Africa: A year of unusual political occurrences

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In a brief overview of events in Africa, 2008 has been regarded by some observers as a year of recuring wind rather than a year with a transitional wind. Critics say that there have been hardly any real premise in 2008 that indicates a direction towards better African days and most of the events whether political, economic or social have been stereotypical.

The year witnessed deadly ethnic clashes the following disputed elections in Kenya, where more than 1,500 people were killed and some 300,000 displaced before a power-sharing deal was reached. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe ended the year declaring, “Zimbabwe is mine.” Angola held its first elections in 16 years – the event was seen as a vital step in its recovery from decades of war and as the mineral-rich country starts to open up to international investment. Thousands of lives were destroyed as anarchy in Somalia, Genocide in Darfur, Sudan, war and humanitarian crisis in Congo, Uganda and Central African Republic took center stage. For the Republic of Guinea, it ends with a military power take-over.

In Nigeria, blood-oil continued to flow and this pandemonium was complimented by religious violence in the northern part of the country. A year rarely passes without a religious riot in Nigeria. This time the deadly violence that erupted in the central city of Jos was not sparked by a cartoon or beauty contest, but by a dispute over local elections. In South Africa xenophobic violence erupted, damaging the country’s image as the Rainbow Nation and Thabo Mbeki stood down as South Africa’s president.

Amidst African issues such as the abuse of power, human rights abuse, child rights abuse, labour rights abuse, and economic exploitation, the continent also failed to tackle issues of unity, peace and progress and hence it mourned thousands of its population including legends such as South African singer Miriam Makeba, who brought some of these issues to the fore.

Although many positive developments were put in place they were marred by the overwhelming events of shame. The question now is what awaits Africa in 2009. Will there be a spill over of the horrible events of 2008? Will the wind of recurrence blow again? Who will usher in the wind of transition to better African days? Time will tell.

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