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How representative are the protests?

BBC Africa HYS Team | 17:18 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

On Africa Have Your say we'll be discussing the ongoing protests across parts of North Africa and beyond.

If you take one look at the international news, it is still littered with stories of protest from across Africa and the Middle East. Libya, Morrocco, Dijbouti and Ivory Coast are all experiencing this upheaval.  There are also rumbles of discontent in Algeria and Gabon.  We'll be asking how representative these protests are of the general feeling in these countries. 

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 22nd February at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published. 



  • Comment number 1.

    The people of the nations that are currently witnessing the upheaval, and others still on the line, have been crying for political change for decades and relied upon the West for such ambitions to be achieved. They could not think of these protests before as they would risk their lives, and have not had the right to assemble and protest freely.
    So what has changed now? The economic crisis in the world today has brought the corruption of those regimes to the shore. While the average people of those countries cannot afford the bread, their leaders embezzled billions of dollars and saved it in foreign banks. The development of the internet social networks has made civilian organization possible and the free flow of information so easily. Secondly, people have despaired from the “rhetoric” democracy calls of the West, who put their national interests before the human rights of others as in the cases of Libya and Egypt and therefore, decided to address the issue locally. When Tunisians succeeded in their mission of dethroning the ruthless dictator, there has been a domino effect in other countries. It is a new beginning of a new world. But if Libya descends into Civil War as Qadafi’s son warns, this would likely halt the Jasmine revolution as revolutionists would think twice before embarking on a revolution.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think in most countries majority of people have started to realize that they have the right to have in place the government that best represents them and are able to steer growth and development. These popular demonstrations are signs that democracy is getting entrenched in people and that tyranny, human rights violations and abuses pepertuated by state agents have no place in the continent anymore. There are no more so called powerful revolutionaries that will escape this popular revolts unless their is reform. Remember the Int. Community supports despotism no more. [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 3.

    The protest taking place around Africa is indeed representative. This is the popular voice, the voice of people yearning for Democracy and freedom. It is high time Africa rid itself self from dictators. I see a new wave of Democracy and freedom sweeping across Africa and it is not going leave these dictators unscathed.

  • Comment number 4.

    I will like to take part in the debate. [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 5.

    People's power has proved to be a very strong force. It has brought down leaders like Egypt's Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and it now looks like Lybia's Gadaffi would follow soon. This force from the people is stronger than the force of Arms used by our leaders. They i.e. leaders should continue to rule according to the wishes of the people and they should leave power when the people tells them they no longer needs their services, or else they woule leave power disgraced and no one would remember their good works.

  • Comment number 6.

    The protests are representative in so far as they reflect the general feelings of the majority of the citizens of those countries. Democracy itself is elitist in the sense that it requires a level of education to understand the way some of the representative institutions such as the judiciary, legislature, executive, civil society and values such as the rule of law and constitutionalism work. The protests represent the yearning of the majority of the people for basic freedom, respect for human dignity and right to a decent livelihood, a yearning shared by all human beings in the world regardless of geographical location.

  • Comment number 7.

    Lack of democracy and human right certainly has a lot to do with strong dissatisfaction of the people. The UN secretary Gen. “if there is one area which would determine the direction of African’s future, it will be the quality of its governance and leadership". Mismanagement and corruption are the twin evils destroying African countries these protester want CHANGE,on employments, human right AND freedom of speech.
    AFRICAN Continent must change.

  • Comment number 8.

    Prottest defines the real ordeal of people when they feel saying enough is enough is not gonna make them better. Just like mob justice, when the state fails in it's obligations then the population takes the law in their hands. Honestly speeking it is not only Egypt, Tunisia and others, i think the whole African continent is on a time bomb for change.....this is a good pressure incentive for governments that have subjected people to inhuman suffering and failed to protect the citizens.

  • Comment number 9.

    No, don't hold your breath just yet: we're not yet ready for revolutions. To begin with, very few (if any) military forces in Africa owe their allegiance to their own people (as opposed to the regimes that rely on them). They would therefore not hesitate to murder millions of their fellow citizens if ordered to do so. At any rate, most of us (particularly the "educated" ones) are still unable/unwilling to appreciate the extent to which we've been misgoverned. We still believe it's largely (if not entirely) the fault of "the West," even though no one has yet explained to me how the West (or anyone else) is supposed to be responsible for the orgy of theft that defines many of our so-called "democratic processes." Talking about "democracy," we're too easily fooled by the idea of "elections," so much so that our discussions (in the media and elsewhere) are dominated not by the basics (infrastructure, state institutions, inward investments, jobs, education, healthcare, etc), but by the selfish machinations of the crooks and scoundrels we like to call our "politicians." Forget revolution, therefore; there's more misery to come yet, alas.

  • Comment number 10.

    I am in Ethiopia and believe I am taking a massive risk participating in this debate with you because the dictatorship which climes to have won 99.67% in the election in June, doesn’t allow my birth right to speak my mind (We can’t even use Facebook since last week as they have blocked it). Which many fortunate people around the world take for granted. The sad situation we in Africa find ourselves in is, supported by the bigotry of low expectation for Africans by the West, the dictators in Africa and Ethiopia has completely made us feel sub-human. Maybe even slaves, when you consider the mass murder, mass torture, mass starvation, genocide we in Ethiopia have been living under, let alone lack of freedom, justice, democracy and rule of law. So, I really don’t think we have anything to lose except everything to gain by going out and taking back what is rightfully ours. Our Freedom! Good luck Africa! God bless Africa and all moral beings!

  • Comment number 11.

    The religious bent to the events in Arab North Africa cannot be underestimated. Just as Qadaffi has vowed to die a martyr so, I hope, are the protesters determination to die for their beliefs, as dictated by Islam. That fervent religious component would be largely missing in sub-Saharan Africa.
    That aside, all popular revolts, regardless of geography, culture or politics have the same root cause: People crave their right to self-determination even if, once given that right, they choose to not exercise it (such as voter participation in the US).

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes, it is a representative of the main stream population. It could engulf the continent, but as it happened in many places there is a serious danger that people's revolution may get snached by a military junta or other fanatic groups. In most countries with dictatorial regimes, no plitical party was allowed to freely operate/organize or develope, therefore; the only organized and powerful group would be the military forces with the greatest advantage to educate/arm/consolidate themselves, and seem to find themselves at a much better advantage to steal the popular uprising in the name of public safety and national interest/security from the previous dictatorship.Recent history tells us clearly that military juntas and former so called "Revolutionaries/liberators" assume power under the umbrela known as " provisional/transitional government. They become great actors at displaying genuine national interest and utmost respect for human rights,until they consolidate and solidify their power base. They keep postponing election promises for decades due to some unimaginable"Foreign hostility/enemies from within...etc. Decades go by and the country's conditions goes from bad to worse. So, watch out for the phrases and words such as " provisional/national salvation/ transitional/ peoples army/ military care taker government...etc. Thanks

  • Comment number 13.

    Good that People now are coming to realisation of democracy especially some Arab countries.i want them to know that;Freedom is now or never,if you guys dn't stand united now to pursure these evil men out of town,the furue still is blink therefore,Keep unity and strenght up.Enough is Enough,these arab dictatorship must have an end,how long will they be pampared,decieved and misled?,dnt give them any single chance,the worl is with guys.

  • Comment number 14.

    Adams you have spoken very well, and i truly appreciate your position. I assure you that if there is anyone that stands firm against Tyranny to a fault it should be me. But i have taken the mirror stand now because i have seen tyranny present itself in a different form that has pretty much eluded most of our human right activists and sophisters.
    From Tunisia, to Algeria, Yemen, through Egypt, Bahrain and Libya i have seen people stand up against government establishments! I commend them, and i salute courage for whatever cause! It is not common place to have courage so i salute their courage. However to what end does their radicalism head? Is it just the heat of the moment angst, or the quick tempered reaction to a call for uproar? A revolution that does not seek to redress that ill suffered by the people through effective planning and carefully outline positions only ends up installing anarchy where the usurped government used to exist!
    Tunisia serves as my present case now, the people have succeeded in chasing away Zine Ben Ali but so far there has been no reflection of a change in governance!
    The Egyptian paradox would only end up in tears for the so-called facebook revolutionaries and a big laugh for the west!
    There is a silently degenerating Cote D'Ivoire still in a political quagmire of its own! Clearly the African Union is asleep and insipid, and has its stupidity rubbed in its face by western and eastern powers fighting over a space on the "dark continent"[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator].
    The earlier we adopt a system of carefully painless diplomacy, we would continue to behave like wild beasts in conflict resolution.
    Order is necessary for any revolution, there should be clearly defined leaders and movers! The ideology should be properly spelt out, rather than just a rabble rousing mob venting their personal frustrations without direction.
    Colonel Ghaddafi has brought forth some form of development unrivaled by any other Northern African state into Libya, he has made judicious use of the country's oil resources relative to other Nations that boast of it also, the average Libyan citizen has a higher standard of living than many other African nationals, he has given Libya pride amongst its peers...so even if this man is to go, is it not an act of ingratitude to want to force him out so?
    Does it not reek of foreign involvements? Let us see the forest for the trees

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree with most comments here. The main factors one should note are:
    1) Africa has the world's largest number of current dictatorships all stemming from the period after independence was obtained from colonial powers. The continent and its people are relatively new to the idea of "democracy".

    2) The push for "democracy" is being led by the youth, admittedly more influenced by modern policies of developed nations, but the reality is that any new leaders that take over the deposed dictators will come from an era pre-independence, and so might not be as progressive as the youth seek.

    3) Rebellion commences when people are pushed to the brink of what they can bear AND support is unified for change. Only then will protests not be quenched. The Southern Sudanese were unified. The Tunisians were unified. The Egyptians were unified. Time will tell if the Lybians are unified.

    Perhaps the difference between the Saharan uprisings and the sub-Saharan uprisings is the fact that the Arabs are willing to be unifed irrespective of religion, political affiliation or ethnicity. The issue that replays itself constantly in the Sub-Saharan region is the fact that people struggle to come together to achieve a common goal despite their religious/political/ethnic orientation. A "Red Revolution" was supposed to commence in Cameroon today, as anti-government supporters seek to overthrown one of Africa's longest standing dictators. Little has populated the media waves over the situation there, and ground reports indicate that the opposition is fractured. The success of their efforts will be based on how long they can sustain a unified opposition to the current regime and the inevitable bloodshed caused by government policemen.

    As in all things, time will tell...

  • Comment number 16.

    While it is too early to predict the wider implication for Africa, I am however very much disturbed by the news that some African nationals’ are hired as mercenaries and are helping to prolong Gaddafi’s time in power. While my point is not to prove or disprove the story, I am nevertheless very much concerned about possibilities of African refugees who are currently residing in different parts of Libya, who are under the auspices of the Libyan government and, who may not have secured UNHCR’s protection as being forced by Gaddafi contrary to their will, belief and value system. We all should be reminded that refugees who may not have secured UNHCR protection and are still living in Libya are highly vulnerable to forceful recruitment by Gaddafi’s regime. As we watch things unfolding in Libya, please let us keep these vulnerable people in our mind and ask ourselves how they could easily be exploited under the prevailing circumstances and what the international community can do to help and what Africa can do to protect her name.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes! this has been the wishes of the Africans protesting
    for years. but this leaders seems to have built a strong politcal
    dynasty that cannot be ousted by mere protest. However, they have
    been proved wrong this time. let Africans have the government that
    they can afford. Mubarak and Gaddafi specically arrogate themselves
    as unshakeable. No more shall we condone political representatives
    that donot respect the wish of his people. no more dictatorship,
    political idiosycracies and midiocrity. the political and economic
    quagmire, civil disorder, militancy and rebel, and the present protest
    are clear sign of African discontentment and hatred for authoritarianism.
    Gaddafi must go like mubarak!!! we dont need rulers but leaders in Africa.

  • Comment number 18.

    indeed it has to be said , no matter how hard and painful siend all the struggle in africa . i think the time has come for so-called african politician to let the people had thier freedom and justice for all..99% of politic in africa from the west .north and east are base on family and friends afairs . how can the people in africa condone a political represntatives that can't even take care for thier own people . the dictatoship in africa is to wired in the sence that at list the world know more than we can imagine . nature speak for hisself but we can't judge nature cos that how the world has creat to be . the mindset within the so-called precident in africa is to care for thier love one around and them and let the people in the country dies in nothing . putting haterd within the cummunity , bribry , coruption , unjustice and democracy . i think the african people must now know that life is not about eat and drink.. so i think is time for the ppl in africa to speak out from all around where the have dictators like what i see and read in cameroon to unifiled and take out the dictator , i know its hard , but future is the thing we all dream of .

  • Comment number 19.

    the protests in Africa are very representative. these protests open my eyes to 'see' a new wind of change, change for the better. To let bad people live is as bad as killing good people. It's high time Africa receive their freedom and truly be free.


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