Editor's note

The "Hawks", "Invincible Forces" and "Azorka boys" are just a few of the vigilante groups that threaten Ghana's peace and security. These gangs, mostly made up of young people, are supported and formed by political parties that use them to act on their behalf. Justice Tankebe explains what can be done to tackle the problem.

The recent massacre of 157 villagers in central Mali underscores the age-old conflict between nomadic and sedentary groups. But apart from the historic grievances, many other recent factors – including jihadism – have contributed to the increased tension between ethnic groups, writes Stig Jarle Hansen. To make matters worse, the central government is either unwilling or unable to act.

In a little over a month, 27 million South Africans are expected to vote for national and provincial leaders. Election campaigns are gaining moment as parties try to woo voters. But, as Steven Friedman argues, none of the parties are addressing the most pertinent problem facing the country – a weak economy that’s failing to create jobs and sustain livelihoods.

Moina Spooner

Commissioning Editor: East Africa

Top Stories

Ghana has a serious political vigilante problem. Here’s why

Justice Tankebe, University of Cambridge

In Ghana vigilante groups are formed to act on behalf of political parties.

Mali’s volatile mix of communal rivalries and a weak state is fuelling jihadism

Stig Jarle Hansen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

The absence of a strong government in Mali allows jihadists to enter new areas and flourish.

Politics + Society

Parties aren’t taking big issues seriously in South Africa’s election campaign

Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg

There is a huge divide between what is important right now and what the election is likely to be about.

How South African churches can make LGBTIQ people feel safer

Selina Palm, Stellenbosch University

At local level some congregations are bravely creating alternative models where LGBTIQ people can feel safe and be accepted

Environment + Energy

Catastrophic failure of Earth’s global systems led to the extinction of the dinosaurs – we may yet go the same way

Simon Beard, University of Cambridge; Lauren Holt, University of Cambridge; Paul Upchurch, UCL

Growing evidence suggests that the extinction of the dinosaurs involved profound, complex and interconnected changes to the global systems that support life. Much like we are facing today.

Last of the giants: What killed off Madagascar’s megafauna a thousand years ago?

Nick Scroxton, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Laurie Godfrey, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Stephen Burns, University of Massachusetts Amherst

A series of new studies sheds light on the population crash and extinction of the giant birds, lemurs and more that roamed the island until around A.D. 700-1000.

From our international editions

Theresa May loses another Brexit vote: here’s why April 12 is now the key date to watch

Kenneth Armstrong, University of Cambridge

The prime minister asked MPs to support her withdrawal agreement, leaving the future relationship for later. Her plan backfired.

Measles: should vaccinations be compulsory?

Tom Solomon, University of Liverpool

Precedents exist for making people have certain vaccines. Perhaps it's time to extend this.


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