Sunday, January 22, 2012

Of Africa and Leadership

I started this blog post with no discernible topic in mind, but with an end goal formulating somewhere in my cerebral complex. Let's take stock of some of the happenings over the last week in the political landscape of the African continent:
- The Ethiopian Prime Minister is stealing land from Ethiopian farmers (at least we could quasi-sympathize with Mugabe in Zimbabwe for taking land from white owners). This one? Not so much...

- The Nigerian President's impotency shows no signs of letting up. It's doubtful that even Cialis will be able to revive this man's flagging fortunes.

- The #OccupyNigeria movement cascaded into a series of pointed fingers, 'betrayals' by certain elements in the Save Nigeria group as well as organized labor (although we expected this, we still expressed our righteous rage). 

 - Democratic Republic of Congo's Joseph Kabila is using his security forces to tackle opposition to his self-declared 'victory' in November's elections.

What is it with Africa and her leaders?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Boko Haram - A Threat to Occupying Africa

In my post last week, I hinted at the ethno-religious faultline that threatens the total permeation of the #OccupyNigeria movement in the minds of the Nigerian polity. Some have asked me to expand on that idea, while others have forced my hand with their total avoidance of the issue. I'm interested in expantiating further in order to explain why #OccupyNigeria faces greater risks to its success than similar demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain; countries which have more homogenous populations. The lessons learned from #OccupyNigeria - whether it succeeds or fails - will be important for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, where tribal and religious faults and the perceptions that come with those go hand in hand with politics. Kenya, South Africa and Uganda are some countries to watch on this front.

Friday, January 6, 2012

#OccupyNigeria. Then What?

This week, Nigerians started doing something they haven't done in several years.
They started pushing back.
This push-back is primarily against a government and a political umbrella (the word "party" or "ideology" does not factor into this monolith's modus operandi) - the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) - which has dominated the political landscape of the Fourth Republic. On a lesser scale, it is also against the political leadership of Nigeria, highlighted by the financial black hole otherwise known as the National Assembly.

That it took this long to happen is not surprising. Recently, Nigerians have proven to be politically passive until government policies hit their pocketbooks. We can live with fraudulent elections, government corruption and the rape of justice; but make sure food and fuel prices stay the same! Ergo, the removal of the fuel subsidy - a move that makes perfect sense on paper but none whatsoever to a citizen living on $2 a day - was the perfect catalyst for such action.
Not since the annulment of the 1993 elections has there been such a concerted wave of uprisings and civil mass action; welcome development for a country that was beginning to look like its citizens were completely apathetic and willing to roll over for tyrants to trample on in the hopes of being able to "chop one day".

In the midst of this upheaval and social media-driven activism, there are some troubling developments as well as questions that need answering. These include the silence of the nation's religious leaders, the two-faced approach of organized labor and the geopolitical polarization/stratification of the mass action. Until these imbalances are reversed, the #OccupyNigeria movement will not gain the traction it requires to work.