Saturday, 3 December 2011

Politics: ‘Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World’ by George Ayittey….….

Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World
Despite billions of dollars of aid and the best efforts of the international community to improve economies and bolster democracy across Africa, violent dictatorships persist. As a result, millions have died, economies are in shambles, and whole states are on the brink of collapse. Fed up, the people of North Africa—from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya—rose up in rebellion. So what does it take to spread the revolutionary fervor across Africa, the Arab world, and elsewhere?

African policy expert George Ayittey, named one the 100 Top Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy, draws upon his experience in Ghana, where he helped lead a successful movement against the despot, Jerry Rawlings, to draw up a battle plan against other dictatorship aka “coconut republics”–from Teodoro Obiang’s of Equatorial Guinea, Yayah Jammeh’s Gambia, to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus, and the tottering tyrannies of the Arab world.
Taking a hard look at the fight against dictatorships around the world—from Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004 to Iran's Green Revolution last year—George examines what drives the success or failure of those revolutions. Street protests alone are not enough to topple a dictator; it takes a coalition of opposition forces. Even when an opposition can unify into a solid protest movement, as in Egypt, it still needs the aid of an auxiliary institution—such as the military, the judiciary, the media, or some combination—to succeed. And toppling a dictator is only a first step in establishing a free democratic society. The dictatorship itself must be dissembled; else the revolution becomes reversed and another dictator emerges. As Africans are want of saying, “We struggle very hard to remove one cockroach from power and the next rat comes to do the same thing! Haba! (Darn!)”

In this compelling presentation, George lays down a blueprint of not only how to topple a dictator but also how to prevent a reversal of the revolution.

Taking Back Africa One Village at a Time – Through Entrepreneurship
George is focused on bottom-up economics through “Cheetah Enterprises” - projects starting at the grassroots level that enable Africans to improve their quality of life. George speaks passionately about ways to identify profitable enterprises, tap African “Cheetahs” to run them, and empower Africans to take back Africa. These “Meso Capital” enterprises, which go beyond the scope of micro-credit finance projects but do not require of millions of dollars in capital, are designed to affect change in African communities by Africans. George classifies African elites into two groups: The Cheetah and the Hippo generations. The Cheetahs are the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals, who look at African issues and problems from a totally unique perspective. They are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic. They may be the “restless generation” but they are Africa’s new hope. The Hippos are of old 1960s era and mentality—stodgy, pudgy, and wedded to the old “colonialism-imperialism” paradigm with an abiding faith in the potency of the state. Whereas the Hippos constantly see problems, the Cheetahs see business opportunities. The cheetah generation has no qualms about getting their hands “dirty.” They recognize that money can be made by solving the problems of the poor, and there is nothing immoral about that. In fact, that is how the rich in the rich countries made their money: By creating a product or service that addresses the needs or problems of the people.

George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist and widely recognized authority on political and economic development in Africa. The president of the Free Africa Foundation and former distinguished economist in residence at American University, George has championed the idea that “Africa is poor because she is not free.” True freedom never came to much of Africa after independence from colonial rule, says his first book, Africa Betrayed, which won the H.L. Mencken Award for “Best Book in 1992.” In his most recent book, Defeating Dictators, George takes a hard look at the fight against dictatorships around the world, from Ukraine's orange revolution in 2004 to Iran's Green Revolution last year, and examines what strategies worked in the struggle to establish democracy through revolution.
In the analysis of Africa’s woes, George believes that a much greater emphasis should be placed on internal factors—bad leadership, corruption, military vandalism, and exploitation of the African people—rather than the external factors. George stresses "internal solutions" and initiatives that must come from Africa itself. He coined the expression: “African solutions for African problems.” Crying out against the “vampire states” and dysfunctional governments that, he believes, are the bedrock of problems of many troubled Africa states, George speaks passionately about the grassroots enterprises that will enable “Africans to take back Africa – one village at a time.”

His influential book Africa Unchained boldly proposes a program of development—a way forward—for Africa, investigating how Africa can modernize, build, and improve its indigenous institutions. George argues forcefully that Africa’s salvation lies in Africa itself – not inside the corridors of the U.S. Congress or the inner sanctum of the World Bank. Africa’s salvation lies in returning to and building upon its own indigenous institutions and traditions of free village markets and free trade—rather than continuing to use alien and exploitative economic structures. The critically acclaimed book has helped unleash a new wave of activism and optimism about Africa.

His recent efforts have focused on identifying profitable enterprises for “Cheetahs” —a new breed of Africans taking their futures into their own hands instead of waiting for politicians to empower them. His speech “Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa's Future" made a powerful impact at the TED Global Conference 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania.

George earned a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; an M.A. University of Western Ontario, London, Canada and a B.Sc. Univ. of Ghana, Legon, Ghana. Source:

"Ask African leaders to develop their economies and they will develop their pockets. Ask them to seek foreign investment and they will seek a foreign country to invest their loot. Ask them to establish democracy and they empanel a fawning ...coterie of sycophants to write electoral rules, toss opposition leaders into jail and hold coconut elections to return themselves to power. Ask them to combat corruption and they will set up an anti-corruption commission with no teeth. And when the anti-corruption tsar sniffs too close to the fat cats, they shut down the commission. Ask them to shrink their bloated bureaucracies and cut government spending and they will set up a “Ministry of Less Government Spending.”  George Ayittey

****Honestly…. I don’t know what planet I’ve been living on -lately….but I’m only just finding out about the fantastic political and economic connoisseur, George Ayittey -and I’m stunned!! In his latest book, ‘Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World’ he presents the argument that, “Africa is poor because she is not free” -and he’s right… and I can’t wait to dig deeper, you can too via:

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