Three natives of francophone Africa to discuss emerging democracies Sept. 15

“Democracy in Francophone Africa: Challenges and Hopes” will be a panel discussion sponsored Sept. 15 by the Center for Politics and the People on the Ripon College campus. The discussion will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Kresge Little Theatre, East Hall.

The panelists will be Guy Herve Kam, Jean-Blaise Samou and Hervé Somé, who all grew up in francophone countries in Africa.

The Year 1990, by and large, sounded the death knell of the one-party system in Africa. Democracy and elections have come to the forefront of the public debate in francophone Africa. In the wake of the search of a new social contract, human rights and good governance have gained a renewed interest, with a plurality of political parties and civil society movements who doggedly fight against great odds, often at the peril of their lives.

However, the devolution of power as a result of fair and transparent elections accepted by all parties, a sine qua non for the rule of law, is not always a smooth process.

The three panelists will take a hard look at the state of the art of democracy in francophone Africa. They will highlight the challenges in the consolidation of democracy and the hopes permitted in light of the socio-political change perceived by some political pundits as a breakthrough.

Kam is a former judge and lawyer at the Burkina Faso Bar. He is a law practitioner, scholar and spokesman for the powerful civil society organization Le Balai Citoyen (Citizen Broom), well-known as one of the organizations that mobilized the grassroots, leading to the downfall of the dictator Blaise Compaoré who ruled Burkina Faso high-handedly for 27 years. Kam will give a first-hand account of the revolution that took place in Burkina Faso and that has given hope to other francophone African countries.

Samou is an assistant professor of French, francophone and global studies at Ripon College. He will focus on developments in Central Africa.

Somé, associate professor of educational studies at Ripon College, will provide a background to the understanding of politics in francophone Africa.

A live streaming video of the event will be available on YouTube.


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