Alex Njeru offers a perspective on the Arab Revolution

Hosni Mubarak in court jail

When I published the aforementioned title on my modest blog; Unbridled
Freedom, Gaddaffi was still very much in power, administering Viagra
to his mercenaries and dogs of war. Saleh was not in a hospital in
Saudi Arabia and Al Assad was still shelling his Syrian citizens. The
post really was a foreshadowing of what would be. For now Gaddaffi and
his diabolical friends have be run out, Al Assad will eventually leave
and Saleh will never recover. Indeed this is a victory for freedom and
sub-Saharan Africa will free itself one day.

His days are numbered in hours

The Arab spring, or Arab awakening or Islamic awakening as Press TV
Iran so often calls is quite peculiar in character and form. The
question though that begs most ominous is; can this people led
peaceful mostly peaceful revolutions like what happened in Tunisia and
Egypt be replicated and elsewhere in Africa (Sub-Saharan Africa)?
The most obvious would be a NO. We then have to provide a case by case
analysis in order to discover why people led revolutions might be
unsustainable to replicate in in Sub-Saharan Africa. The most
important factor is cultural though. Northern Africa and the Middle-
East by extension with the exception of Israel comes’ from a
background of homogenous Arabic culture which is reinforced by the
fact that the Middle-East is largely Islamic. Well there are pockets
of orthodox Christians in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria but then these
religious minorities don’t have significant populations to form
multi-polar pockets of culture in the above countries. This claim is
further reinforced by the fact that sectarian violence and hostilities
between Sunni and Shias is not as pronounced in Northern Africa and
countries closer to the holy land. This though is not the case in
sub-Saharan Africa, sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by myriads
ethnic cultures that at times are conflicting at least or sub-Saharan
African countries have more than one ethnic community. This situation
is further exacerbated by the fact that ethnic identities are
important Loci for political organization this therefore means that
these ethnic identities view each other as competitors rather than
co-operate in efforts to bring meaningful social-economic change in
sub-Saharan Africa sovereign states.

A regular scene in recent times

Another factor that undermines the social-political organization of
the populace in Africa south of the Sahara is the lack of economic
homogeneity. The Middle East has well defined economic classes with
the Middle class being big enough and politically vibrant obviously
this strength of the middle class though comes about from oil revenues
that support decent income, education and living standards of people.
North Africa has higher literacy ratios than sub-Saharan Africa with
literacy levels averaging above 70% for almost all Middle-Eastern
countries; the only exception though is Libya where massive sections
were deliberately kept illiterate by Muamar Gaddafi. This economic
homogeneity of economic classes heralds a populace that is both
economically empowered and literate both key ingredients in the
development of subjective political cultures among populations.
Sub-Saharan Africa is different in that the middle class is not as
politically vibrant. The middle class in itself is divided into
distinctive lower Middle and Upper Middle classes. The later class is
comfortable with life and enjoys relative decent standards of life;
they thus view any involvement in active political protest as
self-endangering. The poor in Sub-Saharan Africa are too poor to be
politically organized thus they are often used as political tools at
the hands of political elites marionettes rather than as a source of
different political dispensations
The other reason though absurd is that Sub-Saharan Africa is
chronically food insecure. Rather than this catalyzing political
revolution in Africa similar to the 1779 French revolution this acts
to hamper revolutions. This is because man’s basic concern is survival
only when a man’s basic needs are mat does he then begin to think of a
wider set of goals that include political freedoms. It also has to be
taken into account that the Middle East is an extensively urbanized
and that political revolutions mostly emanate from urban populations
is not something to be taken lightly.

Follow the blog on twitter @omojuwa and the writer Kenyan Alex Njeru on @unbridledfreedm

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