Enlightened Self-Interest: Towards An East African Federation

“Integration is more than five presidents meeting in Arusha and patting their backs on an illusionary integration” – Ahmednasir Abdullahi Anonymous

As we speak there is an East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Symposium taking place in Arusha, Tanzania themed: “A Decade of Service towards a Political Federation”.

Now, I may not have been born in the Seventies, but I’ve heard stories of how things were especially between my country and its neighbours. The most vivid accounts were of the icy relations between Kenya and Tanzania. Relations hit their lowest ebb in the mid 1970s. At one time, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was so frustrated by the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s capitalist economic policies, he angrily described the Kenyan leadership as being made up of “nyang’aus” (‘hyenas’) and the country as a ‘man-eat-man’ society. This description has stuck, the mistrust and mismatch of ideologies and practice has persisted till this very day.

As for our other neighbour Uganda, we have all witnessed the on-going dispute over the Migingo and Ugingo islands. I didn’t know what big of a deal it was until Museveni arrived at our Promulgation ceremony last year and he was pelted with boos and chants of “Migingo is ours!”

That said we were all filled with hope in the EAC, when the Common Market was officially launched around this time last year (remember the google doodle? Awesomeness!). But a political federation is a whole different ball-game. A federation is ofcourse a worthy goal but it calls for a bold and visionary leadership by the five Heads of State to succeed. For, beyond greater economic integration, it requires political will and unity of purpose. That is where the catch lies.

Are the political leaders of the five countries capable of matching their well-intentioned sentiments with concrete action to integrate the five countries politically?

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Oh Look! Another Book About Africa Written by a Foreigner.., So Cool!

For the longest time, I maintained a very strict cease-and-desist policy when it came to books on and/or about Africa written by non-, pseudo- and soi-disant Africans. My cue to toss a book aside with great force would be a blurb like: ‘Ryder Rainer-Dreadnought has an MA in Journalism from the University of Somewheretshire. He lived in Tanzania for a year. He now lives in Los Angeles with his stepsons Casablanca, 14, and Adonis, 12. He is married to fashion model and actor Sultana Proudhorn. When he isn’t writing, he likes to ski and take his two Labrador retrievers and three Rottweilers out for a swim. This is his third book on the region.’

 

Yeah, that's pretty much it.


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Osama Bin Ading’

I haven’t been on an aeroplane since I was nine years old.

No actually, I have. I spent about twenty minutes on  a Cessna between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam about a year ago.

But other than that domestic flight to Kisum’ City [but do I say!] I haven’t been off the ground except to jump.

So I was fairly excited about my first international flight. To Dar.

Being a writer, I figured an airport would be the perfect place for me. Duty free shopping, lots of accents, and all those strange people to watch. I was sure I’d find fodder for a script, or at least meet some guy who looks like Tom Hanks.

Instead I was claustrophobic and cold, and I realised that ‘duty-free’ Baileys costs less at Mwalimu Wine Agencies in town. It’s offical: I hate airports. Continue reading

Who Are We to Call Terrorists “Cowards”?

We were all shocked, saddened and even angered by the recent news of a militant Islamic group based in Somalia killing 74 people in Uganda and injuring many more. Stripped bare, these are criminal acts punishable both under Uganda’s domestic laws as well as under international law, committed against unarmed civilians of a sovereign state.
But let us not sheepishly follow those who insist on condemning these acts of terror as “cowardly”. Continue reading