Editor's note

In the four years since John Pombe Magufuli became Tanzania’s president, there’s been a visible narrowing of freedoms – especially for the press and opposition parties. Independent journalists are harassed, arrested and some have even fled after receiving death threats. Nick Westcott traces these trends and how Magufuli, who swept to power vowing to uphold Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s legacy, is doing exactly the opposite.

No one will disagree that people are having a deep impact on the planet – and not all of it is good. But there is debate over whether the Earth has entered into a new geological age, which some researchers call the Anthropocene. A group of archeologists weighed in on this question and concluded that 3,000 years ago, most of the planet was already largely transformed by people – earlier than previously thought.

Julius Maina

Regional Editor East Africa

Top story

The statue of founding president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in Tanzania’s political capital Dodoma. WikiCommons

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.

People have been modifying Earth – as in these rice terraces near Pokhara, Nepal – for millennia. Erle C. Ellis

Surveying archaeologists across the globe reveals deeper and more widespread roots of the human age, the Anthropocene

Ben Marwick, University of Washington; Erle C. Ellis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Lucas Stephens, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History; Nicole Boivin, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Hundreds of archaeologists provided on-the-ground data from across the globe, providing a new view of the long and varied history of people transforming Earth's environment.

Science + Technology

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

Innovative tech might ease growth bottle-necks for entrepreneurship in Africa

Prince C. Oguguo, Grenoble École de Management (GEM)

Countries in Africa have some of the highest rates of entrepreneurship in the world, yet their contribution to the economy is limited. Technology such as the blockchain, drones and AI could provide a way forward.

Politics + Society

New research shows vast majority of Hong Kong protesters support more radical tactics

Samson Yuen, Lingnan University

A survey of 8,000 Hong Kong protesters shows that participants increasingly feel that radical protests are the most effective way to make the government heed public opinion.

China has taken a different route to involvement in African aviation

Gordon Pirie, University of Cape Town

The aviation ambitions of several African countries are linked to Chinese investment.

Environment + Energy

Plants can recover after being burned, so why might some species in the Amazon face local wipe out?

Kimberley Simpson, University of Sheffield

Not only can plants survive fire, they can use the experience of being burned to prepare themselves for future blazes.

The Great Barrier Reef outlook is ‘very poor’. We have one last chance to save it

Terry Hughes, James Cook University

It’s official. The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef has been downgraded to “very poor”, and the window to act is closing.

Central banks are waking up to climate change dangers. It’s about time

Danny Bradlow, University of Pretoria

Central banks are expected to act without fear or favour. But to deal with climate change, they may have to encourage financial institutions to favour certain types of activities over others.

Spiders are threatened by climate change – and even the biggest arachnophobes should be worried

Sergio Henriques, Zoological Society of London

Don't be afraid of spiders – be afraid for spiders

En français

Hommage à Immanuel Wallerstein, « sociologue monde »

Michel Wieviorka, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (FMSH) – USPC

Immanuel Wallerstein a dès les années 70 été un pionnier des analyses sur la globalisation, critique de la dominante néo-libérale et théoricien du système-monde.

L’Amazonie en proie aux incendies… et aux calculs politiques

Laurie Servières, Sciences Po – USPC

Amazonie : la société civile crie au feu, le gouvernement brésilien au complot et Emmanuel Macron à la crise internationale. Analyse des relations franco-brésiliennes, au cours des dernières semaines.