Reflections on The State of Africa


LIKE other regions around the globe, Africa is one of the fascinating continents to learn about. It’s rich with absorbing political and economic history; though at times a discomforting history to read about.

With its 54 countries the region still faces enormous challenges – disease, dictatorship, poverty, civil conflicts and so on. Of late, the Ebola outbreak has been terrorizing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It’s been a situation that has been chilling to learn about.

Though these challenges are alive – and they won’t be dying anytime soon – the continent is experiencing remarkable economic growth. Six of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa. And the very slow march towards a democratic society can be seen in many countries across the continent.

When Ponty Moletsane, a station manager at Salaamedia and One Nation FM 88.9, invited me early this year to join the company as host of a weekly radio show, The State of Africa, focused on Africa’s current affairs, the idea was to establish a platform where the above political and economic forces shaping the continent can be untangled.

That has been our mission with the show. And it has been a remarkable year of broadcasting – filled with illuminating conversations and fascinating guests.

The premise of the program – which I have always pronounced on the show is to “take a look at critical political and economic issues shaping the African continent today – and then bring the fine minds to untangle those issues for you.”

On our very first program on the 7th of March, I facilitated a debate between Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and the lefty Bench Marks Foundation – on privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in South Africa. In the second hour of that night’s show, we had South Africa’s former ambassador to Eritrea, Iqbal Jhazbhay, with whom I had an in-depth analysis of peace and security in Africa.

Since then, oh boy it’s been an exhilarating ride! We have spoken in length about the role of China in Africa, terrorism in East and West Africa, civil conflicts in Central Africa, how the Cold War wounded the continent, Africa’s role in World War I, and the politics and economics of South Africa.

The passing of South Africa’s anti-apartheid activist, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was an event that got spoken about all over the world. She was Nelson Mandela’s wife – and her role in South Africa’s history incontournable.

One of the senior members of the African National Congress (ANC) and minister of small businesses, Lindiwe Zulu, joined me on the show to talk Winnie’s legacy, and to update our listeners on the burial arrangements at the time. Unsurprisingly, Lindiwe came out in strong defense of Winnie’s legacy, in the ANC and in South Africa.

Our goal in year 2019 is to bring our listeners an even better show. With Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s biggest oil producer holding its election in February, there’s a great deal to talk about.

Add to that South Africa’s 6th national election since the end of apartheid scheduled for May, then 2019 is even more thrilling. We will talk about these crucial events on the show – and bring you the finest minds to make sense of them.

It’s been hard to find intellectuals and journalists who predict doom on the future of the African continent. People have been largely optimistic, yet also acknowledging that serious shortcomings persists.

The State of Africa is a platform for us Africans to engage on the shortcomings that persist in our continent. We have to start with a conversation – and thereafter take concrete actions to better our home.

On air, I have occasionally said that if you are an investor, a diplomat, a businessman, a traveler on the African continent, or you are just Africa’s politics and economics junkie – then The State of Africa should be your regular appointment. I say the same here.

I hope you will all continue to be our loyal listeners in 2019 – as we’ll be making sense of this very important region. We promise not to disappoint you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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