CONGO - FITTING THE PIECES
As usual, your December Cover Story, Congo, Rejigging the pieces (African Business, December 2002), was comprehensive and accomplished. It was perhaps the neatest summery of the chaotic events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo I have read in a long while and enhances your reputation as the best publication of African events in the world.
My only quarrel is that Neil Ford's article was a tad too optimistic. It relies heavily on the assumption that the peace accord would remain in force and that the warring parties, both domestic and foreign would now consciously gear themselves up to rebuilding the shattered country.
I have spent nearly a quarter of my life working in various capacities in that fascinating and sometimes delightful country and I would like to see nothing more than real peace descend. However, as we know, fighting broke out even before the ink dried on the paper and although some sort of peace holds, the kind envisaged by your article is still in the realms of fantasy.
There are just too many vested interests who stand to lose too much for anyone to give up without a determined struggle.
So what is the solution? I don't know. Partition the Congo into smaller, more manageable units? Bring in a larger peace-keeping force until real law and order can be achieved? All these ideas have been mooted before but none have any basis of hard logic.
After all this time, I have come to the conclusion that the solution to the Congo's many problems (including its enormous size!) need collective lateral thinking. It is really no good finding local solutions to local symptoms. You end up with a multitude of sticking plasters while new boils spring up everywhere.
I suggest an international panel, drawn from academia, politics, business and public administration sit down to discuss the problems of the Congo and starts with a clean sheet. Then we might get a complete picture of the complex nature of this vast country and begin to tackle each problem area separately until the jigsaw begins to fit together. What do you think of this idea?
* Over to you readers. What do you think of Mr Rosenthal's idea? - Editor.
WHERE ARE THE BLACK TUNISIANS?
Regarding your report about Tunisia - 15 years of the Change - The Republic of the Future (African Business November 2002), I have one question. While on my second visit to Tunisia I heard different stories from some black Tunisians regarding their position and the racism directed against them. In all your reports of the last months I have never read about them, nor seen any pictures of these Tunisians.
Will you please do some research on this matter?
Mrs (Dr) O.J. Nicol
(Address not given).
From my own observations, 'black' Tunisians as you call them, are largely integrated in the wider society which is fairly multiracial in composition - the history of Tunisia indicates that the present population has genes from Phoenicians, Greeks, Italians (Romans), Africans, Arabs, Jews and Turks among others. I have myself met Tunisians with more pronounced African characteristics who are ambassadors, high government officials, leading business people and quite dominant on the sports field.
For a very long time African and other peace loving peoples have been sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians, but the killing of women and children with such impunity is inexcusable. This goes for Israel also. Killing children and sickly old women will not reduce terrorism in the Middle East. Israel should grow-up and exercise restraint.
The terrorists who perpetrated the recent outrages in Mombasa, and bombed the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, are presumably allied to the same cause, Palestinian liberation, that African countries have continually supported at the UN for many years. …