Tag Archives: USA

Keith Harmon Snow, from his preface to Patrick Mbeko book “Canada in the wars in Central Africa.”

Chief Commander of UN peacekeeping forces [MINUAR] during the Rwandan genocide – 1994

In the late spring of 1991 I crossed Uganda on a mountain bicycle and slipped into the eastern Congo, then known as Zaire. I was not interested in politics then, knew nothing about race relations or imperialism and, certainly, nothing about genocide. Africa was an adventure to find and experience life among-st tribal cultures and wildlife I’d seen re-presented in the National Geographic Magazine. After a few safaris in Kenya and Tanzania and after summit-ting Mount Kilimanjaro (covered white with glaciers at the time) and inspired by the portrayals of Africa I’d seen in the western media imagination, I set out for the “heart of darkness”: Zaire.  Continue reading

KONY 2012: Humanitarianism of Colonialism?

By Voice of Africa Radio [Bro. Omowale and Sis. Kai]

When US based non-profit organisation Invisible Children released their 30 minute documentary KONY 2012 online on March 5 2012, it almost instantaneously went viral breaking all records.  Within four days over 20 million people had viewed it.  Now that figure is over 100 million.  The premise of the film, told through the eyes of former child soldier Jacob, is that Joseph Kony, leader of the Uganda based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is “’the World’s worst war criminal’ on par with Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, is responsible for unspeakable atrocities and the disappearance of 30,000 children in his campaign against the government of President Yoweri Museveni.  The poster for the film features the peace dove superimposed on the entwined logos of the USA Democratic and Republican parties with the slogan “one thing we can all agree on.”  KONY 2012 ultimately calls for military intervention to pursue Kony and bring him before the International Criminal Court (ICC) by December 2012, when the campaign ends.  and gets the sanction of President Obama  in the form of a letter officially authorizing 100 combat-ready military ‘advisors’ to help track down Kony and the LRA. Continue reading

Rwanda: a state without a statesman‏

By Theogene Rudasingwa

It was an annual event that has been erroneously baptised national dialogue. It is neither national nor even a dialogue. Paul Kagame and his RPF-a minority in a political and ethnic sense- use the occasion to harass Rwandans who are not in their ever diminishing clique, and foreigners who raise questions about Rwanda’s current crisis of human rights and governance. Kagame’s monologue was almost solely directed against all foreigners- mainly the United States (whose Ambassador, Susan Rice, criticised Rwanda’s lack of democracy, press freedoms and abuse of human rights) and Belgium. His list of enemies also included the usual suspects: journalists and human rights activists. It is, however, to Ambassador Rice’s criticism that Kagame hurled harsh words and insults: intruder, nonsense, joker, liar, double standards, masqueraders, etc. Continue reading

Child Soldiers in the Great Lakes Region

Background

Fig 1. The victims and perpetrators of war. The walking paradox.

The phenomenon of child soldiers in the Great Lakes region of Africa emerged in the mid 1980s when the National Resistance Army (NRA), a rebel movement led by the current president of Uganda, Joweri Kaguta Museveni (Fig 2.), used children to spy and report on enemy’s military positions. They were also used as maids and carriers for combatant rebels.

Fig 2. Joweri Kaguta Museveni

Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by the current President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame (Fig 3.), is notorious for its use of Kadogo (small in Swahili) soldiers who were brainwashed to the point humanity was an alien concept  to them. Kagame has used child soldiers with total and undeniable efficiency at the expense of millions of Rwandans and Congolese people from 1990 onwards.

Fig 3. Paul Kagame

It is worth mentioning that RPF trained with and contributed to the rebellion war of the NRA. Consequently, their military tactics are quite similar. The Lord Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony (Fig 4.), who militarily opposes the NRA government since its inception at the end of the 80s, has also abducted children and used them as soldiers. He is currently labeled as a war criminal and requested by the ICC to face justice. Many rebel movements and militias in DRC have been using child soldiers for the legitimate and illegitimate aims of their struggle.

Fig 4. Joseph Kony

The problem

Warlords of rebellion wars abduct or kidnap children, use and abuse them for their own selfish interests, without any care of the fact that such children shouldn’t be forced into military environments. Despite the sad circumstances that child soldiers have to endure, the root causes of these rebellions in the first place are sometimes overlooked.

Without approving these prevalent phenomena in the Great Lakes Region, it is important and rational to understand the reasons behind any rebel movement.

Inflexibility at the extreme ends of the political spectrum of these countries is generally the origin of these African conflicts. The international community through its diverse interventions in the affairs of the said countries should play an important but neutral part in bringing together opposing sides or allowing a peaceful change of the political scene. This is where democratic and transparent elections are a key factor. Additionally, other pressures have to be employed to reduce social tensions for the benefit of the general population.

Solutions

There are a significant number of actions that could change durably the phenomenon of child soldiers:

  • Stopping impunity by pursuing in justice current political leaders in the region who have used children soldiers among many other means to get where they stand today politically; otherwise they are looked at as role models
  • Put pressure on these leaders to open up the political arena so that dissent voices don’t resort to taking up arms and subsequently using children soldiers to get into power
  • Lobby and campaign for dialogue between these leaders and political opponents and civil society which are not involved in the use of children soldiers to change their respective societies
  • Condemning and pursuing through an effective justice system current rebel leaders in the region who are using children soldiers in their fight
  • Helping children soldiers who get demobilized to recover emotionally from their robbed childhood

Overall, the problem of children soldiers is very deplorable and condemnable for those who use them to achieve their political objectives. However, it would be irrational to address it by only looking at the humanity of these young souls. Most importantly, the inhumanity caused by the initial users of such practice who are today ruling in the Great Lakes Region of Africa should be redressed. They shouldn’t be seen to be above the law and looked upon by the West (mainly Britain and USA) as stabilizing factors in the Great Lakes region, this only because they protect their economic, financial, military and cultural interests.