By Panashe Chigumadzi (@panashechig)
A roundup of last week’s biggest newsmakers and news.
1. Nigerian girls missing nearly 100 days on
With the Chibok girls still missing three months after their 14 April kidnap, Nigerian President Jonathan faces criticism at home and abroad over the deteriorating security situation in Africa’s biggest economy.
Jonathan has described the girls’ situation as “complicated” and that their lives could be put at risk by a military rescue attempt. He has also said that his government “was very actively pursuing all feasible options to achieve the safe return of the abducted girls”.
The situation remains a stalemate. Last weekend, the Boko Haram released a new video mocking the short-lived #BringBackOurGirls” campaign. In the 16-minute video Abubakar Shekau, the terrorist group’s leader, says “You’ve been going around saying, ‘Bring Back Our Girls’.” He then retorts, “Bring back our army,” reiterating Boko Haram’s demands for an exchange of militants imprisoned by the Nigerian government for the kidnapped girls.
2. Thousands at pro-Palestine marches in South Africa
On Friday, thousands of pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy Trade Office in Sandton, Johannesburg, waving pro-Palestine flags and carrying banners with slogans such as “Hoot for freedom” and “Free Palestine – stop the genocide” while shouting: “Hey, hey Israel, how many kids have you killed today?”
Metro police blocked off roads around the protest against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip as metro police blocked off roads around them. The protestors called for pressure on the government to boycott Israeli products.
They were joined by anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi.
In Cape Town on Wednesday, the Muslim Judicial Council marched and handed over a memorandum to Siphosezwe Masango, chairman of Parliament’s international relations portfolio committee.
Department of International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said that South Africa was gravely concerned by Israel’s “illegal” ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The UN Security Council has called for a ceasefire in the conflict. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bloodshed, saying “I repeat my demands to all sides that they must respect international humanitarian law. The violence must stop now.” he said.
Since Israel’s 10-day campaign to halt Hamas rocket fire on its cities, more than 260 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded, news agency The Associated Press reported, quoting Palestinian health officials.
3. Second Malaysia Airlines plane tragedy
Last week Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in an area of eastern Ukraine where separatist rebels, allied with Russia, have been engaging Ukrainian military forces in recent weeks.
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, said in a statement that the jet may have been shot down,”We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine armed forces did not fire at any targets in the sky.”
The crash comes just four months after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board disapeared and is yet to be found. Malaysia Airlines has said it believes everyone on board died when the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
4. Okwiri Oduor wins the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing
Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for her short story entitled ‘My Father’s Head’. She was announced as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held last week at Oxford University.
Oduor directed the inaugural Writivism Literary Festival in Kampala, Uganda in August 2013. Her novella, The Dream Chasers was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow and is currently at work on her debut novel.
Also shortlisted were:
· Diane Awerbuck (South Africa) – Phosphorescence
· Efemia Chela (Ghana/Zambia) – Chicken
· Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe) – The Intervention
· Billy Kahora (Kenya) – The Gorilla’s Apprentice