In many instances election management resembles crises management. This is simply because of the huge significance of elections as access to national resources and power; the personalization of state powers by elected officials and the reluctance of politicians to play by the rules.

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is a growing African institution committed to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region. OSISA's vision is to promote and sustain the ideals, values, institutions and practices of open society, with the aim of establishing vibrant and tolerant southern African democracies in which people, free from material and other deprivation, understand their rights and responsibilities and participate actively in all spheres of life.

The political elite have captured states and use their killing machinery to silence the people. Corruption, 3rd-termism, fraudulent elections, education, health and economic challenges are rising on the continent. 

Kenyan photographer Boniface Mwangi discovered his passion for the camera while at bible school. After reading a biography of legendary Kenyan photographer Mohamed Amin, Mwangi soon enrolled at a journalism school to study photography.

Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo popularised the word ‘Chimurenga’ – Zimbabwean (as opposed to Shona) for revolutionary struggle. The word comes from the name of a 19th century shaman, Murenga (or Mulenga), a mythical figure considered by some to be the rallying point for the initial resistance to Cecil John Rhodes’ colonial mission in the country.

Kyle Shepherd does not play jazz in South Africa; he plays South African jazz. This was the apt summation of the Cape Town-born artist by critic and journalist Percy Mabandu.

However, Shepherd himself has dismissed the appellation the he is the ‘architect of Cape jazz’. But sometimes it is important to ignore artists when they speak and instead pay attention when they work.

Zanele Muholi might be the busiest artist in town. The last few times I tried to sit her down, she was otherwise engaged, sometimes shooting the funeral of a slain lesbian, or visiting a member of her lesbian community in hospital.

In an interview with BBC’s Hard Talk programme, Nigerian musician Femi Kuti had to counter the position that his interlocutor was pushing: that the Nigeria state is doing something about its endemic problem of corruption. If it was, Kuti asked, how come James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, was arrested by British police instead of by Nigerians themselves. The former governor was arrested in Dubai, extradited to Britain where he was convicted by a British court and sentenced to 13 years in prison for theft and laundering of Nigerian public funds of up to US$250m.

The question whether artists should become politicians is one that is frequently posed. In the 1980s, it cropped up when actor Ronald Reagan successfully ran for the United States’ top job. It also divided people in the 1960s when writer Norman Mailer failed in his bid to become the mayor of New York – and when Nigerian poet, Christopher Okigbo, joined the Biafran army fighting for the secession of the south-eastern region from Nigeria.


Partners of OSISA are staging activities across southern Africa during the 16 Days of Activisim Against Gender Violence from November 25-December 10.

GENET – Girls’ Empowerment Network, Malawi

Girls networks from communities have lined up a series of activities in their communities to sensitize their communities about the rights of women and girls and to mobilize support for the rights of girls.

Female Students’ Network, Zimbabwe

Street march in Gwanda, Matebeland South

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