I know quite a number of people who support English football teams. A spate of bad results pushes them to the edge of depression with some eventually gathering the guts to burn their replica jerseys and transfer their loyalty to new team. When it comes to East Africa’s social political dynamics the same system cannot apply. We cannot be angry about what has been happening in East Africa and just walk out of the region.
In Kenya for instance the terrorists and bandits seem to be having it easy of late. A bus travelling from Mandera in north eastern Kenya to Nairobi was stopped and all non Muslims (28 of them) were shot dead. Just before we could even process this horror, another over 36 people were shot dead close to the same area at a quarry.
Kenyans and other peace loving people were furious and as they had done several times before, called for the sacking of the top security people particularly the police boss, David Kimaiyo and the internal security cabinet secretary Joseph Ole Lenku.
This time their prayers were answered as the police chief resigned while another person was nominated to replace Joseph Ole Lenku who many believed had no clue about security as often exemplified by his nonsensical public announcements like the claim that the Westgate mall fire was just mattresses on fire.
At the regional level the bickering and dirty linen washing bonanza coming from the East African Legislative Assembly went a notch higher. A leading Ugandan daily newspaper carried a story claiming that the reason why the EALA speaker Hon. Margaret Zziwa faces possible censure is because of wearing high heeled shoes!
As if that is not enough, her charge sheet according to Hon. Susan Nakawuki another EALA member from Uganda, includes other ‘crimes’ like banging the table, showing off, giving few trips to members and failure to negotiate MPs’ salary increment among others. The fact that we are talking about EALA members and not some high school teenagers makes you wonder what is honourable about all this bickering they are doing.
Who would have ever guessed that the height of the speaker’s shoe heels could have an impact on regional integration in such a way? Such juvenile behaviour was not the kind we wanted to hear after learning that the EAC Heads of State Summit did not take place as scheduled. Nonetheless President Jakaya Kikwete took over the chairmanship of EAC from Uhuru Kenyatta.
It is however not all gloom in the region for I noticed some positive developments that bring out the resilience of the region. However much the bad news fills the air, some great stories still make their presence felt.
One such positive was the fact that Uganda’s famous comedienne Anne Kansiime had sold out shows in Botswana. This girl’s star continues to shine far and wide. And she no longer just flies a Ugandan flag but an East African one since my Kenyan friends love to claim her as though she was another Migingo Island.
Tanzania’s top musician, Diamond also flew the region’s flag high when he won three awards at the Channel O music awards in South Africa. Anyone who follows most African continental awards knows about the dominance of the South Africans and Nigerians. To have an East African walk away with three awards is no mean feat.
Staying with Tanzania, I did come across some pictures of Sunderland FC footballers training in shirts emblazoned with the words Visit Tanzania. Considering the popularity of English football who ever thought of that idea deserves a standing ovation for promoting tourism in the region.
A couple of weeks back I wrote here urging East Africans to embrace regional tourism by visiting other East African countries. An old friend of mine shared with me a very encouraging story in light of the same. This friend managed to book 55 Ugandans into a hotel in Kigali for the whole festive season.
This group of 55 was originally made up of just 12 friends who long vowed never to sleep in their homes during the festive season. The original 12 are now married with some having children and so the group has grown to 55. Each year at around this time they visit a new place and stay for at least two weeks. This year that place is Kigali, Rwanda. Such positive stories are the real stuff that make the festive season, a festive one.