The African Vuvuzela

This article was contributed by Tarn Mower



Several major events have been occurring in SSA the past few months – including several unfolding stories that relate directly to the upcoming discussion topic! Also, May 25 marked the 52cd anniversary of the founding of the African Union – and the start of AU’s ‘Year of Women Empowerment.’ See comments by AU Chairperson Robert Mugabe here:


First, in what has been a widely-reported story, Burundi’s president Pierre Nkrurunziza (pictured with the Obamas) announced his intention to run for a third term as president, even though the constitution places a limit of two terms on the office. Protests erupted around the country as the president’s supporters contended that Nkrurunziza’s first term doesn’t count. An attempted coup d’etat failed in mid-May; so far 70,000 people have fled the country and Nkrurunziza skipped an emergency meeting of the East African Community that was called to find a solution to the situation.


Background reading:


In May, Ethiopians lined up for parliamentary elections, the first in the country since the death of Meles Zenawi. Official results are due June 22, but the current reporting shows that the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) will sweep the results and claim virtually all of the seats in parliament. Although Ethiopa boasts very high GDP growth rates and an accelerating, diversifying economy, civil society and opposition groups remain muffled by the government.

Background reading:


At the end of May, Mohammed Buhari (left, featuring a broom to sweep out corruption) was sworn in as the 5th president of Nigeria. In late March, Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria and head of the powerful People’s Democratic Party, lost his good luck and lost the Nigerian federal presidential election by a margin of 9%. For the first time in the country’s history that an incumbent president lost an election. Jonathan made history by conceding the election to Buhari and overseeing the peaceful transfer of power to the new administration. Buhari is no stranger to Nigerian national politics: he stood as a candidate for president three prior times; was Head of State after the 1983 New Year’s Eve coup d’etat overthrew the democratically-elected government and the 1973 constitution; and he himself was overthrown by a coup d’etat in turn.

Background reading:


The Mo Ibrahim Foundation released the 2014 comprehensive assessment of governance in Africa. Using 95 numeric indicators, countries are ranked according to the Foundation’s formula. Botswana leads the continent with 85.3 points; Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone,  Niger, and Senegal all increased the most year over year. The summary report is available at:

Mo Ibrahim himself states that the leading driver of improved governance in Africa is the increase in the respect for human rights, which in turn is leading the economic growth and opportunity across the continent.


Background reading:


2015 Around the World Embassy Open House

For the Embassy Open House Tour, International Relations Advocates came out in force to visit the cultural and educational offerings of several African embassies! YPIA Advocates started from the Panera Bread location at Dupont Circle and visited multiple embassies, including the embassies of Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. The offerings of the different embassies across continents varied widely, but a highlight was a demonstration of the proper mode of wearing Kente cloth, Ghana-style!


Photos of some YPIA advocates, courtesy of fellow advocate Jocelyn McDaniel:

First, at the Embassy of Ethiopia:

embassy ghana

Second, in front of the Embassy of Ghana: