Causes of conflicts in Africa

By Morgen Makombo Sikwila

The history of Africa as a continent is replete with conflicts. The continent has been highly susceptible to intra and inter state wars and conflicts.

 African countries different histories and geographical settings, different stages of economic developments; different sets of public policies and different patterns internal and international interactions. Africa has been always home of wars and instability. Permanent solutions to resolve conflicts has been so elusive.

The colonization of Africa by European powers in the 19th Century created political units that divided ethnic groups in some cases and combined rival groups together.

 Boundaries of most African states were arbitrarily drawn without regard to ethnic and cultural affinities. In most cases European boundaries forced starkly different, rival cultures to cohabit within the confines of a single  state.

 The impacts of these borders are still felt to varying degrees from country to another  throughout Africa.  Since the 1950s when some African nations started gaining independence, these arbitrary borders have more often than not become source of conflict.

Ethno political conflicts have become on the increase in Africa throughout the 20th Century.  Ethnic cleavages are deep and political discrimination against minority groups is widely practiced in Africa.

  Ethnicity cannot but be a great potential for separatists activities.  Ethnicity breeds the feelings of suscipicion, hatred and distrust among members of the various ethnic groups and has no doubt retraded political integration in Africa.

 It is therefore not surprising to note that at least twice (1967-70 civil war and 1993-1999 friction) ethnic rivalry has been the  root cause of internal conflicts in Nigeria.

  Similar stories are told in Liberia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Sudan, Congo and a number of other African states.

According to Chinua Achebe (1996), Africa has consistently suffered from three problems: poor leadership, poor leadership and poor leadership. Given the heretorogenous composition of most African states, what is needed most are the virtues of administrative tact, political tolerance and social justice.  Because of the ineptness of African leaders, these ingredients are so lacking and can not be provided.

  Most African leaders are weak, corrupt and unpatriotic.  Apart from retarding national integration and socio-economic developments, the attitudes of rulers have sparked off conflicts and widely spread bloody violence.  Sudanese, Nigerian, Algerian and Liberian civil wars lend credence to the fact that African leaders have failed to forge national unit in their respective countries.

  What African countries lack as independent states are leaders who are unifiers, chiefs in the true sense who bind wounds, hold everything and everyone together, mobilize and motivate people, pursue policies of inclusion rather than exclusion and seen by one and all to be  of highest integrity and beyond suspicion.

One of the major factors responsible for internal conflicts in Africa is devastating impact of corrupt. Corruption, manifested in the embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, paralyzes development efforts.  Africa’s resources are badly managed over the years and masses become fed up with their leaders. This causes unending conflicts.

Africa is one of the poorest continents.   This is largely to hard environmental conditions, corruption, pòorly managed elections, presidential stayism, lack of rule of law and huge foreign debts that exacerbate the conditions of poverty.

  Desertification has contributed to famines in a number of African states such as Ethiopia and Mali. The number of people living in abject poverty is growing in millions.  A hungry man is an angry man- then conflicts may for long be part of Africa life owing to the situation of absolute poverty prevalent across the continent.

Since in the 20th Century, African countries have been betting with the problem of civil wars and inter- state conflicts. This has taken its toll on Africa’s development. Her illustrious sons and daughters have died and alienation of her peoples which the process of integration and cohesion in Africa.

  Thuggery, looting and arson have become part and parcel of Africa’s political culture. This should not be allowed to continue  if Africa is to develop and compete favourably with other continents of the world. Africa should attract foreign investors for the adequate exploration of her numerous natural resources for growth and development.

Morgen Makombo Sikwila is a holder of MSc in Peace and Governance

BSc Counselling

Diploma in Environmental Health Health

Certificate in Marketing Management

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