Former ExxonMobil CEO, now U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson Getty Images

This week’s most important headlines out of and about Africa.

In this week’s news, Africans scrutinize United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s role in enabling dictators in the continent and despite the Africa Cup Of Nations (AFCON) football win, the situation in Cameroon could take a turn for the worse.

Rex Tillerson’s Ties to African Dictators Under Scrutiny

During his confirmation hearing to be the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson received pointed questions about his relationship with leaders around the world while he led the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil.

Before his confirmation, analysts such as David Alderman of USA Today questioned Tillerson’s ties with African dictators.

“In Africa, ExxonMobil is active in Angola, Chad and Equatorial Guinea, which Freedom House has labeled one of the “worst of the worst” for its human rights record. Reporters Without Borders called President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo a “predator of press freedom.” He arrived in power in 1979 after overthrowing his uncle in a coup,” Alderman writes.

After his confirmation, a native of Equatorial Guinea, Tutu Alicante, wrote in the Washington Post and brought to light what he thinks Tillerson’s role is in enabling the dictator who runs his country, Obiang Ngeuma Mbasogo.

“For thousands of people in my country who have no access to clean running water, reliable electricity, adequate health clinics, schools for their children, or freedom of speech and assembly, ExxonMobil’s engagement under Tillerson has emboldened a dictator, providing him with an economic lifeline to become the longest-ruling “elected” head of state in the world today,” Alicante writes.

Despite AFCON Victory, Tension Remains High in Cameroon

On Saturday, February 4, the Indomitable Lions, the Cameroon national football team, beat the Egyptian National Football team, the Pharaohs, to claim the championship of AFCON for the fifth time.

The Cameroon squad came from behind to defeat Egypt, 2 to 1 in the finals.

For a brief moment, the entire nation rallied to support the national team. The country did the same in December 2016 when it hosted the African Women’s Cup of Nations. Even while the Cameroonian women’s team fell to Nigeria in the finals, the atmosphere was much peaceful than it is today in the country.

Since November, Cameroon has experienced many civilian deaths after protests and civil disobedience, orchestrated by teachers and lawyers who say their fellow English-speaking citizens are marginalized by the central government in the capital city of Yaoundé.

The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, the group leading the protests announced a boycott of the country’s annual Youth Day celebration on February 11.

Meanwhile, with internet service still cut-off in the English-speaking parts of the country, and with schools closed for over three months, there are fears the situation could take a turn for the worse.


Leave a Reply