The sunny optimism that greeted the democratic awakening in Africa in the early nineties may be nearing twilight but there is still hope. Even as states like Kenya, Zimbabwe and even Senegal waver in their quest for liberal democracy, there is still a sliver of hope in the likes of Angola – a former war zone which holds elections tomorrow.
Angola has been for some time one of the fastest growing countries in the world. It is Africa’s soon to be largest oil producer (mainly because the Nigerian behemoth can’t get its act together) and with the help of the Chinese has recently embarked on a mission to build infrastructure throughout the country. The wealth may not be evenly shared out, but the country as a whole is better off than it was a decade or so ago.
So it is really hopeful that they will be having elections tomorrow. Yes there will be problems. Dos Santos has all the power in Angola and will definitely not hold completely free and fair elections. But this is a start. A few times over and the Angolans will internalize voting as a human right and realize their duty and moral call to chart the way forward for themselves through the ballot.
I am almost certain that Dos Santos’ MPLA will win the Friday election. But UNITA should not give up. Democracy is as cultural as it is political. Their time will come. Get to parliament, constructively oppose the government and be the watch-dog for the people. And help spread the idea that Africans are and ought to be in charge of their lives. Not governments. Certainly not NGOs. Not the church. Not the West. But Africans. Africans in Angola, Africans in Sudan, Africans in all war-ravaged regions of the continent.