Africa’s Modern history is replete with different forms of encounters and conflicts. From the 15th century when millions of Africans were forcefully taken into slavery during the famous Atlantic Slave Trade. Africa shared the continent to European powers and to the postcolonial era where many African leaders have maintained several instruments of exploitation, the continent has seen different forms of encounters, exploitations and oppressions. These encounters and exploitations have equally been met with resistance in different forms and times. The mode of Africa’s encounters with the rest of the world have in several ways, shaped and continue to shape the continent’s social, political and economic development trajectories.
Here are some countries that topped the World Population Review in most oppressed areas in Africa.
The rapid growing population is challenging Algeria’s ability to keep up with economic and social changes making poverty and unemployment one of its largest problems. Roughly three quarters of Algeria’s population live in urban areas, thus several sizable cities to accommodate them. Algiers, one of the largest cities, is densely populated with an estimated population of 3.7million people. A few other notable cities have a population of over 500,000 people.
Algeria’s political crisis began when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s cronies announced in 2019 that he would run for a fifth term in office. Millions of Algerians still march throughout the country every Friday to demand the dismantlement of the regime and the establishment of a genuine civilian democratic system. While the military forcefully removed Bouteflika in April, the peaceful protestors were not happy with the half cosmetic measures that authorities offered.
For over 20 years of the Bouteflikan oppression, the powerful vice minister and chiefs of staff Ahmed Gaiid Salah sought to implement a road map where he would appoint a president loyal to him and provide a civilian facade for the military to maintain the same system. Although the Algerian regime should receive the Nobel Prize for election fraud, the protestors have remained remarkably peaceful and not lost momentum in demanding for a civilian democracy.
The oil industry dominates the Angolan economy, and despite efforts to regulate this there seem to be too many political and financial ties to truly make a change. Monopolies are common in many industries and it is very difficult for most any kind of small business to survive in Angola.
In March 2020, the global oil crisis crashed from $45 per barrel to $32, reducing the country’s GDP by 6% overnight. The economic diminution was compounded by the slowdown of Covid19 restrictions. The Covid 19 restrictions justified the further curtailing the right of assembly, emboldening the police to freely use violence against people breaking lockdown restrictions. When Luandans protested peacefully against corruption, the high cost of living and a lack of economic opportunities, the police intervened forcefully shooting one protester in the head.
Accordingly, arbitrary arrests, torture and extra-legal killings at the hands of state security forces continue, despite existing legal protections. This is especially the case in Cabinda, where civil society activists and suspected FLEC supporters and their family members are subjected to random house searches, arbitrary detention and torture. In the diamond-producing areas of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul, the local population is subjected to human rights abuses by the army, the police and private security forces, including torture and extra-legal killings. In Luanda and provincial capitals, female street vendors are routinely chased by the police, beaten with sticks and sexually harassed, with their merchandise confiscated or destroyed, while “marginals” (i.e., unemployed youth suspected of being gang members) are regularly killed by the police in summary executions. In 2020, such arbitrary killings also included young people violating COVID-19 restrictions.
Burundi is a very densely populated country with substantial emigration, despite being the least globalized of 140 countries. Burundi has a population of about 11.57 million people as of 2019. While Burundi struggles with poor governance, poverty and insecurity, the 2020 election resulted in a change of leadership that has delivered mixed results, however some anti-democratic tendencies have deepend.
Harassment, intimidation, violence and widespread impunity before and after elections weakened the remaining opposition parties as well as the media and civil society. The country’s NGO crisis which came up in 2018 and went on till 2019. Over 130 NGOs were suspended and required the involvement of the provincial governors in staff recruiting processes.
With one of the highest population densities in the world, Burundi depends entirely on functioning ecosystems. As long as the population continues to grow and income generating activities in cities do not constitute a real alternative, the worsening issues of land degradation, soil erosion and deforestation will be a threat to increasing livelihoods in this rural country.
Burundi has also experienced a unique economic situation over the last 5 years due to the decline in foreign aid which has caused both fiscal and balance of payments difficult but to compensate for this loss the government has mobilized domestic resources to a large extent. However this has not entirely been sufficient to meet the continuous rising social demands.
Cameroon welcomed Paul Biya in 1982 as their president but 38 years later he is still ruling and is Africa’s oldest serving president. By the end of Biya’s first term in office he had dashed back to his predecessor’s old tactics. He filled his administration with people from his ethnic group and drove a steady economy to insolvency. His policies targeted and undermined groups like Anglophones, Bamilekes and Northerners.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund provided funds to revive an ailing economy but after three decades the country is on the brink of collapse. He has repeatedly amended the country’s constitution to tighten his grip on power. As a response to protests against excessive centralisation of decision making in Yaounde, Biya signed a decentralization decree in 1996 to empower regional and and local authorities.
Although Biya refuses to step down from power, the global community has exerted pressure on him to solve the anglophone crisis in Cameroon. The crisis has exposed his hypocrisy and weaknesses as violence intensified. Over 3000 civilians have been killed in Anglophone regions since 2016.
5. Central African Republic
In recent years CAR has been characterized by corruption, authoritarianism, underdevelopment which led to a rebellion between 2012 and 2013. The aftermath saw armed rebels conclude a multitude of peace agreements even though they continued to fight each other while launching attacks on civilians. The violence to this day has not stopped however and political tensions are on the rise again.
After the end of Touadéra's first term, presidential elections were held on 27 December 2020 with a possible second round planned for 14 February 2021. Former president François Bozizé announced his candidacy on 25 July 2020 but was rejected by the Constitutional Court of the country, which held that Bozizé did not satisfy the “good morality” requirement for candidates because of an international warrant and United Nations sanctions against him for alleged assassinations, torture and other crimes.
As large parts of the country were at the time controlled by armed groups, the election could not be conducted in many areas of the country. Some 800 of the country's polling stations, 14% of the total, were closed due to violence. Three Burundian peacekeepers were killed and an additional two were wounded during the run-up to the election. President Faustin Archange Touadéra was re-elected in the first round of the election in December 2020. Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group have supported President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in the fight against rebels. Russia's Wagner group has been accused of harassing and intimidating civilians.
Africa still faces a number of crises that will divert scarce resources from economic development affairs. Authoritarianism will continue to rise as political leaders seek to subvert the democratic process and tighten their grip on power