20 Years Later – The Role of Art and Justice in South Africa’s Democracy

At the entrance to the Constitutional Court of South Africa stands a sculpture of a large man yoked to a cart. His burden is a human one: a man and woman who themselves are seated on the back of a fourth figure kneeling on the cart. At first glance, the sculpture resonates with the history of servitude that marked the dehumanizing institution of apartheid. On closer reflection, the sculpture reveals a more complex message. The sculptor, South African artist Dumile Feni, did not create any racial differentiation between the four figures, and the man drawing the cart is the only figure large and strong enough to accomplish this task. The title of the work is History, and the four figures carry each other in a way that reflects the dependence, the interconnectedness and the tension that have always characterized human relationships. Read more…

Citizens’ Revolt in Burkina Faso

Even the long months of demonstrations and strikes that came before did not fully prepare the people of Burkina Faso for what they would accomplish during the last week of October 2014. In Ouagadougou, the capital, hundreds of thousands—organizers claimed a million—packed the central square on Tuesday, 28 October, to protest President Blaise Compaoré’s “constitutional coup,” as they called his plan to force through an amendment enabling him to run for reelection yet again, after more than a quarter century in power. Read more…

Protests and the Construction of National Security Threats in South Africa

The revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden – that the United States (US) has developed surveillance capacities that make it possible for intelligence agents to surveil all Americans and many non-Americans – have provoked outrage and debate over the extent of their anti-terror policies far beyond their border. This massive overreach has even crept into the monitoring of popular mobilization. Read more…

El-Sisi’s Election in Egypt: an Overwhelming Victory or an Electoral Farce?

On 29 May 2014, hours after the conclusion of an additional third day of voting, an expected outcome was confirmed. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Field Marshal and Ex-Military Chief, will be the next president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Although official results expect to be announced in the coming days by the legally mandated Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), unofficial results reported by the judges supervising the polls, revealed an overwhelming victory for El-Sisi with 93% percent of the votes cast. Read more…

Rwanda’s Twenty-Year Transformation

This April marks twenty years since the horrifying 1994 Rwandan Genocide, though government coordinated commemoration ceremonies, dubbed Kwibuka 20, have been underway since January 2014. Amidst the remembrances, official and private, theatrical and sincere, Rwandans and international observers will be forced to consider the extent to which the situation in Rwanda has changed in the past two decades. Read more…

Part II: Anxieties of West African Democracy: Six Presidential Elections in 2014-2015

In the first part of this article, the author describes the political context surrounding the high-risk presidential elections that will take place in six countries in West Africa in 2014-2015. It considered in particular, the anticipated intensity of electoral competition in each country, one of the three elements of risk he’ll use, to assess the likelihood of violence. In this second part, he examines the current security context of the different countries and the institutional environments that will oversee the electoral process. This essay was originally written in French and translated by African Futures. All issues of misinterpretation or mistranslation are therefore solely the editors’ responsibility. To ensure the author’s original nuance, please read the French version.

Partie II: La Démocratie de l’Angoisse: l’Afrique de l’Ouest et ses Six Élections Présidentielles de 2014-2015

Dans la première partie de cet article, l’auteur a décrit le contexte politique dans lequel se dérouleront les élections présidentielles dans les six pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest concernés par ces scrutins souvent à haut risque cette année et en 2015. Il a examiné en particulier l’intensité anticipée de la compétition électorale dans chacun des pays, un des trois éléments d’appréciation des risques de violence. Dans cette deuxième partie, il s’interroge sur le contexte sécuritaire actuel des différents pays et sur l’environnement institutionnel qui devra encadrer les processus électoraux. Anglais…

Anxieties of West African Democracy: Six Presidential Elections in 2014-2015

This contribution is the first of a two-part essay by Dr. Gilles Olakounlé Yabi on the anxious environment in West African countries preparing for elections in 2014/2015. The second part will be posted on African Futures in mid-March. This essay was originally written in French and translated by African Futures. All issues of misinterpretation or mistranslation are therefore solely the editors’ responsibility. To ensure the author’s original nuance, please read the French version.

La Démocratie de l’Angoisse: l’Afrique de l’Ouest et ses Six Élections Présidentielles de 2014-2015

C’est l’estomac noué et la gorge serrée que les citoyens de six pays membres de la Communauté économique des Etats d’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO) s’apprêtent à entrer dans une période électorale devenue synonyme, dans une trop grande partie du continent, de risque maximal de crise violente. Anglais…

Social Protest, an African Perennial

Early one morning in March 2013, residents of Bujagali in eastern Uganda, upset by the deplorable state of the road through their village blocked it with logs and large stones. The protesters expressed anger that President Yoweri Museveni had not kept a promise to pave the road, which becomes virtually impassable during heavy rains and throws up dust clouds in dry weather. Although the residents seemed determined to keep the road closed—some youths jokingly planted banana suckers and maize across it—riot police eventually came from nearby Jinja, arrested several demonstrators, and dispersed the remainder. Read More…