Another Scramble for Africa?
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
As you probably already know, Africa is the richest and the most beautiful continent known to man. Very few natural resources are sought globally today that cannot be found within the shores of at least one African nation; those that can’t, seem to be of little consequence to global markets. The burden of beauty that the continent bears is reflected throughout the annals of her history- be it the era of the slave trade, the scramble for Africa, or her forced involvement in the First and Second World Wars. History was indeed cruel to Africa; historians saw what would be considered today as the unethical division of Africa by her then European colonial masters as “The White Man’s Burden”, as opposed to the burden of the nations of Africa.
The consciousness of the international community under the canopy of the United Nations has made several attempts to erase the wrongs of the past. In that regard, to an appreciable extent, slave trading has been abolished, there is supposedly better protection for the African child, access to redress on matters that pertain to human rights are guaranteed, and the process of self-determination and de-colonization has seen Africa become once more the continent of the free. The nations of Africa now stand tall and independent, determining for themselves how best to govern their people. However, it seems most unfortunate that in the midst of such great strides of success, a new enemy of the freedoms of the nations of Africa approaches. This foe is however both new and of strange origin. It seeks no victory by its overpowering military prowess or any economical campaign via hurtful concessionary contracts. It respects no rule of engagement and places very little value on human life. The face of Africa’s new foe is terrorism.
The war against terror is indeed no novel war to countries such as the United States of America or Great Britain, where the aerial attacks on the Twin Towers and the wounds caused by the London Bombings, respectively, are yet to heal. Alas, in nations such as Mali and Nigeria, with no prior strategy in the war against terror, helpless populations have had to witness their law enforcement agencies stretched to unimaginable lengths, as they simply are not prepared to deal with the threat of terrorism.
With respect to Nigeria, the world was shocked when a citizen of the then happiest nation in the world, Abdul Mutallab, attempted to detonate a bomb strapped to his legs in a plane that was to land in the United States. Had his attempt been successful, it would have officially ushered in a dark era of terrorism with its shadow upon Nigeria. Although Mutallab’s plan was averted, the focus on the budding Nigerian army of terror was not derailed by the failure of the plot. Soon to follow was the blight of Boko-Haram in the northern part of the Nigeria. In its official statement, the group announced its mandate to purge the northern part of the country of all that was western and establish a new region governed by a redefined system of Sharia law. Any attempt to resist their purported mandate has been met with severe bloodshed. In the spread of its mandate of terror, the group has detonated bombs in many sensitive areas such as prominent churches during Christian festivals, police headquarters, army barracks, and the most daring of all, the United Nations building in Abuja. The law enforcement agencies have met the arduous task of apprehending the vile culprits the best way that they can, but their best efforts have failed to bring the guilty to justice. The Boko-Haram insurgent group continues to flourish under proper funding and training evidenced by its ties with Al-Qaeda.
With respect to Mali, the story is the same, but with a different plot. The insurgent Tuaregs of Mali have taken to arms in an attempt to secede from the Republic of Mali, wishing to establish a new country with a new order under a new government. The law enforcement agencies of Mali have also fallen under the heavy mortars of militia groups funded and supported by terrorist groups. The frustration of the Malian polity was most evident in the coup d’état of the mutinous soldiers of Mali, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, as a response to the failure of the usurped government to provide what was necessary to quash the Tuareg rebellion. For the insurgent Tuareg rebels however, they continue in their quest, properly funded and trained by terrorist organizations, as evidenced in the announcement of their close ties with Al-Qaeda.
Nigeria and Mali are just two examples from the African continent. Following the events of the famous Arab Spring, which saw the Tunisian, Libyan and Egyptian governments toppled, who is to say that such revolutionary activism will not be replicated in other countries of Africa? And if that is to be the case, who is to say that such revolutionary groups as the Tuaregs in Mali would not be supported by terrorist groups with ulterior motives? Reports have recently confirmed suspicions that insurgent groups such as the Tuareg rebels in Mali are not only equipped by terrorist organizations, but have access to the mass of abandoned weapons in the deserted parts of Libya. These facts indicate that once a revolutionary phenomenon has begun, like a pack of toppling dominoes, the revolutionary spirit spreads. The problem some African countries are facing however is that when such revolutionary spirit spreads, undesired philosophies begin to corrupt the spirit of the revolution, transforming something pure into something devoid of beauty. Once a region has been firmly established under the wings of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, the permutation to evil that would evidently follow is too ghastly for the human imagination; and, who is to say this change wouldn’t happen? Who is to say that terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda shall not continue, in the name of ideology, to hijack the revolutions of Africa in an attempt to forward their own mandate of terror?
Be that as it may, it must never be allowed to lie so. The nations of Africa should wake up to tackle the new imperialist force from the East known as terrorism. Nations such as Nigeria and Ghana have, under the dispensation of their former colonial masters, witnessed the strategy the terrorist groups currently seek to employ. These “imperialists” come on to their shores promising better prospects in trade, education, and holistic development. Soon to follow would be agreements and concessions which burgle away the land, property and freedoms of the polity (but retain that of the elite few that are privy to the arrangement) and finally, the entire region is completely subjected to the whims and caprices of these masters.
To allow a similar fate to befall African countries under the reign of terrorism is not an option. The organizations responsible for international relations amongst states in Africa, such as the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and the Economic Community of West African States, must begin to address the issues outlined in this article. Nations of Africa must unite to combat the new force that seeks to scramble Africa, and indeed world peace as a whole. In fact, as it is a matter that pertains to world peace, the nations of Africa should partner with other nations of the world, in the exchange of technologies, information and the relevant equipment, military or otherwise, that would be required to purge the world of the nuisance of terrorism and bring a befitting end to the war against terror. In the mean time however, Africa, with all her unmatched beauty and bliss, lies in the balance. This must not be so.
Olufemi Omosuyi A
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