It’s been an interesting week with some rather interesting stories here and there. In Rwanda the noise against the Miss Rwanda 2014 beauty pageant continued to grow on social media. I watched some of the controversial videos and all I can say is that whoever added the bit of ‘participants should have good public speaking skills’ to the requirements really has a good sense of humour.
In Dar, there is this interesting story of a one Charles Faraja. This smart fellow is currently earning a living simply by moving around buying worn-out and torn bank notes at half their value and then taking them to the Bank of Tanzania in exchange for new notes.
Still with Tanzania, the names of those who will form the Constituent Assembly were finally revealed. It now appears to me that apart from holding regular elections, democracy in this part of the world also means rewriting the constitution every once in a while.
That said, I think I love the proposal that MPs should serve only for three terms (15 years). I know it is just a proposal and may not materialise but truth be told, our Wazee need some brakes. A look at the current demographics is proof that we need younger people in decision making positions and such a proposal would go a long way in keeping the aging politicians away from the dinner table.
In Kenyan for example, former president Mwai Kibaki represented Othaya for close to 50 years. If the Kenyans had the Tanzanian proposal, Mzee Kibaki would do 15 years and pass on the mantle to someone else. I think politics should not be something someone does until they are too old to collect their own pension.
I know I write a lot about integration but I am still not sure of what to make of the ‘request’ by the residents of Nshenyi and Kyarwehunde in Ruhaama County, Ntungamo District in Uganda.
According to a story that appeared in the Daily Monitor, these people now want to be part of Rwanda because they are not accessing social services in Uganda. I wonder if their cries will be discussed at one of the EAC summits.
As if living at the border with both Tanzania and Rwanda is not enough, these same people are actually represented in parliament by none other than the First Lady of Uganda, Mrs. Janet Kataha Museveni. They now claim to be getting everything from Rwanda and will not tolerate politicians campaigning in their area again. I guess they were the happiest people to learn that they can now cross to Rwanda using only their IDs.
The best news however was from people who pay allegiance to area code 257 also known as Burundi. As far as the EAC is concerned, Burundi always occupies the least space on the regional news map. The regions media giant, Nation Media Group has invested in all the four EAC countries and left out Burundi.
The fact that it is the only country that does not use English as an official language has also made things difficult for Burundi. General regional media laziness has often left stories from Bujumbura to be told by other news wires like AFP, Reuters or China’s Xinhua. Actually South Sudan and Somalia get more news space than Burundi if you look closely.
Besides the news drought, Burundi has had to deal with all sorts of jokes from other East Africans. One Ugandan columnist once joked that it needed a sex scandal to be in the news. That was months after he had done a feature on Burundi’s capital which he generally described as a Mandazi city.
Bloggers have not been left out with one Rwandan blogger painting a picture of Burundians as people who are only about their beer and jokes. All said and done, the Burundians especially the younger social media aficionados recently used Twitter to spell out the dreams they have for their country using the hash tag #MyBurundianDream.
The hash tag really hit the high notes that it soon got picked up by Al Jzaeera, France24 and other global news organisations that commended the positive voice that emerged at a time when the country seems to be going through a politically tense moment.
Indeed my good friend Chris Nsabiyumva (@Mr_Burundi) summed it up well in a tweet when he said, “I think it’s the first time Burundi makes headlines for something unofficial or not related to politics, statistics or an individual.”