Checkout Most Heartbreaking Stories of 2016

The year 2016 has hardly had a dull moment. While the year has had its high points, such as the successful summer Olympics in Brazil and the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls, on too many occasions the nightly news reel was dominated by stories of insecurity, fear, and pain, including the Orlando massacre, the attempted coup in Turkey, Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

As we enter the final days of what is easily one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory, HowAfrica takes a look at some of the most heartbreaking stories of the year.


  • “Ugandan ‘Housemaids’ Flown Home After Being ‘Trafficked’ in Saudi Arabia“


In January, widespread outrage followed a report that a group of mostly young Ugandan women had become stranded in Saudi Arabia, after they fell victim to people traffickers.

The report examined the trend of women from East Africa and southeast Asia being recruited to work as domestic maids in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries for the promise of good pay.

Instead, the report exposed the horrendous, slave-like treatment many of the women received from their Saudi employers with many of them becoming victims of repeated abuse, including sexual and physical assault.



  • ‘Nigerian Immigrant To Be Executed In Indonesia — The Untold Story


In July, an Indonesian judge sentenced Nigerian Michael Titus Igweh to death by firing squad, after a controversial court trial found him guilty of drug-related offences.

In his final appeal, Igweh, who had been on death row for 13 years, told the court that the confession he made to the police while in detention was given under duress, “I was constantly beaten, and my genitals electrocuted until I was helpless, in fact, I was threatened to be shot.”

Igweh requested a fair retrial.

But in the end, neither Igweh’s pleas for a fair retrial nor the international community’s appeal for clemency was enough to talk the Indonesian authorities in to sparing him from the executioner’s bullet a few days later.

Michael Igweh

In Kuwait, African Women Are Being ‘Sold, Treated Like Slaves

Here, HowAfrica takes an in-depth look at the crass treatment suffered by African women who are promised well-paid jobs in the Gulf states but are instead trafficked in to a life of servitude and enslavement at the hands of their Arab employers.

The mistreatment of domestic help is apparently supported by the government, since there are no laws on the books to protect them from their employers. In addition, the archaic Kafala system of recruiting foreign domestic labor ties the residency status of workers to their employer, turning workers into illegal immigrants in the event they choose to flee the harsh treatment.


Photo credit: the Guardian


  • Africa Produces 75% of Cocoa And Only Get’s 2% Of A $100 Billion Industry


In May, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina made the scandalous revelation that African farmers produced 75 percent of the world’s annual cocoa harvest but only enjoy a mere 2 percent of the $100 billion cocoa industry while addressing a meeting of bank stakeholders in Lusaka, Zambia.

Adesina’s disclosure set off a lively conversation about the “African condition” and its apparent continued state of helplessness in the midst of human and material endowments.

Why is it that a continent that is blessed with so much continues to remain in a position where it depends on handouts from other nations to survive?

This thought-provoking article is a must-read because it doesn’t just ask questions, but it also attempts to provide workable solutions.

cocoa production in ghana

Kenyan Maid Burnt by Lebanese Boss Finally Loses Battle to Stay Alive

The tragic, painful death of a young Kenyan Mother of four, Mary Kamajo, due to the cruel treatment she suffered at the hands of her Lebanese employer easily registers as one of the most heart-wrenching incidents of 2016.

Kamajo, 31, had moved to Lebanon in search of work, but without formal qualifications, she took up the only work she could find: working as a domestic maid for a Lebanese family. Kamajo perhaps expected her work as a domestic maid to be demanding, however, nothing would have prepared her for the brutal, subhuman treatment meted out by her Lebanese boss and his family.

Events took a vicious turn in April, when Kamajo’s boss willfully set her ablaze by igniting a gas cylinder, leaving her with horrendous burn wounds that covered nearly 47 percent of her body.

She was rescued by a kind neighbor who rushed her to a hospital, but that was hardly the end of her ordeal as she was held in near complete seclusion and denied access to her family and loved ones back home in Kenya.

Narrating her ordeal, Kamajo said, “I would cry every day, begging the doctors and the nurses to send me home but nobody listened. I begged to be allowed to speak to the Kenyan embassy but the people in the hospital ignored me.”

Kamajo was eventually returned to Kenya, after spending six hellish weeks in a Lebanese hospital. But that was hardly enough to keep her alive as she lost the battle to stay alive and passed away in July.

Mary Kamajo


Written by How Africa

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