Malawi’s election cheer dampened by coronavirus surge

LILONGWE – Malawi’s new President Lazarus Chakwera on Saturday ordered his inauguration ceremony be scaled down amid a surge of coronavirus cases, dampening excitement around his election win. Chakwera was sworn in last Sunday for a five-year term, hours after unseating Peter Mutharika in a re-run election, and this Monday the country is holding a formal celebration. Chakwera said capacity at the national stadium would be halved to 20,000 and at least 100,000 face masks…

"Malawi’s election cheer dampened by coronavirus surge"

Suicide car bomber hits checkpoint at Somalia’s Mogadishu port

MOGADISHU – An explosion shook parts of the Somali capital of Mogadishu early on Saturday as a suicide car bomber drove into a checkpoint just outside the port, witnesses said, but police made no immediate comment on casualties. “Metal debris fell all over us inside the port and we heard gunfire,” said a port worker who sought anonymity for security reasons. “Security forces have surrounded the area.” The blast shoook the ground, said Mohammed Ali,…

"Suicide car bomber hits checkpoint at Somalia’s Mogadishu port"

Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths

GABORONE – Botswana’s top wildlife vet on Friday dismissed accusations from some conservationists that the government had not moved quickly enough to investigate the unexplained deaths of least 275 elephants. Authorities said on Thursday they were still trying to find out what killed the elephants around two months after the first carcasses were spotted in the Okavango Panhandle region. Widely-published pictures of the bodies triggered an international outcry, and some campaign groups raised questions about…

"Botswana top vet defends investigations into unexplained elephant deaths"

Scaled-down Czech film festival opens in empty auditorium

PRAGUE – A Czech film festival disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic unveiled a scaled-down programme of movies on Friday with an opening ceremony in an empty auditorium and a star-free red carpet. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, central and eastern Europe’s leading movie extravaganza, announced in April it was cancelling its main events as the novel coronavirus shuttered cinemas and mass gatherings. Restrictions have since eased, allowing the festival’s president, actor Jiri Bartoska, to…

"Scaled-down Czech film festival opens in empty auditorium"

Athletics: Kenya’s Kipsang banned for four years for anti-doping rules violations

– Former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang of Kenya has been handed a four-year ban for anti-doping rule violations that included using a fake photo of a traffic accident to justify one of four missed wheareabouts appointments, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Friday. World Athletics said Kipsang had four whereabouts failures between April 2018 and May 2019. Three such failures within 12 months leads to an automatic ban. Kipsang said he missed…

"Athletics: Kenya’s Kipsang banned for four years for anti-doping rules violations"

Factbox: What could be causing Botswana’s mystery elephant deaths?

GABORONE – Botswana is investigating hundreds of unexplained elephant deaths in one of Africa’s premier tourist destinations. Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s elephants, and there are concerns that whatever is causing the deaths, first recorded in May, could affect animals in neighbouring countries. Following are some theories as to what could be behind the unexplained deaths. POACHING The government and conservationists ruled out poaching at an early stage because the carcasses have…

"Factbox: What could be causing Botswana’s mystery elephant deaths?"

South Africa’s boozy church struggles with COVID lockdown rules

JOHANNESBURG – When South Africa began easing its coronavirus lockdown in May, it allowed religious worshippers to gather in groups of up to 50, but maintained a ban on people assembling to drink alcohol. That’s a problem for the “Gabola” church — the name means ‘drinking’ in the local Tswana language — for whom a tipple is an integral part of their religious worship. Founded just two years ago, the church tried to hold its…

"South Africa’s boozy church struggles with COVID lockdown rules"

Turkish court tries Saudis in absentia for Khashoggi killing

ISTANBUL – A Turkish court put 20 Saudi officials on trial in absentia on Friday for the gruesome killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which sparked international outrage and tarnished the image of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 when he went there seeking papers for his marriage. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman…

"Turkish court tries Saudis in absentia for Khashoggi killing"

‘Black Lives Matter’ movement stirs Ghanaian artist in COVID-19 limbo

DAKAR – A tear slipped down the cheek of Ghanaian-German artist Zohra Opoku as she recalled how the global Black Lives Matter had kindled her pain and anger while she was stranded away from home due to coronavirus lockdowns. After Senegal closed its borders in March, the internationally renowned visual artist had no option but to remain at a residency in Dakar, where she had been creating large textile collages to explore her self-image after…

"‘Black Lives Matter’ movement stirs Ghanaian artist in COVID-19 limbo"

Angolan app gives performers a lifeline – streaming to paying public

LUANDA – When the Angolan government imposed its coronavirus lockdown in late March, local entrepreneur and innovator Claudio Kiala saw a gap in the market when it came to virtual entertainment. Kiala and his team had been developing a performance platform known as Soba Channel App, before the crisis struck, where artists would be able to stream live shows and fans would pay to gain access. The lockdown meant they had to accelerate its launch…

"Angolan app gives performers a lifeline – streaming to paying public"