Will the North African “People Power” movements sparked in Tunisia and Egypt spread through the rest of continental Africa?
On Friday, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt turned over all power to the military, and left the Egyptian capital for his resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state television on Friday.
After eighteen days of protests, the Egyptian people finally forced the ouster of President Mubarak. While news commentators rushed to pass judgment on the ripple effects of the Arab “people power” movement on the entire Middle East region (i.e., the Arab-Israeli conflict), I thought of the millions of Africans – Christians, Muslims, and others — living under despotic regimes.
The people of southern Sudan voted to secede from Sudan. A transition to democracy is underway in Guinea after a protracted dispute over the outcome of the November 2010 Presidential runoff. Oppressive military dictatorships, human rights abuses, suppression of political parties, and ethnic violence plague several African nations.
In his prepared remarks on Friday, President Obama said,
“We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.”
Given Africa’s colonial and post-colonial history, I am hopeful that a modern “people power” movement will arise. President Obama is correct, “we need not be defined by our differences.” Our shared humanity requires those of us in the African Diaspora to play a role in supporting democratic movements abroad. Change came to South Africa after a worldwide campaign in support of the ANC and against apartheid. Today, I am optimistic, as President Obama said about Egypt, that the arc of history will bend towards justice throughout Africa.
Do you believe that the United States should pressure despotic regimes and military juntas in Africa to transition towards participatory democracy? Will the widespread use of ‘social media’ enable a people power movement to take root in Africa? I’d like to know your thoughts. Post your thoughts in the comments section. Respond to the poll and share this blog with your friends.