Editor's note

Many adults take their home planet for granted. We know that we live on Earth, of course, but don’t consider how it formed, what it’s made of and why it’s the best possible habitat for humans. Sometimes it takes a child to ask those big questions, and that’s where Curious Kids comes in. Our series offers children around the continent the chance to pose all sorts of questions to experts. In the latest installment, three-year-old Zamo from Nairobi asks: what is the Earth made of? Rosalie Tostevin is on hand with the answers.

Meanwhile, many Nigerians were left shaking their heads in disbelief after the country was hit with an eye-watering debt judgment in a London court. Oludara Akanmidu explains the history of the judgment and how the massive amount involved could hit ordinary Nigerians’ pockets.“

Natasha Joseph

Assistant Editor: News and Research and Science & Technology Editor

Top Stories

The view of our planet from aboard the International Space Station. Expedition 43/NASA

Curious Kids: What is the Earth made of?

Rosalie Tostevin, University of Cape Town

Of all the planets in the solar system, there’s a reason we call Earth home. It’s made of just the right stuff. It’s not too small, or too big, or too hot or too cold. It’s just right.

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

Oludara Akanmidu, De Montfort University

One of the world's largest producers of oil has lost a legal battle that could have dire consequences on its fragile economy.

Politics + Society

Xenophobia: time for cool heads to prevail in Nigeria and South Africa

Gilbert M. Khadiagala, University of the Witwatersrand

South Africa and Nigeria need to lead policy debates on long term measures to address migration in Africa.

What research reveals about drivers of anti-immigrant hate crime in South Africa

Steven Gordon, Human Sciences Research Council

Beliefs about the role played by foreign nationals in South Africa clearly influence how people think about anti-immigrant hate crime.

South Africa: a new narrative could tackle anti-migrant crisis

Cuthbeth Tagwirei, University of the Witwatersrand

Faced with the same problem, South Africa is turning to the familiar toolkit to explain a recurrent problem.

Ethiopia’s new year offers a chance to unite the country

Yohannes Gedamu, Georgia Gwinnett College

Amid New Year celebrations in Ethiopia, questions still linger around the possibility for sustained peace and stability.

Health + Medicine

Ebola in the Congo: a forgotten conflict became a danger to world health

Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka, Université catholique de Louvain

Local communities are wary of the sudden arrival of outsiders and of their interest in regions where there's been violence for years

Remembering David Sanders: a humble, visionary public health activist

Tanya Doherty, South African Medical Research Council

Sanders was not afraid to challenge and speak out about sensitive and difficult issues, to people in senior positions of power - and when he did, they sat up and listened.

Science + Technology

How Uganda is using old and new laws to block activists on social media

Ronald Kakungulu-Mayambala, Makerere University

There is a strong framework of international laws and conventions that defend free speech, but Uganda continues to limit freedom of expression especially when the people criticise their president.

Why knowing what black mamba venom does to the human body is crucial

Ryan Blumenthal, University of Pretoria

Not much is known about the pathology of trauma of black mamba bites -- that is, what the black mamba's toxin does, physically, inside a victim's system.


Pasha 35: How WhatsApp played a role in the Nigerian elections

Ozayr Patel, The Conversation

WhatsApp can amplify and complement a candidate’s ground campaign. But it cannot replace it.

Pasha 34: How digital technologies can help farmers in Africa

Ozayr Patel, The Conversation

Over the past two decades digitisation has steadily transformed African farming.


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