BREXIT: What does it mean for Africa?

On March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the most successful trade bloc in the world the European Union. It will no longer be a voice to reckon within the European Commission in Brussels. A new leaf in the history of the United Kingdom and her relationship with continental Europe will be turned.

It is this long and confusing process that has been dubbed “Brexit”. It is funny sometimes, to outsiders, to hear people in the UK refer to continental Europe as if it belongs in another place. They are constantly making reference to “us and them”, “UK and Europe” as if to underline the assumption that the UK is not actually in Europe.

If the EU is such a successful trade bloc, which it is, and countries in and around European mainland are queuing up for membership, why would any existing member want out???
The answer to the main question lies in the understanding of a unique British attitude and its identity in the modern world. Allow me to give you yet another History lecture.😂

Had you been with me I would be taking you through how the UK became part of the EU.
The EU, formerly known as the EEC (European Economic Community), was established by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 as an “economic” community, but was renamed the European Union, in 1993, its initial object having evolved from an economic entity into socio-political, economic, quasi European government over the decades through the wishes of its now 28 members. It will be reduced to 27 upon Britain’s exit next month.

It is important to note that the UK was not part of its foundation members. She applied to become a member in 1961, but the then French President, Charles de Gaulle, applied the French veto on the UK’s membership, suspicious of her ulterior motive. The “special relationship” between Britain and the USA was thought to pose a threat to the “European project” of an independent, counter influence on world’s affairs envisioned by the founding members. It was feared then that the UK would be in the club as a stooge for the Americans, therefore bringing along negative influence on the organisation. But, after prolonged political manoeuvrings and changes in world affairs, the UK was finally admitted in 1974, following a bitterly divisive referendum. Your next question would probably be, Why was it such a big deal?…
Well, opposition to the EU membership in the UK cuts across the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ divide. Politicians on the Left of the political spectrum were deeply suspicious of the EU becoming a club for the rich and business elite across Europe, while politicians on the Right of the political spectrum feared that the EU was a fundamental threat to Britain’s Parliamentary democracy, as more and more powers were being ceded to the EU, whose decisions were becoming increasingly binding and non-negotiable. It has been left to politicians in the middle, the so-called “moderates”, in the UK’s main political parties, to steer the debate along a consensus. The ‘consensus’ was that the EU is more of a force for good than bad. Opposition to the EU grew increasingly vocal amongst the politicians on the political Right in the 1980s because of two things: The rise and influence of Germany as the dominant economic force in Europe, and the increasingly “social” or “socialistic” dimension of the Union in terms of employment and social services provisions. What is more galling for “Right-wing” politicians in the UK was the relics of history, which had witnessed how the UK under Winston Churchill stood up to and defeated “Nazi” Germany in World War II. Germany had indeed been defeated and its economy in ruins. It was rebuilt through help from America and the UK, which had banished Germany from ever rising to the status of military power again. It worked. Are you following??

What then happened, though, was that Germany’s focus on economics and technology saw it rise to the status of global economic power, surpassing the UK and most, if not all European countries. The Right-wing now feared the prospect of Germany achieving in peace time, what it had failed to achieve through war, that is, European domination. The campaign to take Britain out of the EU had taken almost three decades to achieve, it was dominated by nationalist fervour on the Right, and on the Left, it was welcomed as a relief from the “shackles of Brussels”.

Politics, rather than economics, had won the day. The UK may well rue the day they left the EU, and to forestall a calamitous outcome to Brexit, Africa has now become the new darling to be wooed and embraced as the UK’s newest trading partners. Too ironic for a country that colonised much of the land in Africa, then, neglected it in pursuit of European influence, then, saw China become Africa’s biggest foreign investors and trading partner if you ask me. The UK is now rushing back to Africa to recover lost grounds.

It is in this context that the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May’s recent tour of three African states (Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria) must be understood. The trip last August, 2018, was billed by the Prime Minister (who had never been to sub-Saharan Africa before), as a “unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK”. The UK wants “to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships as it leaves the EU. It was the first time a British Prime Minister would visit Africa since 2013.

It is very important to note that, the UK’s visibility on the continent has been clearly in decline at the same time as that of France, Turkey, Japan and most especially China have been on the rise. The Prime Minister was accompanied by a bevy of trade negotiators on a chartered RAF (Royal Air Force) “voyager” transport plane to try and sign as many deals as they could possibly muster. The UK had earlier hosted the Somalia Conference in London in 2017; the minister of finance, Phillip Hammond, international trade secretary, Liam Fox, and foreign secretary Boris Johnson, had been criss-crossing Africa, frantically building or should I say rebuilding friendship in the last couple of years.

Nigeria and South Africa, however, remain the main targets of their efforts for obvious reasons. They are the UK’s largest trading partners, worth approximately $3.3 billion and $8.7 billion respectively, all of which in favour of British export into the countries, of course. The Kenyan president said when challenged about the growing Chinese influence in his country: “We are not looking to China, China is looking to us”. – The same could be said of the UK’s renewed interest in Nigeria and Africa in general.

The question is, are we going to be wise enough to dictate the terms of the UK’s engagement with us this time around??🤔🤔🤔

There you go, some food for thought. Go ahead, leave a comment, let me know what you think.

Till next time on TheLeoNation…

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Of Melanin skin and blonde hair…

I’m bored. I’m waiting for a very important career boosting email and truth be told it’s working on my nerves. What to do??

Music!

I feverishly switch on the TV and tune onto Trace Africa to save myself the hassle of creating a playlist on my phone. First video is showing dark African ladies with artificial hair, the singer is praising their melanin… I noticed this trend in the next four- five videos…. I couldn’t help but wonder if in actual fact there are dark skinned people with long blonde natural hair…

Upon a little research, I learnt there is a group of black people whose hair is actually blonde and straight in some instances. Shocking, to say the least…

Had you been with me, I would be telling you that there is a group of people called Melanesians who are the predominant inhabitants of Melanesia. According to the document I read, the name is derived from Greek word Melanin which means Black.

Well, I remember we a lot of ladies called Melania at preparatory school, I have always thought it is a white girls’ name. I still do. But does its meaning come from these lines as well. I wonder. And my sisters on social media with the melanin hastags and captions?? Hehe!😂

Moving on, most of the Melanesians speak either one of the many Austronesian languages, especially in the Oceanic branch of Malayo-Polynesian, or one of the Papuan languages. Other languages spoken are the numerous creoles or pidgins in the region, such as Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, Solomon Islands Pijin, Bislama, and Papuan Malay.

Melanesians occupy islands in a wide area from Eastern Indonesia to as far east as the islands of Vanuatu and Fiji.

Naturally blonde Melanesian girl child

Blonde hair is rare in native populations outside of Europe, Central Asia and Africa. It evolved independently in Melanesia, where Melanesians of some islands (along with some Australian aborigines) are one of the few groups of non-Caucasian people who have blonde hair!

This has been traced to an allele of TYRP1 unique to these people, and is not the same gene that causes blond hair in Caucasians. As with blond hair that arose in Europe and parts of Asia, incidence of blondness is more common in children than in adults, with hair tending to darken as the individual matures. Interesting…

Melanesian children

Well, I have learnt new phenomenon today. Strange but true…

Let me get back to my music.

Till next time on TheLeoNation, au revoir!👋

How do you love… On purpose??🤔

Realign yourself with what is truly important – meeting your partner’s needs, being truly present with those you love, and experiencing, in the moment, all the beauty of the world around you.

Today, we have unprecedented capacity for connection through technology at our fingertips, many of us are losing quality, meaningful connection in our hearts. Comparison, distraction and temptation are pitfalls of modern tech, especially in intimate relationships.

Step out of the sweeping current of technology and instead make a conscious choice for where your energy goes. This is your challenge to love authentically, consciously, deeply, and on purpose each and every day of the year.

Had you been with me, I would be telling you the month of February is a special month for me. For starters, my birthday is coming up next week. My sister’s too. Oh yea, my uncle’s birthday is in February too. A special shout out goes to him in North America….

Talking of North America, they commemorate Black History in the month of February. Had you been with me, I would probably be telling you all about the Black History month.

The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”.

This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

From the event’s initial phase, primary emphasis was placed on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation’s public schools. The first Negro History Week was met with a lukewarm response, gaining the cooperation of the Departments of Education of the states of North Carolina, Delaware, and West Virginia as well as the city school administrations of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Despite this far from universal acceptance, the event was regarded by Woodson as “one of the most fortunate steps ever taken by the Association”, and plans for a repeat of the event on an annual basis continued apace.

At the time of Negro History Week’s launch, Woodson contended that the teaching of black history was essential to ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within broader society.

Being on that love tip, let us take a moment to appreciate black people whose efforts are not given as much appreciation as they deserve- well, according to me.

I rest my case…

Happy Valentine’s Day to all…

Till next time on The Leo Nation… Keep well..

Of majoring the minors…

Burundi officially the Republic of Burundi French: République du Burundi, is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is also considered part of Central Africa. Burundi’s capital is Bujumbura. The southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years.

Burundi changed its capital city on Thursday January 17 2019 after her parliament voted to move the country’s capital from Bujumbura back to the small central city of Gitega.

Had you been with me, I would be telling you that In March 2007, President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza announced that Burundi was planning to bring back its capital city to Gitega, saying that it is in a better location for a capital than Bujumbura… Pay attention to that date-2007

Had you been close by, I would be reminding you that on December 24, 2018, it was announced by Nkurunziza that Gitega was to become the capital city of Burundi, pending only Parliament approval. So from 2007 to 2018 the President has not changed?- Well, that’s Africa for you!

The expected parliamentary assent (given the President’s CNDD-FFD party comfortable majority in both chambers) arrived through a vote on January 16, 2019, with some ministries already starting the move two days later…

Had you been here with me, I would be ranting to you on why African leaders tend to “major on minors”… Of all things, did they have to incur the costs of moving ministries and all… Yet there are cases of extreme poverty in that particular country… Mind boggling…

The Macedonia Debacle: The name change finally…

It’s a bit chilly for my liking yet I am intrigued by what I am seeing on the news. So I am enjoying a cup of decaf tea just to keep warm but not chase my sleep away…

Had you been here with me, I would be reminding you about the my previous blog post about Macedonia. It looks like they have finally come to a consensus on the way forward…Well, according to this news channel…

The Macedonian parliament has amended the constitution to rename the country as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Had you been with me, you probably would see the glee on my face as the An Jazeera anchor reports in detail about the Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev who secured the required majority in parliament which was needed to rename the country in line with a landmark agreement with Greece to end a decades-long dispute.

Accordingly, the Macedonian parliamentary speaker Talad Xhaferi said 81 MPs voted in favour of the name change in the 120-seat chamber, securing the required two-thirds majority.

Representatives of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, who opposed the agreement with Greece, boycotted the vote. VMRO-DPMNE- Quite a mouthful huh…

The specific naming dispute, although an existing issue in Yugoslav–Greek relations since World War II, was reignited after the breakup of Yugoslavia and the newly gained independence of the former Socialist Republic of Macedonia in 1991. Since then, it has been an ongoing issue in bilateral and international relations.
The dispute arises from naming between the Republic of Macedonia, the adjacent Greek region of Macedonia and the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon (which falls mostly within Greek Macedonia). That’s what they have been disputing for for close to three decades. The things humans do for roots preservation is amazing…

You probably would smile as well as the news anchor goes further to report that, earlier, a spokesperson for the governing Social Democrats said the ethnic Albanian lawmakers also agreed to back the deal.- A peaceful transition after all despite the lengthy stand-off. All because of a name of a region….

Here’s to the birth of a new nation. Hopefully peace and normalcy will prevail now. I just wonder what their flag will look like…since Greece is also not willing to let them use the sun god icon, which forms part of Greek history…

Wait…. What?!!

New year, new vibe- Such is the historic story making waves across the United States of America. After Hillary Clinton’s loss against Donald Trump in the last presidential election, noone expected a massive one hundred and two ladies to be sworn in after the mid term elections. I really wish we had these mid term elections in my home country too.

Oftentimes, people realise they voted in the wrong candidate way too late and if we had mid terms, that hindsight could be corrected. As it stands we are in a political cesspit with no tangible solution in sight….😕

Pardon my digression, so yeah I am talking about the United States’ mid term elections and the swearing in ceremony of the Congress people.

Amongst, the historic class of new congress people who took the oath of office in the US House of Representatives on the third of January 2019 are the first Native American women, the first Muslim women, the first black women elected from Massachusetts and Connecticut, the first Hispanic women elected from Texas, and the youngest woman to be elected to Congress…. Interesting huh🤔
There is also a former NFL linebacker, a doctor and a climate scientist. There are a number of former members of the military and intelligence services, many of them women. There are seasoned veterans of past presidential administrations and a handful of political neophytes who never held office before running for Congress in 2018.

A record 102 women were sworn into the House on this date, 35 of whom were elected for the first time in November in a historic wave of success for female candidates.

The arrival of this large new group will significantly alter the balance of power in Washington, where the federal government is currently paralysed by a shutdown stretching into its 13th day.

Democrats regained control of the House on eight years after losing power. Their takeover was fuelled by 63 Democrats whose victories in the November midterm elections helped the party win by the largest margins since the Watergate scandal in 1974.

Nancy Pelosi reclaimed her former title as speaker of the House. She made history in 2007 as the first woman to hold the position, before handing over the gavel in 2011. The Republicans will be led by Kevin McCarthy of California- needless to talk much about them…

2019 has started on a positive political note within the most influential government worldwide…. Interesting to note what this means for the somewhat rogue Trump administration.

Closer home, the situation is not really looking good. Well, even if we had mid term elections of our own, our new government is barely 6 months old…

That said, here’s to hoping for a prosperous 2019- that’s all we can do now right? Hope…

Stepping into 2019 like…

As we reflect on our wins and challenges of 2018, I would love to hear from you about a major turning point that sparked a new perspective on your life or career this year.

Had you been with me, I would be sharing a plan that I think might work this coming year. Pay attention to the bold print. I am not talking about resolutions no! I’m all about ideas that might or might not improve your well being.

Image Credit: Ennie Chipembere Chikwema

I am not a philosopher, so I looked around for possible remedies to those common everyday life hiccups…

1. Declutter your home

“I love to get chores done! Working from home can make it really hard to keep a routine, but knowing that I’ve cleaned on Saturday mornings prepares me mentally for the week. It’s amazing how much clearer my head is for the week when my home is clean. Working in a cluttered home makes my whole week feel scattered!”
—Michaell Johnson, blogger, Los Angeles, CA

There you have it, Michael thinks cleaning up can actually improve your well being for those who work from home…

2. Keep calm and watch rom-coms
“On the weekends, I like to keep calm and watch rom-coms. My Saturday mornings start at about 8 a.m. I wake up to a glass of water and write for a couple hours. But once that session is over, the onslaught of binging romantic comedies begins. It makes me smile, keeps things lighthearted and puts everything in a strange kind of perspective. A world with rom-coms can’t possibly be all bad.”
—Kern Carter, writer and author, Toronto, CA

Wouldn’t know about this one, but according to Kern Carter, romantic comedies can “keep this light-hearted”

3. Try device-free Sundays
“Weekends are gas in the tank for my week. Every dinner at our house is device-free, but we try to add to the equanimity by having a device-free Sunday. That just creates more space for naps, games and long walks. We don’t always stick to our ideals, but we give it our best every week.”
—Donna Carlson, life coach, Monument, CO

Hahaha, this one is probably a non-starter but hmmm, device free days would be a bit steep for most people I know, myself included…

4. Prep your meals
“When it comes to preparing for the week ahead, I love to meal prep. Shopping, cooking and packing for the week ahead is not only a time saver, it’s also a health saver. Having meals prepared in advance that can either be eaten on the go, heated up or frozen until later in the week saves precious time and money. It also reduces the urge to grab stress fillers or meals that won’t fuel you properly. Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in.”
—Joshua Miller, author and executive coach, New York, NY

I am inclined to agree with this one… Well, staying alone has taught me a lot in this regard. What’s your take?

5.Take a solo nature walk

“My weekend routine that makes my weekend happier is a solo walk by the lake — usually taking photographs. As we move into the autumn season, the colors are so very beautiful.”

—Karina Saakyan, journal development specialist, Lausanne, Switzerland

Depending on where you are and which season it is, this could be handy. Blessed to be in Africa, where there’s only 2 seasons- Summer and Summer!! 😀😎

6. Put away the to-dos

“During the week, there is always something lingering that needs to be done. I used to spend time relaxing and then the whole time felt anxious about everything else I ‘should’ be doing. That killed any chance of feeling refreshed. Eventually I realized that recharge time, whether it’s extra time strolling in the park, in front of the TV or curled up with a good book, has to be prioritized equally as getting work tasks done, or you’ll never feel rested.”

—Allison Graham, keynote speaker, author, business coach, Ontario, Canada

Touché! Prioritize personal time as much as tasks to be done…

Enjoy an at-home happy hour

“My weekend routine is all about time with the people I love most. Fridays I enjoy HHH (home happy hour) with my husband. We throw on records, open a yummy bottle of wine and sit outside on the patio with our pups to discuss our week. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect after a busy week of brief encounters.”

—Caitlin Root, strategic account executive, San Diego, CA

7. Exercise with your family

“One of my best weekend routines is a Saturday morning at the gym. Our gym does a great Kids Fit club, so my husband, my 6-year-old daughter and I all go off to the gym and do our own thing. Sometimes I’ll spin, sometimes yoga, sometimes weights. Once we’ve finished our classes or workout, we come back together for a quick snack and then hit the pool for a swim and a play. By lunchtime, we’ve got a good work out in and shared some quality time together.”

—Angharad Boyson, coach, Lincoln, UK

Okay…. Interesting. I mean gym with the family? Who knew??

8. Quiet the work-talk

“I like to keep Sunday evening work-free, to make sure I’m really ready for Monday. I always make sure there is time out on Sunday. As soon as we’ve had Sunday dinner as a family there is no work/school talk, a complete switch off. Allowing time for us all to unwind before the week starts again on Monday and keep the weeks apart.”

—Tina McDonald, youth career coach and leadership facilitator, UK

I couldn’t have put it across in a better way. Work can be hectic and that weekend or day free really needs to feel like one…

It’s the last day of 2018, I just had to post on 2019 reflections. I do not have any particular resolution. But I would love to feel really well and stress free throughout the year and hopefully achieve all my set goals and plans. I will certainly be the same old guy but I do have to progress in life…

Do you have plans for 2019? Or you are on that resolution tip?

Whichever your response, I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!!!