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Egyptian Crisis Dominates Public Discussion in Sub-Saharan Africa

Coverage of the events in Egypt have quite an audience in sub-Saharan Africa.

“People have stayed glued to their television and radio and relaxation spots we call beer parlors on Lagos,” says Nigerian Professor Innocent Chukwuma, executive director of the voter advocacy group the CLEEN Foundation.

He says the events are drawing unprecedented public requests for more news on the crisis.

“People are discussing it and considering the wider impact it may have on the rest of the continent if you consider the fact that out of the [world’s] ten oldest leaders, four of them are actually from Africa.”

Chukwuma says African leaders are also watching developments, hoping their local population will not also take to the streets.

Despite the seeming iron grip of sub-Saharan leaders on their population, he says, there is a growing discontent among the people because of economic difficulties and political dissatisfaction with their ruling parties.

“I am sure within their inner circle, the leaders are as worried as leaders in far flung places like China, but the public messaging will be one of defiance and not of threat to their power,” he says.

“But they are as jittery as any other leader sitting in any other part of the world that have denied their people political reform. And with the increasing economic crisis, it’s only a matter of time before people start asking hard questions.”

Some analysts say the political and social make-up of sub-Saharan Africa makes it an unlikely region for the replication of the Egyptian protests.

Chukuma disagrees.

“You cannot continue to deny people political rights, deny them rights to livelihood and expect that forever they will continue to be divided and swallow hook, line and sinker all the messaging about the diversity of the society.”