Democracy in Africa: all Theater?


Long-time rulers stay in Power, Africa’s democracies are stuck in many places in crisis. African artists have discussed on this year’s Africologne Festival about what you can do about it.

In the center of the Africologne Festivals African theatre.

African democracies must be magnetized entkoloniali. What works in Europe may not be uncritically transferred to the African context. The Tenor of the panel discussion on “democracies in Africa, was it all just theatre?”, which took place during this year’s Africologne-festival in Cologne. Guests included intellectuals, writers, artists and musicians from Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Zimbabwe. One day they were looking for the dialogue with the audience. The Africologne Festival is held every two years in Cologne, Germany. The focus of African productions in the fields of theatre, dance and Performance.

“Lack of intellectual autonomy”

Democratic systems in Africa are doomed to Failure because they are poor copies of Western systems – in this point, all present agreed. “The idea itself is good, but we have to see how it fits into the social and historical context of the society in which we want to build,” explains Felwine Saar in the DW-interview. He is a Professor of Economics at the Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis, Senegal. After independence had been adopted in the field of education or in the economy of simple Western systems, he says: “This is not just a lack of creativity, but also a lack of intellectual autonomy. We need to develop our own institutions.” In his much-diskutiertem essay, “Afrotopia,” he takes these ideas and creates an Africa of the future. It is a town of Africa, far away from Western foreign destination.

Felwine Saar wants Africa concepts developed their own democracy

But Sarr has abandoned it, to discuss with politicians about it. You are well-informed, but not to a change interested. It is important, however, to strengthen the civil society. “If the society is well informed, then they could also exert pressure on the politicians to do their Job properly.”

Satire as a democratic weapon

In many African countries there is democracy and freedom of expression – on paper. But the reality is often different. “We have a joke in Zimbabwe: although There is a freedom of expression but no freedom after this Utterance,” says Sam Farai Monro from Satire, a Trio of Zambezi News. With a fictional news broadcast, the group is a parody of the propagandistic reporting of the state media. Thus, the population should be stimulated to Think. The skits will be disseminated via social networks and via DVD. For the Zimbabwean television, you are too critical. Long ago, the state security Zambezi News accused of a campaign against the government of the autocratic long to keep track of the time ruler Robert Mugabe.

Also Freddy Sabimbona want to call his art to the dialogue. He is the founder of the theatre group “Troupe Lampyre”. Since 2003, he organized the theater festival “Buja sans taboo” in Burundi’s capital. There, he offers artists and audiences a platform to speak in the otherwise of censorship, certain Burundi openly about politics, Religion, and sexuality. “This is the Wonderful theatre that you can openly discuss things without saying them directly, and thus a debate.” The people to take this opportunity of thanking, especially in times of political instability, Sabimbona.

Intellectuals and artists from Africa, discussed with the audience

“Also, I have found my Form of resistance in the art of the theatre,” says Odile Sankara from Burkina Faso. “For me, it is a Form of resistance, to play the characters of my selected texts,” she says of the DW. The younger sister of the former leader Thomas Sankara, the patron of this year’s festival. Next to her another other important actor of the civil society from Burkina was Faso present: Serge Bambara. The Hip-Hop musician under his stage name Smockey known. He was one of the leading forces of the civil rights movement “Balai Citoyen”, the crashed 2014, President Blaise Compaoré. Smockey is a role model for many young people in the West African country. “Therefore, I am also aware of what is my task: I need to put pressure on the politicians to do their Job properly.” The aim is that the young Generation as leaders of tomorrow to train. “The struggle knows no borders. You can reach any victory, if you just believe in it,” says Bambara.