Leo Zeilig

Resisting intervention: imperialism and protest in Mali

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Leo Zeilig looks at the latest episode in a long and bloody history of Western imperialism in Africa, fuelled by the scramble for the continent's resources

When French troops entered Mali on 11 January the mainstream media and politicians heralded the intervention as a humanitarian exercise to flush out Islamic militants. The calculation was simple. West Africa was now awash with an array of Islamic terrorists, many aligned with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and they presented the region and the world with the greatest threat to security. Apparently these militants had capitalised on "ungovernable spaces" in West Africa.

These bellicose declarations are mostly false and obscure what is really happening on the continent.

The Message

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Tariq Goddard

The Message is set in Shimba, a fictional East African country in the middle of a civil war. Shimba is rich in a mineral - shimberite - that is used in mobile phones. The population is desperately poor. The rebel movement is led by a man claiming to be the Mahdi - the prophesied saviour of Islam. He leads a chaotic force of fighters against a government who until recently ran Shimba in Western interests.

Champion of the Wretched

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Fifty years ago this month Algerian psychoanalyst and revolutionary Frantz Fanon died - just as his most famous book, The Wretched of the Earth, was published. Leo Zeilig looks back at Fanon's extraordinary life and the lessons his groundbreaking work has for us today

Frantz Fanon was born in Martinique in 1925; thirty six years later he was buried in Algeria. In his short life he became one of the greatest proponents of Algeria's extraordinary revolution.

Africa's 'Agitators'

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Jonathan Derrick, Hurst, £17.99

Armed uprisings, protests and revolts, some lasting years, marked the first attempts of European powers to divide and colonise Africa. From the 1880s, European forces were often paralysed by mass resistance - Italy's devastating defeat at the hands of Ethiopia in the Battle of Adowa in 1896 or the 1879 Zulus' victory in the battle of Isandhlwana, for instance. Where there were no centralised states, "guerrilla" resistance continued for years - such as the Igbos of south-eastern Nigeria.

A new phase of struggle in post-deal Zimbabwe

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It was difficult to watch the power-sharing deal signing ceremony between Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling party ZANU-PF on 15 September.

The deal for a "dual cabinet" will see, if the agreement holds, an almost equal split of ministerial posts between the two parties, with the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Despite bludgeoning and stealing his way to election victory Robert Mugabe keeps many of his powers and ZANU-PF, in all probability, will maintain control of the army.

George Bush: a bad man in Africa

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George Bush's five nation visit to Africa last month received some absurd congratulations.

Even the normally discerning Guardian journalist Chris McGreal could not contain himself, commenting in an article called "George Bush: a good man in Africa", that Bush's African HIV initiative is "transforming healthcare in Africa and has been praised as the most significant aid programme since the end of colonialism".

Obituary: Ousmane Sembene

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Ousmane Sembène was one of those rare people whose death feels like a personal loss even to those who did not know him. We have lost a great mind.

Sembène had an extraordinary life. Born in 1923, he was sent by his father to an Islamic school in the Casamance - the poor southern region of today's Senegal, then part of the huge French West African colonial empire. Expelled from the school in 1936 for indiscipline, he worked as a fisherman before leaving to find work in the capital, Dakar.

DR Congo: Elections for the West, Not the People

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The presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were the first national vote in the country for more than four decades.

The first round of the election saw the sitting president, Joseph Kabila, take a 45 percent share. As Kabila did not win an absolute majority he now faces a run-off in a second round on 29 October with Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Some of the striking images from the election were of people queuing to vote for the first time in their lives. Sadly the elections offer little in the way of a real alternative for most Congolese - rather the run-up to the elections has seen a further phase of plunder.

South Africa: "We Guard Billions, but are Paid Peanuts"

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Brian Mfisa starts work at 6 am for the international security firm Chubb. He guards a large house in the wealthy suburb of Melrose in Johannesburg.

Brian sits in a small wooden box, a "guard hut" that is dwarfed by the parameter walls of the house. He works 12 hour shifts and is paid R1600 (US$220) per month. Last month he was shot through the arm by a man attempting to break into the house. The next day he was back at work. Brian is still refused permission to go to the toilet while on duty and is forced to use a plastic bucket in the hut.

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