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Photo illustration by Aaron Leaf

Returning Sani Abacha's $321 Million is a Good Start But Where's the Rest?

How much more wealth belonging to African people is hiding in the web of secretive international financial institutions

The secretive mountain nation of Switzerland, long known as a receptacle for Nazi gold and other ill-gotten loot, has agreed to return $321 million dollars from accounts related to former Nigerian military leader Sani Abacha.


The money was confiscated by a Swiss court in late 2014 in a procedure by Geneva's public prosecutor against Sani Abacha's son, Abba Abacha. The Swiss government states: "In accordance with policy on repayment of national assets taken illegally, Switzerland has agreed with Nigeria and the World Bank to return nearly US$321 for the benefit of the Nigerian people."

According to Agence France Press, Military ruler Abacha, in power from 1993 until his death in 1998, is suspected to have embezzled $2.2 billion from Nigeria's central bank in what the United States has called "brazen acts of kleptocracy".

So where's the rest of it? Not just from Abacha or other corrupt African leaders but also the foreigners, the tax cheats and other neo-imperialists who extract wealth from the continent and its people without offering anything in return. The people who've systematically underdeveloped and destroyed, looted and defiled the continent for centuries.

According to the UN Economic Commission on Africa, "over the last 50 years, Africa is estimated to have lost in excess of $1 trillion in illicit financial flows." This number, about $50 billion a year, is roughly equivalent to all of the official development assistance to the continent during the same timeframe. And it's actually a conservative estimate seeing as it doesn't take into account more secretive flows of money out of Africa like the "proceeds of bribery and trafficking of drugs, people and firearms."

What could 1 trillion dollars of stolen money do for people? It represents half a century of crumbling or non-existent infrastructure—roads, hospitals, schools, sewer and lights—that people have been doing their best to work around. Think of what the famous can-do spirit of ordinary Lagosians could have accomplished with 50 years of running water, trains and electricity.

With the recent trend of big financial leaks like with the Panama Papers and the more recent Paradise Papers the general public is getting a better idea of how the world's elite stash their money, both "legitimate" and "illegitimate." To most of us it feels like we're just scratching the surface but here's hoping it's a sign of things to come.

To the looters out there, we see you.

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Photo by Giles Clarke/UNOCHA via Getty Images

Cameroon Holds Vigil to Remember Children Killed in School Attack

Residents in Kumba paid their respects to the seven lives lost, and those injured during the attack over the weekend.

In the latest tragedy to come from Cameroon's historically violent clash between Anglo and Francophone citizens, seven children were murdered after attackers stormed a school with guns and machetes over the weekend.

In what has been deemed as the "darkest and saddest day," by Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba, armed attackers stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, targeting students aged 9 to 12. The tragic event saw dozens of children injured, some critically.

The attack has shocked the nation, with both local and international agencies condemning the horrible offense. On Monday, Cameroonian President Paul Biya denounced the "horrific murder" of the school children, and alluded to the "appropriate measures" being taken in order to bring justice to the families of the victims. Prime Minister Dion Ngute Joseph shared his condolences via a tweet saying, "I bow before the memory of these innocent kids."

The Cameroonian presidency and governing body have blamed Anglophone 'separatists' for the attack, though the group claims no part in the attack.

Human rights groups, however, have blamed both opposing parties, as the conflict has led to the death of over 3,000 deaths and resulted in more than 700,000 Cameroonians fleeing their homes and the country.

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Interview: Meet Velemseni, Eswatini’s Queen of Soul

Soul artist Velemseni's music reflects Eswatini culture and aesthetics. "The Kingdom of Eswatini is a magical and mysterious place, and my music aims to interpret and document that mystique, drawing from genres like Swazi gospel, soul, African soul, cinematic and traditional music," says the artist.