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Happy New Year Dawns For Africa

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2006 is gone with its troubles, as they would like to say, but the New Year is what we ought to worry about. Worry about we must do but how? Well, we might have heard the age-old saying that ‘Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is yet to come but today is here with us, do something new in your life’.

Yes, we must definitely do new things today but how can we if we do not learn from yesterday’s mistakes.

It always seems that I never get around to write a piece to coincide with Christmas for one reason or the other else I would have warned you in my last 2006 / Christmas article to be very afraid of yesterday, for history is what defines a future!

Now, a new year is here with us again and Africa still faces a lot of challenges that we can only overcome if we learn to learn from history and be afraid of Africa in yesteryears. In retrospective, the Africa of 2006 did not do badly at all.

There were great economic stories coming from countries like Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Gambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and even Zimbabwe (if you want to look beyond some of the comedy of Robert Mugabe). There were many other untold successes of less disadvantaged areas like Chad, Burkina Faso and Togo just to mention a few.

Even in humanitarian, cultural, environmental and social terms, 2006 was pretty a little sparkly spot in the Africa renaissance crystal ball. The African Union moved towards a more unified approach to tackling problems on the continent than before when it reeked of suspicious malfeasances and regional and international political hijack.

Although, it had been somewhat meek on Darfur, Ivory Coast and Somalia the African Union and its kin NEPAD are moving stronger and steadier.

Thanks also to the ‘Material Girl’ – Madonna – who thinks that adopting babies from Africa is like burning crucifixes and easy as pole dancing, some of Africa’s problems, weaknesses and strengths were also thrown into the limelight. Even little David Banda’s biological father got a spot in most international lifestyle magazines – not a mean feat for a poor African farmer.

This in itself is not bad publicity for Africa because of the poll of interest and concern for the continent except the fact that Banda’s father went to sire a new kid too soon with a new flame (very, very potent, eh?).

Anyway, by the turn of events 2006 was an interesting year for mother Africa. The civil wars, continued fleecing and lip-service from some western countries, the re-scramble of Africa, Mugabe still, Darfur, Angola, Somalia, the King of Swaziland, and the Spio- Garbral’s humiliating election defeat (remember my ‘If Ghana wins Africa wins article? Unfortunately the very resourceful, international ‘power-corridor’ guy came second in Ghana’s NDC party primaries with less that 140 votes as compared to the over thousand votes amassed by a two times presidential elections loser and an associate professor of law, Prof. Attah- Mills). By the way, Spio has only got to keep his fingers crossed, being second to one means you might be lucky next time round. Then his Africa’s dream could be close to coming real.

But for now whether Spio or the likes of Mugabe and the warlords, Africa must definitely win in 2007 and beyond! We have some good leaders now. We could do with a lot more still. We have the manpower, skill, nature’s resources, and strength. What we ought to do is to take advantage of the current interest in Africa now.

Africa is gradually positioning itself now as a serious international development and economic partner. The world knows this. There is a new scramble for Africa. This time around it is not for a senseless geographic partitioning, neither it is for enforced labour movement as happened in the illegal slave trade era. It is not even only a scramble for Africa’s remaining natural resources but a serious attempt to partner Africa for economic development form all angles.

As some countries develop faster than their domestic natural and artificial resources and market capacity could handle and sustain they think ahead and look else where for support structures and backups.

This is where Africa comes in now. Because we are still a virgin territory, economically and naturally, they look us up with admiration and need.

Metaphorically let’s just say a powerful rich man meets a virgin girl. If his old, sagging, nagging and unattractive partner does not make him any happier what will become of her? He chats this virgin up, poor and green she might be.

If virgin girl plays her cards well, he looks after her, treats her with respect, and changes the life of her entire family forever. However, should she behave stupid, naïve and go after a few rich but material things, she gets used up and dumped afterwards. This is where we are now.

China has interest in Africa. The new economic tigers have too. This interest is for trade, capacity exchanges, and also for economic survival purposes. Our old partners, friends, aides, grantors, the USA, Britain, France, Germany and many others still have interest. It behooves us to behave appropriately and with dignity and sense to be able to benefit from this. How do we do that?

This is where my 2007African renaissance crystal ball comes in handy. As I read through it I see a hazy maze.

This maze forms a beautiful mosaic of frenetic activities and events for development, unity, emancipation and growth in 2007 and beyond.

As Ghana chalks 50 years this March, it has vowed to creep into a middle-income economy status within a few years. This July the country sees its escalating currency redenominated into smaller issues. As a middle-aged lass still beset with problems it wants desperately to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals by the time it creeps into menopause. This is a good spirit to start 2007 with.

On the international front, Ban Ki-moon, the new UN Secretary-General has somehow made his Africa commitment by selecting Asha-Rose Migiro, ex Tanzania Foreign Minister as his deputy to replace Mark Malloch Brown. Look and see, although Bob Nester Marley is long dead and gone but his call for Africa to unite is still loud and clear.

Come February this year, his widow, Rita Marley throws yet another splashing seminal concert in Johannesburg, SA, to drum home the need for Africans to come together to grow.

Oil, Aviation, peace, and African media, telecommunications and many more are all on the big agenda for African in 2007. This shows that the future can only be good as I see it in the crystal ball. But this can only be good as much as we want it to be.

However, on the other hand I can see in the 2007 African Renaissance crystal ball a confusing montage, a prelude of foolhardiness, unrests, mediocrity, corruption, obsolete cultural practices, political suicides, economic maladroit and sheer barminess. I see thieves. Political thieves, economic thieves, social thieves, religious thieves, environmental thieves and international ones as well. I see what I don’t want to see – the irritating thieves, pickpockets, robbers, burglars and mobile phone thieves. These are very senseless and dangerous thieves. Oh! And the false prophets too! Beware!

But let’s just say we do not want to see the confusing montage because it reminds us of yesterday. That’ll be a big, big mistake. Remember, history defines the future. So we can read into that bit and juxtapose it with those of yesteryears’.

That way we can draw parallels, learn from mistakes and move on as a continent.

As a campaigning journalist I have written, produced documentaries and talked too much about western practices (such as unfair trade barriers and general injustices) affecting Africa’s social and economic development. This year, I want to focus on us. I want to see you and I and all those at home, too, take steps to move Africa onto a new pedestal. Trust me, the opportunities are there, the will, I’m not too sure about that but at least, the idea and intention this year should be to do something new today bearing in mind what we did not do right yesterday so that tomorrow will be alright.

Before I sign off let me leave you with a saying I found on the wall in my local pub this Christmas. It reads, “We are the unwilling, working for the unqualified, who works for the ungrateful”. Think about this! Happy New Year!


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