May 30, 2018

‘I took 57 painkillers a day to get high’

'I took 57 painkillers a day to get high' In December 2017 British woman Laura Plummer was jailed for three years for bringing 300 Tramadol painkiller tablets into Egypt. While the sentence shocked many in the UK, the case shone a light on a painkiller addiction problem blighting millions of Egyptians. "When I was 15, we were playing PlayStation in a games arcade, and someone insulted me. I picked up a billiards cue and smashed it over his head. I was screaming abuse at everyone. I even broke the windows." Abdul Hameed, now 24, remembers the moment he realised his drug habit had spiralled out of control. Two years earlier, aged just 13, he had tried the opioid-based painkiller Tramadol for the first time. Like many young Egyptians, he started by taking one quarter of a 100mg tablet to get high. Image copyright Ahmed Maher Image caption Abdul Hameed, 24, was using Tramadol from the age of 13 "I felt like I was a superhero," he says. "I could do anything." By the time he we..
May 30, 2018

Africa’s week in pictures: 17-24 May 2018

Africa's week in pictures: 17-24 May 2018 A selection of the best photos from across Africa and of Africans elsewhere in the world this week. Image copyright AFP Image caption Wearing a multi-coloured skirt typically used in the dance, an Egyptian performs the Tanoura at el-Ghuri Culture Palace in Cairo... Image copyright AFP Image caption The dance, which incorporates the Sufi technique of whirling, is popular across the Middle East. Image copyright EPA Image caption While a Syrian group performs during the Festival de La Medina in Tunisia's capital Tunis. Image copyright AFP Image caption The royal seat of the Kingdom of Dahomey in what is present-day Benin is seen at a museum in France's capital Paris. Benin is demanding the return of treasures taken during colonial rule. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In Mbandaka city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a vendor holds some bush meat in a market. The city has been hit by Ebola, which can be spread when ..
May 30, 2018

South Africans’ anger over land set to explode

South Africans' anger over land set to explode Image copyright AFP "Africa is for black people. Period. We need our land back and we're going to take it by force," said a woman amongst an angry crowd trying to occupy a field on the north-eastern edge of Johannesburg in South Africa. She is wearing a red beret indicating her support for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a small, radical party which advocates the nationalisation of all land in South Africa. In a country grappling with so many different challenges, land reform has recently emerged as a dominant and potentially explosive issue - the focus of furious political contestation and increasingly inflammatory rhetoric. The field was empty, overgrown, unused, and far too much of a temptation. "This is my boundary," said 50-year-old Christina Mashaba, striding through the long grass and pointing to a stick she had pushed into the ground, some 15 yards (13m) away. "It's going to be my home… if the government will l..
May 30, 2018

Joseph Warungu: The handshake that left millions of Kenyans confused

Letter from Africa: The handshake that left millions of Kenyans confused Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta shook hands to end a political standoff following last year's controversial election In our series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungu reflects on the plight of supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga following his reconciliation last month with his bitter rival, President Uhuru Kenyatta. One of the games I enjoyed a lot in my childhood was called "kauka" in Kiswahili, which roughly translates as "freeze". The idea was, you would go about your normal business until your play partner shouted "freeze". This command forced you to stop dead in the middle of whatever you were doing, and keep very still until your friend "unfroze" you. The strategy was to catch you in an extremely awkward, embarrassing or uncomfortable moment, such as having your mouth wide open with houseflies hovering nearby. Unfortunately some ..
May 30, 2018

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani on the teenager fighting school bus sex pests

Letter from Africa: The teenager fighting school bus sex pests Image copyright Our Cries In our series of letters from African journalists, Nigerian novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani admires a teenager's tenacity in tackling the harassment of pupils on the school commute. Allegations of physical or sexual abuse against teachers in Nigerian schools sometimes manage to grab a headline, but then fade without any follow-up story on how the case was resolved. In 2016, girls at a prestigious boarding school in Lagos abandoned their exams in protest at pervasive sexual harassment by a male teacher. Those of us who endured similar unchecked bad behaviour during our school days cheered them on. I know from personal experience of studying in Nigeria, how powerless students can sometimes feel when faced with abusers who act with impunity, knowing that the cultures of silence and respect for elders are on their side. So, I was impressed when I recently came across a Tanzanian tee..
May 30, 2018

Elizabeth Ohene: Why did Swaziland take 50 years to change its name?

Letter from Africa: Why did Swaziland take 50 years to change its name? Image copyright AFP In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene explains why she backs the Swazi monarch's move to rename his country. As the 50th birthday of King Mswati III approached on 19 April 2018, all indications pointed towards something dramatic taking place. King Mswati being who he is, many speculated he might outdo himself and marry two or three new brides at once rather than adding just one to the 13 he already had, as is his normal practice. The king had wanted his country to celebrate its 50th independence anniversary on his birthday even though independence was won on 6 September 1968. Clearly King Mswati wanted to leave no doubts in anybody's mind that he himself was the state. After all he and the state came into being in the same year, 1968, and they would celebrate their golden jubilee together. As things turned out, the big announcement had ..
May 30, 2018

Brian Hungwe: Zimbabwe’s lion roars for his fans

Letter from Africa: Thomas Mapfumo, Zimbabwe's lion, roars for his fans Image copyright AFP In our series of letters from Africa, journalist-turned-barrister Brian Hungwe reflects on the return from exile of Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo four months after Robert Mugabe's resignation as president. Known to his fans as the "Lion of Zimbabwe", Mapfumo has long been a figure of protest. His music was the soundtrack during the fight for independence and some of his songs were later banned by state-owned media under Mr Mugabe's government. So the crowds roared with delight this weekend to have the 72-year-old music legend back on stage in the capital, Harare, after 14 years in self-imposed exile in the US. He played until the early hours of Sunday morning, revealing a deep nostalgia for his distinctive style of struggle music, known as "chimurenga", which first gained him recognition during the war against the white-minority rule in the 1970s. It is a haunting combinatio..
May 30, 2018

Kadaria Ahmed: How my home town became a bloodbath

Letter from Africa: Why is no-one talking about the Zamfara conflict? Image copyright AFP Image caption Zamfara has been suffering from bad governance for decades In our series of letters from African journalists, Kadaria Ahmed looks at the brewing crisis in Nigeria's Zamfara State, which analysts say has the potential to become as deadly as the Boko Haram conflict. Growing up nearly 50 years ago in Nigeria's north-western Zamfara State, I could never have imagined its future of grinding poverty and escalating violence. The capital of Zamfara State, Gusau, used to be a prosperous town. British company John Holt ran a tannery, which bought and treated hides before shipping them off to Europe. Sugar giant Tate and Lyle had a presence. There was also a textile company, an oil mill, and a ginnery that prepared cotton for export. As children, our favourite place in Gusau was the sweet factory, run by a Lebanese family who were, for all intents and purposes, locals. There, we could..
May 30, 2018

In pictures: Africa’s first AfroPunk festival

In pictures: Africa's first AfroPunk festival Thousands of people attended the first AfroPunk festival to be held on the continent. The celebration of alternative black culture was held in the South African city of Johannesburg recently. Image copyright Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi The festival describes itself as "a blank space to freak out in, to construct a new reality, to live your life as you see fit, while making sense of the world around you". Image copyright Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi For years the festival has been a space for Africans in the diaspora to explore their heritage. So some described its first appearance in Africa as a homecoming. AfroPunk was first held in New York in 2005, and was started by people who felt marginalised by both mainstream black and pop cultures. They drew heavily on the rebellious spirit of punk. Image copyright Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi It has since become a global movement, and has been held in Atlanta, Paris and London. Image copyright Setumo-Thebe M..
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