Nothing unites people from various parts of the African continent as the anger they feel at being tarred with the same instability brush. There are fifty three countries on the continent but when it comes to risk assessment, unrest or war in one of those countries is seen as evidence of potential risk across all fifty three.
It is perhaps less irritating to the peoples of the continent to try and examine the trouble spots in sub regional geographic blocks.
Nobody is calling it the Arab Spring these days but that phenomenon best illustrates the difference in outlook in various parts of the continent. For a brief moment it looked like the outbreak of a peoples revolution would take over the continent.
From Tunisia to Egypt and then to Libya, long established dynasties and governments were overthrown; and in the Libyan case, with a little help from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) fighter jets. It was easy to identify common characteristics in all three countries; all had very long serving heads of state and oppressive regimes.
All three countries might have been members of the African Union and in the case of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, a self appointed King of Kings of Africa, but it soon became obvious the phenomenon was more ‘Arab’ than ‘African’.
There were other African leaders who had been in power for as long as or longer than the hapless Ben Ali of Tunisia, but the wind of change remained resolutely in the north, did not cross the Sahara desert and went to Syria where it has taken on different dimensions.
In the Horn of Africa the battles have a much longer lineage and deep suspicions and distrust remain among neighbours. Such distrust among neighbours provides a perfect recipe for the outbreak of unrest at the slightest provocation.
– Elizabeth A. Ohene