‘African Problems to African Solutions’: Re-thinking the Role of Internal Actors in solving African Conflicts

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This paper seeks to analyze the relevance and significance of the ‘African problems-to African solution’ discourse in resolving conflicts in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular in this 21st Century. The paper argues that many political leaders in Africa have manipulated the African solution mantra for their own political gains. In the ensuing argument I pose critical questions on whether there is an African ‘problem’ and also whether there are ‘African solutions’ to the numerous crises unfolding in Africa. African Problems to African solutions, what’s in a Phrase? One may ask. Isn’t this a matter of semantics and vocabulary? This article seeks to interrogate these and many more questions in greater depth and in detail. The paper also seeks to further analyse the role of localized conflict resolution mechanism by Africans in purely African ‘crises’.

Introduction

With the mushrooming of conflicts in Africa, many questions arise. The first question…

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The Pain she Felt

She wanted to die. On many occasions she had contemplated committing suicide. She felt life was worthless. She felt humiliated. She felt used and unloved. Every time she walked, she felt the ‘entire world’ was talking about her. Whenever she passed by, women in the streets would break into giggles. She had become the talk of town. Those women who have nothing more to do other than gossiping would point fingers to her saying ‘she is the one’ (Ndiyeka uya uya). In such moments, what she all wanted was being alone. Locked in her room – crying until tears dry. Oftentimes, she would blame herself, why me, why Lord. These are part of the many questions that would torture her mind.

It was hardly two years after they had parted lives. During their happier times, Pepe and Ronny were a match made in heaven. They lived in their own love island were several emotions and passions lived. Theirs, was a tale of love with endless limits. As the Shona adage goes, everything will come to an end, surely the end of Pepe and Ronny came earlier than expected. But, it was not the ending that pained Pepe to the core and marrow of her heart. The way how it ended hurt her most.

It was on a Thursday morning, the clouds were drifting westwards. That day it seemed it would rain cats and dogs. However, there was a heavy whirlwind that seemed to have literally chased the rains away. Like any other women in love, Pepe, wished to hear his boyfriend wishing her happy birthday. Although, birthdays were not that much celebrated in this part of the world. Nonetheless, Pepe always made it a point to celebrate her birthday in style. She woke up in high spirits, humming her favorite gospel song ‘Mwari muri mubatsiri vangu’ (Oh Lord you are My Helper). However, events turned topsy-turvy. On a day that promised to be a memorable and enjoyable one, things turned otherwise. Why why Ronny, why could Ronny do such a thing to me, but why? The pain she felt, all the years together…..To be continued…..

Mai Tira

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He flung the door open. He was dead drunk. From his breath one could pick that he had been drinking the popular spirit Krango.He could hardly stand. Baba Tira was a married man aged 34, but due to heavy drinking he looked older than his age. He was that kind of a dude who would come home dead drunk and unashamedly would pick a fight with his wife. Baba Tira received every respect that would come from an obedient, subservient, oppressed, vulnerable, powerless and understanding woman. He was a typical traditional and African man – who believed in wife bashing as a sign of macho.

Baba Tira would at times pick a fight over silly issues, that include but are not limited to ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ cooking oil in the relish. At times Mai Tira would be bashed for putting ‘too little’ salt in the relish. All…

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Eulogy to My Dad

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A man who loved his bottle with a passion
Its only but mere memories now
You fought a long battle,
But, the Lord saw it fit
And decided that your time was up

You fought a good fight,

We only hope that your soul has found eternal peace
A man who believed in his ideas
A man who believed in doing things quicker and faster
A man who believed in sharing and giving
But when you passed on
Relatives and friends quickly forgot
Such is the naked cruel nature of life
They loved you
Not for whom you were
But they loved your money

When we least expected you would leave us
When we thought you were on the full road to recovery
But in you, you had already given up
You constantly appealed to God to rest your soul
For your flesh was in deep pain
For you were…

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Tale of Kuda

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Each day brought its fair share of challenges. Most of the times he would go home wearing a sad face. At times when lady luck could smile on him – he would go home with a smile on his face. At such a young age he had mastered the art of doing business. The challenges of orphan hood had thrown him into the deep end. His parents had passed on in the late 1990s due to the HIV/AIDS scourge. Such a tragic event occurred at a time when it used to be taboo mentioning about the deadly pandemic either behind closed doors or in public. These were the years when songs were sung about HIV/AIDS being a deadly killer disease. Various singers ranging from Charles Charamba, Oliver Mtukudzi, Dino Mudondo and others belted songs that spoke of the ravaging effect of the pandemic.

Many years had rushed into each other…

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The Africa we Have-The Africa we Dream Of

The Africa we Have-The Africa we Dream Of

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Image

Why are some nations rich? Why is Africa poor? What is our problem? Where do we find a solution? Why are our people poor? Is there equality? Is there justice? Is there fairness? Are the judges fair and just? Why are African politicians rich? Why are the masses poor? Why are we dying of Hunger, malnutrition and cholera in Africa? Are we cursed? Why are we suffering from cholera?  Is it that our health facilities are so backward? Why are we dying of HIV/AIDS at such an alarming rate? Are we so addicted to sex life?

Why are we still fighting after years of decolonization? Why do we fight amongst ourselves? Are we civilized or not? Why do we need soldiers in our nations? Are we truthful about one another? Where is the tax payers’ money going? Why do leaders live in state of the art mansions, whilst others sleep…

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When Everything Becomes Strange

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The hen had run across the road. The elders always believed that such was an indication and signal of an imminent bad omen. The bus was packed to the brim. We were packed like sardines. You could hardly straighten your back. It was Christmas holiday. Most people were travelling from the City to the Village.
The very same evening the owls were hooting unendlessly. I was so frightened. The dogs had been backing continuously. Having had spend much time in the city – I was a stranger in my own village just like Lucifer in Charles Mungoshi’s Waiting for the Rain. That night I could not catch sleep, images of ghosts and the fear of witches kept on crossing my mind.
Maybe someone had cast a bad omen – to my home come.
The next morning I woke up feeling so exhausted. All the elders from our village were gathered…

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On a Day Like This

In this part of the world, few celebrate their birthdays! Not that they do not wish to – but, it is the nature of circumstances which force them not to. In actual fact, many have been forced by the political economy not to celebrate.

Many in the dusty high density suburbs of Harare do not even give a damn on considering celebrating the day they were born. All they have to confront are the daily battles to put food on their tables. To make matters worse, the rains have been unkind to nation. We seem to be headed for another dry spell. Thus another drought is in the offing. We are indeed living in difficult times.

He took a deep pull at his cigarrete. I could see his mind was miles away. I could see the smoke swirling around him. As he exhaled the smoke through his nostrils. He then went into a deep silence. Cough….cough….cough….!! He went on coughing before, spitting a thick phlegm which seemed to be clogging his throat. As he spat on the floor, I witnessed the phlegm had some traces of mucus. He bit his chest. Showing indications of a man who had been relieved after some minutes of struggling to breathe.

One could clearly see his ribs, as he had pulled off his greasy T- shirt (a T-shirt which was once white but had turned grey in colour due to dirty) .It was a T- shirt he had received as a donation from the local M.P (after the recent Harare by-elections). The T-shirt was emblazoned with the inscription 100% Total Empowerment.
Taking from his incessant coughing, I just imagined that the smoking was taking a toll on him. After a long silence which seemed like some moments of meditation. He went to say ‘so you mean today, it’s your birthday’.Yes, uncle’, I responded!

He went on to ask;
For Christ’s sake just explain to me, how on earth will you celebrate in such an economy?’ he gleefully queried.

His rhetorical question, indeed triggered some deep thoughts in me. The old man had a point. In an economy where everything that can go bad, has gone bad. In an economy in which many could not afford to celebrate their birthdays in style. No blowing of candles, no popping of bottles of champagne or cutting of cakes. It is an economy were the children scream and merrily shout (Yeeeeeeh magetsi adzoka; power has been brought back).

An economy punctuated with incessant power cuts. In such a country children then become so delighted after power is restored (after long hours of blackout).They celebrate as if electricity is a privilege.

It is an economy in which the little ones jubilantly celebrate when they see an aeroplane flying past their hood. Yeeeeeeh (ndege ndege…they scream and dance upon seeing an aeroplane).

Perhaps, as you plan to cook a decent meal on your birthday, you realise power is gone. It only happens in this part of the world. Not in some parts of the world! On a Day Like This!.

Tales from the Village

Now that we had poor rains this year – everything is coming to a head. The elders in the Village will tell you with a sorrowful face (Hatina kukohwa gore rino) meaning we had a poor harvest this year. As if the Gods had turned against the village. The rains were unkind to us. Hard times are therefore upon us. Just like in the previous years of serious drought – fellow villagers would come far afield from neighbouring villages. Normally with an empty sack begging for some ‘little’ mealie – meal to prepare porridge for the kids. They would beg for mealie – meal under the pretext of ‘save us, kids are starving back home – I’ll not leave till I have something to offer the little ones back home’. In times like these you would see mother going to the granary with a 25kg bucket. She would make it a habit not to reveal the quantity of the maize supplies in the granary.

But after such generosity, one after the other will also come begging and lamenting over how the kids are starving back home. They had a perfected mastery of the same language. It was just like an everyday ordeal. In these moments we also became accustomed to the phenomenon of uninvited guests. A distant relative (linked through a shared totem) would frequently pass through. In justifying his/her visit one would say, ‘it has been ages, so I just thought of passing through to check on your family’. In such a community it was the norm to check on the neighbour and relatives’ wellbeing.  A distant grandmother would also pass through early in the morning and she would say, ‘I am passing through on my way to the garden – so I’m checking on my grandchildren’.

After exchanging pleasantries and salutations, it would mean that you would prepare a meal for the visitor. In such periods of drought – such a meal would count. As if not enough, the frequent visitors constantly ask for second share (asking for more food). Just like Oliver Twist asking for more. Others would help themselves to six tea spoons of sugar. The thinking being ‘we have found it today – let’s eat till our tummies ache’ with no idea of using the resources sparingly. Now that we are yet heading for another serious drought- we will sooner or later have these frequent visitors. These are the tales from the Village.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: Signs of Changing Times

African Solutions in Peace and Security

By Gift Mwonzora*

Africa continues to grapple with emergent conflict situations such as the recent CAR, South Sudan conflict, Lesotho (August 30, 2014 botched coup) and Mali crisis. The situation raises the question of Africa’s capability and commitment to solve its own problems. How long should Africa continue to outsource solutions? Why can’t African countries find specific home grown solutions within the realm of their borders, without necessarily going across borders to shop for solutions? Why do we rely on large foreign military contingencies in our African conflicts, case of the overshadowing presence of the French military in Mali can attest.

In recent years there seems to be a marked shift amongst the African political leadership from the see no evil,hear no evil, speak no evil–syndrome (Welch, 1991: 538) towards active military intervention and involvement of various states. Do the regional and continental interventions of institutions such as…

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