Sorry if I missed the celebrations, but did we really mark the first year of our dear Democratic Republic of Congo joining the East African Community on July 11? Or maybe I didn’t merit the invite for indeed. Otherwise, could it be that the good people in Arusha forgot our last born’s first birthday, such a milestone, because they were busy planning how to throw out the financial request for translation services to enable the Congolese members of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) participate meaningfully in its deliberations?
There were also other pressing matters as the DRC was also busy figuring out how to throw the very East African intervention force which it accuses of failing (or fearing) to face the M23 rebels that it went in to contain. Kinshasa was also busy trying to make bilateral military deals with several countries to replace the EAC force and the world’s most expensive UN peace keeping force, Monusco.
Kinshasa was also allegedly busy trying to increase the “technical assistance” from the other outfit whose boss is feared to have boarded an executive jet that went down near Moscow last week.
The little matter of keeping the DRC feeling at home in its new home thus became secondary.
Whatever happened to the euphoria and optimism of welcoming the world’s resource richest country into the EAC block? Where went the dream statistics of a community with an additional 100 million citizens, spanning the whole land mass between Indian and Atlantic oceans?
Or maybe Arusha was also too busy wooing another one hundred million-citizen member in the Horn of Africa?
Last week when we heard that Ethiopia had joined...some of us had started jubilating, but when the announcement completed, they were talking about Brics, not EAC! I was still sulking over ET overflying EAC all the way from the Horn and landing in Pretoria, then I remembered my ancestors’ riddle about the rich, like birds of a feather, flocking together.
My ancestors’ riddle ends that as the beard grows from the chin upward, it bypasses the poor eyebrows and scanty eyelashes to go join the rich hair on top of the head.
But surely, a hundred million citizens plus the big Renaissance Dam aside, why underrate EAC’s Kenya that has moved into Addis with the giant Telecom to replace the other decades-old services used by countless Diasporan Ethiopians to remit funds that are helping build the new economic force of the Horn?
Are we going to let the beautiful Ethiopian girl (no pun at all here) go rest on bricks when we have a fluffy cushion here just over her fence? And hey, why hasn’t Brics courted the EAC as a solid bloc?
If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then let Mohammed go to the mountain; we must propose a BRIEACS. We would just have to rope in Mozambique and Sudan and the whole eastern coast of the continent from the Cape to the Mediterranean would be continuous BRIEACS territory, since Egypt is already a member. And it would also be touching the Atlantic – remember DRC is already in EAC!
If we don’t have money, we should leverage what we have, territory that is teeming with mineral wealth fresh and sea water. Then (fellow BRIEACS member) China’s Belt project would be more welcome and easier to implement.
We also tend to forget an aspect of South Africa’s DNA that has been mutating for over a century – technology. So, this eastern half of Africa would really have everything from finance, territory, minerals, water, technology...and could as well become the ‘New World’ of the 21st century that converts its natural resources into state-of-the-art industrial products using clean energy.
Imagine a mix of Congolese minerals, South African technology, everybody’s numbers and the entire River Nile basin! I was almost forgetting to include the South Pole of the Moon believed to have lots of frozen water that fellow BRIEACS member India conquered the other day.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]