AS we say goodbye to 2009- and what a strange year it has been- I surely am not the only one consulting my mental crystal ball and wondering what 2010 will bring.
Let us face it- we all fancy ourselves as soothsayers, able to extrapolate the future from the present. We often feel we can control our destiny if we pretend that the future is not as uncertain as it looks. Of course predicting the future is often irrational, but it is still a worthwhile exercise.
What have we learned from the past year- and the decade as a whole- that might suggest what the future holds for the planet?
The biggest lesson from 2009 is the credit crunch. Those a lot more qualified than me will be quick to point out that the financial crisis had its roots many years earlier.
However it all came crashing down in 2009- a year in which ‘credit crunch’ turned everyone into an economist and threw hundreds of national economies into turmoil.
At the height of the crisis, it seemed obvious that it would inspire a major rethink in the financial sector, and would make governments more hostile to banking interests for decades to come.
The reality is likely to be very different. 2010 and beyond is going to be business as usual. Man has rarely been a species who values long-term, and 2010 will witness the triumphant return of rampant capitalism in all its dubious glory.
The fact that the US Government bailout of the banks has been a success so far will provide the impetus for this.
But despite that trend, I see the global economy bouncing back within the first few years of the decade, with the developing world in particular set to achieve solid and consistent economic growth.
As a recent World Bank report showed, many parts of Africa are doing enough to suggest a turnaround in their fortunes for the near future. And with most of the continents major wars finished, the consolidation of peace will continue into the next decade.
I am also optimistic about climate change. A binding deal is unlikely to be reached in the next decade, but in many respects the awareness and momentum generated will ensure the issue remains a pressing one, and will force a major rethink of our consuming and production habits.
And yet in many respects, things are likely to stay the same. Regional integration was one of the buzzwords of the last few years, but as a concrete concept we are unlikely to see substantial progress in East Africa.
It is in the nature of regional and continental integration movements to have stalled progress, after a blistering and promising start.
How far integration progresses in the next few years will depend partly on whether the global economy rebounding is more long-term than it appears. It is a truism that integration is fuelled in times of boom, and resisted in times of bust.
In the ‘culture war’- if I may employ such a crass phrase- the United States will continue to set the agenda, mainly through the media of film and music.
Meanwhile in literature, 2010 and the next few years of the subsequent decade will witness a focus on two of the biggest concerns of the previous decade: the financial crisis and terrorism.
All in all, I find myself strangely optimistic about the coming years, despite the fact that I have written quite a few doom and gloom pieces in the previous months.
Predicting the future is an uncertain business, and anyone who does so is usually fortunate enough not to be held to those predictions.
Despite those misgivings, I’m still going to dust off my crystal ball and see what it holds. The fascination with unlocking the future will always be difficult to resist.
Minega Isibo is a lawyer