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Rwanda up, Uganda down, that’s the way it goes in East Africa 0

It was another big week of contrasts in East Africa. In Uganda, the government was chasing down and beating up the opposition, arresting its leaders for fear they would disrupt President Yoweri Museveni’s swearing-in for his seventh term. It also shut down social media.

Museveni’s election in February was rejected by the opposition as fraudulent, and the opposition secretly swore in his long-time rival and runner-up in the vote, Kizza Besigye, as the “people’s president.”

In Kampala, in the past few days, the government has packed the streets with heavily armed soldiers, and buzzed the city with air force jets on a regular basis.

Next door in Rwanda, the World Economic Forum Africa convened, with the glitzy men and women of Africa and the world in attendance in their hundreds, and fellows peering into virtual reality headsets.

A Bloomberg article proclaimed, “…Rwanda is taking another step toward looking like the closest thing Africa has to Switzerland… [its] economy has outperformed most of its continental peers, with annual growth averaging 7.8 per cent since 2000.”

It’s barely 20 years since similar – and indeed more colourful – accolades were showered on Uganda.

Also a few moons ago, every page you turned of an international news magazine, there was Kenya being touted as the “Silicon Savannah,” the place where those Africans who couldn’t go to San Francisco, could come and get a sense of what the famed Silicon Valley smells like.

Lately, we have all been putting on our leotards and dancing to fete Tanzania’s newish President John Magufuli, the man who has not seen a shilling he does want to save or hide from the hands of the corrupt.

These are the age-old rhythms of East African progress.

Historically, there have always been countries that are in the doghouse at a time when their neighbours are flourishing.

Continue reading on The East African

by Charles Onyango-Obbo

Photo Credits: Getty Images

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi