BBC Africa Debate: Is an “African Spring” Looming on the 2012 Horizon?

While researching towards this article, I couldn’t use any quote to support my opening than borrowing this from the BBC: “Democracy does not begin and end with the ballot...

While researching towards this article, I couldn’t use any quote to support my opening than borrowing this from the BBC:

“Democracy does not begin and end with the ballot box”

I vividly remember how the socio-political and economic grievances in Tunisia forced the computer science graduate- turned-fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi to set himself ablaze on Dec 17, 2010 which sparked the Arab Spring. On Jan. 14, just 10 days after Bouazizi died President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali‘s 23-year rule of Tunisia was over.

In case you’re in a fix and don’t know, what exactly the Arab Spring is about; here’s a brief explanation –

The Arab Spring, otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, was a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests which occurred (still on-going in some parts of the Arab world) in the Arab world that began on Dec 18, 2010.

Countries in the sub-Saharan region have not been affected by this wave of revolution, despite the existence of numerous old presidents, highly suppressive states, and populations facing high unemployment and with long-standing umbrage.

The risk of popular social unrest, fuelled by mounting frustration with rising food prices, high unemployment and poor social conditions definitely represents a threat to governability in a number of African countries especially Senegal & Uganda.

For instance in Senegal, long serving Dictator-cum-President Abdoulaye Wade‘s apparent determination to run for a 3rd presidential term in the February polls is actually going to cause a chance of instability. A two-term limit on the presidency was passed one year into his now 11?year tenure, and Mr. Wade’s assertion that this does not apply retroactively to his first term is rejected by much of Senegal’s civil society and some constitutional scholars.

If Pres. Abdoulaye Wade wins the polls in the February election which actually gives him a 3rd term in office, the stability of Senegal could be jeopardized thereby starting an “African Spring” but that is far from happening. The case of Uganda isn’t different from Senegal.

Before starting this post; I remember inquiring from a few friends about their opinion on the Arab Spring and if a similar situation is possible in the sub-Saharan region. Most predicted, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni will be the first to go, followed by Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and then Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade but till date, nothing have happened as at yet.

I’ve been following my colleague Global Voices blogger; Rosebell Kagumire who constantly updated us via her twitter-feed on the Walk-to-Work protest which began on April 11, 2011 as a result of over-rising cost of fuel products.

Series of events took place which could have resulted in the “African Spring” but couldn’t because of this observations:

  • There are better economic conditions in North Africa & the Middle East than the sub-Saharan region.
  • Most sub-Saharan Africans live from hand-to-mouth – often on less than a dollar a day so they wouldn’t jeopardize their chance of feeding and more!
  • Ghanaians enjoys a certain type of peace which they can’t let go off in the name of revolution.
  • In North Africa and the Middle East; Lawyers, Doctors and Engineers helped steered the Arab Spring but our elite in the sub-region tend to be passive observers ONLY.

As the BBC World Service Team launches their new programme – BBC Africa Debate on Jan 27, 2012 in Accra, Ghana we shall be exploring and deliberating on the theme: Is an “African Spring” Looming on the 2012 Horizon?

 

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Mac-Jordan Degadjor

Award winning Ghanaian Technology and Startup Enthusiast. Passionate about the inter-correlation of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation within the African tech ecosystem. Tweets: @MacJordan Got news, products or services to promote on the blog, reach out via hello[at]macjordangh[dot]com or (+233) 544335582

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