After a couple of sound checks, some laughter and greetings, Accra got ready to discuss the question knocking on Africa’s door since three Arab nations dethroned the kings who ruled them last year. Is an African Spring important? Was posed to the over 150 personalities seated in the main chilly auditorium of the Kofi Annanc Center of Excellence in Accra on 17th January this year.
On the panel to help dissect the difficult and controversial issue were;
• Dr. George Ayittey, Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC who has championed the argument that “Africa is poor because she is not free”.
• Anne Mugisha, Ugandan opposition activist and coordinator of the Activists for Change movement that organised the “walk to work” protests in 2011 in Uganda.
• Kuseni Dlamini, South African political analyst, who believes that Africa has already had its spring during the 1990s.
Other distinguished attendees included Chief Dele Momodu (Presidential Candidate for Nigeria and Founder of Ovation Magazine), Miss Elizabeth Ohene (Former Minister of State in Ghana) and Mr. K. B. Asante (A former Ghanaian diplomat).
To the surprise of many, less than 10% of attendees were in support of an African Spring. The majority backed, a non-violent process of dialogue and change process which would ultimately push Africa into prosperity. Many of the nations which swallowed the Arab Spring pill, are still undergoing series of reconstruction. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are yet to see a decantation after the overthrow their respective leaders. This was the main reason behind Accra’s response.
Others were also of the view that a non-violent African Spring was already underway. This is a revolution led by the educated and Internet activist who will kick against bad governance in all forms possible. According to this school of thought, it is now more difficult in most African nations for a leader to push a whole nation down his own road because of such educated eyes and ears . What needs to be encouraged is the spread of such referring schemes in other parts of Africa.
The issue was discussed at length with emotions flying across the fully-filled auditorium. Most attendees didn’t have the chance to express themselves, because of time constraints. What I guess would have helped the debate more, is a true definition of ‘An African Spring’. By a Spring, do they mean the violence which took tens of thousands of lives in Arab states? or do they mean an opposition to what we all know to be bad governance?
Reactions on blogs and social media;
Prior to the event, a colleague had blogged on the BBC Africa Debate program. BloggingGhana, an organisation of Bloggers in Ghana had selected the topic for its Universal Post scheme. Read their posts and find out what their thoughts are on the matter.
Kajsa – Is an African Spring Necessary? Asks BBC
Gameli – African Spring, not the best way forward.
Edward – African Social Media and the Arab Spring
MacJordan – BBC African Debate; Is an African Spring looming in 2012?
Nana Yaw – There is no Spring in West African
Many other individuals shared their views on the issue on twitter with hash-tag #bbcAfricaDebate. Do a search for the hash tag and follow what was said.