Activism,  Articles,  Features,  Great-Lakes Conflict & Peace,  Papers,  TRANSCEND Africa

Part.4. African’s Peacefull Means: structural Violence in Africa

The last decades in Africa have been marred by unprecedented levels of political, ethnic, and transnational conflict. This continent is one of the major battlegrounds of global forces; it is the most marginalized areas of the world. More than thirty wars have been fought in Africa since 1970, and most of these have been internal rather than inter-state wars. In 1996 alone, 14 of the 53 countries of Africa were involved in armed conflicts, and they resulted in more than 8 million refugees and displaced persons. This was before the recent conflict (1996) in the Democratic Republic of Congo which qualifies as an African world war because of the number of countries involved and the four million lives it claimed. The dominant discourse on the causes of conflict in Africa puts emphasis on lack of economic growth and poor governance. It accordingly advocates: (1) the opening up of Africa’s economy to foreign capital as a means of improving growth and thus eliminating poverty as a cause of conflict and (2) a more democratic system of governance as a means of encouraging a more inclusive kind of politics.

The real causes of Africa’s lack of peace lie precisely in the manner in which Africa has been integrated into the global economy. Through the terms of its integration, Africa has been conditioned to never-ending impoverishment. Only a self-revitalized positive development by the people at the grassroots level and a reshaping of Africa’s place in the global economic system can lead to both material growth and peace in Africa.

Two major aspects have played principal roles in the degradation of Africa:

o Micro-cultural aspects: local culture with its diversities, local beliefs, local customs

o Macro-cultural aspects: Globalisation, colonialism, neo- colonialism, imperialism, imported beliefs (New religions, technology, and economy).

In these two aspects, we shall try to id to ientify the different manifestations of cultural violence. By cultural violence, we mean aspects of culture which can be used to justify or even legitimise direct or structural violence (Peace by Peaceful means 1996, page

196). Despite significant gains in human development from 1960 to 1980, Africa’s recent development has been characterized by social, economical, and political crises. Understanding the micro and macro-cultural aspects in the degradation process of Africa will help us to shape out the African archaeology of violence.

When examining the archaeological roots of violence in the African culture in general, we shall identify those aspects in the culture, the symbolic sphere of our existence, exemplified by religion, ideologies, languages and art, empirical and formal science (logical or mathematical) that can be used to justify or legitimise direct or structural violence. Our objective in this presentation is “to follow, look for the root of the thing, matter, and problem” and “ to arrange a problem, a matter” as meant by “kuvumbua shida, na ku-badirisha” (Swahili language of eastern Africa), a translation on the Latin dictum: “Bene diagnoscitur, bene curatur. — “Something that is well diagnosed can be cured well”

In the human sciences, archaeology is the scientific study of past human culture and behaviour, from the origins of humans to the present. Archaeology explores past human behaviour through the examination of material remains of previous human societies; in a similar way, archaeology of violence should be seen as a way to trace traditional cultural elements favouring violence in Africa, using some real examples as samples for our research.

Violence must be identified and evaluated and must confront the tribunal of rationality described by the Kantian formula.

* Conceptual analysis of violence: violence, observed in all its horrors, must be known and understood, as is emphasized in the TRANSCEND method. An element which destroys then separates what is united. However, to dynamite a field for mineral exploitation is not considered violence. Here, let us regard violence in relation to both human relations and the surrounding environment as destructive.

* Causality: the cause of violence here is not a fatality theory, which stipulates that when a country or a region reaches a certain level of demographic development without having at the same time attained a necessary economical development regarding its population, it disintegrates. However, the increasing lack of resources among the peoples is a potential source of violence.

*Typology of violence: In Peace by Peaceful Means [p.197], Johan Galtung points out the following aspects: survival (killing and exploitation), well-being (maiming, misery, morbidity), identity (alienation, negation), need for freedom (repression, expulsion, marginalization, detention). If the eco-balance for human basic maintenance including survival, well-being, freedom, and identity is not satisfied, we have the tragedy of human degradation.

Comments Off on Part.4. African’s Peacefull Means: structural Violence in Africa