Sudan has this week experienced yet another military coup, with generals seizing power, locking up elected officials and declaring a state of emergency. They insist this was all done in order to help the country move towards democracy; they have promised elections, though not until 2023. It is only two years since a popular uprising overthrew Sudan’s long-term autocratic leader, Omar Al-Bashir, and some hoped this would finally usher in an era of democratic rule. But as Andrew Harding explains, these hopes now seem remote.
A long way southwards from Sudan, on the continent's Atlantic tip, there is a country where in some ways, democracy is thriving. South Africa has lively political debate, a diverse media scene, and elections which are broadly seen as free and fair. The country is about to hold another round of local council elections next week, and this was precisely what many people fought, and indeed died for in South Africa. Under the previous, apartheid system, only white people could vote for the country’s councils and parliament, while the majority had no say. Among those who campaigned against apartheid was the British writer, Gregory Mthembu- Salter, who is now living in South Africa, and married to a wife from Kwazulu-Natal , who also played a role in that struggle. So it came as quite a shock to Greg and his wife, when they found that the idea of voting just wasn’t very important…for their own son.
As Britain gets stuck into autumn, there is a new chill in the air. Meanwhile, on the Spanish island of Ibiza right now, temperatures are in the twenties - a little cloudy at times, but with plenty of sunshine along the way. Good weather is one of the many things which have long attracted tourists to Ibiza, its popularity going stratospheric from the late 1980s onwards. Of course, Ibiza, like other tourist destinations, has been badly hit by Covid and the consequent curbs on travel, with hotels sat empty and restaurants deserted. People are now returning to the island for holidays, but as Kate Spicer found, lockdown has exposed what were always huge social-divisions – divisions which have left some people impoverished.
Covid has hit every aspect of people’s lives: in Paraguay, and some other Latin American countries, there is a long tradition of passing round a special communal cup of the local tea, called “mate,” which is usually drunk from through a shared straw. However, in these days of infection aversity, most tend to drink mate from their own cup. That said, it remains hugely popular, and mate also continues to be an important crop for many farmers. In Paraguay though, mate growers increasingly find themselves competing for land with large-scale agricultural companies. These see more profit to be made from growing soy, which they can then sell as animal feed. William Costa has been to meet some of the mate farmers feeling the pressure.
The newly-cold weather mentioned above will have seen many people digging out jumpers from the back of drawers, and perhaps pulling coats from hangers which have not moved for the last few months. This is a regular, annual, albeit rather banal aspect of the seasons changing. Not so in Italy, where the swapping round of one’s wardrobe has all the qualities of a ritual: out with spring and summer clothes, in with those for autumn and winter, and with plenty of traditional practices to mark the occasion. Dany Mitzman has lived in Italy for more than two decades, so you might think she’d be used to these customs. Yet once again this year, she has been left scratching her head at the sight of so much ceremony for the simple matter of switching thongs for thermals.