Since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak agreed to step down following 18 days of peaceful protests from Egyptian citizens demanding his ouster, the entire Middle East region has been experiencing a ripple effect of unrest. This weekend, Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi sent his forces to quell protesters, resulting in the murder of hundreds. In nearby Bahrain, pro-democracy protesters have been gathering at the base of the Pearl monument – now dubbed Pearl square – in the capital of Manama, demanding wide-sweeping changes to their government. Clashes with security forces and riot police have left 8 dead and 200 women and children injured. Similar unrest has been reported throughout the Middle East in recent days, according to a CNN roundup.
While the groundswell of civil unrest has been centered in North Africa and the Middle East, some are beginning to question when and if the wave of citizen protests will filter down to sub-Saharan African countries. That region of the massive African continent has some of the poorest nations in the world and have the highest illiteracy rates, maternal and infant mortality rates, and the lowest life expectancy rates. Many of those nations are run by tyrannical leaders, dictators and other leaders who have been in power for decades, leading impoverished countries that rely on foreign aid to assist their poor while corrupt leaders pad their pockets with their country’s limited resources. The World Bank released a report last year detailing the number of times corruption undermines development advances in such nations.
One of the key factors that will determine whether a nation of people will be willing to follow in Egypt’s footsteps is whether or not the citizenry are willing to lose their lives for the cause. Taking note from the violent and deadly reaction from the Libyan government, it is becoming more apparent that it takes a certain amount of desperation and frustration for people to leave their jobs and homes and sacrifice life as they know it.
No doubt, given the deplorable state of most sub-Saharan countries, one would think their citizens, more than many in the world, have the right to raise a fuss and demand wide-spread change. Perhaps, the success Egyptian residents achieved has been quelled by some of the more violent responses from governments, but as more and more countries are successful in their peaceful efforts, residents of those sub Saharan African nations may get motivation to at least demand more accountability and services from their governments.
Not sure what it will take to enough to get fed up and stand up.