News

Democracy Matters - Episode 99: Democracy Trends in Africa


 
democracy_matters_header_99.png

SUMMARY: As part of the 12th Annual African, African American and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) Interdisciplinary Conference in 2022, JMU Civic and Furious Flower hosted a discussion on what friends and advocates of Africa should understand about democratic trends on the continent and what they can do to support democracy.


More sub-Saharan Africans live under fully or partially authoritarian states today than at most points in the last two decades. In its 2021 report, Freedom House rated only eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa as free. Of these eight, half are small island states. The number of African countries that Freedom House rated “not free” grew from a low of 14 in 2006 and 2008 to 20 in 2021. Among sub-Saharan countries considered “partially free,” increasingly populist governments are suppressing opposition groups, postponing elections, eliminating term limits, and abusing human rights to maintain power.

Despite these negative trends, young Africans are becoming more politically active and are using digital and social media as a means of organizing for political power and to protest repressive regimes. #EndSARS protesters organized in Nigeria to demand police reforms. In Uganda, presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine catalyzed a People Power movement; and in Ghana, Twitter users instigated a national discussion on illegal small-scale mining. Pro-democracy efforts in Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, have also increased. Broadly, public support for democracy is still strong, but China’s authoritarian development model remains attractive. 

As part of the 12th Annual African, African American and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) Interdisciplinary Conference in 2022, JMU Civic and Furious Flower hosted a panel discussion on what friends and advocates of Africa should understand about democratic trends on the continent and what they can do to support democracy.  Featured panelists: 

  • Dr. Melinda Adams, Associate Dean of JMU College of Arts and Letters
  • Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Executive Director, Furious Flower, and 
  • Dr. Egbule Philip Onyekachukwu, University of Delta, Agbor, Nigeria
  • Tamara White, Research and Project Assistant in the Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institution
  • Meagan Allen, Program Manager, Southern and East Africa at National Democratic Institute (NDI)

Links in this episode:

Back to Top

Published: Friday, February 25, 2022

Last Updated: Friday, February 25, 2022

Related Articles