earth can no longer pretend to ignore what happens there," said a statement made by the "Peace for Congo" network sponsored by the Catholic missionaries operating in the Kivu regions of the African country.


Protestors Gather in Madagascan Capital in Defiance of Warnings

Bloomberg – By Christina Corbett

7 January 2009

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) — Anti-government protesters gathered in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, today in defiance of government warnings, to demand an end to the country’s political crisis.


Guinea‘s Acting Military Leader Calls for Opposition Prime Minister

Voice of America – By Scott Stearns

7 January 2010

Guinea’s acting military leader says political parties should immediately choose a new prime minister to help lead the country to free elections. He says the life of the country’s military chief is not in danger, more than a month after he was shot in an apparent assassination attempt.


UN News Service Africa Briefs

Full Articles on UN Website

7 January 2010

  • Dozens of Darfur residents complete UN-backed human rights training
  • UN sends help for 30,000 flood victims in Kenya
  • DR Congo: UN support for army’s new anti-rebel offensive tied to protecting civilians
  • Use of child soldiers ‘particularly abusive,’ UN expert testifies
  • Unconstitutional changes in West African governments spark Ban’s concern

AFRICOM-related news clips for 7 January 2010

Nigeria says U.S. air rule threatens bilateral ties

Reuters – By Non-attributed Author

6 January 2010

ABUJA (Reuters) – Bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United States could be at risk if Washington keeps its requirement for tighter security for Nigerian travellers, a government minister said on Wednesday.

No Let-Up in Push for Reforms, Says U.S.

Daily Nation – By Non-attributed Author

6 January 2010

Nairobi — America will continue to push for change in the country, US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said on Wednesday.

VOA Somali Journalist Released From Puntland Prison

Voice of America – By Non-attributed Author

6 January 2010

Police in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region have released a journalist working for Voice of America after holding him in jail without charge for more than two weeks.

African Union calls for Madagascar talks to resume

Reuters – By Richard Lough

6 January 2010

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – International efforts to resolve a year-long political crisis in Madagascar must be redoubled to stop the Indian Ocean island from sliding deeper into turmoil, the African Union (AU) said on Wednesday.

Guinea junta offers steps towards civilian rule

Reuters – By Saliou Samb

6 January 2010

CONAKRY (Reuters) – Guinea’s deputy junta chief pledged on Wednesday to pave the way for a return to civilian rule and announced that military leader Moussa Dadis Camara would need time to recover after an assassination bid.

Probe finds Hutu extremists killed Rwandan leader: report

AFP – By Non-attributed Author

6 January 2010

NAIROBI (AFP) – Extremists inside Rwanda’s Hutu regime were responsible for the death of president Juvenal Habyarimana in a 1994 airplane crash that preceded a genocide, a Rwandan probe into the assassination says.

UN News Service Africa Briefs

Full Articles on UN Website

6 January 2010

  • Unconstitutional changes in West African governments spark Ban’s concern
  • Ethiopian and UN officials devise plan to boost maternal and newborn health
  • Innovative UN forum seeks to promote reintegration of uprooted Chadians
  • UN teams up with Puma for biodiversity year ahead of African, World Cups
  • National police undertake UN-backed pre-election training in Darfur

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