Peace, conflict, extinction and hope. Just four of the words that could be used to describe 2018 in Africa.
February 14th saw the resignation of Jacob Zuma. His resignation as President of South Africa – a post he had held for nine years – came after years of allegations concerning corruption, racketeering and fraud. In one estimate, he cost the South African economy the equivalent of $83 billion while in office. Facing a vote of no confidence in his leadership from Parliament, Zuma decided to jump before he was pushed.
In Kenya, the last male northern white rhino died, meaning that the species has little hope of further breeding. With only two females left alive, the species has a very slim chance of survival.
July brought some good news, with Eritrea and Ethiopia officially declaring an end to their border conflicts. For 20 years, violent battles and skirmishes had been fought to lead to the deaths of at least 70,000 people in the region. By ceding the town of Badme to Eritrea, and declaring hostilities to be at an end, Ethiopia moved to restore some measure of peace in this troubled part of the world.
In August, the final round of voting was held in the Malian Presidential election, which saw violent protests in some parts of the country. It was only the second such election since a coup d’etat in 2012, which saw elements of the military seize control of the nation for a few weeks. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won a second term, with over two thirds of the vote.
The Presidential election in Cameroon, held on 7 October, which led to the re-election of the controversial Paul Biya, further inflamed tensions in the English speaking north of the country. Biya has been criticised for his handling of the unrest, in what has become dubbed ‘the Anglophone Crisis.’ This crisis recently came to a head with the kidnapping of some 78 children by secessionist gunmen.
It has truly been a difficult year for Africa. With violence continuing across much of the continent, many will be hoping for a more peaceful and prosperous 2019.