December 31, 2003


God behind Kenya’s progress, says Kibaki (The Standard, December 29, 2003)

President Mwai Kibaki yesterday urged Christians to thank God for the achievements they had realised in life.

He said any progress made by the people was the work of God and it was important to thank Him.

President Kibaki was speaking at Mombasa's Wesley Methodist Church during a Sunday service conducted by the Pwani Methodist Synod Bishop, Ferdinand Mkare.

The Head of State cautioned the congregation against forgetting what God had done for them. He thanked God for enabling Kenyans win last year's General Election after they prayed for it.

Kenya is one of those African nations that there's some hope for, not least because of the predominance of Christianity, the English language, and literacy in the nation. It's the kind of place we ought to focus our efforts in Africa, chiefly to raise living standards, which are currently so low as to make enduring liberal democratic reform unlikely to take hold.

A continent at peace: five African hot spots cool down: Motivated by antiterror fears and a need for oil, Africans are demanding warriors to beat their swords into plowshares. (Abraham McLaughlin, 1/02/04, CS Monitor)

For the first time in five years, no major wars are roiling the continent, even if low-level conflicts still smolder. A deal to end Sudan's civil war - Africa's longest - could be struck this month. And peace processes are pushing ahead in Liberia, Burundi, Ivory Coast, and Congo.

Perhaps it's just a lull between storms. Yet observers see fundamental shifts that may create an era of relative calm for Africa's 800 million people.

The biggest new force is Africans themselves. Led by South Africa, there's growing desire to arm-twist warriors into laying down their weapons. Also, outside powers, including the United States, are more engaged. They may be motivated by antiterror fears, need for oil, or guilt for inaction during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, but they're increasingly supporting Africa's peaceful impulses.

"The continent as a whole has asserted a good bit more activism about putting conflicts to rest - and has turned down the flames of its active wars," says Ross Herbert, Africa Research Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg. [...]

Outside powers are key as well. "There is a longer-term trend of the West reengaging in Africa," says Mr. Herbert. The US sent a small contingent to Liberia earlier this year to help separate rebels and the government, who had been fighting for years. When Sierra Leone exploded in 2000, British troops intervened successfully. And French soldiers are still in the volatile Ivory Coast.

There's also clearly a self-interested agenda. In the post-9/11 world, the US sees chaotic African countries as potential terrorism incubators. It's also eyeing Africa's growing oil exports. Sudan symbolizes the many reasons for America's new engagement in Africa.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2003 5:13 PM

The South African government has shown no interest in "arm-twisting warriors" in ZANU-PF Zimbabwe to lay down their many weapons against the Movement for Democratic Change.

Until South Africa - the strongest nation in southern Africa - sees that there is nothing to gain in continuing its support of Mugabe's dictatorial rule in Zimbabwe, there will be no progress in southern Africa.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at January 1, 2004 2:56 AM

The Belmont Club blog has a fascinating post on the ins and outs of African Studies.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 1, 2004 3:06 AM

Hmmm. And if the other side had won the Kenyan election, would god be blamed?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at January 1, 2004 5:47 PM

No, Satan creditted--he's been on a roll in Africa for a few decades now, but the tide seems to be turning.

Posted by: oj at January 1, 2004 7:24 PM