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In the spring of 2011, dramatic political changes and events took place in the Arab World. The Arab Spring was comprised of popular uprisings and civil unrest across the Arab world. However, during the same period there was also a high level of civil unrest and several demonstrations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Was there a “Spring” in Sub-Saharan Africa as well? There were political events inspired by and similar to the Arab Spring. Yet, the most striking link between the events in the Arab world and Sub-Saharan Africa seems to be the heavy-handed and fear-driven reactions of governments to peaceful demonstrations. This brief provides an overview of political developments in Sub-Saharan Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring, and a detailed analysis of political events in Malawi, showing how the government’s fearful response to peaceful demonstrations sparked civil unrest.

Lise Rakner

Professor at University of Bergen and Affiliated Research Professor