Biafran War: An Integral Part of Nigeria’s History

By Nura Abdul-Rahman; Justina Etteh; Phoebe Priscilla Amoako; Kwaku Osei Ameyaw; Omar Khadi

Biafra’s beginning

The Biafra war was fought to reintegrate and reunify Nigeria. Nigeria was not a federation of state like it is today. The British kept Nigeria as two states for administrative purposes: Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. It was amalgamated in 1914. After Nigeria’s independence in 1960, there was an unhealthy rivalry among tribes. The Biafra war broke out on the 6th of July 1967, when Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the South Eastern Nigeria as an independent state. The Government of Nigeria led by General Yakubu Gowon saw this as an act of illegal secession. As a result the Government of Nigeria used force to avoid the disintegration of the country. The war ended on the 15th of January 1970, when the Biafrans were defeated and  compelled to surrender.

Who was involved

Before Nigeria’s independence, Great Britain decided to keep Nigeria as one country (not dividing them like before resulting in Northern and Southern Nigeria) to effectively manage Nigeria’s vital resources for their economic interests. The federal government held campaigns to dissuade the USA and USSR and the Great Britain from recognizing the Biafran State as a country. Great Britain offered assistance to the federal government especially through the supply of ammunition.  The Biafrans also received assistance from West Germany, France and Spain and bought ammunitions from Sierra Leone. The United Nations and Organisation of African Union also played a role in the settling of the dispute, not exactly taking sides as the other independent western states had.

Timeline

The Biafra war began with the secession of the southeastern region of the nation on May 30, 1967 when it declared itself the independent Republic of Biafra. This declaration was done by the head of the Eastern Region, Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Odumegwu Ojukwu with the authorization of a consultative assembly.  By 1968, Biafra had lost its seaports and became landlocked.  Starvation and disease followed leading to a mortality range from 500,000 to several million.

In September 1968, Owerri was captured by federal troops advancing from the south, and in early 1969 the federal army expanded to nearly 250,000 men, opening three fronts in what Gowon touted as the “final offensive”.

In October 1969, Ojukwu appealed for United Nations (UN) mediation for a cease-fire as a prelude to peace negotiations. But the federal government insisted on Biafra’s surrender and rebel leaders made it clear that the Biafra war was a fight that needed no concession.

In December 1969, federal forces opened a four-pronged offensive, involving 120,000 troops that sliced Biafra in half. When Owerri fell on January 6, 1970, Biafra resistance collapsed. Ojukwu fled to the Ivory Coast, leaving his chief of staff, Philip Effiong, behind as “officer administering the government”. This war ended shortly after these incidents.

What was done [in attempt] to resolve the war

A peace accord was held in Aburi, Ghana in the early stages of the conflict. Next, the United Nations also held talks with the two parties which proved futile. The Organization of African Union intervened with the main interest of halting secession in Nigeria which was not successful.

The war could not be resolved. Why?

  • Foreign Influence

During the course of the Nigerian civil war there was heavy foreign influence by certain world super powers as well as underdogs. Reasons for engaging in the conflict ranged from interest in natural resources to diplomatic allegiance. Great Britain, the former colonial master of Nigeria, was the foreign country which was most directly involved in the war. They were against the secession being sought after by the Biafrans led by Lt. Col. Ojukwu. They aided the federal state led by Maj. Gen. Yakubu Gowon by providing weapons and ammunition to quell the activities of the secessionists under the command of Lt. Col. Ojukwu. The United States of America, another super power which initially decided to sit on the fence, ended up supplying the federal state with equipment and ammunition. When war broke out the Biafrans were able to secure some aid from Spain, France and Portugal in the form of arms and ammunition. There was also double dealing by countries like West Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, and Republic of Dahomey, Sierra Leone etc. who fuelled the hostility and made it difficult for the conflict to be resolved.

  • Ethnic Lines

Another factor which made it difficult for the conflict to be managed was the fact that the war brewed along ethnic lines; the Biafrans were maily Igbos who were in opposition to the Yorubas and Hausas. Most of the secessionists were from the east and they felt they were not being treated fairly. This brought about complications in resolving the conflict because any attempts at peace were seen as an effort to cheat them owing to tribal differences.

  • Extreme Demands

The last factor which prolonged the crisis was the fact that both parties had extreme demands. While the Biafrans wanted an independent state, the federal state did not want any form of a breakaway. There was no defined grey area where each party’s demands could be satisfied partially. It was an all or nothing situation which eventually resulted in a lot of bloodshed.

Chimamanda Ngozi’s Half A Yellow Sun is a perfect description of how the Biafran war affected the lives of the Nigerians at the time. It also highlights to an extent the interference of colonial powers by taking sides with the federal government.

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Afro-American Relations; Sunk Cost or Sunk Shot?

Throughout recorded history, Africa and the U.S. have been linked intricately. Long before moves were made in the corridors of government and in boardrooms, aimed at securing ‘mutually beneficial’ alliances, alliances had been brokered in the stars to keep them together. The ties (and lies) that bind them run deep. It is unclear what both parties see and expect in detail from each other. One thing is certain; the U.S. and Africa need each other.

AIS pic 3This bond has always seen the U.S. characteristically dominate its African contemporaries. Africa’s fortunes are however changing. During this period of transition, relationship with the U.S. has seen great improvement. The U.S. has been slow to take advantage of the opportunities available in ‘the new Africa’. In areas such as energy, trade and investment, development assistance (aid distribution), national and global security, and the rise of new actors particularly China on the scene, it needs to draw up new tactics to be able to keep up with emerging trends to quickly remedy the anomaly.

The Economists in the span of 13 years has gone from labeling the continent the ‘Hopeless Continent’ to the ‘Rising Continent’ to further recalibrating to ‘Hopful Continent’. These labels have been justified with Africa hosting some of the fastest growing economies of the world. This is not to say that the continent has rid itself of all its maladies; far from it. There continue to exist major issues that plague the continent and thus need immediate attention.

The proliferation of insurgent groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, the movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (all in northern Mali), al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria and other such groups across the continent pose a threat to global peace and U.S. interests. While Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire transition from war towards peace, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, South Sudan, Somalia remained in varying degrees of turmoil. As a result, the US established the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) in 2008 to coordinate its African military operations and assist in African countries building their own military capacity. The result is nations solving their own security problems and the US being able to keep an eye on terrorist groups who try to exploit the African continent of human and natural resources.

A major reason for insecurity in the region is the level of poverty and economic underdevelopment. Indeed, there is a strong correlation between political stability and electrification rates. As a tool to curtail security issues, and also to satisfy its trade and investment appetite/need, the African continent has become a major trade partner to the U.S. In areas such as energy (especially crude oil), agriculture, timber, precious minerals, etc. the U.S. tends to be very active estAIS pic 2ablishing new and entrenching already existing trade relationships The threat of a Chinese upper hand over the U.S. on the African continent to a large extent has driven the rise in strategic investments (especially government investments) by both power players on the continent. It would be in the interest of the US to further entrench its grip on the continent by extending agreements/protocols such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires in 2015. The two paths on which the US can thread (aid and trade) are fraught with their own peculiar challenges. However, these are challenges that will have to be faced if the end is to be justified.

One of those strategies the U.S. government uses to get to its ends is development assistance funding programs (aid distribution). This is a way that African and American organizations collaborate on activities that aim at holistically raising African standards of living. The opportunity exists for the U.S. to invest in areas from national security, humanitarian to economic reasons.

There are barrage of reasons why Africa matters to the US. It is why the continent can no longer be taken for granted by the US. It is only with thoroughness in depth of foresight that the banes and blights of hindsight can be dealt. Given the current circumstances, Africa is positioned excellently to enjoy a good end. This is not to downplay the degree of benefits the U.S. is bent on enjoying. It is for the sake of posterity that this time in history is of utmost importance not just to the African continent, but also for global consequence.

Africa and the U.S.- by Aaron Ayamga, Patrick Vetsch, Derry Bernard Wanye

Darfur – The Land of the Fur

By Jacqueline Sewornu, Asiedua Akoto, Kwesi Acheamong, Ekow Addoquaye and Makani Mweembe

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Machetes slay, bullets fly, blood spills, legs, limbs and heads rot: the land lay in ruins with more than 2.3 million people living in squalid (filthy, dirty, wretched) camps in the region and others in neighouring Chad.

How did this become the story of Darfur?

Two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement accused the Sudanese government of wilful neglect of the Darfur region and decided to take action. The non – Arab or African population of Sudan concentrated in the Darfur region has been marginalized as the government favours the Arabs and refuses to protect the rights and interests of the people. The conflict began in two “thoosin” and three AD when the SLA and JEM attacked the Sudanese government’s airbase in El Fasher destroying multiple Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships and seized a larger amount of ammunition and heavy. The government responded by conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Devil’s on horseback popularly known as the Janjaweed. The government promised to give them land in exchange for their military allegiance. Killings, abduction, rape, looting villages, poisoning wells were some of the activities carried out by the Janjaweed.

Janjaweed

The Darfur war had a number of participants. The main participants were the government of Sudan,under the leadership of the then President  Omar al-Bashir. Janjaweed a group of Arab militia also participated in the war. Abdul Wahid al-Nur led the Sudan Liberation Movement and its military wing the Sudan Liberation Army in the Darfur war. The Justice and Equality Movement also participated in the war under the leadership of Khalil Ibrahim Muhammad.

By 2004, there was increased international attention towards the humanitarian crises. Multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions were passed concerning the conflict but failed and the U.S. government had found enough evidence to call the conflict in Darfur a genocide. These efforts resulted in the N’Djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement in April 2004, signed by the Government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), as well as Chad and the AU. Between 2004 and 2006 a number of peace agreements were signed which failed in one way or the other such as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (Jan 2005) and the Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006) in an attempt to resolve the conflict.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for one Sudanese government official, one Janjaweed leader and President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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By 2011, the population of Southern Sudan voted to support secession from Sudan, allowing South Sudan to become independent in July 2011. The Sudanese Government and a newly-formed rebel coalition Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM) sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) after the most powerful and militarily active of the rebel groups, JEM, dropped out of the peace process in May 2011. By October, South Sudan and Sudan agreed to set up several committees tasked with resolving their outstanding disputes. By September 2012, the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan agree on plans for a demilitarized buffer zone and resuming oil sales after days of talks in Ethiopia, but fail to resolve border issues.

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There are a number of factors that made the Darfur conflict hard to resolve which definitely explains why it is still ongoing. One of these which is quite interesting is the hesitance on the part of the UN Security Council. The council outlines all these beautiful and grandiose plans it wants to carry out to aid in ending the conflict but at the end of the day let’s face facts, the council is not made up of some supreme beings. It is made up of countries, countries that have individual interests to protect! If China on the one hand does not want to overstep boundaries with one of its oil suppliers and together with Russia allegedly sell ammunition to the supplier in question, then really it comes as no surprise that the Security Council cannot fully intervene. Darfur needs effective international aid, a country like the US that publicly supported the Save Darfur campaign ACTIVELY, key word here being actively now treads carefully as Sudan helped with the war on terror. Like a suitor pursues a lady delicately, cautious of his actions so as to not fumble, so does the US handle ‘the case of Darfur’. As a result they offer humanitarian support, which by the way helps tremendously and saves lives, instead of dealing with causes of the conflict. The government of Sudan itself has really not done much to solve the problem once and for all. After all the Janjaweed’s actions places them on the side of the government, so as to the question of why the government has not attacked the problem like it should, little is left to the imagination.

 

A walk down Kinshasa- Africa’s biggest war that lasted almost a decade

The first war in the Congo region occurred mainly as a result of political differences as well as ethnic differences. Laurent Kabila in his quest to gain political power resulted to violent means by wrestling power from the hands of Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu was known to embezzle state funds to the detriment of the citizens of the country. Based on this backdrop, the first phase of the deadliest war in Africa broke out resulting in the ousting of Mobutu with the aid of Rwandan troops, specifically the Tutsis who were seeking asylum in Congo. From the ethnic perspective of the war in DRC, the citizens of Congo were divided among government lines, aggravated by the extension of the ethnic based Tutsis-Hutus conflict into Congo. The Hutus who did not help Kabila during his quest for the power were found in the Eastern region of Congo and were reluctant to be governed by Kabila. This brought unrest in this region since Kabila devised several means to throw all Rwandans out of the country.

The second aspect of the War which lasted from August 1998 to July 2003 also took a political dimension.Joseph Kabila, son of Laurent Kabila took over the helm of power after his father was assassinated in 2001. The war was political in nature because it involved a host of different countries who had their own interests one way or the other in the war. While others joined in mainly as a show of solidarity (Zimbabwe) providing ammunition such air missiles which heightened the violence, others joined because of the benefit they sought from the war. The countries that were involved in the war included Angola, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, Chad, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Angola took an active part in the war because of their dislike for Mobutu who had supplied their rebels with weapons. Rwanda on the other hand also wanted to take a hold of the Northern part of Congo which had become a perfect abode for the Tutsi soldiers.

The war was able to drag for over 6 years because of the complexities of the very nature of the war. Peace treaties were not followed due to number of players involved in the war.  At a point it was not even certain what the war was about. This made it difficult for any concrete steps to be taken towards conflict resolution. Finally, peace prevailed after a transition government was put in place. This was as a result of treaties between countries involved as well as intervention from the international community.

In conclusion, the war was fought on both political and ethnic fronts with greater emphasis placed on the political aspects of the conflict.

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These are the countries involved in the Congo war.
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Joseph Kabila, who took over from his father.
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UN Peacekeeping troops who were dispatched to Congo to foster peace.
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Laurent Kabila,started the first phase of the war to oust Mobutu
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Rwandan troops during the war

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Civil War 1 + Civil War 2 = The Liberian Tragedy

By: Andrews Bonsu, John Oteng-Nyame, Maame Kyerewaa Antwi, Aaron Ayamga, Henrrietta Ama Dzisi, Dorcas Tamatey, Joseph Amo Nti

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The Liberian civil war has been one of Africa’s bloodiest in recent history. It tore the country apart and displaced several to seek refuge in neighboring countries. It roped in countries and military forces both from within and without the sub-region. It occurred in two parts; the first civil war and the second civil war.

The first civil war of Liberia basically span within a time frame of about 7 years (1989-1996). There were several causes of this war. Some of these stemmed mainly from the country’s unresolved ethnic and political differences and personal vendetta. Mr. Samuel Doe, a Liberian Army Master sergeant, led a bloody coup d’état in 1980 that overthrew the then elected president of Liberia, President Tolbert. In his attempt to seize power, Doe assassinated President Tolbert and executed thirteen of his cabinet members. Doe appointed (among other people) the then rarely known Charles Taylor as one of his cabinet members. Eventually, Taylor was dismissed from his post over an alleged embezzlement of state funds.

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The political factors that aggravated the first war revolved around Samuel Doe. The Doe government was fraught with corruption, despotism and gross mismanagement of national resources. Doe’s antics and the methods by which he exercised power and authority left his people despondent. Indeed, at a point in time, Liberia was almost bankrupt. As a result of this, the USA threatened to seize sending aid to Liberia. He seized freedom of press and the atmosphere in the country was extremely tensed. Not only was he personally doing more harm than good to Liberia; his hordes of ministerial appointees were the human equivalent of blood sucking vampires. They were sucking the economy dry of its life source through their corruption, apathy and incompetence. This led to extremely pitiable economic conditions in the country.

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Furthermore, Doe’s preferential treatment to people of his own ethnic group, the Krahn, fueled ethnic tensions and hatred in Liberia. There was a massive appointment of Krahn men and women into high ranked government offices such as the public services and the security services leaving little or no room for non-Krahns. Again, Doe used a Krahn dominated military to stage several attacks against the Gio and the Mano ethnic groups which forced most of them (including ex-soldiers) to flee into Cote d’Ivoire. Feeling cheated and persecuted, the Gio and Mano ex-soldiers gave their support and allegiance to Charles Taylor to revolt against Doe’s government. This caused disturbances in the country which eventually led to a civil war.

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Nevertheless, several attempts were made in a bid to resolve the conflict both by international bodies and through local efforts. On 7th August 1990, the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Standing Mediation Committee established the ECOWAS Military Observer Group (ECOMOG) to help resolve the armed internal conflict which had broken out in Liberia.  In 1993, the Organization of African Union (OAU), the warring parties, ECOWAS and the United Nations agreed to a new peace plan which called for the disarming and demobilization of the warring parties as well as the establishment of an interim government in a nation-wide poll.

One reason which made the war difficult to resolve was the fact prior to the war, the justice system in Liberia was manipulated by powerful individuals who used security structures for their personal benefits. Almost all Liberian security forces were involved in the war and thus faced difficulty in being seen as neutral or objective. Consequently, the prospects for stability and peacebuilding required attention to improve the state of security in Liberia to enable security forces to effectively manage the war.

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Progress made by the United States, United Nations, Organization of African Unity and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led to special elections on 19 July 1997 with Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party emerging victorious. Though the elections were administratively free and transparent, most voters believed that Taylor’s forces would have resumed fighting if he had lost. During the period before the election, many Liberians had fled to surrounding countries Sierra Leone and Guinea.

After Taylor’s election, several groups were formed to oust him; the main ones being the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia. Their attempts to unseat him led to many insurgents in Liberia causing havoc and distraction as Taylor had his own armies fighting the opposition. In a bid to bring about peace, there were two conferences held in Accra to quell the disputes and even the United States and the British tried to intervene by imposing sanctions on Liberia. American troops were sent in for peace keeping purposes as the insurgence had reduced Taylor’s control to just a third of the country. His refusal to step down led to the displacement of over 220,000 Liberians. As the pressure on Taylor increased, the Nigerians offered him asylum which he refused on July 2nd 2003. After fighting intensified in Monrovia, Charles Taylor was reported to have accepted the offer on the 6th of July, leaving the country and ending the civil war the civil war that had gone on since 1997.

The Rwandan Genocide

Written by: Team Rwanda – (Precious, Daniel, David, Sharon, Patrick, Frederick)

– What were the conflicts? –

Rwanda has had a long history of internal conflict, stretching from the colonial era till the end of the Genocide in 1994. Between this periods there were three major happenings; first was the Rwandan Social Revolution, followed by the Civil War in 1954 and last the Genocide.

All these different conflicts, put together is ingrained in ethnic lines although the Civil war was a sort of political war, thus was fought between the Government and the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) it was still between the two major ethnic groups – the Hutus and the Tutsis. The government was made up of Hutus whiles the RPF was a Tutsi rebel group.   Therefore scholars all over the world have classified these conflict as one and have called it an ethnic conflict.

– Why were the conflicts fought? –

Since there are three separate conflicts this work will pick each one at a time and discuss the reason they happened.

1. The Rwandan Revolution of 1945

Historians have it that this conflict has its roots from the colonial era when Germany, which was the first Western country to colonize Rwanda, favored the Hutus because they were light-skinned compared to the Tutsis. This created some sort of racial class in the country. However, the Berlin conference turned the favors the Hutus enjoyed when Germany lost in the World War I and Belgium took over Rwanda. Belgium became the new colonial master and turned supremacy to the Tutsis through its indirect rule using the Tutsi chiefs. Belgium reinforced this social class discrimination when its introduce cards to label citizens as either Tutsi or Hutu. Hutus who were wealthy were given honorary Tutsi identity. After 1945, a Hutu counter-elite developed, leading to a deterioration in relations between the groups; the Tutsi leadership agitated for speedy independence to cement their hold on power, while the Hutu elite called for the transfer of power from Tutsi to Hutu, a stance increasingly supported by the church and the colonial government. In November 1959, the Hutu began a series of riots and arson attacks on Tutsi homes, following false rumors of the death of a Hutu sub-chief by Tutsi activists. Violence quickly spread across the country, beginning the Rwandan Revolution.

2. The Civil War of 1990

With the Rwandan Revolution serving as a background story, the Rwandan Civil War was a conflict within between the government of President Juvénal Habyarimana and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The conflict began on 1 October 1990 when fifty RPF rebels deserted their posts and crossed the border from Uganda into Rwanda, killing a customs guard at the Kagitumba border post. This they did because they felt marginalized by the incumbent president from every of the country’s affairs. Consequently, the RPF demanded from the government an end to ethnic segregation and the system of identity cards. Again, the RPF requested the government to instigate political and economic reforms that portrayed the RPF as a democratic and tolerant organization seeking to depose a dangerous and corrupt regime. The government in response to these attacks, retaliated with that help of colonial masters – France and Belgium. The war continues until 1993 when the two groups signed the Arusha Accords to create a power sharing government between the Hutu government And the RPF in attempt to end the war.

3. The Genocide of 1994

Just a year after the peace accord had been signed to end the civil war another conflict ensured between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Those who supported of the Hutu supremacy were not satisfied with the agreement. As such they were conspired and assassination president Habyarimana, who was a moderate Hutu in April 1994. This started the Rwandan Genocide, which claimed about 800,000 lives and displaced many, mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The RPF, which regrouped and started its offensive attacks on the Hutu government from exile eventually took control of the country. The Hutu government, which also went into exile used refugee camps in neighboring countries to destabilize the new RPF government. Some literature has it that the war ended in 1994 when the RPF captured Kigali or with the disbanding of refugee camps in 1996.

– Major players –

The genocide was planned by members of the core political elite known as Akazu, many of who occupied positions at top levels of the national government; basically, the Hutu led government. Perpetrators came from the ranks of the Rwandan army, the national police( gendarmerie), government backed militias including the interghamwe and impuzamugambi. Other major players included the moderate Hutus and extremist Hutus. The Hutus were the attacked while the Tutsis on the otherhand were the attackers. They were also being employed by the perpetrators and government to attack any Hutu or moderate Hutu. However this changed overtime.

– Timeline of main events  –

From April to July 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. Begun by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, the genocide spread throughout the country with staggering speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu Power government to take up arms against their neighbors. By the time the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front gained control of the country through a military offensive in early July, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were dead and many more displaced from their homes. The RPF victory created 2 million more refugees (mainly Hutus) from Rwanda, exacerbating what had already become a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

 

BACKGROUND: ETHNIC TENSIONS IN RWANDA

By the early 1990s, Rwanda, a small country with an overwhelmingly agricultural economy, had one of the highest population densities in Africa. About 85 percent of its population is Hutu; the rest is Tutsi, along with a few Twa, a Pygmy group who were the original inhabitants of Rwanda. Part of German East Africa from 1894 to 1918, Rwanda came under the League of Nations mandate of Belgium after World War I, along with neighboring Burundi. Rwanda’s colonial period, during which the ruling Belgians favored the minority Tutsis over the Hutus, exacerbated the tendency of the few to oppress the many, creating a legacy of tension that exploded into violence even before Rwanda gained its independence. A Hutu revolution in 1959 forced as many as 300,000 Tutsis to flee the country, making them an even smaller minority. By early 1961, victorious Hutus had forced Rwanda’s Tutsi monarch into exile and declared the country a republic. After a U.N. referendum that same year, Belgium officially granted independence to Rwanda in July 1962.

Ethnically motivated violence continued in the years following independence. In 1973, a military group installed Major General Juvenal Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu, in power. The sole leader of Rwandan government for the next two decades, Habyarimana founded a new political party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (NRMD). He was elected president under a new constitution ratified in 1978 and reelected in 1983 and 1988, when he was the sole candidate. In 1990, forces of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), consisting mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded Rwanda from Uganda. A ceasefire in these hostilities led to negotiations between the government and the RPF in 1992. In August 1993, Habyarimana signed an agreement at Arusha, Tanzania, calling for the creation of a transition government that would include the RPF. This power-sharing agreement angered Hutu extremists, who would soon take swift and horrible action to prevent it.

GENOCIDE

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi’s president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down over Kigali, leaving no survivors. (It has never been conclusively determined who the culprits were. Some have blamed Hutu extremists, while others blamed leaders of the RPF.) Within an hour of the plane crash, the Presidential Guard together with members of the Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe (“Those Who Attack Together”) and Impuzamugambi (“Those Who Have the Same Goal”) set up roadblocks and barricades and began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus with impunity. Among the first victims of the genocide were the moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and her 10 Belgian bodyguards, killed on April 7. This violence created a political vacuum, into which an interim government of extremist Hutu Power leaders from the military high command stepped on April 9.

The mass killings in Rwanda quickly spread from Kigali to the rest of the country, with some 800,000 people slaughtered over the next three months. During this period, local officials and government-sponsored radio stations called on ordinary Rwandan civilians to murder their neighbors. Meanwhile, the RPF resumed fighting, and civil war raged along the genocide. By early July, RPF forces had gained control over most of country, including Kigali. In response, more than 2 million people, nearly all Hutus, fled Rwanda, crowding into refugee camps in the Congo (then called Zaire) and other neighboring countries.

After its victory, the RPF established a coalition government similar to that agreed upon at Arusha, with Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, as president and Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, as vice president and defense minister. Habyarimana’s NRMD party, which had played a key role in organizing the genocide, was outlawed, and a new constitution adopted in 2003 eliminated reference to ethnicity. The new constitution was followed by Kagame’s election to a 10-year term as Rwanda’s president and the country’s first-ever legislative elections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Why the Rwanda War was so difficult to resolve 

The war was difficult to solve because according to the UN charter “nothing shall authorize the UN to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State. With this in mind, the UN had almost no say when it came to solving the Rwandan war. However, the only way the UN could intervene was based on humanitarian grounds. For instance, the establishment of The United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) to aid in providing protection for the population at large. This was not targeted at solving the war, but rather protecting the people from the effects of the war.

Also, there was the involvement of external forces which made it difficult to solve the war. These external forces also came into the country as humanitarian ones. Top government officials and ruling parties equally played a role as well as the Rwanda’s neighbouring countries. Eventually, the countries that were involved became a lot. These countries also had its own problems making it difficult to pin point the exact country to tackle first.

 

 

Attempted solutions:

The Conflict of Genocide in Rwanda came to an end in mid of July 1994, four months after the first Genocide outbreak that saw many Tutsis killed by the hands of Hutus. The end was achieved by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) capturing the elite, extremist Hutus base Kigali and earlier in May capturing the presidential palace. However direct military intervention by neighboring countries or the United Nations Security council was not clear. Though, France established a safe-zone in the southwest on 5th July after most of the fighting had been decided by the RPF. The main reason for no outside intervention, was due to the United States of America have suffered severe loss the year before in “the Battle for Mogadishu” and with it affecting the decision of Britain and Belgium.

However after the war there was another dispute that needed solving, which was that of trying the responsible and prevention of a similar incident. The UN after then fighting established a tribunal to discuss such issues. However their “No-Death-Penalty” did not sit well with the new Rwandan Government. The UN managed to only try 18 of the suspected two million involved. The Rwandan Government set up the Gacama-Council to deal with lurking problems in the community but was mainly targeted to try those involved with the Genocide. Within a year the same time span as the UN tribunal they managd to try 489 people from which roughly 20 percent received the death penalty regardless of the UN take.

 

Back To Our Roots

By Asiedua Amma Akoto, Portia Honu and Phoebe Priscilla Amoako

“For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” ~Maya Angelou

About ten years ago, it was not acceptable to walk around with an afro. You might be deemed unemployable if you dared to attend interviews without torturing your hair with imported approved chemicals to rid your hair of its natural curls. Parents Natural African Hairmight warn their children of your company if you showed up at a formal event in clothes made from bean-like patterns with a plethora of shouting colors: African print. No, you could not just do that. You needed to wear grey, black, white, blue-black, brown…the list of boring colors are endless! And need we add that  locally acquiring a western accent served as the cherry on the cake!

The last stage of Pan-Africanism is to raise historical and cultural Pan-Africanismawareness which seemed to have been lost. In doing this, Africans in the diaspora need to reconcile with Africans on the continent to learn and be able to re-socialize.  This socialization strategy of pan Africanism contributed to the birth of Afrocentrism. Dr Molefi Kete Asante, one of the most published contemporary scholars who has published over 70 books, defined Afrocentrism as “What will Africans do if there were no white people?” The response to this question is what is evident around us today.

“Let us all agree to die a little, or even completely so that African unity may not be a vain word” ~Ahmed Ben Bella

Without an awareness campaign, Africans in the diaspora and on the continent are subconsciously developing a strong preference for things that define Africa. The natural hair frenzy is a significant part of this new movement. Most women are now ‘going natural’ and actually studying organic techniques to treat their natural curly hairs. The African print fabrics are no longer restricted to royalty or occasions like funerals and traditional weddings. These fabrics are being used to make formal clothes and every day wear, which was previously not the case. Even handbags, backpacks and laptop pouches are now made from African print fabric. African ClothesIn as much as these changes are very individualistic, they form a sense of unity and might probably be classified as one of the strongest wordless campaign happening around the world now.

The degree to which our perspectives on superficial things like our hair and clothes are changing give a sense of hope to the potential success of Pan-Africanism. It is the start of our taking pride in who we are as a people and holding up our values. Someday, this confidence should transcend to things that matter more like our political and economic states.

“The African Union may be a shadow of the original post-colonial vision. But its potential to inspire remains.” ~Ngugi wa Thiong’o

During our last class, there was a strong debate on the topic “What is truly African?” While some debated that things that look African and clotheswere not made in Africa cannot possibly be tagged African, others raised the argument that once it was an African concept developed into tangible things irrespective of where that development happened, it can always be labeled “African” with justification. Here is a new debate that could spring out from the topic in question: “Have Africans compromised on genuinely African tangibles and accepted what foreign organizations like Vlisco and Woodin forcibly tag as African because they simply utilize a couple of meaningless motifs cum colors and print them on cloths for the African market?” In as much as answers may be relative, this is something worth thinking about.