Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

Next?

January 20, 2011

They are finally here!

There's two of them on the ground here since Jan 19. Photo: Senegal Airlines through Aviation Branding Weblog

They’re called Gandiol and Kayemor and reflect the genuine connection felt by the Head of the Royal Family to African realities. The two names refer to towns that have been, in their own way, symbols of the the anti-colonial struggle.

The arrival of the two Airbus aircraft (made in France) also made Him think of His Monument for the African Renaissance, which points to the skies. And to the Canary Islands. But I may have bored you to death with that by now.

It also made Him think of producing small aircraft – made in Senegal. Interesting idea, coming from someone who heads a government that is quite happy to lay waste to local entrepreneurs. See here for the latest example.

But most of all: it made Him think of the youth. Yes. The  youth will show the way forward. Indeed. That is why, a few hours after this umpteenth display of presidential hubris, the youth were extremely busy in at least six Dakar suburbs blocking thoroughfares, setting fire to car tires and playing cat-and-mouse with the police.

Reason?

Well, for once, they will never have the privilege of boarding either Gandiol or Kayemor. But in fact it’s way more practical than that. Absolutely everyone is sick and tired of paying for electricity that never arrives. Having to throw away food because the fridge is off. Again. The electricity cuts are coordinated from the ministry that is in charge of these things and a lot more, including airplanes. The head of that ministry is His Majesty’s son, nicknamed The Prince.

Events in Tunisia are keenly followed here and there’s even speculation whether this place would be next. Not so sure. It takes real talent to annoy the Senegalese to such an extent. But fair’s fair: His Majesty has that talent in spades.

Relentless Trends – 4 (some more brief thoughts)

January 20, 2011

What would the observer of demographic trends I cited in a previous post have to say about this? In spite of Gunnar Heinsohn’s statement that the birth rate in North Africa has decreased dramatically, UN Population Fund statistics cited in Jeune Afrique this week (the paper edition) say that in the Maghreb about one-third of the people are under 18. Median age of the population: between 26 and 29. So: what do they do?

They leave. They say “there is nothing for us here”. (I remember reading a report about young men hanging around the streets of Algiers, capital of Algeria, whose catch-all phrase was: “Rien à signaler”. Nothing to see. And worse: nothing to do.)

They revolt in Algeria – again.

AND! They throw out a deeply corrupt and deeply unpopular government in Tunisia. One can always hope they get something better.

These events seem to confirm the idea that demographics tell an important part of the story – but not all of it. But yes, demographics play a role and these events in the Maghreb do not take anything away from the main premise, which is this: a society with a surplus of idle young men is a society heading for trouble.

The folks who run these societies have the same options their European colleagues had between the 16th and 19th century. Create work for them. Get rid of them (which basically means: send them abroad or send them to war – and here is one late but particularly egregious example from Europe. Or prepare to be hung drawn and quartered…

One thing is certain: studiously ignoring them is most decidedly not an option. That is very much a post-war Western response, witness for instance the total absence of this demographic from the groups “targeted” by the aid industry (and I will have more to say about that in a future post…). Nor is sticking one’s head in the sand, which this regime appears to be doing

Is history really that repetitive? Seems so. Or as Vonnegut wrote in his epic “Slaughterhouse Five”: so it goes.