Egypt and Tunisia are African countries for footballing purposes but too often we treat the Sahara as a dividing ocean, cutting them off physically, politically, culturally and ethnically from the rest of the continent. Although there is a growing expectation that the sparks of revolt will travel eastwards to ignite resentment -- as they already have in Jordan and Yemen -- almost no one is talking about the African context of the uprisings.
There are certainly countries -- not least among those close to Egypt -- that could do with broad-based civil movements against authoritarianism. Chad is perhaps the most benighted, but the depth of its isolation and tyranny are such that it is difficult to imagine a people-power movement succeeding.
What about Ethiopia and its increasingly authoritarian president, Meles Zenawi? Or Uganda, where Yoweri Museveni is consolidating his grip on power? Or Angola, where oil revenues fatten the ruling elite and human development stalls? Or Zimbabwe? Or any of the pseudo-democracies that dot the continent.
In these countries, engaged as they are with the global community, and possessed of at least the rudiments of civil society, the crowds in Tahrir Square ought to be an inspiration, and for their leaders, a prod to reform. Popular protest needn't culminate in revolution or civil war; it can be a crucial democratic instrument in countries where institutional arrangements are incapable of representing the will of the people.
Friday, February 04, 2011
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 14:25