Africa’s Forever Wars

Welcome to Africa – where “classy” freedom fighters are a thing of the past and who have been replaced with predators. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage….

There is a very simple reason why some of Africa’s bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don’t have much of an ideology; they don’t have clear goals. They couldn’t care less about taking over capitals or major cities — in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes. Today’s rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people’s children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. Look closely at some of the continent’s most intractable conflicts, from the rebel-laden creeks of the Niger Delta to the inferno in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this is what you will find.

What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else — something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you’d like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times’ East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.

I’ve witnessed up close — often way too close — how combat has morphed from soldier vs. soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier vs. civilian. Most of today’s African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they’re predators. That’s why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.

This is the story across much of Africa, where nearly half of the continent’s 53 countries are home to an active conflict or a recently ended one. Quiet places such as Tanzania are the lonely exceptions; even user-friendly, tourist-filled Kenya blew up in 2008. Add together the casualties in just the dozen countries that I cover, and you have a death toll of tens of thousands of civilians each year. More than 5 million have died in Congo alone since 1998, the International Rescue Committee has estimated.

Of course, many of the last generation’s independence struggles were bloody, too. South Sudan’s decades-long rebellion is thought to have cost more than 2 million lives. But this is not about numbers. This is about methods and objectives, and the leaders driving them. Uganda’s top guerrilla of the 1980s, Yoweri Museveni, used to fire up his rebels by telling them they were on the ground floor of a national people’s army. Museveni became president in 1986, and he’s still in office (another problem, another story). But his words seem downright noble compared with the best-known rebel leader from his country today, Joseph Kony, who just gives orders to burn.

Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don’t want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they’ve already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?

The short answer is you don’t. The only way to stop today’s rebels for real is to capture or kill their leaders. Many are uniquely devious characters whose organizations would likely disappear as soon as they do. That’s what happened in Angola when the diamond-smuggling rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was shot, bringing a sudden end to one of the Cold War’s most intense conflicts. In Liberia, the moment that warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor was arrested in 2006 was the same moment that the curtain dropped on the gruesome circus of 10-year-old killers wearing Halloween masks. Countless dollars, hours, and lives have been wasted on fruitless rounds of talks that will never culminate in such clear-cut results. The same could be said of indictments of rebel leaders for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. With the prospect of prosecution looming, those fighting are sure never to give up.

How did we get here? Maybe it’s pure nostalgia, but it seems that yesteryear’s African rebels had a bit more class. They were fighting against colonialism, tyranny, or apartheid. The winning insurgencies often came with a charming, intelligent leader wielding persuasive rhetoric. These were men like John Garang, who led the rebellion in southern Sudan with his Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He pulled off what few guerrilla leaders anywhere have done: winning his people their own country. Thanks in part to his tenacity, South Sudan will hold a referendum next year to secede from the North. Garang died in a 2005 helicopter crash, but people still talk about him like a god. Unfortunately, the region without him looks pretty godforsaken. I traveled to southern Sudan in November to report on how ethnic militias, formed in the new power vacuum, have taken to mowing down civilians by the thousands.

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About limelite001

This is my tribute to highlighting the hyposcrisy in the left and racial world...

Posted on 27 April 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. The author of the article gets an “A” for the title, “Africa's Forever Wars.” I say this because the black tribes have been fighting each other for forever. The title is an accurate description of Africa. However, the author does not seem to understand that this type of African violence spans centuries. It is NOT a new thing. I have never been to Africa; however, from my reading, I understand that Zulu king Shaka completely devastated neighboring black tribes in lands that bordered his kingdom. This was done to “protect” his kingdom and his land and ensure loyalty of the people in his tribe. And this is only one example. The tribes of Africa have always fough each other – and within tribes as well – and it will probably never change.

  2. @ Anon – you are quite correct. The black tribes of South Africa for example(mainly the Xhosa and the Zulu's)attacked and killed fellow tribes – often wiping them out. The level of agression and what they do to their victims has been with us forever. This is ultimately what brought about Apartheid – mainly to keep the tribes apart and to stop the blacks from continuously attacking the white population and stealing from them. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to impose first world standards, their culture usually takes over and they revert to type. There really is no hope for black Africa.

  3. Unfortunately this crazy world will never know just how brilliant and well designed that system called “Apartheid” was for THAT specific situation. If we can ever grow up and stop being politically correct and deal with facts we see the real numbers. How many people died during Apartheid? How much was the GDP? Net imports of food? I bet more people die yearly now than during decades of Apartheid.

  4. Of course cultural behavior doesn't change. Hundreds of years from now, the inherent impulsive and violent behavior of the Negro will still be a subject of lament.

  5. @Anon 08:17 – I think the number that died during Apartheid that was directly attributed to the white led armed forces was less than 1000 (from 1948-1992). All others were killed as a result of black on black violence. Today our murder stats are about 18 000 people per year (that is admitted to and kept record of so it could well be over this). I'll look for the stats and post it soon.

  6. @Joe – the demise of South African whites was that we allowed the blacks into our areas to be used as cheap labor. We should have closed the borders and done our own work. Instead they invaded and used our technology to breed and live longer. And so, the parasite killed the host. America needs to learn from this. You are going the same way by letting the Mexicans into your country as cheap labor and using your first world technology to outbreed and take over. You will become the minority as well and then you can kiss the USA goodbye.

  7. “I have never been to Africa…”

    Says it all.

  8. @Anon – you're not missing much. I was born in Africa but it's no longer my home.

  9. John Knoefler

    Lime Lite you are so right about Mexicans. They are like vermin. I can like mexicans on an individual basis but as a people they are excreble. Where ever they become the majority the bars on the windows are installed, the iron fences in front of the houses, and the crime rate soars. I have personally witnessed gang beatdowns by mexicans on each other while dozons of cops on the same street were too busy with store robberies to even bother with a little hooliganism that is known as a being “jumped in” as a form of gang initiation. The only reason the beating stopped was because the crowd had to avoid my vehicle as I passed and the victim ran away.

  10. President Zuma has thus become an empty egg shell, something like the ostrich eggs being sold at tourist shops with a hole on the one end. No longer the bearer of life or of future prospects; no longer the nation’s moral leader, but a devastated mind living in the perpetuated darkness of an evacuated soul. He has been deprived of all judgement, good or bad, and has to act in accordance with pronouncements as dictated by the Youth League, as verbalised by Julius Malema, that 28 year old little black Hitler, who is a self professed hater of white tendencies, as he puts it.

    Western morality has therefore been thrown out of the window to make way for an African morality. No consideration is given to the fact that the country is home to two different and conflicting civilizations, which demand constant compromises. In any civilised country his latest extra-marital child with a young girl would have cost him his job, but African morality dictates that sex is part of man’s instinctive rights. His 25 children with several women, some his wives, others not, is considered to be testimony of his manhood in a culture where virility makes the man, not his mind. Is it surprising that there are 5,7 million South Africans who are HIV positive?

    A live bull was killed by 25 young men with their bare hands at the marriage ceremony with his third wife earlier this year. This barbaric ritual defied any western notion of animal care or civilized sensitivities. The noise, dust and blood that ensued had to prove that the young blacks have reached manhood – that they should be admired by all.

    Blood, violence and sex maketh the man in that culture, as demonstrated by the cruel torture, rape and murder of more than 3,000 white farmers during the past ten years – nearly one every day! The politicians and police describe these dastardly acts as criminal activities by a poor section of society, but in most cases nothing was stolen other than the lives of civilised and law abiding people.

    The western section of the community, which accounts for more than five million in total, some white, others coloured, must swallow their sentimental notion of a civilised society and sweat it out for the next number of years, awaiting the implosion of this macabre society. Whether the implosion will be accompanied by a violent war or not, will depend on the intervention of that same international society, which removed the white government in 1994.

    Yes, that is a part of Jacob Zuma I never met before. Yes he has taken the country back into Africa.
    Dr Wingard is an energy consultant and retired industrialist, who chaired the Statutory Volkstaat Council from 1994 to 1996. He authored the handbooks Towards a Synfuels Economy and Technology Transfer: an Industry Perspective. In addition to the Global Politician, he has contributed several articles to the South African Financial Press. You can email him at: jwingard@iburst.co.za

  11. Let’s stop with this bullshit white guilt relating to blacks.First of all, they themselves know they are not only uncapable of developing a civilization,modern as we know it,since they never created even their own alphabet,so as a consequence they only produced literature and their own history having to use alphabets introduced by the european colonizers.But they know by experience,that the whites treated them better than their own black rulers.That their voodoo doctors could not be compared to the white doctors,and that the whites brought with them magical wonders(that we call technological gadgets),that couldn“‘t be reproduced by magical thinking.

    If a white man feels ashamed to be considered a racist because he sees himself in a superior stage of civilization compared to a black man,he should then as a logical consequence cut all his links to modern civilization,and turn back to living in nature in an anti-technological society.If he did that I would respect him as a coherent person.But no,as a feeble minded person he has to go on and on and on ,blaming the “cruel white’exploiters” for the misfortunes of the exploited 3d. world people.He knows he is unable to survive in a primitive society,that is the reason for his masochistic self flagelation:mea culpa,mea culpa.

    The black man in contrast laughs at all his mental weakness and take advantage of his guilt complexes,by demanding more and more give me this and that,you are the reason for our poverty,etc,etc.At the end they will be unable to reproduce western civilization as we know it.

    The day that the last white south africans leave the country,is the day that the scapegoat will disappear,and then all the savagery of the niggers will turn against each other.I hope they will slaughter each other by the millions like they do in the rest of Africa.As a white brazilian i know their mentality very well.Don”t be afraid to think or say it.IT IS THE NAKED TRUTH.

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