The global crunch has brought in a new word staycation. Freely used in Europe and the United States, it means that millions of people are now spending their summer holidays at adjacent spots nearer home rather than traveling out to exotic spots abroad.
It is not so much about the cost involved for after all what are the package tours there for? Used in the African context however, it paints a different picture particularly in two African countries at the latest count with many more scheduled to trip as the months edge closer to December.
What makes it fit squarely as an alert is that it concerns the two giants which we are made to believe exist in the African continent. The other countries remain ill-defined, much like the also ran, one would say.
In the west side of Africa- Nigeria is singled out while on the continent’s tail fringe, South Africa emerges. It’s a little more than a week since the Nigerian government amnesty offer to militants in the Niger Delta region to surrender their weapons in return for a presidential pardon and re-training for better deals.
The move itself is somehow significant given the past insecurity and uncertainty that had bedeviled one of the country’s once flourishing economic zones. It was all a mumbo jumbo, recalled one kola-nut chewing, stained mouth analyst adding that the amnesty breather could at least allow like minded thinkers to put the government on the spot as to how money from the oil wells are being spent or mis-spent.
What the amnesty has done is to shift the focus from the militants and from the war fields to questions as to why the Niger Delta region with its oil wealth still has little to show for the billions of black gold beneath its soil.
Foreign oil workers would now be less jittery fearing being kidnapped and held for ransom. What it all means is that there is now reduced fear and chances are that it will hold if both sides keep their own part of the bargain.
As the amnesty eases off into its two months duration, it will take some more weeks to test the pulse of both sides as to which one is beating faster than the other or whether they are operating on the same level.
In any case it should not be allowed to decline to the kiddy game of when the cat is away, the mouse will play. What should be watched is whether some rascals would not attempt to band themselves to piggy-back on the lull in a bid to roll in some Nairas or on the extreme, some Dollars.
The Niger Delta issue has a tormenting financial tease. Would the militants, many of them calling themselves patriots wanting improved lives for the region when in effect feathering their own nests remain contented?
Analysts say in militant language, they were involved in oil bunkering which in the language of the oil industry is a euphemism for oil theft. It is all too particular that a sustainable solution is found to end the impasse. After all, the large chunk of the country’s revenue comes from oil which it could not afford to lose- at least for a continued period.
With recent events in the north, it is difficult to envisage how far the country could strand against the batterings. What we shall see in the ensuing weeks would be a slow start of surrendering. Given the social technicality posture of the present day Nigerian, don’t expect to see rag tag, scruff-looking, shagged, malnourished men emerging from hideaways and dug-out canoes with weapons. Or also girls.
You would likely lock eye-ball to eye-ball with a suited dreadlocked Nigerian Oga with silver or gold rings spotting a heavy drawl. It will also be an excess anticipation that those surrendering will report as a swarm of insects. Many will be testing the waters in the coming days much like the Chinese phrase – kite flying.
And so we shift to South Africa where the political romance between President Jacob Zuma and workers has gone sour. Not only that even supporters of the dominant African National Congress (ANC) party are now saying that they are still not better off after all these years.
“We have just been fed only words and promises while we live in a depressed state,” they chanted. Some called it Zuma’s bold stand the other day but it is still uncertain how far the 300 million dollar training scheme would go to help workers facing redundancy.
Zuma says the money will provide up to three months re-training for low income workers so that companies can temporarily suspend them rather than dismiss them. Many South African workers facing the threat of being sacked due to the stressing economic crunch and declining world prices of gold and diamonds see the gamble as merely the calm before the storm.
There were so many expectations after the Zuma victory but these are waning and considered to be nothing more than a mirage. Zuma can ill afford the seemingly frequent tremors ahead of the much touted World Cup tournament in 2020 which is seem as the yardstick to make Africa proud.
Added to the jigsaw is the thorny issue of black-on-black violence and crime. It’s like when one door is closed hundreds of doors are immediately opened, summed up one strategist with family ties in South Africa. Even before the scheme gets underway, many South Africans are already dismissing it as throwing a coin into the ocean which means that much more needs to be done.
Another daunting problem is the seeming hatred of refugees whom many South Africans have the perception have occupied jobs they needed. The last wave of attacks whacked a heavy toll on their camps, forcing some to be folded up by the government but the hatred lingers on.
Much like in the words of American Colonel Timothy Reese in Iraq when advising United States forces that the time has come to leave Teheran “guests like fish begin to smell after three days”.
That’s what many South African rural dwellers are saying although not in so many words.
By Rod Mac-Johnson