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What's in a name?

Nick Ericsson Nick Ericsson | 16:31 UK time, Monday, 18 July 2011

We in the media are always on the look-out for a pithy way of capturing a complex issue. Not to explain it away, but rather to help us focus on what's important. Egypt is a case in point. Events there in the past week were referred to in some parts of the BBC as the country's 'unfinished revolution'.
Now - was it a revolution at all, even at the start of the year when Hosni Mubarak was forced from power? Protesters who gathered again in Tahrir square over the past few days would probably say no. A true revolution is one where all elements of the old are swept away and replaced by something altogether new.
I'm happy with that defintion until I try and apply it elsehwere. Soon after apartheid fell in South Africa, observers - and even South Africans themselves - were talking of witnessing the most anticipated 'revolution' of the 20th century. But elements of the old remained - in the civil service, in the country's media and in its armed forces. BUt I defy you to look at footage of Nelson Mandela been sworn in as president and not think of South Africa in 1994 as the site of a revolution.
it's a difficult issue - and one we examine in the latest issue of Focus on Africa magazine. Just look on our pages for the striking image of Uganda's security forces spraying protesters with pink dye in Kampala and there you'll find a three-way conversation on how deeply rooted Africa's democratic 'revolution' really is. You may be surprised, and a little bit depressed, by what you read.

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