So says Daniela Kroslak, deputy Africa program director for the International Crisis Group, referring to the crackdown against political dissenters in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa.
Silence in the face of repression is the standard posture in Africa, even among the best and the brightest. Then masses remain silent in the face of their degradation, from Lagos to Nigeria, from Jo-berg to Accra. When will ordinary Africans protest their own debasement? When will they take to the streets in their own “orange” rebellion?
Not soon, I know. I remember well talking with a meritorious presidential candidate in Uganda, shortly after the country’s incumbent president “won” the election in the usual manner. I asked the loser, in his party’s head office, could he not call his supporters into the streets? Could he not ask them to mobilize?
“I cannot,” he told me. “I cannot.”
I cannot remember why he could not ask them. Perhaps he said his supporters would suffer too much for their protests on his behalf. I don’t remember. I only remember that he would not ask his supporters to take to the streets, and that he did not, and now, some years later, Uganda’s president has since “won” another election. The president sends the police to meet protesters in the streets of Kampala. In benighted Togo, the president of this country does the same. In Kenya too.
And so it goes. Rule of law is not enough in lands where repression is a cost of doing business.