AFRICANGLOBE – Today million of Africans have been rendered homeless in strife-torn countries such as the Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt , Somalia and, more recently, South Sudan
Is Africa fast relapsing into a primitive past riven by ethnic conflicts? An outer-space student of ancient African history might pose this question when suddenly put in direct contact with this planet; and the answer will be yes-plus. For religious fundamentalism has teamed up with fatalistic ethnic fundamentalism as nemesis of peace which ought to catalyse social and economic emancipation to lift the continent out of its underdeveloped status.
Today million of Africans wander daily in countries without peace. There is internecine violence due to ethnic rivalry camouflaged as political disaffection and religious extremism fuelling the conflagrations that have left peace smouldering in the Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, Somalia, to some extent Mozambique, and in Africa’s fledgling state of South Sudan.
Yet when peace finally becomes the evidence of unity, order and contentment Africa can rise to become a post-modern parallel of the rich North but minus hegemonic tendencies of the latter.
For now, and probably in the distant future, peace remains an ever receding mirage as the continent grapples with self-inflicted ethnic divisions and Islamic extremism which are causing disunity, disorder and discontent.
The result is that people kill each other in the affected countries, thereby also killing any developmental initiatives by frightening off potential investors.
Intervention by former colonial power fronts in Mali and the Central African Republic between Islamists and other religious groups and the widening gulf between Christians and Moslems in Nigeria make the future of Africa very bleak indeed.
Even nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo in which the United Nations has attempted to bring peace the people remain divided, displaced, hungry and slaughtering one another.
It should be understood, of course, that where Western imperialists exported conflict to back up their appetite for Africa’s mineral wealth as well as by bankrolling rebels, it might remain near-impossible to end rebellions and strengthen nations to shape their own destiny and unity.
One might also cite worsening conflict in Egypt and elsewhere in North Africa where imperialists sowed seeds of division in the so-called Arab Spring which saw virtually the entire Arab world rich in oil resources set ablaze, so to speak.
So as we enter 2014 the vexing question that must be asked is: Wither to Africa?
The obvious answer to that question is that Africa has to make difficult decisions to restore peace and security, or else political hawks watching conflicts next door or farther afield on the continent might find themselves enticed to rebel against their own governments for selfish political aggrandisement or as Trojan horses for external, hegemonic forces.
One might even risk asking the embarrassing question of whether African leaders regionally or as a body under the African Union have the capacity to move resolutely early enough to quell any festering rebellion against a government of a member state before peace overtures are drowned in a vicious political or ethnic or religious storms.
South Sudan and much earlier than it, Mozambique, are cases in point here.
Right now, East African leaders are struggling to bring an end to the conflict in South Sudan.
Yet had the AU stepped in at that first signs of simmering tensions there would not have been any need for a ceasefire which appears difficult to achieve now with so many people already killed and thousands others displaced – the grass that suffers when elephants duel.
Mozambique is another test case this time around to the Southern African Development Community’s rapid response initiative.
SADC has warned it would not sit idle by while rebel leader Alfonso Dhlakama’s Renamo threatens not just that country’s internal peace and security but also the peace and security of neighbouring states.
The warnings have fallen on deaf ears, however, as Renamo has not ceased its dangerous activities, posing a serious threat to Mozambicans and to those around them.
That the Mozambican government persistently said it sought a peaceful solution through dialogue no doubt persuaded SADC to watch the goings on in that country before opting for any decisive action to try to guarantee regional peace by eliminating the Renamo menace.
It is all very well for neighbouring countries not to interfere in the internal affairs of a fellow SADC member state, yet it is difficult to believe, let alone accept, that Renamo is causing mayhem internally and threatening the peace in neighbouring countries without the hideous hand of imperialism which is not happy that people it called terrorists yesterday should today continue to remain at the helm of their own governments and protecting the rich natural resources of their country which imperialists salivate after.
What gives Dhlakama the bravado to continue with his terrorist activities?
Contextually, therefore until Africa acts decisively and timeously to pre-empt conflicts of any kind, the continent, at least much of it, will remain embroiled in conflicts that retard development and leave it vulnerable to economic re-colonisation by Western imperialists.
By: S. A. Mpofu