PEACE AND SECURITY:FROM THE SPRING TO THE MOUTH..
Many people consider Africa as the poorest continent, never mind the riches and wealth that seats beneath us. Behind the scenes of poverty and unsubdued wealth lies over 1.246 billion people, 16% of the world population, who face a deep sense of uncertainty about their safety. Most Africans are exposed to unlimited threats due to lack or insufficient protection from the respective authorities. Immunity to insecurity and fear has proved contrary to achievable in recent times, in a continent where harmony and serenity has continued to be an elusive dream. However, why there is persistence in distress and conflicts within Africa is a mystery that is yet to be puzzled out. If I was an African leader, my first step will be to source out every reason for insecurity and lack of peace, why, because I believe that achieving and sustaining peace and security in Africa depends on how fast the causes of insecurity and disharmony can be identified, and real time solutions effected.
Different agencies are responsible for lack of peace and insecurity, but decline in the economic conditions in countries is the most common source of conflicts in many countries. This is mainly because it leads to scarcity in resources that brings about inequality. When distribution of resources is uneven, some part of the population more often that not feels marginalized and dominated by the resourceful side. For instance the Somali people of North-Eastern region of Kenya have for a long time been marginalized.
The consequence of this has proved costly to the security of Kenya. This is because the Al-Shaabab, the terrorist group in Somalia, has used this economic gap as an avenue to recruit youths as its members. The youth are radicalized into believing that lack of development and the perceived abandonment by the government is associated with their religion and so they need to fight for their ‘right. If I was a leader, say the President of Republic of Kenya, I would initiate development projects in such areas that will boost the living standards and welfare of the locals in general. This includes but not limited to, improving infrastructure like roads, building of auxiliary services such as banks that creates employment, and shifting the focus of the locals from subsistence agriculture dependency to modern agriculture and industrialization. This aims in bailing out the arrested development in such areas. By doing this, the residents of such areas will feel part of the nation’s plans and in turn, it will greatly reduce and eventually end such kind of recruitments and radicalization.
Then, there is genocide and ethnic based conflict. This normally arises when different ethnic groups in a society develop a false sense of being dominant over the others, be it socially, politically or economically. Genocide in Rwanda is a perfect picture of how ugly this can turn. The murder of over 800,000 people and 2 million others turned refugees, exacerbated what had already become a full-blown humanitarian crisis. One group incites its members in stimulating fear and anger towards the “enemy”, the other groups, triggering a war. As seen in the Rwanda case, the war was started by the majority, those that led the government. Fighting has never and will never be the solution to peace.
As much as the introduction of the International Criminal Court can be a means of punishing war perpetrators, my kind of leadership will focus on obsolescing the existing strategies that only cares for ending war, and build a completely new model that will look to prevent the beginning to all wars. I will direct my attention to finding solutions to political issues within our own circle and not importing peace from outside mediators. This involves local peace building activities through creating a common ground that sprouts a common agenda that unites the people. Main focus will be on issues outside the source of conflict, like Education and sports.
Dictatorial and monarch-like form of governments is another major point of contention in Africa. Hunger for power and undemocratic leadership is a common thing in Africa. From failure to concede defeat, staying in power beyond the required constitutional limits, to passing leadership to their next of kin, are some of the scenes we witness in Africa. Such old vices are a great hindrance to peace and security in Africa as it creates political instability. Historically, countries known to have upheld democracy have benefited as far as political stability is concerned.
My kind of leadership will ensure that the citizens are actively involved in the running of the country, mainly through observing the democratic processes and respecting the outcome of such processes. I would in the same time encourage coalition or an all-inclusive government that ensures all stakeholders of the nation be it the citizens, civil societies, the opposition, or any other societal group are well represented in the government and I will respect their roles in running of the nation.
Again, there must be disarmament. Most people and groups in Africa own deathly weapons obtained from either the black markets or handed in by their political leaders. Talk of terrorist groups like Boko-haram or Al-shabaab and the bandits groups across Africa. Such groups own firepower enough to destabilize a country and throw its peace and security into disarray. I would stop this by asking people to either voluntary surrender their weapons to the government or be forcefully disarmed and legal action taken against them.
This will also include shutting down the black markets and restricting manufacture of weapons to only government agencies. By doing this, the number of weapons available or readily accessible to the mass is reduced. In turn, conflict aided by the ownership of these weapons is greatly reduced. I will introduce policies that govern small arms and weapons to ensure that as much as people will be allowed to own such arms for their personal security, strict terms and policies are enacted to control their usage.
Restructuring and empowering the African Union is another way that peace and security can be enhanced in Africa. Currently I do believe that the African Union is not serving its purpose. It is more of a ceremonial entity than actually an active setup that can help in maintaining peace in Africa. In 2007 after the general elections in Kenya, violence broke loose and what followed were deaths of more than a thousand people and other hundreds of thousands displaced. Regrettably African union did not efficiently take a step to stabilize the situation either by sending the AMISOM or quick mediation.
Currently most African Countries are engaged in different conflicts that may not be in place if the African Union functions were significant enough .If I was a president of an African country, I would propose a motion in the African Union assembly that will seek to give real powers to the union, that would be exercised when such conflicts break out.
Therefore, us people of Africa should not wait for our peace and security to be tormented in order for us to appreciate it. Never should we trade our liberty, for once we do we compromise both our freedom and security. So why should we, in the first place, risk the peace and freedom that our founding fathers suffered a great deal retrieving it? Isn’t this the greatest betrayal in the history of life in this planet? Whenever we find ourselves in darkness, our leaders should be first in line to spread the light that will drive out the darkness, as darkness can never drive out darkness. “Instead of hatred and revenge we choose reconciliation and nation building”, this are the words of Nelson Mandela whose sacrifice and suffering for the greater good of South Africa need not be explained or compared to any other. And so Africa, we either live in peace and maintain our security or else conflicts will tear and leave us in pieces.