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Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons From Tunisia

 You can imagine conversations around dinner tables in the Middle East and much of Sub-Saharan Africa are rife with speculation on what the revolution in Tunisia means for the strongmen that have had an unrelenting hold on power for decades. The hallmarks of a great revolutions is that once the masses rise up against repression, what formerly seemed like insurmountable peaks turn to pedestrian plateaus. Revolutions normally have a domino effect in surrounding areas once people get to see their collective power. Whatever delusions African 'supermen' have had of endless elitist rule is surely bust and now capitals from Cairo to San'aa are certainly bracing themselves for similar events should reform not materialize.

 The parallels between NEP and Tunis is sufficiently impressing. Our educated, unemployed youth should learn that rising up against the existing entrenched political aristocracy is winnable. I hope we all take away the important lesson that no amount of marginalization and political repression can suppress our desire for a more meritocratic and equitable government.

 More than anything else, the young men and women of NEP, Kenya and Somalia need to vigorously question authority and not accept their position at the bottom of the heap as part of the natural order of life. It maybe hard to live in Garissa and Mandera today but it shouldn't be acceptable to live life without learning the enduring value of human dignity and the rights of people pursue their dreams. If it takes protests, civil disobedience, elections or community organizing to overthrow the decadent current system then we should agitate for that sooner rather than later.