Pope Francis has been on African tour this week, getting an ecstatic welcome by Kenyans and Ugandans, as both countries have large Catholic population, as well as other Christian denominations.
An African visit by another notable religious leader, Dalai Lama, seems much less likely nowadays. That has nothing to with religion, nor the fact that few Buddhists live in Africa. It is all about politics, namely Chinese influence in Africa. China will strongly oppose any attempts by Dalai Lama to visits China’s partner states in Africa. These countries, largely dependent on China-relations, will most likely heed to the Chinese advise.
Tanzanian general elections were held a fortnight ago. The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, has served his two terms and steps down now. This won’t mean the end of rule by Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which, counting in its predecessor Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), has held the power since the 60’s. This despite the restoration of multi-party system 20 years ago.
The new CCM flag-bearer is John Magufuli, who beat two female candidates in the preliminaries. It comes as no surprise, that after a sluggish tallying, Magufuli of CCM was declared the winner of the presidential election. Nevertheless, for the first time, CCM had to face a strong opposition candidate, Edward Lowassa of CHADEMA, who garnered 40% of votes, against Magufuli’s 58%.
The US President Barack Obama made a quick visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in July 2015. Especially in Kenya Obama’s “homecoming” was much anticipated, since his father Barack Obama (senior) hails from Nyanza region in Kenya, and as such President Obama has number of half siblings and other relatives still living in Kenya. Some Kenyans have felt disappointed and even ashamed that Obama did not visit the country earlier during his presidency, skipping the country during his previous African visits. While finally landing Kenya, he would stay in the capital Nairobi, even though many hoped Obama would visit Kogelo, his paternal home village. Preparations were well underway to host Obama in the village, despite he never indicated visiting there.
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir visited South Africa last week to attend the African Union (AU) summit. Since South Africa has ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty, they were obliged to arrest Bashir once he entered the country. African Union, on the other hand, would provide him diplomatic immunity. Therefore the South African justice system had a dilemma to deal with. Bashir was given a notice of not being allowed to leave South Africa until a court decision is made whether South Africa can arrest him, but in the meantime Bashir fled the country. The ANC-led South African government vocally opposed arrest of Bashir. Why would they protect Bashir, who is being accused of rather serious crimes against humanity dating from Darfur crisis? Most African countries are against ICC nowadays even if the court was formed with the noble idea of bringing justice for the victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. All investigations by ICC have been in Africa (only preliminary investigations have taken place in other continents). This has led to the popular opinion that ICC has an anti-African agenda.
The attacks against foreigners in South Africa have been on the news last few days. South Africa has a high unemployment rate and large pool of unskilled youth looking for jobs. Understandably they don’t like if jobs are taken by foreigners, regardless if illegal immigrants or not. Anti-immigration sentiments are a commonplace all over the world, not only South Africa, just see any recent election result in Europe where parties with anti-immigration agendas are flying high. However, the violent nature of xenophobia in South Africa make the picture much nastier. Read the rest of this entry »