Africa Blog Roundup: Rwanda, Ethiopia and Anti-Terrorism, Senegalese Elections, Conflict in Nigeria, and More

Recent posts by Roving Bandit on poverty and governance in Rwanda have generated a lot of interesting comments.

Texas in Africa promotes an essay by Kathryn Mathers (.pdf) on Nicholas Kristof and Africa. I recommend the piece too.

At Africa Is A Country, reflections on the twenty-second anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress.

Christian Science Monitor: “Why Ethiopia’s authoritarian style gets a Western nod.”

Sanou Mbaye places Senegal’s current political tensions in the context of economic trends in the West African Franc Zone.

Amb. David Shinn flags a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute entitled Arms Flows to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Peter Howes argues that Kenya and Sudan are “heading for a collision.”

Laine Strutton on “Renewed Conflict in Nigeria between Northerners and Easterners.”

What are you reading today?

4 thoughts on “Africa Blog Roundup: Rwanda, Ethiopia and Anti-Terrorism, Senegalese Elections, Conflict in Nigeria, and More

  1. I actually passed through Onitsha last friday (on my way to my grandmother’s burial).

    Stories about tensions between Northerners and Easterners are overblown. The police officer who shot and killed a man at Onitsha was not Hausa (he’s from the Middle Belt and his name is Samuel Ojana). It is true that some Northerners had cause to flee Onitsha, but the situation is/was nowhere as charged as the news media suggests.

    The major target of the enraged mob were not Hausas but police checkpoints (several of which were destroyed – I saw them).

    South-Easterners have been extremely restrained in their response to repeated provocation from the North. I have a feeling that we are not given enough credit for that.

    Not too far from my home town is Adazi-Nnukwu. 11 members of that community were brutally murdered by Islamists and the anger and grief during their burial was very visible. What seems like adding insult to injury is the eagerness with which Western analysts like Jean Herskovits, Ambassador Campbell and Ms. Ensign have bent over backwards to accept the lame excuses proposed by their Northern benefactors (“the men were murdered by business rivals”).

    Their widows beg to differ.

    The moral cowardice exhibited by Westerners familiar with Nigeria is a topic for another day, I won’t get into that today.

    On Biafra. I was too young to experience the Civil War, but the mismanagement of the Babangida and Abacha years made most Nigerians revaluate the state of the Nigerian federation.

    Whatever you want to think or say about Ojukwu, he was the first person to seriously challenge the basis for Nigeria’s unity. Questions raised by Ojukwu are still unanswered.

    Over the past three decades, Nigeria has been dealt a series of body blows, each one weakening the facade of national unity:
    1. The legacy of the Babangida/Abacha administrations / IMF: The end result was currency devaluation, low investment in infrastructure, a hollowing out of the middle class / educational system and wide-spread corruption. Babangida put the “c” in corruption and both he and Abacha made a zero net investment in Nigeria’s power infrastructure. IMF is still a swear word in Nigeria on account its close association with the Babangida regime.
    2. The Orkar coup of 1990: This largely forgotten event brought into sharp relief the differences between Nigeria’s Middle Belt and the far North. Major Orkar “excised some Northern states” from Nigeria in his coup announcement. The coup failed, but it reflected a common sentiment in the Middle Belt – their worst enemies are the core North. The Zangon-Kataf crisis, the Jos crisis and the crisis in Yelwa are reflection of this problem.
    3. Competition between Christianity and Islam: The eighties and nineties saw the tenure of Jubril Aminu as education minister. Jubril Aminu made it a point of duty “to create a space for Islam” in the education system. The results are with us today.

    I recall seeing literature from Iran about “Al Quds” in my secondary school library – I can only imagine what people up North were being fed. The products of Jubril Aminu’s tinkering and Sheik Zakzaky’s radicalism are at the vanguard of Muslim-Christian violence. Naturally, Christians have retaliated, and the Middle-Belt is up in flames.
    4. The annulment of M.K.O Abiola’s election in 1993: Abiola won the election on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, the problem was that he was the wrong sort of Muslim (he was Yoruba). So his election was annuled. This created a permanent rift between the Yoruba and the Hausa-Fulani. Obasanjo was selected by Northern Muslim generals, not because he was the Yoruba’s choice, but because he was perceived as being easy to manipulate. (Unfortunately, Abacha’s prisons toughened him up and the rest is history).

    When Western analysts talk about a “gentlemans agreement between the North and South” or “power alternating between Muslims and Christians”, they are either being deliberately vague or they are naive. Everyone knows that it all boils down to power transfer between the Hausa-Fulani and everyone else. The rest of Nigeria have had enough of the Hausa-Fulani elite and only want to vote based on competence.
    5. The hanging of Saro-Wiwa: The judicial murder of Saro-Wiwa triggered the Niger Delta insurgency and led to the election of Goodluck Jonathan as president of Nigeria. I have no need to go into further detail here.
    6. Sharia: The announcement of Sharia law was a shot across the bow. It was a warning from the Hausa-Fulani that they wanted to live in Nigeria on their own terms with absolutely no consideration for the rest of Nigeria thought about it.

    Of course they were goaded on by the usual suspects – Western academic apologists and quislings. (I watched a BBC documentary on how great Sharia was in Zamfara State. Of course the BBC was silent when the Zamfara governor took a 13 year old bride from Egypt!). Southern Kaduna errupted and Northern Christians made it plain that there weren’t consulted. Understandably, the economy of the North suffered and Boko Haram was made possible. The result is that the North is marginalising itself.

    All of these body blows point to an unfortunate fact – Nigeria is “un-uniting” and the process is accelerating. Nigerians travel less, the core North interacts less with the rest of the country. We hate each other more with each passing day.

    With each passing day it is clear that we are less of a nation and more of a “mere geographical expression”. Ojukwu challenged the conventional wisdom that claimed that an Igbo farmer had anything in common with a Fulani cattle herder.

    They don’t. And soon that reality will be reflected in political boundaries. Mark my words.

  2. No one in Africa reads the nonsense Kristof writes. No one in my circle is bothered about what George Clooney or Angelina Jolie does or says (we don’t even watch their movies).

    My late grandmother is the true face of Africa. She raised ten children largely on her own (most of them college graduates). All she wanted and worked for was an day’s worth of honest labour. She never knew, nor cared for the likes of Kristof, Clooney or Angelina Jolie.

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