Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has made a pledge to combat terrorism around the world and make the future safe for democracy. In recent years, the country has made significant efforts toward this aim in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Such situations are not perfect, but progress has been made.
However, if U.S. citizens look farther south and west, they will see a rather depressing sight on the continent of Africa. I know – no big surprise. Of course, just saying those three words is a problem in and of itself.
For the past few weeks, Kenya has been overwhelmed with turmoil following a disputed election in December 2007. On Feb. 13, the Associated Press reported that ethnic violence has resulted in the deaths of 1,000 people and the exodus of 600,000 Kenyan refugees. Fortunately, Kenya’s political rivals agreed to sign a deal last week to end the violence.
Elsewhere, the former French colony of Chad has seen better days. On Feb. 14, the Associated Press reported Chad’s government declared a state of emergency after battling rebels since the beginning of the month. The article stated that 160 people were killed in the fighting at the beginning of February.
But the question is this: With all this violence in Kenya and Chad in 2008, how is the world reacting?
Answer: by reviewing the situation at a typically slow pace.
Over the years, it has become apparent that Africa has been outrageously shafted in its most desperate times of need. To start, let’s look at Rwanda in 1994. It is no longer a secret that the world turned the other way as thousands of Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutu government. After 100 days of senseless butchery, the genocide ended with more than 800,000 dead.
The saddest part: The story did not end there.
The fallout from the genocide affected neighboring Zaire, now known as Congo. In 1998, the country plunged into a war fought between not only Hutu and Tutsi factions, but 25 other armed groups, along with eight African nations. This war lasted from 1998 to 2003, killing an estimated five million people. Worse yet, as Congo experienced what some have called Africa’s World War, the rest of the world looked beyond the situation.
Unfortunately, the suffering has not yet ended. On Jan. 22, an article in Reuters explained how war, disease and malnutrition kill roughly 45,000 people every month in Congo. Africa’s World War ended in 2003, but the fallout continues to claim lives to this day.
Yes, like anyone else, I did not find out about this until just recently, which is appalling.
Bottom line: Five days after Sept. 11, President Bush addressed the nation, saying that it was the responsibility of the U.S. to “rid the world of evil.” I don’t think that is a bad objective.
However, if one is to make such a bold claim, this person better take action in the parts of the world that really need to be rid of evil. Like a ripple in a calm pond, neglected pain spreads throughout the world in one form or another.
In this case, if world leaders want to make the world safe for democracy, Africa is where they must truly start.
Grady Bolding is a junior in theater. Please send comments to [email protected]