With so much lying, offensiveness and stinging vulgarity… plus so many unbelievable social distractions and political bombshells, it’s hard to recognize a point of danger or a point of hope. Africa’s current affairs are little different than most of the rest of the world, so 2018 blurs into this miasma the moment you focus out of any single event.
But we’ve got to try to make sense of it all, clear the fog and figure out where we’re at. Africans especially can help westerners manage this confusion, and the first thing to understand is that nothing less than an exercised spirit is going to get us home.
Have you ever watched a colony of anemones? Touch the biggest one and it immediately begins to shrink into itself. Then even without touching others, all the anemones follow suit withdrawing into themselves.
It’s like the mopane tree in Africa. One giraffe starts to nimble a mopane leaf and the whole forest starts to fold leaves and emit toxins.
Africa’s top 2018 stories resemble the top stories in lots of other parts of the world. But believe it or not, Africa actually started earlier and may be ending sooner than much of the rest of the world, as evidenced by the February resignation of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa.
The Number #6 story in Africa for 2017 was the loss of journalistic freedom and the ensuing loss of news for Africans.
A big cause was the profusion of fake news, which more traditionally had been called propaganda. Because Africans have dealt with propaganda for so long, they think incorrectly they can also deal sufficiently with fake news.
Racism is the first first pedestal the demagogue plants himself on. “The salient fact is that in both England and the US electorates have turned to charlatans peddling a set of poisons as medication with the toxic allure of whiteness at the centre,” – Richard Pithouse, Rhodes University, South Africa.
The #5 story in Africa this year is the mindpower among intellectuals that has gone into formulating the post-Trumpism New World. This hope for the future resides almost exclusively in Africa; it’s an African story. It makes sense, too, because if it’s true that many of our ails are linked to racism, who would understand this better than an African?
Stronger religious protections, more affirmative action and new constitutional protections of minorities is the #4 story of Africa for 2017. Sounds good until said simply: tribalism on the rebound.
The political catastrophe of South Africa and the election circuses in Kenya are the best examples. Democracy and tribalism bring out the worst of each other. Africa may be no different than the rest of the world, but understanding Africa is fundamental to untangling this mess.
The #2 of top stories in Africa for 2017 is that a lot more innocent Africans are being killed and maimed by the U.S. military than ever before.
Americans may have an impression that our military is the one arm of Trump’s government that’s not in complete dysfunction. Even putting aside a few gigantic megalithic ship crashes in the Pacific and Air Force plane crashes at an all time high, I believe that our increased military in Africa is as undisciplined and misdirected as the rest of Trump policy, so clearly the most dangerous of all.
Diplomacy with North Korea, now Pakistan and other Middle East actors has arguably always been more important for the U.S. than diplomacy with Africa. My better knowledge is with the diplomacy of Africa, and what I saw happening over the course of 2017 remains terrifying.
There’s no reason to suppose it’s much different in other parts of the world. The #1 story in Africa for 2017 is the wreck of U.S. diplomacy in Africa.
In hindsight even as adults we behaved like children. We never shook off the mantle of goofiness justifying our exaggeration, so that now when it’s absolutely true that “there’s never been a time like this before” it’s hard for us to accept it.
I don’t have ten top stories for Africa in 2017. I’ve just got one with five subtopics, and then just four others, because almost everything in Africa like in the whole-wide world is now overshadowed if not effected by Trump.
And remember, folks, it’s not Donald J. Trump. It’s Trumpism. It’s Zumaism. It’s Kenyattaism and Kagamism – it’s Tribalism, plain and simple, and it’s destroying the human species. Return over the next few days for the specifics, but here’s the summary:
For a much longer time than Americans Africans have viewed fake news as a cancer threatening their societies. Across the continent Africans have experimented with censorship as the remedy.
Fake news and cell phone journalism is my #5 pick for the top stories in Africa in 2016, and I have to admit this is because I’m not African, since I doubt they would put it in the Top Ten. But as an American I’m hopeful we might learn something from them.
There are currently more refugees in the world than there are people in all but the largest 21 countries, more than 65 million. About half of these are in Africa, and about half are under 18 years old.
This the fourth most important story of Africa for 2016, and the world is fast coming to understand it isn’t just an African story.
2016 was notable for the darkness which follows the dawn: as a comeback for dictators in Africa. For nearly the previous two decades dictatorship in Africa was on the decline and long-serving overlords looked increasingly in trouble. That changed in 2016.