The cry for change and freedom across Egypt sheds a prophetic light on the future of the entire continent of Africa. As the media from around the world continues to be focused on the massive street demonstrations that called for a change of the leadership in Egypt, it is incumbent for African Americans to see the broader socioeconomic, political, and cultural implications. Egypt is one of the oldest nations in the world. It has a diverse population of more than 80 million people. While the Western media characterizes Egypt as an Arab nation located in the Middle East, it is actually located in Northern Africa and is an African nation.
African people on the continent and throughout the Diaspora of African people should be interested in the ultimate outcome of the current crisis in Egypt. In the 21st Century, the majority of people in Egypt and throughout Africa are demanding an end to centuries of poverty. All governments should be critically aware that the elimination of poverty has to be a top priority. The failure of political leaders to take effective steps to end poverty will only certainly encourage the cry and demand for political change.
If you looked at what demographic of people that mainly got the movement for change going inside of Egypt, it was overwhelmingly young people. The youth of Africa are demanding and taking social action for change. Such was the case in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, the Ivory Coast and in the Sudan. How are the youth taking social action? First through the use of the Internet and social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other Internet services. The first peaceful street protests in Egypt were actually organized by the April 6 Youth Movement.
The point here is to emphasize, once again, the importance of youth consciousness and youth activism. Whether it is in Africa, Europe, Asia, or in the Americas, the youth of the world are justified in their demands and actions to end poverty, corruption, war and injustice. The youth of Egypt should be saluted for their sense of moral and political outrage matched with their ability to use technology in a sustained, disciplined manner.
The end result of what will happen in Egypt is in the hands of the Egyptian people. The emerging leadership of new youthful leaders is encouraging. When the government of Egypt led by President Hosni Mubarak made a decision early in the crisis to cut off the Internet access to millions of Egyptians, it only showed the Egyptians and others throughout the world how useful the Internet can be as a tool to bring about social change.
Of course, we all remember how useful and game-changing it was in 2008 for the election of President Barack Obama to use the Internet and social media to mobilize millions of new young voters. But, the Tea Party and others in opposition to President Obama will be using that same technology to benefit their politics. It would be well if millions of African American, Latino and other youth who are witnessing what is now taking place in Egypt to remember that 2012 is next year and their voices and votes need to be counted in the next national elections in the United States.
The truth is more must be done also here as well to end poverty and injustice. While what is now happening in Egypt and in other parts of Africa or in other nations may seem like a far away place, we live in a closer global village. We should learn from the situation in Egypt. We should be more than a distant witness. We offer our prayers and support to the people of Egypt. We hope that the final transition of leadership and outcome will serve the interests and aspirations of the Egyptian people.
The future of Africa will be determined by African people. Poverty should be eliminated everywhere. We all have to work harder to ensure more social and economic progress. The cry for human freedom and a better way of life is a universal cry. Because of our history, as an African people, we cannot and should not ever turn a deaf ear to others who yearn and struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. We stand in solidarity with our Egyptian brothers and sisters.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr is Senior Advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options and President of Education Online Services Corporation.