Peace and Security


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Peace and Security

Critical Issues Facing Africa

The World Summit on Peace addressed critical issues facing Africa, issues such as poverty, family breakdown, corruption, interfaith and intertribal conflict, and the role of the African Union. The following excerpts were from a Summit session that explored hopeful signs of emerging democracies and prospects for an economic revival.

The Challenges of Leadership
By Hon. Gen. Malimba N. Masheke, Former Prime Minister of Zambia

Poverty is a scourge or a curse that has engulfed the entire continent of Africa. The majority of our people wallow in abject poverty and are craving for help. Chaos and confusion reign supreme on the African continent. The levels poverty has assumed have reached alarming proportions and dimensions.

There is no country with sufficient infrastructure, such as roads, schools, hospitals. The education system left by the colonial masters was not designed to prepare the recipients of independence and freedom with the management and technical skills or the controls required for the tasks ahead.

While our leaders have been unprepared for leadership, the time has come for us to look at their performance and ask them to account for some of their failures. Some of our leaders have allowed manipulation, corruption, tribalism, and nepotism to accompany their leadership. Some have stolen public funds to place in overseas banks and/or build mansions. Some leaders are still exploiting tribal or regional politics.

We must demand a better deal from the leadership if we are to attend to the poverty levels of our people. A new leadership must emerge to protect Africa from further devastation of our people’s resources.

The Beauty of Diversity
By Mrs. Ida Odinga, Chief Executive Officer, Spectra East Africa, Kenya

Across Africa and other parts of the world, nations are at war because citizens and leaders have failed to accept diversity either in leadership or in the ethnic compositions of their nations. In politics, citizens just want their tribesmen and women in leadership. Leaders just want to hang onto power or hand it over to either family members or those who share similar views. It has only led to chaos.

Yet, before we are a member of one nation or tribe or political faction, we are first and foremost children of God. Common sense dictates that membership in the human family makes us brothers and sisters. Discrimination of all forms is not part of nature. It is not part of God’s plan for mankind and His entire creation.

Just look at our game parks. No tourist would go to the famous Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya more than once if all there is in the park is one type of animal. We tour the parks because we know that in this corner we will see the lion, the king of the jungle. We move on to another part hoping to meet the rhino, the antelope, and then the buffalo. We stare ahead knowing that somewhere in the park stands the giraffe. We stay in parks because of the variety.

We love our gardens more when they have a variety of flowers. We want to see the roses blossoming, but we are also happy to see that the rose is letting other plants flower in the garden. We enjoy our world better when we accept that the Christian, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Jew, and the unbelieving are part of this planet.

In my part of Africa, we stand to have a happier nation when we accept that the Luo, the Kikuyu, the Kalenjin, the Hutu, the Tutsi, the Acholi, and the Baganda exist in one territory not by mistake but as part of our Great God’s grand plan to make the world a diverse place to live in. In that diversity lies the beauty that God intended the earth to manifest.

Rebuilding Liberia
By Hon. Jenekai Alex Tyler, Speaker, House of Representatives, Liberia

Every civilized nation on earth, Liberia being no exception, preserves its coherent national character by the rule of law. However, recent history is replete with records of government officials and private individuals flaunting the rule of law, giving rise to the culture of impunity, which is not healthy for national unity.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent republic, has been plagued with a myriad of political, economic, social, and religious problems that conspired over the years to subject its citizens to numerous obstacles to sustainable growth and viable national progress.

Tribal disputes were common in the past and were sometimes caused by land border claims and disenfranchisement. In this age, disputes are the result of enmity cultivated by war and after the war. Certain tribes are now agitating to reclaim land that was sold to citizens of other tribes who peacefully settled in during times of peace. This is a potential source of national upheaval. The government has set up commissions to investigate these disputes.

The current government has formulated a strategy aimed at reducing poverty. It has disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated ex-combatants into the society. It canceled or renegotiated concession agreements with multi-national corporations to ensure that the country gets her fair share of the resources. Roads are being rehabilitated, educational institutions are being renovated, and new ones are being built. Health facilities are also being improved. Efforts are on the way to restore pipe-borne water and electricity.

Signs of Hope
Hon. David Kilgour, Director, Council of Democracies, Canada

The full effects of the present economic crisis on the world are yet unknown. While the rest of the world focuses on themselves, what investment was available for African countries is likely to drop sharply. The developed economies this time must not reduce their official development assistance to Africa.

While working as Canada's Secretary of State for Africa and Latin America between 1997 and 2002 and ever since, I have followed the progress of the African Union. Multiparty democracy has now swept through much of the continent. Botswana and Mauritius have experienced long-term growth rates while enjoying the longest period of democratic governance. Positive growth has returned to Benin, Ghana, Mozambique, and South Africa, where the resurgence of democracy has been strong. Other reasons for optimism include:

1. Africa's talented people. The continent has had seven Nobel Prize winners. If conditions allow, many daughters and sons of Africa in the diaspora are ready to return to the continent.
2. If talent and enterprise is unleashed among Africans regardless of regional or ethnic origin, it will attract attention at home and abroad.
3. Africans can demand much more of authoritarian or incompetent governments without resorting to bloodshed. Peaceful civic resistance can lead to durable democracy.
4. Friends of Africans abroad can champion independent media, emphasize improved primary education, and fight HIV/AIDS.
5. The approximately 40 percent of the African continent's savings held abroad is potentially available for investment in countries that have good governance and the rule of law.
6. The continent continues to enjoy the good will of many governments, NGOs and charities.

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