Many African elites are quick to point blame at the international media establishments like CNN and BBC for always depicting Africa as a crisis haven. They claim that these stations do not give enough coverage on positive stories coming from the continent. I beg to differ because for the time I have monitored news events, more sad stories are manufactured here than anywhere else.
I started being conscious of world events way back in 1993 as a Primary 6 pupil of Kitante Primary School. Our teacher, Mr. Sande encouraged some of us to join the Current Affairs Club. In this club I deputised Francis Rugema (now with Civil Aviation Authority of Rwanda).
Since my first introduction to current affairs I have heard and followed news of one crisis after another breaking out in Africa. Each of these has shattered the lives of thousands of Africans. From the 1994 Rwandan Genocide to this day as Kenya burns, the script seems unchanged.
The Kenyan story has been filling up inches of news print for more than a month now and taking up primetime for many news stations worldwide. Interestingly, before Kofi Annan has made any tangible progress with the Kenyan dilemma, the world had already turned its cameras, notebooks and sound recorders to N’djamena the Chadian capital.
As Annan was just trying to persuade the rival parties in the Kenyan capital to come to a settlement, Chadian rebels were knocking at President Idris Deby’s door with gunshots. The rebels had apparently taken control of the city and had surrounded the state house telling the Chadian leader to join the French and leave for exile. Now the story is that heavy fighting has forced many Chadian civilians to flee to neighbouring countries as refugees.
Kenya is slowly leaving the spotlight because Chad more blood is flowing in Chad. One Al Jazeera correspondent who only recently was filing stories from the Kenyan towns of Kisumu and Nakuru has already relocated to Chad.
Like a professional DJ who does not wait for one song to end before plying the next, Africa’s problems never cease. Before the Kenyans went to vote the Congolese were dealing with disturbances between the government forces and Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s troops. Since the conflicts in D.R Congo began in 1998, the estimated death toll has reached 4 million.
As the Chadian government troops fight to keep President Deby’s grip on power, Comrade Robert Mugabe is preparing for elections in March. Zimbabwean affairs are rarely complete without beatings for opposition politicians and supporters. Away from the media spotlight, fighting continues in Nigeria’s Delta region and Somalia. Just recently, the Egyptian army was embroiled in fighting with Hamas after the latter blew holes in its border. Hamas is in control of the Palestinian region of Gaza.
Since colonialism, Africa has frequently been in the news for its endless instability, corruption, violence and authoritarianism. Although to a great extent Africa’s troubles are a result of poor leadership. However, the marginalization of ethnic groups under these leaders is the biggest problem.
For political gain, many leaders have fanned ethnic conflicts that were exacerbated, or even created, by colonial rule. During the period from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, Africa had more than 70 coups and 13 presidential assassinations.
Border and territorial disputes are also common, with the European-imposed borders of many nations being widely contested through armed conflicts as in the Ethiopia-Eritrea case. Famine and drought cannot be left out of the list of African woes, with Ethiopia’s 1985-89 disaster being the most memorable.
The spread of disease is also rampant, especially the spread of HIV/AIDS, which has become a deadly pandemic on the continent. As if that is not enough the deadly haemorrhagic fever of Ebola has of late been terrorising parts of D.R.C and Uganda.
Considering the numerous blood letting catastrophes that keep befalling Africa, saying that history repeats itself is really an understatement. And so for Kofi Annan, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Joachim Chissano, Nelson Mandela, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Kenneth Kaunda, Sir. Ketumire Masire and many others there will always be fires to put out as they continue preaching peace on the continent.