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In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) peacekeepers are trapped in the middle of the fight. Checkpoints are all over the North Kivu province and the UN personnel are not exempt from interrogation. The UN peacekeepers are forced to live with a precarious relationship with the various warring factions in the DRC, including the government army. The DRC's current government army is just a conglomerate of merged rebel armies and so there does not exist a common identity. You never know who you may have to deal with at a checkpoint. Recently a rebel leader in North Kivu surrendered to the UN forces. Kabila has given the green light to loyal troops to engage and disarm rebel General Nkundu. The recent fighting between government forces and rebels probably caused the small rebel group of about 30 to surrender. The resurgence of fighting has also brough with it human rights abuses. From 2005 - 2007, over 258 cases of rape were recorded along with 14,200 cases of sexual violence. Less than one percent of these made it to court. The UN Independent Expert on human rights has called for an end to the impunity of sexual violence cases and urged Kabila to take up a 'zero-tolerance' policy.
The conflict in the DRC is nothing new to the region. I would argue that the conflict began well before the assassination of the democratically elected leader, Lumumba, in 1961 and has only grown from there. After Lumumba was assassinated Mobutu Sese Seko gained power and ruled terribly for the next 32 years. He was overthrown by rebellion in 1997 by Laurent Kabila, who leader of the prominent rebel group. Unable to bring peace, Kabila faced his own rebel opposition until he was assassinated in 2001. Intense turmoil resumed in the DRC following Kabila's assassination, sparking a six country war including Rwanda and Uganda. In 2002 a peace deal was signed to officially end the DRC conflict, 17,000 UN troops were deployed and yet the conflict continues. In 2006 Laurent's son Joseph Kabila was elected in a tense, yet democratic and free election. Joseph Kabila faces opposition from his father's rule (as well as support from his father's popularity), calls that he is not Congolese - that his mother was Rwandan and he is not from the DRC, along with calls of corruption in his administration. When Joseph was born in Eastern Congo he was sent to live in hiding pretending to be part of a Tanzanian ethnic group. Later he recieved military training in China, which helps in the exploitation of the DRC's vast resources. J. Kabila has been able to broker a written peace, but how well can he create peace in reality?
Learning from the past and taking lessons from history are what we often pride ourselves in doing. Our elementary and high school teachers would often use this phrase when referring to wars and conflicts, strategies and crises, mistakes and wrong-doings. We work so often in history courses to note that great leaders learned or did not learn from past actions. What can be said now for the our current leaders?
Many times I hear that I am fighting a losing battle here in the US trying to get people to care about providing access to basic healthcare in Africa because 'Africans' don't care. I am told that the African people who I am trying to help are not at all trying to help themselves, so why do I bother? Now you see this claim could not be more bogus. Just looking back at the history of African action in the news media it is easy to see that 'Africans' care. Recently I came across a WireTap article on African Activism which provides numerous examples of people in Africa working towards progress.
From: !Enough: the project to abolish genocide + mass atrocities -
Dissident Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda's more than 3,000 loyal forces have carved out control of parts of North Kivu Province. The Congolese government has responded by realigning itself with the FDLR -- a militia composed of more than 6,000 Rwandan Hutu rebels, many with links to the 1994 genocide in their home country -- to fight Nkunda's more effective force. This threatens to draw Rwanda back into Congo's conflict, which would lead to rapid escalation and potentially plunge Congo back into regional war.
Welcome to neverland! This is the place where you can never grow up. Float away with Peter Pan and the rights of indigenous people. Live the rest of your days under the fantastical sun and steal the knowledge and resources of people who are almost forced to give them up for need of capital to survive. Bio-piracy has been prevalent since the first conquests of Africa. We still have much to learn from Africa. There is a expansive bio-resource wealth left untapped. And as many begin calling for a Green Revoultion for Africa, the accusations of bio-piracy and the breaking of intellectual property rights multiplies.
Today marks the forty-seventh year anniversary of Nigeria. I wanted to examine how my father's country had advance in relation to an African value system. Had we as a nation monopolized upon available resources? Thinking about the political and economic system I found an article on allAfrica.com that speaks to the subject.
Nosike Ogbuenyi traces Nigeria 's mixed political experience from independence in 1960 to this day. One hundred years ago, there was no country in the world called Nigeria. Nigeria as one country came into existence in 1914 when the British colonial administrator, Lord Frederick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates to form the country.
Our long time allies, in this day is added to the long list of former friends, the french have not surprisingly been turned away by the near idiotic foreign policies of the Bush Administration. However, yet again we stand to learn a lesson from the French. The newly elected leader of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is setting a shining example of a how to build a foreign policy with meaning. Even as the leader of a former colonial power, he is showing the US how to have a policy in the African continent that is not all words. A policy that is not bent on capitalist gains and military conquest in the name of fighting terrorism.
Since my last visit to the White House webpage on the current "Africa Policy" not much has changed. Our current administration still lumps all African countries together and creates one broad policy to deal with all African governments. On the site there is a list of President Bush's "Africa Accomplishments and Initiatives." They include meeting with 25 African Heads of State, visiting Africa in his first term, providing the greatest level of monetary assistance, and promoting health, development, and peace & stability. Possibly a great list, but it all has to put into context. We need to look at what was discussed with African Heads of State, where he visited in Africa, what restrictions there are on his 'development' funding, and what constitutes peace and stability promotion?
We are back again to the age old debate of language and the way it is used - this time however the consequences are much greater. Genocide, how do you define it? In a Slate News, Senator Obama's comments are noted when referring to genocide. The article, titled "Getting comfy with genocide", gets deep into the definition of genocide and the consequences of our current use of the term.