Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Is the South of Africa Reading Egypt’s Script?

The dramatic fall from grace of former Egyptian strong man, Hosni Mubarak was unprecedented, though what happened in Tunisia tells it all. Defiant and arrogant, as the nobody thought he would easily be toppled in 18 days.

If comparably affluent Egyptians can vent their pent-up anger by booting out their leader, what of the wretched of the earth south of Egypt? Egyptians are relatively better compared to their cousins in the south. For example, currently, Tanzanians are facing an acute shortage of power unnecessarily. Rationing is the norm next to reality. Corruption is the order of the day as accountability faces detumescence. So too, Ugandans have known but just a one man show for over two decades. What is their take of what happened in Egypt and Tunisia? Generally speaking, life is harsher in SSA than it is in Egypt even Maghreb in general.

While Ethiopia as well as Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are suffering from chronic mega corruption, Arab countries are suffering from dictatorship and monarchism. Thanks to globalization, whatever happens in any country of the world is echoed and aped all over the world. That’s why what transpired in Tunisia gave birth to the revolution in Egypt which soon will escalate to Algeria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Many careless and myopic rulers would sooth their hearts thinking that Tunisia-cum-Egypt Jasmine Revolution has nothing to do with them. But again, this time, as US president indicated, is time for eradicating dictators and crooks. The timing of this new world order is accurate and people’s power is unstoppable. The US president Barack Obama was jeered at for supporting the voice of the people before Mubarak hit the road. The climax of this impasse has however vindicated him as a visionary and trustworthy leader, who reads the mood of the people.

Egyptians, for thirty years, were regarded as the most docile people on earth thanks to not taking on their tyrant. When Sudanese staged demonstration in the heart of Cairo, Egyptians were left baffled. They wondered. How could one get the guts of agitating against the government and fall short of being totally insane? But when hunger and misery are at work, anything can happen. Who would risk thinking that Mohammed Bouazizi would be the power behind the toppling of tyrants?

Another crucial aspect of the whole history making is the fact that the military is coming of age. The decent and reasonable way the Egyptian military acted (as opposed to their police counterparts) in this process must be emulated by other napkin-like armies in the continent. Bombs, tanks and military muscles will nary defeat people’s power. This is a nugget of knowledge to those that are still day dreaming thinking that they can use the army to intimidate and rob the hoi polloi. Mubarak had the mightiest army under his disposal compared to SSA. But by not sitting on their brain, they deserted him at the very time he needed them most. They understood the might of people’s power. They accepted the reality that presidents come and go but not the citizenry.

Now that Mubarak and his gang are out of the big picture, what should we expect? Will the military live up to their promises? Is it the beginning of the end of dictators? Selma, salmah means peace as the Egyptians put it. Is SSA ready for a peaceful transition or revolution? Mubarak is history. What of other tyrants and thieves in SSA?
Source: African Executive Magazine Feb. 16, 2011.

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