Arab Egypt vs African Egypt

24 02 2011

Azad Essa, writing for Al Jazeera, has made an excellent point regarding the uprising’s in African and the Middle East.  In his piece, he points out that what occurred in Tunisia and Egypt and what is now taking place in Libya has been constructed into a story of Arab and Middle Eastern rebellion, even when it says more about the African continent than anywhere else.  It is worth noting that, with the exception of Yemen and Bahrain, the most successful revolutions to have taken place so far have been African nations.

Not only are these uprisings throwing off dictators and autocrats but the people of these post-colonial nations are standing up and establishing an identity which can stand, proudly, despite decades of humiliation by colonial powers and the tyrants who, typically, made themselves out to be saviours.

Anyway, read the full article for an entirely different perspective on what is unfolding.

The African Egypt versus the Arab Egypt

Egypt was suddenly a sexy topic. But, despite the fact that the rich banks of the Nile are sourced from central Africa, the world looked upon the uprising in Egypt solely as a Middle Eastern issue and commentators scrambled to predict what it would mean for the rest of the Arab world and, of course, Israel. Few seemed to care that Egypt was also part of Africa, a continent with a billion people, most living under despotic regimes and suffering economic strife and political suppression just like their Egyptian neighbours.

“Egypt is in Africa. We should not fool about with the attempts of the North to segregate the countries of North Africa from the rest of the continent,” says Firoze Manji, the editor of Pambazuka Online, an advocacy website for social justice in Africa. “Their histories have been intertwined for millennia. Some Egyptians may not feel they are Africans, but that is neither here nor there. They are part of the heritage of the continent.”

And, just like much of the rest of the world, Africans watched events unfold in Cairo with great interest. “There is little doubt that people [in Africa] are watching with enthusiasm what is going on in the Middle East, and drawing inspiration from that for their own struggles,” says Manji.

He argues that globalisation and the accompanying economic liberalisation has created circumstances in which the people of the global South share very similar experiences: “Increasing pauperisation, growing unemployment, declining power to hold their governments to account, declining income from agricultural production, increasing accumulation by dispossession – something that is growing on a vast scale – and increasing willingness of governments to comply with the political and economic wishes of the North. “In that sense, people in Africa recognise the experiences of citizens in the Middle East. There is enormous potential for solidarity to grow out from that. In any case, where does Africa end and the Middle East begin?”


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