theconversation

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Professor Harry Garuba [Courtesy the University of Cape Town]

A tribute to poet and professor Harry Garuba: we continue to learn with you

I wish I could let the language of the chained roar let loose rivers of rage to cleanse this land… And build for you a memorial ageless as your love. – Harry Garuba, Memorial wish, Animist Chants and Memorials: Poems (2017) Professor Harry Garuba died on 28 February 2020. Harry’s…

The guidance on masks appears to be shifting, but social distancing is still the key step people can take. Muhammad Fayyaz Rub/Shutterstock.com

ANALYSIS: Should we wear masks or not? An expert sorts through the confusion

As a professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine and a geriatrician at Boston Medical Center caring for the most vulnerable in this pandemic, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about COVID-19. It turns out there is good science out there that helps us know what masks we need…

Image from the Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic. [Photo: The Conversation]

What’s the difference between pandemic, epidemic and outbreak?

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This is a landmark event. As an epidemiologist listening to the steady stream of conversation around the coronavirus, I’m hearing newscasters and neighbors alike mixing up three important words my colleagues and I use in our work every day: outbreak, epidemic…

Stray cows rest on a New Delhi street during a one-day civil curfew to combat coronavirus. Cattle may have been central to a coronavirus outbreak in 1890. [PHOTO CREDIT: The Conversation]

FEATURE: A brief history of the coronavirus family

Scientists have known of the human coronavirus since the 1960s. But only rarely has it garnered wider recognition over the past half a century. One example was in 2003, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) caused an outbreak of the disease severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in mainland…

A deserted street in Cairo after the government ordered the closure of shops, restaurants and cafes.

Why a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 could have lethal consequences

Suppose you had the choice between two health policies, A and B. Policy A would result in the death of a lot of elderly people. Policy B would result in the death of a lot of children, especially infants. Which would you choose? Right now we are facing a choice…

Nollywood actors at 2016 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

Why Nigerians living abroad love to watch Nollywood movies

The Nollywood industry – which came to life in the early 1990s – is often seen as a natural heir to the Nigerian TV series which had already produced roughly 14,000 feature films in the previous decade. These video-films of the early years have now become full feature films, and…

Used Lead batteries [Photo: EarthMagazine.org]

Africa’s growing lead battery industry is causing extensive contamination

Africa is facing a serious lead poisoning problem. In Senegal, for example, researchers linked the deaths of children from processing lead waste to supply a lead battery recycling plant in a poor suburb of Dakar. Villagers supply lead waste to the plant for compensation. In Kenya, the legacy of a…

Image showing drug testing used to ilustrate the story [Photo: goodegg.io]

What I’ve learnt about drug testing in Nigeria over the last 20 years

Poor quality medicine is one of the obstacles to improving health in developing countries. One in 10 medicines may not meet acceptable standards, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The problem is prevalent on the African continent. The WHO received 1500 reports of poor quality and falsified medicines between…

Oxford english dictionary [Photo: CNN]

How Nigerian words made it into the Oxford English Dictionary

Nigeria was recently in the spotlight when the Oxford English Dictionary announced that its January 2020 update included 29 Nigerian English words. The reception, in both the traditional and new media, was nothing short of sensational. Most Nigerians expressed a great sense of pride in the fact that the unique…

Daniel arap Moi: the making of a Kenyan ‘big man’

Daniel arap Moi – Kenya’s president from 1978 to 2002 – has died at the grand age of 95. The only extended biography of Kenya’s longest-serving president was written by Andrew Morton, made famous for his account of the world’s glitterati – from Princess Diana and Madonna to David and…

Marks are selling out in Singapore amid concerns about the Wuhan Coronavirus [Ng Sor Luan-EPA]

Coronavirus outbreak: WHO’s decision to not declare a global public health emergency explained

The World Health Organization’s decision to not declare the novel coronavirus outbreak in China a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, will surprise many. The number of reported cases and deaths is doubling every couple of days, and patients have now been reported from many Asian countries, as…

The border closure has affected goods from other West African countries. Wikimedia Commons

ANALYSIS: Nigeria’s Border Closure: Implications for Africa’s economic integration

Nigeria recently partially closed its border with Benin in an effort to stem the smuggling of rice. It then went on to close its land borders to the movement of all goods from Benin, Niger and Cameroon, effectively banning trade flows with its neighbours. Border closures are not new in…

William G. Kaelin, Jr. talks to a reporter after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. AP Photo - Josh Reynolds

Why ‘Discovery of How Cells Sense Oxygen Levels’ earned 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine

On the morning of Oct. 7, I woke up with the message from a colleague saying that “HIF got the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine whoo hooo.” That’s exciting news for young researchers like me who are beginning our careers studying hypoxia, when the levels of oxygen are…

Danfo buses in Lagos

How traditional beliefs and systems are used to fight crime in parts of Lagos

As the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, Lagos naturally draws lots of people to it – good and bad. With an estimated population of 21 million, fighting crime in Nigeria’s former capital territory is a tough job. Violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape and gang-related crimes are common…

On Akure’s edges, which used to be mainly farmland, buildings are taking over.

Nigeria’s Akure is a good example of how not to build a city

Akure is one of Nigeria’s emerging cities. Located within Ondo State in the country’s south west, it’s a settlement about 350kms from Lagos where roads meet from major towns such as Ilesa, Ondo, Owo and Ado-Ekiti. Its population is climbing fast. In 2006 it was home to about 484,798 people.…

Lagos was affected positively and negatively by Nigeria’s emergence as a crude oil producer in the 1970s. Shutterstock

Lagos’s chequered history: how it came to be the megacity it is today

Ndubisi Onwuanyi, University of Benin Lagos was an orderly urban environment 70 years ago. This was the case from the 1950s, when the city was a federal territory through to the 1960s when it became federal capital – a status it held until 1991. The foundations of orderliness for any…

Digital technologies are transforming African businesses, but obstacles remain

Digital technology has created new opportunities for businesses in sub-Saharan Africa to compete on a more equal footing. However, these businesses have yet to enjoy the full benefits because of a difficult operating environment. Our recently published book, ‘Digital Entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects’, details case studies…

Oil and gas is the lifeblood of Nigeria’s economy. Wikimedia Commons

EXPLAINER: How Nigeria got hit with a $9.6 billion judgment debt in London

Nigeria has received a legal hiding after a UK court awarded a private company a US$9.6 billion judgment debt against the West African nation. The ruling has generated significant attention in both domestic and international media. This is understandable given that the sum amounts to 20% of the country’s foreign…

Flooded houses in Buzi, Mozambique after tropical cyclone Idai struck. [Photo: The Cpnversation - INGC (Mozambique) & FATHUM]

Why forecasting floods should be a global collaborative effort

The number of people exposed to the risk of floods is rising. More and expanding human settlements are being built in flood-prone areas, especially in Africa, Asia and South America. This is undoubtedly linked to the dramatic increase in death tolls and economic damages from floods experienced in Africa over…

Tunisians head for the polls amid dimming faith in democracy

Tunisians, and the wider world, expected a great deal after the dawn of democracy in 2011. This followed the popular uprisings that ended President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorial rule. But even two years after those momentous events, many were beginning to doubt both the new government and the…

Millions of people have been displaced from countries like Mali. Can a free trade zone create more security? [Photo: The Conversation - NICOLAS REMENE/EPA-EFE]

The African free trade zone can’t ignore continent’s security issues

The new African free trade zone came into effect at the end of May 2019. All of the African Union’s (AU) member states are now legally bound to allow African goods to be traded without restraint throughout the continent. But there are some security concerns to be considered. Entering the…

Robert Mugabe during his swearing-in ceremony in Harare, 2008. The former Zimbabwean president has died aged 95. [Photo: The Conversation - EPA-EFE]

Robert Mugabe: as divisive in death as he was in life

Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, has died. Mugabe was 95, and had been struggling with ill health for some time. The country’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Mugabe’s death on Twitter on 6 September: The responses to Mnangagwa’s announcement were immediate and widely varied. Some hailed Mugabe as…

A newborn used to illustrate the story. [Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

A village in Poland hasn’t seen a boy born in nearly 10 years – here’s how that computes

The tiny Polish village of Miejsce Odrzanskie has become the unlikely source of international media attention over the past fortnight as a result of what the New York Times called “a strange population anomaly”. It has now been almost a decade since the last boy was born in this place,…

It’s not that people in poorer countries want to eat unhealthily - but cost is a huge factor. [Photo: The Conversation - Aleksandar Todorovic]

Why living in poor country means you have bad food choices

Poor diets are the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease: they account for one in five deaths globally. In higher income countries sugar, fat and red meat increase the risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. These usually kill people later in life. Meanwhile people in…

Lock the doors? PA

MPs threaten to barricade themselves in if Boris Johnson prorogues parliament

Queen Elizabeth II has consented to a request to prorogue parliament. It is clear that her chief minister, Boris Johnson, intends to compromise the protective bastion of British democracy. For several centuries the residual powers still held by the monarchy have been used sparingly. For a long time, the British…