16 Global Design Concepts for an Unpredictable Future

Julie LaskyLila Allen and

The challenges of the past year gave designers every reason to recede into the shadows, but creativity won’t be denied.

If anything, they are finding inspiration in global upheaval. From hundreds of possibilities, here are just a few examples we selected of projects begun or realized despite closed borders, disrupted supply chains and economic collapse.

Designers are recycling the rubble from Mexico City’s streets, for example, creating play spaces so Beirut’s children can find comfort in a city ripped apart by an explosion and proposing textiles as a building material to replace environmentally cruel concrete. More than just surmounting challenges, many are looking ahead to a greener, healthier and more equitable world.

Dadaï, a Thai, Vietnamese and dim sum restaurant that opened in August in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, takes its inspiration from the avant-garde Dada art movement — or at least a 21st-century Japanese interpretation of it.

A chevron, or zigzag, pattern covers the walls, floor and ceiling. Arched bays are filled with classical-style nude statues that look as if they’ve been ensnared in webs of washi tape. And at the center of the dining room, angled vertiginously over the bar, is a giant photographic portrait of a woman interrupted by collaged smears of color.

Located in the new, fashion-centric Miyashita Park retail development, the restaurant’s design, by Yasumichi Morita of the aptly named Tokyo studio Glamorous, makes no obvious concessions to a post-pandemic world. (Japan’s self-described “state of emergency” ended on March 21.)

glamorous.co.jp

Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona designs a self-sufficient structure aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. But the class of 2019-2020 chose to take on another global crisis by imagining an architectural response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had two crises at the same time,” said Vicente Guallart, a director of the master’s program in advanced ecological buildings and biocities. “And the question was what we can learn about that.”

Over five months and under strict quarantine conditions, Mr. Guallart and his co-director Daniel Ibáñez led the group of 17 students in constructing an ecological wood cabin, known as the Voxel, a structure designed with everything one might need to quarantine for 14 days. The design was executed with just 40 pine trees, all harvested less than a mile from the construction site in Barcelona’s Collserola Natural Park. It also includes solar panels, independent battery storage and a rainwater collection and gray-water recycling system.

The roughly 130-square-foot cabin, which rises almost 14 feet, now stands nearly camouflaged among the same pines used to construct it. valldaura.net

17th-century home near Montpellier in southern France with a newly frescoed ceiling in his 250-square-foot bedroom.

The fresco’s single-named artist, Rochegaussen, had worked with Mr. Yovanovitch previously on a restaurant interior in London (he painted cutlery and cookware on a field of cobalt over the chef’s table). Given carte blanche for the bedroom, Rochegaussen arranged woodland animals in his signature energetic line — a motif Mr. Yovanovitch described as “a joyful Mediterranean dance.” The creatures were inspired by fauna from a Provençal forest and include boar, snakes and owls. The designer said that a refreshed environment helped him stay inspired, especially in a period of isolation. And, he added, “there’s something so special about looking up from bed and seeing a painting.” pierreyovanovitch.com, rochegaussen.com

branch institution in Tianjin welcomed its inaugural class of graduate students to a campus designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Located about an hour outside of Beijing, the new 350,000-square-foot complex began construction in 2017 and features performance halls, rehearsal rooms and teaching studios, connected by a ground-level lobby that is open to the public. Expansive windows offer visitors a view into the educational and creative processes.

In China, “there’s still a sense of fascination and curiosity with Western music,” said Charles Renfro, the partner in charge of the project, noting that the building was designed to be a teaching aid for both students and the community.

As the building neared completion in early 2020, Mr. Renfro said he spent many evenings viewing video walk-throughs, trusting that the firm’s partners in China were meeting the precise specifications.

tianjinjuilliard.edu.cn


HMC Architects, and his colleagues recently completed a speculative design for a mixed-used project on the Lekki peninsula near Lagos, Nigeria. This relatively sparsely populated area in a region of more than 21 million people is being readied to accommodate millions more in the coming years.

Approached by an environmentally minded local developer who is seeking to acquire 400 acres on the peninsula, the architects envisioned a “forest city” with abundant greenery cleansing the air and a narrow street grid that allows breezes to slip past and passively cool buildings. Rain in the monsoon season would fill basins in parks and gardens. Shaded houses would have communal courtyards and reclaim the climate-responsive earthen materials and decorative patterns of precolonial people like the Yoruba.

hmcarchitects.com

an estimated 6,000 buildings, including more than 150 schools. This left Etienne Bastormagi, Sandra Richani and Nada Borgi, local architects and urban planners, wondering how they could help their city as children prepare to return to class.

Their Let’s Play initiative, will rebuild playgrounds at six schools affected by the explosion, with help from other architects and volunteers. Construction on the first, at École Secondaire des Filles de la Charité school in the Achrafieh district, just began.

The public-private initiative also reconsiders what a playground can be, incorporating materials, large-scale objects and landscapes that can be experienced or manipulated in more than one way. Rather than jungle gyms, swing sets or slides, the spaces will have colorful platforms, canopies and pathways that encourage directionless play. Such ambiguities are meant to promote experimentation and social interaction outside of the classroom.

The team also hopes that these new ways to play will help children confront the traumas of 2020, blast and coronavirus pandemic alike, by allowing them to feel safe again in their city. “The therapy effect is not just for the kids,” Mr. Bastormagi added. “I think it starts with us.” instagram.com/lets_play_initiative

Safdie Architects, the hospital opened in January with its more than half a million square feet (and more to come) oriented toward courtyards, gardens and a bucolic lake.

According to Sean Scensor, the project’s lead architect, greenery even determines how visitors move through the building: The main pedestrian corridor parallels a bamboo garden, and five wings stretch perpendicularly from this spine to carve out lush courtyards that open onto a lake. A “healing garden” accessible from the oncology department offers sanctuary in a grove of Indian lilac, red and white frangipani trees and scarlet-blossomed royal poinciana.

Visitors also can steal away to a glass-walled chapel tucked into a bamboo enclosure. The goal, Mr. Scensor said, was to avoid “institutional anonymity” in favor of a “new kind of hospital: highly efficient but inherently humane.” chsm.com


Yinka Ilori, a British-Nigerian artist, has spent the last year designing and installing affirmation-laced murals throughout the city — like one in which bubblegum-pink letters announce “Love always wins” against a backdrop suggestive of ice cream cones.

Mr. Ilori recently extended this “theme of positivity,” as he has called it, to table linens, pillows, rugs and socks sold through his website and a few retailers. The latest designs include bone china mugs and plates emblazoned with his chirpy slogans. This venture compensates for “a loss of projects during the pandemic,” he said. And then some. The line has proved so successful that he has hired additional staff members to manage it into a post-Covid future. Mug 45 pounds, or about $62; plate £70, or about $97. yinkailori.com

Shark Tank”) with his first commercial product: a lamp called Lumio that opens like a book. In October, Mr. Gunawan introduced on Kickstarter a second object that similarly trades in the thrill of the unexpected. Teno is a bowl-shaped sculpture, five inches in diameter, with a jagged golden scar — a reference to the Japanese art of repair called kintsugi. Crack open the bowl, and light pours out (it can be increased or dimmed with a tap). Open the sculpture fully, and it becomes a portable Bluetooth speaker.

hellolumio.com/collections/teno

MT Objects is a ceramics studio that turns out singular pieces referencing local craft traditions and the architectural splendor and battered infrastructure of its home base, Mexico City, and beyond. Thanks to a masked and socially distant pair of artisans employed by the studio, operations have continued throughout the pandemic, said Tony Moxham, a co-founder with Mauricio Paniagua.

In one recent series, slip-cast vessels were drizzled with black glaze in imitation of the tar used by the Totonac people who occupied what is now the state of Veracruz to represent “the moisture, fertility and darkness of the underworld,” Mr. Moxham said. Another collection, described as “brutalist,” is cast from sidewalk rubble and streaked with traditional colonial lead-based glazes from the western state of Michoacán.

“We wanted to create something that was very different from what everyone else was doing,” Mr. Moxham said. “And in Mexico City, almost any sidewalk you walk down has bits of broken concrete.” Prices range from $1,000 to $5,000 per piece. ceramicalamejor.mx/mt-objects

Aïssa Dione’s 2020 collection of textiles carries the vibrant colors and traditional designs of Senegalese handweaving, though reimagined in various sizes and with fibers like raffia, cotton and viscose. The fabrics are produced in Ms. Dione’s workshop in Rufisque, a town outside of Dakar, where she employs nearly 100 Senegalese weavers who work on looms. They are then sold to luxury interior design companies to cover sofas, armchairs and windows in homes around the world.

Ms. Dione’s 2020 collection also continues the textile designer’s nearly 30-year commitment to revitalize the craft and her continued focus on cultivating raw materials from Senegal, rather than importing them. Working locally and small helped her during a year when the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the global supply chain.

It also gave Ms. Dione a chance to develop a client database, organize photos of past work and shoot a film that captures her weavers’ process. “We had time to sit down and develop things we had no time to do,” she said. aissadionetissus.com

DeMuro Das, an interior design studio near New Delhi, unusual materials are a calling card. It has topped a coffee table in unakite, a speckled, metamorphic rock, and lined a cabinet in koto, a West African hardwood. More recently, the founders, Brian DeMuro and Puru Das, tried wrapping a low cabinet with the parchmentlike substance Carta, lending the piece a pretty, mottled surface, like asphalt after a rainstorm.

demurodas.com


Pirjo Haikola, a designer in Melbourne, has 3-D-printed coral reefs that are on view at the art and design triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria.

ngv.vic.gov.au

berlinerfestspiele.de

Anna Aagaard Jensen, a Danish artist, and a wig-like lamp by Laurids Gallée, an Austrian-born designer. The lamp is part of a lighting collection, curated by the Brussels dealer Victor Hunt, titled, appropriately enough, “The Lights at the End of the Tunnel.” May 28 to 30. collectible.design

Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm and the curator of a show about the banquet that revels in bespoke table settings, secret menus, eye-popping floral arrangements and glossy evening wear. Timed to open with the — ultimately canceled — 2020 event, it is fully installed and ready for visitors whenever entry is deemed safe.

The show reveals the banquet as a stage for perfectionism — a chance to source the ultimate raspberry for a dessert or prepare the most challenging potato dish.

But it also highlights modest gestures, like the time in 2018 when Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden, recycled the Nina Ricci gown her mother, Queen Silvia, wore to the event in 1995.

“She looked fantastic in it,” Ms. Ahlvik said, though the princess is taller than her mother. “We were all wondering how she did it.” nobelprize.org

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Republic of Congo Presidential Candidate Dies of Covid-19

DAKAR, Senegal — The opposition leader was too sick to make it to his final appointments before Sunday’s election.

“I am fighting death,” he said in a weak voice on Friday, removing an oxygen mask from his face to film a message addressed to the citizens of the Republic of Congo. “But I ask you to stand up and vote for change.”

Three days later, hours after the election, he was dead. He had tested positive for Covid-19.

The candidate, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas, was trying to unseat President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been in power for 36 years. But on Friday, Mr. Kolélas fell ill.

a New York Times database. As in many countries, this is likely an underestimate because testing levels are low.

A number of prominent African politicians have died in the past year. Some, like the Nigerian president’s right-hand man Abba Kyari and the South African cabinet minister Jackson Mphikwa Mthembu, are known to have died of Covid-19 complications. Official announcements for some others, like President John Magufuli of Tanzania and President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, have said they died of heart problems, though rumors have swirled that the coronavirus played a role in their deaths.

In the video recorded from his hospital bed, Mr. Kolélas told Congolese voters that they owed it to their children to cast a ballot in the election.

“Fight. I will not have fought in vain,” he said in the video. “Rise up as one people. Make me happy. I’m fighting on my deathbed. You, too, fight for your change.”

said that the Republic of Congo had become a “police state.”

The internet was blocked across the country on Election Day, according to the monitoring organization Netblocks. Otherwise, the election seemed to go ahead without incident. Election results are expected later this week.

“Democracy is working in our country,” Mr. Nguesso said Monday.

A former military officer, Mr. Nguesso first came to power in 1977, after his predecessor was assassinated. He lost the country’s first multiparty election in 1992, but returned to power in 1997. In 2019 the nonprofit campaigning group Global Witness accused his son of stealing $50 million in state funds.

Almost half the population lives in poverty in the Republic of Congo, which is one of the main oil producers on the African continent.

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Foods From Afar Hope to Catch the Eye of American Shoppers

Fonio, a cereal grain imported from West Africa, was once relegated to the shelves of tiny grocery stores frequented by immigrants primarily from Senegal and Mali. But it has gradually made its way to Whole Foods, where pouches decorated with a painted map of Africa are nestled amid packages of rice and lentils, aimed at a broader range of American consumers.

That journey was pushed in part by a Brooklyn company, Yolélé, which roughly means “let the good times roll” in Fula, a West African language. Yolélé also offers seasoned fonio pilafs, a line of fonio chips and, coming soon, fonio flour.

The company was founded in 2017 by Philip Teverow, a food industry veteran, and Pierre Thiam, a chef from Senegal who grew up eating fonio. Mr. Thiam is confident that Americans would eat fonio, too, if they had better access to it.

American Community Survey by the New American Economy, a research organization. Chinese and Mexican immigrants owned most, selling cuisines familiar to American palates. But entrepreneurs from countries like Guinea, Kazakhstan and Senegal are gaining a foothold with less well-known cuisines.

Marketing these foods in the United States has its challenges, like cultural identity and consumer perception. The savviest entrepreneurs work with designers and brand strategists to make their products more approachable.

One of the biggest hurdles is choosing visual clues — fonts, colors, illustrations and photographs — that channel a product’s physical or conceptual provenance. A brand identity that’s too sleek and polished might appear inauthentic and lose credibility. Yet folksy designs or a reliance on regional symbols can look cliché and dated.

Creating the right visuals is a “subtle balance,” said Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. A new foreign food’s packaging must stimulate curiosity and radiate authenticity, “making you feel like there’s some sort of familiarity that maybe you had not yet discovered in yourself,” she said.

Cultural heritage is crucial for a new product, said Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst known as the Supermarket Guru. “You have to stand out,” he said, adding that there is a strong appetite for foreign cuisines and products, especially among younger generations: “They love to experiment with food.”

The global food industry has changed substantially over the past several decades, Mr. Lempert said. New foreign food brands today tend to celebrate their origins, whereas businesses just 10 years ago might have pushed to Americanize their products.

“There was a stigma there,” he said.

Supermarket distribution has also changed. “A lot of these smaller ethnic brands used to be distributed by ethnic food distributors,” Mr. Lempert said. “Now, these companies are going direct to the supermarket.”

Other strategies include posting on social media, especially Instagram, which is considered an effective, low-cost way to market products, and selling directly to consumers through websites and e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon.

But the key is often packaging. A designer’s ability tends to be a blend of creative thinking, diverse professional experience and wide travels. This often outweighs a shared nationality, ethnicity or culture; in fact, many entrepreneurs prefer working with designers from different backgrounds to better see their story through a fresh lens.

Mr. Thiam wanted to use Yolélé to claim fonio’s West African identity while avoiding labels like “exotic” and “ethnic.” He and Mr. Teverow approached Paula Scher, a partner at the design firm Pentagram, where Mr. Thiam already had connections because of his cookbooks. He said that he would have liked to use a designer of African descent, but that when he saw Ms. Scher’s map of Africa, it was “love at first sight.”

After Ms. Scher’s design hit the shelves last spring, sales surged 250 percent, Mr. Teverow said.

Using product names in foreign languages is a common hurdle for food business owners. To broaden the appeal of her classic Middle Eastern spice blends like hawaij, baharat and ras el hanout, Leetal Arazi, a co-founder of New York Shuk, worked with the graphic designer Ayal Zakin to craft a visual solution.

The labels feature elegant illustrations of the contents in each jar, like turmeric or chili peppers, balanced with a modern gold logo and a tiny stylized camel in silhouette.

“All of a sudden, you are less afraid and intimidated to pick it up,” said Ms. Arazi, whose products are sold at supermarkets like Whole Foods and specialty stores.

Mohammed and Rahim Diallo, brothers from Guinea, faced the same challenge for their intensely flavored gingery drink, Ginjan. The designer Ruen Ellis removed any mystery about the drink by listing the ingredients — ginger, pineapple, lemon, vanilla and anise — on the label below a circular logo that centers on a silhouette of Africa.

A straightforward or celebratory story that can bolster a brand’s identity isn’t always possible. Some immigrant founders have fraught relationships with their homelands, or history has convoluted their story.

In late 2018, Daniyar Chukin and the design firm Little Fury rebranded Mr. Chukin’s vaguely Russian-sounding company, Misha, to the vaguely German-sounding Wünder Creamery.

Mr. Chukin had struggled with how to market quark, a creamy yogurtlike product popular in Germany. He grew up eating it in Kazakhstan, where the Soviets had brought it. “Here I am, a Kazakh guy, marketing a product I knew as a Russian one, as a German one to American consumers,” he said with a laugh. “It’s starting to work now.”

His quark is packaged in a yogurt cup with a clean, Nordic look, and Wünder Creamery’s annual earnings are about $1 million after growing 50 percent a year, he said.

Some immigrant entrepreneurs choose to have zero visual references to their food’s country of origin.

“What if we basically just remove the whole idea of being an ethnic food?” said Nigel Sielegar, a designer from Indonesia and the owner of Moon Man, minimalist Southeast Asia dessert stall in the cavernous basement below Essex Market on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

After pandemic restrictions closed his eatery, Mr. Sielegar pivoted in July to producing sweet kaya jams featuring purple ube, golden palm sugar and green pandan. The coconut milk-based jams are packaged in glass jars with “Moon Man” running diagonally in huge white type across a black label.

The company has sold more than 1,000 kaya jam jars directly to consumers nationwide, Mr. Sielegar said, and recently expanded to selling half-gallon containers wholesale to restaurants.

Package design and brand identity might seem superfluous, even shallow, but they are often the needed prompt for customers to buy, said Dan Formosa, a design consultant.

“There is a expectation of what it’s about and a sense that it’s worth trying,” he said.

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Spurred by Tragedy to a Life of Female Empowerment

THIAROYE-SUR-MER, Senegal — Sometimes when she’s alone and looking at the sea, Yayi Bayam Diouf imagines the silhouette of her son passing over the waters offshore.

Not usually the sentimental type, she softens when asked about the personal tragedy that would spur her to challenge her town’s traditional patriarchy and become a path breaker for female empowerment.

“C’est la vie,” Ms. Diouf, 62, says softly, of the tragedy — “that’s life.”

It happened in the spring of 2006, when her son, Alioune, a 26-year-old fisherman, went on a yearly trip to the normally rich fishing grounds off Mauritania with others from their town of Thiaroye-sur-Mer, an impoverished suburb of the Senegalese capital, Dakar. But the catch was lean, and they were reluctant to return home with little to show for their efforts.

Instead, he and about 80 others crowded onto his fishing boat and headed to the Canary Islands on a route called “Barsa wala Barsakh,” or “Barcelona or die” in the local language, Wolof. They vanished along the way, and their bodies were never found.

U.N. Women Senegal to build a farm to grow mussels, providing work for about 100 women.

But all that came later. Ms. Diouf says that after Alioune’s death she felt drawn to the sea and began thinking of leaving her office job to fish. Yet she faced resistance in the form of a patriarchal culture that expected women to stay in the home and men to work outside.

When she approached a group of community leaders one night after evening prayers seeking permission to fish, she was told that “the water doesn’t need women.” Moreover, they said, one of the traditions among the Lebu ethnic group common in the area was that women couldn’t touch the fish if they were menstruating.

“I told them, ‘That’s fine — I already went through menopause,’” said Ms. Diouf, who is herself Lebu. “I am now feeling so self-confident, and I want to transmit that to other women.”

Women’s Collective for the Fight Against Illegal Immigration to persuade young men to resist the dangerous temptation to take to the high seas and instead make a life at home.

Not surprisingly, she is constantly on the move. When she is not busy at the training center, she is pushing women to start small enterprises, finding funds for micro credits or wrestling with government officials to bolster the struggling economy of Thiaroye-sur-Mer.

On a Wednesday morning in January, a few women set up a small table in front of the training center to sell fish, juice and breakfast items to the arriving students and the fishermen and women when they return from the sea, one of many such micro-businesses she has encouraged.

That morning, Ms. Diouf didn’t have much time for pleasantries or small talk. Hastily grabbing a plate from the women, she rushed into the training center, which stands across the bay from the island of Gorée, a point of departure for millions of Africans after they were sold into slavery.

Inside, the walls of Ms. Diouf’s office are decorated with photos of her in a pirogue and wearing an orange life jacket. She was scheduled to meet that day with a Fishing Ministry representative to complete the paperwork for a donation of equipment to improve sanitary measures in fish processing.

She then changed into her work clothes, went back outside to collect fish that had been cooking on the grill and set about preparing a meal for journalists at a local television station.

that badly deplete fish stocks.

Ms. Diouf also has another calling beyond her community work.

Standing on the beach, she says she recalls her last conversation with her son, when she urged him not to do something so foolish as to gamble with his life as a migrant. Now, she often walks the garbage-strewn beach to speak to other young men, to persuade them never to attempt the perilous crossing to the Canaries.

“I tell them that no matter the hardships, never get on the pirogues,” she said. “I tell them, ‘Do you want what happened to me to happen to your mother?’ I have convinced some to stay that way.”

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Aleksander Doba, Who Kayaked Across the Atlantic, Dies at 74

Aleksander Doba, a Polish adventurer who kayaked alone across the Atlantic at the age of 70 while subsisting on his wife’s fortifying plum jam — after having twice paddled solo across the Atlantic when he was in his 60s — died on Feb. 22 on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. He was 74.

His son Czeslaw said the cause was asphyxia resulting from high-altitude pulmonary edema.

Mr. Doba’s three daring voyages earned him Guinness World Records titles, and in 2017 he became the oldest person to kayak across the Atlantic. His feats made him a national hero in Poland.

A former chemical plant engineer who lived in a little river town, Mr. Doba had long been the most accomplished kayaker in his country. His desire to conquer the ocean grew from an innocent idea that gradually consumed him: He had kayaked everything else, so why not the Atlantic Ocean?

As a young man in Communist Poland, he had joined a local kayaking club, and he took to the sport avidly. In 1989, he surpassed the record for the most days paddled by a Polish man in a single year. He later spent 100 days paddling the circumference of the Baltic Sea. He also kayaked the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle; on that trip, he was thrown from his boat during a storm and woke up to the sound of his own screaming after washing ashore.

told The New York Times Magazine in 2018. “I was infected with a virus.”

In the spring of 2017, he began his third trans-Atlantic crossing — the one that garnered the most media attention — when he paddled out from New Jersey. After clearing Barnegat Bay and heading for the horizon, he was soon a floating blip in the ocean.

told The Times.

But Mr. Doba had tested the limits of possibility during his two previous Atlantic crossings.

In 2010, when he kayaked from Senegal to Brazil, his skin broke out in salt-induced rashes, his fingernails nearly peeled off, and his eyes suffered from conjunctivitis. In 2013, when he paddled from Portugal to Florida, a Greek tanker made the mistake of trying to rescue him.

“Me, fine,” Mr. Doba shouted in English to the ship’s crew, giving a thumbs-up.

They offered to throw him ropes. He refused.

When the ship circled back to him again, Mr. Doba shouted a vulgarity in Polish, and they left for good.

told Canoe & Kayak magazine in 2014. “The whale swam here, and there, all around my kayak. Its 20-meter-long tail was wagging. And then, suddenly, the whale went down and disappeared into the ocean.”

Aleksander Ludwik Doba was born on Sept. 9, 1946, in Swarzedz, Poland. His father, Wincenty, was a mechanic. His mother, Eugenia (Ilijna) Doba, was a homemaker.

He grew up ice skating on ponds and skiing through forests. His father built him a bicycle from scrap parts, and when he was 15 he rode it across the country.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Doba graduated from Poznan University of Technology, where he studied mechanical engineering. He married Gabriela Stucka in 1975, and they settled in a town called Police, where he got a job at a chemical plant. In 1980, his co-workers asked him if he wanted to join their kayaking club, and soon he was spending all his weekends out on the water.

An early escapade involved kayaking on the Baltic Sea at a time when the Communist Party, to discourage defectors, had declared it illegal. When Mr. Doba encountered border patrol soldiers, they told him that he was in serious breach of the law.

“I was just paddling down the river,” he explained. “I don’t know how I ended up here.”

He kept chasing adventure. He explored countless Polish rivers, and he amassed records and firsts.

enjoyed celebrity status in Poland. People stopped him on the street to take selfies. An elementary school honored him with a statue in his scruffy, bearded likeness. And he began preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, an expedition that had long been on his bucket list. He trained by jogging up and down the stairs of a high-rise building with a heavy backpack, and he took long daily hikes.

He arrived in Tanzania last month. On the morning of Feb. 22, he reached Kilimanjaro’s summit with two guides. After taking in the view, he sat on a rock to rest.

“He said many times that he didn’t want to die in his bed,” his son said. “From what we gather, he was euphoric to reach the summit. Then he sat down and fell asleep.”

One of the last people to see Mr. Doba alive was a Polish climber named Boguslaw Wawrzyniak, who was also summiting Kilimanjaro that day. When he encountered Mr. Doba at 18,700 feet, he was excited to encounter one of his homeland’s heroes, and he took a selfie with him on the mountain.

“I wished him luck in reaching the summit,” Mr. Wawrzyniak said in a phone interview. “Then I asked the local guides with him, ‘Do you know who this man is?’ And they said: ‘Yes. We know who this is. He is the king of the ocean.’”

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Remote C.I.A. Base in the Sahara Steadily Grows

The Biden administration’s review comes at a time when skyrocketing waves of terrorism and violence have seized Africa’s Sahel region, a vast sub-Saharan scrubland that stretches from Senegal to Sudan, and is threatening to spread. The Islamic State in Libya has actively sought fresh recruits traveling north from West African nations, including Senegal and Chad.

Armed groups have attacked bridges, military convoys and government buildings. The threat is pushing south from the Sahel into areas previously untouched by extremist violence, including the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Ghana, where the Pentagon has a logistics hub.

Security has worsened to the point where the Pentagon’s Africa Command told the Defense Department’s inspector general last year that it had abandoned for the moment a strategy of weakening the Islamist militants, and instead was mainly trying to contain the threat.

“Security continues to deteriorate in the Sahel as instability spreads and threatens coastal West Africa,” Colin Kahl, Mr. Biden’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top policy official, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written responses to questions in advance of a hearing last week. “We cannot ignore that persistent conflict in Africa will continue to generate threats to U.S. personnel, partners and interests from violent extremist organizations.”

The Pentagon’s Africa Command operates MQ-9 Reaper drones from Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou; and from a $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou. The military has carried out drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya, but none since September 2019.

Some security analysts question why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya and the Sahel. In addition, France, which has about 5,100 troops in the Sahel region, began conducting its own Reaper drone strikes from Niamey against insurgents in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

A recent report by the International Crisis Group concluded that the military-first strategy of France and its allies, including the United States, has failed. The research and advocacy organization, which focuses on conflict zones, noted in its report that focusing on local peacemaking efforts could achieve more.

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Senegal Erupts in Protests, With a Rape Charge Only the Spark

DAKAR, Senegal — The most widespread demonstrations in Senegal in years continued for the third day on Friday, an expression of anger at the president, Macky Sall, and outrage at the arrest of the country’s leading opposition figure, who has been accused of rape.

In Dakar, the capital, crowds of young people threw stones at the police, who were firing tear gas. In the residential neighborhood of Medina, a police van accelerated into a cluster of protesters, almost running them over. In Ngor, a fishing village abutting the city’s fanciest district, protesters lit fires in the streets.

One person died on Thursday when security forces used live ammunition on protesters in Bignona, a town in the country’s south, according to the human rights organization Amnesty International.

The arrest of the opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko, on Wednesday was the trigger for Senegalese young people, many of whom support Mr. Sonko, to take to the streets. Mr. Sonko, who came in third in the 2019 presidential elections, has been accused of raping a young woman who worked in a massage parlor.

wrote, adding that the event “boasts of being exemplary, by always comparing itself to less successful ones on the continent.”

Cheikh Oumar Cyrille Touré, a well-known rapper also known as Thiat, said in a televised debate on Wednesday, “Nothing is working in this country, while they keep giving us political speeches.”

He was co-founder of the group Y’en a Marre (We’re Fed Up), which was instrumental in bringing Mr. Sall to power. But Mr. Touré was arrested on Friday in the protests and, according to the Y’en a Marre Facebook group, violently beaten.

Two television stations, Sen TV and Walf TV, were taken off the air, accused by the government of calling for an uprising by showing images of insurrection.

Protesters assaulted on Thursday the buildings that house two other media organizations, RFM and Le Soleil, both perceived as being pro-government.

Mr. Sonko was arrested on Wednesday on his way to court. His convoy was stopped and the police asked him to take a different route. When he refused, he was arrested.

Amnesty International said that Mr. Sonko was arrested arbitrarily, and called on the government to stop arresting opponents and activists.

During Mr. Sall’s tenure, two of his major opponents, a mayor of Dakar and the son of the last president, have also been arrested and jailed.

Mr. Sonko’s supporters say that the Senegalese president is behind his arrest and the rape charges. They say he is trying to prevent one of his biggest political challengers from running in the next election, in 2024.

“That’s why he’s doing all this,” said Serigne Fallou Sarr, a biology student out protesting on Friday in Dakar.

He said he had no idea whether the rape allegations were true.

The voice of the woman who accused Mr. Sonko has been drowned out in a sea of accusations and conspiracy theories.

The woman, a young masseuse who said Mr. Sonko also threatened to kill her, told the police that the politician, who has admitted that he was a frequent visitor to the massage parlor at which she worked, frequently asked her for sex and when she refused, strangled and raped her.

The president denied having anything to do with the rape allegations in an interview with France24 television, aired before this week’s protests.

“We mustn’t mix the president up in things that don’t concern him,” he said, referring to himself in the third person. “I think I have enough things to do without plotting such low things.”

Mr. Sall has not commented on reports that he might run for a third term, which his opponents say would violate the constitution.

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