By Paul Lievens, Banana Link Communications Officer
Bananas have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and are the most popular fruit in the world, with over 100 billion bananas eaten around the world every year. In the UK, each of us eats on average around 10 kg, or 100 bananas, per year. Grown across the tropical regions of the world, banana export production provides an essential source of income for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, many of the plantation workers who produce our bananas fail to earn a living wage and do not have their labour rights respected, while the intensive use of agrochemicals harms the health of workers and the surrounding environment.
by Stu Lucy
For the best part of the tail end of the twentieth century, rich countries in various guises have lent considerable sums to leaders of African countries, elected or otherwise, in order that they ‘develop their infrastructure’. Over the years numerous heads of state have accepted these tempting offers, skimming a little off the top for themselves and their cronies, leaving the rest to fulfil some grand construction touted by politicians as intrinsic to ensuring the economic success and prosperity of their beloved country.
Home to the source of the river Nile, Uganda has had its fair share of such development projects, most commonly in the form of hydroelectric dams. Since construction of the Owen Falls dam, the first to harness the power of the mighty river built under colonial rule in 1954, numerous other power stations have been constructed with help from international lenders such as The World Bank, alongside numerous import-export banks of countries set to profit from the dam’s construction.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Cooped up in an office in Uganda, inputting into what seemed like never-ending columns of cells in Excel spreadsheets, I would often ruminate about other jobs I could be doing which at that moment would be relatively more fulfilling and life affirming. One of the jobs I kept ending back at was as a member of one of the security teams responsible for the protection of the last northern white rhinoceroses: Sudan, Najin and her daughter Fatu. While in reality I knew my poor grasp of Swahili and lack of weapons training made it unlikely I’d ever work with the rangers responsible for the security of these magnificent animals residing within Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, I became interested in their plight, following their turbulent existence ever since.
by Stu Lucy
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Occupy. Regardless of what you think about the movement’s longevity, potency or efficacy, it was hailed as the start of a new wave of activism that was so desperately needed, protest that would reinvigorate the oppressed and make the elite ruling class of Western democracies pay attention and take heed. Occupy Wall Street was of course where it all began, and it soon spread to over 20 countries worldwide.
There was one country though that found itself besiege to an Occupy movement, news of which barely made it to the international media stage. Furthermore, this relatively modest movement wasn’t aimed at the 1% – the metaphoric representation of a ruling class defined by financial capital – this movement instead took aim at one of Africa’s most destructive democratically elected dictators: Mr Robert Mugabe.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Last time we met I penned a reflective piece that acknowledged not only my privilege but also the de facto situation of millions of people across the planet, not least in Africa, forced to make the difficult decision to leave all they know behind, hoping for a better life in alien and often hostile lands many thousand of miles away. I’d like now to rewind to the very beginning of that process to try and suggest why it is so many end up making such a choice.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
The term ‘shithole’ allegedly used by US President Donald Trump to describe Haiti and African countries drew widespread condemnation from a number of world leaders and US domestic politicians. Although no attempt was initially made to denounce the comment, it was only until a while later that the White House denied it happened. Since the source regarding the comment was the only US Democrat in the room with the President and others and those others can’t seem to remember whether or not it was said, we can’t be absolutely certain that it was made. However, the comment represents a bigger issue at hand: the blatant disregard that the current US administration has for developing countries.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
Following the abhorrent remarks recently made by America’s comb-over-in-chief, I was impelled to pen an article outlining the plethora of innovative, iconic, and exemplary movements and people to emerge from Africa, contrasted with the shameful, embarrassing and downright inexcusable socioeconomic destitution rife across the ‘wealthiest country in the world’. However, after further consideration I imagined the brief expression of dismissive ridicule that my good friend Siraj, a native Ugandan, would have offered in hearing such an immature and ignorant statement about his fair land, and so have decided to give as little attention to it as he.
Instead my article concerns a far more serious problem endemic across the continent, one that has been allowed to become so widespread through international free trade mechanisms, that it threatens to circumvent democracy, subverting whole nations into passive submission. We shall now consider the tobacco industry’s fervent assault on Africa.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
With all the madness that has been taking place across the pond on a near daily basis since the 2016 inauguration of the comb-over-in-chief, it is all too easy to overlook many of the less sensational affairs carried out by the United States. While we are familiar with the war on terror, defined by US military occupation of significant areas of the Middle East for almost all of the 21st Century, there are areas of the world in which the US remain equally as active in this same regard, despite much less public awareness.
In October of last year, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara attacked a small group of Nigerien and US soldiers in the Tonga Tonga region of Niger, killing three Americans and five Nigeriens. Although the incident was indeed broadcast by the mainstream media, the event represents a far greater issue developed on the continent: the increasing military presence of the US in Africa.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
As I mill around town needlessly purchasing disposable junk to wrap in trees so I may conform to the widespread Western orgy of consumption that is Christmas (sorry), I can’t help but notice that they’re everywhere. Costa, Nero, Starbucks, Coffee #1, it seems you can’t walk more than 100 metres before passing one of the acceptable narcotic dispensaries so many of us rely on to get through the day. It’s time to close this short series of food, and now drink, related pieces with a quick overview of coffee and its long and eventful relationship with Africa.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
In the first article concerning the less palatable aspects of food within a global context, the paradox of abundance and dearth in both Ghana and the West were contextualised within an apparent food dystopia. On that journey, a foodstuff was briefly mentioned that has become almost omnipresent in weird people’s lives, and will be the focus of the next in this series of pieces illuminating the realities and practices relating to food and the international community. So without further ado, let us delve straight into the sickly-sweet world of sugar.Continue Reading
By Stu Lucy
After having his position as goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation revoked last month, more bad news plagued Robert Mugabe this week as he was finally ousted from his longstanding position as President of Zimbabwe. After more than 35 years in office and at the grand old age of 93, the now former head of state stepped down, eliciting much jubilation and celebration across the country. It wasn’t easy, mind….Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
What with the circulation of fake news becoming increasingly more prevalent, sometimes you read an article and feel the need to double check its authenticity. But this one came from the BBC, and The New York Post were running it too. The Independent. Newsweek. CNN. So it must be true. I am of course talking about the news that Robert Mugabe, the authoritarian nonagenarian head of state of Zimbabwe, had recently been appointed goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation (WHO). Mugabe, really?Continue Reading
By Olivia Hanks
It is at the heart of our housing crisis, provides our food, and is still the principal determiner of wealth in the UK. Yet most of us in England do not spend very much time thinking about land. So it was an exciting and stimulating experience to attend a panel discussion at the recent Global Greens congress in Liverpool about land rights and how they form a vital part of the green movement worldwide.
by Faizal Nor Izham
Trigger warnings: Female Genital Mutilation, Islamophobia, Homophobia, Torture
How does Islam actually fare in terms of human rights, and is it really any different from any other religion? The “religion of peace” has been getting a poor reputation in Western media over the issue for decades, with human rights abuses in Muslim countries often stretching from the major to the mundane.
Female genital mutilation, the stoning of homosexuals to death, the subjugation of women – the list goes on and on. Apostasy is frequently met with the death sentence in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, individual liberties in these countries, such as speaking up against the state, are frequently curtailed on the pretext of actually insulting the religion itself. Just ask Raif Badawi, the Saudi activist and blogger who dared to criticize the Saudi regime and was sentenced up to 1,000 lashes from the theocratic state for his troubles.
by Carmina Masoliver
“You’re not going to like that,” my partner said, when I told him I was going to see The Book of Mormon. Made by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, I was aware it was a controversial production. I had also seen Avenue Q, which shared the same musical composer/lyricist, Robert Lopez. I knew there might be “offensive jokes”, despite South Park always being on after my bedtime when I was at primary school; I was relatively unfamiliar with the programme beyond 10-year-olds singing about chocolate salty balls in the playground… But I had heard good things, so I asked my Gran for us to see it as my Christmas present.Continue Reading
by Josh Wilson
The past few weeks have seen a growing debate about the impacts of slowing growth in China on the global economy. But I want to talk about the potential impacts on Zambia specifically.
Zambia — a country most people know exists but are not always 100% sure quite where it is located on a map. For a bit of background, it is a landlocked country the size of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland combined, with a population of just 14.5 million people. It is situated just above Zimbabwe and below the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a British Colony until Independence in 1964; Kenneth Kaunda won the first election after independence and ruled the nation from 1964 until 1991 when a multi-party democracy was resurrected and has continued since. Zambia has some of the most pristine nature reserves in Southern Africa, with one of the most concentrated populations of Leopards on the continent.
This beautiful country also has an awful lot of copper.Continue Reading
by Dr. Hayley Pinto
About 18 months ago I had a life changing experience. I read the intergovernmental panel on climate change report. Before that I thought I was reasonably environmentally aware. I wasn’t. The more I have read, the more evident it seems that climate change is the defining issue of our age. We are on the brink of making our planet uninhabitable, for everyone — not just the poor, the vulnerable, people in Africa and Bangladesh, but also for the rich and privileged, those who have contributed to the problem and those who have not.
Climate change is not just a matter of global warming. A hotter planet means drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. These things are already happening. The 11 million people living in Brazil’s Sao Paolo are experiencing a drought so severe they are trying to drill wells through concrete in the city centre. California is in its 5th year of drought.Continue Reading