A Brief Look Back At The Key Political, Social, And Cultural Events In Africa In 2015

Africa in 2015

Cecil the Lion Controversy

Perhaps more ink was spilt and greater coverage given globally to the July killing of a lion (known affectionately as Cecil) in Zimbabwe by Walter Palmer than any other event in Africa in 2015. Palmer, an American dentist, had a permit to hunt a lion, but Cecil was living in a national park.

Palmer’s guides allegedly drew the lion out of the park, unbeknownst to Palmer, and after the lion’s death, removed his tracking collar.

The international outrage that followed focused on Palmer, who was not charged for shooting Cecil, and recreational trophy hunting more generally. There were also counter-reactions to these complaints, by those defending recreational hunting and by those who argued that the lion had garnered greater sympathy than any African person would have done.

Nigeria’s Election and Boko Haram

The international press also took great interest in the May election of General Muhammadu Buhari to the Nigerian Presidency.

Buhari beat the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, and Buhari’s inauguration marked the first time in Nigerian history that a sitting President had stepped down after losing an election.

The transition of power alone made this election significant, but one of the central platform issues was the threat of Boko Haram. Buhari successfully promoted himself as better equipped to deal with the militant extremist group, and after he took the reigns there has been progress.

The Nigerian army has gained significant ground, but in response Boko Haram has increased the frequency and brutality of attacks.

Burkina Faso’s attempted coup

On September 17th the Presidential Guard in Burkina Faso launched a coup, taking the Interim Prime Minister and Interim President hostage. The Presidential Guard was fiercely loyal to the former president, Blaise Compaore, and they were reacting in part to the decision several months previously that allies of Compaore would not be allowed to stand election in November 2015 in Burkina Fas, but the Guards were also likely reacting to a recent report that recommended that they be disbanded.

The coup failed, though, and the Presidential Guards were disbanded. The leader of the coup, general Gilbert Diendéré, was also jailed, and the 2015 elections preceded as planned, leading to the election of Roch Marc Christian Kabore. In late December 2015, an attempt to break General Diendéré out of jail led to the arrest of about 20 former Presidential Guards.

Youth Protests

As Vice News pointed out, 2015 was also notable for the number of student protests across the continent. In the Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi students protested attempts by the respective presidents to extend their reigns by reforming existing laws that would force them out due to term limits.


There were also student protests in several other African countries, but the one that gained the most international attention was the #RhodesMustFall movement in South Africa, which demanded that a statue of the British imperialist, Cecil Rhodes, be removed from the University of Cape Town campus. The movement succeeded and the statue was removed in April 2015. But at the end of 2015, the controversy arose again when the former President of South Africa, F. W. de Klerk criticized the movement.


Ebola was more of an international story in 2014, but West African nations have continued to battle the virus in 2015. Progress was at times uneven, but in December 2015, the WHO announced that for the first time since the epidemic began, Africa (and, in fact, the world) has gone 40 days without a new case.

African Nations Cup

While the African Nations Cup, held January 17 to February 8, 2015 in Equatorial Guinea, is of a very different nature than the other events listed below, the controversies that surrounded it make it worthy of mention when looking back at Africa in 2015.

The first major controversy occurred when the intended host of the tournament, Morocco, asked in October 2014 that the Cup be postponed till 2016 due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) declined Morocco’s request, and when Morocco did not confirm that it would host the tournament as planned in early 2015, CAF moved the tournament to Equatorial Guinea and fined Morocco US $1 million and demanded another US $8.7 million in compensation for the broken contract.

At the tournament itself, the controversies continued. After their elimination from the Cup, the Tunisians accused the CAF referees of bias and incompetence, and the crowd violence during the semi-finals match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana made international news. During the melee, which caused a nearly 40-minute delay in the match, the police had to employ smoke bombs and bring in a helicopter. Equatorial Guinea was later fined $100,000 for the violence and required to pay for the care of fans injured during the free-for-all.

Hissène Habré’s Trial

After its tumultuous opening days in July 2015, the trial of Chad’s former President, Hissène Habré, for crimes against humanity has not drawn much attention, but from the perspective of international justice, it is an event worthy of note. Habre’s trial in Senegal – and more specifically, in the African Union-sponsored, extra-judicial courts established solely to try him – is the first time that a former head of state has been tried in another country for crimes allegedly committed during his or her rule. A ruling is expected in May 2016.

source: about education





Written by PH

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