Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, has declared that he will lead the war in his country against the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) whom he has declared a terrorist organisation. Abiy declared the war last year, hoping for a quick victory; it was not to be.
Meanwhile tens of thousands of people have since reportedly been killed, more than two million have been displaced from their homes. More than eight million people need urgent humanitarian assistance. Upwards of sixty thousand people have fled into Sudan as refugees.
Horror stories, when such stories manage to leak out, confirm that fear, hunger, thirsty, lack of medicines, torture, rape and violence against civilians are the daily lived experience of the majority of people today in the northern region of Ethiopia. Famously, Abiy himself once said “War is the epitome of hell”.
This war has now exploded well beyond its presumed immediate causes and has ripped open all the ethnic, regional, religious and other similar festering wounds in Ethiopia. Until a few days ago, reports sipping out of Ethiopia were that the TDF and their constellation were less than 220km away from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
As I write this, fresh reports seem to suggest that Abiy’s decision to go to the war front is paying off for the Ethiopian Federal Army – thousands of fresh recruits have joined the Ethiopian army, morale seems to have been boosted in the federal forces, and the TDF and their allies have either been forced out of territory they had captured, or they have voluntarily retreated (as their Commander has announced publicly)
Sudan is going through a violent zig zag dance with the military which is not willing to hand over power to a civilian government, obviously until most of its core interests are secured, probably including immunity from prosecution for the genocide the Sudan has suffered.
In South Sudan the euphoria of “independence” has long dried up and been replaced by violent divisions in the army, civil war and the ongoing struggles to end the violence and create a government that would confront the challenges of hunger confronting more than seven million South Sudanese and the attendant poverty associated with this level of hunger.
Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, has just recently joined forces with Felix Tshisekedi, president of a collapsed DRC, to fight the most lethal and ruthless armed groups operating in the mineral-rich eastern DRC, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). This group has its origins in Uganda and has a history of opposing and fighting Museveni. Apparently Tshisekedi has authorised Ugandan troops to enter DRC territory in pursuit of the ADF.
The world watched and did virtually nothing as more than six million people died in the DRC over the period from when Mobutu was removed from power, to when Laurent Kabila was shot. Laurent Kabila who replaced Mobutu, suffered the usual problems anyone who uses foreign forces to win power must expect; to be a faithful puppet of your military backers or suffer death when you become too big headed.
Laurent Kabila complicated an already complex and violent situation in the DRC by importing into it the problems of Ruanda, Uganda and Burundi thereby turning large parts of the country into war zones with the combatants usually simply using the DRC as a theatre for their national conflicts.
There is a thread running through this, and all the ongoing wars in Africa today: the humiliating extreme poverty of the lives of the civilian populations in all these countries (in the DRC for example, roughly 6 out of every 7 citizens live on very little and starve every day, they suffer extreme poverty by any measure) meanwhile all these countries are natural wealth rich countries.
Africa is a rich continent. Africa has extremely poor leaders. Which brings me to South Africa and Ramaphosa and why Africa is actually a country, one country.
Recently South African scientists announced the existence of a new variant of the covid virus, now called Omicron. The response was swift from South African imperialist masters: Britain was first off the block: banning flights to and from South Africa. The EU and the US swiftly followed. This has major implications especially for the South African tourism industry which is heavily dependent over the festive season on European and American tourists.
As it happens, Cyril Ramaphosa is currently visiting several African countries to promote South African capitalism on the African continent. He is travelling with a considerable number of his colleagues in the South African government. He has not lost an opportunity in every country to lament the cruelty of the US, the UK and the EU for “punishing South Africa” for doing the right thing – alerting the world immediately South African scientists discovered the new covid variant.
He has been generous enough to assume his African hosts are in solidarity with South Africa over its loss of billions of dollars, pounds and Euros because of the travel bans. As diplomacy dictates, his African hosts have responded by giving him the usual African blank faces when a bully, naughty and truant child gets bullied in retrun.
Four things stand out very clearly from all this: Is it just possible that Omicron might finally be the cure that South Africa needs to get rid of its annual rituals of xenophobic violence largely against the working class from Africa?
The humiliating leper status treatment of South Africa by the UK, US and the EU, could it just be the shock therapy South Africa needed post 1994 to cause it to fully cognise its reality as an African country?
Perhaps more worrisome, why does Ramaphosa and his friends think that capitalism – the ruthless pursuit of private profit and private interests – which historically has reduced Africa into slaves, colonies, neo-colonies and now into impoverished dirty carbon copies of their former colonisers is the answer to Africa’s problems?
In South Africa itself, the most unequal place on Earth, with Whites living in heaven, literally, and Africans in hell, again literally, whose money is he promoting from South Africa to increase its already crippling effects on local economies wherever it has already gone to in Africa?
Africa is a country, one country. Without this profound knowledge, any efforts to promote colonial capitalism will only deepen the poverty and frequency of wars in Africa. The current patchwork of violent impoverished prisons for the Africans called “countries” sadistically crafted by Europeans will never be the basis for moving Africa out of its current predicament. It is worse when the methods attempted to do this are the means by which we have been impoverished – capitalism.
Kwame Nkrumah saw this most obvious of facts when in 1963, on the 25th of April, in present-day war-torn Ethiopia, he pleaded for independent countries in Africa to unite and form a Union of Independent States of Africa as a prelude to full union.
To Ramaphosa, Nkrumah had this powerful advice:
“We have already reached the stage where we must unite or sink into that condition which has made Latin America the unwilling and distressed prey of imperialism after one-and-a-half centuries of political independence. As a continent, we have emerged into independence in a different age, with imperialism grown stronger, more ruthless and experienced, and more dangerous in its international associations. Our economic advancement demands the end of colonialist and neo-colonialist domination of Africa.
But just as we understood that the shaping of our national destinies required of each of us our political independence and bent all our strength to this attainment, so we must recognise that our economic independence resides in our African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement. The unity of our continent, no less than our separate independence, will be delayed, if indeed we do not lose it, by hobnobbing with colonialism. African unity is, above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means. The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round. Is it not unity alone that can weld us into an effective force, capable of creating our own progress and making our valuable contribution to world peace? Which independent African state, which of you here, will claim that its financial structure and banking institutions are fully harnessed to its national development?”
Only when Africa will produce leaders with visions larger than those our colonial masters proscribe for us will Africa emerge out of our carefully crafted poverty and predatory wars. Such a leadership will understand that Africa is one country after all!
Till then, Africans must not let anyone teach them the economic ways of our colonisers!
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