2015 spawned the longest hashtag we’ve ever seen #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou. In honour of that, we’ve compiled the top political events that should have made bigger headlines both in Africa or abroad.
It’s only now when quite a few people are dying that the situation in Burundi is hitting the news.
The peaceful mass demonstrations when Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, was allowed to seek a third mandate, did not get much coverage. It didn’t help that messaging services (Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Tango) were blocked in April by official regulators.
The situation escalated as members of the opposition were assassinated before Nkurunziza was sworn in. An attack against military bases in early December left 89 dead and bodies found in the streets. Now that the situation is threatening to turn into a genocide, mass killings, mass violence or simply terror, the media has finally woken up.
With a total of 30 official candidates and several reports, the Central African Republic could start out the new year with a presidential race. The National Authority of Elections recently announced that the elections’ first run should take place on December 27 while the second round could take place in late January 2016.
The elections were initially scheduled for February, then June, then October. It was delayed due to unrest in the transitional period.
148 innocent lives were taken in the Garissa University attacks on April 2 by Al-Qaeda’s offshoot Al-Shabaab. The #147notjustanumber trended for a brief time after the attacks. No Kenyan officials were present at the vigil held for Garissa victims in Nairobi a few days after it happened.
It was when the Paris attacks happened, that the atrocity in Garissa really hit the news. People clicked on the BBC coverage of the Kenyan attacks as well as the incoming news about Paris to show solidarity for all victims of terrorism.
Better late than never? Hissène Habré, the former Chadian dictator, is suspected to be responsible for the death of tens of thousands of people during his time as president (between 1982 and 1990). After years of judicial battle, Senegal became the first country in African history whose institutions will judge a former head of another state.
The trial, which began in July, has been in the pipeline for twenty-five years. It has so far lasted approximately two months, with 98 witnesses (chosen from more than 2,500). Closing arguments are expected in January and the verdict should be delivered at the end of May. Hopefully, the media’s notoriously short attention span can last till then.
When Barack Obama Malala and the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize they were feted (or ridiculed) in many headlines. This year it was awarded to Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, four organisations which contributed in the democratic transition of the country.
Following the Jasmine Revolution and the political crisis that unfolded, these civil society organisations came together and put in a lot of efforts to support the safe and peaceful transfer of power. Sounds good. And it wasn’t that controversial so it didn’t hit the news like the other winners did.
It took 28 years and the overthrow of his successor Blaise Compaoré for the truth to come out. The remains of Thomas Sankara, the former pan-Africanist revolutionary and Burkinabé president, were exhumed after years of the family’s request being denied.
His original certificate claimed he had died of natural causes, but the autopsy reported something that was public knowledge: Thomas Sankara was executed during the military coup of 1987.
Surely the assassination of Africa’s Che Guevara should have been a bigger deal?
But now the hunt is on for former President Blaise Compaore who’s thought to sejourn in the Côte d’Ivoire.
In June, Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão, also known as Ikonoklasta, was arrested with 14 other activists during a book club meeting. They are now being prosecuted for attempting a coup d’etat. Beirao and the other activists were known for organising demonstrations calling for the resignation of Angolan president Dos Santos. A little after his arrest, Beirao began a hunger strike which lasted 36 days; a day for each year the dictator has been in power.
A couple of days after their release (they’re due to return to court next month for trial’s conclusion), Nicki Minaj performed in a concert hosted by Unitel, the mobile phone company owned by Dos Santos’s daughter. She wrote in an Instagram post: ‘Oh no big deal…she’s just the 8th richest woman in the world. (At least that’s what I was told by someone b4 we took this photo) Lol. Yikes!!!!! GIRL POWER!!!!! This motivates me soooooooooo much!!!! S/O to any woman on a paper chase. Get your own!!!! Success is yours for the taking!!!!! #Angola thank u to the women who brought me out here as well.’
Nicki will be adding to her own pile of gold with an alleged paycheck of US$2 million.
As some presidents get elected, others, desperately try to stay in power. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of Congo-Brazzaville passed a referendum to breach the constitution. The referendum was majorly boycotted by the opposition, leading to a landslide victory by Sassou-Nguesso who will join the presidential race next year.
Sassou-Nguesso attempts to stay in power has been inspired and copied in the region by other current presidents such as Rwanda’s Paul Kagame or DRC’s Joseph Kabila.
And the Côte d’Ivoire’s Alassane Ouattara won 84 per cent of the vote to in one of the first peaceful elections in more than two decades. It’s not all (that) bad.