We all have those people in our lives that want to claim that the start of a new year marks the start of a new improved version of themselves. You hear phrases like ‘new year new me’ when actually most times, they’ve given up 2 weeks into January. How do you guys feel about New Years resolutions and what does the beginning of a new year mean to you?
For some, it’s a way to get lit, for others it’s the start of a weight loss process, for half of the immigrant world it’s their birthday and for Cameroon and Sudan it means the start of independence against colonial rule as both countries gained their independence on January 1st 1960 and 1956 respectively.
Speaking of Sudan, the end of 2018 marked the start of heavy protests against the Sudanese government which has been in power for 30 years. This was triggered by the recent increase in bread prices, unavailability of fuel and money in cash machines. The economic status of Sudan has been on the decline for many years now, but with inflation rates soaring (approximately 70%) and salaries remaining unchanged, the situation has become dire. I’m tempted to say that it has reached rock bottom but there’s no telling if the situation is going to get worse.
To give you a gist of just how bad it is, one British pound in Sudan converts to 76 British pounds and 60 dollars. (Take note these rates change almost everyday). The same bottle of Coca Cola that you could buy for 4 Sudanese pounds in 2013, was for 8sdg in August. In the short span of 3 months, the price of this bottle of coke is now priced at 18sdg. Bread which is an essential part of a Sudanese person’s diet costs 2-3 Sudanese pounds per one bread. This might seem okay, but if we take the salary of someone on minimum wage i.e 425 Sudanese pounds(1) with a family of 5 and let’s assume they eat 3 meals per day, that would mean in a month they would spend 450sdg on bread alone. That’s 25sdg more than their monthly salary just on bread which in this example, is unaffordable therefore people are literally starving to death. According to the New York Times ‘only 7 percent of the national budget goes to the health sector, for example, compared to 75 percent to defense, security and salaries and perks for senior officials’. This leaves a mere 15% for health, education and other sectors which goes to show just how unbearable the standard of living has become in Sudan.
Furthermore, there has been extreme brutality against people protesting for their basic human rights. One Sudani Twitter user tweeted that ‘1 teargas canister costs $99 and there are 20 canisters in each truck, and there are 500 trucks protecting Khartoum, that makes $990,000 a day spent to oppress the Sudanese citizen’. Which goes to show just how far the government is willing to go in order to secure its position.
Could 2019 be the start of the Sudanese People’s independence from their government? Could January be the month of independence for the second time? We’ll just have to wait and see. Regardless of the outcome, kudos to the people of Sudan for fighting for their rights in the face of adversity and violence.
The start of a new year signifies a new beginning and Africa is the place where we constantly see new beginnings. Last month we touched on South Africa and we saw just how much it drastically changed in terms of empowering black people and giving them the same rights as whites. Earlier on we spoke about Sudan and Cameroon becoming independent but this is also true for the rest of rest of the countries in Africa. Before Zimbabwe was renamed it was known as Rhodesia after Cecile Rhodes – one of the main starters of colonisation there which goes to show how something as simple as a name change holds so much power. And whilst African countries are going through a lot, we can’t down play the achievements and progress that these countries have made for example, Rwanda now has beaten Western countries in terms of gender equality with a 86% female workforce and 64% of its parliament is made up of women. After many years of conflict, Eritrea and Ethiopia have finally made peace. Despite all the negativity surrounding Africa, we can’t ignore the victories that have taken place throughout the whole continent. May 2019 bring more positive changes to our beloved continent.