A paradigm shift has happened on us these past 12 months

Tuesday January 2 2018

Elon Musk

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk. PHOTO | AFP 

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The Good: My favourite news in 2017 is courtesy of Elon Musk. He is about to launch his personal Tesla into space — because he can. I love this man, in a platonic can-he-adopt-me kind of way.

Whimsy, humour, an eye for the greater good, a willingness to make and lose fortunes pursuing dreams for a better humanity. So, my winner is his Muskness, because he is the embodiment of a utopian pursuit of technological advantage. Also, he dared Boeing to make space accessible before he does — which is exactly the right kind of folly this world needs.

Elon wins because the 2017 theme for this column was technology. It is something that I use every day and struggle to understand, but I am a big fan. What does it do to us? How is the world changed by it? What’s going on?

The reason I chose technology was because it is the one theme that can happily leap over all other serious issues: Gender, poverty and the alarming wealth gap, the environment, even politics of all parts of the spectrum. It is a great lens through which to examine our contemporary lives, meditate on the past and imagine the future.

As a result, I am majorly excited about what the future holds. There is a deep philosophical conversation that my society needs to engage in, about how we integrate present technological forces with our realities. Also, renewable energy may be just around the corner — maybe even perpetual energy. Yeah, Tanesco! Elon invented a battery. Look into it. PS: Dude is African. Yup.

The Meh: Writing about tech is wonderfully distracting. 2017 was so intense in East Africa. Among other things, a couple of elections took place, got cancelled, recalled, whatevered.

Tanzania has fared relatively alright, considering, but let’s not ignore the change in tone that has led to disappearances of journalists, opposition members and vocal activists.

A paradigm shift happened to us, just like to much of the rest of the world, and we are blinking into the new dispensation with a few questions in our hearts and minds.

I am optimistic. I am pessimistic. The only contradiction in life is pretending that life isn’t full of contradictions.

The Could Be Better: Okay, who invented the concept of fake news? You are an international criminal! I don’t know if anything has been more detrimental to the fabric of the global human society than fake news.

Social media is pretty bad, with its monetised reward systems, but it is now just being used as a conduit for fake news.

You know how neoliberal economists are like, but even they are not as bad as fake news. And if anybody uses that term without irony, may they get an itch in an intensely embarrassing and also unreachable spot of their body during the hottest part of summer for the rest of your life.

The Whoop, There It Is: You know that feminist revolution that we have all been waiting for? It’s still not happening here in East Africa. Or America. Or anywhere.

There has been a lot of reversals, like Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi being in the wrong side of history about the Rohingya massacres in Burma.

But for those of us who love the artistic format perfected by Hollywood, it is a horrifying, if not completely unexpected, realisation that so much of it has been built on the foundations of predatory sexuality. Sigh. We all love movies, but movie-makers? Awful.

The Predictions for 2018: Too soon. Go and have fun. Trump and Kim have been prevented from ending the world so far. You might as well make the best of the rest of it. Happy new year!

Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]