Africa One Man's Perspective
Insights into Africa from a Westerner's Perspective
Africa, the mysterious, so-called forgotten continent, is quickly changing. There is a hunger for more freedom, for self-determination, for a slice of the economic pie. Countries like Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda are all experiencing this cry for change in different ways. Yet in each of these countries, the common person has a thirst for more of what they have tasted, of what they have seen, heard, or read about.
Africa is changing! It will never be like the West and to impose Western models upon Africa would be a big mistake. Democracy is a good case in point. The West often ties its aid money to how democratic the nation is. In a place like Uganda, citizens enjoy many freedoms but still have a type of leader who is a lot more in charge than even the President of the United States. Then one has to look at a presidency a bit different than through the glasses of a Western Democratic Blueprint as to what we might think is best for an African Country.
President Museveni of Uganda is nationalist, he is very concerned about the wellbeing of Uganda. Is everything perfect here? No, not at all, but Uganda is headed in the right direction, there are more things in place to make this country more democratic in nature. The opposition speaks out, there is even an outspoken press here in Uganda, at times certain limitations may be implemented but at the end of the day, you would be surprised how frank and outspoken the press is here.
The reality is that President Museveni has been the best and most stable thing that has happened to Uganda since Independence in 1962 and there has been stability in the majority of the country and that is now slowly coming to the north of Uganda. The biggest problem is greed and corruption at every level. Everyone wants to get rich quickly and method at times is not hard work but questionable and often illegal ways and that includes private business. Uganda is now producing oil and soon will benefit from the large find of oil here. The question on everyone's mind is, "what will happen to the money?" The pearl of Africa shines brightly but its luster is in danger due the hunger for instant wealth and corruption. Hopefully the President will give his leadership to the cause of "prosperity for all" and lead the way in anti-corruption measures that will spill over to the private sector and the Ugandan slogan "For God and Country" would be made real.
Kenya, had a miracle take place on December 27th, 2002. Mwai Kibaki was elected the new President of Kenya. After almost 40 years of rule by the KANU party and 29 years of President Moi, Kenya's people are breathing a sigh of relief and hoping for a brighter future. However that brighter future was soon wiped out by the corruption that went on by the people around him. The result that in December of 2007 he and his people had to rig the election to find victory. The streets erupted in violence, many died, thousands were burned out of their home and the relative stable country of Kenya joined the ranks of the many other African nations that have just known violence, power struggles, the desire to keep or take over power in order to gain material wealth at any cost.
With International intervention, a power broker system was put into place and today there is some kind of peace, but underneath the surface, there is ethnic hatred just awaiting for the moment to bubble to the surface. Vice President Odinga who most say actually won the actual won the election shares powers with Kibaki. There is a bevy of ministers and at the end of the day not much has changed, it is simply a continuance of posturing to gain more power and wealth at the expense of the average Kenyan. Ethnicity and tribalism is used in order to inflame the poor, the real problem however is that those in power are not interested in the poor, but only in using them in order to further their own agenda.
Rwanda, is still going through the rebuilding phase from the genocide of 1994 and President Kagame is attempting to prevent a repeat of past slaughters. He is actually one of my personal favorites, he is attempting to put together a new Rwanda where harmony reign.
The roads have no potholes and are clean unlike other East African countries. The street lights work and the police are above corruption. Ministers are arrested, not just investigated, but tried and imprisoned. Rwanda has become one of the darlings of the West.
Sudan is a country deeply divided with an Arabic North that rules by Sharia law over an African South that is mostly Christian and animist now in a power sharing arrangement with Khartoum. There is still Darfur and the President of Sudan is under an international arrest warrant, that most African countries will not enforce. The Arab Nations are quiet as Muslims are eliminating Muslims. It is a sad day for Sudan.
Africa is filled with problems, yes they are here, but on the positive side there is awakening that is taken place in the everyday people of Africa. They want leaders who mouth more than aged slogans, but bring about change.
Once Africa gets into you, you get into Africa. There is no place in the world like it. Most Westerners who live there, no matter what their country of origin or their color of skin either love or hate it.
One of the things I found so fascinating were the contrasts that so abound. The peace of nature and the violence of man, the abundance and the hunger, the slums of Nairobi and Kampala and the plush villas found in various places. It is one of the most amazing places to visit. Africa is fascinating and having seen the changes of the past in places such as Uganda, that in spite of clouds that might be on horizon...at the end of the day, the sun will rise. Africans are yearning for freedom to be and young people in countries such as Uganda and Kenya want to the opportunity to change their beloved countries with a future and a hope.
Yes, Africa gets into your blood once you have been there, whether you have lived there or visited, it never leaves you and sometimes you even take with you in your body such as malaria...hmmm.
Both of my older children have been there and both have said, "We will never be the same...as for me...I am still here in Africa, in Uganda, live in a normal Ugandan neighborhood and love it...jon
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Africa-One Man's Perspective
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