Wednesday 22 January 2014


On the 21st of January, 2014, I chaired the presentation of Prof. Okello Oculi's paper, titled "Violence, Democracy & Rebels in Africa" at the Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD), Abuja. Prof. Oculi, a Ugandan, is a former lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. He is currently the Chief Executive of Africa Vision 525 Initiative, Abuja. The paper was to mark Amilcar Cabral's birthday, and what he stood for.

The following summarises some of the comments made at the event.

The concept and practice of rebellion has had varied relationships with democracy, politics and governance. In traditional Balante, Nuer, Tiv and Igbo societies, permanent rebellion, or what anthropologists regard as "balanced antagonism" in relations between individuals is kept under check. Understanding the implications of themes of democracy and African Socialism in post-colonial politics is an important challenge. The current outbreak of violence in Southern Sudan has Riek Machar Terry, the enstranged Vice President, as a rebel actor.

In European feudal legacies, rebellion has shed the blood of kings, aristocracies and the working class in the continents' evolution towards democratic politics. Important legacies out of this historical evolution are notions of civil and human rights, socialism and constitutional restraint on political power. Their impact in post-colonial African politics deserves scrutiny.

The generally violent confluence between between African and Euro-American history accorded rebellion dignity as regards the evolution of democracy in African states. The concept of proletarian revolution gained appeal in the form of "liberation armed struggle" as a tool for dismantling brutal colonial dictatorships, mainly in colonies with large European settler populations like Algeria, Kenya, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.

In Eritrea and the Republic of South Sudan, rebellion was used to violate the principle of the sacredness of borders African states inherited from colonial rule. "Internal colonialism" by the ruling black elite was rejected in Sudan and Ethiopia.

An epidemic of military coups in the 1960's, 1970's and sparingly in the 1980's in Africa was justified as rebellion against corruption and mismanagement of post-colonial governance. The discontent in these democracies is arousing new appeal to rebellion. Must African democracies continue to be plagued by violence? Can we not use the concepts of Ubuntu and Africa brotherhood/sisterhood to galvanise concensus and have less violent democracies?...

11th April, 2016

*African parliaments lead the continent's fight against weapons of mass destruction (WMD)

Saturday 18 January 2014


On the 15th of January, 2014, I delivered a 22-page paper at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, Nigeria. The paper was titled DIPLOMATIC PRACTICE: STRATEGIES & PERSPECTIVES ON CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA. My paper was one of those for the In-house Refresher Training for Batches B & C of the "36+1" Mid-Career Officers. It was a comprehensive three-day training program (15-17 January, 2014). Prof. Ehiedu Iweriebor, Chair of the Department of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, The City University of New York, coordinated the "Affirmative Nigeria Narrative" program.

The kernel of the argument in my paper goes thus:

Experience has shown on many occasions that resort to Eurocentric adjudication is unsuitable for resolving African disputes because of the inadequate attention paid to significant regional peculiarities and realities. Perspectives to conflict resolution between and among nation-states differ. However, there is a spectrum as regards means of dispute resolution, with the adversarial judicial system at the exit point.

When we talk about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), the question is often asked: which is the real alternative? Which came first, the egg or the chicken? The argument is that since Africans had their traditional methods of resolving conflicts before the introduction of the court system, then the latter is the alternative to the former! The debate rages on.

Without prejudice to the importance of the main international courts and tribunals that deal with boundary and territorial disputes, there is no convincing reason to believe that many of the African boundary and territorial disputes cannot be satisfactorily resolved through other means of dispute resolution. Diplomatic practice could be given a boost if other means of conflict resolution are exhausted before heading for the courts.

Some of such means are carefully conducted plebiscites, preferably organized and monitored by the African Union (AU) or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); setting up of Truth & Reconciliation Commissions and Traditional Methods of conflict resolution. Other methods, nay strategies for conflict resolution between states are Negotiation, Mediation and Arbitration.

These methods are faster and more cost effective than the court system. Our case study of the Cameroun-Nigeria boundary dispute brings out in bold relief the fact that dogmatic adherence to colonial treaties upon which many of such disputes are decided presently, is insufficient, and may indeed be inappropriate in the African situation... 

Related Links

*Spoilers in peace-making
*The African agenda for peace, governance & development @ 30
*Civil wars & coups d'etat in West Africa: An attempt to understand the roots and prescribe possible solutions - Book by Issaka K. Squire
*ODR accessibility for PWDs
*'Living Together' despite a history of cyclical violence - Identifying resilience capabilities for reconciliation in the Great Lakes sub-region
*How the US can step back from the brink
*The need for a 'Global Rapid Response Fund'
*Crisis Management   https;//
*Microaggressions in ADR
*Conflict Transformation & Peace-Building Data Management   https;//
*AfCFTA & Conflict Transformation    https;//
*High Conflict Politician Scorecard
*Gender-sensitive conflict analysis improves peace-building
*Co-dependency & narcissism in toxic relationships
*A transformational approach to conflicts between the Police & demonstrator communities
*10 steps Biden can take to promote peace in the US by William Astore
*The aim of argument
*Peace & Security overview 2020: The year when things didn't get better or worse
*Divisions over peace operations could be the UN-AU partnership's undoing
*Researching peace-building inAfrica: Reflections on the theory, fieldwork & context 
*To break the cycle of violence, we must address the reasons people fight
*About our evolution to everlasting world peace
*Conflict sensitivity over PIB in Nigeria
*Negotiating criminality for peace: Banditry & the charade of blanket amnesty in Nigeria - London Institute of Peace Research
*Knowing when to walk away

Thursday 2 January 2014


We all know the story of the great man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist. He served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. His death, on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, resulted in infectious outpouring of grief worldwide.

Madiba, as Mandela was affectionately called, was a global statesman, whose leadership engendered conflict transformation. Mandela emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid. I am particularly fascinated by his unique leadership style that transforms conflict. Mandela said: "Lead from the back, and let others believe they are in front." This unusual style makes the leader invisible but effective. It emphasizes the fact that the leader does not necessarily have to be a boss!

What then are the milestones of his style? We need to state some of them here:

-He used his Presidency to lay the foundation for a peaceful future in South Africa.

-He was President for only five years, and he voluntarily relinquished power.

-He combined the former Afrikans National Anthem "Die Stem" with the song of the black protest rallies "Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica" (God bless Africa). Afrikans is more widely spoken in South Africa.

-During the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the first black South African President wore a Springbok shirt, and congratulated the South Africa Rugby team. Rugby was dominated by white South Africans, and the Springbok shirt was once considered by South Africans as the reincarnation of Apartheid. Mandela turned it into a symbol of reconciliation. When he handed over the cup to the team's Captain, Francois Pienner, Mandela said: "Thank you for what you have done for our country." Piennar replied: "No, Mr. President, thank you for what you have done." For me, this was the beginning of true reconciliation in South Africa.

-Nelson Mandela recognized the value of conflict transformation when he used it to negotiate a practically bloodless revolution in South Africa, and the peaceful transfer of power in one of the most wealthy and brutal regimes in world history.

-When he left prison, he realized that if he did not forgive his oppressors, he would remain their prisoner for life! Let Mandela speak for himself: "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."

What a wonderful human. How many leaders in South Africa, and other parts of Africa would voluntarily relinquish power without seeking a second and even third unconstitutional term? How many leaders would rather lead from the back than the front like Madiba? How many leaders anywhere in the world would seek to transform conflict at any and every opportunity? How many of us would willingly forgive those who oppress us?

Nelson Mandela was indeed one of a kind, and I shall always try to incorporate his lessons in conflict transformation into my work and everyday life. What about you?

Related Links

*Rescuing Mandela from Sainthood
*5 quotes from Nelson Mandela that inspire activists worldwide