Recent events in Sudan have left us all uncertain about the future of this continent. It has left me perplexed and prompted me to question whether Africa is doomed to war and human destruction. Even though we are well into the 21st century, the continent shows no signs of adapting to modernity. This will likely offend some, but it is something that all of us are thinking about, whether or not we express it.
Why is it so challenging for African nations to refuse war? When I consider this continent, the African Union meetings held in Addis Ababa are one of the first things that come to mind, with their notorious roadblocks and heightened security measures. And I consider all the slogans displayed on the enormous posters that adorn the streets of Addis Ababa.
One such phrase is “silence the guns.” Without a doubt, these posters are attractive. Aside from their nice slogans, which Africans have never seen materialize in reality, and the use of the posters to hide the not-so-pretty areas of Addis that might reveal the city’s true economic status, it baffles me that the posters are never removed after the meetings have concluded. Some of them naturally deteriorate after being scorched by the unrelenting Ethiopian sun.
I always wonder if the nice slogans on “silencing the guns” and promises of a unified Africa are simply themes that arise at these AU meetings and are subsequently forgotten. Why is it so challenging to silence the guns in Africa? Why does it always take near-irreversible devastation for us to decide to silence the guns? It has become difficult for Africa to learn from its past, from history, that the only path to lasting peace on the continent is through negotiations.
Is there something we, as a continent, have overlooked? Why haven’t the billions in aid money been used to establish good governance, guarantee the rule of law, and establish a level playing field for democratic politics?
Wars or the threat of war continue to occur throughout the world, with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia being one of the most recent. Other war threats exist among what we refer to as civilized nations. Africa is unique in that our wars are still civil wars, whereas wars elsewhere are typically between two or more nations. Often, the wars are not between the people but rather between a small number of individuals who are willing to sacrifice millions to maintain their status.
I once heard on the radio that malnutrition is one of the primary causes of the political and economic turmoil in the country and on the continent. Children who were malnourished, especially between the ages of 0 and 5, are likely to have stunted cognitive development, which hinders their ability to think, speak, and act rationally. But what are our options now? Malnourishment still prevails. So, do we wait until the current generation has vanished from the continent before the lights of civilization begin to shine on us? What can we do right now to liberate Africa from civil war and poverty?