African viewpoint: Leaping into 2012

People celebrating New Year's eve at Tahrir Square, Cairo Thousands of Muslims and Christians celebrated New Year's eve at Tahrir Square, in Cairo, hoping for better times ahead

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, former BBC Focus on Africa deputy editor and Ghanaian government minister Elizabeth Ohene looks into her crystal ball and tells us what to expect from the year ahead.

There is much unfinished business from 2011, the year of the contagious revolution; and having failed to predict the phenomenon, we, journalists and commentators will try to read into every street demonstration echoes of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

My prediction is that Egypt and Libya will still provide more stories this year than Swaziland and Angola.

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I am predicting a number of state funerals, not quite at the North Korean level, but close”

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Am I suggesting then that the contagion has stopped, I hear you ask.

No, I am afraid the genie is out of the bottle and we will continue to see big changes on the political landscape.

However, I suspect there will be more intervention from the Big Reaper this year instead of young people having to face armoured tanks and tear gas to change their leaders.

I am predicting a number of state funerals, not quite at the North Korean level, but close.

Elections ahead

There are interesting elections coming up, with Senegal kicking off things in February.

Robert Mugabe At 85, President Mugabe wants to serve another term in office

There will be fireworks and Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade will pull out all the stops to try and win a third term. Africa's longest lasting multi-party democracy is in for a tumultuous time.

The elections in Mali will hopefully pass off without as much drama whilst we all hold our breaths for the Kenyan elections. Kenya thoroughly frightened all of us the last time it tried to hold elections and indeed, we have not seen the end of that debacle.

In Zimbabwe the government of national unity would seem to be ready for dissolution.

President Robert Mugabe says he is prepared to hit the campaign trail again aged 85 and claims he will lead his Zanu-PF party into another election victory. I am not holding my breath.

I do wish I could tell if there will be long overdue presidential elections in Angola, but normal rules do not seem to apply to the venerable Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

There will be elections in Sierra Leone and in Ghana and I hereby declare more than journalistic interests in the Ghana ones about which there will doubtless be more later.

What hope for Somalia?

There will of course be the football fiesta, the African Cup of Nations, to be held in the unfamiliar grounds of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

I predict that football pundits will be suggesting that the competition will be somehow devalued by the absence of Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria.

Ghana's Black Stars training Will Ghana's Black Stars win the the African Cup of Nations?

When the captain of the Ghana national team, the Black Stars, holds up the cup at the end of the competition, let's all remember that those three nations were defeated in the qualifying rounds.

The Kenyans will shine again at the Olympics and their performance will make it worthwhile to watch the games to be staged in London.

In South Africa, the ANC, Africa's oldest liberation movement celebrates its 100th birthday this January. Unfortunately, the celebrations will be overshadowed by the struggle between President Jacob Zuma and his one-time protege, Julius Malema.

In July our newest nation, South Sudan will celebrate its first anniversary of nationhood and the African Union will be 10 years old without a certain Brother Gaddafi, who was instrumental in its formation, available to lead the celebrations.

Some things though never change on our continent and so we can be sure Somalia will continue to be in the news for all the wrong reasons in spite of the best efforts of the AU Special Representative, Ghana's former President Jerry Rawlings.

The Democratic Republic of Congo will continue to be in turmoil, the majority of its citizens will continue to suffer and outsiders will continue to prosper from its riches.

Who is Charles Taylor?

The area of the biggest growth on the continent will continue to be in religious congregations and fake prophets.

In literature, Nigeria will continue to reign on the continent and their writers will continue to entertain and amaze.

A young journalist will ask me who Charles Taylor is when the International Criminal Court in The Hague finally hands down a verdict in his trial.

Laurent Gbagbo, former president of Ivory Coast, will rediscover his voice as he takes the stand to thrill the court with his elocution.

My one hope is that the economy grows at a faster rate all over Africa.

I deserve to see a prosperous Africa in my lifetime and it is now getting perilously close to my going without seeing that day.

If you would like to comment on Elizabeth Ohene's latest column, please do so below.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Well rounded analysis by Elizabeth. It is true some few countries in the continent are looking up, but broadly speaking, it is a continent under colonial influence. The recent elections in D R Congo summed it up. No wonder Mugabe was the only one to be seen in Kinshasa on Kabila taking office

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    9. SomaliWarlord! what's your beef with our "Mystic Lizzy"? I do not think she went overboard with her views on Somalia. Calm down my brother.
    This decade is an opportunity for Africa to have real growth in the next few years especially with the economic problems in Europe & the United States.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Stories like this are considered strange in Europe, but in Africa they are normal. there is no hope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    To Smiffie#7: The last time I checked, Egypt is an African country. A refresher in Geography &History may not be a bad idea. Improper and continued reference to North African countries as Middle-East, and Africa as a country, have led to many in the West to think Africa is a country. They say they're going to Africa not a specific country. Only country specific when it comes to other continents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    AFRICA seems at turning point. About a third of its growth is due to the (probably temporary) rise in commodity prices. Some countries have been clever enough to use profits to build new infrastructure. The arrival of China on the scene - as investor & a low-cost builder - has aided this trend. Other Asian economies are following - from Korea to Turkey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Africa's economy is growing faster than that of any other continent. Foreign investment is high; Senegal has lower borrowing costs than Ireland. There is a growing middle class (similar in size to India & China) which is demanding consumer goods. Poverty, famine & disease are still problems (less so than in the late 20th century), thanks to advances in combating HIV & malaria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    As a Somali I am insulted by this Ghanian person/so called journalist. The year hasnt even turned a week before and here is this person wishing Somalia an ill-fate.

    Secondly, I did not even know that this "Journalist" was Ghanian till she repeatedly did a self-promotion up in here.This just goes to show that Africans always lack that professionalism as Journalist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Africa should not make the mistakes of the west, continued growth & development is environmental disaster & causes climate change, what for example is the carbon footprint of increased life expectancy? How much rainforest must be cleared to feed the retired? We should be in harmony with the earth & let disease run its course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Look back a few of thousand years & consider the literary, scientific & artistic achievements of Grease, Egypt, India or China. Africa does not have this background & it is unrealistic to expect too much of Africa.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It is essential that Africa’s nature is conserved, may be western environmental organisations should consider financing armed gangs & war lords to protect such places & ensure that the forests continue to combat climate change by absorb CO2.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Africa is on theway up. I travel to an African country every 2 weeks on business and can see real progress. It is time for those who dont travel to Africa to STOP talking Africa down. African countries do have challenges being dealt with gradually. Even now we have people from other countries migrating to Africa but media always want to paint africa Poor, Bad and Destititute which isa BIG LIE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Catastrophic man made climate change is almost upon us, to avert it we must embrace unemployment & poverty. We must repent our high carbon ways & live environmentally sustainable lives of carbon abstinence if the earth is to heal. Africa must not be allowed to develop, instead Africa should be paid not to develop by the west, call it climate mitigation payment if you like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    South Africa's infrastructure is starting to crumble very quickly due to inept governance, corruption, tenderpreneurs, bribery and daylight robbery of tax payers monies......not long now before it all falls down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Those African countries ruled by dictators and eternal presidents who every 5 or so years organize fake elections such as Cameroon with Paul Biya in power for 30 years, Zimbabwe with Paa Mugabe for 32 years, Musoveni's Uganda, Obiang's Equatorial Guinea-including those where sons inherited their fathers such as Gabon, DRC, Togo have and will continue to lose. God bless Africa

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Beside South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya the rest of Africa cannot boast of any infrastructure such as stable electricty and good roads. Suffice to say that when down,the only way is up. Like many, I'm hopeful and wish that Africa will rise sooner than later. African leaders will commit to serve their citizens, be accountable, become less corrupt and selfish.


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