27.2.11

Would be kings

As the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions continue to inspire despaired citizens across the world, it is painful to note that it is highly unlikely that these revolutions’ successes could be replicated in other countries. 

The miracle of these uprisings is that they were relatively fast, unprecedented and unpredicted. Unfortunately, now that dictators across the world are aware of the potential that their citizens contain, they have redoubled their efforts to suppress and oppress any opposition.

Zimbabwe has arrested people merely for watching videos of Egypt’s revolution. Two years ago, when he failed to secure a credible victory, Mugabe entered an alliance that we all hoped would result in tangible change politically and socially. But this latest crackdown is an example of how completely the coalition government had failed. 

There are many reasons why change failed to come to pass, one of them is that the quality of opposition leaders, their traits, ambitions and desires are too similar to those of the tyrants they wish to overthrow. Already Egypt and Tunisia’s temporary governments are revealing what lies beneath their veneer. In Libya, the opposition is lead by tribal and military leaders who, until days ago, shared their tents with Gaddafi. As much as we would like to believe they have harboured democratic ideals deep within themselves, too frightened to reveal their passion for freedom, I am more inclined to see them as opportunists, who seized the moment when it arrived.
These dictators-in-waiting are eager to yield the same power that the deposed leaders once held. The conflate leadership with despotism, economic growth with personal enrichment and democracy with legitimisation.

An uprising implies what is at the bottom rising up, a revolution suggests turning, revolving, facing a new direction. Will this happen in the heads of those who would be leaders?   

Photograph; Yemen protests, The Guardian

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