Sunday, February 27, 2011

After the uprising in the Arab world, could America be next?

Events that took place in Tunisia and Egypt and now Libya signify a changing world where the citizens are taking back power that is traditionally exercised by the executive.

These events, dramatic as they are, signify a “wind of change” blowing from “Arab Africa” and quickly transcending boarders to neighbouring countries - particularly Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan. The massive number of banner-waving protesters that we saw on TV epitomised an emerging trend among Africans to revolt against dictatorial regimes decreed by rulers who have not the slightest respect for the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights. It is such events that put a smile on the faces of leaders in the west.

Closer to home we will recall that not long ago, President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua criticised Ambassador Michael Ranneberger and other envoys for “dishing out money to youths in the country on the pretext of empowering them to take over leadership.” President Kibaki, in cautiously guarded language, said the government was aware of “three, four or five” people going around the country distributing money and inciting Kenyans. “We have seen them. They are visitors and when they leave, you will remain with nothing.”

The Prime Minister was also in the news calling on Ambassador Michael Ranneberger to stop his political activities among the youth while Dr Mutua accused an unnamed foreign government of paying the youth to topple the government. The general feeling across the world, we must admit, is that the West is keen on regime change in Africa, albeit transversely.

But this sort of “popular” widespread “democratic” uprising is scary. It is not just bad for Africa, but for such countries as United Kingdom and the United States of America as well, and should be discouraged.

Let’s face it, the kind of uprising witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt could as well happen to the US. Perhaps you ask how? But look, did we not notice how similar the grievances of the people in Egypt and Tunisia are to those of people in New Orleans for instance? Are they any different from the suffering of the orphaned and underprivileged children in Pennsylvania?

As was the case in Tunisia and Egypt, where men and women, young and old, gathered in the cities to push the countries’ leadership to surrender, with their dripping tears and oozing blood, so could be the case in the USA.

Over the past few days we watched the cries of men and women and children, thousands of them. What we didn’t ask is whether their cries echo in the rest of Europe. Have we not heard the same cries in US society? Did we not hear them say they were demanding reforms to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open? Again let’s face it: contrary to what their corporatised mass media tells us, a majority of Americans want a publicly-managed health care system that provides affordable coverage to everyone. And we
also know that a majority of Americans want a rapid end to continuing occupations of and war against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And as we watched Tunisia did we not see young professionals, middle class, educated people, complaining bitterly about a lack of opportunity? Is it any different in the US? It could be a little disturbing how well those pictures mirror the US situation. But look, the gap between the rich and the poor is wider in the USA as well.

Now the question one should ask is: Is America so democratic and free that scenes such as those witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt, and now Libya, are not even remotely possible in that country?

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