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AFRICA NOW: 10 Things to Watch in 2017

•    Liberia — President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa, prepares to end her second and final term of office, with numerous contenders, including football star George Weah, vying for the position.

•    Black Hair Association Aligns With Chinese — In a $9 billion industry where Chinese and Koreans dominate black hair product revenue, Sam Ennon, founder of the Black-Owned Beauty Supply Association, has reportedly struck a business agreement with hair manufacturers in China to create the Enterprise of Black Hair Alliance, which could drastically change the way black people wear and distribute their own hair.

•    Angola — After nearly 40 years as president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos will step down. His daughter Isabel, who reportedly is Africa’s richest woman, heads Sonangol, the state-run oil company, and his son, Jose, is chairman of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Fundo Soberano de Angola.

•    Protests — Despite the numerous protests held throughout South Africa in 2016, including a fight against rising tuition costs, South African officials are calling for even more demonstrations, as several universities recently announced an eight percent increase in fees for 2017.

•    The Africa Cup — The Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament kicks off in mid-January in Gabon. Uganda, which hasn’t appeared in the tournament since losing to Ghana in the 1978 final, will make its long-awaited return after qualifying for this year’s competition.

•    Will They Let Zuma Fall? — Though South African President Jacob Zuma’s tenure as leader of the governing ANC party will run out in 2017, his term as the country’s president will not end until 2019, causing many officials to fear a political suicide within the country. The separate leadership may create two centers of power, leaving many to question: Will the ANC #LetZumaFall?

•    Fashion — With midi skirts all the rage this year, African designers are calling for hemlines just below the knees in skirts to elongate a woman’s figure and flatter the body.

•    Criminal Courts — A number of countries have notified the U.N. Secretary-General of their intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, with claims that the ICC unfairly targets African leaders in its application of international justice.

•    State of Emergency — Ethiopia’s six-month state of emergency, implemented in October in the wake of violent protests and demonstrations, is still in effect. However, more than 9,000 detainees have been released, with government officials mulling an early end for the edict, which restricted, among other things, social media, protests and guns.

•    African Union — The African Union’s search for a new CEO is scheduled to end in January, as three men and two women battle it out to replace the outgoing South African politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as chair of the AU Commission.

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Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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