18 May, 2006

Some Good News & Some Bad

With great relief, I read the news of Kenya going much further in its campaign against smoking; just a few days ago - Kenya banned smoking in most public places! In the long run, this will be of enormous benefit on Kenyans' health and Kenya's public health system. Come to think of it: being such a health hazard, why isn't smoking just banned completely? World wide? It got me in to thinking too: Yemen has still a very long way to go to reach Kenya's decision and laws against smoking!

Across the border, in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni who has just been sworn in for a third five year term, has extended an olive branch to Kony and 'has offered another chance to the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army rebels to end the two decade old war.' With the LRA's Kony and other rebel leaders wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court - I don't see how that will work. Still, in Museveni initiating that just after his swearing in, may show his seriousness about the dreadful suffering in Northern Uganda. If Museveni can settle Northern Uganda and bring peace and economic improvement there, he will have done not only Uganda a most noble thing; but the whole of Africa and the world at large.

Speaking of Museveni being sworn in, brings me to the Comoros. That beautiful island nation has managed to stage presidential elections! With much help from South Africa. Unlike its island neighbors, Mauritius and the Seychelles - the Comoros has never been stable. Coups and using mercenaries seem to have been the only means of changing 'rulers' there, before! This time, hopefully - the island will settle and allow democracy to work. Hopefully too - France will stop meddling in its affairs! It is incredible that such vastly wealthy nations, would adversely meddle in to the affairs of such a so poor a country like the Comoros! And the affairs of Africa!

Africa, in general, is said to be 'doing well economically' now. The OECD says ' the prospects for Africa's economies have improved over the past year. Several times we have heard the same kind of stories about the economies of Africa 'improving' or some African country greatly improving its economy; only to be told later, and by the same sources, about how bad things are in Africa! The economies could be improving; but how many are benefiting from that? As most African countries import all their oil needs, and the present increases in oil prices affecting most African countries very badly - I wonder how the OECD reached such a conclusion! For certain: not because real estate is booming in Zimbabwe!

With the people from Africa, the educated in particular, fleeing from the Continent in large numbers due to the very hard economic conditions - some taking the riskiest of means; one can only hope that this time - the OECD report got the figures right! And that, those countries which are reportedly doing well - bring real positive change, not only to their leaders, only - as is normally the case in Africa, but to all their people. And at the same time, make the improvement sustainable too!

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