Happy New Year Pambazuka Newsworld! Hopefully, we can all keep our New Year resolutions! This time I, too, want to maintain and excel at all my resolutions, especially, to stay here, writing forever!
I have not appeared here in Pambazuka News, for a minute too long! But a child never forgets where home is. It is good to be back! Perhaps, my “surreptitious” disappearance from Pambazuka News is best captured by the on-going absurdity of my geographical location. As a child of the universe, and a global citizen, home is where my heart is. Though I closely identify with two homes: Uganda, the land that birthed me; and the United States, the land that I birthed in, also my current domicile. Albeit, I have been feeling rather estranged from my homes; neither here, nor there. Both are embroiled in political strife, with leaders running amok against the citizenry.
At the start of 2016 I predicted that, I would most likely have “nowhere to run” by the end of that year. The year 2016 was a political absurdity, as Uganda re-elected President Museveni for the umpteen time (sorry I have lost count) in February, and in November, the Electoral College gifted upon us Donald Trump. I consoled myself that, both men did not win the “popular vote,” having gambled their way into the presidency. The latter won through the Electoral College, and the former through continued intimidating and harassing of political opponents, and hijacking and stuffing the electoral ballot.
Despite the political despair among the citizenry of both countries, the United States is still far from the political quagmire that has entrapped Uganda since 1986. We have more certainty for new political leadership in the United States before Museveni disentangles himself from the Uganda presidency. He has already outlived five United States presidents, from Ronald Reagan (1981-89) to Barack Obama (2008-2016), and counting on to the incumbent Donald Trump.
Yet, my delayed comeback is far from those two political demagogues. Life has been a whirlwind of personal and professional encumbrances. Still I rise! Feeling a sense of excitement, a renewed sense of self, hope, and optimism for 2019. I have been preoccupying myself with what I do best; learning, relearning, and gearing myself to start teaching. I have an insatiable appetite for education, and strongly believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to quality and relatable education. Starting at the very foundation of our learning, in early childhood, to elementary, then high school and beyond.
I came of age with the mantra that, “Education is a key to success,” although it now sounds much of a cliché. I do not entirely dismiss the value and need for an educated citizenry. However, without articulating the purpose, quality, and form of education, the promises of education lay in peril. It is why, in a country with the most resourced higher education system on the globe, a huge percentage of voters elect political leaders based on sensational propaganda.
Many have mortgaged their right to “free will,” and a “sound mind” in decision making to corporate media broadcasters, their pastors, or famous businessmen. They are wiling to vote against their interests. Electing politicians, who will take any chance to slash the only lifeline they receive from the government, to supplement their abysmal incomes. The country with the second highest broadband Internet connection, and mobile wireless subscription, is also home to a large uninformed citizenry. Even a college student fail “simple” questions about their state capitol or nation’s Vice-President! Quality education does matter!
Not all is doom and gloom, however. 2018 was the year of elevating the Africa and Africa diaspora interconnections. The biggest news of the year, Black Panther shuttered global box offices, and proved that people of black African decent are not the lazy lot perpetually in news waves; #wakandaforever. Resultantly, around the world, from Hollywood, to international designers and catwalk runway, everyone wants a piece of Africa. Ironically, that includes continental and Diaspora Africans, who seem to have newfound love for their cultural identity, judging from the volume of African print making a comeback in regular wear and couture. Then, we married into the British royal family, a first in modern history, becoming more English than the queen!
African Americans continued trekking to the continent, reconnecting with their ancestors through historical tourism, and with their living relatives through charitable and entertainment collaborations. Notably, French Montana, Diddy, The Weekend, Akon, and yes, even Kanye West, all found an enclave in Africa to flex their celebrity muscle through music and charity!
Queen Bey[oncé], her husband Jay Z, and Naomi Campbell have become a staple at the annual Madiba’s birthday bash, and fundraiser for the Nelson Mandela foundation in South Africa. These are all reasons to hype about the symbolism of “black gold” from the African diaspora headlining lives and prosperity in Africa.
Even the “new Africa diaspora,” those who can trace their immediate origin to any of fifty-six African states, are busy remaking Africa in their diaspora locations. By bringing African cuisine to their diaspora palates, fashion, art and craft, and making a mark in centres of high learning, Hollywood, in the media, and as far as the United States congress. Yes, for the first time ever, we have an African of Somali origin taking her place in the United States House of Representatives. And, a woman; Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota!
As we make our way into 2019, I hope that we will continue promoting the spirit of Pan-Africanism, flying Africa globally, and celebrating blackness, whether on the continent, or in the Africa diaspora. Each of us can play our part, to cherish and promote our common heritage as Africans, may we always manifest the vision articulated by the African Union Agenda 2063, of an African renaissance, with common cultural values and ideals, and creative arts, with a skilled and revolutionary educated citizenry.
* Doreen Lwanga is a scholar of Early Childhood, Elementary and Special Education at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, United States of America.