Note -This article is being posted 1 day after the deadline for a reversal of the Niger coup by ECOWAS. (Spoiler Alert!! – they didn’t rescind power. Shocking!)

Another day,another African coup. That’s 4 coups in 2 years(Burkina Faso, Mali,Guinea, and now Niger). The Sahel is under new management. Another batch of “Champions for the People”. However will they stay that way?

Protesters holding the flag of Niger in the capital, Niamey.

In the world of African politics, a recurring pattern has emerged—leaders who initially champion freedom and democracy eventually succumb to the allure of power, transforming into “Presidents for Life” and oppressing their own people. This phenomenon begs the question: Why does this cycle persist, and can a constitution inspired by the US Constitution offer a solution? (FYI: The deadline was moved

The Allure of Power

African history is replete with leaders who emerged as beacons of hope, only to disappoint their people. It seems that the intoxicating effects of power are irresistible, turning even the most promising leaders into despots. As Malcom X aptly stated, “Power doesn’t corrupt people; it reveals them.” The allure of power, coupled with a lack of checks and balances, allows leaders to consolidate their authority and prolong their tenure indefinitely. FYI: That ain’t cool!

The Role of Constitutions

Enter the US Constitution, a document hailed as a beacon of democracy and freedom. Its framework, designed to prevent the concentration of power, offers valuable lessons for African nations (and any other, honestly). A constitution based on the principles of separation of powers, term limits, and robust checks and balances can serve as a safeguard against oppressive regimes.

I do not intend this article to be a finger wagging or a “why America does it better” fluff peace. I am simply an American-African diasporan, who has some best practices I’d like to share. I love my original homeland and would like to help. Help build this beautiful continent to its most attainable heights. And a strong structure needs a sturdy foundation. I offer said foundation. Now lets chat…

Term Limits: A “Presidency for Life” No More

Limiting presidential terms promotes leadership rotation and prevents the concentration of power in one individual’s hands. By preventing the rise of “Presidents for Life,” African nations can create opportunities for fresh ideas and new voices to emerge, ensuring a more dynamic and responsive government.Term limits can dubb the ability to cling to power indefinitely.

When asked about ‘term limits’ Rwanda President (since 2000) Paul Kagame simply stated,”Democracy is not defined by the West”. Kagame’s definition of democracy is very different, more like oppressive and controlling. What the brilliant man failed to acknowledge is that no one wants the same person in power forever. You will inevitably want to change the primary voice from time to time.Term limits are good,mkay!

 Interim President of Burkina Faso Ibrahim Traore (34)

Checks and Balances: Holding Power Accountable

Drawing inspiration from Kwame Nkrumah’s fight against colonial oppression, effective checks and balances are essential to protect citizens from abuse of power. An independent judiciary, a free press, and a vibrant civil society can act as the guardians of democracy, holding leaders accountable and ensuring the rule of law. These mechanisms provide a necessary counterbalance to the executive branch’s potential for tyranny.

The press is the mouthpiece of the people and also the watchdog of the government. The citizenry does not have the time or resources to investigate the goings on of the government. Without a free press, the government can frame the narrative however they want. Distorting and molding topics and policies to its will, with impunity. Meaning: Lie, avoid,destroy evidence and ‘disappear’ people)

Protecting Citizen Rights

Let’s explore how Nelson Mandela’s political struggle in South Africa would have unfolded under the US constitution. Nelson Mandela, a revered symbol of resilience and justice, led a remarkable struggle against apartheid in South Africa. While the US Constitution’s principles of equality and freedom underpinned its own civil rights movement, Mandela’s fight would have encountered a different landscape in the United States. The US constitution, with its robust protections for individual rights and a strong emphasis on democracy, could have provided a solid foundation for Mandela’s campaign. It would have empowered him to challenge racial discrimination through legal means, rallying support from like-minded individuals across the nation. With access to constitutional protections, Mandela’s advocacy for equality and justice could have gained faster momentum, potentially leading to swifter changes in dismantling racial segregation.

Express Yourself

Under the US constitution, Mandela’s path may have included leveraging the First Amendment’s right to free speech and assembly to mobilize supporters and raise awareness about the injustices of apartheid. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment could have been a powerful tool in challenging discriminatory laws and policies. Courts, guided by the principles of the constitution, might have been more inclined to intervene and protect the rights of oppressed individuals.

The potential effectiveness of legal challenges, combined with widespread public support and the tenacity of Mandela’s leadership, could have expedited the dismantling of apartheid within a shorter time frame. The US constitution, with its commitment to liberty and justice, may have provided a more fertile ground for Mandela’s political struggle, amplifying its impact and expediting progress towards a more equal society.

Reflecting on Nelson Mandela’s struggle for human rights, it becomes clear that constitutional protections are vital. A robust Bill of Rights that guarantees freedom of speech, assembly, and association empowers citizens to speak truth to power and demand accountability. Yes it can and will take time, however the frame work of protections is there. And Americans have been using it to slow but steady results.

GUNS

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution was created with several purposes in mind. It states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” MEANING : Guns allow you to protect your rights from the Government when diplomacy breaks down,or if the gov’t is tryna get all oppressive and sh!t.

The Second Amendment emerged in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, where armed citizens played a significant role in securing independence. “THE PEOPLE” won the war and ‘Ben and them’ sought to preserve this historical tradition and the concept of citizen involvement in the defense of the nation. The mention of a “well-regulated Militia” reflects ‘George and company’s’ concerns about national security. During that time, the existence of a strong citizen militia was seen as crucial for defense against external threats (Spain, Portugal. Moorish pirates, Britain in 1812) because our baby nation didn’t have a standing army yet.

Remember, guns are also a safeguard against tyranny. Coming from under a monarchy ( which is about as totalitarian a government as you can get) our constitution writers understood the potential dangers of a centralized government becoming oppressive. – They believed that an armed citizenry could serve as a check on government power, acting as a deterrent against tyranny.- That’s P.C. for “ They believed that governments work better when the government is scared of the people, not the other way around.” That’s Power to the PEOPLE!!

Preventing the Cycle

By adopting constitutional safeguards inspired by the US Constitution, African nations can break the cycle of oppression and usher in an era of accountable governance. Young African professionals have a crucial role to play in advocating for these changes, leveraging their influence and collective power to push for constitutional reforms that empower and protect the people.

The recurring transformation of African presidents from champions of freedom to oppressive rulers is a lamentable pattern that persists today. We’ve had 3 coups on the continent in the last 18 months. However, the US Constitution offers valuable insights on how constitutional safeguards can protect citizens and prevent the consolidation of power. Drawing inspiration from visionary leaders like Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Kwame Nkrumah, and Nelson Mandela, my African family can become catalysts for change, advocating for constitutions that prioritize the rights and freedoms of the people.

With determination, fervor, and an unwavering commitment to democratic ideals, we can forge a future where freedom, justice, and accountability prevail in African nations. And let Africa become the beacon of light on the hill for the world for the next Millennia. I hope these newest ‘Peoples Champs”, live up to these monikers and truly free the people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *