Genocide in Africa

The conflicts of Africa in the 20th century made it a hotspot for ethnic warfare and genocide. The continent's diversity, rich resources and political variety and rapid decolonization sparked several civil wars. There has been competition over those resources, as well as territory. The continent is home to Arab and Berber Muslims in the north, significant black African Muslim regions and a large contiguous Christian region in the Sub-Sahara.

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda refocused energies on the continent. A decades-long rivalry between the Hutus and the Tutsis had left a prejudiced Hutu consciousness that resented a perceived, disproportionate influence exercised in the country by the Tutsis. With an unfolding civil war in the early 1990s, diplomatic negotiations and a United Nations-backed peacekeeping contingent reinforcing the ensuing agreement seemed to have no bearing on the struggle for power. There was a militia-perpetuated slaughter of about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994 while world leaders exercised caution regarding intervention. The calamity is seen as a tremendous blow for the international legal system and those bodies charged with global security. Rwanda has also grown to be a vocal supporter of post-genocide justice and the active prevention of genocide. The small country has contributed to peacekeeping forces, since its stabilization, in other African theaters.

The Hutu militias were driven out of the country and the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front took over the country, effectively ending the genocide. The Hutu militias' refuge in Zaire served as a catalyst for a new round of wars between the new government of Rwanda and the exiled militias, whose members were guilty of genocide. Uganda and Angola supported the Tutsi rebels, while the Congolese regime stumbled. In many ways, the Rwandan civil war and Rwandan genocide have been direct catalysts for what became known as Africa's World War or the Second Congo War. Renewed fighting after the rebel victory split Rwanda and Uganda from their former rebel allies. The ensuing war enveloped nine African governments. During the war, it is said both sides targeted marginalized groups, mainly the pygmies, for slaughter and cannibalism. Pygmy leadership has formally requested from the United Nations the additional crime of cannibalism be added to international conventions on war, human rights and genocide.

Sudan would be the next major theater for African genocide. Civil war had enveloped the country's south for decades, a conflict that became linked to the Second Congo War as it progressed. Rebels in the western region of Darfur rebelled against the perceived apartheid of the central government, launching a series of successful raids against military outposts. Conventional engagements resulted in more losses for the army. After this, the central government rekindled ties with a group of raiders known as the Janjaweed, a group of nomadic Baggara Arabs who had been instrumental, and brutal, in assisting the central government several years earlier against rebel elements in the Nubian mountains. Dozens of villages belong to the Fur tribes were destroyed. Reports of mass looting, rape, village burning and the destruction of water resources sent tens of thousands of refugees over the border into Chad.

In 2010, the International Criminal Court indicted President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for crimes against humanity and specifically genocide in the Darfur conflict. A number of African countries have refused to enforce the warrant against the Sudanese president, even hosting him since its issue and making public declarations of support. This added to the criticism that the enforcement of international law is notoriously weak. Western countries have been criticized for the delayed action.

In 2011, charges of political genocide against the government of Muammar Qaddafi led to a resolution from the United Nations Security Council authorizing the use of force against his government to prevent massacres of civilians in the rebel areas. The 2011 famine in Somalia became politically controversial as the Islamic-fundamentalist Shabab militia, in control of hard-hit areas refused Western aid, blocked exits from the region to Kenya and murdered aid workers. The indirect result, of increased deaths, has been termed genocide by outside political and humanitarian observers.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa: Conflict Roots, Mass Violence, and Regional War
Christian P. Scherrer.
Praeger, 2002
Ethnic Conflict and State Formation in Post-Colonial Africa: A Comparative Study of Ethnic Genocide in the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, and Rwanda-Burundi
Badru, Pade.
Journal of Third World Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, Fall 2010
Children of Genocide in the 21st Century: Four Case Studies of Sub-Sahara Africa
Oberg, Charles; Caselton, Deborah.
Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
A Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts
Samuel Totten; William S. Parsons; Israel W. Charny.
Routledge, 2004 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Burundi Genocide," Chap. 13 "The Rwanda Genocide"
Sacrifice as Terror: The Rwandan Genocide of 1994
Christopher C. Taylor.
Berg, 1999
The Media and the Rwanda Genocide
Allan Thompson.
International Development Research Centre, 2007
From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi: Our Embassy Years during Genocide
Robert Krueger; Kathleen Tobin Krueger.
University of Texas Press, 2007
"Do Something about Darfur": A Review of the Complexities
Murphey, Dwight D.
The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Darfur ... and Now More Genocide in Sudan?
Reeves, Eric.
The Christian Science Monitor, August 4, 2011
The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War
Mark Huband.
Westview Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Genocide"
Me against My Brother: At War in Somalia, Sudan, and Rwanda: A Journalist Reports from the Battlefields of Africa
Scott Peterson.
Routledge, 2000
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