African Impressions

I was not really sure what to write about this evening (also the development in Poland would be quite worth a piece), but – and considering that two pieces in one evening would be a bit very demanding – I did then settle for writing about thoughts which came up when reading what Annika Sandlund had been writing in Hbl of Ti 12.01. under the headline ”Burundi 2016”.

The essence of her piece was that discussions in the UN Security Council had resulted in the conclusion that the situation in Burundi, where the president in power had been grabbing a third term in office in defiance of the constitution, is headed for very serious trouble. – It is to be remembered that Burundi had not very long time ago a civil war which lasted 12 years, and that across the border in Rwanda there had been that genocide which we still remember.

What I also remembered was the war in Biafra (in the 1960ies), where the Christian-supported Biafran leader Ojukwu was, when his cause was already clearly lost, refusing to sit down and negotiate with his (luckily quite civilized) opponent Gowon – this, while the Biafrans were dying in large numbers. And then there was of course the war in Angola, and the civil war in South Sudan, where also some ”leaders” were giving a damn how many people were dying while they were clinging to some power. As a German, with Hitler in memory, I should of course not be too astonished that there are people who do such. Still, Hitler, once in power, had a huge propaganda machinery at his disposal, so that the question how those African leaders manage to do what they do does not have any clear answer yet. Do they recruit followers who have too much to lose in case the leader should give up power? Are there widespread expectations in the population how leaders should be if they want to be ”real leaders” (does one have, for this, to analyze the fairy tales people tell to their children – or rather analyze the colonial history?)? Anyway, I do think that some analysis could be very worth while.

And another point worth thinking about is of course the one which Annika Sandlund was already stressing in her piece: the UN seems not to have any possibilities to do something about the situation at this stage (”[h]ar man varken vatten, slang eller brandmän är det inte mycket bevänt med att konstatera att det brinner”). Well, if the UN is tied hand and foot by the experts of international law (and the unwillingness of its members to lift any fingers), what could any single government do if one would kick it sufficiently (after all, we do not really like just to look on when genocides are going on). Might there be some cheap things which one could try? Such as figuring out on which wavelengths the illegal government is spreading its propaganda, install some strong senders just across the borders and jam the government propaganda and/or explain to the population by radio in which way things are developing, what the consequences might very well be, and what to do about it. Or invade the airspace and drop large numbers of leaflets. It would be important to get the African Union to join (which it might if one pays oneself for the expenses), so that the thus-criticized government cannot decry the whole thing as a colonialist plot. And it might give that government the feeling that it is in fact under observation (which might help some). Of course the thus-”attacked” government might go to the UN Assembly and complain about ”neo-colonialism”, but in that situation one should then simply admit and explain what one had in mind. If one has good reasons to offer, one might not be condemned by a huge majority but only by a small one, if at all … . And that one can even live rather well with one condemnation after another is, after all, constantly proven by ”friend-of-the-West” Israel. But well, so far just one line of thought about the matter. Perhaps somebody else has better thoughts.

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3 Responses to African Impressions

  1. Bengt Svensson says:

    The first question to ask should be who is killing who and why. I have not seen that story in any of the usual media. Apparently many people have fled to Tanzania (again). It should be mentioned that there is much cooperation between Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda in the reestablished East African Community.
    President Pierre Nkurunziza was first elected by the parliament in 2005. A new constitution was accepted where the president can be reelected once. After that Nkurunziza was elected by popular vote in 2010 (opposition boycotting) and last year reelected (opposition boycotting again) . His argument is that his first appointment as president was not a full term and does not count. This of course can be questioned and argued about and protested against. But I don’t understand why it has to lead to serious violence. Maybe something else is going on.
    This article I found in a magazine in San Francisco. It is written by a Rwandan, who is living in Sweden. It does not give much of an answer but at least provides an interesting perspective.
    http://sfbayview.com/2015/10/like-syria-burundi-is-a-war-theater-the-china-russia-axis-vs-the-us-eu-axis/
    Looked at Wikipedia. Nkurunziza describes himself as a born again Christian and has gotten rewards from such outfits in Florida and California.

  2. Bengt Svensson says:

    En läsvärd kommentar till den senaste utvecklingen kring Burundi:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/04/african-union-refuses-to-invade-burundi/

    • Ernst Mecke says:

      This is certainly an interesting article. Thanks a lot! While reading, or after reading it, there come, though, still quite many questions to one’s mind, mainly of the type that one wonders who might be saying what for what purpose, and how much/many of the things said are really true and how far. In other words, one would still feel better if there were at least some fact-finding mission from some really neutral side (something for Finland, or perhaps Japan?). If it is true that there have really 200,000 people fled from Burundi, from whom Rwanda is now recruiting an army which is opposed to the present Burundian government, such a fact-finding mission might actually be useful and justified.

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