Africa in 2014: 10 things we’ve learnt

From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the schoolgirls’ kidnapping in Nigeria to the murder trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius and the conflict in South Sudan, it’s been a busy year for Africa.

But can you remember some of the quirkier headlines from 2014? Here are 10 things we’ve learnt in the last 12 months.


1) Jogging can be illegal in Burundi

Running is a national pastime in Burundi, with hundreds of people out jogging on weekend mornings. But in March the authorities banned jogging in groups – unless permission was sought from the authorities. It affects all group sports in the capital, which can now only be played in designated areas.

The restrictions followed the arrest of some opposition members who were out jogging and chanting political slangs. Police officers tried to stop what they regarded as an illegal march and the situation deteriorated into clashes. More than 40 Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) party members received sentences ranging from five years to life.

Burundi: Where jogging is a crime line.

2) Tanzanian police are banned from kissing

Two police officers in Tanzania who were photographed in a passionate embrace have been fired. The image was widely shared on social media. A regional commander said the pair had breached the police code of conduct by kissing in public and whilst in uniform. The officer who took the photograph and uploaded it online also lost his job.

Students at the University of Zimbabwe were also subjected to a kissing ban this year. However, after an uproar on campus, it was subsequently reversed.

Tanzanian officers fired for a kiss.

University of Zimbabwe condemned for kissing ban line

3) It can take just two months to get a Phd in Zimbabwe.

The University of Zimbabwe was also at the centre of a storm over a sociology PhD awarded to the country’s first lady Grace Mugabe.

Academics have called for an investigation after reports that it only took her two months to get the doctorate. They also expressed concern that her thesis has not been filed in the university library. There is a nod to her title in a new Harare road sign reading: “Dr Grace Mugabe Way”.

Call for Zimbabwe’s Grace Mugabe to return PhD.

The rise of Zimbabwe’s first lady  line.

4) West Africans are touchy about jollof rice.

When British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver published his own version of jollof rice – a dish popular in West Africa – there was outrage online.

He had suggested using coriander, parsley and a lemon wedge, which some people said should not be associated with it. Jollof rice is popularly made from blended tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and scotch bonnet. Twitter users came up with hashtags like #jollofgate.

Jamie’s jollof rice recipe rejected


5) Nigeria buys weapons in hard cash

In September, South Africa seized $9.3m (£5.7m) from two Nigerians and an Israeli who arrived at Johannesburg’s Lanseria airport in a private jet. The money was being carried in $100 bills in three suitcases and was to buy weapons for the Nigerian government, which later said it was having difficulty purchasing arms because of restrictions imposed by the US.

Ghana’s government also resorted to flying in cash, not for weapons but to pay $3m to footballers in Brazil after a row over the Black Stars’ World Cup appearance fee.

People magazine named Lupita Nyong’o as the world’s most beautiful person for 2014.

The Kenyan actress shot to fame in the film 12 Years a Slave, winning the Oscar for best supporting actress. She also made Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list, though the magazine came in for criticism online for seeming to lighten her skin in a photograph in January.

Mandela had a rabbit in his ear.

In January, South Africa’s government ordered sculptors to remove a bronze rabbit they had hidden in the ear of a nine-metre (30ft) bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, which was unveiled after the former president’s death.

 They reportedly inserted the rabbit as a trademark signature and to denote the haste with which they had to complete the statue. Rabbit in the Afrikaans language is “haas”, which also means haste. The rabbit was later removed.

Botswana’s president campaigns by bike

Botswana’s leader, a general and pilot in the army before he entered politics, likes to fly military aircraft himself when on official trips. But while campaigning for general elections in October, Ian Khama also insisted on using his own wheels.

A week before the polls, he was pictured meeting voters on a bicycle and turned up to address a rally on a quad bike.

Botswana’s ruling Democratic Party wins general elections.

9) Guinea-Bissau has a penchant for bobble hats

Elections were also held in Guinea-Bissau, the first since a coup in 2012. A run-off vote was won by Jose Mario Vaz, an ex-finance minister. His main rival was independent Nuno Gomes Nabiam, who was pictured whilst campaigning in a bobble hat.

He had the backing of former President Kumba Yala, who died shortly before the vote and was known for wearing a woollen hat.

Guinea-Bissau run-off to decide president.

Guinea-Bissau’s ex-President Kumba Yala dies line.

10) African men like facials

The male grooming and beauty industry is booming in South Africa. According to trends consultant Siphiwe Mpye, the growth is being driven by black African men because sustained economic growth on the continent has been giving them greater disposable income.

After a facial in men’s salon in Johannesburg, the BBC’s Milton Nkosi wrote: “I feel almost as if my skin is breathing. I feel new. I feel like a million dollars.”

Source: BBC of

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