African Dictators: The Cheetah Generation is Coming After You
It was on a cold, snowy winter that I went to visit my longtime mentor distinguished Ghanaian political economist professor George Ayittey at his Washington Office. His office, which he runs the Free Africa Foundation is a few blocks away from the White House and the Congress building. On his wall he kept many photos over the years that he had taken with high profile politicians, musicians, African made crafts and awards he received.
In 2008, Prof. Ayittey was nominated as top 100 public intellectuals by Foreign Policy. He was an advisor to the Secretary of State on African policy during the Obama administration. He went on to shape African politics, economics, and investment, by appearing on many international channels and wrote some of the most influential books on Africa. To mention a few are Defeating Dictators and Africa Unchained.
For a long time, our communication was via telephone. On one of my trip to Washington DC, I made it my mission to go and meet him, which he was so humble and happy to meet me. We talked about the political situation in Eritrea and made great suggestions on how to bring about freedom.
"Africa is not free, because it is led by coconut dictators" which he also calls "the hippo generation."
"They will enrich all their children, relatives looting its wealth, stacking it in Swiss banks and leave the majority of the people poor. That is why we need to get rid of them." Prof. Ayittey echoed.
I came to meet him fascinated by his books and after listening to his speeches. To this date, I turn to his advice occasionally. One of the things that stood out and he kept repeating in my time with him was the coming of the Cheetah Generation to save Africa from its dictators. Prof. Ayittey knew very well what was cooking in the pot.
Yes, Africa had great leaders and icons such as Nelson Mandela, Thomas Sankara, Kwame Nkurumh who liberated Africa from European colonizers. Today the vast majority of African leaders are older men who cling to power.
Not for long. The Cheetah generation of Africa is on the rise. From Cairo to Pretoria, from Kampala to Ouagadougou. African youth are on the rise to unseat African dictators. It is the only hope for Africa's future.
It is people like Bobi Wine, a pop star turned MP, that stood in the parliament of Uganda to defend the constitution and stop 74 years old president Museveni from abuse of power. Museveni led the country for 32 years so far. Bobi Wine was sent to prison for 70 days and came out on bail recently enduring torture and injuries. Today he is in USA for medical treatment.
MP Bobi Wine with his supporters in Uganda. Source - Getty image
It is Diane Rwigara who dreamt of becoming the president of Rwanda. Her dreams were crushed as she stood strongly against president Kagame's party to contest in the Rwandan election. Today she is sentenced for 15 years in prison. I have no doubt, that she will come out of prison as a hero like the African icon Nelson Mandela and free her country from the shackles of President Kagame who has led the country for 18 years so far. She is a symbol against tyranny and old men with an unquenchable thirst for power.
Diane Rwigara speaking to the media before being arrested. Source - Getty image
It is the youth of Tunisia and Egypt who unseated Ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Ex-president Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak, who have been in power for 24 and 30 years respectively. The youth of Tunisia and Egypt were the champions of the "Arab Spring". Their fervor for justice and democracy even spilled outside Africa into the Middle East and Europe.
It is the young and radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of South Africa who are shaping the agenda of the parliament Julias Malema as its leader. He was instrumental in pushing corrupt individuals from power exposing the deep corruption in the ANC. Today, it is the EFF that is addressing the key issues of poor South Africans.
Julius Malema, the EFF leadership and supporters. Source - Getty images
So, my Africa is on the rise and the Cheetah Generation are already in charge of the wheels in many African countries. But this comes at a great cost and African youth have to strategize, plan and empower themselves with the necessary education and skills to get rid of the old dictators that are a hurdle to Africa's progress.
We need to pay attention to those Cheetah Generation of Africa and support them in their cause and empower them. It is them who are trying to be a voice for the voiceless, hope for the hopeless and a solution for the many problems Africa faces today.
Rise up Africa, rise up the Cheetah Generation of Africa!