The current situation in the North of Africa and the Middle East has been greated by some political pundits with, if not exactly joy, then at the very least a sense that the region is long overdue for a house cleaning.
Perhaps this opinion is warranted, when you have dynasties that have been in power for generations there is bound to be stagnation and its bedfellow, corruption.
The common people of Algeria, Egypt and Libya have laboured under the very real whip of leaders who seem to have lost sight (if ever they had any foresight at all) of the fact that history will not only judge them by their actions, but by their intentions.
These are men who have been in power by and large for decades. Their attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the nternational community with sham democratic elections have fooled no one, including such power blocks as the Arab League.
The question that must be asked of these so called confabs of popular regional opinion is why they have allowed dictators, and brutal ones at that to exist for so long?
The answer to anyone who is even a casual student of that regons’ culture, sociology and politics is simple. These are countries mired in the past; for all the oil wealth that has flowed into their coffers over the past century they are still stuck with royal houses or dictators who regard their peoples as mere vassels, to be lorded over and directed as they see fit.
It has become political and social anethema to look back on history and comment that until very recently these countries were not countries at all, merely loosely afiliated tribal groupings.
The discovery of oil has changed that completely.
For decades the populous of these countries has been satisfied with their lot, subsistance farming, later a service industry based on tourism and more recently massive infrastructural growth based on the seemingly unlimited oil revenues that flow into the government coffers (Egypt being the exception, but tourism and American foreign aid still underpinning a fragile economy).
Something has changed. In each of the countries undergoing what is in essence a civil revolt the power on social media, an increasingly educated and underemployed youth and a dissatisfaction with an anti Western agenda have led society to a tipping point.
The powers that be have reacted differently, in Egypt the President seems to the relenquished power without much bloodshed, in Libya it remains to be seen what the final death toll will be.
In these uncertain times one thing seems sure, the turmoil will spread. Dictators across the world should see the writing on the wall. As a citizen of Southern Africa I will make a prediction, the unrest will spread. It will trickle down through Africa, the Congo will split into factions based on tribal affiliations, Nigeria will split along religious lines and Kenya will follow.
The current de facto ruler of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe must now surely realise that the power of the people is on the cusp of rising against him, keep your eye on your TV screens for announcements of his stepping down. Unless he’s of Gaddafi’s ilk, in which case a bloodbath is in the offing.
The one issue which will surely be on everyone’s mind is what or whom fills the vacuum? Is it better the devil you know or is a country where arms are in the hands of the proletariat preferable?
I don’t know, but these are dangerous times people, stand together and hope for the best.