No. 165: 3AMReads: Moody’s Downgrades Eskom | DRC Asks for Joint Bid | Ghana President Wants More Parliament

Moody’s downgrades South Africa’s power utility Eskom

South Africa continues to face challenges as bad news continues to emerge from week to week. On Monday, Eskom’s chairman resigned. On Tuesday, Moody’s downgrades the power utility’s credit rating.

The question in my mind is what is the path forward for South Africa. President Zuma, who has played a central role much of these recent issues, will be stepping down as leader of the ANC next year, hopefully. He is then to step down as President in 2019. Who will fill that void?

The ANC is still pretty firmly in Zuma’s control, evinced by the ANC voting not to remove him from the presidency a few weeks ago. Who within the ANC could step up? The party’s Youth League has put its weight behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but she is also backed by President Zuma. Who outside the ANC could step up? One of the most high profile political leaders in the country, Helen Zille, just apologized for a problematic tweet about colonialism being good for Africa. I think it’s pretty safe to bet she won’t be getting a ton of votes.

South Africa needs leadership to right the ship over the next several years and it’s not apparent that folks are in position to take on that mantle. Hopefully, someone emerges over these next couple years.

Congo tells consortia to form joint bid for Inga 3 hydro project

The Inga 3 dam has been under development for what seems like forever, something like 14 or 15 years. The Democratic Republic of Congo just asked two massive companies from China and Spain to work together on a joint bid, and it seems like a pretty strange request. Let’s see what more information comes out about this.

Ghana Leader Favors Constitutional Change to Boost Finances

President Nana Akufo-Addo wants parliament to have more oversight of the country’s public finances, which would require constitutional changes. Ghana already has a central audit agency structure. I think a nice addition would be to create an agency similar to the Government Accountability Office, an independent agency that works for Congress and investigates how the government spends public dollars. GAO has already done with staff at Ghana Internal Audit Agency, and I’m sure would be more than happy to help establish a similar organization that works for Ghana’s parliamentary structure.

No. 54: Lumumba Was Here

Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, independent Congo’s first prime minister.

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, one of the first blacks to attend my alma mater, wrote a nice piece on the importance of Lumumba and his death. He recently published a biography of Prime Minister Lumumba that I look forward to reading.

Here’s a letter Lumumba wrote his wife, Pauline some time before his death.

Tomorrow, we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, President Obama gives his State of the Union address.

Lumumba and King were decades younger than President Obama when they died. It’s incredible how productive they were in such a short time. Much more work to be done still to realize their massive dreams.

No. 43: Why I Do What I Do?

I was 10 or 11 years old when I started crying while watching a PBS show about something related to HIV/AIDS in Africa. It is a bit blurry now, but I believe there was a woman with a child on the screen. Something about the image shook me so deeply. I remember writing in my journal that night, “I must help my people.”

Years later, in my sophomore year of high school, I remember standing in the library and realizing that slaves worked the land on which I was studying. That moment shifted my identity as a student at that school.

As a kid, my dad told my brother and me stories about Kwame Nkrumah and JJ Rawlings and their leadership of Ghana. I remember being so captivated by them.

Staring at this painting this morning, I think about the work done over the centuries by black people in the US. The slavery endured. The genius contributed. The pursuit of the North Star by so many. Moses getting so close to the Promised Land, but not being able to enter.

I think about the struggle of the people of Africa for millennia to regain control of their continent. The richness of cultures that I am just scratching the surface of knowing. The origin of a considerable amount of the knowledge we have today.

Martin Luther King. Kwame Nkrumah. George Washington Carver. Richard Wright. Patrice Lumumba. Gertrude Liverman. Anna Olivia Som-Pimpong. Those at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Mansa Musa. Yaa Asantewaa. Nancy Fairley. Dora Dugan.

I do what I do to bridge the gap between the black people in the US and Africa, so that we can realize our potential together. So we can reach the light the man in the painting is pointing towards. The light he struggled for but wasn’t able to reach.