(BBC – Africa)
Will Raila Odinga finally achieve his dream of being Kenya’s president?
In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, London-based Ugandan writer Joel Kibazo considers what 2013 holds in store for the continent.
As a child in Uganda, I was fascinated by people who claimed they could predict the future.
On visits to relatives in the village, this urban child would watch as a man or woman sitting majestically on their stool threw bones and beads on the floor and then pronounced to an eager client what was to happen to them in the future.
Marriage, children and fortunes were always on top of the list and the client often left happy and confident, boosted by what they believed was a bright future.
“How did they do this?” I wondered. “And was any of it true?”
My parents never gave me a convincing answer and instead would try to steer me away from further thoughts on the subject.
I, on the other hand, thought to myself: “One day, I will also be able to predict the future,” and at the dawn of 2013 I, at long last, have my chance.
Death in the family
I expect the earliest event to grip the continent will be the Africa Cup of Nations to be held in South Africa.
The semi-final of the tournament provided me with one of the abiding memories of 2012.
I happened to be in Accra on the day Ghana’s Black Stars took on Zambia’s Chipolopolo for a place in the final.
It was hard to miss the chest-beating among Ghanaians and it appeared, to me at least, as if the local boys had simply been sent to bring back the trophy, which Chipolopolo went on to clinch in a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Ivory Coast.
Chipolopolo’s triumph stunned Ghana and as I moved around Accra the next day it was hard not to feel as though there had been a death in the family.
How ironic then that it was in Accra that the Zambian national team was last week named African team of the year.
I expect Zambia to feature strongly again in the 2013 Cup of Nations, with Tunisia, Morocco and Ivory Coast making the final four.
My throw of the bones and beads tell me Tunisia will emerge triumphant.
On the political scene, this is a big year for Kenya in all sorts of ways.
At the end of 2013 the country marks its golden jubilee as an independent nation.
But at the beginning of March the country will hold its first general election since the 2007 disputed poll.
That triggered a wave of violence in which more than 1,000 people died and more than 250,000 were displaced.
This will be the first election under the 2010 constitution and it will also usher in a new system of governance in the country.
In spite of political alliances of convenience, all of us are hoping and praying for a peaceful poll and, at this stage at least, I see the presidential race going the way of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Interestingly, a month after the elections, Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are due to return to The Hague to face charges of inciting violence five years ago.
Zimbabwe could – I say could – also get a new president.
A referendum on a new constitution was supposed to take place before the general election.
But that has yet to happen and the finance minister recently said there was no money to fund both the referendum and election. If and when the poll is held, I expect President Robert Mugabe will retain the keys to State House.
Elsewhere on the continent, I expect turbulence to continue in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and sadly much against all hope I suspect Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria to continue.
With Islamists, drug-traffickers and Tuareg separatists in the mix, the situation in Mali is unlikely to be resolved easily or quickly and the problems will remain a headache for West Africa for some time to come.
But I do not expect these areas of turbulence to be the only story of the continent in the coming year.
While the chill winds of recession continue to blow through many of the eurozone countries, in the United States the hope is that the economy will continue its recent recovery although things are by no means certain.
But I predict the African economic growth story will continue to be a talking point.
Sierra Leone made news in 2012 with eye-popping economic growth figures boosted by strong iron ore exports while in Niger it was uranium and oil exports that brought impressive growth.
In 2013, the beads and bones of my childhood point to firm growth for Mozambique, with investment in the country’s natural resources sectors, particularly coal and gas, the major driver while the power problems in Tanzania are unlikely to prevent it becoming one of Africa’s economic growth stories.
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