My friend Andrew Heavens continues to do exemplary photojournalism from his base in Addis Ababa. (I’m working on a proposal for an Africa-wide blogging and journalism conference this fall and hope to rope Andrew into doing a session on photoblogging…) He’s in the southern Moyale zone this week, documenting the devestation caused by the failure of two rainy seasons, which has left nearly a million Ethiopians – and more than eight million people in the horn of Africa – struggling for survival. He documents the work of Tafesech Sahele, the driver of a water truck, who sleeps in the cab of her vehicle, fills each morning with water and delivers the precious cargo to pastoralists living throughout the region. The water is helping keep humans alive, but goats and sheep – the livelihood of these herders – are dying off quickly.
Will Ross, writing for the BBC from Uganda, has funnier photos, but they accompany another important (and underreported) story. Uganda’s presidential election is Thursday the 23th. Yoweri Museveni, who came to power twenty years ago in a coup, faces a few opposition candidates, but only one serious rival, Dr. Kizza Besigye. The campaign has been uncommonly ugly – the Ugandan government has charged Besigye with crimes ranging from rape to treason, and he’s spent a good part of the campaigning season trying to stay out of prison.
Ross has had good fun covering events, though. His most recent piece is an in-depth interview with effigies of both Museveni and Besigye. Despite a crackdown on press expression in Uganda and the legal manouvering that threatens Besigye, Ugandan voters have taken campaigning to the streets in creative ways, creating stuffed models of their candidates, making the faces out of campaign posters and bodies out of used clothes. According to Ross, the police are taking the effigies very seriously:
“People are free to erect effigies,” a spokesman said last week. “You may place drinks next to them or even prostrate yourselves before your effigies.”
“But”, he warned, “the effigies must not be placed in such a way as to provoke each other. If that happens, you will be arrested and the effigy confiscated.”
The situation could get a whole lot more serious depending on how Thursday’s polling goes. (Indeed, it already is – Black Looks has a post about two of Bezigye’s supporters being shot and killed by soldiers.) I’ll be doing my best to follow events from the floor of the TED conference.