From Black Voices — First Sudan. Then Tunisia. Then Egypt. After that it was Algeria, followed by Yemenand lately Libya. The calls for change in government have waved across the northern African map like the flags of rebellion carried by the protesters in these countries. Much of it was driven by social media. But the real engine was young people doing what they do best: finding whatever means they have at their disposal to communicate, gather, organize and act.
It is new, but not new at all.
The global focus is on nations that are rejecting authoritarian rule reaching as far back as the late 1960s, but is there a lesson to be learned for the rest of Africa?
As we have long known, civil unrest in Africa is as common as hot weather there. People in sub-Saharan Africa are no strangers to violent rebellion. Since the independence of Ghana in 1957, almost every nation on the continent has undergone some type of violent regime change. But the result in many cases has largely been to replace a despot with a dictator, and a dictator with an autocrat, or an entire group of them.
Because the military has been given power in Egypt and power is being demanded from the military in Libya, nobody knows what the outcome will be. Nobody knows if democracy — in the sense that societies in that region are comfortable administering it — will seize the political atmosphere, or if one regime will be replaced with one that is worse. So the question must be asked: is North Africa becoming like the rest of Africa or is the rest of Africa becoming like North Africa?