The sombre and celebratory mood arising from the death of Mzee Nelson Mandela continued for the whole of last week. The memorial ceremony at the FNB stadium was perhaps the largest gathering of world leaders besides the UN general assembly.
World leaders (and former leaders) took time to pay tribute to a man whose name calls for no questions when mentioned. It was nice to see four of the East African presidents in attendance with Rwanda represented by the Prime Minister and the ruling party chief.
Later in the week, President Kagame travelled to South Africa to personally pay his respects to Mandela. I was reading somewhere that the final burial ceremony will be attended by Mama Nyerere (widow to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere).
Talking about Tanzania, I read somewhere that the Tanzania government will continue to pursue the Uganda government to settle over $8.8m still outstanding as war reparations following the 1979 war that kicked out Idi Amin. The full amount was $18.4m. But in the spirit of Mandela, the Tanzanians are also considering ‘forgiving’ Uganda.
I wish there was a way Uganda could pay back some of this money by offering Tanzanian students free secondary and university education. After all they are already so many of them in Uganda. A ‘scholarship’ scheme that allows others to study for free in Uganda would go a long way in boosting integration.
Imagine how many of them would be hooked to the rolex or will be throwing in the occasional banange as they speak with their friends back in Dar. Let us not forget that President Museveni got his university education from Tanzania something that enables him to speak better Swahili than so many Ugandan Swahili speakers.
I didn’t really follow this year’s Tusker Project Fame thanks to a combination of too much work on my side and not enough work on the side of the electricity company (EWSA) which seems to be picking a few bad lessons from the likes of Umeme, Kenya power and Tanesco of this region.
However I would like to congratulate Burundi’s Hope for walking away with the top prize. Those who still doubt Burundi’s credentials when it comes to music are often the same people who have never heard of Kidum (many think he is Kenyan) or Kadja Nini.
I also came across more interesting news stories about Burundi. Being one of the few countries that volunteered peacekeeping troops to the volatile Somalia, Burundi is also sending troops to the Central African Republic where a deadly conflict seems to be unfolding.
Burundi plans to send a total of 850 Burundian troops to Bangui in a week’s time. The US military has offered to do the airlifts using Entebbe as their base. The conflict is being fuelled by sectarian tensions between Christians and Muslims.
Did you also know that Google is now extending its famous map navigation service to 25 countries that include Somalia, Djibouti and Burundi? What this means is that people with Android phones in Burundi will be able to enjoy the voice-guided street-by-street navigation.
This service is already in place for other EAC countries although this is subject to the ‘good behaviour’ of your telecom service provider. A few weeks back, Google announced plans to provide high speed internet in Uganda.
Our Kenyans brothers and sisters have been in a mega-party mood as they celebrated 50 years of independence from Great Britain. There were several functions to mark the achievement not forgetting commemorative stamps and a coin.
A lot has happened to Kenya in the last 50 years from its population quadrupling from 8.1m to the current 43m. Kenya is also considered to be one of Africa’s ‘lion’ economies by business commentators. And to prove this, Kenya’s economic muscles can be viewed from any part of East Africa.
Kenyan companies have set up shop in all the corners of East Africa and including South Sudan with eyes now set on Ethiopia, Angola, and DRC. Most visible are the numerous Kenyan banks, supermarket chains and insurance companies.
We can also not miss the presence of Kenyan Airways in our skies, Nation Media Group’s media presence, East African Breweries Limited’s products and several Kenyan companies cross-listed on the different EAC stock exchanges. Did I forget to mention the mobile money frenzy they kickstarted with M-Pesa? Oh mighty Kenya!