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The East African : May 26th 2014
16 The EastAfrican OPINION MAY 24-30,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Anothe≥ day, anothe≥ Af≥ican d≥eam? African leaders and captains of industry gath- ered in Kigali to celebrate the golden jubilee of the African Development Bank, where they set the platform for an economically prosperous and continent in the next 50 years. The growth is pegged on prudent economic policies, good governance and respect for human rights and more so, less conflict. But can Africa walk the talk? The continental bank has of late gained fame for funding major infrastructure projects in the continent, some of which were previously seen as the mainstay of the Bretton Woods institutions. It is the best institution to guide the continent on its development trajectory over the next 50 years. But then, the continent has to overcome some natural as well as self-inflicted problems such as youth unemployment, corruption, bad governance and civil wars. Whenever there is a global survey on corruption, Africa emerges the top while our leaders are content with paying lip service to the fight against vice eating right into the heart of the continent. It is good that Africa wants to overcome the handicap of accounting for only over two per cent of the global trade. Recent global surveys say that Africa has been experiencing fast economic growth and that in from 2001 to 2010, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, the numbers of those moving up from be- low the poverty line have remained insignificant, at 56.5 per cent to 48.5 per cent in the same period. With almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world, which should be utilised for economic growth. The Kigali gathering concurred that for the continent to achieve its dream of economic growth of an average 10 per cent, it requires governance with strong institutions to ensure peace, sustained development and prevent countries from sinking into cycles of fragility that breed poverty and instability. The narrative of an awakening continent has been debunked because Africans have discovered it was little more than a feel good exercise. The recent narrative by African leaders — especially in regards to conflict — is that of African solutions for African problems. But at the end of the day, they end up with a begging bowl asking for funds to deploy troops in conflict situations. Africa needs a rapid response force fully fi- nanced and equipped by the continent to respond to emergency situations without always looking to the international community to intervene even in situations that could have been nipped in the bud. Conflict not only gives the continent a bad name, but drives away foreign investment also. EFF party MPs arrived in parliament in style — in orange worker’s overalls and gumboots. ” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo intriguing glimpse into the unlikely future of African politics. In Thailand, the army announced it O had seized power and suspended the Constitution following months of political turmoil. In Malawi, after the now customary breakdown of electronic vote counting As an African president complained that she was being robbed of the vote, in Asia a strongman was taking power systems in Africa, they started totting up the numbers from Tuesday’s election manually, and early unofficial results showed President Joyce Banda trailing opposition candidate Peter Mutharika. Unusually, Banda held a press con- ference to complain that the opposition was rigging the election. Her party n Thursday, two events 8,000 kilometres apart — one in Malawi and the other in Thailand — gave us an Democ≥acy is coming to Af≥ica, believe it o≥ not then rushed to court to stop the Malawi Electoral Commission from announcing results, and was thrown out. On the day an African president was complaining that she was being robbed at the vote count, in Asia a military strongman was taking power. I have this suspicion that Africa may arrive at its democratic destination a little earlier than Asia. Indeed, two days earlier, in Guinea- Bissau, the country’s former finance minister Jose Mario Vaz scored a resounding victory, clinching 62 per cent of the vote. The military boys were returning power to the people, having taken it in a coup two years ago. And in South Africa, parliament convened for its swearing in. Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party of the loudmouthed former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, which got a sprinkling of seats, arrived in style — in orange worker’s overalls and gumboots. The show had no policy significance, but the populist drama was still good to see in a parliament. More important though, was the ap- pointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy president. The former trade union leader turned businessman (and one of South Africa’s richest men) has been denounced for turning his back on the people. However, Ramaphosa brings to Solution to Boko Ha≥am is political, not milita≥y which the Emirs’ jurisdiction is now ostensibly limited to cultural matters. The federal, secular state of Nigeria theoretically runs everything else — having declared a state of emergency in this and other northern Nigerian states in March last year. Why? Not because Borno state, like O other northern Nigerian states over the past decade or so, had declared itself and its inhabitants all subject to sharia law. The federal, secular state merely sniffed at that — appeasement of the north being natural to it. What matter, it seemed to posit, if women have to cover their heads, dress “modestly,” stand in separate lines in grocery stores? These are small inconveniences, easily accommodated... It was not for this that the state of emergency was declared last year. No. It was the entirely predictable escalation of ostensibly jihadist attacks that finally provoked the declaration of the state of emergency. In only a couple of years, Boko Har- A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer JOSEPH ODINDO: 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: email@example.com © Nation Media Group am moved from frequent but smallscale attacks based on an anti-modernisation and religious agenda, to larger-scale attacks based on an agenda less communal and more political — against perceived domination and subjugation of the north —fuelled by the influx of arms and foreign fighters verlay the Kanem-Bornu Empire we learnt about in history on the current-day Borno state of Nigeria, in post-Libya and post-Mali. In response to the undisputed up- scaling of Boko Haram attacks on civilians and public institutions, the Nigerian military has run amok in Borno state as it has in the rest of the north. Allegations of gross and systemic violations in its treatment of Boko Haram suspects have been repeatedly made — by Nigeria’s own human-rights organisations as well as by externals. More cynical Nigerians, both northern and southern, also talk about how curiously convenient it is that the Nigerian federal government Wole Soyinka points out that Nigeria needs to go right back to the beginning, to the politics of appeasement now being able to justify keeping the north under military occupation in the context of the upcoming elections. Given that the practice of rotation of the presidency between the north and south effectively ended with the current presidency. This is the backstory to the now global “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign — responding to the abduction of about 240 schoolgirls from Chibok Government Secondary School in southern Borno state. The campaign has been surprising in the way in which it took off, first the job the gravitas and intellectual rigour that his boss Jacob Zuma lacks. Zuma is just a shrewd and very intuitive politician. Potentially, this means that, in five years when Zuma steps down, Ramaphosa could be president. Criticise all you will, but there is something heartening in seeing a man with Ramaphosa’s intellect and money a heartbeat away from the presidency. So while coups still grab power (Gen- eral Abdulfattah el-Sisi in Egypt) and presidents still want to rule for life (Yoweri Museveni in Uganda), and votes are frequently fiddled by elderly autocrats (Algeria’s ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika who won with 81.53 per cent in April), it is a more mixed bag today. Independents can thrive, suggesting the existence of a sophisticated electorate; places like Malawi are becoming equal-election-cheating-opportunity countries; there are more free elections; soldiers stay in State Houses for only two years; and presidents pick deputies who are superior to them in several ways. There is hope, amid the horror. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is is the edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:cobbo3 The Nigerian military has run amok in Borno state and the rest of the north.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki in Nigeria and the Nigerian diaspora, then across Africa and the rest of the world. Demonstrations and vigils have been held. Letters have been written and tweets have been tweeted. “Celebrities” have held up banners. America has sent drones and men, responding to the passionate prompting to “do something.” Anything. That “anything” means more run- ning amok by the Nigerian military. Or more military surveillance and deployment by the American government. In short, the “anything” is military. But, as Nigerian Nobel Laureate in literature and political activist Wole Soyinka pointed out in London a couple of weeks ago, that “anything” needs, in fact, to go right back to the beginning. To the politics of appeasement. Yes, with the parents and their communities, the hope is for the campaign to “Bring the Girls Back.” But that cannot be the end of the story. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica. This column is w≥itten in he≥ pe≥sonal capacity.
May 19th 2014
June 2nd 2014