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Putting straight answers to this question, the origins of Africa's civil conflicts are the very corrupt politicians who think that members of the civil society are at their mercy and can do nothing to stop their lootings and unfairness. They buy houses overseas to send their children there to study, including transferring money into foreign bank accounts, leaving their people to perish, state schools and hospitals ...
Putting straight answers to this question, the origins of Africa's civil conflicts are the very corrupt politicians who think that members of the civil society are at their mercy and can do nothing to stop their lootings and unfairness. They buy houses overseas to send their children there to study, including transferring money into foreign bank accounts, leaving their people to perish, state schools and hospitals in their countries to impoverish. This happens in all African countries, including Sierra Leone, where politicians have refused to get it right.
One government politician was to be appointed minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation in Sierra Leone, but he told the Parliamentary Committee that his credentials to substantiate his CV were to be faxed by his son from London in UK, indicating that although the politician attends Sierra Leone parliament, his family lives and supports their living expenses in UK, not in Sierra Leone. Is that fair on common Sierra Leoneans who pay the taxes he lavishes on his family abroad? The population statistics has since been falsified to create more voting constituencies in the Northern Province for political gains and vote riggings. To be honest, current politicians in my country are busy planting the second phase of civil unrest that may lead to another bloody civil war, and I will not keep my mouth shut but alert the world in this book.
Mohamed Sannoh, Methodist Boys' High School, Freetown
Mohamed Sannoh is also the author of Mastering Business Administration in Education and African Politics (the Sierra Leone Chapter).
Causes of civil conflicts in Africa—Politicians Corruption
Many people have their own definitions of civil war but what I personally refer to as civil war is basically fighting of armed conflicts to a high level that causes citizens of the same county to fight with each other; either basing from differences of political party, tribal, religious, sexual or land ownership.
The major causes of civil war resulting into brothers fighting brothers, especially in Africa is due to greed. What is greed? This is situation of the mind that causes an individual to be in control of all and to claim all for him or herself even when they do not need all to survive. The basic need of human nature to survive is the ability to have food, shelter and clothing.
As long as these basic wants are satisfied, one must give chance to others to have their own basic needs. But most people, especially in Africa, like to have more than what they need to survive and they even enjoy other people suffering in their neighbourhoods while they have many to lavish to the admiration of those without. It is common for rich men to drive very expensive cars living in very expensive houses up the street in a less privileged environment with haggard streets but those without see them passing by with envy and to their satisfaction because they can afford more than anyone in the area. They can afford to have generators in their compounds to supply electricity wile their neighbourhoods in darkness.
They take it as privilege for their neighbours who cannot afford televisions to come to their homes to watch their TV programmes. They prefer their children to attend expensive private schools and driven to schools in expensive cars on a daily basis while other children from less privilege parenthoods walk to high populated schools in single uniforms on a daily basis and even without shoes, but on bare feet. Never the less, children of these less parenthoods are even just privileged to find themselves in schools at all. What happens more in such cases is that the so called privilege people are politicians living in the neighbourhoods. Sometimes it sounds as a natural punishment for a poor man to live in a neighbourhood with a politician such as a member of parliament or a cabinet minister of an African government.
They behave as if the country in which they live belong to them alone and their voting into government is license for them to loot and squander the nation's wealth and lavish on womanising, drunkenness and show-offs that are very unnecessary but just to get poor people angry and to the extent of getting them to the understanding that something is not right and it is about time to correct these wrongs. The powers of politics is so high in Africa that even when journalists attempt to call attention of politicians to the sensitivities of their behaviours of injustice, they either do not care or they exercise their political powers to arrest those journalists and send them to jail for a period of time. It is also very uncommon to hear of African governments auditing their government ministers to account for specific spending of amount of government money that belongs to tax payers. As far as Africa is concerned, a government minister that supports a ruling party in government does no wrong. All amount of money that comes to their possessions meant for covering expenditure in their ministries for the purpose of developments and for the benefits of tax payers in the country remains on calculator to divide how much goes to their ministry's projects and how much goes into their overseas bank account. If for example, the amount of £10million is given to the Minister of Health for the development of hospital equipments in two hospitals, the very first they do is to divide that amount into equal halves of £5million straight.
They then puts £2million in a suitcase and walk with it to the president; give him thanks and pledge their continuous supports for the party and sends the other £3million into their overseas bank account. This means that the £10million approved for the ministry's expenditure remains £5million only to cater for the two hospitals which will not be enough and they are not asked to produce receipts of expenditure in authentic audits for their spending. If the government audits forces any other auditing moves, they will receive a phone call from the president that ministry expenditure is ok and approved.
When information of such conversation from the president is revealed by any news paper, the publisher gets arrested and put in jail because that is where he belongs for publishing the presidential communication without his permission. In a civilised world like Britain, that is referred to as corruption and no elements of it, is tolerated in their politics. We have seen government ministers and party politicians sacked from their positions in British politics for claiming small amounts of money as low as £50 more that what they are expected. Within the frameworks of African politics, the major calamity is tribalism. What is tribalism? Tribalism is when two people belong to two different tribes, speaking two different languages of two different regions in the same country.
In an imaginary African state like Bulayngay there are fifteen different tribes including the Zumarkis and five others in the North and the Balajos and seven others in the South. The present head of state is a Zumarkis man, which makes power to be in the North because the tribal division is that the country has the Zumarkis in the North and the Balajors in the South. Where the Minister of Education is a Zumarkis by tribe, the offer university places and offer of scholarships to study at the university will heavily be channelled towards the Zumakis and the northerner tribal applicants even when the Balajos and other southerner tribal applicants are more qualified. This explains that the politics of the day favours to develop the Zumarkis tribe.
This is also another form of corruption in African politics and these kinds of corruptions are very highly institutionalised to the point that those who don not come from areas of the country where the political powers are not balanced are left to accept that it is not yet their time to benefit from the politics of their countries.
Therefore, if you ask me in a nutshell to tell you the causes of rebel conflicts in Africa, the answers I will give to your question are "CORRUPTION! CORRUPTION and CORRUPTION!" especially those instituted by our politicians and expect us to accept as way of life and the origin of this corruption is greed. Politicians want to have everything, eat everything including foods, money and beautiful women. Those who are greedy always expect everything for themselves and show white teeth and very niece affectionate appearance to cheer up the needy.
They pretend to us to be caring but they keep themselves busy with squandering the nation's wealth for their own personal pockets. They use our monies to top up their overseas bank accounts and these bank accounts are so secured that no one has access to it, even when they die.
Such amount of money therefore stays with the foreign banks to benefit the countries in which they are. Our government ministers buy houses in developed overseas countries and send their children there to study in advanced universities while their nations educational institutions are left impoverished but the question again here is, what do they actually benefit from this? "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" This is a very old biblical question that Disciple Mark of Our Lord Jesus Christ asked in verse 36 of Chapter 8 of his gospel. What excuse do they have on the day of judgement?
Is rebel conflict the way out?
I don't think any decent civilised person prefers civil conflict as solution to problems they are not able to solve. However, when human sufferings continues to the level so long, it reaches to a point where all conditions become unbearable, especially where these conditions become daily occurrence to the permanent and especially where the leaders do not recognised the signs and warnings of the suffering public. As a result of being fed up, they are left with no alternative but to strike into civil conflict, as they already have nothing to loose. "He that is down fears no fall" is a common saying of the suffered.
Examples of civil conflicts we can learn from
Africa has suffered from chains of civil conflicts which are discussed to educate our current and future politicians with the expectation of behaving properly to protect their countries.
i. The Sierra Leone civil war
ii. The Liberia civil war
iii. The Uganda civil war
iv. The Somali civil war
v. The Democratic Republic of Congo civil war
vi. The Angola civil warCHAPTER 2
Origin of the Sierra Leone civil war
The West African state of Sierra Leone is one of the African countries that have recently experienced human catastrophe on the surface of the planet earth. Why and how did this war happen in such a very rich, prosperous and peaceful country?
It has taken me a decade to discover the cause of the Sierra Leone civil war. In other words, to find out why did my brother Foday Sankoh start the civil war? I recalled a TV interview of Foday Sankoh by a Gambian BBC journalist Ebrima Sillah in the year 2001.
I can still recall from this interview that my brother, Foday Sankoh's idea for civil war in Sierra Leone did not come up within a day and start immediately. It was a fermented seed that was sewn in 1967 by the then President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone when he planned the abuse power to the point of forcing one party rule on the country in 1978, abusing the nation's wealth through stealing and saving in foreign bank accounts, leaving Sierra Leoneans to suffer for basic necessities, including the staple food of rice. At the time things were getting more difficult for Sierra Leoneans in their own country, Siaka Steven was boasting of having hotels he bought in places like Las Palmas which created employments for other people in different country.
To worsen the situation, Siaka Stevens left Joseph Siadu Momoh in charge that he transferred power to as President of Sierra Leone in 1985 and we all went into singing for him in the streets of Freetown saying:
"Who da gie Momoh power? Na God!
Who da gie Momoh power? Na God!
Momoh nor worry na God don put you there,
Water way na for you-o, e-nor go run pass you.
Water way na for you-o, e-nor go run pass you".
Remember, Momoh was never voted for by the voters but transferred power to who immediately became power chief in the country under the one party banner of All Peoples Congress (APC). Why did Siaka Stevens transferred power to Momoh and not to his Vice President, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma?
What did S.I. Koroma do that forfeited him the presidency at State House in Sierra Leone after all the evils he introduced in Sierra Leone politics in total supports of Siaka Stevens individually and the APC as a political party in general? S.I. left no evil unturned as he went to the extend of labelling himself "Agba Satan" the agent of Satan the devil, and no one can mess with him and get away.
Why did he allow himself to be used by Siaka Stevens and APC to that level? Was it due to ill health at that time from car accident he encountered at that time that he was not appointed president?
The whole country went into pocket debates in corners that Siaka Stevens was protecting his life by making sure that the army chief will not prosecute him by bringing him to justice to account for all he did during his misrule of power and human right abuse.
My brother Foday Sankoh also revealed in that same interview that Sierra Leoneans were for a long time braising themselves for the civil war by saying openly in the street that unless war happens in this country, we cannot learn our lesson and the politicians will not stop sizing advantage on us.
When J.S. Momoh became president of Sierra Leone under the one party "democracy", his popularity was very high as he started with the introduction of price control especially on basic commodities including staple foods. The problem that emerged immediately with this popularity was the implementation; as there was no backup strategy in place to support the price control system and immediately, his total image of himself started coming out as he was proved to be a total disgrace to himself, to the political party he represented (All Peoples Congress-APC) and Sierra Leone in particular.
He proved to be a drunkard and a womaniser to the point of not picking, even under aged girls for his sexual urge at Lagoonda night club near Cape Sierra Hotel at Lumbley beach in the West end of Freetown. In most occasions, he enjoyed himself there to the point of falling on the floor helplessly. Momoh was so useless to the extend that the tribal people among the Fulani's who wanted to break through into Sierra Leone and get away with corruption bribed him with virgins to have sex with which he accepted with pleasure. Is this the kind of leader my country should have at any time? My brother, Foday Sankoh did not think so.CHAPTER 3
Taste of the Mende culture
Originated from the Northern Province among the Limba people who was recruited in the Sierra Leone Military Forces (SLMF) by Siaka Stevens and eventually moved to settle down in Freetown during his military service, my brother Foday Sankoh narrowly escaped execution for the failed coup d'état for which Sieka Stevens killed Mohamed Sorrie Forna and fourteen others; he could have been included, which he knew about well in advanced but escaped. He could have been charged with "misprision of treason" which is also severally punishable with life imprisonment according to the constitution of Sierra Leone. He felt that his life was very risky. He no longer felt safe in Freetown and he changed address but did not go to his Limba line in the North. He moved to the far Eastern Province and settled in one of the boarder villages near the Segbwema Township where he established himself as photographer among the Mende/Kissy tribal people and closer to Liberia. My brother Foday Sankoh found his new village settlement address very strategic for his rebel war planning.
As a photographer, he embarked on moving from village to village and the border townships in both Sierra Leone and Liberia in search of photographing business, taking pictures of people and washing them in Segbwema and taking them back to their owners at affordable prices. Names of those who could not afford to pay at his arrival were taken and negotiated with them to have their pictures and pay him back upon his next arrival, say in two weeks time. He became very popular among these tribes and regarded him as a businessman that can understand his customers.
This movement was also a spying plot which gave him the opportunity to understand the areas properly including all the bye-ways and the bye-passes in the Eastern Province and the Western Liberia counties of Lofa, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount. He was also smart enough to learn and pick up quickly the Mende/Kissy tribal languages and the major part of their cultures.
Mende people are the largest of the tribes of the thirteen tribal groups in Sierra Leone although the current APC government has politically falsified the tribal statistics to create more political constituencies in the Northern Province for political gains and vote riggings. My brother Foday Sankoh clearly understood that the Mende people in general are very open minded especially to strangers as long as their wives are not tampered with for personal love making pleasure purposes. That is the worst crime any stranger can commit to a Mende man and especially in his own locality that he cannot accept. No man can come from outside for sex tourism holidays in the Mende settlements of Sierra Leone. Although friendly and kind in nature, strangers in Mende land are always accepted with caution until they proved their decency to satisfaction.
Excerpted from ORIGINS AND SOLUTIONS TO AFRICA'S REBEL CONFLICTS (The Seirra Leone Chapter) by MOHAMED SANNOH. Copyright © 2013 Mohamed Sannoh. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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