Firoze Manji, the editor of an African magazine and book publisher called Pambazuka Press, rejects the Western media’s view of the Arab Spring (he prefers the term African Awakening). It wasn’t spontaneous and unplanned or mainly generated by Facebook and Twitter. Rather, it was the result of long-term resentment with the poverty caused by neoliberal austerity programs and privatization implemented by corrupt governments controlled by the IMF and World Bank. Almost two-thirds (61%) of Africans lived on less than $2 a day, many in urban slums. International NGOs filled the vacuum caused by reduction in government social service programs. These problems also led to the re-emergence of social movements the decade before 2011 and protests in Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Gabon, Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco, Madagascar, Mozambique, Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Cote d’ivoire, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland, South Africa, Malawi and Uganda. Manji observed many of the uprisings were brutally suppressed and the gains of independence from colonial rule reversed. The US and other Western powers manipulated regime change behind the scenes, including ousting Gaddafi who Manji said provided social networks for the people. The usual solution is local organizing: Manji suggested remedies to regain power for the people are farmers’ and peasants’ organizations—especially those led by women, which resist US foundations’ efforts to get them to use Monsanto GMOs and pesticides.
Firoze Manji and Kosari Ekine. African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions. Pambazuka Press, 2012.