12.31.2011

A Tumultuous 2011 for Africa

Here in Sierra Leone, 2011 was uneventful with the exception of illegal logging, the continued presence of corruption in high level political offices, and the non-stop arrival of Chinese and their goods to sell. As for 2012, the nation prepares for presidential elections that threaten the ruling APC party, despite pre-election violence in my city of Bo. 
To risk making the understatement of 2011, I'd like to say that it has been one hell of a year for Africa. There have been peaceful and valid presidential elections (Benin), bloody and invalid presidential elections (Cote d'IvoireDemocratic Republic of Congo, Liberia...), overthrows of dictatorships, the creation of the new nation-state of South Sudan, and a large-scale famine - and there are still a few hours left in 2011, so who know what else might happen! It's hard to sum up all that 2011 has brought Africa in words, so BBC has released this slideshow that sums up the major events that rocked the continent throughout the year.

As the new year fast approaches, I wonder if 2012 will be any kinder to my beloved continent. But then I think of the 21 elections that will occur, the deteriorating religious situation in Nigeria, and the near wars in Sudan and between Somalia and Kenya, and I become discouraged. But perhaps I'm just a cynic? (Not according to this Foreign Policy article). I suppose I need to just wait and see. 

On the bright side, Africans are resilient. My most recent trip to Sierra Leone reconfirmed this for me. Despite the abject poverty that many of them live in, they continue to be the most optimistic, happy, and grateful people I've ever met. It's my belief that despite the bad hand of cards the world continues to deal to Africa (yes, I think most of Africa's problems are a result of the West and their history of self-serving geopolitical relationships...so sue me), that one day they will rise out of the corruption, poverty, and war and become the rich and peaceful continent it is meant to be. As long as Africans themselves don't change, then I think this will be in the near future.

Two of my drivers in Sierra Leone always tell me "Take Courage". Although at first I didn't understand this statement, I now get it. This is how they remain so hopeful in their given circumstances. So for 2012, I hope Africa "Takes Courage", and I will do the same. 

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