Editor's note

Robert Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe for 30 years until he was deposed in 2017, has died. He was 95 years old and had been battling ill health for some time. His death has elicited mixed reactions: some have paid tribute to Mugabe the pan-Africanist and liberation hero, while others consider him a "monster" who failed his people. Roger Southall and David Moore reflect on Mugabe's complex, contested legacy. Tapiwa Chagonda examines Zimbabwe's current social, economic and political crisis and mulls possible solutions. Elsewhere, Nick Westcott explores how the legacy of another post-colonial African independence hero, Tanzania's Julius Nyerere, is being twisted by the country's current leader and his sustained attacks on free speech.

Thabo Leshilo

Politics + Society Editor

Top Story

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

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

Roger Southall, University of the Witwatersrand

Where should we place Mugabe among the pantheon of African nationalists who led their countries to independence?

Robert Mugabe, former President of Zimbabwe, addressing media in Harare, in July 2018. EPA-EFE/Yeshiel Panchia

Robert Gabriel Mugabe: a man whose list of failures is legion

David B. Moore, University of Johannesburg

Robert Mugabe's years of playing one group off against the other to favour himself finally wore too thin in 2017.

Politics + Society

Zimbabwe’s deepening crisis: time for second government of national unity?

Tapiwa Chagonda, University of Johannesburg

It's time for a new approach as it becomes increasingly clear that protests won't topple the Zanu-PF government.

Why Tanzania’s attacks on free speech break with Nyerere’s legacy

Nick Westcott, SOAS, University of London

While sometimes intolerant of criticism, Nyerere tended to respond with argument rather than force.

Science + Technology

Temple graffiti reveals stories from ancient Sudan

Suzanne Davis, University of Michigan; Geoff Emberling, University of Michigan

Visitors to these sites had one particular religious ritual that may strike some as strange: they carved graffiti in important and sacred places.

First fossil trails of baby sea turtles found in South Africa

Charles Helm, Nelson Mandela University; Martin Lockley, University of Colorado Denver

These trackways preserve an incredibly brief moment in time. More importantly, they tell us about ancient climates, and how turtle breeding ranges have changed over the millenia

Mitochondrial DNA reveals unexpected ancestral connections

Debra Meyer, University of Johannesburg

Developments in mitochondrial DNA sequencing are returning South Africa's slavery heritage to view.

How the skull of humanity’s oldest known ancestor is changing our understanding of evolution

Hester Hanegraef, Natural History Museum

The hominin known as Lucy may not be the direct ancestor of humans.

Environment + Energy

How potential of massive e-waste dump in Ghana can be harnessed

Alison Stowell, Lancaster University

Sites like Agbogbloshie provides a valuable service. They offer opportunities for job creation, profit and cleaning up environments littered with waste.

How Kenya’s mega wind power project is hurting communities

Zoe Cormack, University of Oxford

Our research shows how a large scale renewable energy project can be plagued by many of the same troubling impacts on local communities as oil and extractive industries.


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.

Pasha 33: Staying healthy is difficult for young women in Soweto

Ozayr Patel, The Conversation

It’s not enough to simply promote healthy eating and exercise without considering South Africa's very real environmental and structural constraints.


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