The highlight of Black History Month took place when former President Barack Obama, along with basketball star Steph Curry, took center stage in Oakland, California to address issues facing young men of color. Obama and Curry were not there to talk about how to change federal policy. Instead, they discussed tangible ways in which young black men can facilitate stronger and safer communities.
The town hall event, sponsored by Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative,” stressed the values of community mentorship and personal responsibility. The topics raised were wide-ranging. Among them were ways to support young men without fathers, how to reject toxic masculinity, and the importance of embracing monogamy.
Obama spoke candidly about how communities need to raise the level of expectation for how young black men should act. Emphasizing that “real” men do not show their manhood by disrespecting others, or by putting women down, he tried to counteract some of the pernicious elements of culture that are found in some black communities. It was a timely reminder that a strong moral compass makes a difference in life.
He also talked about the value of education. Sitting next to one of the NBA’s greatest players, he told young men they had a better chance of being a lawyer or a doctor than a professional basketball player. In my mind, these nuggets of wisdom Obama imparted were not controversial. But unsurprisingly, some people were upset with him for raising these issues.
Another stolen election? Growing corruption and electoral malpractice are weakening faith in democracy.
Corruption is everywhere. According to Transparency International's 2018 Corruption Perception Index report, about two-thirds of countries in the world have very high levels of corruption. Democratic elections are supposed to be a means of granting citizens the voice to penalize corrupt leaders that are benefiting at the expense of the electorate. However, from my experience in my home country, Zimbabwe, and the results in many other developing countries, elections are frequently failing to hold leaders accountable. Elections strengthen dictatorial rule and further corruption by the ruling party under the guise of legitimized support by the voters. The failure to control corruption and lack of transparent administration of elections are a growing threat to democracy.
Allegations of election fraud are a common feature of the electoral cycle for most African elections. International observers swarm a country in an attempt to ensure that the incumbent government administers free and fair elections. However, this monitoring does not seem to be a significant deterrent for election fraud given how frequently opposition leaders call elections into question. Just this past month, the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria were initially postponed, raising concerns of corruption and rigging.
Election fraud manifests itself across the world in different ways. Several African leaders in power have been accused of employing some of the following tactics to maintain power: