After decades of famine, grinding poverty, colossal debts and enormous slum-growth, Africa is indisputably the worst casualty of economic globalization. As the region takes the further brunt of man-made climate change, the rich nations hold a moral responsibility to reorder economic priorities and coordinate a massive transfer of resources to the impoverished continent.
The conference of the African National Congress that was held last month was billed as a heavyweight contest between the party's president, Thabo Mbeki, and its deputy president, Jacob Zuma. The conference turned out to be much more than that. It was a complete rout, not only of the president, but also of his cabinet, the sitting national executive committee, and of Mbeki's economy team. The December conference saw the ANC swing from the centre towards the left, if one believes the rhetoric.
The protests and riots that followed the “stolen election” have shown the depth of discontent in a “stable” African country. Though the discontent has also laid bare festering ethnic tensions, the most striking thing is that the demonstrations and riots were an uprising of the poor and a demand for change and reform. This three-part article outlines Kenya’s present-day conflict, its inequitable system inherited from colonial rule and the country’s favoured position within Africa as a key ally of the West.
The ethnic tensions engulfing Kenya probably won't subside until its Kikuyu rulers, led by President Mwai Kibaki, relinquish some power and share benefits from the tourism-dependent economy's transformation into a regional trade hub.
To many people in the world - and even to many Kenyans themselves itself - the violence which followed the elections in Kenya on 27 December 2007 has come as a surprise. Unfortunately, it shouldn't have. The combination of economic and ethno-political factors in Kenya had created an explosive mix which was just waiting for the right - or rather "wrong" - circumstances to explode. The 2002 elections had been a lucky near-miss; this time, the favourable configuration that operated then did not repeat itself.
A dust cloud blew across the market of the Abu Chok refugee camp in Darfur as Ahmed Abdullah Ibrahim summed up his desperate situation. "It is unsafe for me to go back home and it's not safe here," he said, his face wrapped up against the desert winds in a white headscarf. "Even yesterday, we had people in the camp come to attack us. They came in and fired shots."
The cost of conflict on African development was approximately $300bn between 1990 and 2005, according to new research by Oxfam International, IANSA and Saferworld. This is equal to the amount of money received in international aid during the same period.
The answer to the question that is being posed today – “Can a common African future be built on the strengths of a diverse continent” -- is yes. The broader question however is: how can one match the vision of African development, integration, peace, and democratic governance with institutions that have the capacity to develop and implement policies to work towards the concrete implementation of the vision?