Inside: A happy Kuwaiti anti-capitalist song

what happened last week in Asia, Africa and the Americas


Hey, this is Sham, your very own news curator. I was on vacation last week. Tuscany, you were good to me! I'm back, and if you are new to this list, welcome aboard! You are officially one of the world's most globally-minded and curious readers.

In issue #335, I pay attention to a recent Namibian legislation that is good news for LGBTQ people, go into detail why Pakistan's internet shutdown enraged the country's tech industry and cite the latest World Bank report on the Amazon rainforest and why it makes more money if we'd just preserve it. Plus, Saudi Arabia's diplomacy worked extra-hours, meet the first openly gay writer from North Africa, a Nollywood-like story about one of the most wanted fugitives of the Rwandan genocide, a lovestory about eating kimchi, a Kuwaiti anti-capitalist song, and so much more.

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Namibia recognized foreign same-sex marriages between citizens

What happened
The Supreme Court of Namibia recognized same-sex marriages contracted abroad between citizens and foreign spouses.

Why this matters
This is a major win for Namibian citizens and their foreign spouses, who were at risk of deportation and lack of benefits due to their marriages not being recognized. The judgment is a significant step in recognizing the rights of individuals irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity in the region. Homosexuality remains illegal in Namibia under a rarely enforced colonial-era law from 1927.

Tell me more
The lawsuit was brought by two couples, one married in Germany and the other in South Africa, who faced issues when they tried to settle in Namibia due to the country's Immigration Control Act not recognizing them as spouses. In 2022, the High Court acknowledged that their rights had been violated, and this position was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. In this BBC News World Service interview, Karnie Sharp spoke to Arlana Shikongo, a journalist based in Windhoek to learn more about the ruling. Congratulations to Annette Seiler, Anita Seiler-Lilles, Johann Potgieter and Matsobane Daniel Digashu! (Africanews)

Yes, yay, but also, the ruling has sparked a disturbing backlash from religious leaders and politicians, who have stirred up anti-gay sentiments and claimed that the court is imposing "un-African" values on Namibians. The organizers of Drag Night Namibia, a celebration of queer and drag culture in the country, last week had to cancel their event due to concerns for the safety of LGBTQ+ people.

Zoom out: Earlier this month, Nepal’s Supreme Court similarly ordered its government to recognize a foreign same-sex spouse for immigration purposes.

Fun fact: Ricardo Amunjera, 31, and Marc Themba, 30, are believed to be Namibia's first married gay couple. This 7-minute film by the International HIV/Aids Alliance and Positive Vibes talks to the couple about activism, their religious beliefs and their experience of conducting a loving relationship in a country where being gay is against the law.

An interesting fact about Namibia, written by ChatGPT
"A 2016 Afrobarometer opinion poll found that 55% of Namibians would welcome, or would not be bothered by having, a homosexual neighbour. Namibia was one of only four countries in Africa polled with a majority in favour, the others being South Africa, Cape Verde and Mozambique." I fact-checked this. It was a copy and paste from Wikipedia. I also checked the link from the Wikipedia article. My god, what's going to happen to "content" in the future? Are we all going to become editors?


Pakistan shut down the internet for four days – the country's tech industry is mad

What happened
From May 9 to 12, for four days, Pakistan’s tech industry lost between US$3 million and US$4 million a day as internet services across the world’s fifth-most populous nation were shut down because of a political crisis.

Why this matters
Pakistan is an up-and-coming challenger to the global tech industry. People in Pakistan are mobile-first, and use digital solutions for financial services, mobility, food, commerce, and more. The country is the third-largest global supplier of freelance work, and IT services make up a large chunk of it. Plus, "as stated by STZA, Pakistan is the second-highest rated country in South Asia for the ease of doing business, and boasts a 70% increase in IT exports over the last three years."

Tell me more
On May 9, Pakistan’s former prime minister and very popular politician Imran Khan was arrested in Islamabad on charges of corruption. Many people protested this across the entire country, and the government imposed an "indefinite" internet shutdown in several regions. It got pretty violent. As of last week, 16 civilians face military trials in connection with the violence. On May 12, the Supreme Court ruled Khan’s arrest illegal, and he was set free. During that time, internet services in Pakistan had been shut down and restored, causing a massive shutdown.

What happened to the tech industry?
It was hit pretty hard. Careem, inDrive, Foodpanda, and Bykea were among the companies that took the worst hit from the internet suspension, reported independent news platform ProPakistani. The telecomms industry lost US$5.4 million in total. Pakistan-focused venture capital association VCAP even wrote a letter to the government, basically saying that "you can't just do this. So many jobs are at risk if you just shut down the internet." Freelance workers in the country also lost access to the outside world during the shutdown.

Are there any long-term effects?
Well, of course. The country has already been dealing with a huge economic crisis as forex reserves are dwindling. It is currently waiting on a US$1.1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan has dropped by 44% in the first months of the 2023 financial year. Wille Eerola, chairman of the Finland Pakistan Business Council, is basically like, "yeah, no wonder. The internet shutdown is only harming — or even destroying — the image of Pakistan as a country for international business and FDI."

Dig deeper: An internet shutdown doesn't just hurt 'the economy'. It also hurts people who have to work in tech in order to make a good living. Pakistan ranks 151 out of 153 in the Global Gender Gap Index (2020), and women get pushed out of white-collar jobs for the smallest of reasons – including figuring out transport to and from office. The pandemic was an opportunity for many female workers to get into tech and participate in the workforce. VICE Asia in 2020 talked to female tech students and entrepreneurs about their "new" line of work.
The Americas

'If you preserve the Amazon, it is worth at least US$317 billion per year' – World Bank

What happened
The Amazon is worth at least US$317 billion per year, the World Bank said in a new report, arguing that preserving it offered far more economic value than exploiting it. 

Why this matters
About one-third of all the deforestation in tropical areas around the world happens in Brazil. This is mostly due to activities like cattle farming, growing soy crops, logging and mining. Most of the tree cutting in a region in Brazil called the Legal Amazon is not allowed by law.

Tell me more
The World Bank analyzed data from the Legal Amazon, an administrative region that spans the nine Brazilian states located within the Amazon Basin which sprawls over 5 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles) — an area larger (!) than the European Union. This region is among the poorest in the country. About one-third of the 28 million people living there, including 380,000 Indigenous people, are poor. The report says that living conditions "remain precarious" especially for Indigenous people, Afro-Brazilians, people with mixed heritage, and families led by women.

What does the World Bank suggest?
Despite pledges from Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to do better, deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest rose in February to the highest level on record for the month. Basically, 'Brazil should change its approach to development,' senior economist and the report’s lead author Marek Hanusch told Mongabay by phone. Instead of focusing on using natural resources for quick profit, the World Bank says that Brazil should aim for long-term growth that doesn't harm the environment. They could do this by focusing more on productivity, creating sustainable plans for development, and managing their forests better. This could help reduce poverty and improve the economy, while also protecting the environment.

What's next?
To be determined. Brazil's Congress (who gained many right-wing lawmakers in last year's election) wants to weaken the powers of the environment and Indigenous peoples ministries. Activists are outraged. Last Thursday, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (who wants to do the opposite of what Congress wants) on Thursday summoned his environmental and indigenous affairs ministers for emergency talks. Outcome: unclear.

Separately, the lower house has also planned a vote on another law that might take away Indigenous peoples' claims to land they were not living on in 1988 when Brazil's constitution was made. Indigenous activist Sônia Guajajara called this plan a "genocidal" attack on Indigenous rights and the environment.

Interesting fact about the Amazon, suggested by ChatGPT
"World's Most Dangerous Animal - a Frog? Meet the tiny, adorable, and deadly Poison Dart Frog. Indigenous tribes used its venom for blowgun darts. Remember, looks can be deceiving!" I fact-checked this (it's true) and also found out that they are dedicated parents. Both mother and father take turns guarding their eggs, and once hatched, carry their tadpoles on their backs to nearby bodies of water. This 3-min BBC Earth documentary will make you want to pet them; please, never do.

what else happened

Turkey: The Turkish lira sank to a record low as incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured his victory in the 2023 presidential election, extending his rule into its third decade in power. (CNBC) Plus, at least three people were injured in the city of Afrin, northwest Syria, after gunfire celebrating Erdogan's victory. (NPASyria)
Uruguay: It hasn't been raining much in the capital Montevideo. The water deficit is the worst in 74 years, according to officials. It is affecting supply to thousands of households and leading to poor water quality. (yahoo! news)
Nepal: The latest climbing season on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is set to become one of the deadliest ever. (The Straits Times) Plus: The Nepal police reportedly registered 4,646 cases of cybercrime in the last financial year. Over 1,000 of these cases — which include hate speech on social media, defamation, banking fraud, and identity theft — were related to the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. (Kathmandu Post)
Sudan: Fighting continues. It's been six weeks now. Since 15 April, at least 1,800 people have been killed, with more than a million others displaced within Sudan and nearly 350,000 fleeing to other countries. (The Guardian)
Sierra Leone: The historic Cotton Tree, a large Ceiba pentandra, was felled during a rainstorm in Freetown, Sierra Leone. President Julius Maada Bio called the destruction of the iconic tree a "great loss to the nation". (Reuters)
Uganda: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, introducing the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" and 20 years in prison for the "promotion of homosexuality". (Reuters)
Argentina: Argentina’s new 2,000-peso bill, the country’s largest-denomination note, went into circulation last week, though due to fast depreciation of the currency it is worth only $8.50 at the official exchange rate. (The Guardian)
Nicaragua / Mexico: More than 8,000 Nicaraguan nationals have been deported from Mexico since 2020, with more than 17,000 Nicaraguan people deported from the country in the past decade. (Confidencial via Central American News newsletter)
We'll see
Syria / Saudi Arabia: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for an Arab League summit, bringing 12 years of isolation to an end. (Reuters)
Canada / Saudi Arabia: Canada and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and to appoint new ambassadors for the first time since a breakdown in relations in 2018 over the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. (Reuters)
Mexico: Millions of people in Mexico have been warned to prepare for a possible evacuation after increased activity from the country’s most dangerous active volcano, the Popocatépetl volcano. (CNN)
Nigeria: Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, were inaugurated as president and vice president yesterday. (Premium Times Nigeria) Tinubu is Nigeria’s seventh democratically elected president.
Somalia: Somalia announced that beginning next year, the country will change to a presidential system and elect officials by direct vote, ending more than three decades of indirect voting where lawmakers elected the country's leaders with the approval of clan and elderly leaders. (Reuters)
Mali: Germany's Bundestag voted 375–263, with one abstention, to approve the Bundeswehr's deployment in Mali as part of the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping mission until May 31, 2024. (DW)
France / Ukraine: The French Senate voted to recognize the 1932 Holodomor famine as a "genocide" of Ukrainians. (Al Jazeera)
Thailand: A court in Thailand sentenced the former mayor of Wang Wiset district to death for the murder of an activist in May 2021. The hitman received a sentence of life imprisonment. (The Thaiger)
Morocco: Abdellah Taïa, from Morocco, is the first writer from North Africa to openly declare that he is gay. His work reimagines being Muslim, queer and African. (The Conversation)
United Kingdom: Ivory imports from hippopotamuses, orcas and walruses will be banned under new legislation to protect the endangered species from poaching. (The Guardian)
Rwanda: Fulgence Kayishema, one of the world’s most wanted fugitives of the Rwandan genocide, was finally arrested in South Africa. (The New York Times)


Watch... "David Goldblatt in "Johannesburg" (15 min) by Ian Forster, Art21 for Aeon. David Goldblatt is a renowned photographer from South Africa. He spent almost sixty years capturing the effects of apartheid in South Africa through his lens. Born into a white Jewish family in Johannesburg, he provided both an intimate and external viewpoint of his nation, which was controlled by a white Christian Afrikaner ruling class. Before apartheid ended in 1994, Goldblatt's non-commercial projects were exclusively shot in black and white. He found color to be 'too sweet' of a medium to convey the anger, disgust, and fear that characterized the era. During the last months of his life (he died in 2018), Goldblatt was featured in this short film by the non-profit organization Art21. It portrayed him as being staunchly against censorship and dedicated to providing an objective and observant look at his country's ever-evolving landscape.

Listen to... Podcast episode: "Vauhini Vara: The Immortal King Rao" (around 2 hours) by David Naimon from Behind The Covers podcast. This novel has been recommended to me around seven times, I believe. It was this podcast episode that ultimately convinced me to pick up "The Immortal King Rao", which was a Pulitzer finalist this year. According to the reviews, this is a book about capitalism and the patriarchy, about Dalit India and digital America, about power and family and love. I'm 20 percent in, and so far, I'm really enjoying it. 

Read... Article: "The Search For My Kimchi" by Alvin Chang for The Pudding. A story about Korean identity, food and kimchi recipes in the US. Beautifully told: "It's Saturday morning. You're a 9-year-old living in Kansas with your Korean-American family. You're dreaming about Pokemon and basketball. That's when you hear several gallons of water being poured out into the kitchen sink. It's Grandma. You can only speak broken Korean, so communication with her is limited. But you know exactly what these sounds mean. Today is kimchi day – one of the few days a year Grandma makes fresh kimchi." It's beautifully illustrated, too.

video of the week

"Belmaggani" by Humood AlKhudher is everybody's favorite song in the Arab world right now. He's a Kuwaiti singer, born on the same day as my mom, and in the same year as me. Say whut? AlKhudher began his musical career in 1999 as a backing vocalist for his uncle, who would regularly perform at local events. And this song? This song is a happy-go-lucky anti-capitalist tune; just check the English translation of its lyrics. Of course, I added the song to this newsletter's Spotify playlist, 'Go Global Weekly'.

on a funny note

Have you ever lost your phone?

Rajesh Vishwas sure has.

A government official in central India has been suspended after he ordered a reservoir to be drained to retrieve his dropped phone. (The Guardian)

(Yes, this was actually a sad note.)
That's it from me. My mom really loved the flowers. Thank you for asking.

For the maps, say thanks to Wikimedia Commons.

Map 1: 
John Doe / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Map 2: John Doe / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Map 3: John Doe / CC-BY-SA-4.0
Hey, I'm Sham, the person behind this newsletter. Since 2014, I email a bunch of strangers once a week, curating news headlines from Asia, Africa and Latin America. I work under the assumption that, here in the West (I live in Berlin, Germany), we don't read or know much about the global majority, aka the rest of the world. 

My goal is to help you burst your Western-centric bubble.

If you want to know more about me, visit my
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