Prior to this year’s UN World Happiness Day which we celebrated on the 20th of March, the World Happiness Index published the list of the happiest countries of 2016 and it made for a pretty eye-opening list on the state of our continent. No African country made it to the rank of the first 50 countries, with the first feature of an African country on the list being Libya in the 67th position.
Now some may wonder why we should care about the rankings of a happiness index, so we will arm you with the knowledge that the report considers six variables in drawing its conclusions. The variables include; GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, trust (referring to the absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions and generosity (as measured by donations). With these variables, Africa is represented by eight out of the lowest ten countries ranked with poor showings for GDP per capita, social support and life expectancy.
The positions of the different African countries on the index, prove one thing; Africa is quite unhappy. While the fact that our continent is unhappy is in itself not a cause to smile or cheer, the consciousness that is showed out by the report is laudable. The results of the report which were sourced via polls show the increasing awareness of Africans on the issues besotting them. Internet penetration and a larger number of younger and more discerning Africans are providing an opportunity for voicing dissatisfaction and frustrations at the ways our countries are going.
Young Africans are asking for more and even if the leaders in their countries may pay no mind to them, the rest of the world is. Gone are the days of suffering and smiling, Africa is suffering and making a fuss. South Africa is calling its erring leader, President Zuma to order, even calling for his resignation and maybe not as severely as South Africa’s case, but other African nations are likewise keeping their leaders in check and sharing their point of views across all media. The people are making it known that they will no longer be ignored.
One only has to look at President Museveni’s move of blocking social media services during the last Ugandan elections or Nigeria’s lawmakers seeking to pass a bill to censor social media platforms to understand the impact of this new African stance. We are unhappy now but as we continue to tell our leaders why and demand that they act, maybe a future World Happiness Index will feature our continent being represented at better positions.