Africa’s New Social Movements: A Continental Approach
Scholars of social movements and global protest have long neglected social movements in Africa, ostensibly because African societies are too rural, too tradition- or ethnicity-bound, or lacking advanced class formations. Those who have broached the topic tend to focus on South Africa’s labor movement and anti-apartheid struggle. Even less addressed is how social movements in various parts of the continent have affected each other. A continent-wide approach however shows that protests in Sub-Saharan Africa preceded the North African uprisings, by almost a decade. These protests had similar objectives and faced comparable obstacles, yet much of the scholarship on the “Arab Spring” has ignored the Sub-Saharan connections and precedents. How did these movements build on earlier waves of political agitation? How do these “protest coalitions” combine political and economic motivations?