President Kagame left a straight-forward but far-reaching piece of advice during the just concluded Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa. He said that the best way to deal with insecurity on the continent was for African countries to cooperate on all fronts and not leave the responsibilities to outsiders.
He couldn’t have found a better audience for the message because the western part of Africa has been besieged with several serious cases of insecurity. The biggest threat by far is Boko Haram
Word has it that when Boko Haram was founded around 2002, it started as a small Islamic movement that campaigned for the establishment of Sharia Law in Nigeria.
The government ignored warnings of the increasingly militant character of the group and by 2007 it had morphed into a terror machine that today is regarded as one of the deadliest terror groups in the world. Today it has crossed borders and has infested Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
In 2012, a Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali led to the short lived Azawad after the army was driven out. Islamist groups operating in the Sahara joined the fray and in a short span overran three quarters of the country.
Both the above threats were dealt with differently. Despite the slow reaction, when Boko Haram came knocking on the neighbours’ door, the four countries joined forces to counter the threat, and in a short time the terror groups’ wings were clipped, at least to some extent.
In Mali it was a different matter altogether: it took the intervention of France to galvanise some of the West African neighbours to come to its aid and France did all the dirty work.
The two case scenarios should serve as a lesson: when it comes to dealing with insecurity, no country is an island. African countries need not look outside their continent for answers, they have all it takes, but they will first have to wake up.