Editor's note

As women in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin get older, they are more able to make decisions independently of men. This is particularly the case if they belong to an ethnic group that practices voodoo - a religion that spread across West Africa with the expansion of the Dahomey kingdom in the 17th century - and if they are menopaused. Marijke Verpoorten and Alidou Sahawal attribute this age “dividend” to beliefs in magic and religion.

The Ebola outbreak in the DRC has been raging on since August 2018. More than 1000 cases have been confirmed and almost 700 people have died. This is the second worst Ebola outbreak ever reported and it is spreading faster than ever. Jacqueline Weyer breaks down the scale of the problem.

Moina Spooner

Commissioning Editor: East Africa

Top Stories

Beninese women attend a “voodoo” festival. Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

Why age gives West African women more autonomy and power

Marijke Verpoorten, University of Antwerp; Alidou Sahawal, University of Antwerp

In some West African communities, age and magico-religious beliefs have a huge role to play in a woman's independence.

West Africa experienced the worst Ebola outbreak between 2013 and 2016. Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

The DRC’s Ebola outbreak has all the makings of a humanitarian crisis

Jacqueline Weyer, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

The current Ebola outbreak in the DRC is devastating vulnerable communities already affected by displacement and violence.

Science + Technology

New policy commits South Africa’s scientists to public engagement. Are they ready?

Marina Joubert, Stellenbosch University

The new White Paper can help scientists understand better why public engagement is crucial.

A new language doesn’t hamper kids learning. Other things do

Michelle White, Stellenbosch University

The ability of multilingual children to learn and advance academically from pre-primary has little to do with their English proficiency.

From our international editions

Ancient four-legged whales once roamed land and sea

Jan Hoole, Keele University

Our flippered friends evolved from small, hooved deer-like creatures more than 50m years ago.

Putin’s plagiarism, fake Ukrainian degrees and other tales of world leaders accused of academic fraud

Ararat Osipian, George Mason University

Several world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, stand accused of plagiarizing their PhD dissertations. Whether they resign, deny or ignore the allegations says a lot about the country they run.

Curious Kids: why do tigers have whiskers?

Alexander Richard Braczkowski, The University of Queensland

Whiskers are not just ordinary hairs. They are thicker and go deeper into the tiger's skin and send messages to its brain about what is happening in the world around it.

An industrialized global food supply chain threatens human health – here’s how to improve it

Robyn Metcalfe, University of Texas at Austin

Globalization is making it harder to identify and trace outbreaks of foodborne illness. Technology can help, but consumers may also have to rethink their food choices.


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