In the mid 1900’s, African countries saw a movement begin that showed a bright future for many impoverished nations. They began to desire independence and set out to change their governments for the better. While this movement seemed successful, it gave rise to many corrupt democracies that were anything but independent and progressive. Many leaders took advantage of the turmoil of these times and began their rise to power through the illusion of a new beginning.
These unstable governments were the perfect stepping stone for the “Big Man” to take control. The “Big Man” style is typically a government headed by a dictator, a powerful political figure who took control of the fresh start and assured himself complete control. Through the illusion of elections and representation, they were able to seize complete control of these nations. They were able to take control of both the executive powers and the economic ones. Controlling the economic system allowed them to maintain control over the citizens of these developing countries. Because of this, the leaders in charge were able to maintain and control the corruption of the government system. There were no real checks and balances of the executive system, because the democracies that they controlled were merely supporters of the “Big Man”. This allowed them to keep complete control of the government while keeping the illusion of a real structure.
This facade didn’t last long, however, as African citizens began to adapt and change it. A new generation known as the “cheetahs” rose up in Africa in the late 1990’s. They stood for everything the “Big Man” did not – true representation and sustainability. These “cheetahs” preached economic stability and true democracy, and called for an end to the oppressive regimes of the previous leadership. This progressive movement gained traction and many of the corrupt leaders were either removed from office, denied infinitely repeating terms, or were forced to comply with a true, open government system. This movement of young people is helping women gain traction in political positions as well. They are changing outdated gender rules and bringing Africa into a new modern mindset. Now that women are able to gain education and are given the chance to make a change, they are becoming a core part of the movement. NGOs are a great asset to this movement, for they provide debt relief along with opening trade and providing financial help where it is needed. Aided by the global community and NGOs, this young generation of “cheetahs” is only getting stronger and the old ways of the “Big Man” may very well be a thing of the past.