Monthly Archives: June 2009

Where in the World is Laurent Nkunda? Or Laurent Nkundas?

In celebration of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Independence Day today, there is a Laurent Nkunda look-alike contest being held in the Kivus. While its difficult to beat a guy who had a pet goat and one rockin wardrobe, apparently there are many contenders. Winners will get control over the rebel group CNDP and live up to Conglese scholars’ Koen Vlassenroot and Timothy Raeymakers latest reflection in their African Affairs article, “Kivu’s Intractable Security Conundrum” :

While the Kinshasa government currently pursues a strategy of cooptation, whereby the more ‘moderate’ parts of the CNDP are integrated into the national army and other are left to the test, it is not unthinkable that new ‘Nkundas’ will soon stand up to challenge this recent power deal. Instead of attacking such new ‘emergencies’, the international community would do best to tackle the fundamental obstacle to peace in the DRC, which is the violent and privatized governance of public goods and resources.

Vlassenroot and Raeymakers make an important point about Nkunda. He was a sensationalist rebel leader whose spectacle drew more attention than the actual underlying structures of violence, ethnic tension, and Rwandan-Congolese relations that produced him as a rebel leader. Even though his arrest destabilized the CNDP and ushered in a new set of military policies and peace agreements, Nkunda was not the cause of the problem, just an outcome of the problem. And that problem has yet to be addressed in any meaningful way.

So, the contest is on. New and emerging Nkundas will be judged on their wild hobbies, bizarre pets, and ability to effectively execute the foxtrot.


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Friday Afternoon Aricana

Africa is mourning Michael Jackson’s passing. He never had time to adopt an African baby, build a theme park in Africa, or even really use his powers as an anointed Sani King in the Ivory Coast for good.  He did however, write a song for African famine relief, “We are the World.” But because that really sucked this Friday Afternoon Africana will take you back to the days when he was black, young burgeoning Sani Sking and produced funky music:

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You should be an RA in Sierra Leone

Researchers at the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) are seeking a field-based Research Assistant (RA) to coordinate and manage a criminal justice sector evaluation in Sierra Leone.

The RA will manage a large quantitative survey of the impact of paralegals
in prisons and police stations in Sierra Leone as implemented by a local
NGO, Timap for Justice. The evaluation is funded by the Open Society Justice
Initiative ( and administered by the Centre for
the Study of African Economies (

The nationwide survey will be spread across 15 – 20 sites and will require
that the RA spend a significant part of time per month at field sites
throughout the country. In addition the RA will perform a variety tasks
including: managing survey teams, cleaning and analyzing data, coordinating
with local partners, and ensuring the successful execution of the

RAs typically have a Bachelor’s Degree in economics, political science, or
other related fields, and some experience in evaluations or survey work; and
excellent organizational, communication, and writing skills. Knowledge of
statistics and STATA or other data analysis software is preferred but not
necessary, as is prior experience living or working in a developing country.

Candidates may also have an opportunity to engage in qualitative and
ethnographic field work, and the design and management of the intervention

Remuneration is $1,500 USD per month, not including travel, health costs,
and all local travel and logistics. Costs covered include cell phone time, internet time, nights in the field and other needs required to successfully implement  and monitor the evaluation. One trip home for 2-3 weeks is also included for those with a contract length of 6 months or longer.

Interested candidates should send a copy of their CV and a cover letter to
Bilal Siddiqi at and Grant Gordon at as soon as possible, indicating their availability.
Please note that only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Under the direction of Economist Paul Collier, The Centre for the
Study of African Economies has been undertaking research on Africa for
more than a decade, and has become one of the largest concentrations
of academic economists and social scientists working on Africa outside
the continent itself. It is part of the Department of Economics under
the Social Sciences Division at Oxford University. Its research is
currently funded by the Gates Foundation, the ESRC, DfID, UNIDO and
the World Bank.

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In Vogue in the DRC

Apparently, bullets used for necklaces are the hip new fashion thing in the Eastern Congo. And pretty awesome blue hats. Check out those trends and others in Michael Kavanagh’s excellent photo essay on insecurity in the DRC:


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Toilet Aid

The winner for creative aid initiative of the day: toilet twinning. WhenTwo_Piece_Toilet you or your cherished family members buy a new toilet for your home, you can match your purchase and buy a toilet for some poor, toilet-less soul in Burundi. And, in the name of accountability, you can track where your toilet goes on Google earth. According to the BBC:

Leamington Spa-based charity Cord has introduced the scheme, with the money going to families returning to Burundi.

A spokesman said the money was needed to improve hygiene.

The idea is people can twin their home or office toilets with one in Rutana Province, and can track it down to its exact location via Google Earth.

Bishop Colin said the scheme was a “brilliant idea”.

“It’s a way in which we can have some fun while making a difference to a lot of people’s lives,” he said.

So go get yourself and somebody in Rutana a new toilet today. Then, bring your friends over to your house for a Google earth viewing party!

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Friday Afternoon Africana

Because getting down with PhD drop outs who liked Benga music more than research makes for excellent hybrid of Kenyan-American music. Check out Extra Golden:

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This Week in the Great Lakes

1. Strategic consulting firm recommends Rwanda develop silk industry; Rwandans farmers respond, ‘what’s silk?”

2. Oxfam reports 250,000 new displaced Congolese in the Kivus and enough food for 12.

3. Human Rights Watch asks that Burundian refugees in Tanzania not be forcibly repatriate, desperately hoping somebody listens to them.

4. Rwanda to offer masters degree in genocide studies, increasing tourism potential for fun things to do for a year.

5. Mutinous Congolese soldiers shoot at UN peacekeepers; rumors abound that rebels wanted to be reintegrated into MONUC rather than the national army.

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