Roles of Leaders in the Theatre of Conflict, War and Peace on African Socio-Political, and Cultural Stages
Africa has long been the parole of conflicts, war, terrorism, et cetera, in the extensive langue of the whole world’s conflict. Consequently, this essay proposes to suggest policies and considerations that can effect and sustain peace in Africa, drawing from instances and causes of conflicts across the continent.
Keywords: Africa, Nigeria, West, Southern, Northern, Conflict, Security, Peace, Leadership.
The Theatre of Conflict and the Role of Leadership in Africa
“Conflict.” This is a word of many functions. In the realm of creative writing, it stands for a beginning, a reason to write. Its synonyms are: turmoil, war, terrorism, et cetera. The ungradable antonymous word to it is ‘Peace.’ The theatre of conflict and the attempt to end it in all axes of Africa has necessitated a discourse on peace and security.
In West Africa, the melodramatic acts of conflict can mostly be exemplified by cases of terrorist attack by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, seated in Northern Nigeria. Cited in Wetho et al., Soyinka laments, “When you get a situation where a bunch of people can go into a place of worship and open fire through the windows, you have reached a certain dismal watershed in the life of the nation.” By this, he succinctly expresses the detrimental effects of the sect on the entirety of the country; causing an overarching failure to Nigeria and countries surrounding her. The roles of leaders in the birth of terrorism in Nigeria are cogent. The allegations of corruption, gross financial misconducts, despotic and self-centred policies, against Nigerian leaders have generated anger and many complaints, not only from the terrorists but from the entire populace.
In the Horn of Africa, the presence of political disagreements and terrorist acts almost shredded the countries in the region into pieces. Healy supports:
The peace and security outlook for the Horn of Africa remains bleak. The conflict audit includes protracted state collapse in Somalia, deep hostility between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a fragile peace agreement between North and South Sudan, continuing instability in Darfur, periodic bouts of unrest in the Ogaden and northern Uganda, and two international peacekeeping operations___ In Mogadishu and Darfur___ struggling to contain violence.
Healy shows that the causes of crises in this region of Africa are the policies of nations concerning international relations and the leaders’ penchants for megalomania.
Plus xenophobia in South Africa, the extent of conflict in Northern Africa wails for installation of peace and security across the continent. Quoting Kaplan (1994), Paul Richards illustrates that,
“Islamist terror in Algeria and Egypt, and the apparently pointless destruction associated with the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, are seen by some as evidence that Africa is in the grip of anarchy.”
Ramirez views conflict in a dimension quite different from Richard’s. To him, conflict comes in form of “vicious cycles of war, disease, and poverty…” He suggests that, peace and security “should be achieved in an African way.”
Peace and Security in Africa: Suggestions from a (Hypothetical) Leader
The experience I had with hunger in childhood and how I reacted to this, bitter and desperate, makes me to suggest that Africa should invest in agriculture. Besides agriculture, infrastructural development is a sure step in tackling underdevelopment and achieving peace and security.
“The concept of peace in Africa will have a meaning only when underdevelopment is tackled effectively. One can talk of conscience, moral law, and dignity of man, truth, justice, freedom, democracy, love, and free will to a well-fed and secure person and something will sink in.”
The African populace is very bitter because of the self-centredness of most leaders. It has been mentioned that Nigerian senators receive the highest salary in the world. Whereas, this is a country plagued by abject poverty and living conditions that can induce violence in various hues among the commoners. Reduction in the inflated incomes of these leaders could help gaining trust from citizens and enhance peace.
Economic policies affect stability in human societies. For example, the open market policy allows countries to transact without restriction. A general currency could also be introduced to ease transactions among countries in the continent. Such development in economy nurtures friendly relations among nations. Empowering the females in Africa is also a catalyst in the growth of the continent’s economy. Sowe, cited by Ekesionye and Okolo, asserted that, “women are at the centre of development processes, and that complete and harmonious development cannot be achieved without them.”
Also cultural and inter-ethnic tolerance is necessary because, “frequently we are habituated to perceive our neighbours___ the different clans or the ethnic groups___ as enemies who only want to make war against us…” “If we want development, peace, and tolerance, we have to deepen our knowledge of the roots of aggression, intolerance, and the particular peculiarities of each people.” Nationalism rather than ethnicity is a mechanism for extracting oneness from diversity and Africa needs the spirit.
Though Africa is a continent plagued by violence, no continent is a virgin of the plague.
Concluding in Martin’s words: When we assert that a sustainable development will not be possible without a peaceful world, we cannot forget that peace is something more substantial than merely the absence of war, and that prosperity cannot be limited to economic growth as a remedy, as often is the case, but it has to include something more important and not necessarily connected with the economical development___ call it what you like: inner peace, spirituality, happiness. Some of the poor underdeveloped people are happier than the great consumers of the so-called developed world, as the rate of suicides ratifies.
Ayo Wetho et al. “’Baptism of Fire:’ Boko Haram and the Reign of Terror in Nigeria.” Africa Today, Vol 59,
No.2 (2012) pp 43. USA: Indiana University Press. Web.
Ekesionye E.N and Okolo A.N. “Women empowerment and participation in economic activities: Indispensable tools for self-reliance and development of Nigerian society.” Educational Research and Review Vol. 7(1), pp. 10-18, 5 January, 2012
Healy, Sally. “Seeking peace and security in the Horn of Africa: the contribution of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development,” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944), Vol. 87, No. 1 (2011), pp 105
Richards, Paul. “New Political Violence in Africa,” GeoJournal, Vol. 47 No. 3, Grid Group Cultural Theory (1999) pp 433. Web.
Oladimeji Damilola Joseph
Phone Number: +2348109296032
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