Trade Routes

The Rise of a Somali Capital
By Parsalelo Kantai
Images courtesy of

“East Africa’s South Asians had long ago learned the value of organised ethnic capital. It was the secret to their success. Now they were being challenged from an unlikely quarter :the Somali community of Eastleigh.”

Parselelo Kantai looks at the rise of Somali diaspora capital, and argues that ethnic capital mobilised at both an individual and communal level (the notional claims to ethnic blindness notwithstanding) is still the most effective route to securing economic and political legitimacy.

Research material : Article brief & reading list

Read it online here.

Extra features: Little Mogadishu- Scott Williams investigates Somali business in Bellville in this exclusive online photo essay


The Story of A South African Firm
By Jean and John L. Comaroff

“King Leruo has underscored the necessity of relying on the technologies of traditional governance and of reaffirming Bafokeng heritage as the morafe moves into the global age of Afromodernity.”

In this edited extract from their forthcoming book, Ethnicity, Inc., Jean and John L. Comaroff, explore the epic story that is the rise, and rise and rise again of the business of the Royal Bafokeng Nation.

Research material : Article brief & reading list


Migration Business Is Good Business
By Jean-Christophe Servant
Translated by Dominique Malaquais

“For the many bankers making a mad dash for the continent, the future is paved with remittances and telecom partnerships.”

Jean-Christophe Servant argues that while Africa is being welcomed into the pool of global capitalism, one of its most precious resources – its citizenry in the diaspora – remains prey in the shark-infested waters of international remittance and western government complicity.

Research material : Article brief & reading list


Poverty Forces Zimbabweans To Remit By Risk and Resourcefulness
By Ishmael Tongai

Ishmael Tongai is one of thousands of Zimbabweans who has made use of a network of informal exchange that ensures that his extended family back home survives.

Research material : Article brief & reading list


The Guilt Tax Guidelines For Individual Taxpayers – 2008
by Karen Press

Research material : Article brief


Hauling Humans: a tricky business for trans-border truckers
By Sean Christie

Veteran long-distance driver, Aden, has been witness and participant in the business of smuggling people around Southern Africa. He lets Sean Christie in on some of the basics.

Research material : Reading list


Moving ‘White Man’s Deads’ Is no Second-Hand Business
By Olumide Abimbola

“Importing second hand clothes was banned in Nigeria because they are considered dirty clothes. The Ghanaian name for such clothing is obroni wewu –white man’s deads”

With no right to protection from the states between which they trade and move illegally, second-hand clothing traders in Benin and Nigeria appeal to powerful, but respected, dispute settlement committees to rule in their favour. Olumide Abimbola reports.

Research material : Article brief & reading list


Juba: “I will Make My Life Here”
By Billy Kahora Photographs by Pete Muller & Stein Ove Korneliussen

“Despite being a small, untidy space, Juba Airport remains a revolving door of international stars and continental politicians. Jimmy Carter, I am told, is always here; George Clooney passed through last week.”

The metronomes of ancient history, the legacy of war, the wavering prosperity of peace, impending independence and inter-ethnic tensions beat the rhythms of Juba – the new capital of Southern Sudan. Billy Kahora reports.

Research material : Article brief & reading list


Sankofa In Rhode Island
By Manu Herbstien

Manu Herbstein reflects on Brown University’s study of its roots in the Atlantic slave trade and suggests that one chapter remains to be written.

Research material : Article brief & reading list


Conte De Fer
By Abdourahman A. Waberi

Research material : Reading list


Empowering Africa
By Phillippe Rekacewicz

Can Africa meet its own energy needs? Philippe Rekacewicz maps the continent’s hydroelectric network, with planned and exisiting projects.

Research material : Reading list

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