Globalisation came to mind when trying to come up with a theme for a quick and dirty review of 2022. It feels like the world is experiencing a lot of things together, from climate change to economic strife to respiratory infections.
Certainly, in these 12 months, it has felt as though the oasis that is Dar es Salaam has been affected by global trends more than it might have been in the past. I like our insularity to some extent, Tanzania feels safely “out of the loop,” which allows life to meander along at a slow pace. Not so much this past year.
It started when Russia decided to invade Ukraine on February 24, a little bit out of the blue. What was supposed to be a quick annexation has turned into something entirely different — a proxy war reminiscent of the Cold War days. I say when Russia decided to invade Ukraine but it appears to have been the desire of President Vladimir Putin, who preceded the invasion with a patriotic cry about Slavic peoples and allusions to the Empire or some such.
It turns out that 2022 was also the year that President Putin turned 70 years old. So, here we are in December with World War III Lite burning in the background, the threat of nuclear annihilation steadily receding no matter how many threats Putin makes.
Then Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 years, which still surprised many people. Having been Queen regnant for over 70 years, she oversaw the break-up of the British Empire into sovereign countries linked by the Commonwealth. The death of the Queen brought about a massive wave of post-colonial catharsis as many people from former colonies recounted the many ills of the Empire — while their heads of state scrambled to attend the year’s funeral to end all funerals.
What I found notable as an African was the decision by her heir, Charles III, to subsequently televise the ancient ceremonies that surrounded his accession to the throne, something that we do not do so publicly on a continent still crawling with majesties. It will take time to adjust to having a male Queen of England.
At the end of the year, the World Cup in Qatar brought about a bit of cheer we did not know we needed. Qatar came with many controversies — how did it win the bid, the thousands who died building the stadiums, the delay due to Covid, Qatar’s sober conservatism and the push-back this generated from various quarters. In spite of this, it turned out to be one of the most exciting tournaments, with multiple upsets and unexpectedly great performances from “small” teams like Morocco, who ended up fourth. As a friend put it, finally the World Cup wasn’t a European affair to which they invited other countries to give a bit of colour.
These are the three major events that touched us all, which came to mind. For all of them in Dar and beyond there is a wealth of opinion and dialogue across the globe. It is this chatter over the communal points that makes me think: Here we are, globalised at last, for better or worse.
What will 2023 bring? Let’s find out.
Source: The East African