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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Africa’s Pages of Radiance and Gloom

If one were to take paper and ink and start jotting down the failures and successes of Africa since the beginning of this year, it would probably run to thousands of pages, require dozens of pens, and demand for hours of sleepless nights. Or may be, one would run out of ink before the last pages are written. And the stories would come from far and wide covering the breadth and length of Africa, what is happening to its picturesque landscape, beautiful people and dazzling wildlife. Chapter one would be devoted to a new invention that is taking Africa’s affluent and avaricious leaders by storm; power-sharing. Here, one would feature the likes of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and his left-hand, or is it equal hand, Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The two, supposed to be like the economic yin-yang to Kenyans have literally failed the test of improving the lives of the assiduous citizenry. The branches of their power-hungry tree would entail narrating on how the egotism of the two men on the plinth and who have contrived Kenyan politics and resources for a better part of their lives and still do, finally locked horns in a fierce battle where the grass, hereby Kenyans, were crushed and gnashed in the name of setting foot in the country’s Shangri-la, State House, or in the case of the president, remaining there. As you continue with this narration, you would suddenly realize you are turning into a scribbler out of anger and angst and dot a fullstop on the Kenyan affair. Before you open a new chapter though, you would go down south to Zimbabwe. Not so much thought would be spared on what to write about a country dotted with malls filled with goods, but no customers. And here, you would find another power-sharing deal signed by the man who competed against himself in an election, the head of state, head of the cabinet and head of the armed forces, President Robert Mugabe and his partner, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. But a battered currency and inflationary levels of an astronomically 231 million per cent (October 2008) would drive you out of Harare without writing too much on how life has been hell for people of Zimbabwe. It is Zimbabwe, the land of Mugabe. The second last page of the power-sharing chapter would be dedicated to Madagascar, its people, dethroned President Marc Ravalomanana and the new man in the presidential palace, Andry Rajoelina. Of power-sharing, you would leave that blank, at least for the next few weeks or months. The second chapter would be solely dedicated to the Horn of African nation of Somalia. Here, al-Shabaab’s ferocious battle with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s government, and the beauty of sea banditry for pirates off the Coast of Somali waters would form the intro and the finale. But then again, one would rather get the news from around the Internet than start the rigorous and onerous task of noting things down of a nation that is always on the periphery and in world headlines for all the wrong reasons. The third chapter will be filled with obituaries. The passing on of the longest-serving president in African History, Omar Bongo of Gabon in June this year, the assassination of Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira in March, and the killing of Somalia’s National Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden and 24 other people also in June. The penultimate chapter would be filled with more belligerency and insurgency, not in Somalia, but in the Niger Delta, Congo and Sudan. Other mafias like Kenya’s dreaded Mungiki sect would also feature, not to mention the return of Joseph Kony in Uganda. The ultimate chapter would then contain the great strides Africa has made since the turn of the new year. The successful hosting of the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, the continued dominance of middle and long distance races by Kenya and Ethiopia in Athletics, the triumph of Caster Semenya in the women’s 800m race at the World Athletics Championships --that’s just enough said-- the “end of war” in Sudan, the rise and rise of Africa’s footballers in European countries, the largely peaceful and credible presidential elections in Ghana and South Africa, et cetera. But since not many people are ever interested in reading about, or writing on Africa’s success story, the ink would more likely than not run out at this very last chapter, meaning no more writing, but if it does not, one would probably down his/her tools because Africa’s radiant side never sells anyway, but gloom does.
And that's the Steifmastertake!