Friday April 13. 2018
By Anne Kiruku
East African News, Arusha
The commemorations of the Rwandan genocide held last week in Arusha came at the right time when there is relative calm and peace across the region and when people can reflect on the value of embracing peace and unity.
The commemorations – organised by the East African Community in collaboration with the Rwandan Community in Arusha and Moshi, and the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals – were a reminder on how elusive peace is and why it should be jealously guarded.
It is unfortunate that in times of unrest, women and children are the ones who bear the brunt of it all. Cases of rape, defilement and massive displacement of populations affect women more than men.
Famine and lack of basic sanitary provisions affect women more than men in times of war.
In a record three months, a million innocent Tutsis were savagely exterminated in a horrific and systematic manner spanning three months, from April 7, to July 2, 1994.
This means that on average, 10,000 people were killed every day, yet all this happened as the region and the entire world simply watched.
Years of unrest in Burundi have left hundreds dead, thousands displaced and property worth millions of dollars destroyed in the world’s second poorest nation.
Burundi has experienced two genocides in the past 50 years driven by tensions between Tutsis and Hutus—the last one left 300,000 dead and is believed to have triggered ethnic killings in Rwanda.
The latest unrest, which erupted after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third unconstitutional term in office, was only the latest of Burundi’s frequent unrests.
The scale and speed of the violence that engulfed Kenya following the controversial presidential election of December 27, 2007, shocked both Kenyans and the world at large.
Two months of bloodshed left over 1,000 dead and up to 500,000 internally displaced persons in a country until then viewed as a bastion of economic and political stability in a volatile region.
The trails of death and destruction experienced in the East African Community’s youngest kid on the block, South Sudan, are indescribable.
Since civil war erupted almost four years ago, a third of South Sudan’s population has become internally displaced or fled the country in Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
It is unfortunate that most of the chaos happening in the region stem from political unrest. And if the sequence and trails of chaos and wars experienced in the region over the past years is not brought to an end, the economies will soon be on their knees.
Already, the EAC is home to the world’s second poorest nation, with extremely low levels of poverty that have largely been occasioned by political instability.
Key to solving the frequent political unrests that exist in almost every country in Africa is dealing with historical injustices and oppressive structures that were bequeathed to the post-colonial political leadership.
This is an aspect which informs the weak institutions of the state, flawed legislative systems, and constant struggles for political power to the detriment of the wellbeing of many nations, most of which would have long moved on a path of development as part of modern societies.
It is unfortunate that the West, whose geo-security and resource interests seem to benefit from the status quo in Africa, has not favoured the establishment of functioning systems in Africa; instead, their involvement continues to undermine Africa’s stability through the militarisation of conflicts for accumulative purposes.
Without African countries dealing firmly with political and economic interference by the international community, political instability will continue to reign supreme.
Without dealing with unequal development, poverty, disease, violence and the manipulative tendencies of the local elite, political and economic stability in East Africa and the continent as whole will continue to be threatened.
Most of the problems facing Africa do not emanate from within the continent but from external interests whose thirst for African resources shapes the dynamics in areas related to governance.
Resources in Africa, if well managed, are capable of providing for its entire population, hence the potentials for a more stable environment.
However, it is well documented that stolen wealth from Africa often ends up in banks abroad. Most of the stolen wealth is by political elites who loot and stash billions in overseas accounts.
As long as political instability continues to be witnessed in Africa, we can kiss economic development goodbye and welcome oppression, poverty, war, diseases and illiteracy.