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Can Africa live a future without war?
An Open Letter to Mandela

By Fubara David-West

 Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston, and The Black Business Journal


Dear President Nelson Mandela:
Although you retired about 2 years ago after serving as president of post-apartheid South Africa, yours is one African name that is universally recognized as a tower of dignified statesmanship, a symbol of selfless sacrifice and of inspirational leadership.

Without your political stature acting as a flag post to direct the people to where they should be heading in their tasking journey, the struggle to rid South Africa of the crime against humanity that apartheid was might not have led so smoothly into the new dawn that South Africa now represents for all Africans, for the African Diaspora and for the entire world. That is why I am writing to you to give you another challenge, one that would put an end to all similar crimes against humanity on the continent, extinguish all future armed conflicts among African states and peoples, and put the continent on a permanent and progressive path to democracy and prosperity.

 When Tolstroy in 'War and Peace' observed that morale is more decisive than a count of tanks, soldiers and air planes that an army comes to battle with, he implied a hopeless note at the end of the wise observation: an army with neither morale nor the requisite numbers in materiel is a sorry claptrap, defeated long before morale and numbers come into play.

Africa stands exposed in that hopeless state and military conflicts between African states produce a deteriorating lack of capital, moral and material to bring to the field of human and political development and achievement. 

Every African war is a new avenue for a wasteful transfer of capital from the impoverished continent to the advanced post-industrial states of the North. It is an absolute waste to the continent because the military jets, the tanks and the bombs that Africans import for these conflicts, do not come with any kind of technological transfer. Africans do not develop new plants for the manufacture of military hardware for possible export to the North or to the South. At the end of every conflict is a people further devastated and impoverished and deeper in international debt. Stopping this trend is an urgent need if Africa is to have any hope of developing the institutional, economic and technological strength that another African giant, Kwame Nkrumah called Black Power.

 Africa is at a critical crossroads, that point in a peopleís history when a giant leap forward is only possible with the deliberate efforts of inspiring leadership, and conscious, progressive followers. This situation is dramatized by a cursory look at the continent which displays a crisis-ridden cauldron, always attempting to put out fires from a past era, for ever at the center of the many disasters of the contemporary world, from AIDS and widespread poverty to destructive wars and technological obsoleteness. Take the AIDS pandemic as an example of what could happen if Africa changed its course. Twenty-two million Africans are infected with AIDS.

What would happen if a mere 10 percent of the funds wasted on wars and domestic armed struggles for political power on the continent were spent on fighting AIDS and on doing research in virology and immunology in general? Africa might find itself in the forefront of modern medical research, building up the resources for meeting prospective public health crises in Africa and around the world. The continent might develop research centers and teaching hospitals as magnets for importing ìbrain powerî into the continent to guarantee future success in science and technology.

Europe was at a similar crossroads in 1945, devastated by two world wars in a short three decades. Germany had just demonstrated the depth of barbarism that Christian Europe, which was at the center of human civilization was capable of, through its gas chambers and its concept of total war. Nothing we have seen in Africa comes even close to comparing with the carnage the world witnessed in Europe. Would Germany rise up again to attempt another drive for world domination? Would France and Germany ever trust each other again? Could the United Statesí commitment to European security be relied upon? What was the meaning of Stalinism and communism in the Soviet Union? Did the Iron Curtain as Churchill called it mean a preparation for another global war?

 These were all on the table in 1945, when the French statesman Jean Monnet started promoting the then incredulous idea that the democratic states of Europe should be gradually united. An idle dreamer! Impossible! Many people might have declared. Six short years later (1951) Europeans had recognized the economic value of such a dramatic move. Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany would establish the European Coal and Steel Community. Fifty years later, and with unrelenting movement in political and economic process, the impossible dream is a reality.

Europe is a democratic political union, a zone of peace between neighbors, where the available human and material resources are garnered for the betterment of life and ultimately for the promotion of economic and political security. That is the model that must be replicated in Africa today, but the continent does not have 50 years; and it should not. Africans are not reinventing the wheel. They are merely expected to retool it for their purposes. Furthermore, there is a weakness that could be turned into strength in the drive for continental unity: the level of market, social infrastructure, industrial and technological development of African countries is virtually equal across the continent. Thus local differentiation will pose little of an impediment to swift action.

 When you joined other African leaders in Durban to launch the African Union on July 9, 2002, hopes were raised all over the African world, although there was also some apprehension among many people that the new body would turn out to be nothing more definitive for African progress than the OAU which it replaced. However, sitting on the sidelines and finding possible faults with the new organization are not enough.

It is time for the people to make this popular cause, one against which all Africans aspiring to lead will be evaluated. Africa will redefine its future as a timeline of progressive achievement in politics, in international diplomacy, in technological, scientific and agricultural development, in international trade and in popular culture. If Africa succeeds it will become another continent without wars, joining the rest of the world as equals in the search for freedom, human dignity and progress. You are Mr. Mandela, the most capable African statesman to lead this charge.

 You should pick ten Africans whom you recognize as selfless Pan-Africanists to champion this cause for mass mobilization to push the continent into the future. The task of this group should include the drawing up of a treaty that accomplishes five objectives:
(1) an end to military conflicts between African countries,
(2) full and permanent democratization of African political systems and an end to all military actions for political power within African countries,
(3) the adoption of a common standard of human rights and of legal and political process both of which could be adjudicated by any African anywhere in Africa, before a continental court,
(4) accelerating the full implementation of NEPAD as a retooled vehicle for continental cooperation and coordination in social and economic infrastructure renewal, and for agricultural, medical, scientific and technological research and development,
(5) a declaration that at a date certain all past treaties among African countries and between African countries and the rest of the world will be interpreted in the context of African unity and in accordance with the legal and political objectives of the African Union.

In this regard, the Peace and Security Council should be remodeled. It should become a political decision-making body with the authority to use continental armed forces to end military conflicts within African countries and between African countries. It should also be capable of defending continental interests around the world. The model should not be the United Nations Security Council. It should rather be NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Every country should make available to the Council a percentage of its total military forces to be deployed anywhere on the continent and out for peace-making, for peace-keeping, and for promoting and protecting African interests around the world.

 The task is urgent and absolutely essential. The entire continent, the whole world waits to say heartily, and with the unvarnished dreams of last night singing on every rooftop: Good Morning! Good morning, Africa, to a new day!
David-West is a contributing editor of

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SPORTS: Tiger Woods makes more history with another golf Masters win. He shot 12-under-par 276 and a final round 71 at Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club event and collected $1,008,000, on Sunday April 14, 2002. With it, the world's golf phenom added another green jacket to his array of championships and titles, placing him, in this instance, in the same respected Masters' league as Nicklaus (winner 1965 and 1966) and Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990). The three are the only men to win back-to-back Masters. At 26, Woods has since become the youngest golfer to win his seventh professional major championship. He was joined by his parents and his 22 year-old Swedish model girlfriend, Elin Nordegren.
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Impeachment process shows Nigerian democracy "is alive... being tested." Nigeria's president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the impeachment process shows that "democracy is alive, is being tested, and being tried.... What they (the legislators) have tried to do in the democratic way, which is not easy, would probably have been done by taking arms or by -- with bullets. So, but with democracy, of course, some people feel that this is the way this should be, and then I have an opportunity to defend myself. There is discussion. There is dialogue. There is a decision. There is fairness." He made these comments when he appeared on Tuesday September 17, 2002 on CNN International to discuss the issues of impeachment facing him, the allegations of corruption, abuse of the constitution and deployment of soldiers ina civilian environment which led to the "massacre of civilians" in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue). On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer. He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence." Obasanjo: Let me say this to you, when you put the question of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for a population of over 120 million people...." But Founder and recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), Chido Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when (President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100 million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation, however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily Times continued that "the third factor that is equally important to underscore is that the armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action rather than just containing a civil disagreement." He noted in backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process by a majority of the members of the National Assembly, predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See rush transcript of the CNN International news program.
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Index of Founder's Notes (1)

Index of Founder's Notes (2)

Index of other Viewpoints USAfricaonline contributors and columnists on the issues