All baobab trees originated in Madagascar, evolving into different species 21 million years ago. This is the new finding made by a global team of researchers, who also discovered that today’s African and Australian baobabs made their way from Madagascar over the oceans, riding on natural yachts made of debris packed together by storms.

The African National Congress (ANC), in power in South Africa since the end of the apartheid in 1994, still refers to itself as a liberation movement. This is a throwback to the time when it led the struggle for liberation against white minority rule, claiming to represent all South Africans. Roger Southall argues that its dismal showing in the 2024 elections, winning only 40% of the vote, and losing its majority for the first time, puts paid to its claim of being the voice of all South Africans. It’s now just another regular political party competing for votes. That’s thanks largely to Jacob Zuma’s new party robbing it of a parliamentary majority.

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Anna Weekes

Environment + Energy Editor

Baobab trees all come from Madagascar – new study reveals that their seeds and seedlings floated to mainland Africa and all the way to Australia

Andrew R. Leitch, Queen Mary University of London

New research has found that the world’s baobab trees all evolved on Madagascar 21 million years ago. Sometime in the last 12 million years, they floated on piles of debris to Australia and Africa.

Death of a liberation movement: how South Africa’s ANC became just a regular political party – with some help from Jacob Zuma

Roger Southall, University of the Witwatersrand

Never has the future of South Africa’s politics been more uncertain, but the one certainty is that the ANC’s standing as a liberation movement is dead.

Hydropower damages river systems in Africa: how more solar and wind power can solve this problem

Angelo Carlino, Carnegie Science; Andrea Castelletti, Polytechnic University of Milan; Rafael Schmitt, Stanford University

As renewable energy becomes cheaper and climate change affects water availability, the contribution of hydropower will decline.

Between witchcraft and terrorism: how social fears in coastal Kenya impact religious expression

Erik Meinema, Utrecht University

Fears about witchcraft and terrorism in coastal Kenya have shaped the ways in which various religious groups express themselves.

South Africa’s largest oil refinery sold for a few cents: will BP and Shell be held accountable for environmental damage?

Llewellyn Leonard, University of South Africa

South Africa’s state-owned Central Energy Fund has paid five US cents, or one rand, for a huge oil refinery that isn’t in working condition. The public may have to foot the bill to clear up oil leaks.

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