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The East African : Oct 13th 2014
18 The EastAfrican OPINION OCTOBER 11-17,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Welcome change to those noxious Rules of O≥igin WE MUST commend the decision made by the East African Community member states to relax the rules of origin requirement in intra-regional trade. The move was long overdue; the rules of origin have been one of the major hurdles preventing the free movement of goods as envisaged in the Common Market Protocol. The new rules of origin now require finished products to have at least 30 per cent of the exworks value added in the exporting EAC member unlike before, when the threshold was 35 per cent of the ex-factory price. The old rule, for example, created unneces- sary wrangles with a section of the private sector in the region accusing some governments of exploiting loopholes in the old rule to block their products from entering their markets. The good news here is that more products will be traded within the Community, further enhancing the integration process in the region as the member states move towards establishing a monetary union. The beneficiaries will be both the private sector and the residents of the trading bloc. Consumers, for example, will now have access to a variety of goods made in East Africa. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the EAC still needs to increase intra-trade volumes, which currently are below 45 per cent, to strengthen the bloc and improve the quality of life of its peoples. The UN organisation has frequently asked EAC to borrow a leaf from the European Union, where trade among member countries accounts for more than 70 per cent of the total at any given time. Even though relaxing the rules is welcome, care should be taken to ensure the new requirements are not abused. This is because, unlike before, when value could only be added on the factory floor, in the new requirement distribution costs like transport and logistics will also be considered as local input. If not well monitored by member states, un- scrupulous individuals could doctor transport and logistics costs to increase the chances of the goods being considered Community goods to avoid taxes. This could distort trade within the region. The member states must also ensure that mega projects aimed at improving the movement of goods and services within the region are implemented and completed within the set timelines. This is because a lot of work still needs to be done on the region’s transport network, mainly rail and road, to increase efficiency in both the Central and Northern Corridors, which are the lifeline of trade in the region. This is important since the cost of transport is still one of the major contributors to the high cost of doing business in the region. Both investors and consumers will benefit from the new rules of origin, if the member states remove non-tariff barriers that have long impeded intra-regional trade. Unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that restricts traders from accessing a particular market must be avoided. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Acting Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © Nation Media Group DJ Din’s offering is raunchy. That it has been viewed so many times, is not surprising.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo I n August the Kenyan blog TheGatunduPrince published an interesting list of “East Africa 30 most watched videos on YouTube.” How shall we put this? Ugandans, according to TheGatunduPrince’s list, seem to be East African kings of music video. The most viewed video was, wait for it, “Willi Willi Dance Pati Didi Rico Rynz” by Uganda’s DJ Din. At that point it had garnered 24,203,751 hits, numbers that once seemed impossible ‘Sitya Loss’ is the only top 30 video with folks who are not wearing false hair, lipstick, high shoes... for an East African video, and was the preserve of the Nigerian offerings on YouTube. The next Ugandan offering was “Ghetto Kids Dancing Sitya Loss.” At that point, it had 4,702,278 views. “Sitya Loss” is a hit song by Ugandan musician Eddy Kenzo. He was perched at number 5 on TheGatunduPrince’s list. It is quite revealing what the dif- Stop twe≥king, get dancing, life is sho≥t ferences between Kenyan, Uganda, and Tanzanian videos tell about the respective cultures, but it would also be a little too controversial, so we will leave it for now. I had not heard of “Sitya Loss” and learnt of it from the most unlikely source; a tweet by Hans Rosling, the Swedish doctor, academician and public speaker. You cannot visit Rosling’s Gapminder site and not come away convinced that he is a true genius. So when he tweeted that life was not all about data and weighty global issues, but also the fun stuff like Ugandan kids dancing “Sitya Loss,” I checked it out. As of October 9, the official “Ghetto Kids Dancing Sitya Loss” video was inching toward 6 million views. And it has inspired several spin-offs, including a Sitya Loss dance tutorial. And “Willi Willi Dance Pati Didi Rico Rynz”? It has grown marginally from August. One explanation could be the very reason it is successful — it is most definitely not for family viewing, so it is not about to get the endorsement of eminent figures like Rosling. It is naughty, raunchy, and even dirty. That it has been viewed so many times, is not surprising, in much the same way as Nicky Minaj’s “Anaconda” that, after a few weeks on YouTube, has been eyed nearly 240 million times. As the Daily Beast put G≥eat pe≥fo≥mance, but it doesn’t change the ≥eality I t was quite a performance, we have to admit. One day, no doubt, the type of people who specialise in analysing the language, rituals and semiotics of power will be able to go to town over this. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s perform- ance had, in this case, two audiences: The domestic audience and the African audience. Parliament was recalled. A speech was made, appealing to all sorts of nationalist, patriotic and pan-Africanist sentiments. Some sort of law was invoked and a sheet was duly signed. The signs and symbols of power were ostensibly handed over. The commentators waxed lyrical. Then the arrival at the Hague. The crowds, the colours of Kenya, the T-shirts, some clearly commissioned just for this. Then the return home, worthy of the worst reminders of the days of our first and second presidents. The bureaucratic, military and political reception upon arrival — as though none have day jobs for which the public pays them. The schoolchildren waving flags along the route — who should have been in school. The bused-in crowds — whose buses, rented with whose money? The triumphant tour through the heartland. Language, ritual, semiotics do mat- ter. And can, apparently, obscure all common sense and the obvious. The fact that it has always been an individual on the dock — not a country, not a continent. The fact that ceremony and pomp aside, the Constitution is clear — in the absence of the person sitting in the presidency, the person sitting in the deputy-presidency always acts. The fact that, shuttle-diplomacy aside, in the end, neither an African Union resolution nor a decision exempting sitting presidents from the jurisdiction of the African Court has any meaning with respect to the Rome Statute, that most African states are also party to. Beyond the performance is this: Peo- ple were injured, raped and killed. People were displaced. People’s livelihoods and property were destroyed. Beyond the performance is also this: This particular Kenyan case concerns what are carefully couched as “counterattacks,” “revenge attacks,” “self-defence” — language invoking innocence, justification and legitimacy. But that is language for the domestic audience. For the legal audience of the Judges, the defence has (wisely) not made recourse to it. It has instead (in a clipped, upper-class English accent and idiom, another type of performance) protested what it perceives of as a travesty of justice. It complied, it says, until it felt it shouldn’t comply anymore because it was being ignored. It has protested unfair play (very English). The Prosecution, on the other hand, has stressed these facts: It still has nine witnesses prepared to testify as to either the alleged presence of the accused at material meetings or the alleged fi- it, the Minaj video is “too much booty for one man to handle.” Of TheGatunduPrince’s top 30, “Ghetto Kids Dancing Sitya Loss” is the only one with dusty children, or folks who are not wearing false hair, lipstick, high shoes, glittering clothes, or sporting a stylish haircut. Which suggests that its popularity is a good thing: It says that while our baser selves are seduced by over-sexualised twerking — there is a part of us to which the simplicity, free spirit, and “innocence” of “Ghetto Kids Dancing Sitya Loss” appeals. Why? There is an expression that the good people at the Society for International Development like to use to describe what happens when Africans are faced with overwhelming uncertainty. We tend “to return to the womb,” they say. “Sitya Loss” (I don’t fear loss) is partly autobiographical. Musician Kenzo lost his mother when he was five. He sings that life is short so we should make the best of it, and how we shouldn’t be imprisoned by our past. Yet the video to the song works probably because it takes listeners back to a less complicated past. To the womb. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥: @cobbo3 People were injured, raped and killed. People were displaced L. Muthoni Wanyeki nancing by the accused of the same. While records of outgoing calls from the accused have been destroyed (how, by whom?), it has records of incoming calls to the accused that corroborate contact around the material time. It still does not have the other records it has requested from the government of Kenya. The Common Legal Representative for the victims described the quest for these records as part of a “long and bitter campaign of attrition.” What will the Judges decide? What determination on the balance between the rights of the victims to justice and the rights of the accused to a fair trial without undue delay will they make? They concluded the status conference without indication — and without an indication of when we can expect that decision. But this is the sobriety behind the performance. This is what seems to have been lost on both the domestic and African audiences. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the Amnesty Inte≥national’s Regional Di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica, cove≥ing East Af≥ica, the Ho≥n and the G≥eat Lakes.
Oct 6th 2014
Oct 20th 2014