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Teach History of Tyranny
with Democracy 3: Africa

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African Tyranny

Which African tyrants can you name?
What has historically made many African countries susceptible to despotism?

Teacher Resources

  • Theory: This lesson is all about the challenges that a tyrannical government brings about in a nation.
  • Play: The students play the Egypt scenario in Democracy 3: Africa.
  • Share & Discuss: These tasks focus on power, rule and their misuse.

Today’s lesson will focus on despots and especially tyrannical African rulers, which have been a sadly common occurrence after the independence of many African nations ever since they achieved independence at various points during the 20th century.

After the initial background theory, the students get to try their hand at being tyrants themselves in Democracy 3: Africa!

Defining Terms

Despotism & Despot
Dictatorship & Dictator
Tyranny & Tyrant

Teacher Resources

These closely-related terms can be somewhat confusingly similar. By defining them right at the start of the lesson, you can spare your students from much of this confusion.

Despotism: oppressive absolute power and authority exerted by government : rule by a despot
Despot: a ruler with absolute power and authority tyrannical despots
Autocracy: government in which one person possesses unlimited power (the autocrat)
Dictatorship: a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique
Dictator: one holding complete autocratic control : a person with unlimited governmental power
Tyranny: oppressive power exerted by government
Tyrant: an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution, also: a usurper of sovereignty

Source for definitions: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Idi Amin

Idi Amin (1923-2003), President of Uganda (1971-1979)

  • Originally a military commander, Idi Amin seized power in 1971
  • Known especially for brutal murders and bizarre eccentricities, but also famous for nepotism, corruption and extensive economic mismanagement
  • Deposed in 1979 after years of disastrous rule and the Uganda-Tanzania war
  • An ally of the CIA throughout his reign

Idi Amin.

Teacher Resources

Muammar al-Gaddafi

Muammar al-Gaddafi (1942-2011), “Brotherly Leader” (1969-2011)

  • Libyan revolutionary, political theorist and politician
  • Took power in Libya in a 1969 coup
  • Extremely poor relations with the US in the 1980s which resulted in the 1986 US bombing of Libya
  • A divisive figure and the subject of a cult of personality
  • Dethroned and killed in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring

Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Teacher Resources


Lesson Goal

Successfully remain in power and improve the credit rating while playing as the autocrat of Egypt.

Teacher Resources

For today’s lesson, the students have two goals: remain in power and improve the credit rating while playing as Egypt.

Remaining in power is quite easy, because you are an autocrat. You can either enact multiple cheap policies that will make you very popular (most of them religious, such as school prayers and a state religion) or simply brutally repress any resistance with armed forces, police and harsh punishments. Religious policies are the recommended way to go because they are so inexpensive and efficient.

Improving the credit rating is very difficult. This is due to the massive amount of debt and unstable economy of the nation. This will take some time, but raising the income tax to 50%, slightly taxing various other sources (such as mansions, cars and air traffic) and carefully investing in technology will improve the GDP. You should carefully invest into new policies, since Egypt is unstable and the oil price fluctuates. It’s best to always have a surplus so your nation’s debt will slowly be reduced, which is the only way you can improve your credit rating.

How to Play

To begin, click the New Game button.

Gameplay screenshot

Select your desired country at the bottom, then click on Play.

Gameplay screenshot

To begin, click Play again. Before starting, you can also modify some of the game settings, such as the number of terms you can have.

Gameplay screenshot

Gameplay Tips

  1. You are a full-on autocrat.
Show Notes

This means you will always have ludicrous amounts of political capital, because there are no checks and balances to stop you. Unfortunately this also causes extreme dissent, which both reduces happiness and your GDP significantly. Stopping the revolts will require significant monetary investments into state forces - money which you don’t have.

  1. Your nation is in extreme debt. Good luck!
Show Notes

Unlike most nations in the game, you can’t pay off your national debt quickly and efficiently. With high unemployment, low GDP and enormous debt, you must carefully build your economy to allow new policies, technological advancement and improvement of your credit rating.

  1. Negative events are rampant.
Show Notes

Egypt is unstable, generally hated by its neighbors and the world at large, and acts of terrorism are common. In practice this means that you must be careful with your policies and especially with your budget, because your available funds can change dramatically.

  1. Your nation will forever be in civil revolt. You can try to minimize the effects of the revolt but the lack of democracy will most likely keep it going forever.
Show Notes

The lack of democracy is such an aggressive condition that most likely your nation will forever be in revolt. It may be possible to stop the revolt by spending considerable funds on police and the secret service, but the gains may not be worth it.

Share & Discuss

Share & Discuss

  • Were you able to upgrade your credit rating? How? How many times?
  • Did you have trouble staying in power? If so, why?
  • What advantages does an autocratic government have? What disadvantages?

Teacher Resources

You can give the students time to consider these questions. They can answer them as pairs, as small groups, or individually, whichever way you prefer.

DISCUSS: If the questions above are not clear enough to provoke intelligent discussion, you can try the more specific approaches below:

  • Your credit rating can increase if your economy keeps growing and you manage to slowly pay off your nation’s debt. How did you increase your budget? What are the most difficult obstacles with growing your GDP?
  • Which groups are most opposed to your rule? Were you able to placate them or did you merely suppress them? Or did you get assassinated?
  • Is an autocratic government more efficient? How does being an autocrat impact civil rights, the GDP, press freedom and international relations?