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Challenges Facing Africa and Nature of African Conflicts

Earlier today In Wowos Political Science Club (WPSC) we discussed the issue of Malema and the African Union debate or argument or should I say fighting. This fighting made me to look deeper into the challenges facing Africa and the Nature of African conflicts. During the WPSC debate, I was also challenged to advise what I have done for Africa and/or doing. It is for this reason that I share my writing with you tonight. 


During the special session of the assembly of the union on the consideration and resolution of conflicts in Africa, which took place in Tripoli on 31 August 2009, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) took a decision to convene a Special Session where they reflected on the then growing concern at the persistence of conflict and crisis situations on the continent (African Union, 2009). Paragraph 19 of that declaration stated (2009, p. 4), “We therefore undertake to build the capacity of our universities and research institutes to explore the nature of African conflicts, to investigate what succeeds and what fails in conflict resolution efforts, and to arrive at African-centered solutions, drawing from our own distinctive and unique experiences”.


Africa, predicted to have the most of the world population growth between 2020 to 2050 with over 1.5 billion people is perceived to be corrupt, prone to political instability, has many coups, brutal acts, ongoing civil wars, no development, deficiencies in education, no access to safe water, poverty, poor health, toxic followership, incompetent, lack of ethical governance, poor leadership and toxic leadership[1] (Ngambi, 2011; Thabo Mbeki Foundation - African Leadership Institute, 2017). 


To give examples of the foregoing paragraph and to showcase the conflicts that have occurred in Africa over the years, here are some of the cases, where, in certain occasions, even the world leaders did not do much: (i) ethic violence in Rwanda in 1994 that left eight hundred thousand dead in just one hundred days; (ii) major ethnic killings in Burundi; (iii) Mauritania, which suffered over ten coups and coup attempts since its independence in 1960; (iv) 2007 Kenya election foul play; (v) on 25 September 1993, a U.S helicopter was shot down in Somalia in what was a proliferation of armed factions and gangs in a war; (vi) in the remote Sudanese province of Darfur, from 2004, the government of the day, persecuted people (severe atrocities) and the Security Council had no desire to place the item even on its agenda (Annan & Mousavizadeh, 2013). 


Bennis (1989) explains that leaders see opportunity in a conflict and that leaders never avoid or repress or deny conflict. He argued that hard times do not deter a leader. It is probably for this reason that in year 2010, at the review conference in Kampala, Uganda, Annan (2013) made it clear that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is more needed in Africa because of the weaknesses of its judicial systems. Annan claimed that if the brutal cases, as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, could be reduced, there will be no need for ICC. 


Ngambi (2011, p. 22) maintains that a leader should never run away from a conflict. Ngambi further describes a leader as someone who has, “the posture of a lion and the view of an eagle”. Annan asserts that no secretary-general has the luxury of choosing whom to engage with as your mission, when you are a secretary-general, is to deal with those who can make a difference and those that can stop the bloodshed. He stated that one must be able to sit down with leaders such as Saddam, Bushiri, or Gadhafi. 


It has to be stated that sometimes the leaders in high offices of the land, were, at times, unable to win or convince others to resolve the conflict. Kofi Annan (2013), the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006 (United Nations, n.d.), in his book titled, “Interventions”, relates a story of how his first statement of alarm at the situation of Darfur was ignored by the Security Council. 


It has to be acknowledged that there have been successes in resolving some of the conflicts in Africa. For example, in May 2000 an intervention by a British military task force routed the rebel factions and returned the balance to Sierra Leone’s political system (Annan & Mousavizadeh, 2013). The UN (n.d.) reported that Kofi Annan mediated a settlement of the dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria. In a mediation process, the Mediator has a duty to call all the stakeholders, various leaders and determine what steps to complete (e.g. identify the problem, rationalise, consult, execute sequentially to find alternatives and the solution or decision[2]). The models of Gibson, Donelly, Invancevich(1997), Stepp (2003), and Scott and Bruce (1995) are some of the methods that a mediator can or should exercise. 


Your feedback will be highly appreciate on this. 


In my next writing, I will share with you the architecture that CADEL can use, as a tool, to always “defend” the human rights of individuals. 

Thank you for reading and good night. 

Warm regards,

Wonga Ntshinga, 

Founder - Wowos Club




Annan, K. & Mousavizadeh, N., 2013. Interventions. New York: Penguin Books.

African Union, 2009. Tripoli Declaration on the Elimination of Conflicts in Africa and the Promotion of Sustainable Peace, Ethopia: African Union.

Ngambi, H., 2011. RARE leadership: An alternative leadership approach for Africa. International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, 6(1), pp. 6-23.

Thabo Mbeki Foundation - African Leadership Institute, 2017. Introduction to Thought Leadership for Africa's Renewal. Pretoria: University of South Africa.

United Nations, n.d. United Nations Secretary-General. [Online] 
Available at:

Gibson, J. L., Donelly, J. H. & Invancevich, J. M., 1997. Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes. 9th ed. Chicago: Irwin.

Scott, S. G. & Bruce, R. A., 1995. Decision-Making Style: The Development and Assessment of a New Measure. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55(5), pp. 818-831.

Stepp, J. A., 2003. How Does The Mediation Process Work?. [Online] 
Available at:

Tarter, J. & Hoy, W. K., 1998. Toward a contingency theory of decision making. Journal of Educational Administration, pp. 212-228.

Bennis, W., 1989. Why leaders can't lead. Los Angeles: Jossey-Bass.

Ndlovu, S. M. & Strydom, M., 2016. The Thabo Mbeki I know. Johannesburg: Picardor Africa.

United Nations, n.d. United Nations. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 30 October 2020].

International Criminal Court, n.d. International Criminal Court. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 30 October 2020].

African Union, n.d. About the African Union. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 30 October 2020].


[1] In this blog we adapt the definition of Ngambi who defines leadership as a “process of influencing others commitment towards realizing their full potential in achieving value adding shared vision with passion and integrity”.

[2] A “good decision” follows the definition of Tarter and Hoy (1998) who claim that “a good decision happens when an existing solution matches a problem.”

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