‘More Than A Few Reasons To Be Happy’ – An African Writer Looks Ahead To 2020

Carnegie Mellon University in Kigali, Rwanda

While its soundtrack may have been grim and pessimistic, Africa has more than a few reasons to be happy, asserts prominent author, journalist and former editor of The East African, Charles Onyango-Obbo of Uganda.

“There are many good stories in East Africa,” he begins. “East African citizens continue to travel in record numbers in the region, embracing the sinful joys of music and other festivals”

“The American university, Carnegie Mellon, opened a campus in the Rwanda capital Kigali. Soon East Africans will know it more widely, but the deal is, as citizens of Jumuiya (the community), they get a 50 per cent discount on the fees. There is a cohort of smart East Africans already cashing in.”

“It has been a glorious period for East African sport,” he said proudly. “Nearly all of us made it to the African Cup of Nations. Ugandan long distance simply exploded, but Kenya remained king of the hill.”

“Then, there are so many new books and new authors, including a gripping tale from former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa (My Life, My Purpose). “Only a champion liar will claim to have read them all!”

Turning to this year’s punishing droughts and floods, he credited Mother Nature with sending East Africa, and indeed most of the world, “a reminder that she’s angry at the way we have despoiled Earth. Floods submerged our cities, loudly revealing our folly, sweeping away villages, and leaving hundreds dead.”

Still he found a positive side: “While climate change batters us, a new generation of environmental activists is emerging everywhere you look.”

Looking up north, he observed that the forces of progress seemed to have been making progress in Somalia and refusing to be cowed by Al-Shabaab’s deadly bombs such as one this week at a busy intersection on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital. At least 79 were pronounced dead and 149 more were injured. If only an Eden could emerge in the Horn.

As to Ethiopia, Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy is still on his feet. “Two years after he launched the most ambitious democratic experiment in Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy is still in the game. At one point it looked like he would sink. A Nobel Peace Prize seemed small, but hey!”

Then, an abbreviated list of the failures: rampant corruption in most parts of East Africa; economic growth without jobs; growing repression and restrictions on press freedom.

South Sudan remains mired in conflict, Ebola continues its rampage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, having killed over 2,100 people so far. But while the terror of Ebola has grabbed headlines, a little-covered measles epidemic has killed more than double that number of Congolese—over 5,000 of them…

On the upside, after 54 states signed on, the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement came into force this year. The free trade pact was a major highlight for the continent in 2019.

SOURCE: Global Information Network

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