Democratic uprisings brutally suppressed in many African countries

Published on Pambazuka News, by Firoze Manji, March 31, 2011.

Northern Africa is not the only part of Africa where uprisings are taking place. In countries like Swaziland, Gabon, Cameroon, Djibouti, and Burkina Faso we’ve seen massive student uprisings and worker demonstrations brutally suppressed in most cases. Editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News Firoze Manji talks to the Real News Network about what’s happening in Southern Africa.

Watch the video UPRISING IN AFRICA, 12.17 min.

or/(and) read the transcript:

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. Northern Africa is not the only part of Africa where uprisings are taking place. 

In countries like Swaziland, Gabon, Cameroon, Djibouti, and Burkina Faso we’ve seen massive student uprisings and worker demonstrations brutally suppressed in most cases. Now joining us to talk about what’s happening in Southern Africa is Firoze Manji. He’s the editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News, which involves hundreds of bloggers and journalists across Africa. So, Firoze, how are the people of Southern Africa responding to what they’re seeing in Northern Africa and in the uprisings across the Arab world?

FIROZE MANJI: Well, I think what we’re seeing is two things. First of all, I think people are inspired by what has been happening in Egypt and Tunisia and Libya. It’s been quite extraordinary how there’s been a resonance. And what we have seen also, which is being underreported in the Western press, has been the events happening in places like Swaziland, in Gabon, in Cameroon, in Djibouti, where there have been massive uprises. Last week in Burkina Faso there were mass demonstrations of students and of workers there, and the universities have just been closed down. The reason why this is happening is that everyone shares that same experience as the Egyptians and the Tunisians. Yes, most of the focus has been on the dictators and getting rid of dictators. But the real, real thing is and real common thing that everyone faces has been 30 years of structural adjustment programs, 30 years where all social services have been privatized, 30 years where there has been massive accumulation by dispossession. You have the peasantry losing land. You have people migrating to the cities. You have a huge decline in income. And what we have most seriously is not just dispossession of land and of resources and services, but also a dispossession politically. Our governments today are more inclined to listen to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and the international aid agencies than they are to citizenry. So in effect what’s happened is that our countries have become much less democratic, and we are unable to hold our governments to account. So I think there’s a sense of discontent which is percolating through the continent. It’s a phenomenon that we’ve not seen since the 1950s in the rise of the anticolonial revolution. So I think these are really interesting times. Obviously, in each of those countries, their specific situation will be different, and so it’ll be manifested in different ways … (full long interview text).

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