Photo: Human Rights Watch
It's been a while since I've written about political events and other happenings on the continent. I used to be quite the arm chair diplomat and critic when it came to African politics but I quickly burned out. Africa's problems, it seems, are never ending and ever evolving.
Part of my frustration has to do with my inability to change the fact that children are being kidnapped from schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight in the civil war and that a 13 year old gang rape victim was stoned to death in a Somali stadium while more than 1,000 people looked on. If the most angry you can be on a scale of 1 - 10, then my anger clocks in at about 20 and I can't do a damn thing about it.
The way in which some of us can go about raping, brutalizing and slaughtering one another knows no end and Africa is no exception. You can blame colonialism but you can also blame the West (in my book this is the U.S. and Europe) because they hand-picked African rulers based on political ideology and their own selfish needs. Some of these hand-picked leaders ended up being presidents-for-life, came to power by coup d'etat or were "democratically" elected through rigged elections.
Not only were these leaders dupes, pawns and sell-outs but they pillaged and looted their own treasuries and profits from natural resources and got very, very, very rich while the majority of their own people got very, very, very poor. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa eke out a living on less than $2 a day while their leaders are multi-millionaires and billionaires. If you've ever been to any country in Africa or the developing word, a million dollars might as well be a zillion dollars. It doesn't matter.
The ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between Joseph Kabila's government troops and rebel leader Laurent Nkunda's army has caused thousands to flee their homes for the countryside creating yet another humanitarian crisis and more human rights violations. The people living in the eastern part of the DRC are catching just as much hell as those fleeing attacks in Darfur, Sudan or gunfire in Mogadishu, Somalia. This is no joke.
Another looming issue further south is the impasse between Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and his rival Morgan Tsvangarai. Previous attempts to work out a power sharing agreement between Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the Tsvangarai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have failed on numerous occassions. Meanwhile the country is sliding further and further into the economic abyss. Sadly, those who have power are rarely willing to relinquish it let alone share it even when their time has come and gone; just ask Robert Mugabe.
While it is often difficult to get sitting presidents in Africa to leave office, it is more difficult to get them to negotiate with their rivals once they've outgrown the usefulness. In the meantime, people suffer because their basic needs aren't even being met. Think food and water because jobs are very, very scarce. In Zimbabwe, while some people are scratching about for food, a team of mediators is trying to get Mugabe and Tsvangarai to come to terms. I would be willing to bet that neither Kabila, Mugabe or Tsvangarai go hungry, ever. Now that's what makes me mad.