At the beginning of last year, a friend of mine challenged me to do something that I still find impossible. He dared me to go a month without watching, reading or listening to any news whatsoever and then write about my experience. All I have managed to do so far is to imagine myself doing it.
My mother, who used to buy news papers daily and would give you a bad eye if you spoke as she followed the prime news on TV, now agrees that news these days is so depressing. Another friend thinks that stations like Al Jazeera just have a fascination with war.
However, this month seems to be one of those that have tried to live up to the above stereotype. There seems to be a lot of bad news in circulation these days. There was of course the World Cup season where apart from the few heartbreaking moments as the teams we supported gave way for the eventual winners all was memorable.
But one can argue that signs of the bad times started showing up while we were glued to the football spectacle in Brazil. For the example the moment when Brazil conceded five goals in a space of about 30 minutes seemed like something from a military training manual. If one ever wanted to understand the military tactic of shock and awe then Germany seemed to do just that to the host nation.
As the games were coming to an end the horror that is going in Gaza was just being unveiled. The disappearance and later death of three teenagers has resulted in the Palestinian territory being taught a ‘lesson’ that has included the death of children playing football at the beach. There was a brief lull aptly termed a ‘humanitarian pause’ by the Israelis just before a ground offensive kicked off.
Before people had tweeted enough pictures of the horrors of the current Israel and Hamas conflict, Malaysia spun back to the top of the news cycle dragging along Ukraine and Russia when a passenger plane was allegedly shot down killing all those on board.
Coming on the heels of Malaysian plane that disappeared is what made it all the more heartbreaking. Now the narrative is about who did it and who claims not to have done it. Looking at it I think humanity needs a real reality check.
We are the ones who make these extremely sophisticated weapons and then cry when they are used. And please do not tell me about how they are supposed to be used properly. And let us forget about the girls that Boko Haram abducted. They are still missing too.
Although incidents closer home may not make it to the headlines of CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera we too have been going through a spell of bad news here in East Africa. We have had of explosions in Arusha Tanzaniaia. While Western Uganda has been plagued by what officials claim to be tribal clashes.
In Kenya, the coastal town of Lamu continues to be a hot bed of insecurity with attacks on civilians becoming more and more regular. Although Al Shabaab claims to be behind the attacks many say the conflict is rooted in serious land wrangles that have only been made worse by land speculators since the place is said to have oil and a big port and railway are planned to be built there as well.
For some strange reason the dry season in Rwanda maybe best remembered for the fires that have consumed properties worth millions as well as some lives. Many of the fires have been blamed on poor electrical wiring but the frequency is what is quite worrying.
As if all that is not bad enough, Air Uganda also announced that it is suspending its operations indefinitely. They also stated that they will be returning planes that they had leased since they had been grounded for a month. As a result travellers within the region are already paying through the nose to fly now that one major player is out of business.
I guess we should just hope that this is all a phase and better days are around the corner. Just like the surprise that people in Mityana, Uganda got when a plane made an emergency landing on the highway giving them a chance to see it up close without going to the airport!