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Africa in Crisis- The Merged Superthread

Bruce Monkhouse

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http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/558490

Toronto Star
Dec 28, 2008
Gilbert Ndikubwayezu

It was the day after Col. Théoneste Bagosora, the architect of the Rwandan genocide, was convicted of war crimes.
I was attending a Christmas party, for which I have come to realize Canadians are famous.
And this somewhat aggressive man approached me with many questions about Rwanda. Someone had already told him I am a Rwandan doing a journalism internship in Canada.
Before I could answer his first question, he pointed his finger and demanded: "Are you a Tutsi or Hutu?"
For some seconds, I lost sight of my surroundings. I actually forgot the crowd of people at the party and I prepared to give him a lesson of the life of my country.
It is a lesson I have already had to give to some others.

The Rwanda of today belongs to Rwandans – not Hutus or Tutsis.
Indeed, in my country it is an offence to ask anyone if he or she is Tutsi or Hutu. The government itself has resolved that any mention of tribal background should be eliminated from any official document.
My sense was that many Canadians should know this fact.

Yet, since my arrival here two months ago, I realize they don't. And so, I get asked this question often. And every time it is asked, I get really angry.
It bothers me how some Canadians seem centred on the negative side of things in my country. I am hardly asked about the rate of performance in schools or the numbers going to universities or the many new buildings.
Yes, some Canadians do know positive things about Rwanda and express a concern about my country.

I have also come to learn many are aware of Gen. Roméo Dallaire, the former head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda.
For me, meeting Dallaire brought mixed emotions.
First, I felt sorry for him, for he was so betrayed by his own organization, the United Nations, which chose to withdraw from Rwanda at a time when he needed more military support to accomplish his mission.

But as a Rwandan I have always wondered about the total failure of the UN to stop the genocide.
In fact, I have since wondered if the UN sends peacekeeping missions just to fail. If so, then why does it have to exist, I ask myself.
When I was growing up, I thought the UN could be the most powerful organization in the world. But time has told me a different story.
At the Christmas party, I made the same argument to this man, a retired university professor who attaches much importance to Canada's separatist issue.
I told him it was the Belgians in 1933 who first introduced a mandatory identity card revealing the bearer's ethnicity.

Then, I pulled out my own Rwandan identity card.
I am very proud of it. It looks just like a Canadian ID, it is very modern and bears no ethnic reference.
I showed it to him as proof that he had no right to ask me that question about my ethnic tribe.
Later, he said it was good that he could learn about the Rwanda of today and how different it is.

I think this man was taken aback by my strong words. The force of his questions slowed down as he discovered how important this is to me.
Sometimes people think they know – when they don't.
And they don't realize their uncontrolled desire to know too much can offend.

Gilbert Ndikubwayezu is a Rwandan journalist in Canada on a three-month journalism internship.
 

Greymatters

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Stereotyping is wonderful - apparently all Canadians are now acting like Americans...  ;)
 

old medic

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Congo says Ugandan rebels on run, fleeing toward Central African Republic
By Associated Press
January 2, 2009
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) —
Ugandan rebels accused of killing hundreds of Congolese civilians are fleeing a joint offensive by three African armies and heading toward Central African Republic, Congo's government said Friday.

The coalition of forces from Congo, Uganda and Sudan has "completely destroyed" the rebel positions in northeast Congo's Garamba National Park, government spokesman Lambert Mende said.

But not all of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group's bases have been entirely dismantled, he said, calling the offensive "80 percent successful" three weeks after it was launched.

The Lord's Resistance Army has waged one of Africa's longest and most brutal wars for the last two decades. In the past, aid and rights groups have accused the rebels of cutting off the lips of civilians and forcing thousands of children to serve as soldiers or sex slaves. The conflict has spilled into Sudan and Congo, which suffered back-to-back civil wars from 1996 to 2002 that drew neighboring countries into what became a rush to plunder Congo's massive mineral wealth.

Since Dec. 25 in northeastern Congo, the Ugandan rebels have killed more than 400 people in a series of massacres, according to Catholic charity group Caritas, which cited its staff in the region. Caritas said its employees identified the rebels by their dreadlocked hair and Acholi language.

The rebel group and Ugandan government have accused each other in the past of being behind attacks in the remote area of Congo.

Central African Republic, informed by Congo of the rebels' approach, has deployed soldiers along its border to prevent the rebels from crossing, Mende said.

Officials and witnesses said Lord's attackers hacked scores of people to death as the victims were seeking refuge at a Catholic church on Dec. 26, and the United Nations initially said the rebels had killed at least 189 people in three area villages on two recent days.

Long-running peace talks between the Lord's Resistance Army and Uganda's government have stalled. Rebel leaders have sought guarantees they will not be arrested under international warrants. The rebels' elusive leader, Joseph Kony, and other top members are wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 

tomahawk6

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Africa in general and the Congo specifically is a quagmire. The UN doesnt want to withdraw from a mission because it helps to generate funding and provide proof that the UN is "doing something" it doesnt make any difference that their missions dont do much for the local people or the economy.
 

PanaEng

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tomahawk6 said:
Africa in general and the Congo specifically is a quagmire. The UN doesnt want to withdraw from a mission because it helps to generate funding and provide proof that the UN is "doing something" it doesnt make any difference that their missions dont do much for the local people or the economy.
That's the thing, they could be doing something for the locals if it was managed properly, given the resources necessary and had more teeth. Most missions are a mishmash of countries with no equipment or incompatible C2; soldiers lacking training and discipline - with a few exceptions. Most missions in Africa are short of about 1/3 to 2/3 of the mandated capacity which to start with is very optimistic for the task. That can only happen if more countries do their part - if it wasn't for US money and resources the whole organization would collapse.

Anyway, just my $0.02

cheers,
Frank
 

Command-Sense-Act 105

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Frank, I think you're bang on but for one thing.  Exchange "missions in Africa" for "all UN missions" and add in the parts about mismanagement, over-rankedness and lack of focus by the participants... :p
 

George Wallace

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Reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act.  (Title is link to article.)

Journalists freed from Somalia; Canadian still missing


Two journalists on assignment for London's Daily Telegraph newspaper were released Sunday after being held captive in Somalia for nearly six weeks, but the whereabouts of a Canadian journalist who was abducted last August are still unknown.


CTV.ca News Staff

Correspondent Colin Freeman, 39, and Spanish photographer Jose Cendon, 34, were on assignment in the African country to investigate the increase in pirate attacks that have plagued the shipping industry in the Gulf of Aden.

The two had completed their assignment and were on their way back to England on Nov. 26 when they were abducted by bodyguards, who were escorting them to the airport in Boosaaso, according to a story published on the newspaper's website.

Freeman and Cendon were held captive in the mountains southwest of Boosaaso and were moved from cave to cave so their abductors could hide from the authorities, as well as rival gangs.

Both men said they were treated well by their captors and are in good mental and physical health.

"We survived on rice, goat meat and Rothmans," Freeman told the Telegraph. "I gave up smoking in 1992 and somehow decided now would be a good time to start up again."

Editors at the paper became concerned after the pair notified them that they were travelling to the airport and then did not check in again.

When another media outlet reported that two journalists had been kidnapped in Somalia, staff at the Telegraph Media Group informed authorities in both England and Somalia that the two were in the country.

Staff formed a crisis management team to co-ordinate communication between Telegraph staff members, government officials and the families of the two men.

The company did not confirm if a ransom had been paid for the safe return of the journalists or offer details on exactly how their release was negotiated.

On Sunday, both journalists flew out of Somalia to Nairobi, Kenya. They were accompanied by Spain's ambassador to Nairobi Nicolas Martin Cinto, who negotiated on behalf of the two men.

Foreign journalists and aid workers are at a high risk for being abducted for ransom in Somalia, an almost lawless country in the Horn of Africa. It does not have a stable central government and is mired in violence as rival clans fight for power and influence.

In August, Alberta freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped along with Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan as they travelled to a refugee camp in Elasha, which is about 18 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu.

Lindhout, 27, had been working for French TV station France 24, and had previously reported from Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout Africa.

Lindhout's captors demanded a ransom of more than $2 million in early September, and footage broadcast on Arab television station Al Jazeera later that month showed Lindhout and Brennan seemingly in good health.


With files from The Associated Press

 

Edward Campbell

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Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, is an opinion piece on Zimbabwe and our much touted Responsibility to Protect:
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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090104.wcozimbabwe05/BNStory/specialComment/home

We must save Zimbabweans from more rape and violence

ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO AND JULIO MONTANER

From Monday's Globe and Mail
January 4, 2009 at 9:30 PM EST

Maiba is in her late 40s. More than 20 children live under her care – her own children and those of her deceased siblings. In June, she was captured, gang-raped and severely beaten by youth militia, members of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party, as punishment for saying she had no food to give them. Afterward, they literally dragged her home and ransacked her house. She said what hurt her most was knowing that her attackers were young enough to be her sons. She said they threatened to kill her if she talked to the police, but she talked anyway. She felt she was already dead.

In the weeks before the sexual torture of Maiba (not her real name), there was still no clear winner from Zimbabwe's March 29 election, and President Robert Mugabe's future was in jeopardy. We have since seen a presidential runoff that ostensibly ended in a tie, months of power-sharing talks obstructed by Mr. Mugabe's lust for absolute authority, the terrible spectacle of a country disintegrating, assorted toothless bleating from world leaders. Meanwhile, the people of Zimbabwe, particularly the women, have been bloodied and broken under a nationwide campaign of sexual violence, meticulously orchestrated during the election period to maintain Mr. Mugabe's control. They endure intimidation, rape, torture, murder, the spectre of HIV – and the fear of more to come.

At the request of a Zimbabwean women's and children's rights group, the international advocacy organization AIDS-Free World has been collecting testimonies. But as we scramble to document the crimes and preserve evidence for future legal proceedings, we are deluged with warning signs that the violence is about to boil over again.

Zimbabwe is a very loudly ticking time bomb. Health care and education are distant memories. Patients on HIV drugs can no longer get them. Cholera rages. Human-rights activists disappear for weeks on end while the government claims ignorance of their whereabouts. Prominent activist Jestina Mukoko was recently abducted, discovered alive in government custody 21 days later, “disappeared” again when police defied a High Court order to release her to hospital, then held again, charged with plotting against the government.

In November, we learned from rights groups that the women raped between May and June, systematically and on orders of the government, number in the many hundreds and perhaps thousands. Interviews with survivors show clear patterns in the timing of the attacks, in the verbal threats against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, in the organized ways that groups of men methodically confiscated MDC materials, in the method of rampaging through homes, abducting the women and brutalizing them at “torture bases” for hours or days.

Testimony has been handed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. An urgent letter was faxed to members of the Security Council, which met but took no action. It's time for the UN to do its job – because, we can assure you, the siege against women is about to resume.

Rape is a simple, covert, inexpensive way to terrorize and silence not just women, but through them their men and communities. The infrastructure is in place: a clear command structure for deploying ZANU-PF militia and extensive lists of female MDC supporters. All the “youth militia” loyalists need is an order to act.

It need not happen. Although the people of Zimbabwe have been rendered powerless, the leaders of the world have unanimously agreed that UN member states have a responsibility to protect when a government is unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens from precisely these sort of threats.

Member states have legions of experts on peace and justice at their disposal. They could decide to send peacekeepers to Zimbabwe. They could further ostracize Mr. Mugabe. They could appoint a new negotiator to work out a viable power-sharing arrangement. They could let women into those negotiations, since women are bearing the most extreme brunt of the crisis.

It's not for us to decide. But it is for us – for all of us – to remind our elected leaders of their responsibility to protect. For the raped women of Zimbabwe, for the people of Zimbabwe and for us, so we can stand without shame.

Angélique Kidjo of Benin is a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Batonga Foundation.

Dr. Julio Montaner is president of the International AIDS Society and director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Both serve on the advisory board of AIDS-Free World.

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I’m afraid that it will be pointless to:

• “Send peacekeepers” – to keep what ‘peace?’ This is a law enforcement matter and Zimbabwe has no law enforcement because it is a lawless state, a totally, completely failed state. “Peace’ isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom of a deeper problem: barbarism;

• “Further ostracize Mr. Mugabe” – how could that be done. He is, already, despised by 99% of the world’s leaders and he knows it and doesn’t care because he has no conscience; or

• “Appoint a new negotiator” – unless he comes with hangman’s noose and the unfettered authority to string up Robert Mugabe and several of his followers.

That Zimbabwe, like almost all of Black Africa, has fallen/is falling into poverty, despair and chaos – exacerbated by ignorance and disease, is no secret. The solutions, however, are elusive. They may require some renewed form of UN sanctioned and supervised trusteeship – but the trustees cannot be Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain or the USA. Countries like Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Norway or Singapore might be both able and acceptable but I doubt any would be willing.

Who’s left that is able and might be willing? Brazil? China? India? Japan? Aided, maybe, by Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines?

But who is going to do the necessary spade work? – which will, almost certainly in my opinion, involve redrawing Africa’s international boundaries to address too many festering ethnic sores.  That will need the American led West, including Canada.

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Mods:
would you consider merging this with: Into Africa? The Congo; The Rwanda Thread and maybe even Somali Pirates to form a new thread called, maybe They’re Rioting in Africa
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... no on second thought how about calling it something more PC like Africa in Crisis?

Thanks, in advance.

 

George Wallace

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Edward

This is good commentary, and I think it should remain as a topic on its own.  In fact, with the changing face of Africa, we may have to merge all topics on Zimbabwe into one,  all topics on Sudan/Darfur into another, etc. so that we can more easily track developments.

Zimbabwe's decline into poverty, from being "Africa's Breadbasket" and one of Africa's most advanced nations, creates quite an imbalance and fosters more tensions and decline amongst surrounding states.  It may be cause for the "Western nations" to withdraw completely from Africa in fear of being sucked into a bottomless quagmire and spreading Africa's problems outside of Africa.  It may be a case of stepping back and letting them sort themselves out, and then thinking of giving them assistance once they have.  It would appear that all our good intentions so far have been for naught.
 

Old Sweat

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I suggest that China is the likely candidate to step in and enjoy the fruits of Mugabe's perverted labour. India might be another contender, but I think they are a distant second. The Chinese have been dabbling in Africa for four decades with some success - they gained a foothold in Tanzania in the sixties, resulting in the Canadian army training team there being booted out - and have been able to forestall western attempts to resolve nastiness in places like Darfur.

It is, in my opinion, recklessly simplistic to imagine that the west will be able to do anything as long as the Chinese are able to exercise a veto on the UNSC. Unilateralism or a coaltion of the willing is probably a non-starter without big power sponsorship, and I wonder if the US or anyone else would want to confront China over an area that is not vital to its interests.
 

Edward Campbell

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George Wallace said:
Edward

This is good commentary, and I think it should remain as a topic on its own ... Zimbabwe's decline into poverty, from being "Africa's Breadbasket" and one of Africa's most advanced nations, creates quite an imbalance and fosters more tensions and decline amongst surrounding states.  It may be cause for the "Western nations" to withdraw completely from Africa in fear of being sucked into a bottomless quagmire and spreading Africa's problems outside of Africa ...

Which is little differnt from Niger's decline into poverty and Ghana's decline into poverty and Kenya's decline into poverty, and, and, and, ad infinitum. They are all as one in Black Africa, they are all related - one cannot, for example, sensibly discuss Rwanda qua Rwanda and Congo qua Congo because they are all one big place or, more properly, perhaps, the two big places ought to be ten small places. The borders between Congo and Rwanda have everything to do with the Belgian and French colonial experiences and nothing at all to do with the realities of Africa - nothing beyond being part of the problem. We must see Black Africa as a single whole and we, in Army.ca, should discuss it in one, comprehensive thread.

Darfur (and maybe Somalia) may require (a) separate page(s) because the problems go beyond ethnicity and involve a Muslim vs infidels conflict, too.

George Wallace said:
Edward

...  It would appear that all our good intentions so far have been for naught.

Our 'good intentions' are rarely 'good' and come to naught because they are, usually, poorly implemented. The only products that many Black African states can produce cheaply and efficiently are textiles. Want to guess which North American products enjoy the amongst the highest levels of tariff 'protection?' You got it: textiles. Want to really help Africa? Reduce the tariffs on textiles. Want to lose votes in QC? Reduce the tariffs on textiles? Good intentions? Guess again.


Mods: Please reconsider. Black Africa is one BIG problem and it's going to get bigger. Africa's artificial borders are part of the problem; Army.ca's artificial boundaries between threads make it more difficult to discuss the ONE BIG problem. 
 

Reccesoldier

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While I agree with Edward that Africa is one big problem perhaps a separate sub forum for all things Africa could be set up in the Politics section?
 

Edward Campbell

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Zip said:
While I agree with Edward that Africa is one big problem perhaps a separate sub forum for all things Africa could be set up in the Politics section?


Our "Politics section" is, currently, the "Canadian Politics" section and while there is, certainly, a Canadian political aspect to the Africa problem, Africa is a world strategic (political, economic, social, military, humanitarian) problem.

Just adding one more thread can only to exacerbate the problem for Army.ca users as we scatter bits of information thither and yon, hoping that some magical, all seeing eye, will make everything clear.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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I merged a couple of the threads together but I did not put the "Somali Pirates" topic in as the 33 pages there would overwhelm this thread, and to be truthful, I don't think an organized crime ring is really just an "African" problem.
 

CougarKing

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Bruce Monkhouse said:
I merged a couple of the threads together but I did not put the "Somali Pirates" topic in as the 33 pages there would overwhelm this thread, and to be truthful, I don't think an organized crime ring is really just an "African" problem.

Thank you Bruce. Still, perhaps it is about time the title of the Somalia pirates thread be changed to "Modern piracy" to account for pirates in other parts of the world such as the Malacca Strait and elsewhere?
 

Reccesoldier

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Speaking of Zimbabwe, I have been emailing a guy there who is into all things ZDF this is his website, and he has informed me that last year according to the Zimbabwe hansard that Mugabe and his thugs spent 90 million dollars on new equipment purchases for the year ending 2007.  No not 90 million Zim dollars either (that'd barely buy you a loaf of bread!)

 
S

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Nations, regions, and ethnicities have various strengths and weaknesses.

It is not the case that the British, for example, do not excel at bureacracy.

It is not the case that Africa has a lack of a labor pool, or people unwilling to go to war as deemed necessary.

It is not the case that Europeans are lacking in inventiveness and operational and management skills, and infrastructure development vision.

One thing that would be helpful for Africa is if the groups that are strong in the areas where Africa is weak were to invest in Africa with infrastructure, bureacracy, rule of law, management and future vision. What would expedite this would be if the Africans knew they were going to receive the bulk of the benefit for providing the overwhelming majority of the labor, which, to my mind, has not historically been the case.

From what I know of Africa, it is generally the technology- and infrastructure-heavy players that get the VAST majority of the benefit from whatever projects they emplace, while the African workers themselves get as little as is humanly possible that the employers can get away with.

Of course, it is the same in the North America, I have found. The difference is that here, we have laws and such to make it so my employer, who is charing 100 dollars an hour for my services, can't just pay me ten cents a day and expect me to be worshipfully grateful. Whatever little they can get away with paying, however, they tend to do.

Africans are less likely, from what I have seen, to remain subservient little production robots and accept it as their lot in life. There are more constructive ways of expressing it, but they periodically express their disgust with the status quo, and do so violently.

If, instead of regarding our neighbour as being a tool to be bought, used, and discarded at the lowest cost possible, we looked to the long term and worked at building sustainable societies, we, the non-Africans, might have a more positive impact in Africa.

Treating it like a gold mine where the main goal is wealth extraction at any and all costs in human suffering is something of which most people, including Africans, take a very dim view.

Just because I have, due to whatever nation into which I am born, more knowledge, and I am better educated, and live in a place with more advantages doesn't give me some God-given right to make virtual slaves of other men, depriving them of a hope for a future while extracting maximum productivity from them before casting them, like empty husks, to the wind, when I no longer deem them sufficiently useful.

And that, historically, has been the way Africans have been treated, in Africa, by non-Africans.

Just because you can get away with it, for a while, does not make it good, right, proper, or sustainable.
 

MarkOttawa

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Further to this reply by E.R. Campbell on the Munk Debate on Humanitarian Intervention (Rick Hillier and John Bolton vs Mia Farrow and Gareth Evans)
http://forums.milnet.ca/forums/threads/58983/post-789641.html#msg789641
here's video of the debate (one hour and forty-five minutes):
http://cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=template&act=view3&pagetype=vod&lang=e&clipID=2236

Other relevant links:
http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/
http://www.munkdebates.com/

Posts of mine on Congo (mentioned in the debate) and Darfur:
http://toyoufromfailinghands.blogspot.com/2008/06/just-say-no-to-congo.html
http://www.damianpenny.com/archived/012005.html

Mark
Ottawa
 

PanaEng

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Brings to mind the writings of the leader of the opposition:
The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror, Princeton University Press, 2004 (2003 Gifford Lectures)

cheers,
Frank
 
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