Djibouti’s squandered independence

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Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:47 am

Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:49 pm

(Article lifted from
June 27 marks 41 years of independence for my country, Djibouti.

So, 41 years of freedom, respect for human dignity and development for the Djiboutian people? This is a relevant question today.

The fight for independence from colonial rule was ostensibly fought to secure social change and ideals, to advance a better and more prosperous life for me and my fellow citizens. Indeed, these values were — in theory — the driving force, the very engine that propelled our sisters and brothers who stood up against the brutal colonial order. These are the goals and objectives that they had given their time, their energy and their material resources for. These national heroes risked their lives for this vision, suffering arrests and detentions, physical and psychological violence. This is what many of them, both well-known and anonymous, died for.

Freedom, dignity and the chance at a decent life. What about these values 41 years after independence? Are we in a better place, today, on June 27 2018? Let me take you a bit back before answering the question.

In 1977, the Cold War is in full swing. The Soviet Union and allied capitalist powers are competing, often through proxy wars, for influence and leadership on the world stage. In the Horn of Africa — and around the Red Sea — the two competing sides are ever-present. In this context, the newly independent Republic of Djibouti was anchored in the capitalist bloc, though without the democratic pluralism that proliferated in other quarters. Without the people’s consent, the new rulers in Djibouti quickly established a political system based on one-party rule. The rationale was that newly independent nation had to prioritise “unity in thought and action,” and thus, a single-party autocratic system was the most feasible way in which to advance this strategy.

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