Now look at the so-called liberators of Sahel region!

Monday April 22 2024
Ecowas presidents

L-R: A photo combination of the leader of Burkina Faso Captain Ibrahim Traoré; Mali's military leader Colonel Assimi Goïta; and Niger's military leader General Abdourahmane Tchiani. PHOTO | AFP


In a column titled There is no one coming to save us but ourselves, I cautioned against euphoric reception by citizens and pan-Africanist intellectuals of the coups in the Sahel and West African regions.

The citizens were happy that the military got rid of corrupt and incompetent regimes. The overthrown regimes were so occupied with lining their pockets that they had left everything, including security, to deteriorate. As a result, many of these countries lost ground to militia insurgents.

The Pan-Africanist ideologues were happy because the incoming military regimes made anti-imperialist pronouncements, fashioning themselves as the new-age African revolutionaries.

Some of the regimes expressed intention to cut the influence of colonial power, France, in favour of Russia. As if on cue, citizens poured into the streets, stomping on French flags and gleefully waving Russian flags.

Read: STALON: Why Africa needs a new social contract

On their part, the pan-Africanist ideologues, especially those based in Western countries, where they had made a name for themselves by expounding neonegritude polemics, welcomed what they saw as a reawakening of the radical anti-neocolonial nationalism of the 1960s.


In that column, I wrote: “We seem not to learn from history that coups, though demonstrative of weakness of the state and attendant problems of mismanagement, are not the solution. I bet that the coup leaders in Niger or Burkina Faso or in Guinea will not expand democracy or bring prosperity.”

The recent actions by the military in Mali bear out the view expressed in that column. After overthrowing Ibrahim Keïta in 2020, the military promised a speedy return to civilian rule. However, the promised elections were postponed to February of 2024. This date came and went. All indications are the military is not in a hurry to relinquish power to a civilian government.

More worrying are announcements by the military of decrees curbing activities of political parties and media freedom. Media that will report on activities of political parties will be fined or even closed down. These actions by the military are not indications of a programme to “expand democracy or bring prosperity.”

They indicate the beginnings of another cycle of repression, corruption and mismanagement which, in future, will precipitate another coup or a street uprising.

In Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traore, the youthful military leader, struts around in a uniform and a gun in a hip holster, even when travelling abroad. Instead of projecting an image that commands respect from leaders of countries he seeks development assistance from, his image elicits amusement.

He is no Fidel Castro. Castro, though he later became an oppressive leader, freed Cubans from a corrupt American-supported dictatorship. Despite being blockaded by the US, he built one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Castro was no gun-in-hip-holster buffoon.

Traore leads one of the poorest countries in the world, unable to contain jihadist terror. Someone please tell him to stop the self-advertising theatre and get down to the task of rebuilding a broken country.

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator