The New Year is finally here. It was welcomed with joy and excitement, and messages of goodwill, at least here in Rwanda. But soon it will be just like all the other years – familiar and uninteresting.
The good nature that came with it will soon disappear and the usual routine and meanness return.
There is one reaction we can expect as we settle into the New Year. We will grumble about the passage of time.
Some of us of a certain age will say with some anxiety that time flies. Perhaps because of the realisation that within the continuum of time there are definite time limits to which we are all subject.
The thought of inevitable end makes us regret things undone or unfinished and wish the year was slower.
The young react differently. For them time seems to stand still. They are in a hurry and impatient. They want to move up and ahead and achieve things.
Whether we are scared by ‘time flying by’ and silently pray for stay of execution or are frustrated by its slow march, we have one thing in common. We all like to peer into the future to see what it holds for us. How we do that is, of course, different.
Some read the stars for certain signs and patterns. Others look into a crystal ball. More employ people reputed to have abilities to see beyond the mist.
Or, like prophets of old, they are divinely inspired to reveal the future. Today Jews, Christians and Muslims swear by the words of those prophets although they disagree rather robustly about how to live by those revelations.
The rest of us do it the boring and laborious way. We read books, follow the various media, study the pronouncements of the world’s leaders and analyse certain trends.
It is not for me to say which of these gives the most accurate picture of the future. Suffice it to say we all have a picture of it, whether it is what we want to see or not.
So what will 2017 and beyond be like for us?
In Rwanda we can expect more of the same – an onward march into the future where the sun shines for all of us. That means hard work, consolidation of gains, a relentless search for the best in us and for us, and renewing our national vision. That is what we will be voting for later in the year – certainty, continuity and progress.
And for the rest of the world?
The African Union Commission will certainly have a new chairperson. As East Africans we hope it will be Kenya’s Amina Mohamed. But whoever it is, he/she will have a busy schedule implementing the continent’s agenda, but also putting out fires around the continent and preventing new ones from flaring up.
There are already many of these. Solutions to crises in Burundi, South Sudan, Gambia, Central African Republic have to be found and quickly.
The Trump era promises to be disruptive both domestically and on the international stage. As President Trump seeks to remake the world in his image, relationships and systems built over the last fifty years or so seem to be in danger of dissolution.
However, one gets the feeling that the reality of governing mighty check Trump’s remodelling plans.
In Europe, immigration from trouble spots in the world will continue to be a big issue. An inevitable response to it is the growth of nationalism and all the dangers it poses.
A Putin-led Russia will continue to flex its muscle in the search for relevance.
In Asia, China will continue to grow and assert itself more and more, not just as an economic power but as a military power as well. North Korea will remain America’s big concern and attempts will be made to contain it, but very little will be done about it especially as it has nuclear weapons.
Another new reality: we will continue to live in the post-truth or post-fact world.
In Rwanda, this post truth thing is all too familiar and not really new. We have lived with it for over two decades now. So many lies and imaginary stories have been created about Rwanda. Everyone knows these to be false but no one questions them.
It is only now that this is happening to others that the term is gaining currency. By the end of the year it will probably have fallen out of use and another one invented. That sometimes is the beauty of the passage of time.
In the meantime, let us enjoy ourselves before we begin worrying about the speed at which the wheel of time moves.
Happy New Year.