Saturday, May 7, 2011
Wonga Coups and E-Revolutions
At the blog Africa Unchained (again, which probably means you should have it on your RSS feed!) is spotlighted S.O.S. Malabo, the web-based effort at a long-needed revolution to oust Theodore Obiang. This guy, mind you, is one of the least talked-about dictators on the continent who somehow manages to keep a country with the highest GDP per capita on the continent in poverty.
I remember taking an African Studies class in college and reading Wonga Coup. It's a book about some Brits' (including Margaret Thatcher's son) failed attempt at a coup in the oil-rich country, but more broadly about the miserable situation the country found itself in with former dictator and Obiang's uncle Macias Nguema. The chapter on him isn't titled “Mad Uncle Macias” for nothing – so virulent was he against standard education or health-care for fear that it was too “Western”, that he let his people go without either. The citizens are also now without access to basics like water and a sewage system, never mind human rights and a free press, according to the S.O.S. Malabo website.
This post was going to be about the role of Twitter and Facebook in revolutions (Suffice it to say that I think the success of revolutions usually rely on more analog factors), but I decided to make it about this book instead. I've been looking for a reason to put something on Wonga Coup at the blog. The story is a bit surreal; it sounds like something that couldn't actually happen in real life (Frederick Forsythe recognized this, no doubt, when he adapted it for a novel). But it did. I recommend you read it.
Image from acmamail.com