Positive Changes in Africa By: Jake Panek

Evan Mawarire's movement for change in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire, unexpectedly, inspired thousands when he posted a video with the hashtag, #ThisFlag, in April, 2016. The viral clip of him lamenting against the country's moribund economy, corruption and human rights abuses, led to several anti-government protests and large-scale strike actions that paralyzed cities around the country. "When I look at the flag it’s not a reminder of my pride and inspiration, it feels as if I just want to belong to another country" he said in the video, with a Zimbabwean flag draped on his shoulders. The protests were unprecedented in scale and frequency, leading some to refer to the events as Zimbabwe’s Arab Spring. Economic anger was (and still is) on the rise in the country, with the government struggling to pay civil servants' salaries, and more than 4 million locals requiring food aid due to a 2016 drought that severely impacted agricultural production.

The Fight for Gay-Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gay rights have become a byword for neo-imperialism in some sectors of society, where it is considered a Western import and like abortion, it's put the Church at loggerheads with human rights campaigners. The visit of US President Barack Obama to Tanzania and Kenya last year "outed" the issue of gay rights in Africa once again, and a schism in the Anglican Church globally is likely to see the issue resurface early on in 2016. Nigeria will continue to face pressure from the US to back down on "anti-gay" legislation - which includes jail terms for those involved in gay rights organisations and for those that attempt same-sex unions. While Mozambique quietly decriminalised homosexuality in its revised penal code in 2015, along with the tiny kingdom of Lesotho, The Gambia is one of the countries to keep an eye on in 2016. President Yahya Jammeh has implemented tough anti-gay laws, prompting widespread international condemnation. We can expect to see more campaigns highlighting the plight of gay refugees and those being granted asylum in the US, where last year the first LGBT envoy was appointed to the State Department to elevate the issue. Watch out also for more threats of trade bans, aid freezes and other policy carrots and sticks by Western governments, as they seek to make gay issues a non-negotiable part of human rights culture. In July, when a major Aids conference returns to South Africa, gay rights campaigners are expected to seize upon the event to push for equal access to treatment and prevention for all communities in the fight against HIV and Aids. They will argue that remains one of the biggest challenges to tackling Aids and say that decriminalising homosexuality will help to achieve this.

Obama in Africa

Works Cited

"Evan Mawarire, of Zimbabwe's This Flag Movement, Denied Bail." Time. Time. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. http://time.com/4659284/evan-mawarie-zimbabwe-this-flag-bail-denied/

"Social Changes to Watch out for in Africa." BBC News. BBC, 12 Jan. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35263756

#Thisflag video=http://time.com/4659284/evan-mawarie-zimbabwe-this-flag-bail-denied/

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