JOHANNESBURG Ageing African presidents who try to cling to power by manipulating constitutions and judiciaries risk the same popular rebellions that toppled rulers in last years Arab Spring, Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka said on Wednesday.
Citing as examples Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who are both well into their eighties, Soyinka criticised sit-tight rulers who sought to hang on in office despite being obviously beyond their prime.
What is wrong with them? Why do they think that the world will not continue to turn after theyve left office? I dont understand, the prolific playright and author, who in 1986 became the first sub-Saharan African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, told Reuters in an interview in Pretoria.
Soyinka, 77, who sports a distinctive white Afro hairstyle, and is one of Africas leading intellectuals, has been an outspoken critic of dictatorships and autocratic rulers in his native Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent and in the world.
While he saw differences between the Arab world and Africa, he predicted African rulers who abused their powers to stay on for years could face their own African Spring.
In the end, those who refuse to bow to popular will, who continue to treat, describe and regard their own peoples as inferior to themselves or their petty clans, Im afraid will confront the same nature of violence as we witnessed in the Arab world, he added.