The last year was a terrible one, the following 2020 an equally bad one. Covid-19 was responsible for all of the misery, even though vaccines began to lift the dark clouds. These two years of suffering, interrupted fun, and constipated desire will be big business for those who can provide relief or come with a good story that tells East Africans “everything will be fine”.
The greatest cultural phenomenon in East Africa will come from America. The blockbuster Black Panther from 2018 is slated to return in November, if Covid doesn’t ruin the plans, as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and many of our people, including the Kenyan star Lupita Nyong’o and the Ugandan Brit Daniel Kaluuya and Ugandan -Die Deutsche Florence Kasumba (it’s good African manners to claim distant relatives when they’re okay) are all expected to return.
At a time when we are desperately looking for uplifting moments and riding the tail end of the global Black Lives Matter wave in 2020, it’s likely to be an even bigger hit.
One of the early East African escape festivals is likely to be the Basketball Africa League (BAL) final. May planned for Kigali. The league, a joint initiative of the US National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), hosted its inaugural tournament in Kigali last May. Since the restrictions related to Covid were still in place, it was mostly a TV event. There will likely be a rush this year.
Since the Kigali tournament, former US President Barack Obama has invested money in NBA Africa as a strategic investor. More recently, Hollywood star Forest Whitaker, who portrayed Ugandan military dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, and perhaps the most interesting Zambian economist and writer Dambisya Moyo (she works from Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not and how there is a better way for Africa’s glory) have also invested some money. Obama must first come and see how his Kenyan relatives have cope with the pandemic.
Another massive distraction is likely to be in Kenya in June when the safari rally turns out to be one of the 13 rounds of the. The 2022 FIA World Rally Championship returned to Kenya after a 19-year absence, and President Uhuru Kenyatta, a petrolhead known to sneak off to see Formula 1 alongside Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame , was spied on “drinking” dust in Naivasha.
Again, travel restrictions meant that Ugandans, perhaps the craziest motorsport fans in East Africa, could not come. We can expect an invasion this time.
We will likely see work from East Africa’s new generation of film directors. The Rwandan actress and playwright Anisia Uzeyman and the American poet, singer and actor Saul William published the science fiction film Neptune Forest last year about an intersex African hacker, a coltan miner and their child in a strange African universe.
In December, Netflix released the dark, violent The Girl in the Yellow Jumper by Ugandan filmmaker Loukman Ali. Both Uzeyman and Ali have promised something for 2022.
For a few weeks this year we might just forget about the problems of 2021.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, author and curator of the “Wall of the Great Africans”. [emailprotected]