In 2014, I recall a certain Martin Aglo, who on the occasion of the termination of Beautiful Blaise Campaore in the streets of Ouagadougou, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.
You will recall that US President Barrack Obama came all the way to the African Union headquarters on July 28, 2015 and said: ‘’When I first came to sub-Saharan Africa as a president, I said that Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions. I believe Africa’s progress will also depend on democracy, because Africans, like people everywhere, deserve the dignity of being in control of their own lives. I have to also say that Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end (applause). Now, let me be honest with you – I do not understand this (laughter). I am in my second term. It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as President of the United States. I cannot imagine a greater honour or a more interesting job. I love my work. But under our Constitution, I cannot run again (laughter and applause). I can’t run again. I actually think I’m a pretty good President – I think if I ran I could win (laughter and applause.) But I can’t.’’
Of course, most African strong-men cheered Donald Trump’s election to the rafters. Africa is a very non-linear place but recent elections from President Buhari of Nigeria through president-elect Barrow in the Gambia through president-elect Akufo-Addo of Ghana (pictured below) is surely signalling a trend-change is at hand.
You might turn around and ask: What about the DRC where a President with less than 10% national support is manoeuvring to hold on? Burundi? Ethiopia? Zimbabwe? Equatorial Guinea? and too many more to mention.
The big picture point is in fact a demographic one. Many commentators define the African population surge as a ‘’dividend’’ but what is clear is that if it is allowed a Free and Fair vote its going be a Terminator for a whole number of regimes. The demographic bulge is now arriving at voting age. This is that moment, its importance cannot be gainsaid.
These regimes are now facing an existentialist crisis.
We need to ask ourselves; how many people can an incumbent Regime shoot stone cold dead – 100, 1,000, 10,000? This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.
So now when you look around, you should consider that the Biker-President sitting in the Presidential Palace in Kinshasa is hanging on by his finger-tips. The Ethiopian Government needs to re-invent itself as a National movement/Party and do it now. Geriatric Government from Harare to Equatorial Guinea might not move aside easily but make no mistake its in the departure lounge and the open question is will it leave first class, coach or be placed in shackles and placed at the back of the plane like our People are when they are sent back from Europe because they have entered illegally.
Nic Cheeseman, an expert in African politics at Oxford University, said that ‘’autocratic leaders were facing a new and dynamic opposition, and intensifying efforts to cling to power.’’
“There will be more repression in the short term and it will look worse. But I am positive about democracy in Africa in the long run … Social and economic change will drive democratisation over 30 years. But there is a barrier of pain we will have to go through to get there,” he said. Make no mistake about the direction of travel and things could speed up.