How did 2019 simultaneously manage to be the longest year in living history, and the shortest? Is it physics, or is it just perception? At this time last year, writing this very same closing article, I complained about the overblown ceremony that was organised to receive the first of the larger aircraft for the newly resuscitated Air Tanzania Corporation.
I was not happy, being of the opinion that the money for the ceremony and the aircraft would have been better spent on social services rather than what is undeniably a vanity project. I ended by exhorting us to meditate on what patriotism means, hoping that 2019 would be better. As the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, make plans.
It is amusing, in retrospect, that the greatest outrage I could come up with last year was irritation that we were buying a jet. It was also disingenuous. I knew things were bad and likely going to get worse in 2019, but I was compelled to hope for the best. It is human nature, a necessary survival mechanism. In times of trouble, we manufacture hope.
Who knew that 2019 would turn out to be much more harrowing than anticipated all over the world?
A decade is ending. A new one is upon us. We already have a wealth of documented human history to rely upon to guide our way into an increasingly unreadable future. Let us philosophise a bit instead.
I once witnessed a discussion between a development political scientist who didn't ascribe to the Bretton Woods model (neoliberal economists remain the worst), and an Africanist about the concept of time. Specifically, time and certainty.
You see, "development" tells us that time is linear and ever moving forward and that progress is more or less inevitable. That's how we have chosen to organise our world as we draw closer to each other via globalisation.
Technology helps with this, providing the "certainty" of constant improvement, prosperity, etc. I get why my Head of State is obsessed with buying planes and building things, for what is a better testament to this belief in benevolent advancement than big, impressive, tangible things? Ahem.
For now let's contend with the alternative view of time, pre-modern if you will and quite pagan at heart. It is cyclical, embracing the recurrence of events, the elision of past, present and future, people and nature and the divine. In this sphere, the concept of "dominion over all things" is anathema. It is seen for what it is: Hostile to life, love, nature and thriving. And my conclusion this year is that we are watching the end of an era and the painful birth of the next.
Life is not black and white but with every action we make a choice. Will you recycle this coming year in the hopes that your grandchildren will not be poisoned by microplastics? Will you accumulate wealth and so-called achievement over sacrifices for love and community? Will you stand with or against tyranny?
Will you at least think about it? Have a happy new year and I wish you well in the hopes that we will continue this conversation in the coming decade.
As always, it is an honour and a pleasure to write for and with you. Come on, 2020, we are ready. After all, time waits for no one...
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report.