Africa Weekly 7/2/2020: political turmoil in Malawi and Seychelles’ tourism problem | AFP

This week on Africa Weekly, we head to the perilous border zone between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where the French army is fighting alongside the G5 Sahel forces in an attempt to eliminate the threat posed by jihadists. From there, we take a contrasting look at the beaches of the Seychelles islands, a byword for luxury holidays. But there’s trouble in paradise, as the ever increasing tourist numbers start to pose a threat to the islands’ fragile ecosystem. We also take a look at the main headlines from across the continent this week.

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Thespians battle prejudice and poverty in wartime Mali | AFP

A group of young Malians in Bamako perform in a theatre troupe, braving the prejudices associated with the discipline. Despite the setbacks, young thespians Aly, Awa and their acolytes have written and performed a play on the dangerous trip that thousands of young Africans take in the hope of migrating to Europe. The play, performed in a former open-air nightclub, was programmed in December as part of the “Les Praticables” festival, one of the only theatre events in Mali.

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A round up of news and features | AFP

This week on Africa Weekly we head to Mali where railway employees are working to preserve Bamako’s now defunct colonial era station which serviced the country for almost one hundred years. Then we head to Uganda where a beauty pageant is being used to restore confidence in people who have been diagnosed with HIV .

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Emmanuel Macron pays tribute to soldiers killed in Mali | AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron lays a wreath with his G5 Sahel counterparts at the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment base in Pau, the home of seven of the 13 French soldiers killed in operations in Mali last December. IMAGES

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Protest against French military presence in Mali | AFP

Protesters burn a French flag at a rally held against the presence of the French military in Mali. The protest comes ahead of a summit in France for heads-of-state concerning deteriorating security in Sahel. IMAGES

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A round up of news and features | AFP

This week on Africa Weekly, an South African NGO is using geolocalising technology to navigate the waterways of a floating slum in Lagos,creating a map they hope will improve the lives of those living here. Then we head to northern Mali, where French forces are working to neutralise the threat of IEDs: improvised explosive devices.

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In Sahel, French troops hunt hidden menace of jihadist landmines | AFP

Thirteen out of the forty-one French soldiers who have died in Mali since 2013 were killed by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. These hidden homemade bombs – simple to make, and highly effective – also pose a major risk to civilians. In Gao, northern Mali, French forces have a specialised laboratory dedicated to analysing and neutralising this threat. N°1MY57KN°1N629A

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Mali: railworkers’ nostalgia for the Dakar-Bamako express | AFP

The last Dakar-Bamako train ran on 17 May 2018, but the colonial-era station in the Malian capital remains. For almost a hundred years, the service had connected Mali to neighbouring Senegal. Railworkers attempt to preserve the station and its memories.

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French soldiers honour comrades killed in Mali helicopter crash | AFP

Soldiers at the Pau-Uzein Air Force Base paid a final tribute to their seven brothers-in-arms from the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment (RHC)killed last week. The soldiers died when two helicopters collided last Monday while pursuing jihadists in northern Mali where militant violence has soared in recent months. IMAGES

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Black box flight recorders | AFP Animé

Videographic on black box voice and data recorders. The black boxes from two French military helicopters that collided in Mali killing 13 soldiers have been found, a French military spokesman said Wednesday.VIDEOGRAPHIC

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Pau mayor Francois Bayrou leads tributes to 13 French soldiers killed in Mali | AFP

Francois Bayrou, a former French minister and current mayor of Pau, leads the tributes during a gathering to honour the 13 soldiers who were killed in a helicopter accident whil on a military operation in Mali. Seven of the 13 killed in the accident were stationed in Pau. IMAGES

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French military action in Mali “essential”: French PM Philippe | AFP

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says France’s military action in Mali is “essential”, even if it is “not the sole dimension” of the fight against jihadists. The Prime Minister answers a question in the National Assembly after the death of 13 French soldiers in a two-helicopter crash. IMAGES

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French National Assembly pays tribute to 13 soldiers killed in Mali helicopter collision | AFP

The head of France’s National Assembly Richard Ferrand has paid tribute to the thirteen French soldiers killed in Mali. His comments were followed by a minute of silence. IMAGES

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French Defence Minister pays tribute to soldiers killed in Mali helicopter collision | AFP

French Defence Minister Florence Parly pays tribute to the 13 soldiers killed in Mali in a helicopter crash. The collision between two helicopters during an operation against insurgents in the country’s restive north is the French military’s heaviest single loss in nearly four decades. SOUNDBITE

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Brothers in arms: African and French armies join forces in fight against jihadism in the Sahel | AFP

In the border zone between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, French and Burkinabe soldiers march in step. Named Bourgou IV, their mission was the first official joint ground operation between the French army and the so-called G5 Sahel force, which pools troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Their goal: assert control over an area where no troops had set foot for over a year. It is in this “three borders” area that 13 French soldiers lost their lives in a helicopter accident on Monday.

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In Mali, dreams and sadness for the Sahel express | AFP

Not a single train has travelled on the line connecting the capitals of Mali and Senegal since May 17, 2018, when the company collapsed. Knee-high weeds grow on the track at Bamako station. But even today, many of the railway’s workers — unpaid but still technically employed — still show up at the station, a colonial-era bijou in ochre stone, complete with clock and signs for the ticket office.

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Despair, jihadism and revolt: Mali’s torn heart | AFP

Since 2012, Mali has slowly slid into chaos as Islamic terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda have gained ground. Over the years, the violence has swept from the country’s north. With many young people, mostly Fulani herders, now also struggling with unemployment, they are turning to the jihadist groups and joining their ranks in a bid to escape poverty.

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Mali’s last passionate Vespa rider | AFP

In Bamako, Seydou Seck is one of the last people who proudly continue to ride the streets of the Malian capital in a Vespa. According to this enthusiast, there are fewer than one hundred still on the road in Bamako.

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Tanker truck explosion in Mali leaves at least seven dead | AFP

At least seven people died and nearly 50 people were injured in the explosion of a tanker truck following an accident in the Malian Capital Bamako, according the the Malian government.

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Protests continue in Timbuktu over state of Mali’s road network | AFP

In Timbuktu, northern Mali, hundreds of young people continue to block access to the airport as they call for roads to be built and security to be improved. Only one road has been built since Mali’s independence in 1960 and the asphalt has virtually disappeared.

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