Richard Dowden

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Friday, 1 February 2013
Written by By Richard Dowden
  Since the last disastrous election a new constitution has come into force which has divided Kenya into 47 new counties. Each will have its own governor and parliament which will decide how its budget is spent. But devolution goes even further than that. The County Governments Act stresses democratic participation at every stage of decision making: mass communication and consultation on development plans, civic education programmes, debates at every level from the village to the country... more
Monday, 21 January 2013
Written by Richard Dowden
  From being a blank spot on the map, the Sahara now looks like a springboard for the advance of militant Islam. Until recently Mali was famous only for its music and for Timbuktu — our nickname for nowhere. Suddenly the French are invading this huge, poor, sparsely populated, landlocked African country, much of which is empty desert. Britain is helping them (if we can get our aircraft to fly). Just a couple of years ago Mali was held up by Western aid donors as a success.... more
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Written by - By Richard Dowden
The debate about the “image of Africa” seems to be reaching a consensus. The starving African child represents a reality that is rare and local. We must clear our minds of that image as representative of Africa, all of it, always. The growth figures show that Africa is apparently doing well economically and many of the conflicts, which were always local, often quite small but created terrible suffering, have come to an end. Medication for AIDS and other diseases has become more... more
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Written by Richard Dowden
  Congo: UK And US Must Play More Consistent Hand To End World’s Worst War     [Al Jazeera coverage of the M23 movement's advance on Goma in Eastern Congo]  Africa is covered in epithets, like graffiti. It has been labelled dark, lost, hopeless. But generalisations about Africa are dangerous. The only certainty is its size: it could contain the United States, China and India and still have room to spare. Recently it has been dubbed rising,... more
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Written by Richard Dowden
  The story that has practically broken the BBC this week was the result of an appalling breach of the first journalistic rule – get the facts right. The journalist, Angus Stickler, broke this basic rule when he failed to show the man who accused Lord McAlpine of child abuse, a picture of him. He should have shown him a selection of pictures and asked him to identify his abuser. Rule number one broken. But this career-ending failure came about in the context of a gradually loosening... more