Saturday, February 26, 2011


Il s'agissait des alarmes
Et nous voici  plein de larmes
Côte d'Ivoire se trouve en armes
Nous assistons la mort dans l'âme

Il ne s'agit plus des jeux
Ou encore un jeu des mots
Il ne s'agit plus d'ADO
Ou encore Laurent Gbagbo

Après tout ce temps d'attente
Terre d'ébène se voit partante
Pour une guerre où tous les comptes
Donnent la belle ébène perdante

Dieu du ciel dans ton amour
Souviens toi de nous ce jour
Que ces armes qui nous entourent
Cèdent la place à la paix pour nous

Nnenna - 2011 - 02 - 26

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The next African leaders to quit power

It is the beginning of February 2011.

Tunisia has kicked off the year in grand style. Now the Egyptians are also protesting, asking that their President Hosni Mubarak leave power. Despite all that he has ceded and agreed to cede, the people still want him to leave.

And the question that has been making the rounds is: who next? Where next? How?

The rumblings seem to be shaking up places. Algeria, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen have felt tremors.. Even Gabon.

On what grounds can we, as Africans, support a popular call from citizens for their leader to step down? Here are a few reasons, that we believe should qualify the ousting of a president by the people.

If you have been in power for over 10 years or spent two terms

Then it is time for you to leave. A decade is enough time for you to achieve any initial goals you set for yourself, your party or your country. It is also enough time for you to lose contact with the real people, build a pseudo kingdom made up of your advisers, and live that unreal live in which these advisers only give you positive report, only show you where the country is doing great and hide anything that is to the contrary.

If you are 80 years of age

Honestly, that is way past retirement! Does your hearing still function 100%. How about your sight? How physically fit are you? Can you still do marathon work hours? Being a President is a heavy job, being an African president is doubly heavy! But an African President at 80? You may want to see the country as one where the population are your children. And you call everybody "my son" and "my daughter". No, that is not what we want in our President. Your grandchildren need you. Your family needs you. There are quite a number of non-presidential things you can accomplish at this age with a lot of dignity. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are still alive, happily alive.

You may be afraid of the International War Crime Tribunal of the Hague, but that is only when you refuse to leave. When you leave willingly, every other thing can be negotiated.

If you did not win the elections

There is no point hanging on, trying to oppress the real winner. We win some, we lose some. The line that it is the "international community" or country x or y that is "against us" is as fake as the line that county A or B, that is a world power is behind you. It is not about who is against you or for you on the international arena, it is about the people who voted. Power belongs to the people not "the diabolical colonial masters" or the "strong global partners". If you did not win, quit power.

If you dont have a university degree

In the Independence years, there were not many educated Africans. But that has changed. To be frank, it is an insult in today's world to have you be at the head of a nation when you dont have a formal university degree. What you learn in University is constructive thinking, reasoning, scientific analysis of society issues, global issues and human relations. University education allows you to come out of your tribe, ethnic group, religion, region. You face the world, you make mistakes and you learn from them. You learn to sit and listen to others criticize your work, tear it down.. University education lets you understand not only how your own system works, but how others' systems also work. In 2011, if you dont have a world view, you should not be the President. Step down and go to school.

If your father was the past president

There is a problem here. How many people live in the country? How many families have raised their children to be leaders? How many families have had the honour of leading the nation since its creation? Why do you think that one family should have two successive presidents? Dont you think your family's quota is already used up? Others deserve a chance. Step aside!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Who will jail web democracy in Africa?

Last year, on one of the evenings of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in South Africa, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu came to speak to a group of us. A garden filled with media people from all over the world. In his address, he revisited the days of democratic and anti-apartheid activism and said “it was the media that did not forget us”. That line stuck with me.

Dr Nelson Mandela, affectionately called “Madiba” has left hospital after a mild respiratory infection. The moment he checked into hospital, the whole world was aware. Media camped outside the hospital premises and live coverage was maintained. The media still remembers..

Laurent Gbagbo has requisitioned the agencies of the West Africa Central Bank in Ivory Coast. And the bank's headquarters in Senegal has changed the access codes of the treasure room. The whole world is listening..

President Ben Ali of Tunisia took off with a plane from Tunis airport. He will transit through Malta. While the officials of Malta are saying “no official information”, someone has it on Twitter that the Air Control of Malta has communicated with Ben Ali's pilot. We get there before “official information”..

Mrs Sarah Jibril wants to be the first Nigerian female President. She won one vote in her party primaries. Over 4000 delegates voted. She also voted. Sarah Jibril was the only one who voted for Sarah Jibril. Dont bother going to court to contest anything...

A French military advisor to the Togolese government assaults a journalist in Lomé. Another journalist records the scene and puts it up on YouTube. In less than a week, it has been viewed over a million times and shared on so many Facebook pages that the French republic had to recall the officer. And Togo had to let the journalists (the one molested and the one who shot the video) walk...

Et cetera, et cetera..

The new media in Africa is the social media, the people's media, the web media, the blog, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter media. This media has hit the roof, blown the roof, and is headed to “where none has been before”. The weight of this new, social, online, citizen media in Africa democracy is great, greater than what one single individual can say in a blog! From Cape to Cairo, Cape Verde to Djibouti, Comoros to Jos..

For anyone interested in African democracy issues, you cannot not pay attention. In less than two weeks, what President El Abidine Ben Ali thought was normal went viral and by the time he was ready to act, it was too late and he was washed by the wave of tweets, of photos, of blogs, of videos and of people on the streets.

In Côte d'Ivoire, the #civ2010 of Twitter has overwhelmed the political landscape. Because it started monitoring before the votes were cast, it made it difficult for the powers that be to use the old systems of election rigging. During the results of the first round of the presidential elections, we were publishing about one minute after reading. Just the time needed to crosscheck, spell check and hit “Enter”. By the time the second rounds came around, the platform had blown the roofs. On its own, alone, the citizen media of #civ2010 has achieved more information feed on the issue that it has forced all parties: winning and losing, international and national traditional media to converge.

In Nigeria, I followed the #PDPprimaries. President Goodluck Jonathan, kicked off the day by sending an early morning tweet and a Facebook update to rally support for him. The elections themselves started 6 hours late! All this time, I was waiting..typing, tweeting.. with thousands of other Nigerians all over the world? Why? Because the one that wins #PDPprimaries is almost certain to win the Presidency. #PDPprimaries lasted 15 hours. The final results were announced at around 7AM the next morning. We kept awake! Every single count was on web radio, on Twitter, on Facebook.

Egypt is on. This country has the highest number of Internet Users per capita in the continent. But no, it is not a case of in-country count..

It is a case of a continent whose population, home, abroad and in the diaspora has realised that “media makes democracy” and that the “Internet give you media power”. And are determined to make optimum use of it. Across the continent, initiatives like #civ2010, #wonzomai, #EiENigeria, #Sidibouzid are on the increase.

Africa web democracy is alive and is here and here to stay. The instantaneous nature of it is wonderful! Its power to connect national and diaspora is its strength and its capacity to churn out huge information is incredible. Then we did not have the cable and the bandwidth, but now both are coming. First we did not have access, but we are getting there. Then the terminals were few, now, they are everywhere. Then we did not know how to use the Internet while maintaining our safety, now we are “safety experts”. First the options were limited, but now, they are unlimited.

How do you plan to go around us?

Jailing opposition leaders is no longer working, jailing bloggers is getting less effective, blocking sites is “a known problem with a known solution”, even when the national Internet servers are shut down, we have “ready and trusted alternatives”.

PS: Blog also published by The Commonwealth on