A WORRYINGLY ANGRY WORLD
IN December 2008, thousands of young people hit the streets of various cities in Greece to protest the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a teenager a policeman shot.
The riots were the beginning of the protests that marked rejection of the austerity measurements, some of the earliest signs that the Greek economy was in distress.
More riots followed last year to mark the second anniversary of the killing though the policeman, who fired the shot was sentenced to life while his accomplice got 10 years imprisonment.
The Greek riots appeared to be the opportunity that young people awaited to express their frustration over unemployment and worsening economic circumstances. The shooting helped the anger spill.
From late last year, ceaseless riots have swept many Arab countries. People deemed to have no opinion have forced leadership changes. Whether in Tunisia, where Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit seller set himself ablaze to oppose police oppression, or in Egypt, where they wanted change, the issue remained that the people could take no more.
Authorities in Yemen, Libya, and Syria are still using overwhelming force to suppress their people. It is evident that people are finding their voices and in some cases, they are ready to stake their lives than lose their voices again.
Most governments maintain a distance from the people. They do not care about issues that affect the people. Governments are mainly self-serving. The people are important at the times they are needed for elections or where statistics are crucial to the things governments want to achieve.
In London, riots broke after police shot Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four to death in Tottenham. Everything was going wrong on the streets of Tottenham as people gathered before the police station demanding for justice. Young people are spilling their bile on anything in sight. Shops are looted, cars are burnt in a wave of anger that the shooting of a man cannot explain. Anyone who has any reason to be angry appears to be expressing it.
Who will forget Tottenham and the police? In 1985, one of worst race riots took place there. Promises to create jobs and develop the area, which is mostly inhabited by blacks, have remained promises. When an area is neglected, and it is positioned to watch the affluence of others, they will protest the neglect at some point.
The riots will not do London's image much good. Guests to the G8 Summit are already being pelted with eggs and fruits. The verdict on the street is that the G8 is doing nothing to solve the global economic crises. The 2012 Olympic Games are less than a year away. Security will assume further importance, consume more money and this time the attention may shift to the anger in London, where people also feel they are being taxed too much for the Games.
Dangers abound from the riots in London, particularly for governments like ours that tend to look at other countries as the epitome of perfection. Every government has its challenges with its people. The more governments do to meet those challenges, the higher the expectations because life is not static.
Our police may have some lessons to learn from the incidents in Greece, England, Tunisia, and other places where riots ensued because the police did not treat the people well. The brazen ease with which our police kill has no place in a modern society. It is important that the police learn this lesson quickly because the images from London are of anger, rage, and bitterness that can be displayed anywhere.
In an increasingly angry world, peoples' fuses are short and they can go off at the slightest provocation. There are enough deprivations in these parts. Governments should attend to the needs of their people without waiting for London.