Noteworthy is the fact that post-independence Africa has been characterized by a myriad of armed conflicts, though in recent times, they have reduced in number.
By Okot Boniface
I subscribe to the notion that Africa's primary cause of instability is the crisis of leadership. Political instability, socio-economic instability, ideological disorientation, and absence of post-conflict reconciliatory structures are secondary or better put as factors of the leadership crisis.
Noteworthy is the fact that post-independence Africa has been characterized by a myriad of armed conflicts, though in recent times, they have reduced in number. Between 1960-1990, Africa had 64 successful coup d'état and 114 attempts. During the same period, 23 Presidents and Prime Ministers were assassinated. While 44 states had experienced a Coup or an attempted coup.
The error should not be made to synonymise security with peace. While security is the physical protection of persons, country or property against attack or harm, peace is more than just the absence of war but also the respect of human rights, democracy, good governance, equality, liberty, happiness and ability of individuals to afford the basics of life.
Firstly, the challenges of state and nation-building are a thorn in the flesh of many African leaders, culminating into political instability characterized by dilemmas like identity politics making it difficult to adopt a shared vision of governing principles.
Secondly, youth unemployment and under-employment are threats to national stability. Most African countries have weak employment policies such as access to reliable market information through job bureaus, equal opportunities in young men and women, mentoring and coaching.
Thirdly, Ideological disorientation has chronically swallowed up several African leaders as the Ubuntu philosophy continues to be disregarded in practice. The Ubuntu philosophy, embraced by great leaders like the late Nelson Mandela and Julius Mwalimu Nyerere encompass the phenomenon of ‘I am because we are, and because we are, therefore I am,' Ubuntu also discourages egoistic self-aggrandizement, typical of many of today's African political leaders.
Furthermore, Africa's history is characterized by colonial oppression, political and constitutional instability and the ‘struggles against the forces of tyranny, oppression and exploitation' and because of such a dark history, many Africans are traumatized, and sadly when they become leaders, they often govern with feelings of hatred and revenge. There is a significant absence of strong tools for post-conflict reconciliation and harmony.
With the right diagnosis of our problems, we shall be in a firm position to offer sustainable solutions to Africa's peace and security question.
Cognisant of the fact that social change is incomplete without recourse to human behaviour, African educators should design compulsory integrated syllabi that foster holistic development focusing on leadership and value education, parents be trained to guide children in the socialization process, leaders and elders strengthen the Ubuntu ideology, religious leaders be tasked to guide society according to principles that encourage sustainable peace and security and not violence.
The lower level leaders should champion ideological training to transition from violence to non-violence, from divisive ethnic politics to unity, from coercive power to integrative power, and from dictatorship to democracy, and the rule of law with Ubuntu as a central philosophy. The law enforcement and security agencies must adopt community policing philosophy in our effort to humanize their operations.
Similarly, Africa should constitute institutions to design and support an agenda and activities for sustainable peace and security, be assertive about non-violence, spearhead civic education, coordinate plans for national reconciliation, and design strategies to prevent violent conflicts. The institutions should also develop strategies to address security-related questions like national security, food security, economic security, cybersecurity and climate security. These solutions should be premised on the African realities. Principally; our shared values, African ownership and commitment.
We should struggle to advance a comprehensive model for sustainable peace Africa wide, as well as design procedures and structured responses for reconciliation and reconstruction where political antipathy has caused dissension and train citizens in principled and visionary leadership and peace. Peacekeeping missions would adopt leadership training and development as a long-lasting solution to achieving sustainable peace and security.
The African Union with the support of the RECs (Regional Economic Communities) should be persuaded to strengthen and enforce the African Peer Review Mechanism. Institute of the African Criminal Court. The African Regional Standby Forces should be empowered to manage conflicts, peacebuilding missions and security situations like health security, cybersecurity, climate and food security.
Nationally, we must prioritize actions that combat youth unemployment and under-employment. For instance, invest in modernized commercial agriculture which also mitigates food insecurity, diversify agriculture, support labour-intensive industrial growth, develop the service sector, institute startup capital, and encourage self-employment.
Non-Governmental Organizations, particularly the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that rewards African leaders for good governance, could invest in leadership training and establish academies for training future political leaders like the Uongozi Institute Model. Foreign investors, multinational corporations, and developed nations should detest the practices of corrupt political officials to achieve their business goals.
Conclusively, poor leadership is retarding Africa's progress. Strengthening leadership is indispensable to achieving and sustaining peace and security in Africa. Ideological orientation particularly premised on the Ubuntu philosophy holds hope for revamping Africa's leadership predicament and averting a similar catastrophe in the future since it focuses on humanness, human dignity, the collective good, and interconnectedness of all beings as foundational to building a peaceful and secure Africa.
The writer is a youth activist