OPINION: Africa Is Bleeding, When Will There Be Peace?
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
"The African must know himself, his Country and his destiny; and such knowledge within him will in due course permeate the possibilities outside, until it fills his Country with wonders. The horizon of his prospects will widen and become brighter from day to day as his mind is enriched"- John Mensah Sarbah.
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair once famously referred to the state of Affairs on the African continent as representing a "Scar on the conscience of the world", that unflattering narrative has once again been brought into sharp focus.
The past week has seen agitations in one of the continent's leading lights, Nigeria. with scenes reminiscent of the Arab spring that toppled decades long rule by strong men in ,what started as a protest against the activities of an anti-armed robbery squad within the security set-up quickly transitioned into demands for more accountable government in this vast and complex country.
Like the Arab spring, the protest movement in Nigeria is being led mainly by the youth, which typifies the frustration felt by young people across the continent at the lack of opportunities in their countries. matters were not helped by the perceived indifference of the Nigerian leadership to the concerns of the young people.
President Buhari only addressed the nation after several hours of the agitation insinuating ill motives on the part of the protesters and virtually telling outsiders to stay off his country's matters.
Condemnation of the high handedness of the Nigerian Military in reaction to the agitations, resulting in deaths being recorded came from far and near and near anyway.
Sadly, the ugly scenes being recorded in Nigeria represent a constant feature of the continent; in South Sudan, the optimism that accompanied the coming into being of the new nation in 2011,quickly gave way to despair. greed by the south Sudanese elite, induced by a desire to control the lucrative natural resources of the New nation ensured that the inhabitants of the new territory will know no peace.
For now, a shaky peace deal between president Salva kir and former rebel leader, now vice president Riek Machar holds, thanks mainly to an emotionally charged audience with the pope at the Vatican, during which the Pontif appealed to their conscience for peace.
In Cameroon, the inhabitants of the English speaking territory of this former French colony are beginning to raise their voices at years of discrimination by the French speaking government in Yaunde. matters haven't been helped by President Paul Biya's refusal to engage with them.
Scenes of violent suppression by the Cameroonian army against the Anglophone side have been recorded.
One can only hope that the tact and foresight brought to bear on the Bakassi dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon by the late Kofi Annan, which ensured the peaceful resolution of the dispute would be replicated by external actors in ensuring that this dispute does not degenerate into an intractable one.
Former Colonial power, France, with a long history of meddling in it's former colonies would do well to stay off this sensitive issue. it's recent diplomacy in Libya, resulting in the near collapse in this once vibrant African state is still very fresh in our memory.
As if the aforementioned instances of instability on the African continent weren't enough, Cote d'ivoire, once described as an oasis of peace on a troubled continent is currently on the brink, thanks to the surprise decision of president Allassane Outtarra to seek a controversial third term in office.it represents a rather disappointing turn of events for this vibrant west African state, which was virtually brought to it's knees In 2010,thanks to the desire once again of greedy elites to control the levers of power at all cost..
One would have thought that Ouattara, who prevailed in the 2010 dispute over then president Laurent Gbagbo, would have learnt some lessons in state craft but very much in character with the antics of African leaders he has sadly chosen to take a risky gamble with his country's future.
These happenings bring into question the relevance of regional bodies like ECOWAS, who have constantly exhibited a lukewarm desire to call erring leaders to order with the Ivorian opposition calling for a boycott of the October 31 vote, and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro stating emphatically in far away France that the vote will not come on at all, fears that the bloodbath recorded in 2010 is about to be replicated are legitimate.
With President Alpha conde also facing off with his opponents in neighboring Guinea, thanks to his decision to run for an illegal third term which he eventually won amidst cries of foul play by his opponents, political watchers and ordinary citizens of the continent have cause to be worried.
What happens in the next few weeks in respect of these two west African states will be crucial to the stability of the west African sub-region.
In The Democratic republic of Congo, which is gradually trying to put decades of post independence misrule behind it, an unlikely alliance between President Etienne Tshisikedi and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila is threatening to unravel with both men determined to control the levers of power and call the shot in this vast African nation with so all the potential to be a continental powerhouse.
One can only hope that the two men, guided by the painful history of the country will put the larger interest of their country above their parochial interest and ensure that the reforms needed to propel the Congo into prosperity are allowed to take hold.
It is indeed sad that a continent with so much potential should be mired in instability, thanks mainly to failed leadership. with a very youthful population,(the most youthful the world over).
African leaders must understand that the young people of the continent are set to demand more of the dividends of democracy. and those leaders who fail to respond to these demands will surely be swept away by the currents.
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The fate that befell Former Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who underestimated the concerns of his citizens, culminating in weeks of agitation leading to his ouster by his country's military should serve as a solitary lesson to African leaders that the antics employed by the Continents so called strong men to remain in power in the past against all odds cannot save them in our present world.
One can only hope that what political scientists have called the lost decades of the continent are not recorded once again in this century.
A glimmer of hope however exists if African leaders decide to change course; for once, forward looking leaders like Paul Kagame of Rwanda have demonstrated that purposeful leadership can always make a show case of an African nation. putting behind the unfortunate genocide of 1994, he united his country around a shared vision and with discipline and one accord, today Rwanda is constantly referenced as an example of what an African nation should aspire to.
As the years roll by African youth will increasingly hold their leaders to account and that trend cannot be reversed. democracy without attendant opportunities for the youth is only a ticking time bomb.
As French philosopher and statesman, Victor Hugo once said "No army can stop an idea whose time has come"
The idea of young people holding their leaders to account with it's attendant scenes of people's power against those leaders who resist those demands have come to stay.
No one can resist the currents of history.
Credit: Rodney Tsenuokpor.
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