2014 – Will peace continue to elude Africa?

Africa has become a continent accustomed with disasters so much that one has to screen what they mourn or risk grieving forever. As much as I would love to talk up Africa’s chances of a peaceful, prosperous and an all round better 2014, conditions in Egypt, South Sudan, DRC, CAR and many other states suggest a customary difficult year ahead for Africa.

There is no objective reason to suggest a Zimbabwean economy renaissance; there is no reason to think the war in South Sudan will end in days or that the Egypt military will suddenly open doors to democracy. There is no reason to believe 2014 will be the year when bribes stop being ‘official’ payment to bureaucrats for ‘free’ public services.

In the majority of African states independence does not go beyond history books and the school curriculum. How can we objectively talk of Africa’s independence when what that ‘independence’ has achieved is bring the continent to embarrassingly high levels of dependence from of our Western colonisers? Our incompetent leadership has effectively turned the continent into a gigantic recipient of charity and loans from the West. It is appreciated that global economic systems are hardly favourably to Africa yet there is no evidence that Africa itself has an alternative plan.

Africa is perhaps the only continent that is trying to base its development on a template based on other societies’ culture and history. Africa needs to define herself in her own terms and stop wholly applying Western solutions to African problems. As long as Africans’ understanding and attitudes towards themselves remain entangled in Western interpretations that paint an inferior people in greater need of Western intervention, Africa will remain in a state of war with itself.

African political leadership and the general citizenry need to appreciate that far from being a by-product of chance, change has always been a deliberate and conscious endeavour; it is a by-product of discipline across all levels of society. Africans need to know what is being changed and why it is being changed, that is where understanding ourselves, our values and having the right attitudes about ourselves comes in handy. Africa’s history and cultural evolution is completely different from the West.

Peace will only reach Africa’s shores when we develop home grown solutions. Africans desperately need to review and revise state boundaries, review government systems and State power to reflect the diversity of populations inhabiting the artificial borders imposed by Western imperialists for Western interests.

What we currently have for leaders in most of Africa are individuals with an insatiable appetite for power and little or no regard for the ordinary person; they will do anything to stay in power and ethnic division has to date been the favoured tool.

A lot of Africa’s problems stem from the wilful obstruction of constitutional provisions by those in power and the wilful participation of some sections of the population to carry out the dirty work of politicians. There are two extremes within the system, the rich and powerful executive and the powerless public with very little prospect (school or employment) for young people to engage themselves productively hence they are always available to fight wars declared by their often elderly heads of state.

Tribe and/ or ethnicity remain the root of Africa’s problems. We are a continent where tribe or ethnic origin, more than policy, of the leader matters. All post independence conflict is drawn along ethnic lines if not religion or both. African ordinary men and women should refuse to allow such descriptors as tribe, ethnicity and race define political allegiances and allow patronage to shelter incompetent legislators.

Territorial conflict along ethnic lines is not new in Africa but the increasing failure of internally negotiated solutions is a source of great concern. Historically the art of negotiation was just as crucial as the physical fights in settling most of the territorial disputes; however, the gun has come to be seen as the only ‘efficient’ alternative. African leaders no longer negotiate without reference to a threat of military intervention. In the current East African block of nations South Sudan negotiations, the Ugandan leader, Yoweri Museveni has ‘encouraged’ the South Sudan rebels to accept terms of a ‘negotiated solution’ or face military intervention!

This should be the time African people start to demand more of themselves and even better from their leadership. Africa needs to look within for solutions to most its internal problems and only incorporate foreign values that are desirable and where there are no viable local alternatives. A review of government systems, state power and of national boundaries is essential for long term peace in a socio-politically diverse continent like Africa.


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