I am watching a historic documentary on how Egypt and Israel negotiated ownership of Taba enclave, a strip of land that both countries were claiming legal ownership to.
After seven years of contesting, and four years of negotiations and appeals to higher levels, Israel finally conceded todefeat. On another channel is the unfolding civil war in Libya that was fuelled by the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and the unrest in Ivory Coast after unfair elections.
17 years on, Rwanda is commemorating the 1994 genocide, an event that still puzzles humanity on how extreme we can get when we hate so much.
What is interesting here is the way different countries grapple with crises. In the more recent scenarios, whereas Egyptians borrowed a leaf from neighbouring Tunisia with success, it is still an uphill task for Libya and Yemen. The question is, how wise are our countries when we come to making political decisions that impact on our lives?
It shouldn’t be a case of what worked in the past for one country will always apply in to the other, but how best the other’s experience can be applied without antagoniszing one’s own situation.
Popular website Facebook has a way of starting up unintentional social networks with good debates on political issues. On this particular one, the anticipation of the Northern revolutions sweeping down to the South was unusually high. When asked if this wouldn’t bring more harm than good to the now rather peaceful South, the surprising argument was that for any cause, there is a loss. Amidst all the agitation, no one was looking at the potential of the next leader after an uprisinge, the willingness of the mass, the possibility of a major setback in the economy, the suffering of the wananchi, and all the other huge negative impacts that could arise given a different response to a Tunisia like revolution.
This is so typical of the developing nations. Just at the time when a country seems to be finally ‘getting there’, it keeps falling back into the a quagmire. The examples in Africa are endless. But take the case of United Kingdom or the United States for that matter. One cannot be very sure that their voting systems are 100% free and fair.
However, one can be sure that the last thing any of their leaders, pro or anti government, would condone is a civil war, and will probably join forces to fight any external force that might threaten their peace and security. What happens in our case? A little support from some external godfathers is good enough to entice a people into unnecessary strife, without putting into perspective the long-term effects.
But what really is the reason behind this political and social insecurity in developing countries? There is quite some debate on poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, financial insecurity, unfair trade, the list is endless. However, these in my opinion can only have impact if aggravated to a large extent by emotional pain, fear, social need, and the kind of social environment you are coming from. All these aspects in society have to be managed if the political order of any community is to be changed. For those leaders that are logical in their thinking, it would be wise to know when a community is ready to agitate and quickly move to find patriotic solutions regardless of personal grievances.
This is extremely important when there is a strong sense of emotional pain among the community; an aspect that has proven far worse than physical pain. If the previous regime of Rwanda had taken this into consideration, when hundreds of especially Tusti Tutsi refugees were getting agitated, perhaps the war and genocide of 1994 would never have happened or reached the extent it did.
Sometimes, the communities aren’t really bothered except for a few individuals that would wish to otherwise to do so due to personal grievances. These too should not be ignored but managed well, especially since as opportunists, they have the potential to aggravate an otherwise solvable solution to a crisis.
The social environment of the community is also worth noting. Whereas, for example, the Egyptians were able to walk into the line of fire unarmed, the Libyans would rather flee. If the society is composed of many conflicting tribes, chances of increasing disorder are high, especially if the ruling body is disarmed and without appropriate replacement.
Given the ongoing crises in the world, it is quite obvious that the political solutions in one country do not necessarily work in another. Secondly, external support is not always the solution, although it could offer alternatives for conflicting countries or internal crises.
Finally, Africans should learn to own their problems and be willing to put patriotism ahead of individual grievances for political and economic stability. It is high time we stopped being the problem child.