from Africa in Transition

Will the Revolution Go South?

February 4, 2011

Blog Post

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Egypt

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Opposition supporters throw rocks during rioting with pro-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

Sub-Saharan African leaders, particularly those with less than stellar records of accountable governance, are certainly wary of the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt. However, while the likelihood exists that the bug may spread south, I wouldn’t count on a continent wide revolution. Some governments are all too willing to fire into crowds, and a weak national identity means people are not ready to die for their country. In other places, government is so weak, ineffective or irrelevant to most people that they prefer to rely on their social networks as the state withers away.

Nigeria is an excellent example. The Nigerian security services have a long history of using indiscriminate violence to put down social unrest. At the same time, people have become so alienated from the federal government that they have largely abandoned any sense of Nigerian national identity. In the end, many are unprepared to risk their lives for an entity—Nigeria—that they view as largely insignificant and absent from daily life.

h/t to Asch Harwood.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Egypt

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