IT’S strange times we are living in. This week, Ted Cruz ended his campaign ended his campaign for the Republican party in the US, leaving Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump, a billionaire businessman and TV personality, whom Slate describes as “a bigoted, quasi-fascist dangerously unstable demagogue” is just one step away from the White House.
Just a few months ago the Huffington Post decided to cover Trump’s campaign in the entertainment section, arguing that Trump’s campaign “is a sideshow. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.” And yet, Trump has all but clinched the nomination.
And speaking of totally unprecedented outcomes, Leicester City was battling relegation from the English Premier League last year, only to turn around this year and win the title – it’s being described as the most improbable victory in the history of professional sport.
Only four clubs – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City – have won the modern English league title in the past 20 years, each with very deep pockets; the top four places have been traded between the same six teams in the past 10 seasons.
The odds of scrappy Leicester running away with the title were so small that bookies gave it the same probability (5,000 to 1) as Elvis being found alive, Kim Kardashian winning the presidency in 2020, and Barack Obama playing cricket for the English national team; and a smaller chance than current leader of the Labour Party in the UK Jeremy Corbyn becoming the next James Bond (1,000 to 1).
In Africa, those who dream are sometimes said to be engaging in wishful thinking, even, in a way, being irresponsible with their intellectual resources – what “use” is it think the improbable, when there are real problems on the ground, like poverty, disease and illiteracy to tackle?
But we at Mail & Guardian Africa love to dream. Here are five events we are giving a 5,000 to 1 chance – but you can never be too sure, the past week has taught us that strange things do happen.
1. Uganda’s leading opposition party the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has already declared it will swear in its leader Kizza Besigye – who has been under house arrest or restriction since the February 18 election – as president on May 12th, on the same day that President Yoweri Museveni is slated to take his oath of office. We think there’s a 5,000 to 1 chance that Museveni will step aside, and hand Besigye the presidency on that day.
2. In South Sudan, President Riek Machar and Salva Kiir just formed a unity government, after more than two years of fighting and numerous ceasefire collapses. We think there is a 5,000 in 1 chance that the two will decide that running a country is just too much for them, and invite President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to take back South Sudan.
3. Last January, the Cape Town-based non-profit Foundation for Space Development was crowdfunding to send an African spacecraft to the moon; Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Nigerian and South Africa all have national space agencies; the latter three have all launched and operating satellites, and Ethiopia hoping to launch a satellite in the next five years. We think there’s a 5,000 to 1 chance that there will be an African walking on the moon by 2020.
4. The governments of Congo-Brazzaville, Chad and Uganda all blocked social media during recent elections, ostensibly for “security” purposes or to stop the release of “unofficial” results. We reckon there are similar odds that a radical African government may go the whole way and ban mobile phones in their country, perhaps even electricity altogether.
5. Homosexuality is banned or restricted in 36 African countries, in 13 countries there is no explicit law against it, and only South Africa affirmatively permits same-sex marriage. In our view, there is a 5,000 to 1 chance that an openly gay man or woman could become president of an African country in 2020.
- What do you think are the very unlikely events that could just happen in Africa’s future? Write in and continue the conversation