Let’s save hysteria for real threats to our survival — ­like Trump

Saturday January 20 2024

President William Ruto (L) and his counterpart Samia Suluhu hold bilateral talks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on October 10, 2022. PHOTO | PSCU


This past week, there was a bit of a kerfuffle about cargo planes and whatnot between Tanzania and Kenya. It was a big, fat nothing-burger, and I said as much on a social media platform, thinking it would be over in 72 hours tops. It took about 24 hours to resolve.

However, the amount of handwringing about it that I saw online was surprising. It made me wonder if I have lost the ability to panic about the right stuff, but I don’t think so.

I am very panicked all the time, like a true Millennial. I am panicked about climate change, Trump, Russia in Ukraine, Gaza, what the future holds for our progeny, Trump, microplastics, Trump, Covid mutations, and Trump.

I am not panicked about the EAC at all. So, when folks were depicting what I saw as a minor squabble between neighbours as indicative of a massive rift in the Jumuiya Project, it took me aback.

Read: OBBO: On integration, EAC can't fake it till it makes it

The EAC has a track record from well before the Independence era. At least the OG 3 do: For better or worse, Tanzania and Uganda and Kenya have been shackled together for generations. This includes weathering highlights such as one failed attempt at regionalism in the ‘70s, a few stolen planes, a mild invasion, one Coalition of the Willing, and wildly different political cultures.


Yet, here we are today, all shocks absorbed, still integrating in spite of our governments’ less reasonable actions. A few burned chickens at the border, stranded truckers or milk that is verboten by one state have not stopped the natural progression of our regional endeavours.

Let the integration of East Africa take its sweet time. Contrary to what the pseudo-Africanists will tell you, this continent was not a wonderland of Kumbayah before the Europeans came to steal resources. It was a glorious quilt of societies of various sizes, and we have real ethnolinguistic differences.

I celebrate our diversity, and I also honour it by not trying to force any artificial bonhomie and standardisation. We are still very young in this process; our friction is natural. Good neighbourliness takes time. We just need to keep the guns out of it.

This is why I want us to wait to federate. The current generation of politicians — those closer to my age — seems conversant with legal and diplomatic methods of resolution.

The airline beef was squashed within 24 hours. By contrast, our elders had their turn, and they threw their toys out of the pram.

Read: Dar lifts KQ ban after Kenya okays cargo flights

Now, the adults have a chance to create something better. And the young ones? Highly intelligent, very reasonable bunch. They have a much better grasp of the necessity of holding on to what is good in a hostile world.

So, shall we go back to panicking about the things that matter? Like, how about we address our broken education systems, health and renaming of Lake Victoria, what to do about locusts — other than eating them.

Let us save our hysteria for true threats to our survival, including Donald Trump, and those civil/regional wars we don’t really talk about.

Elsie Eyakuze is an independent consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report; Email [email protected]