There have been more than 200 successful and failed coup attempts on the continent of Africa, the recent one being the foiled attempt in the Amhara region in Ethiopia on 22/06/2019. Of the total attempts in Africa, 10 have been from Burkina Faso alone. Making it the country with the most attempts. Nigeria follows closely with eight while Sudan comes in at third with seven attempts, it’s the last one being the latest successful coup in Africa.

However, this isn’t a leaderboard to be proud of. A country like Guinea-Bissau has never had a president complete a full term since its independence in 1974. Nigeria on the other hand, has been under military rule for much of its 59 years since independence. And while democracy has been on the rise in recent years in Africa, several countries still experience coups. In fact, only fourteen countries are yet to experience a coup in Africa while only three are yet to have a successful coup but have attempts. These are Kenya, Morocco and Cameroon.

Among some of the reasons why coups are so common in Africa is the fact that African countries are the artificial creation of colonial powers, consisting of various tribes, some of which had never been allies. When a country gained independence, these tribes and communities were suddenly expected to live together in harmony, which was very difficult considering most of them would want control of the central government. A battle for power would ensue and coups or attempts would follow very often.

Another reason is that there is rampant corruption. As soon as the African countries gained independence, most of the leaders left in place were in a race to make themselves and some of their allies rich. This set a precedence for corrupt individuals in power who also act with favoritism towards their friends or tribesmen, leaving the remainder of the population feeling left out and deprived of what they deserve. This feeling easily brews coups as these left out communities would also want to be in a position of power.

There is also the fact that most countries in Africa have a huge percentage of the population living in poverty. Several factors have led to this, including corruption. Most of the governments have failed to create an economy that flourishes and the population is always left discontent with the performance of the standing leaders. Their removal from power is always a welcome idea and while there are democratic ways to achieve this, a coup is much faster.

Another good reason is that most African countries have spent decades under the dictatorship of leaders who have been in power for decades. In these periods, most of them have resorted to various dubious means to stay in power. Namely: corruption, tribalism, oppression of the opposition and oppression of democracy among others. This also leaves citizens seeking a change in power and removal of these leaders and at times a coup seems like the only way they can achieve this.

In many cases, whenever a coup occurs, a good portion of the population supports it. The perpetrators of coups normally cite various failures of the ousted government and the population can agree with them. As such, they see the coups as an opportunity to try a new approach or new leaders who might serve their interest. However, in most cases, the story remains the same or things get even worse.

A good example is in Sudan where former president Al Bashir had been in power for so long the people were happy when the military removed him. Unfortunately, the military declined to restore power to the civilians and the country has been a war zone where hundreds of individuals demonstrating for democracy get murdered and many more injured.

With several countries still facing many of the problems that lead to coups, we are yet to see the last of them. That alone should create a worry amongst statesmen, who are so few in Africa by the way, and the many other individuals who would be against such a deprivation of democracy. African governments should also adopt better means of governance, ones that would leave fewer citizens feeling discontent, so as to avoid these coups. In most of the cases they have occurred, it has been to serve the interests of individuals seeking power and the countries have been left worse than they were before. No nation should look forward to this.