Blake Lambert

Blake Lambert, a WPR contributing editor, has reported from East and West Africa for the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In Uganda, his work for the Economist and other outlets resulted in his expulsion in March 2006. He is currently studying international development at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Articles written by Blake Lambert

Getting to a Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

With food, water, electricity and public services all scarce, Zimbabwe confirms Hobbes' belief in the harshness of existence. President Robert Mugabe, the country's sole leader since independence in 1980, deserves much of the blame. He has clung to power no matter what the national cost. Still, it is unclear how to remove Mugabe from the picture so that Zimbabwe might begin its reconstruction.

Canada's Third-World Politics

TORONTO -- Canada arguably exists as a luxury parking garage for human souls. It offers the comforts of freedom and prosperity to many of its citizens without excessive complications. There is never war, only inconsistent political crises erupting out of a federal state spread across six time zones. It is no surprise that Canada's constitutional mantra calls for "peace, order and good government." Unfortunately, national politics this century renders that mantra as myth. In reality, the country is now one of the least stable members of the G-8. more

Journalist Abductions: Major Media's Selective Silence

TORONTO -- Major media organizations operate as devout, if secular, institutions. Think of churches, mosques and temples, stripped of their religious content. What remains is the faith, however, both in the mission of journalism and the audience's ability to appreciate it. This belief system is often accompanied by heavy doses of public sanctimony. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the approach of these organizations when confronted with the abduction of their own correspondents.

Danger in Embracing Another of Africa's Visionary Leaders

The West and its development industry have serially backed a series of African leaders as exemplars for the continent, only to see them come to resemble the autocrats they previously opposed. Yet neither the diplomats nor the donors can refrain from anointing new visionaries. The current favorite is Rwandan President Paul Kagame, admired for his prudent political and economic management after the 1994 genocide. Count Stephen Kinzer, the author and former New York Times correspondent, among Kagame's believers. more

On Independence Anniversary, Eritrean Exiles Lament Repression at Home

Celebration of Eritrean independence is a contradictory exercise. One of Africa's newest countries, the anniversary is a reminder of its prolonged struggle for statehood. But the struggle did not end with independence 17 years ago. Most Eritrean exiles blame President Issaias Afeworki, the sole post-colonial leader, for their country's current problems. Once viewed as a liberator for leading his forces to victory over Ethiopia, he now presides over a single-party state, which outlaws even the mildest dissent. more

Uganda's Fate Hinges on the Enigmatic Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army

Northern Ugandans are hoping the rebel Lord's Resistance Army will soon sign a peace agreement with President Yoweri Museveni's government. Their hope is understandable. The LRA's 21-year insurgency and the Ugandan government's response have largely destroyed the region north of the Nile and south of Sudan. But resolving the conflict largely hinges on the enigmatic chairman of the LRA, Joseph Kony. A fine new book helps to demystify Kony, the LRA and the conflict which may or may not end soon.

Zimbabwe Restricts Foreign Coverage of Elections with Outrageous Fees

Common sense suggests that when a house is burning down, the owners do not charge the firefighters an exorbitant fee to enter. Yet that scenario more or less captures the reprehensible attitude of the Zimbabwe government toward the media in advance of today's (March 29) presidential and legislative elections. The Information Ministry has charged reporters at least $1,700 to cover the polls, according to the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa. more

Western Movies Depict Africa as Monolithic Land of Difference and Violence

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- The portrayals of Africa in a spate of recent popular Western movies perpetuate damaging myths about the continent. The flaws in representation are twofold, though connected. The first relates to authenticity. In movies set in Africa, there is often a sharp disconnect between what is portrayed on the screen and reality. The second involves the persistent stereotype of sub-Saharan Africa as a continent of exoticism and primal violence -- a world utterly unlike the West. more

Angolans See Little Benefit from Oil Wealth, OPEC Membership

More than a year ago, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) officially welcomed its newest and 12th member, Angola. The move was undoubtedly prompted by the size of the country's oil reserves, the fourth-largest in Africa. But despite the sizable oil wealth that the country has already generated, and the promise of more to come in the wake of OPEC accession, experts on the country say government corruption and mismanagement means most Angolans are not benefiting.

Observing Her Country From Abroad, Sudanese Student Seeks Comprehensive Peace

The collapse of Sudan's national unity government caught Sara Anihiri, 24, completely off guard. Whenthe Halifax, Nova Scotia, resident and graduatestudent learned of the departure from the Sudanese government ofcabinet members from the ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement,she, like others in the Sudanese diaspora, feared the worst. "Are people going to go again to war?" For Anihiri, the conflict is personal: She was born to a mother from the south and a father from the north. more

Oil Money Remains a Poisonous Influence in International Politics

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Lust for oil can overpower a country's democratic ideals and common sense, and the United States is not immune. Consider Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's rhetorical embrace of Equatorial Guinea's president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, in April 2006. Two years earlier, a Senate panel had disclosed how Rice's "good friend" and his family held multimillion dollar accounts, gleaned from government revenue, in Riggs Bank. A new book examines the corrupting influence of oil money.

Power Shortage Plagues Ghana's Small Businesses

ACCRA, Ghana -- Henry Kobby, 22, opened his family's store here, which sells drinks and food, 18 months ago. But what seemed like a viable business idea in early 2006 is now undermined by power shortages that occur at least 24 hours of every three days. When the power goes, so does the refrigerator Kobby needs to keep the drinks cold and the microwave he uses to warm up the pies and pastries. The power shortages are a problem in many sub-Saharan African states that depend on hydroelectric power.

Assassination Attempt on Rebel Leader Raises Tension in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- As he watched children and teenagers play soccer in the courtyard of apartment buildings with faded facades, Moussa Damiba recalled better days here. Lots of white people lived in these buildings before the crisis, the 32-year-old said. "The crisis" is the catch-all term used to describe the years of instability, defined by a coup d'etat, a country-dividing civil war and political violence. But Damiba worries about the future too after last month's attempted assassination of rebel leader Guillaume Soro. more

Ivory Coast Anticipates Elections in Fragile State of Peace

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Not long ago, the thought of President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel New Forces leader Guillaume Soro serving in the same government seemed absurd. In 2002, Soro's rebels attempted to overthrow Gbagbo's regime. A civil war then erupted in what was once West Africa's most stable and prosperous country. The inconclusive war resulted in a partition of the country. Yet today Gbagbo and Soro, the interim prime minister since April, are partners in government and peace as they try to reunite their divided country. more

Ghana Looks to Capitalize on Oil Discovery, Avoid Petro-Curse

ACCRA, Ghana -- When London-based Tullow Oil announced last month that it had discovered oil off this country's west coast, a few Ghanaians thanked God for the blessing. President John Kufuor reveled in the prospect that Ghana's precious new resource would fuel faster growth and create more jobs. Even government critics considered the find of up to 600 million barrels to be a positive development. Despite their enthusiasm, however, Ghanaians understand how oil can curse an African country. more

Bono and Friends are Wrong on African Development Aid

TORONTO -- Credit the apostle of development aid, Bono, for his unbending consistency. In Heiligendamm, Germany, last week, he accused the G-8 countries of obfuscation and creative accounting in their $60 billion pledge to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. While the disconnect between the G-8's words and deeds is wrong and worthy of condemnation, so too is the U2 frontman's failure to publicly demand accountability from the sub-Saharan African governments whom he yearns to help.

Journalist's Murder Highlights Obstacles to Press Freedom in Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso -- The murderers of Norbert Zongo, editor of the weekly L'Indépendant, demonstrated particular cruelty in December 1998 when they shot up his body, and those of three companions, and then burned it. But they failed to eliminate memories of his journalism and the effect it had on people here. "We consider Mr. Norbert Zongo as our defender because he used to depict the government's wrongs," said Mandé Ousséni, an English teacher who was a student in 1998. more