Africa celebrates amid civil conflict

AFRICA recently joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Peace Day (IPD), amid civil wars, lack of respect for civil rights and violent crimes, which conversely defies the real tenets of peace.

The IPD is celebrated every year on September 21 and the United Nations (UN) secretary-general gives a speech.
During this year’s commemorations, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for peace around the world, which resonated with the theme “Partnerships for Peace — Dignity for All”.

“I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction, and create space for lasting peace,” he said.
But, from Cape to Cairo, Africa is burning from both ends, as peace remains a pipeline dream.

This year’s IPD came against a backdrop of a serious crisis in Africa, based on religious-based wars, dictatorship, poverty and diseases.

Currently Nigeria is burning, trying to combat Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has caused the death of thousands of civilians.

The group is well known for its ruthless approach, and how it abducted over 200 Chibok girls from their school in northern Nigeria.

The insurgency, which has since spread to Cameroon, Chad, and Niger is founded on long-standing issues of religious violence between Muslims and Christians.

In a much more related case, the Central African Republic is also being devoured by another war, following serious clashes between the same groups of Muslims and Christians.
The war has dragged for long, with no end in sight.
Such scenarios make the idea of Africa celebrating the IPD a mockery.

Recently South Sudan president Salva Kiir signed a peace deal with rebels after a threat of sanctions from the UN.
Rebel leader Riek Machar signed the shaky peace deal with Kiir, following a protracted brutal civil war that claimed several lives.
The world now waits to see if such a peace deal would be sustained, considering Kiir’s initial denials to sign the pact.

While some of the wars are a creation of the outside world, with a possibility of attempting to siphon resources, a recent situation in Burundi exposed the blatant attack on democracy and the suffocation of people’s will.

In the days preceding the country’s July presidential election, civil unrest erupted after the Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza decided to contest for a third term.

His re-election also sparked an attempted coup by rebel generals in the small, impoverished central African country.
Soon after this dramatic set of events, the focus shifted to Burkina Faso, where presidential guard officers seized power causing the death of a sizeable number of people amid protests in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou.

People blamed the coup on former president Blaise Compaore, while the interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida were kept captive by the coup leaders.
The transitional authority was due to hand power to a new government after elections on October 11.

The country’s interim government was only restored after the army generals yielded to international pressure.
Among many of the countries that have been experiencing intermittent unrests is Libya and Egypt.

The two countries are involved in serious conflicts, putting lives of several of its citizens at risk. These wars have created another crisis, which has increased the number of people fleeing from their homes.

These people have become immigrants in many Western countries where they risk drowning in the seas as they make the daring journeys.

In these journeys, they also risk being trafficked to unknown destinations or dying from hunger. While, these countries are burning in civil unrest, elsewhere in South Africa, violent crimes are an everyday thing.

Only early this year, a news crew was robbed while on set, in a bizarre incident that left many people wondering on the safety of the locals.

Hot on the heels of South Africa’s problem are the xenophobic attacks that saw several foreign nationals being brutally killed.
Some were burnt alive, in one of the most degrading human treatments, while others were beaten to death.

The political playfield remains uneven, with a good example of one political activist, who was abducted, with the hope of locating him fading with each day.

Political activist, Itai Dzamara who openly denounced President Robert Mugabe and called for his immediate resignation has been missing for the past six months.

His call for a change in government was necessitated by the failure of the country’s economy based on failed policies and fraught political playground.

While these examples, are a tip of the iceberg, a lot more of these unrests are taking place around the continent, making peace day commemorations in Africa a mere celebration that does not bear a meaning.—Tendai Kamhungira

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