News and Views

“What a year that 2011 was!”

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December is a time when writers, editors, analysts and all who make news what it is, are busy researching on what to write to wind up the year. Likewise, all media houses and outlets are busy hunting for a sound summary of the year. This is what this article is all about today.

Truly, the year 2011 was a year that empowered hoi polloi against hoit toity in many countries, especially in Africa. Time Magazine named “The Protester” as its Person of the Year. Indeed, thanks to tireless efforts and fearless heart of the protester, we evidenced strong men cascading like a cardhouse. It all started in Tunisia where on 14 January 2011, when a desperate young man Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after being fed up with police harrasments. Just two weeks of the commencement of the year, Zine Abdeen Ben Ali was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia after demonstrators toppled his government under what was later known as Jasmine Revolution.

The Jasmine Revolution became a political meme. It did not end up in Tunisia. A month thereafter, it swept Egypt where a longtime strong man, Field Marshal Mohamad Hosni Mubarak became another casualty. On 25 January 2011 all major Egyptian cities caught on fire of revolution that culminated on 11 February when Mubarak stepped down after noting that the wind of changes was not on his favour.

While new development was registering on Maghreb, Africa south of Sahara was not spared. One of its democrat-turned-dictator president Laurent Gbagbo was at it with his arch foe, current president, Allasane Ouattra who defeated him in polls. The capture of Laurent Gbagbo on 6 April 2011 and handing him over to The Hague on 29 November to face the music was something that marked some changes in SSA, which has defied logic by not being gutted down by Jasmine Revolution. It remains as the place with many stinking dictators that are still safer thanks to lacking enlightened population.

Going back to the year and some of its breakthrough, on 2 May 2011 the world was awaked by the news that the head of al Qaida Osama bin Laden was killed by American seals. The saying “Jeronimo EKIA” or “Jeronimo the Enemy Killed in Action” as it was coined by the Seals, became a hit of its own.

Before long, the wind of change was still blowing in Maghreb. For on 15 February 2011, it started pounding Libya as demonstration commenced in Benghazi. Ever since fierce fighting ensued between the soldiers of the government of the long time ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi coined the saying “zanga zanga”, namely surround them everywhere and kill them and the rebels in Benghazi. It took months to bring down the regime in Tripoli. On 20 October Gaddafi along with his son and chief of security were summarily killed as they were trying to escape after their convoy being attacked by NATO jets.

The year 2011 had another side of loss and gains in other circles. For it is in the same year on 25 September 2011 Kenya lost her beloved iconic daughter Nobel Laurete Wangari Maathai, who bravery fought cancer and later succumbed. That was a loss. The gains for Kenya in 2011 were immense.

The ruling about arresting Sudanese strong man, Omar Bashir, should he set foot on Kenya soil by a Kenyan judge, Nichola Ombija on Nov. 28, 2011, brought reliefs to Human Rights activists the world over, so as to uplift Kenya’s name internationally. Also the response of the judiciary to stick to its guns was a breakthrough.

2011 also saw Kenya entering Somalia to flush out al Shabaab. This occurred after thugs from Somalia entered Kenya and abducted three people, two Britons and a French woman who later died in the hands of her captors. This provoked Kenya so as to decide to take on al Shabaab under operation Linda Nchi or Protect the Country.

South of Kenya, it was all jubilations in Zambia, when on 23 September 2011 the opposition swept an incumbent president out of power. This was the second time for this nation to do so.

North of Kenya, in the Middle East, things were not so good. For the former president of Israel, Moshe Katsav was found guilt of rape and on 6 Dec 2011 he started to serve his seven year jail term in Maasiyahu prison. A week thereafter, former French president Jaques Rene Chirac (Bulldozier) was bulldozed before the court and found guilt thence, convicted for misappropriation of public funds save that, different from Katsav, he received a two years suspended sentence. Despite all, this was slap on the face.

The year wound up with the death of North Korean strong man Kim Jong Il on December 17th, 2011 at the age of 69 like Gaddafi. A day after, on 18 December 2011 the world lost a great son Vaclav Havel the former president of Czechoslovakia (1989–19920 and Slovak (1993-2003).

Economically, the year 2011 evidenced turmoil in the Eurozone whereby three countries were on the verge of collapsing economically. These are Italy, Greece and Spain.

Tanzania wound the year with very heavy and brutal floods that claimed the lives of over 40 lives.

As for Uganda, it was relatively calm save that there were some sparks regarding gay rights and the death of Rwandan exiled Journalist Charles Ingabire, who was gunned down on November 30, 2011.

In sum, generally speaking, the year 2011 was intaglioed with many imbroglios and scenarios for my crystal ball. It was but a potpourri. It was not easy to define so to speak.

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.

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