These past few days have been quite eventful in East Africa. The leaders retreat in Rwanda ended on a rather poignant note with President Paul Kagame stressing the need for Rwandan leaders to pull up their socks and not tolerate mediocrity. He talked tough about leaders who have allowed corruption and inefficiency to grow right under their noses.
It is during such moments that I silently wish such a speech would be broadcast across the whole region because the lessons therein can apply anywhere else. Rwanda has no doubt achieved a lot in the previous years but according to President Kagame the journey ahead is still a long one and there is no need to sit on our pearls just yet or even ever at all.
In the same spirit, I landed on a news clip where Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was reminding some leaders that bad habits should not ever be packaged as tribal habits. He stressed that everyone should be ready to carry their own cross without hiding behind tribal veil to cry that a certain tribe is being harassed when the law is applied.
I only managed to see Uhuru Kenyatta’s speech because after a whole 19 days, Kenya’s three biggest media houses resumed broadcasting after a failed protest against the digital migration process in the country. Royal Media Services, Nation Media Group and Standard Group who operate four TV stations (Citizen TV, NTV & QTV plus KTN respectively) had been off air since failing to adhere to the deadline for digital migration in Kenya.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni made a minor cabinet reshuffle that as usual got many commentators talking. Just before the cabinet talk could simmer down, he also appointed a new Chief Justice and deputy chief justice. The country had gone without a chief justice and deputy chief justice for over two years.
As someone with a keen interest in EAC affairs, I must point out that I am a little disturbed by the fact that Uganda still has no cabinet minister for EAC affairs. President Museveni is yet to appoint one to replace his childhood friend the late Hon. Eriya Kategeya. The country has had to make do with a mere Minister of State yet EAC affairs are very crucial in this day and age.
Still with EAC, President Museveni and President Kagame met in Kigali for the fundraising ceremony for the construction of Ntare School in Rwanda. Like I said in my column last week, the two leaders stressed the fact that such efforts will go a long way in boasting EAC integration.
President Kagame and Museveni were later joined by other EAC leaders and representatives for the Northern Corridor Integration Summit. The northern corridor meetings are held every two months to assess the progress made on the projects.
It is important to point out other recent developments like Uganda removing the requirement of work permits for Kenyans and Rwandans to work and also the fact that foreign residents can now travel freely without having to acquire extra visas in the region.
And just in case you had forgotten, today is International Women’s Day. A day set aside to recognise and celebrate the immense contribution women make in this world. Each East African nation has been blessed with some phenomenal women worth celebrating both national and even individually like our mothers.
Some of these amazing women are still living like Oxfam International’s boss, Winnie Byanyima, while others like Prof. Wangari Maathai are only with us in spirit. I do think though that the best way we can celebrate women is by giving them a bigger platform to inspire the younger generations. This should not just be about one day in a year but a continuous effort.
Every country ought to identify its exceptional women and make an effort to bridge the gap between these women and the next generation of young girls. Young girls should be assured that they too can lead commendable lives after seeing and listening to such exceptional women.
In Rwanda for example I really appreciate the efforts by a group of phenomenal women who under the umbrella of ‘Girls in Tech’ go around schools encouraging girls to embrace sciences and technology. Every successful woman ought to inspire other young women or girls. You can be amazed by how far such efforts go in instilling confidence and the drive to aim higher in a young girl’s mind. Happy International Women’s Day!