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Migrants, Refugees Land at an African Way Station

OBOCK, Djibouti—Nestled on a stretch of coastline where Africa’s Horn faces the Arabian peninsula, this dusty seaside town has earned a dubious distinction over the past year, becoming one of the few places where refugees fleeing war pass economic migrants speeding the opposite direction—straight into the firefight. By day, ships carrying scores of Yemeni refugees from conflict between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government dock at Obock’s small port. After dark, African migrants pile int
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In Africa, a Booming Catholic Church, and its Growing Pains, to Greet Pope Francis

KAMPALA, Uganda—The pews are so packed at Christ the King Church in Uganda’s capital that people squeeze hip-to-hip during weekday services. On Sundays, hundreds spill out onto the sidewalk, where tents handle the overflow. Such scenes are emblematic of Catholic congregations in Africa—where Pope Francis is traveling to for the first time this week. Demand is such that some communities in Uganda are building parishes first, then...
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Human-Population Boom Remains Largest Threat to Africa’s Lions in Wake of Cecil’s Killing

NAIROBI, Kenya—The killing of a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe has sparked world-wide outrage, but the largest threat to Africa’s big cats is a human-population boom that is shrinking the animal’s habitat and posing worrying questions about its future in the wild. The wild African lion population has declined 42% over 21 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, to fewer than 20,000 lions. The African lion...
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Antigay Sentiment Poses Dilemma for Kenya Ahead of Obama Visit

NAIROBI, Kenya—When men shouting antigay slurs threatened to bust into Ronald Waswa’s apartment here this month, his landlord called the police. But the officers didn’t just stop the intruders—they held Mr. Waswa and his three roommates for 10 hours, beating them while trying to extract confessions they were gay. “They said, ‘You’ll have to wait for Obama to save you,’ ” recalled Mr. Waswa, a 21-year-old unemployed man who still has...
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World’s Newest Country Struggles to Survive

NAIROBI, Kenya—South Sudan is running out of money, which along with a civil war and mass food shortages is putting the world’s youngest country at risk of becoming its youngest failed state. In the past two years, the U.S. government has spent more than $1 billion to try to help stave off escalating violence in South Sudan, government figures show. Other Western countries have also given massive amounts. Secretary of State John...
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Uber Battles Locals for Future of African Taxis

NAIROBI, Kenya—In the traffic-clogged, potholed streets of Kenya’s capital city, there is a battle waging for the future of the African taxi ride that is pitting local startups eager to become the “Uber of Kenya” against, well, Uber. The winner will help answer a question dogging those who work in technology in the developing world: whether chaotic, impoverished cities like Nairobi will create the tools that bring the “bottom...
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Boko Haram’s Abduction of Girls Still Grips Nigeria

YOLA, Nigeria—In the year since Boko Haram militants kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from their dormitories in northeastern Nigeria, the missing girls have come to symbolize an insurgency that doesn’t need a large footprint to terrorize a population. Protests continue nearly weekly in the capital Abuja to urge the government to do more to free the more-than-200 girls. Each time a town has been retaken from the Islamist militants,...
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Al-Shabaab’s Kenya Killings Fit Broader Strategy

NAIROBI, Kenya—When al-Shabaab militants raided a Kenyan university last week, some opened fire indiscriminately and others singled out Christians to execute. The carnage appeared calibrated to achieve two goals: a high death toll and headlines proclaiming a holy war. Over the past two years, the Somali militant group has increasingly portrayed itself as a band of international Muslim crusaders out to kill Christians, even though their far more frequent attacks in Somalia have killed mostly Mus
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