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.

Making Sense of the Protests in Khartoum

In the ten days following September 23, Sudanese cities witnessed the largest anti-government protests in many years. Many of the protesters aimed to bring down the government; others sought a reversal of its recent decision to reduce fuel subsidies. The police and security services responded with lethal force, and according to Amnesty International, killed more than 200 protesters. The ruling party played on the fear that, if the protesters should bring down the government, they would bring down the state as well. The protests have now since subsided.
Read More…

Human Rights, Development, and Democracy in Africa: What Role for the Arts?

This essay written by Mike van Graan, the Executive Director of the African Arts Institute (AFAI) based in Cape Town, is the first of a mini-series we hope to publish on the role of arts in democracy, protest, and human rights movements in Africa. It aims to explore how arts are used to advance freedom of expression and representation throughout the region, and highlight these important stories of pro-democracy arts activism – Eds.
Read More…

Not Even the Sky Limits Pro-Democracy Activists in Egypt

While the much anticipated time-frame for parliamentary elections in Egypt has been set for 27 April 2013, frustration with the Morsi regime remains and opposition is being expressed in new and creative ways. In a particularly unorthodox form of protest, the April 6 Youth Movement, a key movement within the Egyptian Revolution, posted on their official Facebook page that they have entered President Mohammed Morsi in an online competition to win a trip to outer space.
Read More…

New Media in Africa and the Global Public Sphere

In analyzing the relationship between a “global public sphere” and social media on the African continent, the generalizations hide a far more interesting set of observations. Debates and discussions about what passes for a global public sphere often overlook and obscure dynamics of power or take themselves too seriously.
Read More…

Urban Protests and Rural Violence in Africa: A Call for an Integrated Approach

African countries appear to be in the midst of an epic shift in the nature of their political struggles. The continent continues its long-term decline in violent conflicts with the total number this year falling to half of their post-cold war peak. How do we make sense of this decline?
Read More…

Mauritania: Dreaming about the Fall of the Military State

Mauritania has witnessed large protests this year calling for an end to the military regime of General Ould Abdel Aziz (for a useful though slightly out of date overview, see @LISSNUP’s discussion of the protests). Mauritanian activist and blogger Ahmed Ould Jedou offers an insider’s perspective on the drivers of protest and the role of the February 25 youth movement. Read More…

Critical Reactions to “Kony 2012”

Adam Branch, a Senior Research Fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Uganda, has posted a critique of the recent viral video “Kony 2012” on the UC Irvine-based blog “Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa.” Here’s a brief excerpt: My frustration with the group has largely reflected the concerns expressed so convincingly by those on-line critics who […]