Africa’s Potpourri of Highs and Lows

Still reeling from the whammy of yet another African pilferage uncovered in the Pandora Papers, last week, the continent started like a house on fire. 

The Pandora Papers, 2.9 terabyte and 11.9 million documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed the secret, undeclared properties of some of the world’s greediest leaders, businessmen and so-called men of God. 

With billions of dollars in properties sitting pretty in tax havens around the world, some African leaders evade tax on the continent and keep their people’s money beyond the maddening crowd. Great contributors to illicit financial flow in Africa, and the brains behind some of the deepest history of capital flights, these leaders have been denying the facts against their names.

From the Kenyatta family’s $30million and more in offshore companies, to Denis Sassou Nguesso’s habitat of stolen riches, and Uganda’s security chief saying hi from rooftop of his properties in Cyprus and British Virgin Islands, Peter Obi’s Nigerian big bags abroad, and lots more, the Pandora Papers were new confirmations of why Africa has a great battle on its hands to stop illicit financial flow both within and outside Africa. The continent has lost more than $500bn in these illicit money transfer according to Thabo Mbeki but it doesn’t look like it will be ending anytime soon.

It’s a wrong choice in this week’s mixed bag. 

Mosquirix: Finally Getting One Over Malaria 

The African child can now, perhaps, grow into a healthy adult, all thanks to the latest malaria vaccine endorsed and approved by the World Health Organisation. 

Africa is the worst-hit by malaria in the world, representing 94% of the total number of mortalities from the disease with the most affected age group being the under-5s. Many African futures have been lost to malaria and the excitement that greeted the announcement of the vaccine was in order. 

After a pilot phase involving more than 800,000 people in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi, the vaccine produced by Glaxosmithkline and made by African researchers was finally approved. It’s expected to reach many African countries, especially the most hurt by malaria and should help secure the future of many children.  

The vaccine named “Mosquirix” will work against Plasmodium falciparum which has a very heavy presence in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a good reality to live with, as it will save many lives from a disease which affects 229 million people in the world and kills 409,000 every year. 

The Wait is Over – A Black African Takes The Prize Again

It took thirty-five years, constant pressure on the need to reach people of diverse backgrounds and a bitter story of colonialism for a black African writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. And it wasn’t Ngugu Wa’ Thiongo. 

Zanzibar-born Abdulrazaq Gurnah was in the kitchen when his name was announced as the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature. He left Zanzibar for the United Kingdom at the age of 18 at the height of revolution.  A retired Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, Canterbury, Gurnah’s most recent novel, Afterlives, was published in 2020.

Hardly a bookmaker’s favourite, his choice was a surprising one to everyone, including Gurnah himself. 

“It was such a complete surprise that I really had to wait until I heard it announced before I could believe it,” he said. 

At one time a victim of colonialism in East Africa, Gurnah’s writing reveals the gory details of the practice in that part of the continent. His story resonates with the new order of calling colonial powers to take responsibility for their previous atrocities. He fits the bill just perfectly and must have just told his story without expectations of recognition. 

The last black African to win a Nobel Prize for Literature was Nigerian, Wole Soyinka in 1986 for his brilliant elucidation of the African culture in his works. Africans, like every other person, and more than any other people, have stories to tell. It’s a busy continent with many stories waiting to be told, of agelong practices and how they affected the continent and it has writers waiting to be heard and read from. Literature lives in Africa, and Gurnah brought it home. 

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