In the midst of the festive season and warm Christmas pudding, there is (again!) turmoil brewing in West-Africa. The situation in the Ivory Coast, arguably the worlds largest producer of cocoa, makes one wonder about 'peace on earth and goodwil amongst humanity'. I recently read a compelling book by James Brabazon, 'My friend the mercenary'. This account of, amongst others, the civil war in Liberia (some would say guerilla war) is giving me a new perspective on the violence in Africa, or better, on Africa.
For one, we should not be fooled by 'peace missions' and UN 'peace forces' (what a misnomer!), let alone AU missions as solution to the challenge of conflict and war. The real wars are fought in the jungles, away from reality TV and newscrews. Its an unconventional war, where ordinary Africans are butchered and blasted in pieces. These wars are fueled by multibillion dollar arms deals and the bitter war over mineral rights. In this war, there is no clear sides, no cause, except to violently suck the life out of the soil as well as the children of the soil. The ANC Youth League, might be impotent when it comes to dealing with teensex, but their obsession with mining, perhaps shows that they know where the heart of the real conflict in Africa, is pumping.
Whilst a superficial (and racist) reading of postcolonial Africa's 'propensity for conflict' would point to the innate violent black man, the real forces lurk in the capitals and they hold the aces. Its therefor not surprising that Gbagbo is upheld by the generals. The same kind of dynamic is at work in Zimbabwe, where the generals hold stakes in the diamond and weapons industry and where Mugabe, are to be kept in 'power' as long as possible, with Zimbabwean economic refugees and professionals fleeing over the borders.
If anything, those inspired by 'peace on earth' has to do something about these realities, and continue to fight against mercenary activity, but also the new scramble, by neo-colonialists. Peace!
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