The Africa Debate Launch – A Brief Report

Back home after an interesting morning with BBC. The four panelists together with the 100 or so in the audience debated the issue I outlined yesterday in my post, Is an African spring necessary?

The panelists were Dr. Mike Kpessa from University of Ghana, a Political Analyst from South Africa, Anne Mugisha from the Activists for Change opposition movement in Uganda and Dr George Ayittey from Ghana/Washington DC. The audience was made up of journalists, lecturers and students, social media folks and civil society. I’d guess a third of the participants were women and the group included both youth and so-called matured people.

The discussion was almost from the get-go heated and somewhat unfocused – issues discussed included the usefulness of “black Africa” as a term, democratic struggle in Africa in the 1960s, Democracy as a process, Uganda’s opposition movement including their initiative Walk to Work, ANC turning 100, the definition of spring, the definition of Africa, the impact of structural adjustment programs, teh role of Africa’s middle class in politics and much more. Clearly, this is an engaging topic.

I was hoping to say something about the last issue, but friends Njoki E Wamai and Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah said what I wanted to say in fewer words…If to raise any critique against BBC’s format, it was maybe that few female voices were heard.

At the end of the show, we in the audience were asked if the debate had made us change our position. I raised my hand then, because I was touched by Anne Mugisha’s stories from Uganda and felt I know so very little about what is going on in neighboring African countries, maybe a spring of sorts is indeed needed there?

Update: See fellow BloggingGhana member Edward’s post on the Arab spring and Social media.

Do tune in to The Africa Debate today, 27th January at 19h GMT on BBC Africa.