By Thato Magano (@pothaeto)
A roundup of the biggest newsmakers and news of the week.
1. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo talks to Boko Haram as one more girl escapes
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has met with people believed to be close to Boko Haram in an attempt to broker the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls by Boko Haram, even as it emerged last night that one of the abducted girls had escaped from her captors.
The former president said the talks were only exploratory, adding: “As an African father, a Nigerian father or grandfather, any of the girls could have been my daughter or granddaughter… So I am only trying to reach out to see what can be done to secure their release.”
The meeting took place last weekend at Obasanjo’s farm in Ogun State, reported the AFP yesterday.
Present at the meeting were relatives of some senior Boko Haram fighters as well as intermediaries and the former president, the source said.
“The meeting was focused on how to free the girls through negotiations,” said the source who requested anonymity. Obasanjo had previously sought to negotiate with the insurgents in September 2011 after Boko Haram bombed the United Nations headquarters in Abuja.
Meanwhile, according to an online news website, The Cable, the National Chairman of Kibaku Area Development Association, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, confirmed that one girl had escaped, but refused to reveal her identity, saying it could endanger her life.
“The girl is currently at a location I cannot disclose,” he said. “But I can assure you that she is safe.”
Bitrus further revealed that four other girls escaped last week, but they were shielded from the media in the interest of their safety. Similarly, another source in Chibok confirmed the news, saying: “It is true. I have just confirmed that one girl escaped.”
– This Day, TheCable
2. Kim Kardashian West is GQs 2014 Women of the Year
The only woman to win an award at the GQ Men Of Year Awards in London was recently married reality TV star, Kim Kardashian West, who was named Woman of the Year by the men’s mag. The selfie-snapping beauty stepped out in a well-fitted latex bodysuit with revealing gunmetal skirt.
It’s been quite the year for Mrs Kardashian West. She gave birth to her first child, North West and married her rapper boyfriend, Kanye, in one of the most lavish ceremonies on record.
On winning her award Kim said, “What a huge honour to win Woman of the Year. It’s so special. I want to thank my husband for making me feel like the Woman of the Year every single day.”
While her family were stoked to see Kim Kardashian take home the GQ Woman of the Year Award on Tuesday night, lots of other folks were feeling quite the opposite. Many questioned what exactly Kim did to deserve the award, while others thought it may have been some sort of sick joke.
3. Helen Zille and the DA receive the ‘spy tapes’
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has handed over the so-called Zuma spy tapes to Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
Zille said it has taken five years and six court cases to reach this stage and that this matter involves more than 700 counts of corruption, money laundering and racketeering, which were withdrawn against the president.
The DA will use them as part of its legal bid to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma.The tapes allegedly reveal collusion between the former heads of the directorate of special operations, former Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy and NPA former head Bulelani Ngcuka to manipulate the prosecutorial process before the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.
Zuma was elected ANC president at the conference. At the time, acting NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe said they showed there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case could not continue. The DA wants the tapes to see if they do actually support that claim.
It could still be some time before the recordings are made public, as experts need to authenticate them and make sure they haven’t been edited.
4. USC #blacktwitter study draws criticism
A study at USC sponsored by IBM will study ‘Black Twitter’, trying to figure out what it means for people to form “neighborhoods” online but the idea has proven to be controversial, with many asking whether this study has become a form of racial profiling rather than just a sociological investigation.
The idea of #blacktwitter gained popularity in 2013, and in 2014 it became a place where people could share outrage and distress over political issues such as the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson.
On Twitter, people immediately found problems with the study. First, there was the issue of the three smiling white, male faces at the bottom of the page, under “project owners.” The only person of color working on the study, Dayna Chatman, got just a tiny credit in a line of text at the top of the page. After complaints (on Twitter, of course), the study authors eventually added a picture of Chatman to the research page.
Chatman has also come out to say that this study is entirely her doctoral research, and that the description of it was not authorized by her. She says she still isn’t sure how it got posted on USC’s site.
The study description includes other alarming elements, especially given that it was not authorized by its lead researcher. For example, the scholars are attempting to identify members of Black Twitter by following people who livetweet during episodes of Scandal.
For many people, this felt like an insultingly narrow and reductive scope. But perhaps the most disturbing part of the study was a section where the researchers highlighted their methods. One of the main issues they face as researchers is that Black Twitter is a constantly-changing group of people, and that, as they write, “not everyone who identifies as black is a part of Black Twitter, nor does everyone participating in Black Twitter identify as black.”
In essence, at this point, the Black Twitter study has gone a long way toward alienating the group it purports to want to understand.