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Articles in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopia’s Failed Ethnic Federalism

By Martin W. Lewis | March 23, 2010 |

Ethiopia is known for a venerable Christian tradition and a record of successful resistance to nineteenth-century European colonization. Less often discussed is the depth of Islam in the country, whose population today is more than one third Muslim. Also overlooked is Ethiopia’s transformation into an imperial state in its own right during the late

Troubled Times in the Kingdom of Buganda in the Country of Uganda

By Martin W. Lewis | March 22, 2010 |

As we saw in last Friday’s post, a single kingdom can include several countries, just as the realm of an individual monarch can encompass many sovereign states. But a kingdom can also form a subdivision of a much larger state. Uganda, for example, contains four, five, or six constituent kingdoms, the exact number depending

DR Congo’s Geographical Challenges

By Martin W. Lewis | February 17, 2010 | 3 Comments

Yesterday’s post outlined the troubled history of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today I would like to briefly examine a few of the geographical issues that make it a challenge for DR Congo to function as a country. The first issue is transportation. To say that overland transportation is difficult in DR Congo

DR Congo: A Potemkin State?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 16, 2010 | 2 Comments

The ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is reputed to be the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. Most observers estimate the death toll at around 5.4 million deaths; some figures put the toll as high as 6.9 million. One controversial 2009 report—from the Human Security Report Project of Simon Fraser University—claims

National Parks of DR Congo: Hippos, Rhinos, Gorillas, and Guerillas

By Martin W. Lewis | February 15, 2010 |

Despite its poverty, lack of infrastructure, and interminable wars, the Democratic Republic of Congo has admirably tried to salvage its national park system and preserve its wildlife. It has not been easy. Since 1994, an estimated 120 rangers have died trying to protect Virunga National Park alone. The existence of large wild areas in

Peace Between Sudan and Chad?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 11, 2010 |

On February 9, 2010, the leaders of Sudan and Chad agreed to quit supporting rebel movements in the other’s territory, thus promising to end one of Africa’s proxy wars. They also pledged to discuss mutual development projects along the war-ravaged border. Such initiatives could diminish tensions in western Sudan (Darfur) and adjacent areas in eastern

Renewed Violence in the Niger Delta

By Martin W. Lewis | February 2, 2010 |

Few of Africa’s many insurgent groups receive much notice in the global media. One way they can get attention is to attack the infrastructure of oil production. Thus the Movement for The Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) found itself in headlines on January 30, 2010, after breaking its truce with the Nigerian government and

Violence in Cabinda

By Martin W. Lewis | January 14, 2010 | One Comment

On January 8, 2010, a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Angola was attacked as it traveled through Cabinda, an Angolan exclave separated from the rest of the country by territory belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). After killing the driver, gunmen continued firing at

Linguistic Geography and the Nuba Mountains

By Martin W. Lewis | December 31, 2009 |

The Ethnologue is one of the best sites on the web for information about languages and linguistic geography. In the Ethnologue map shown above, a red dot is placed at the geographical center of each of the 6,906 languages listed in the organization’s database. One of the more interesting patterns visible in

Troubled Eritrea

By Martin W. Lewis | December 26, 2009 | One Comment

On December 23, 2009, the United Nations voted to impose sanctions on Eritrea for supporting Islamist militants in Somalia. The next day, Eritrea denied the accusations, labeling the UN actions as “shameful.”

Southern Sudan

By Martin W. Lewis | December 23, 2009 |

In its December 19, 2009 issue, The Economist magazine reported a rare bit of “good news” from Sudan: the country’s ruling party and the former rebels of the south had agreed upon provisions for the scheduled 2011 referendum that will supposedly allow the south to secede. According to the agreement, Southern Sudan will indeed

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