While we were not watching, however, much was happening in Africa. I am sad to report that, per usual, few of the noteworthy occurrences happening in the interim fell outside the genre of ‘depression.' It seems like the continent is resigned to a status of constant-conflict, with each corrupt leader seemingly followed by another willing to push the boundaries of government mismanagement and cruelty even further
Unfortunately, many leaders invoke the name of Nelson Mandela. Few truly follow in his steps, instead succumbing to the ever-present pull of self-enrichment via illegal means. To find the face of African corruption, look no further than Zimbabwe, where a 92-year-old dictator has announced his “candidacy” in the 2018 election. His last victory was dubbed a ‘masterclass in electoral fraud,' and under Mugabe’s rule, Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation once reached an increase rate of 79,600,000,000% in a single month.
Mugabe is also known for his racism, radically changing land ownership laws to force white farmers from their lands, eviscerating the nation’s food source as a result:
‘In 2000 Robert Mugabe shocked the world when he made dramatic changes to land ownership laws in Zimbabwe which resulted in thousands of white Zimbabwean farmers being forced to give up their farms and many to leave the country.
Those white farmers owned 70% of the most arable land in the country which they had inherited from a colonial past built on racial hierarchy.’
Meanwhile, Mugabe has been known for the numerous extravagant homes he owns across the globe, somehow finding the money for them in his government salary. And, this is the man that has managed to stay in power until, and likely beyond, the ripe age of 92.
Like I said, it is unfortunately par for the course in a continent that has seen far worse than government corruption. New conflicts seemingly arise every other year, whether it is warring tribes or the latest government-sanctioned mass-murder for the sake of monopolizing a country’s resources. Time has not proven a cure for the ills plaguing African’s beleaguered population.
As recently as 2014, Africa was home to over half of the world’s conflicts. This was the case despite the continent containing a mere 16% of the world’s population. The continent is the picture of bellicosity.
In 2015, three nations joined the list of African countries embroiled in armed conflicts, upping the total to 15. Most of the conflicts exist in Africa’s northern region, but nations to the south- including Zimbabwe- have been far from pictures of peace. In fact, if it is not an active conflict, corruption is likely to ravage the lives of African people. If not corruption, natural forces and disease tend to make life pretty miserable for most.
But, in terms of armed conflicts still roiling as of 2016, there are plenty for three or four non-African continents. The Somali civil war has torn the nation apart, dividing family members for years or permanently, the war bringing with it mass rapes, mutilation, and genocide. In Somalia, the al-Qaeda affiliated terror group Al-Shabab is entrenched in a land-war against government and African Union troops. The give-and-take nature of the land possession means that the end to this bloody conflict is not near.
The conflict involving Boko Haram in Nigeria qualifies as the most deadly conflict currently in all of Africa. Americans once had a fleeting interest in the conflict thanks to Boko Haram leader Joseph Kony’s kidnapping of 591 children in the past three years, as prisoners of war used for ransom money and sex enslavement. While some have espoused hope that Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, elected in 2015, would make significant changes in how the conflict against Al-Shabab was fought, eradicating such a merciless, determined enemy has proven near-impossible.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has faced the lingering effects of restless militias, not abiding by the official end of the Second Congo War in 2003, in its eastern sector. South Sudan and the Central African Republic have been plagued by decades-long violence, but the most recent iteration began in 2012-13. While tenuous ‘post-conflict’ agreements have been reached in both instances, each is listed as a ‘limited’ conflict by the CFR’s Center for Preventive Action conflict tracker. Regardless of the official listings, humanitarian atrocities continue to be committed in each of these nations.
Darfur, in Sudan, was once the bleeding-heart cause of the world. The outbreak of the conflict in 2003, when the Sudan Liberation Movement and Justice and Equality Movement (they sound so innocent, right?) began fighting the Sudanese government. Long since abandoned as an international cause for concern, the violence has increased in the past couple years for no apparent reason.
Burundi, a tiny Southern African nation sandwiched between the DRC, Tanzania, and the equally tiny nation of Rwanda, is undergoing a political crisis that has resulted in bloodshed. But it is primarily-Islamic North African nations where the most violent, unstable conflicts currently reside, which is truly saying something considering the general instability in the continent.
The destabilization of Libya, the result of decisions made by the Obama-Clinton State Department, is listed as Africa’s only ‘critical conflict’ by the Center for Preventive Action. Again, consider the extent of other conflicts in the region, then consider that Libya has been classified as a level above them in terms of violence and instability. The country is in an all-out civil war where ‘total war’ may not do justice to how all-encompassing the conflict has proven. Making matters worse, ISIS has chosen the nation as a ground to regroup amidst the stability.
The borders between Mali, Algeria, and Libya are considered to be virtually nonexistent, with ISIS as well as Al Qaeda and other terror groups crossing with impunity. Instability in government has meant little to stop their travel in between, and international troops in Mali have proven the thin line between a complete descent into chaos. After experiencing near-collapse in 2012, the international community does seem intent on preventing Mali’s fall.
Algeria has established protection from outside forces by establishing a ruling class of political elite, but its president Abdelaziz Bouteflika is in old age, and his increasingly tepid health means that change could be a tipping point for the country which serves as a spawning ground for many extremists.
It is difficult to believe that all of these conflicts could be simultaneously occurring in one continent. Yet, when it comes to Africa, there always seems to be something to fight about, whether it occurs in the Northern, Central, or Southern regions. And, as usual, there is no realistic end in sight.