The year 2008, like other previous ones, ended with little hope of ending conflicts in the most troublesome regions on the African continent.
The horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region continue to be embroiled in conflicts and wars, despite all initiatives by the international community to end them.
The Horn of Africa is a region continuously in crisis. There is virtually civil war in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. Sudan is in conflict and the violence is taking genocide proportions and definition.
In fact, there are four major conflicts currently raging in the Horn of Africa. The deadliest one in this region is the long time Somali civil war, in which militia groups fight themselves with a mixed bag of agendas, but so disorganised to come to terms of ending the conflict for the common good of the Somalis.
Somali factions continue to jostle for control of key towns, ports, and agricultural areas— with the reconstruction of national government still a distant dream.
Ethiopia and Eritrea are engaged in a fratricidal feud in which thousands of soldiers perish each time there are major confrontations on their common-contested border.
Finally, the Sudan government supports the so-called Jan jaweed, who are systematically massacring the innocent civilians in Dafur.
Is there any hope to end the conflicts in the Horn of Africa? There is little hope especially that unique issues of justice and international law may be at stake, but common structural causes, including militaristic legacies, economic competition, power struggles, and identity fault lines fuel the initiation and continuation of war.
The path to peace in the Horn therefore will be long and fraught with numerous obstacles.
Africa’s Great Lakes region has also in the recent years experienced political strife, armed conflict and population displacements with severe humanitarian consequences.
The Great Lakes Region, which comprises of Burundi, Uganda the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania, have had long time cancer of civil wars.
Of course, the latter country has been a victim due to its proximity to the war ravaged areas. The regional conflict in the Great Lakes continues to affect the lives of millions of people.
The peace process in the DRC is ongoing but has largely stalled without the cooperation from the protagonists and as a result, conflict is not ending.
There is however, likelihood that the fresh talks between the DRC and Rwanda may end the long-term conflict. Otherwise, there is little chance that the humanitarian situation in conflict-affected areas will improve.
The African continent continues to suffer more, especially in West Africa where the ‘Guineas’ have made coup d’etas the order of the day. It was Guinea Bissau the other day and it is now Guinea Conakry.
Look at the recent military take over of power in Guinea Conakry by an army captain. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has always condemned military coups as a barrier and a fundamental obstacle to democracy, but has done nothing to contain the situation.
This part of the continent therefore, remains politically volatile and puts the whole region on a roadmap to both political and economic collapse.
How can Africa be saved from conflicts and wars? The answer lies within the leadership of respective nations. Any solution to African problems must be from Africa.
The unfortunate thing has always been the fact that, we seek the so-called international community to come to our rescue, whenever our own ‘brothers and sisters’ threaten us.
They (Western powers) cannot help us because they do not know the causes of our conflicts and are actually not interested in handling them. They come because they are paid, can access more natural resources, as we stupidly kill and maim each other.
Africans will remain in perpetual conflicts as long as they continue to call the West to solve the problems they create. The most troubled region of Africa, be it the Horn, Great Lakes and West Africa, have all invited the West (UN), without success.
Let the year 2009 start with new understanding that paves way for Africans to solve their own problems. Enough is enough and if one has not been taught by his or her intelligence, then the experience we have can do.