One Wonders, What’s Next?
We are in the second month of 2011 and one wonders, what else is the world in store for. In the last last couple of weeks, Egypt, Libya, Iran and Yemen have erupted into chaos. Citizens have to gone to the streets demanding that their leaders step down. On average these leaders have been in power for over twenty years. All this occurring as the world is still reeling from the news of civil unrest in Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire.
One thing stands out, the people of Africa and the Middle East are ready for change. They have forced it on leaders who still thought the had another term in office. They are ready to enjoy their civil rights of living in a free un-oppressive state where they are no longer beholden to the whims and insecurities of their presidents. There has been some success, Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali were ousted. On the other hand Laurent Gbagbo still holds obstinately to ‘his’ office. The issue is that these leaders feel entitled to their position of leadership. It stopped being about serving the people of the country a long time ago, if it ever was.
On the 17th of February 2011, Yuweri Museveni the president of Uganda for 25 years as of this year was quoted asking: “Why are people so agitated? The economy has grown, we’ve brought peace…” This indicates the general apathy certain leaders have towards democracy. He actually still believes he has ‘unfinished business’. This sounds so familiar, wasn’t Mubarak concerned that if he stepped down, Egypt would descend into chaos, as if the already looted capital did not demonstrate that the chaos he feared was already underway. For all the disdain some might have for democracy, it carries out an important task. Leaders are prevented from believing that they are the only factor that ensures development and stability. Even if they do, democratic practice dictates that one should not be in power for more than two terms.
For the time being, it seems Africans and the people of the Middle East have grown weary of being victims of their leaders’ dictatorial habits. Maybe this is a necessary step that needs to be taken to achieve true democracy. No one ever said it would be a smooth ride, in fact the opposite has been said. But perhaps future leaders or the ones that are still in power will think twice before doing as they please. The public’s acquiescence is no longer ensured, and they have demonstrated that they are willing to die for their freedom.
Image by Fabian Bromann