Hello again, and welcome to the most joyous place on the internet, the Happy Wednesday column. For those of you who are new to this, once a week we scour the world, looking for good news and celebrate it. The news is often bleak and cynical; Happy Wednesday is a small reminder that there are a lot of positive things happening.
Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea
The world was different when Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war in 1998
- Venus and Serena Williams hadn’t won a major
- Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator, expecting his first child with his wife, Michelle
- LeBron James was gaining national attention, tearing up the AAU circuit
- Lord Voldemort had been killed four days earlier in The Battle of Hogwarts
- Kylian Mbappe wasn’t born and France had never won a World Cup
It is fair to say that Saturday’s meeting of the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the subsequent peace deal that was agreed, qualifies as great news. The two countries used to be one, but separated in 1993. There has been tension ever since and the two sides have seemed far apart on issues ever since, military tension and violence the depressing normality. The catalyst for change was the election of Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia. The 41 year old has moved quickly, freeing political prisoners, firing a lot of heretofore untouchable career politicians and removed a number of opposition groups from “terrorist” lists. The peace is being celebrated widely, this being my favourite image
A part of Africa that has too often been known for famine and war is in the first steps of a tentative peace. Long may it continue.
Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson (and John Isner) all win Wimbledon
Lost in the enjoyment and hysteria of the World Cup, Wimbledon was quietly amazing this year. On the women’s side, Angelique Kerber won in a rematch of the 2016 final. But she wasn’t the only winner. Serena Williams was also a winner, making the final in her fourth tournament back after having a child and nearly dying in childbirth. That last sentence is so insane, I’m going to write it again. Serena Williams was also a winner, making the FINAL in her FOURTH tournament back after HAVING A CHILD and NEARLY DYING in childbirth. She is most definitely a winner, too.
The men’s side didn’t lack for drama and narratives. Novak Djokovic returned to excellence after his annus horribilis, defeating Kevin Anderson in the final. It was tough for him, having played in the second longest semi-finals of all time against Rafael Nadal. Except Anderson was a winner as well, dispatching Federer in the quarter-finals before playing in the longest semi-final of all time against John Isner (who has form in long matches). In different ways, they all won Wimbledon.
Kylian Mbappe donated his entire World Cup salary to charity
At 19, I was on a year out, playing basketball, travelling the world and living a good life. Change basketball for football and Mbappe and I are exactly the same. Well, not quite. Mbappe is already one of the best footballers in the world and just scored in the World Cup final and seems set to dominate football for the next 10 years, fitness permitting. He is also a philanthropist and donated his World Cup salary, $500,000, to The Premiers de Cordee charity, which helps disabled and hospitalised children into sports. What I like most about this story is how little it has been publicised. Mbappe is young, generous and amazingly talented. His youth and talent will eventually fade, but I am confident his generosity will endure and that, of the three, is most important.