n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Searching for Peace in Africa : An Overview of Conflict Prevention and Management Activities, Monique Mekenkamp, Paul van Tongeren and Hans van de Veen (eds) : book review

Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


If there ever was a book written about Africa that offers prospects for hope on such a grim subject, then it is this one. The book resulted from the work of numerous authors who have ably assisted the editors, and whose expert views on the conflict in Africa are fresh, provide food for thought, and urge Africa to awake from slumber and seize her moment. The book is set against a background in which ten major conflicts in Africa in the past 25 years have claimed the lives of between 3.8 and 6.8 million people. In 1998 alone, of the 200 violent conflicts occurring world-wide 72 were credited to Africa, thus making Africa 'the most warring region on the planet'. It is in this context that the authors proceed to analyse Africa in the light of conflict and the prospects for peace, since 'there is also another Africa, an Africa where people are living in peace and harmony with each other and their neighbours'. Hence the fundamental question of 'Who will bring peace to Africa?' seems to be the pervading theme in the book. The West on its part has always dubbed Africa as the hopeless continent on the brink of extinction. This inaccurate analysis is the result of stereotyping and inadequate information. If these sentiments are propagated, then it will take a long time before Africa establishes herself in the world. The authors, while acknowledging this failure on the side of the West, reiterate that Africa on its part is not devoid of blame. They dispel the notion that everything associated with colonialism is bad. It is therefore not enough to point fingers of accusation, as this will only exacerbate the stalemate by opening up old wounds. Hence, to avoid the pitfalls of blame, the African Renaissance was initiated, providing an opportunity for Africa, as a whole, to mount a collective effort to quell the growing incidence of conflict propelled by hate. It is the hope of the authors that Africa will grasp the reconciliation, stability and economic independence necessary for social, economic and political development.

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