I've been thinking that what P&P needs is a new kind of thread concept, so here it is. Every so often there's an African thread that dies the death because it just deals with this or that story, and with the exception of South Africa and Zimbabwe, most people don't really follow the continent enough to comment much. So this thread is intended as a repository for stories of all sorts related to West and Central Africa - a very heterogeneous chunk of the earth's surface, but one where common patterns can be identified underneath all the diversity. For example, for several years now, a lot of people have been talking up the idea of an "African middle class", as evidence that the free market works and that everything's going to be alright in Africa. To which the rest of say, no, it's just evidence that things are going to be alright for some. There are people who are middle class in the western sense (in Sierra Leone and Ghana they go back to the nineteenth century) and their numbers are growing, but as always context is everything. Look at these two stories from Nigeria for example: Nigeria: Africa Gets Ready for its First Luxury E-Commerce Platform Inflation: Worry as Nigeria begins 2017 with higher misery index - Tribune The first deals with luxury brands, the other with reality of people (workers, street traders, and even the famous 'middle class') struggling on low wages and incomes that are meagre to begin with, and then get hit by inflation. And behind all this is social change that means increasing urbanization, new problems in rural areas (the great land-grab hasn't gone away), and environmental issues that mean that the Ebola crisis won't be the last epidemic of its kind to hit the region. What I'm picturing is that we can talk about this one, and when the talk gets exhausted, we can throw in other stories from the region that might be anything like the two links I've posted here, but which would still fit with the theme of social change in West and Central Africa. There may not be many Africanists on board here, but there are a lot of people who have read widely around the history of social change in Europe, North America and elsewhere - and that means that there might be more to talk about in this case than we might at first sight suppose.