What a year 2016 turned out to be

Tony Zakaria

THIS is the first full year of the reign of president Magufuli, the man who gained interest and admiration in Tanzania and the wider African continent for his nononsense style of fighting corruption and the waste of public resources. And true to his moniker, he has installed locks on government safes, and gate valves on all pipes used to siphon public monies out of the system.

As a result free-flowing money has grown as rare as blue diamonds and the trader on the street, bar owner and food vendor all lament the disappearance of big spending customers. There are many happy families now that some dads who used the nearest pubs as their home lounges now spend long hours at home.

Austerity is not such a bad thing. This was also the first year of free education since the time of Mwalimu Nyerere. In my time, tall and handsome Nilotic offspring from Arusha province had to be chased to attend school.

They wore government provided uniforms back to front and preferred herding cattle. Schools were few and yet classrooms were never filled but in this Magufuli time, classes are overflowing with pupils.

The millions of students are sitting on desks instead of the floor as was the case since the time of president Mwinyi. Have you ever received a maid from upcountry who came with all her worldly possessions wrapped in a cloth? Some former students of our time came from families wo could not afford a proper suitcase.

Although they came with meagre material possessions, some had the sharpest brains in class since gray matter resides in all of us regardless of whether we were born with silver spoons in our mouths or a shepherd’s staff in our hands.

The year will go down in history as the year in modern era when the people of the USA proved to the world they were not ready to be ruled by a woman. They used every excuse to make a case why Hilary Clinton was not qualified to be president. In the end, nearly half of eligible voters willingly elected not to turn up for voting.

When the results came out, they wished they had voted. That is American democracy. How on earth did the people who pride themselves for upholding democracy and human rights chose the candidate with the most racist, discriminatory and inflammatory rhetoric to be their leader for the next four years?

Is this what democracy was meant to accomplish? Now they will be stuck with his policies that he frequently disseminates through Twitter messages in the wee hours of the night. The man who has vowed to get rid of illegal immigrants from the land of the free may find it a hard nut to crack. Never mind that it is a logistical impossibility to round up 11 million persons scattered over millions of square miles of territory.

Where will he keep them while they await deportation? How many ships and planes will he employ to do the transportation? The logistics of the impossible may not be his biggest obstacle though.

You see, the majority of Americans did not ask the original inhabitants, the Red Indians for resident visas when they emigrated from Ireland, Poland, Italy, Germany or Russia. Technically they and their descendants are the real illegals.

These Mexicans who he called rapists, are they more criminal than the mafiosi of the 60s and 70s? And by the way, where was the old border with Mexico? That is where he should build the great wall of the USA. All those nice cities and towns with Spanish names must revert to the old territory of Mexico.

Perhaps The Donald will rewrite American history once he is is sworn in as president. The Year 2016 saw an exodus of biblical proportions, not of Jews but mostly of the descendants of the first son of Abraham.

Hundreds of thousands from the Persian Gulf and tens of thousands from Africa risked the perilous journey through harsh deserts and rough seas to make it to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Germany, France and beyond. The world had never seen anything like it.

Many died along the way, mothers, children, fathers, brothers and sisters. Much of Europe reacted by erecting barriers and setting up detention camps. Germany was like the lone exception, taking hundreds of thousands of fellow humans in need.

Rich middle eastern nations offered neither sanctuary nor material or financial help. At the same time the so-called Islamic State continued to terrorise, kill and injure many thousands of fellow muslims and nonmuslims alike. Where are they getting material and financial backing?

I doubt if it is coming from Europe. If the world is unwilling to confront those who finance ISIS, their kind of terrorism will unlikely not wane. It is true in 2016 the world witnessed the defeat of ISIS in Syria because of the efforts of Russia, Turkey and Iran. Forces belonging to the African Union have pushed Al-Shabab from Mogadishu and Kismayu, their stronghold cities. And in Nigeria under Buhari, Boko Haram is in retreat.

To subdue the multiheaded dragon called terrorism, we need to have collaboration of America, Europe, Russia and African nations. The world cannot afford to pick and choose which rebel or government forces to support or oppose. It is impossible to cover all the natural disasters that struck many nations in 2016 such as earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones, flooding and landslides. Suffice to say China, Italy, Japan and Indonesia had their unfair share of disasters.

As if that did not cause enough death and destruction, there were road, rail, air and mining disasters to cause grief in many homes. And the year saw the demise of many prominent persons. The angel of death was really busy in the arts and entertainment ranks.

Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and daughter. Many eminent persons and politicians made their final trip to meet their creator. Butros Ghali, Nancy Regan, Fidel Castro, and locally former parliament speaker Samuel Sitta and former minister and businessman Mungai.

2016 has been a disastrous year. Will 2017 be a better year?

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