Courting Chaos

This week’s newsletter is continuing the tradition of inviting members of our community to write From The Curator’s Desk, and for this edition, I’m happy to hand it over to Rose Lukalo, who is the Editor of Baraza Media’s journalism collective, Fumbua Kenya.

Please send your guest writing pitches for this section to if you’re interested in writing this section and you have something of interest to share to our community — a trend you’ve noticed or something you’d like us to think about. (Baraza Curator Christine Mungai is away on extended leave).

~ The Baraza Team

By: Rose Lukalo

Best foot forward, you’re out there again at the same club you always go to looking for that special one. It’s clear that you have learned nothing from being abandoned and left to pay the heavy debts that you incurred in consultation but which were all in your name. You insist this time will be different.

At the club you find the same crowd from years ago. Some got richer since then but they all have millions. Nice! The challenge is to size them up you say.

The wallflower is the one you came with. Not really a consideration. You grew up together, live in the same neighborhood. Their parents know yours and they will always be there when you get back from the dance floor. Plus, they’re as broke as you. Boring!

No, the others are more interesting. Everyone is smelling good, dressed to impress and smiling as they offer you the world.

But you’ve been here before. Surely you know that eye candy will not offer more than a good-looking arm to be seen on and the users are out to squeeze blood, anything they can get; your money, your honor, your sanity – they’ve done it before. The hunters are here for the conquest and will be bored by you as soon as the chase is over and the competitors leave the room. Liars, cheats and fast talkers will sell you a good line. Each takes a turn looking deeply into your dark brown eyes and says “It’s only you I see!”

Africa, are you thinking this through?

The United States denies that the recent visit to Africa by her UN envoy was to counter a similar mission by a senior Russian envoy and insists she was simply here for mutually beneficial talks with officials in Uganda, Ghana and Cape Verde.

Just days before Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov toured Uganda, Ethiopia, Egypt and the Congo looking for allies to support their invasion of Ukraine – a move that Western countries have fiercely opposed. Many African leaders have refused to condemn Russia’s actions. Russia likes that and came dangling promises of arms, wheat, oil and much more once trade sanctions against it are lifted.

Others are promising you wealth and power. They say the Chinese built Lekki port will change the world economy but are silent about the debt Nigeria now owes. If it’s money you want, they are bringing it; hundreds of billions of dollars are promised through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment program, the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative and the European Union-sponsored Global Gateway program. You will soon learn the hard way that their only interest is to counter the influence of China’s belt and road strategy.

Signs of a repeat heartbreak are already showing; Zambia has cancelled US$1.6 billion in Chinese loans to avoid a debt crisis while Chad, Zambia and Ethiopia have asked the International Monetary Fund to restructure their debts.

Are you still distracted by the goodie bags, the promises of enduring, respectful relationships? Have you forgotten the scars of the Cold War when the US, Russia and (to a lesser extent) France played dog-in-a-manger just to prevent each other from having you? Millions died in senseless conflicts fueled by outside forces. Unity and economic growth planned from the 1960s became a mirage. Thank goodness for Perestroika, the reform of the Russian communist party, that put an end to the hostility. These same suitors did not even say “bye” when they left you struggling with debt and the policies they imposed.

Kisumu governor Professor Anyang Nyong’o is pretty matter-of-fact in summing it up; all they want from you Africa is to use your labor, your land, your minerals and your water – or to stop each other from having them.

But you – you engage as if these relationships mean more, as if you believe they really care about you.



In the meantime, here’s:

What We’re Reading

A fresh demand for an apology and payment of reparations to Africa and Africans in diaspora on account of slavery has been made by the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He says every other race that was treated unjustly historically has received reparations including Native Americans, Japanese Americans and Jews. But when it comes to Africans there appears to be a double standard. Read here.

What We’re Watching:  

Covering the way the news is covered, this episode of Aljazeera’s The Listening Post revisits the circumstances that landed Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, in detention in a London prison from where he is fighting extradition for trial in the United States. It also features the use of propaganda and disinformation in Kenya ahead of the August 2022 polls. Look out for appearances by team leader and a community member of Baraza’s Fumbua Kenya programme, Wanjiru Nguhi and Odanga Madung respectively. (15:50) Watch it here

What We’re Listening To:

Numbering close to 350 million the Bantu-speaking population makes up nearly a third of Africa’s population with the largest number being Swahili speaking. This account says they originated in an area straddling Nigeria and Cameroon before spreading out to become dominant populations throughout East, Central and Southern Africa, assimilating and displacing other groups as they moved. Find out more.

As always, 

Christine Mungai

Curator | Baraza Media Lab

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