Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Tunisian Revolution - What Lessons For African Leaders?

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The Tunisian problem started as mere protest and then graduated to an uprising and eventually to a revolution which led to the eventual step down of the former Head of state Ben Ali. Now that Ben Ali has finally vacated power and gone into self-imposed exile, what lessons are other African leaders learning from the North African state?

It is now clear that tyranny cannot stand for ever; and that a time would come when the ruled would not fear death anymore. The people may live in fear for several years and be intimidated by state powers and machine guns or artillery fires. But one day everyone would cast off the fear of death and confront the power of oligarchy and totalitarianism for personal freedom.

Freedom has never come too cheaply for any people. Those who are hungry for liberty and self determination would rise up to challenge the power of oppression and take what rightfully belongs to them – power.

The Tunisian revolution has once again proved the fact that power belongs to the people. Despotism would only reign as long as the people remain silent. No man can ever be greater than his country: it is the masses that make a leader what he is.

A lot of African countries have lived under absolute, tyrannical, despotic and repressive leadership. The leaders who believe that power is permanent refuse to recognize the fact that power is actually transient and that one day it would change hands.

Ben Ali ruled Tunisia with iron fists for 23 years, without being accountable to anyone. Corruption thrived under his regime; oppositions were emasculated and victimized. The people groaned under the yoke of his intimidating powers. But all that is now history because the same man who believed he could rule forever is now in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Egyptians are now taking to the streets demanding for the resignation of their president who has been in power for decades. Their eyes have been opened by the fearlessness of the Tunisian people who had lived under the same kind of leadership until few days back.

The reason there has been civil wars, guerilla wars, militancy and pockets of internal insurrection in several African countries has been largely due to the kind of oppressive leadership the people had had in centuries. However, things seem to be taking a dramatic change for the better. True democracy, freedom of speech, accountability and credible elections seem to be visible in the horizon.

Hosni Mubarak should as a matter of urgency quit his post as the Head of state and allow the people determine who should govern them. He should not impose his cronies on the people. He should know that no amount of intimidation, killing and victimization would stop the people from getting what they want.

Other Heads of state like Muammar Gaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Omar Al-Bashir, etc should also take note of the new awakening in Africa. They should understand the yearnings of the people and quietly vacate office before they’re humiliated out. Africa needs leaders who can help manage her resources and develop the continent so they could try and catch up with other continents that have gone ahead of them in terms of infrastructural and human resources development.

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