Unfulfilled Potential? Federalism, Conflict and Coup d’États in Africa

Author: Hayat Omar – Africa is a continent which has been plagued by internal conflict and violence. Violence has increasingly become the mechanism through which actors implement change, attempt to alter the harsh realities of their lives, and challenge and governments and power structures. Much of Africa continues to face income inequality, inadequate health resources, infrastructure, and employment opportunities. Moreover, these issues have persisted for decades, fomenting a context in which aggrieved peoples and communities conclude that violence (on a progressive spectrum from low-level crime, to violent protests, and eventually organized coup d’états) is the only means through which meaningful change can be achieved. Scholars and analysts define this as ‘revolutionary violence’. Many of the crimes and conflicts actioned by Africans are attributed to “…overlapping injustice that betrays the basic presuppositions of a democratic state” (Chandoke 2015). Violence in this case has been defined as; “…brutality of predators and of hapless victims, of savage violations of the body and damage to the mind…” (2015). In this context, the epitome of the expression of revolutionary violence against the state is the coup d’état.