Early Career Researcher (ECR) Workshop

ECR WORKSHOP 1Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) hosted a two day Early Career Researcher (ECR) workshop on 16th and 17th July 2019. The workshop brought together over 35 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia with a great focus on peace, security and conflict. This  was mainly meant for Early Career Researchers and academics, especially PHD holders (less than 10 years) and PhD students. It was co-hosted by Africa Leadership Centre (ALC), King’s College London and the British Academy. Prof. Funmi Olonisakin the founding director ALC and Dr. Sarah Njeri a research associate with ALC were among the delegates present.

 

The rise of Omar Al-Bashir and the Dynamics That Led to His Ouster

Sudanese President Omar Al-BashirSudanese President Omar Al-Bashir with Sudan amry forces in Khartoum, Sudan on 9 April 2017 [Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency]

Since the wave of independence hit Africa in the 60s, the continent has had its share of problems with leadership, but few problems bemoan its people as the recurring problem of dictatorship which has been a key hindrance to the social, economic and political potential of the continent. Though most dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko and Idi Amin were ousted through coups, and others like Omar Bongo of Gabon died in office, a crop of dictators stood the test of time and managed to hold on to power even as times changed. Omar Al-Bashir is an epitome of such dictators, solidifying his legacy as one of Africa's most prominent strong men with a record 30 years in power. read more

 

Chartered Mediators In Ukunda and Kwale County

Ukunda kwale 2The second batch of chartered mediators had a second training on July 2019 from 22nd to 25th July 2019 in Ukunda, Kwale County. This particular training had 12 participants with a gender representation of 5 women to 7 men who had been selected by attractive industry companies and community based organizations (CBOs).

This training was enabled with support from Misean Cara.

 

THE TRANSATLANTIC ROUNDTABLE ON RELIGION AND RACE

Conference 3The conference was held from 1st -5th July at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR). It was divided into 2 sections; Pre-conference and the main conference. It was attended by people from different cultural diversities and religions across the globe.
On the first day( Monday 1st), the guests were taken for cultural visits to Kibera and Eastleigh in a bid to learn more on what the local community CBOs are doing to promote peace and unity among people of different diversities. On the Eastleigh visit, they visited the Eastleigh Fellowship Centre (EFC) the CBO reaches out to Somalis through various programmes which include; Sports, Education and conducting medical camps in collaboration with other organizations. On the Kibera visit the guest had a chance to visit Polycom Development Project which is a Women Empowerment and Girl child welfare organization, working to mobilize, organized and develops voices of women/girls living in urban slum settlements. On the second day different local organizations working on peace in Kenya gave their presentations including Vocal KE, Footprints for change amongst others.

The conference brought together scholars from different religious and cultural backgrounds. Each day had a main theme discussed. For instance, on the 2nd the presentations were mainly from different local organizations on what they do for peace, on the 3rd, the main theme was on the East African perspective on religious diversities and conflicts, on the 4th it was on the immigration crisis and promotion of women empowerment and on the 5th was on cultures of development, empowerment and agency and the final overview and report on the discussions.
The conference handled various topics in relation to religion and race. It started off with a topic on East African Perspectives on the Old divisions and new social formations which talked about Regional politics, Conflict and reconciliation in Eastern Africa and the different responses to the conflicts and socio-religious diversities through mediation frameworks, the Catholic social teaching on conflict and other methods of bringing different cultures together for peace and understanding. Issues such as the Immigration crisis and the church response to the same were discussed in a bid to come up with ideas and policies to resolve or intervene in the crisis.
Generally, the conference informed on the key roles played by religion, culture and race in bringing about conflicts and also in resolving the conflicts and promoting peace in the society. For instance, as pointed by one of the speakers Dr James Mwita from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, that Religion is the best option for conflict mitigation and has contributed to responding to the ethnic land conflicts in Kenya. It also appreciated the efforts by different religious organisations in mitigating conflicts and peace building processes. The conference was important in networking through institutional partnerships and community building.

 

Promoting Inter-Faith Dialogue in Kenya

Jamia 1The students from Hekima University College attended an open day at Jamia Mosque in Nairobi-Kenya, on Saturday, 27/10/2018. According to the Jamia Mosque Committee, the event served: firstly, to enhance a better understanding of Islam; secondly, to promote harmony between different religious and cultural groups; and thirdly, to demystify Islamic practices and traditions. The event was also attended by students from other universities around Nairobi. Seven students, accompanied by Rev. Dr. Peter Knox, SJ, Dean at Jesuit School of Theology, represented Hekima.

The event started off with a brief introduction to the symbols and rituals conducted by Muslims when they are praying in the mosque. This included the five prayers done during the day and the meaning of some Arabic words, to get a better understanding of Islam. For the following session, the participants were invited to Mihrab, the niche of the mosque that indicates the qibla (direction of Mecca), and in which the Imam stands to preach. The Iman of Jamia Mosque thanked the participants for having honored their invitation and emphasized the fact that as human beings, we come from the same God (Allah). Consequently, all human beings are called independently to their religion to live in peace and respect one another. According to him, Christians are closer to Muslims than any other religion. Muslims and Christians are called to cohabitation and collaboration. In addition to that, Muslims strictly respect the message that comes from God and preached by all prophets, including Jesus. Hence the prophet Muhammad constitutes the achievement of all prophecies.

For the last session, the Jamia Mosque Committee invited participants to the Multipurpose Hall where participants were invited to ask questions and give some remarks about the event. The questions asked by the participants were around the controversial verses in the Qur’an, the role of women in Islam, the importance of Jihad and hadith in Islam, Sharia, religious extremism, interfaith dialogue, conflict in the Middle East involving Islamic countries, etc.

Jamia 2From Hekima University College, Fernando Baleia SJ, a student of MA in Peace Studies, gave a brief remark on the significance of the event and congratulated the Jamia Mosque Committee for having organized the event. It was especially appreciated because two weeks earlier, Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations had organized its Third International Conference which focused on Religious Extremism and Violence in Africa: Reviewing the Practice of Intervention & Inter-Religious Dialogue.

In closing, the event allowed participants not only to learn about Islam but also to interact with one another as a better way to promote interfaith dialogue.

All the participants went home with an English translation of the Holy Qur’an from the Muslim Community as a sign of gratitude. We hope that other similar events will be organized in order to promote peace and avoid conflicts between religions.

Fernando Baleia SJ

 

 

The South Sudan Crisis: What is the way forward for peace?

The South Sudan Crisis: What is the way forward for peace?

Lucy Poni Modi

Lucy Poni

Lucy Pony Modi is currently pursuing her MA degree in Peace Studies and International Relations at HIPSIR, Hekima University College.

The signing of a new peace deal between President Salvar Kiir and former Vice President Machar on Sunday 5th August 2018 in Khartoum raised new hopes for peace in the world's youngest nation. Previous ceasefire and peace agreements have been violated and there is hope that this one will finally bring peace to a people that has suffered many years of conflict. On June 27 2018 the two parties signed the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, where they committed themselves to a permanent ceasefire and pledged to settle the outstanding issues in the implementation of security arrangements and governance chapters of the 2015 Arusha Agreement, including a ceasefire to take effect from June 30, which was soon violated. The 5th August agreement puts into place a power sharing agreement under a new transnational government of unity that will rule for 36 months until general elections. The agreement creates a new 35-member government comprised of 20 ministers from Salva Kiir's current government, while Machar's SPLM-IO will have nine portfolios and other opposition groups will share the rest of the positions. Besides Machar, President Kiir will have four more deputies during the transition period. The transition will be a litmus test for South Sudan and it has to be handled carefully. There have been concerns from different social-political quotas that the current environment of intense regional and international pressure on the government and rebel leaders may not be conducive for sustainability of peace. However, at the same many South Sudanese have suffered under the war and some level of pressure is necessary to end the violence.

The Impact of the Conflict

South Sudan descended into a civil war two years after her independence from Sudan in 2011, following Africa's longest civil war of 21 years with the Sudanese government. The conflict is as a result of myriad of issues related to constitutional, social economic, and political crises.

Almost 2 million people have been internally displaced, and another 2 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, with property and lives being wasted since the inception of conflict. More than 230,000 people are being taken care of in six United Nations bases in various centres across the country. Seven-and-a-half million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and the UN has declared a famine, with at least 100,000 people at risk of starvation and displacement. According to World Report 2018: South Sudan/ Human Rights Watch, in 2017, South Sudan's civil war got into its fourth year, wide-spreading across the country with new fighting in Greater Upper Nile, Western Bahr al Ghazal, and the Equatorias, introducing highly abusive government counterinsurgency operations. Meanwhile the government of South Sudan continues to restrict media, stifle critics, and unlawfully detain people perceived as opposition.

The United Nations Security Council in an unprecedented move voted to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan. In a statement to the council before the vote, the American Ambassador to the UN Nikki Hailey said, "South Sudan's people have endured unimaginable suffering and unspeakable atrocities. Their leaders have failed them. They are desperate to get the most basic food, medicine and shelter. But above all, they just want the violence to stop. We need to stop the flow of weapons to armed groups, that they are using to fight each other and to terrorize the people." Many human rights groups hailed the decision saying the decision came at the right time to pressure the parties to sign an agreement.

The resolution came shortly after the UN human rights office released a report documenting how government troops and allied forces committed atrocities against civilians. in the country's northern part in April and May 2018, saying that the atrocities committed amount to war crimes.
The South Sudanese parliament in mid-July 2018 voted to extend President Salva Kiir's mandate for additional three years. The extensions will enable President Kiir and the parliament to rule the country during the transitional period and avoid a constitutional vacuum in the country. However, the US, the UN and parties to the conflict have condemned the move, claiming it aims at maintaining the status quo and is detrimental to the efforts exerted towards the ongoing peace process.

Earlier attempts to solve the crisis

The Agreement of the Resolution of the South Sudan ARCISS signed by President Kiir and former vice president Machar on August 17, 2015 stated among other things, the immediate cessation of hostilities, security arrangements, establishment of a transitional government leading to elections and the establishment of a hybrid court to try those that have committed atrocities against the people of South Sudan. However, before the ink dried on the paper, massive violations of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities were reported.

IGAD-led talks in Addis Ababa on August 17, 2015 were an opportunity to bring together the conflicting parties for a resolution to the many issues surrounding the conflict in South Sudan. Unfortunately, the loosely connected chains of command within the dozens of armed groups make it impossible for any single leader to claim fool command of the rebel groups. It is not clear whether these commanders are controlling their armies or their armies are controlling them. In the event that they somehow managed to get a firm grasp of their armies, the dictates of negotiations would easily trickle down to the foot soldiers.

In 2016, President Salva Kiir launched the National Dialogue initiative in an attempt to spruce up the governments image on the international scene. These attempts proved fruitless as he was accused of being biased and lacking inclusivity; accusations that led to the suspension of the talks twice in 2016. The military crisis has overshadowed the other aspects of the country to the extent that most cannot even fathom an existing economy in South Sudan (SS). The country is now experiencing the highest inflation in the world; the government even resorted to taxing aid workers in an attempt to raise funds for operations. The government has now recourse to an unorthodox mode of proceeding, selling its oil in advance. In fact, observers have contended that the government has already spent all the money from its 2018 anticipated oil sells. In short, the government is already broke until December 2018 before the year even ends.

A fundamental question for reconciliation has however been ignored in the attempts to restore peace in the war-torn country, as has the role of traditional leaders. The international and regional bodies have focused on a top-down approach to conflict resolution which has not given room for the masses to participate. Given that most of the conflicts are heavily dependent on historical injustices, therefore a bottom-up approach is needed and the role of traditional leaders cannot be underestimated. Therefore, of paramount importance is the establishment of a peace and reconciliation initiative that is locally driven to pursue truth, justice and reconciliation for the people addressing the injustices faced by the people of South Sudan before and after their independence.

Conclusion

When all is said and done, the recurrent situation in South Sudan obviously needs to be handled properly by the parties involved in order to curtail the loss of lives and property. Until the parties to the conflict show a greater political will to resolving the conflict, the situation will continue to degrade.
As it is, the situation is at its worst yet the world continues to ignore the crisis. Maybe ignore is not an appropriate word but the efforts to date have been nothing short of half-hearted and this has inspired the spawning of more rebel movements claiming to hold portions of territories where outside influence cannot be tolerated. It seems the division that marked the independence of South Sudan led to a slippery slope of further divisions which to this day continue unabated. At present I can safely say that the prevailing state of events is synonymous with anarchy and urgent interventions are needed if at all the situation is to be saved. The recent arms embargo on South Sudan is a step in the right direction but we can only speculate its effectiveness in the current crisis and peace efforts. At present both the rebel groups and the government forces have focused all resources to finance the war rather than provide services to the civilians. Given a choice between bullets and food, it is quite obvious that they both would chose bullets over the people; an urgent bottom-up approach of conflict resolution is needed before the country falls into something worse than anarchy.

Interventions in South Sudan have been a top-down model overlooking the grassroots participation, African agency, and the role of traditions and culture. Maybe what is needed in the future, is to explore more the role that these forgotten key factors can add to the peace initiatives and peace building processes in the country.

Download The South Sudan Crisis: What is the way forward for peace?

 

 

RESEARCH ON SOCIAL CONFLICT, SOCIAL CAPITAL, AND RELIGIO-CULTURAL RECONCILIATION PRACTICES IN EAST AFRICA

ResearchHIPSIR was involved in data collection in Kenya and Nothern Uganda. Preliminary findings indicate that religious leaders have been effective actors in advancing reconciliation in Northern Uganda as well as to some extent in South Sudan. Over the years, religious leaders have been leading the process for reconciliation and have been preferred by the people because of their impartiality and fairness in addressing issues in the region. However, the impartiality and neutrality have recently been diluted by some church leaders' subscription to political ideologies. Their engagement has further been tainted by competition amongst Christian denominations and divergent doctrines. These have led to a decrease in confidence and credibility on the part of religious leaders and affected their contribution to reconciliation efforts in the region.

It was also realised that in the course of the Northern Uganda conflict, many people suffered immense losses, among them loss of life, property and land. Based on this, reconciliation quintessentially ought to include reparations, justice, compensation and psychosocial healing for the victims. However, it was established that the definition and conditions for reconciliation varied amongst people in Northern Uganda and South Sudan. For instance, it emerged that aspects of forgiveness and justice in reconciliation are issues of divergence between church-led and cultural/traditional-led processes. To a large extent, some Christian sectors relied on Biblical teachings for reconciliation which they interpreted as disconnected from the claims for justice. At the same time there were other Christian respondents who strongly held the view that there was a strong link, from the Biblical teaching, between pursuit of reconciliation and justice. In Arua, Northern Uganda, where there is a large Muslim population, Muslim respondents equally emphasized that Islamic teachings did not recognize traditional rituals deemed to be in contradiction to Islamic teachings, especially when such rituals made appellations to gods and spirits. On the other hand, cultural or traditional approaches emphasized the importance of justice (compensation for what was lost) and rituals of cleansing, before reconciliation could take place. As a result many preferred cultural approach to reconciliation and healing.

Reconciliation applies to everyone, both those who suffered the pain and those who caused the suffering. In the case of Northern Uganda, it emerged from majority of the respondents that both religious and cultural institutions have been instrumental in advancing personal acts of reconciliation but have been limited in guaranteeing national reconciliation. It was established that through provision of spiritual nourishment, Biblically-based preaching, hosting of crusades and conferences as well as advocacy through reconciliation-related media programs, the religious leaders have been able to contribute largely to intra- and inter- personal reconciliation. On the other hand, cultural practices and rituals (traditional reconciliatory ceremonies) such as kayo-chuk and mato-oput, among communities in Northern Uganda, have contributed to mending broken family and clan relations. Equally, among South Sudanese, respondents acknowledged the use of traditional mechanisms of reconciliation, and religio-cultural initiative known as Wunlit which was a religio-culturally-led process in 1999 that aimed at reconciling the Dinka and Nuer who have been fighting for years. Such a collaborative initiative between religious and cultural leaders showed that it is possible to have an integrated approach (religio-cultural) to reconciliation, and that such a hybrid approach is more effective and sustainable. However, despite such positive perspectives, it emerged that the efforts of both religious and cultural leadership in advancing national reconciliation have been derailed by lack of political will and weak collaboration between religious and cultural institutions.

 

STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS ON EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES

HIPSIR brought together representatives from Civil society, county government, national government, Base Titanium and the community who are actively involved on issues of extractives in Kwale county.

The aim of the workshop was to disseminate and discuss a baseline survey that was conducted in six counties ( Turkana, Kwale, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Kitui and Migori) by HIPSIR in 2017 on Knowledge and Policy Gaps in Extractive Industries in Kenya. The participants acknowledged the findings as a true reflection of the situation in Kwale county and conducted a contextual analysis indicating that there is a need to emphasize community participation in decision making processes such as development of the mining bill and revenue sharing as well as a need for knowledge on the technical aspects of extractive industries for the communities to better understand the process and manage their expectations. Some of the challenges that were highlighted included a lack of proper consultation by companies on development projects as part of companies corporate social responsibility, a lack of knowledge on the responsibility of the various stakeholders leading to misplaced expectations on the mining companies.

Migori on Extrative

 

 

Reconceptualising North Korea as a Threat to Global Peace and Security

Michelle Digolo Nyandong

MichelleMichelle Digolo Nyandong holds a BA (Hons) International Relations and Law from Keele University, UK. She also holds an MA in Peace Studies and International Relations (Hons) from Catholic University of Eastern Africa (Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations). She is an expert on identity-based conflicts with interests in drone warfare, identity and culture, foreign policy and transitional justice.


 

Nationalistic music booms as countless missiles streak through the thin air in rapid-fire sequence and blow up along the skyline, hurling huge plumes of blinding smoke into the air. A United Nations mission team probably called United Nations Mission in North Korea (UNAMINK) finds its way into Pyongyang, while brave American soldiers try to secure points to attack North Korea. A caption from The Daily Sun reads, "North Korea has succeeded in attacking the mainland United States." Is the above even possible? Is North Korea a threat to global peace and security? Should we be worried about the mass production of propaganda on the relations between North Korea and the 'rest of the world'. Is the North Korean conflict a case of sub-regional muscle flexing? Or is it the nascent stages of a realignment of global power strategies? This paper argues that though The Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) withdrew from the Non-proliferation Treaty in 1993, developed its nuclear capabilities and even carried out hydrogen bomb/ thermonuclear bomb tests, it is a perceived and not a real threat to global peace and security. It comes from a merger of a security dilemma and power politics between two nuclear powers United States and DPRK, and from geo-political and nation state interests. These have been key determinants in escalating the perception of DPRK as posing a threat to the global order. This is argued using critical studies, by considering asymmetrical information on media platforms whose agenda/narrative is to either support or weaken other representations. We assess the dominant narrative and the informing agenda and the entities, institutions and States advancing them. We conclude that trying to assess DPRK's nuclear program as a single, isolated block may be of little use especially because it is intertwined with wider problems internally and externally.

The United Nations (UN) and United States of America (US) have raised a myriad of questions concerning DPRK and its long-term strategy of nuclearization, overlooking the fact that it was the US that shaped the current belligerent environment even with recent negotiations with South Korea. From 1958 to 1991 the US stockpiled nuclear weapons in South Korea for possible use against North Korea. Trump has been blowing his own trumpet about his role in the diplomatic rapprochement between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, undermining Moon Jae-in's sunshine policy and the diplomatic gestures by South Korea. From the perspective of critical studies, DPRK is persistently presented in mainstream media as a combative, undemocratic, despotic country with leaders' incapable of relating with the international community, and whose citizens are gradually dying from the ill will of selfish leaders. DPRK is considered the "other," the "adversary," and the personification of an "axis of evil," not to mention a country that is so extra-terrestrial and weird that its late leader, Kim Jong Il, was featured as a satirical character in the film Team America. This essentially depicted how the wider media and nation states wanted him to be perceived. The West has been very successful in constructing and disseminating a certain narrative, to advance and validate its own foreign policy decisions. The themes and narratives being progressed have been dominated by the more traditional security alarms that see Pyongyang as a threat to the global system, that needs to be eliminated. A majority of these narratives are dispensed through social media and through Twitter in particular. Currently the visual representations undoubtedly address power fights. Before the talks between Trump and Kim Jong Un, there were weeks of dramatic soap opera scenes of intimidations and abuses (fire and fury), emotional sessions (Winter Olympics where both North Korea and South Korea marched and played together), tensions (nuclear and missile tests conducted by Pyongyang) and 'love scenes' (meetings between the two Korean Presidents, the handshake and crossing over from the Demilitarized Zone).

However, since the Korean war (1951-53) the regime's main goal has been survival and not the domination of the Korean Peninsula. For example, due to the conventional power of South Korea, enhanced presence of the US in South Korea (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and high-profile military exercises) and the second-strike nuclear artillery provided by the US, the Kim regime has sensibly and strategically restrained from intentionally reigniting the Korean War, a war that could likely result in its obliteration. Additionally, Pyongyang's usage of nuclear weapons offensively or as a strategic shield behind which to engage in a more limited conventional conflict would unavoidably threaten to produce reactive actions or spiral into a state of general war (Kim's decision not to attack Guam in August 2017), thus endangering the security of the Kim Jong-un regime. DPRK sees the US as an aggressor, a state that wants to control the world. He is afraid of external powers invading North Korea to bring about regime transformation, given the way the West toppled the governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya since they were controlled by tyrannical regimes and endangered the West. Therefore, DPRK's existential external threat compels it to cling to its nuclear capabilities contrary to popular fears of the instigation of a suicidal war, short on rational calculation.

Moreover, any efforts to analyse the current DPRK situation must consider the internal and external stimuli that motivate the decisions to nuclearize, to threaten to attack and, recently, to negotiate. One reason Kim Jong-un has pursued and clung onto his nuclear and ballistic missiles program is grounded on the Songun (Military First) domestic policy. Songun provided enormous prestige and power to the armed forces by emphasizing the expansion, development and prioritization of the DPRK military over the Korean population. But fearing that the military could threaten his rule as a young leader, Kim replaced Songun with Byungjin (Parallel Development) which is a two-prong policy emphasizing the development of the national economy and nuclear program. In January 2018, Kim Jong-Un said that DPRK's pursuit for nuclear weapons is "complete" and it "no longer needs" to assess its weapons capability. Kim Jong-Un is now focussed on economic growth and enhancing North Korea's national economy. This further seems to suggest that DPRK is willing to "come out of the cold" once its security and sovereignty is guaranteed.

In conclusion, in spite of the narrative of the Trump administration claiming that no concessions were made to organise the summit, the assembly of the leaders is itself a concession from the US side and twisted victory for the DPRK. By accepting Pyongyang's invitation, the United States is granting the DPRK government the status of a nuclear power that other state powers must negotiate with. This is a classical realism balance of powers argument, the notion that one country should not rise to dominance in a given region or the world by extension. Moreover, protagonists in this case, China, South Korea and United States, all have tactical reasons for keeping Kim Jong-un's regime in power, although without a nuclear weapons capability. South Koreans believe in the reunification of both Koreas, albeit reluctantly due to poverty and backwardness prevalent in the North Korean economy. China, on the other hand, fears regime change and the possible reunification of both Koreas, as they fear having democracy move close to their border, stimulating liberalism in the Chinese state. The US having learnt from the situation in Libya is recalcitrant to overthrow Kim Jong-un, as they are aware that any re-stabilization efforts after regime change would cost trillions of dollars. The US is also cautious not to create a horrible precedent by 'sweet talking' a hostile nation into completely halting its nuclear programs by offering aid, food and technology. In the past the US has made efforts to trade technology and food to DPRK in exchange for an end to its nuclear program. However, this was not successful as DPRK reneged on every denuclearization agreement it had ever signed and continued to develop its weapons. If re-attempted, the same results are likely and a bad precedent would be established giving states the leeway to extort similar benefits. Thus we conclude that the politics behind the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is complicated and tastefully camouflaged as a peace and security threat. The fundamental question then becomes: what constitutes a threat to nation states and how it becomes a global threat.

PDF Reconceptualising North Korea as a Threat to Global Peace and Security

 

Extractive Industries in Africa | Addressing Conflicts and Integrating Sustainable Development

Extractive IEXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES IN AFRICA | Addressing Conflicts and Integrating Sustainable Development

Elias Omondi Opongo, SJ (Ed.)

Extractive industry in Africa has emerged as an important sector that continues to shape the socio-economic and political landscape of the continent. The industry includes mining, oil and gas resources. Africa holds 30% of world's mineral reserves,
10% of the world's oil and 8% of the global natural gas. A large part of these resources are yet to be fully exploited. This means that the production is not yet at its full capacity.

More and more African countries are confronted with new demands in extractive industries that call for equity, environmental safety, corporate social responsibility, social rights of the local populations, and transparency in the handling of contracts, taxation and development of well-informed policies.
The key issue of concern is whether Africa's natural resources can be translated into economic growth and sustainability.

Elias Omondi Opongo, SJ (Ed.) is the director of Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR). He is a conflict analyst and peace practitioner with a research focus on transitional justice and post conflict reconstruction, religious extremism, state building and community peacebuilding. He holds a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies from University of Bradford, UK and MA in International Peace Studies from University of Notre Dame, USA. He has published books, book chapters and articles on conflict resolution, transitional justice, peacebuilding and Catholic Social Teaching.

 

CHINA AND THE TAKING OVER AFRICA NARRATIVE

MACHARIA MUNENE


 

Macharia Munene is Professor of History and International Relations at the United States International University (USIU), Nairobi, Kenya. He also serves as a Visiting Professor at Universitat Jaume-1, Castellon, Spain, and as a Professorial Friend of the National Defense College, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya. Professor Munene has published widely. He holds PhD in Diplomatic history from Ohio University.


 CHINA AND THE TAKING OVER AFRICA NARRATIVE

Reading, and listening to, Euro comments about China’s interaction with African countries creates a siege mentality as the Conceptual West spins a vague narrative of the Chinese taking over Africa. The spinning is a Euro defensive reaction to protect interests in their former colonies where China succeeds in getting contracts to undertake major infrastructure operations in Africa. A British MP complained that British companies, not Chinese, should have been building highways in Kenya. And Richard Dowden, Director of the British Royal African Society, asserted that Africa will become a big Chinese colony. This implies elements of envy in the Euro narratives on China taking over Africa.

Another Euro power concerned with China edging it out is the United States whose racist proclivities damage its image. It sees China as a growing threat to its global interests and, in the Barrack Obama and Donald Trump administrations, adopted the strategy of warning Africans about China. An American scholar/journalist, Howard W. French, in his 2014 China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire, simply reinforced this attitude. Obama claimed that Chinese investments in Africa were exploitative and his Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, chided China as Africa’s new colonial power. Trump, ordinarily, wants nothing to do with Obama yet he sounds like Obama when it comes to China’s global penetration. To counter perceived Chinese influence, Trump sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to mend fences and assure Africans that Trump meant no harm in his sewage insults to Africans.

As leader of the Conceptual West, the US tends to set the pace for other Euros to follow, except in recent times when they exhibit defiance. France, worried about China edging it out of Africa, is one Euro country that is seeking collaboration with China. French President Emmanuel Macron, once it was clear that France could not wish China away in Africa, and France being in need of Chinese investments, decided to cut deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Franco-Chinese multiple collaboration in Africa. “We have,” Macron stated in January 2018, “decided to deepen our concertation[sic] on Africa where China is more and more present.”

Bigger than many countries demographically, geographically, and economically, China’s rise to global dominance gives it leverage in global geopolitics and opinion shaping, seemingly at the expense of the Conceptual West. The loss of the monopoly to shape world opinion bothered the Euros so much that they seemingly started spreading views that China was taking over Africa. Thus while China is present everywhere and invests more in Europe than in Africa, it is its success that attracts Euro wrath that is then visited on African states.

For the taking over to have occurred, there was complacency based on presumptions of Euro-superiority over the rest of humanity. They had turned the continent into a series of colonial states that, after 60 to 80 years of control, became independent countries. Since the new states did not cut socio-economic links to imperial masters, dependency relationships intensified. Ghana president Kwame Nkrumah popularized this control system as neo-colonialism. In neo-colonialism, virtually dependent on protecting the interests of leaders on both sides, a master-client relationship developed in which imperial powers were master states and African states became client states. Master states controlled and exploited everything in the client state, especially the leaders who became proxies for extra-continental interests. Attempts to get out of that national enslaving condition landed the “leader” into death especially if he was rumored to be close to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  

The master states, in their complacency, slept, became blind to changing global dynamic and when they woke up to find their monopoly on the continent rather shaky, they started grumbling about Chinese presence and take over. On its part, China had noticed and exploited that blindness by befriending African states disillusioned by the Euros, building stadia in African capitals, and by opening closed coal mines in places like Zambia. The number of Chinese in Africa increased to roughly 1.1 million, out of a possible 1 billion people but the white population, or people of European extraction were roughly 5.3 million. Canada and the United States have roughly 6.7 million people of Chinese extraction out of less than 400 million people. Europe, with a total population that barely exceeds 740 million, reportedly has roughly 2.3 million people of Chinese background. In comparative terms, and in proportion to the overall populations, therefore, the concern about the Chinese presence in Africa is political and looks far-fetched.

This makes the over play of China taking over Africa narrative alarmist and part of international political power play in a world that is realigning itself, with China in the lead. In that realignment, many Euro-powers have become secondary players but they still nurse colonial hangovers of mediating African interests with China. It is unlikely that China will take away, from the Euros, the extra-continental dominance of Africa. What is definite, however, is that African countries will continue to engage China in strategic areas of perceived mutual benefits; where interests converge. It is the synchronization of interests, whether in global political leverage or in opening up remote places through infrastructure development, that will determine the level of Africa and China interaction.

 

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CHARTERED MEDIATORS COURCE EVALUATION

CHARTERED MEDIATORS COURCE EVALUATION

Have you ever wondered who speaks for the rights of small scale miners/communities in the extractive industries? Hekima institute of peace studies and International relations (HIPSIR) with the help of our donor Misean Cara sponsored 12 individuals from Kwale County...

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THE SEVENTH STUDENT LED CONFERENCE

THE SEVENTH STUDENT LED CONFERENCE

Contrary to the previously held student led conference that took place in one day, the seventh was a two-day event that took place on the 17th and 18th October 2019. A large representation of members from various social diversities, the...

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CMT Consultation Meeting

CMT Consultation Meeting

For long, there has been an unclear resonance of where to find African conflict-related data. The fact that many western and other external independent firms such as NGO's and data service providing firms are always undertaking this kind of venture...

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International Relations Students Visit to IPSTC

International Relations Students Visit to IPSTC

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) students undertook an educational visit to the International Peace Support and Training Centre (IPSTC) on 3rd October 2019. The 15 International Relations class students led by Dr. Elisée Rutagambwa, who explained...

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5th Annual Student-led conference

5th Annual Student-led conference

The Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) of Hekima University College, Nairobi, Kenya is organizing and hosting the 7th Annual Student led conference which is a one-day conference on the 18th October 2019 on the theme - The...

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A visit to the Hekima university college chapel during the TRRR conference

A visit to the Hekima university college chapel during the TRRR conference

I can do yoga in this chapel, Dr. Waltrina Middleton, delegate at the TRRR conference expressing her love for the Hekima University College chapel. The 8th Transatlantic Round table Conference on Religion and Race (TRRR) was convened in Nairobi, Kenya, at...

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Kwale Field Visit Report

Kwale Field Visit Report

The second lot of the Ongoing Chartered mediators Course training had its planned field visit of Kwale County on 2nd September 2019. The visit targeted mining areas in the County with an intention of getting firsthand information from the miners...

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Mban Leadership Training

Mban Leadership Training

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) conducted a 3 day workshop on Christian Leadership and Peacebuilding in Mban Parish Migori with the target audience being 29 church leaders from the parish. The feedback from the participants and...

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Trans-Atlantic conference on Religion and Race (TRRR)Conference

Trans-Atlantic conference on Religion and Race (TRRR)Conference

The Trans-Atlantic conference on Religion and Race was held from 1st -5th July 2019 at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR). The conference was attended by over 60 participants different cultural diversities and religions across the globe....

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Conflict Resolution and Peace Building Course

Conflict Resolution and Peace Building Course

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) held a 5 day training on conflict resolution and peace building from 22nd to 26th July 2019. The training was attended by 21 participants from different institutions and organizations working for...

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Early Career Researcher (ECR) Workshop

Early Career Researcher (ECR) Workshop

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) hosted a two day Early Career Researcher (ECR) workshop on 16th and 17th July 2019. The workshop brought together over 35 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia with...

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Quick Contacts

Physical Address: Riara Road, off Ngong Road
Tel: +254 20 386 0109 | +254 20 3860102
Mobile: +254 72 9755905
Email: secretary.hipsir@hekima.ac.ke