Africa: 2011 in Review

As I did in 2010, I started off 2011 with a list of stories to watch in Africa. So, just like last year, I think a quick review of the year is in order.

Some of the stories I was watching last January have concluded, in a way: Nigeria’s presidential elections in April returned Goodluck Jonathan to Aso Rock, and South Sudan attained its independence in July. Other stories, such as the trials of six prominent Kenyans at the International Criminal Court, are still going on, and are worth keeping on your radar for this coming year.

Leaving my list behind, there were other hugely important events in 2011 that I didn’t see coming a year ago. The fall of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Qadhafi tops that list, and the repercussions of Libya’s change of regime are still being felt in North Africa, the Sahel, and across Africa. Other surprising events from 2011 include the elections in Zambia, which resulted in one of the few opposition triumphs in Africa in recent years: the country’s new president, Michael Sata, will be worth watching not only for the changes he makes in Zambia but also for his impact on Chinese-African relations more broadly. Yet another new development is Kenya’s invasion of Somalia, which although reminiscent of earlier interventions there (such as Ethiopia’s 2006 foray into Somalia) may take a different course.

2011 was one of the most tumultuous years I’ve seen in world politics – a year by turns both exciting and tragic. Africa was no exception to this rule, and it is worth remembering (as always) that Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya are African countries. Tomorrow I plan to be back with a look ahead at 2012, but in the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts on 2011. What were the most important events of the year in your mind? What surprised you? And what stayed the same?

Thanks for your continued readership (I know blogging has been light during the second half of this year, and I appreciate the readers who’ve stuck around – blogging will likely remain light until around June, when I intend to go back to daily posting). Happy New Year!


3 thoughts on “Africa: 2011 in Review

  1. Pingback: [Not Actually On] Sunday Reading [Because It's the Last One of the Old Year] « zunguzungu

  2. Happy new Year to you too, Alex. We keep reading, but comment only on issues we seem to know or intrested in. This blog allows all of us to know better things otherwise we would never dream of.

    I just read the article below from It is about planes landing in Somalia with guns for Shabab. If I am not wrong, there is a base for US drones in Ethiopia. They don’t do surveillance, these wonderful drones? This is the same questions I have been asking for now few years regarding the lack of info on the movements of AQIM troups in Northern Mali. Everyone knows there are surveillance gears in that zone and in Southern Algeria around Tamanrasset. But nothing done and AQIM as grown from a mere 50 person-group to hundreds, without neither the US nor Algeria lifting the finger. What will happen with this Somalia/Shebab stuff?


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