How is the continent of Africa rated on peace? Is it the most peaceful, somewhere in between or at the bottom? No doubt, things must have changed since independence from Western grip – directly in the hands of Europe with steel support from America. To pinpoint one: among a myriad Europe had American hands sustained, in breach of the need of Africans for independence from apartheid.
But still, dose Africa have enough of it – enough of peace?
Let us scan the continent from the north, north-west to Central Africa up to The Horn and turn south to Kenya, and west to the Congo.
Does now Libya exist conventionally as a country? It does not. It is wholly like a mental hospital in pandemonium. Its citizens lost hold of it the wrong way and in the hands of foreign powers, in full support of the UN, fighting Kaddafi. The consequences must be more than visible to the world, and that from the result of foreign punches on all walks of life of the citizens.
Libya has all the wealth to attract predators, locally and globally. Hostility on the life of the people is perhaps crafted elsewhere and implemented by the Libyans themselves, like anywhere in the third world. That is why for Libya peace from itself, for itself and with itself will take time to emerge.
What is going on with Nigeria?
Unless one wants to avoid seeing, thinking or talking about the Situation in the country, under the prevailing conditions, there is enough to worry about tomorrow’s Nigeria. Not the whole of the citizenry is engaged at bothering about its future. It is not difficult to sense the spin-off of luck of peace in the country. In that situation where peace has lost any destination within, robbery will take the upper hand. It becomes a link between local and foreign Mafia of all sorts, including “Investors” with oil-fields and other minerals. Then the situation of the long history of South American security, government officials and military officers protecting and benefitting from the chain of robbery will be the order of the day.
That country does not still exist in African minds. It is lost to chaos of its own kind. Its “leaders” have sold, for individual and group benefits, all its minerals – and mainly Uranium – to Western vagabonds in the guise of “global” companies. The people are far behind in the race to create a country worth existing the times and challenges. It does not have its own ground for peaceful existence unless it shares collective continental worries. That is what is known, about Algiers, to Africans at large.
Central Africa is a victim of history. It has passed through colonial hands. The stain is still there. That colonial force must have had, as was the order of the day, plundered its wealth and planted some “brotherhood” for the future. That country has no, through years of independence, the requisite leadership for country bare hand to sweep the wounds of colonial rule and plunder. It is the poorest country now exposed to long term decadence underpinned by war among citizens out of its control.
Southern Sudan is a country where any citizen should have had more care for peace than anything else. It is a country where millions had passed bloody decades in war, and that millions dying on the way for independence. In a country where everything had to begin from scratch, nobody would have dreamt of war between and among citizens. But, that has happened in Southern Sudan. It is unlikely that the war started from lack of the sense of peace in the leadership and the people. But it is not necessary here to figure out why and how the war was ignited.
What worries Africans about Southern Sudan? It is because the continent is ailing from the wounds within itself, in Sothern Sudan.
Somalia has for long been a center of attention, worldwide. As country with all the sources needed for economic and political stability, it has traversed years and years in a reverse direction of events, at war with itself no peace for the visible future until Africa overhauls itself. Part of its citizens for no acceptable national interest fell in the hands of others, where they still are. They wounded their country for long-term disability. They dismantled its social order. The old, the youth and the children left their homeland for long. Fighting for anything from anywhere became a way of life in Somalia. To give reason for spoils one incurs the wrong way, the Somalis already derailed from the call of the country turned a more destructive angle and said they are killing citizens for some space in heaven; they believe their country can only be a battle ground and nothing worthy of becoming a peaceful happy home for every citizen. They turned it to a country of immigrants within itself – political, economical and psychological immigration at that.
And to justify the havoc wreaked by the war they are in charge, they try for the presence of the same trouble throughout the neighboring countries.
That is Somalia devoid, so far, of any peace if left in the absence of support from elsewhere. That is a continental headache.
Kenya is known, since independence, as the most peaceful country in Africa. It was a home, and still is, for those from the neighborhood whose political bearing was disturbed in their countries. But in the last twenty years, it has suffered its kindness – citizens murdered in mass, its infrastructure bombed and citizens doubting their security ever. Now Kenya is shrouded in uncertainty. Criminals so armed – nobody understanding their source of money and armament – have created ghosts of their own to terrorize the people, and paralyze daily activities in society. The consequences are readable from afar.
It is just to say that the most peaceful among African nations – Kenya is suffering from lack of peace; and economic problems in society, as a consequence, will creep to where they had never been felt.
It is the continental problem Kenya taking its share of agony.
The location of Congo is unique in the sense that it is tantalizing for any global pillage. It is not only that. Its minerals in abundance, its forests and its lawlessness invite traditional colonial history.
The Europeans know the Congo – and Nigeria and West Africa as a Whole for that matter – as a source of millions of slaves during their Atlantic Slave Trade. Since then, the Congo has attracted Europeans and Americans for illegal business of all sorts.
Has Congo ever been in peace with itself? Africa as a mother- continent has suffered enough from all crimes and wars in the country. Is there any difference between yesterday’s Congo and today’s Congo?
Now let’s see Africa and all that is within its womb. Going from Libya to Nigeria and turning to Niger and straight to Central Africa, crossing border to South Sudan, and jumping over Ethiopia to Somalia and south to Kenya, turning westward to the Congo, one would have marked the major trouble spots of the continent – a big chunk of landmass and population of the continent. That is 15.1% of the African nations. Others in-between peace and no peace are not included in this survey.
How do we measure what change in every country on the continent, and continentally?
The AU is at the pinnacle of continental power and vision. How does it gage its performance regarding peace? Is peace a priority in the cataloue of events and tasks of the continental organization?
The role of AU in the life of continental citizens is not questioned and neither is it expected in the mind of the masses hardly following its obligations. But as one mindfully tries to see the continent from the perspective of peace, it is the duty of the continental leadership to see that measures are adopted for its success or otherwise for each country to locate where it is in the race for a good tomorrow. It is the aggregate endeavors for development and peace that indicates the rate of response of the organization to the needs of the whole continent.
Black spots along the way are identifiable if the continental organization as a guide, and each country, and groups of countries taking their share of assignments to pass through grinding measures of performance on the needs of the continent.
Applicable, rigorous measures of new wealth, poverty, education and its quality, health in society, equitability of wealth among citizens, women and the youth participation in and benefits from the socio-political motion in societies, benefits or otherwise from foreign investment, and rate of national and continental change pushed through its own measures will indicate where peace is guaranteed or, is vulnerable to any shock.
Peace is not a luxury in the African context. It is a necessity, and much more than other necessities. Factors protecting it from procrastination, dilution in intrigue – internal or external – and blood must be watched for effectiveness and measured for certainty.
* Astewaye Beyene is a guest author on Horn Affairs and can be reached at [email protected]