Darfur and Liberia Essay Sample
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Introduction of TOPIC
The African continent has been home to some of the worst ethic conflicts in recent history. Two of these conflicts have been experienced in Liberia and the Darfur region of western Sudan. The Liberian conflict is arguably the longest running in Africa, and probably in the world. Ever since the country was established as the African home for freed slaves, the natives on the land and new comers have been fighting over leadership. The end result has included lack of democratic institutions to help the country achieve founder’s goal of being a beacon of hope for the freed slaves. In Darfur, hunger and drought have exacerbated human suffering in the past two decades. Rather than facilitating an environment that would improve the situation, the government of Sudan has been blocking attempts by citizens and international well wishers to provide the much needed help. Human suffering in both Liberia and Darfur has greatly been influenced by state authorities that are supposed to be protecting citizens’ life, liberty and property.
Examination of the Co-Existence of Violence and Democracy in Liberia
Liberia has for two centuries been eloped by democracy and liberty that were supposed to be enjoyed by former slaves repatriated to the newly found country. Attempts by native inhabitants and repatriated slaves to build a nation have similarly become a disappointing process that is only beginning to bear fruits. The country’s inability to develop working democracy originates from the social, political and economic structures enforced by Americo-Liberians who immigrated into the county in 1822 upon repatriation from the Unites States. This scenario has since the country’s inception resulted to catastrophic struggle of power and leadership that has made it hard to establish democratic institutions. Concurrent sections of this chapter shall elaborate on the historical, economic, political, and social concerns that has facilitated to the current state democracy in the country. Addressing the concerns to be discussed below should form the basis of helping Liberia establish democratic institutions that will enable the country achieve its founders dream: to be the land of liberty.
The history of Liberia runs parallel with that of slave African slave trade. Whereas the slave trade involved taking Africans from their mother land to the Americas, that of Liberia starts with repatriation of slave from some parts of the United States back to Africa (Firestone, 1946, p. 76). Indeed, Liberia was established in early 19th century as a place where African slaves who wanted to go back home. 1822 was the initial year that first Africans were repatriated into Liberia. However, not many slaves were provided with this opportunity, considering that the United States did not end slave trade until late 19th century, during the American civil war. Therefore, going back to African for the few slaves that had the opportunity was seen as a great privilege that many were quick to snap. This was indeed a great opportunity to connect with the land that the slaves had been forced to leave behind. The newly found freedom meant that they could start their livelihoods once again without having someone lord over them. There was, however, one problem: most of the slaves that were going back to Africa were descendants on ancestors that had actually been abducted by slave traders earlier (Lang, 2004, p. 104)—their adaptation to African life, especially relations with the locals was therefore doomed from the beginning (Gabriel & Williams, 2006, p. 218).
With their newly won freedom, the former slaves were determined to establish themselves, but this was happening at the expense of the inhabitants. The Americo-Liberians did not bother to understand there were other people that actually owned the lands; they just organized governance institutions like the ones experienced in America. This was however alien to the locals that were happy with their traditional governance institutions. The locals were on the other hand determined to continue with their institutions. It has to be noted that this was almost a century before Europeans embarked on colonizing the African continent. Having each group push for the adoption of respective governance system was the beginning of the confrontations that have dogged the development of democracy in the country. Attempts to have dialog between the two groups has historically not bared fruits, which has resulted to poor development of democratic institutions in the country. The twenty first century is, however, providing a great opportunity for both sides to embark on the process of taking with each other. This has resulted to slow development of democracy, respect and protection of individual liberty.
The initial take take over by Americo-Liberians had been friendly until the locals saw ass if they were being marginalized in issues pertaining to their native lands. This resulted to demands that they be given a chance to run country affairs. However, none of the two groups was willing to be wholly governed by the other. Achieving consensus was hard because of the language barrier persisting between the two groups (Furbay, 1940, p. 200). This resulted to each party continuing to run affairs in the best means they saw fit. However, some quarters were getting impatient in the way issues were run in respective areas, and therefore embarked on armed resistance that lasted until the last few years. Taking power through violent means had become the order of the day. In the initial stages, the struggle of power was exacerbated by the participation of some parties in the United States government (Davis, 2006, p. 74; Gay, 2005, p. 110).
Considering that it was the United States government that had established Liberia as the African home for former slaves that wanted to go back home, it can be said that the country was morally obligated to take part in ensuring that all was well in Liberia. However, it seems that the United States officials were more interested in the welfare of the former slaves that America had helped return to Africa. The strong ties between Americo-Liberians and the American authorities gave the former more resources to assert authority in Liberia. In addition, Americo-Liberians had the support of former colleagues that were left in the United States. In this regard, it was possible for them to get material support for their activities in the African countries. Given that African societies were yet to develop ties with each other, Liberian natives were very disadvantaged, because they could not rely on support coming from their African colleagues. They had to rely on their simple ways of dealing with governance issues developing from interaction with their new colleagues.
The relationship between native Liberians and the new comers was therefore not on equal basis. the new comers saw themselves as more superior and therefore well positioned to run the country. This group’s newly won freedom was seen as a golden chance to start enjoying liberties that were snatched from previous generations through slavery. This made it hard to develop processes that would have allowed the development of better governance processes with the locals. On the other hand, the locals felt that as natives in the land, they had all the rights to control governance processes. The new colleagues were therefore guests that were obligated to follow into local governance processes. The hard lines used by both parties led to total lack of proper environment for democracy to thrive. The poor communication between the two groups meant that they could hardly embark on sitting down and discussing on governance processes that would serve best interests of either side. Instead, each group was busy agitating for the adaptation of procedures believed to work best. The end result was armed confrontations that crippled the ability of the country to develop democratic structures of governance.
Socially, the new comers did not bother to abide to the local customers, which was taken as rude by the natives (Staudenraus, 1999, p. 180; Huband, 1988, 103). This was especially caused by fact that former slaves were busy rebuilding their lives, which made it hard to consider the local customs that had to be followed. It is also possible that excitement over the newly won freedom overshadowed other interests. Failure to abide to the local customs and way of life resulted to the natives seeing the new comers as rude, which placed both groups’ relationship at a poor footing. As mentioned earlier, the communication barrier that existed between the two groups reduced chances of passing information on customs to the new comers. This problem also meant that Americo-Liberians could hardly approach native Liberians for customary advice. Therefore, the country saw a rapid development division between the two groups (Sawyer, 2002, p. 119), something that has haunted Liberia ever since.
Conflict of social goals between the two groups also contributed inability of the two groups to jointly develop democratic institutions. On one hand was the new comers that had experienced a life that had never been thought of in the African continent. This group had observed western form governance, which is actually the only one most of them had ever experienced. To many Americo-Liberians, the western political systems was the only option available for the country, and had to be used no matter the displeasures coming from natives. On the other hand were the Africans that had since time immemorial relied on specific governance structures. This system of governance had to be relied upon no matter the fresh ones being advocated by the new comers. Indeed, the locals expected the Americo-Liberians to respected the local systems, learn and start practicing.
However, these new comers were just interested in running affairs of their nation forward without falling back to the traditions. This was seen as rude by the locals, who were ready to defend their customs, as well as ensuring that the new comers started respecting local traditions. This was a hard line move that the two groups could not have agreed upon. As a result, resolving the matters in a more democratic manner eluded the country from its inception. Despite being the initiators of the Liberian state, the Americans left matters regarding social issues to the two parties. American intervention was therefore completely absent. However, there is little that Americans could have done to improve the situation. A major reason for the impossibility for an American solution was based on idea that the country was still practicing slavery. Indeed, it was not until 1860s, forty years after Liberia was established, that the US finally ended slavery in its territories. Therefore, the country lacked moral justifications in agitating for the development of democratic processes in Liberia.
Indeed, any American involvement in helping Liberian protagonists deal with social interaction challenges could have favored Americo-Liberians. The locals would have left with no one to support their course. The absence of American influence in the social context was therefore good, because it placed the warring parties on equal footing. By keeping off the confrontation between Americo-Liberians and the local people, American authorities succeeded in escaping being tied into the conflict for almost two centuries. But this did not mean that America was not taking silent measures in supporting one side. Given that Americo-Liberians could also move freely to the United States, they could afford to put pressure on the government. American citizens, too, were keen on holding their government more accountable in finishing the job they started in Liberia. The United States government has therefore been providing the necessary support on need by need basis (Dolo, 2006, 110).
There was also the problem of superiority complex among Americo-Liberians. This resulted to seeing themselves as better positioned to deal with governance issues in the country. On the other hand, the locals were feeling oppressed by the visitors who had embarked on wanting to lord over owners of the lands. This was completely unacceptable to the local people. None of the two groups was interested in lowering stance in order to develop better working mechanisms. Considering the communication barrier mentioned earlier, both groups could not have quickly developed working mechanisms that would have given way to the development of democratic institutions. Having been the native owners of the land, the locals were also feeling more superior compared to the new comers.
According to the locals, the new comers were obligated to follow the local customs. In other words, Americo-Liberians were supposed to respect local leadership and become subordinates. T^his would have allowed gradual inclusion into the society and finally lead to their inclusion into leadership capacities. This process had to be gradual and could have taken many years to complete. However, Americo-Liberians were not willing to wait for the long period. After all, the freedom they had longed for generations had been achieved, and they were not ready to accept being commanded by other individuals. All that Americo Liberians wanted was the freedom to run their economic and governance affairs without limitation, exactly what native Liberians seemed to limit.
The inability of the two groups to reach agree on how to run their nation was thus affected by the hard lining tendencies taken by both groups. This meant that the country could hardly develop proper democratic institutions that would have facilitated further development of the country in ways beneficial to all. As a result, the country was unable to plant seeds of democracy at the right time. Indeed, the time that Americo-Liberians were emigrating into the country was the best time for both parties to plant seeds of democracy. This responsibility fell on the Americans, because they are the ones who selected the region as the new African home for the freed slaves. In undertaking this process, Americans should have first talked with the locals on the possibility of hosting the freed slaves from the United States. This is something the the Liberian natives would have been happy to accept. However, the Americans just selected a geographical located and made it the new home for freed African slaves. No measures were taken to inform the local people on the impending immigration of Americo-Liberians into the country. The locals just woke up to see visitors that were in their lands to say.
Equally, American authorities did not prepare the freed slaves on their destination nd the kind of people they would be interacting with for the rest of their lives (Mwakikagile, 2001, p. 88; Ek, 1996, p. 106). As a result, both groups just met as strangers and had to develop common lives, which is generally a hard task. As it happened, each group opted to continue with their lives as usual. But living in the same country meant that the two groups had to finally interact one way or the other. For instance, increase in population meant increase in the competition for resources, which forced interaction. These matters had to be solved through democratic means. However, the two groups had different ways of solving the differences, as well as improving relations so as to avoid similar problems in the future (Buell, 1947, p. 41). Since the two groups had different procedures that were not in agreement with each other.
This demanded that new institutions to deal confrontations in the Liberian society to be developed. To the Americo-Liberians, this meant the adoption of western democratic processes, whereas native Liberians opted for the development of processes that agreed with local traditions (Figueroa, 1896, p. 42). A blend of the two could have worked best in such situations. However, the two groups were not willing to embark on give and take mechanisms that would have facilitated the development of proper institutions. This was further increased by ignorance on either sides.
The Americo-Liberians had little clue on the African democratic institutions that could have applied in developing governance system for the country. Those of them that had little understanding regarded the African systems as outdated and had to be replaced with the more sophisticated American one. As a result, appeal by the native Liberians could not have been listened (Cook, 2000, p. 54). On their part, natives of the land were quick to observe that their returned colleagues should adhere to the African roosts that had been taken away from them for generations. Indeed, natives felt that Americo-Liberians were obligated into following into local customs as the tradition dictated (Cowman, 1958, 198). It was not understandable whey the freed African slaves still wanted to practice political systems of oppressors instead of using the African ones.
Unfortunately, Americo-Liberians did not understand the African governance systems and the Liberian Natives did not understand the western governance institutions (Dunn, 2001, p. 54; Kieh, 2002, p. 77). For sure, both systems offered great positives that could have used in establishing democratic institutions in the country. However, the opposing party did not understand them. The country was thus left with two extremes that made it extremely difficult to develop institutions that would have planted democracy in Liberia. This state of affairs continued to affect the country for almost two centuries. Indeed, each group strongly felt that own processes are best positioned to help the country achieve the desired goal. In the initial stages, and for many years, the country lacked dedicated intermediaries that would have allowed the development of processes dealing with both traditional African systems and the westernized one (Diamond, 1999, p. 88). This was especially needed in the beginning of the Liberian nation. However, the United States, a stakeholder that was best positioned to help both groups be tolerant with each other’s systems, was also little ignorant of the African systems. In addition, the country was still practicing slavery—the very vice that had resulted to the Liberians mess. Apart form the United States, there was no other outside party that could have successfully helped Liberians develop democratic institutions that would have resulted to the country citizens living the better lives envisioned at the inception.
Owing to the superiority complex held by Americo-Liberians, the western style democracy was experienced by few people in the Liberian society, especially individuals. The Americo-Liberians had formed oligarchs that ruled the country with an iron fist (Clapham, 2007, p. 27) and provided good life for people with closer ties, whereas rest of the society end up suffering. Interestingly, those who suffered at the hand of the oligarchs included both native Liberians and most of Americo-Liberians (Gifford, 2003, p. 29). This is contrary to beliefs that only the native peoples suffered from the blunt of poor leadership that faced the country for many years. Taking the helm of leadership by the oligarchs dealt a blow to the development of democratic institutions in the country. The oligarchs were determined to hold onto power for as long as they were topped by rival groups. This was especially been brutal undertakings that has left the country in taters. Any attempts to instill democratic processes in the country were met by resistance by powers that be. In most occasions, those spearheading the development of the institutions were interested in systems that would only enhance their stronghold on power. Processes of developing long term solutions to democratic issues in the country were thus hijacked and grossly abused.
Historically, it is the interests of the minority groups that have been listened by the country leadership. This minority has been non other than member of Americo-Liberial oligarchs that have ruled the country since its inception in early 19th century. As a result, the possibility of power among being shared democratically between different leadership groups in the country has completely been ignored by respective governing powers. The American connection experienced by the Americo-Liberian leadership has historically worked to the disadvantage of the native Liberians (Sundita, 2000, 163). This privileged group of the Liberian society is able get resources used in the struggle for dominance. In addition, members of this group have historically been more exposed to western eduction and away of life. The education part has inherently been crucial in the process of organizing their affairs. As a result, this groups has been able to arrange their affairs in more successful manner compared to the natives. This western exposure also helps to cultivate longly held supercity complex. Members of the oligarch have been able to convince the population that they are best positioned to run affairs of the country.
On the other hand, the lack of exposure to the western education system has resulted to the improvement of internal organisation. This has greatly affected the ability of the natives to take part in affairs pertaining to the development of democracy in their country. At the inception of the Liberian republic, the natives had never encountered the western way political processes. They had relied on their own traditional systems that had been there for many generations. Being forced to immediately drop processes they had successfully used for centuries was not and easy matter. Indeed, it was tantamount to abuse because they were the ones who rightfully owned the land and were therefore obligated in ensuring that the visitors adhered to local political processes (Huffman, 2004, p. 153).
The strong bond with their traditional processes gave the locals all rights to keep practicing what had worked for many generations. However, subsequent oli
garchs that represented the minority in the country were determined to destroy traditional processes
Given that former slaves had their economic freedom totally restricted during slavery, their emancipation and subsequent repatriation to Siberia resulted to being determined to exploit their efforts in order to live better lives. Upon their settlement in Siberia, Americo-Liberians found themselves competing for resources with the local people. The new comers we successful in gaining control of production factors because of their experience in America. As respective oligarchs embarked on increasing their political power over locals, so was the economic freedom of the native Liberians got snatched (Adebajo, 2002, p. 23; Burrowes, 2006, p. 10). In the end, the natives found themselves with little to none land for their economic activities.
Most of the best lands in the country had been taken procession by the oligarchs. The lack of economic freedom for the locals meant that they could hardly participate in the development of democratic space in the country. Equally, a large number of Americo-Liberians were also affected by this state of affairs. Indeed, only those close to the governing powers had the opportunity to enjoy some democratic space in the society. Since the appeal of the oppressed groups to be considered in matters concerning leadership in the country, they embarked on pushing for their agenda through guerrilla warfare (CIA, 1996, p. 11). The oligarchs were quick to use warfare in order to control descent from the public. In the end, the country got engulfed in unending violence. The continuation of military conflict between the oligarchs, their enemies and rest of the population could not have provided the proper environment for democracy to thrive.
The lack of proper environment to develop democratic institution at Liberia’s inception was a big blow to the country’s future. Indeed, many generations since the country was founded as the African home for the freed slaves have been haunted by this blunder (Lyons, 2001, 43). This all started with the United States failure help Americo-Liberians and the natives develop democratic institutions that would have helped in societal interaction in both short and long run. The US authorities just identified a specific African region to relocate the freed slaves, without bothering on views of the local people. Taking such a measures could have resulted to helping with the development of coping measures. The misunderstanding on best political processes for managing the country was also a factor (Riley, 2006, p. 33). Americo-Liberians understood well how the western democratic processes worked but were ignorant on African processes. On the other hand, native Liberians were confident in their traditional practices, but ignorant on the western processes preached by the counterparts. However, none between the two groups was willing to reliance their stance for a common ground. In addition, Americo-Liberians were suffering from superiority complex that resulted to suppressing their native colleagues. This was exacerbated by the oligarchs that eventually ruled the country undemocratically for many years.
The Complex Emergency in Darfur; Ethnic or Multidimensional?
Sudan’s Darfur region has been faced by a double tragedy of hunger and armed conflict. Historical drought has been overshadowed by the conflict, which has resulted to less attention from the government and international well wishers. In the attempt to bring the Darfur hunger issue to the limelight, concurrent sections of this chapter shall highlight the history, present situation and general effects on the population. Specifically, significant sections of the chapter will concentrate on illustrating how the increased complex emergency in the regions is a direct result of famine. The chapter is subdivided into four sections that address important aspects of Darfur’s complex emergency, they include: historical dimension, historical land tenure, manipulation from the Sudanese governments, and drought.
The darfur region is currently the shadow of its former self. During the Keyra Fur Sultanate that lasted between 17th and 18th century, the region was highly productive and self reliant in food and other resources (Burr, 2006, p. 129). Basic economic activities in the region revolved around farming and livestock keeping. Small-scale irrigation schemes were also a common place in the region. All these economic activities were undertaken at the individual level; the basic production unit was the family. In some instances, communities, which constituted of several households was involved in a common project and later shared the harvest (de Waal, 1989, p. 96). This was especially practiced in the area of livestock keeping. As it happened, boys from the community were grazing livestock together with little emphasis on ownership. The community also dug irrigation trenches, but individual families embarked on digging the small inlets into their farms.
The end of Keyra Fur Sultanate in the 19th century resulted to the destruction of law and order in Darfurian society (Daly, 2007, p. 52; Pantuliano & O’Callaghan, 2006, p. 204). As a result, the economic activities that were taking place in the region came to a sudden end. People could no longer embark on taking care of their farms like they had done previously. The lack of protection of private property led to decline farming activities. Unlike in the previous period, the farming community was not guaranteed of harvesting their produce, because other people could have taken advantage of lawlessness and stole the crops. Equally, increased theft of livestock resulted to decline in the households interested in keeping animals. The drop in the two economic activities resulted to sharp decline in productivity and therefore the beginning of hunger in Darfur region.
Lawlessness in the region was rampant even after Darfur became part of Sudan in 1917 (Usman, 2006, p. 3). Given the already decreased economic productivity, the taking over of Darfur region by the British was driven by the areas size. After all, failure to take the region into British fold could have resulted to another European country laying claim over the region. Most probably, France, which was already present in Chad, in West of Darfur, could have enlarged its territory. The lower economic output in the region was therefore decreasing despite being part of the larger Sudan. However, food supplies could now be sourced from other parts of the country.
Due to poor economic output in the region, the Sudan based administrators of the British empire did not bother much with the region. In fact, the area was not considered in the initiation of development projects in Sudan (Traub, 2006, 23). British settlers who were coming to African in search of investment opportunities also ignored the area, because they did not oversee the benefits. Due to lack of settler interest, British administrators did not bother to even provide incentives for settler community to take procession in the region. Darfurians were therefore left to struggle with the increasingly decreasing economic outputs.
Some people could move to other regions of the country in search for better livelihoods, bust most opted to stay and adapt to the changing way of life in the region. This did not end with the end of colonial experience in Africa. After regaining independence from British in 1956, the government still continued with the marginalization of this once productive region. Darfur was still seen as less important when compared with other regions of the country. The newly independent country was also faced with lesser financial resources to help its struggling regions. For Darfur, the lack of enough state resources was totally bad news, because it meant being confined to economic challenges that were getting worse width time. The lack of government interest in the region meant that even other investors would be slow in investing their funds in the region.
This lack of public and private investment meant that the regions would continue being confined in poverty and hunger. Most important, the lack of government interest in Darfur area meant the absence of important government services. For instance, the protection of private property (land and livestock) was ignored, meaning that people were less inclined to participate in the production activities. This scenario further means that people from outside the community were less likely to develop invest in the region. As a result, the area became prone to sporadic hunger because of irregular food supplies and less reliable rainfall. Marginalization of the region by the country’s central government means that even national help for the country’s food reserves was slightly ignored. In addition, poor infrastructure meant that international aid was not reaching when it was needed. The international aid has also not been so reliable because of global politics that frequently affects supply.
The competition for land between livestock keeping individuals and farmers has historically been an issue in the region. However, communities in the region have always found ways of dealing with the challenges. Irregular commotion between these communities could however not be ruled out. Some of the solutions that the communities have developed include subdividing lands that were specifically meant for farming, which were out of bound for livestock; and the lands meant of livestock feeding, which were blocked for farming usage. It was upon individuals in the community to adhere to the rules and regulations surrounding land usage. This arrangement worked well during the days of sultanate, but collapsed with the takeover of Darfur as part of the wider Sudan, and especially after the country’s independence.
Upon the country’s independence in 1956, all the lands were taken under central government’s trusteeship (HRW, 2006, p. 77). This was meant to control the chaos that were ongoing between the communities in various parts of the country. Despite the positive aspirations of controlling the commotion between community members across the country, this approach had a major negative result of breeding tragedy of the commons problem, because few cared on taking care of the land. This has seen continued degradation of fertile soil that is important for the well being of the region. Food crops that had been growing well in the region started failing. This obviously led to exposure to hunger in times of drought.
The end of community separation between grazing and farming and lack of proper rule of law resulted to the increase in conflict between communities. The farming communities started to see the livestock keeping ones grazing on the lands with crops. As one would expect, the grazing individuals easily insisted they were grazing on government lands, meaning that those whose crops was being destroyed had no legal claim on the land. The destruction of crops meant that the entire region would see food production decrease dramatically. On the other hand, the grazing communities started seeing farmlands starting to appear in localities that were purely meant for livestock grazing. This meant decrease in the areas that livestock could feed, which resulted to decrease in livestock production in the region. The end result of both occurrences was a decrease in Darfur’s productivity.
Just like in any other country, having the central government take control of dispensing land was prone to abuse by the Sudanese leadership (Steidle & Gretche, 2007, p. 63). This was especially seen in the ways the government was allocating lands to the people in the region, and to the government farming projects. The leadership was quick to allocate [prime lands to collective government projects, whereas the rest of the masses were left with lands that were less productive (Sidahmed & Sidahmed, 2007, p. 92). Development schemes that were initiated in the after independent were all managed by the state for the common good of the country. In this regard, the locals had little control with the way resources were being allocated despite being the true owners.
By choosing to embark on establishing bigger farms, the state had done away with the old system of smallholdings that were controlled by individual families. Despite the government having the big picture of producing for the entire country, its efforts were hurting the local community because they could not continue with farming in their smallholdings. The lands that had been allocated for individual farming activities were not prime enough for individual families. The mono cropping that was practices in state farms also meant that the local community could not get all the food supplies they needed for their upkeep. The end result was decrease in the amount of food available to the local population. Further, increased use of Mechanized Farming Cooperation in state farms resulted to rapid reduction in the number of Darfurians that were working in the farms. This meant loss of the little wages that people supplemented their subsistence farming. The use of machines in production processes was seen as model of development, because it was placing the developing nations at par with developed ones (Paris & Timothy, 2007, p. 88). However, the method was more expensive compared to use of human labor, which was cheap in the country at that time. The increased marginalization of the Darfurian in the process of development resulted to being more suppressed economically.
The insecure land tenure in the region resulted to the local people failing to take care of their plots so they can benefit from the long run increase in productivity. These fears were increased by the lack of protection of private land by the state. Though property rights would have helped in preventing the land being taken by other people in the community, they could not have protected the people from state sponsored aggression. Darfurians have therefore lived in fear that the state itself could embark on taking the lands back (Steidle & Steidle, 2007, p. 50; Cheadle & Prendergast, 2007, 19). Some state agents have throughout independent Sudan’s history embarked on developing ways of securing Darfurians’ loyalty. Using land as the weapon does this. Darfurians are required to tow the administration line or loose their land. The lesser punishment that the region has been receiving from the state agents has included the brutal scotch earth policy, which involves burning of dwelling places and crops in the farms. This increases the hunger problem because the people have to wait until another planting season in order to grow more crops, let alone constructing their shanties anew. Still after planting and building houses, the individuals live in fear of being attacked again until they become loyal to respective state agents.
Manipulation by the Sudanese Government
The factors illustrated in previous sections if this chapter illustrates the ever worsening hunger and situation in the region. Despite the glaring humanitarian crisis that is worsening as time goes by, the governing authorities in the country have been doing little to control the situation (Prunier, 2005, p. 126). Worse, their efforts to show the world community that something is being done seem to be worsening the already grave state of affairs in Darfur. The international condemnation and pressure is leading to the Sudanese authorities wanting to show the world that something is being done to address the situation. However, this has been done through international public relation instead of dealing helping the suffering people on the ground (Daly, 2007, p. 57).
A government interested in the affairs of the suffering citizens would provide the international community with maximum support. However, the government of Sudan has been on the forefront of blocking aid directed to the Darfurians (HRC, 2007, p. 22). In some instances, the government has insisted that those who want to help in the region to pass their donations through the state. Instead of channeling the help to the needy people of Darfur, the state has been using the same donations to further its aims in the conflict (Collier & Hoeffler, 2004, p. 12 ). This has especially been achieved by denying people access to the help they require. The Darfurians have continued to suffer as the state continues to hold their help. International condemnation has not helped the matter at all. The tight control of local and international media by the Sudanese government has resulted to people failing to get truthful information regarding situation in the area. In addition, the lack of transportation infrastructure in the region has resulted to aid agencies having limited ways of reaching the regions other than the ones designated by the state. In this regard, the government is able to track and control what gets in the region. This limits freedom to provide as much helps as possible to people in the region.
Despite Sudan being divided into several autonomous regions including Darfur, the government of Sudan has embarked on playing the role of governing the region, a power that has been taken from the local governor. This centralization of power is meant to reduce the possibility of the region embarking in the name of calling for more autonomy, like what Southern Sudan has accomplished. Indeed, the breaking-away of independent regions in the country is something that the country’s central government is concerned about, because it would mean reduction in the sphere of influence (Korinman & Laughland, 2007, p. 175).
The loss of influence in respective regions would mean that central government, and the entire northern regions would loose their share of oil resources that are the primary foreign exchange earner in the country. Given this scenario, the central government might continue doing all it can to ensure that resource rich regions are controlled from Khartoum (Johnson, 2003, p. 92). Special interests in the country have been using government silence to their advantage. Terrorizing the people of Darfur with little care on legal consequences has especially done this. As mentioned earlier, some groups have been burning farms and houses, which has contributed to the increasing humanitarian crises in the region. Despite evidence on the vices and knowledge of the individuals behind some of the worst attacks, the government has continued to keep silent (Kaldor, 2007, p. 38). The Sudan government stand accused of using some members some groups in suppressing peace efforts in the Darfur region.
The disruption of aid system by the government has therefore contributed to the worsening humanitarian situation in the region. Rather than creating a better environment for aid organizations to help the suffering Darfurians, the state has been at the forefront of blocking help for its people. This is being done with little impunity, which illustrates that state agents care less about Darfurians’ welfare. The lack of positive involvement of the state in helping the needy masses in the country leaves international community with fear that even much not change even after peace has been found in the region. Indeed, the absence of food security in the region might still persist even after the current general insecurity comes to an end. For the Sudanese government, dependence food rations rather than producing in Darfur is a weapon to being used to ensure that people remain loyal to the state (Keen, 2008, p. 140).
Continued state denial of famine crisis in the country has continued to worsen the situation. For instance, the Darfur region started experiencing serious food shortages in 1980s. But instead of intervening or requesting for international help, the government of Sudan was quick to deny that the country was experiencing any food shortage (Jok, 2007, p. 180). This denial meant that no measures were being undertaken to address the situation. In addition, the state did not initiate any measures to ensure that future crisis was escape through establishment of food production procedures in the region. The end result was therefore worsening food crisis in the short term, and exposing the region to even worse hunger situation that is currently being experienced in the region. Given that the state failed to help Darfurians during the beginning of serious drought in 1980s, the increasingly weak labor force in the region could hardly embark on the process of initiating food production (Taylor, 2004). Government’s failure to admit there was crisis in the region was followed by blocking international access to the region. As a result, the international community did not have its account of what was going on in the region, which means that help from other countries in the world was hard to come by. This sorry situation has continued in the past two decades and has left the suffering and hungry population with little hope, reason being that the state has blocked necessary help.
The denial that there were food problems in Darfur as well as other parts of the country has continued to be the government policy. The well-wishers who try to admit to the world on the needy food situation in the country have been intimidated with persecution (ID, 2008: Huberich, 1947, p. 211). The fear of persecution has resulted to people keeping silent as their colleagues continue to suffer in Darfur among other regions in the country. The use of fear in the population has resulted well-wishers depending on the information provided by the state, most of which has been understatements. However, the international community has slowly begun to less rely on the information passed by the government and consequently demand for increased open access to the region. This pressure has yielded some efforts, as authorities have begun to allow some access to the region. However, the improved international access has not been followed by relaxation of state control in food distribution in the region. The state has jealously continued to dominate the process of distributing help to the needy people in the region. Poor people’s plight has therefore continued to lack proper address from the authorities that are constitutionally tasked with that responsibility.
The lack of transparency in government’s food distribution system has resulted to state agencies misusing its monopolistic position. Indeed, there is no way for the people of greater Sudan to ensure that national help gets to their needy colleagues. I similar regard, the international community that is forced to channel its contribution through the state does not have a mechanism to ensure that help gets to the intended people. Both international community and Sudan citizens have accused state agencies of misusing the help intended for the suffering masses. However, lack of proper evidence means that complainants cannot keep the government accountable. In the case of the Sudan citizens, any attempt to prosecute the government of wrongdoing could lead to being prosecuted (Abdalla, 2001, p. 54; Hoile, 2005, p. 34)—people thus stay away from such situations. With regard to the international community, attempts to make the government of Sudan at the United Nations has been frustrated by the country’s sovereign trade. The Peoples Republic of China has been singled out as the biggest obstacle in keeping Sudan government accountable at the international level (WNC, 2007, p. 4). This has especially developed from self-interest in the country wealth resources.
Lack of peaceful coexistence with Sudanese neighbors has also been a big contributor of drought in the Darfur region (Call & Elizabeth, 2007, p. 101). Indeed, Sudan rivalry with Chad, which borders with the Darfur region, has inhabitants at crossfire. The government of Sudan tends to see Darfuruians as Chadian sympathizers, which is tantamount as seeing country citizens as enemies of state. As a result, the government has continued to use resources to help the suffering individual as weapons. Refusing the people of Darfur the much-needed food has increased their suffering.
Constant confrontation between Chad and Sudan military has left the Darfur region with much destruction. Being seen as helping the enemy by their own government has resulted to the lands being destroyed. On the other hand, Chad authorities are prone to leaving destruction in the Darfur region as a way of punishing their Sudan enemy (Hari, 2008, p. 209). The worst effect has been deaths in the region’s young and energetic population. The loss of the strong in the community has left the elderly, women and children to fend for themselves. The few strong people that have been left in the region have embarked on taking arms to protect respective communities. This cycle leaves the region’s farms without anyone to attend to, which further exposes Darfurians to hunger and drought. Constant destruction of the little food crops in the region has also meant that little efforts being made by the locals are all for nothing. This reduces motivation to participate in agricultural production.
The tightly controlled migration of people in the region make it hard to move into safer areas and embark on producing food crops (Flint & de Waal, 2006, p. 80). The state has done little to ensure provision of security of the people and their property. Had there been peace in the region, the current drought being experienced in the country could have been avoided. People would have just moved to fertile areas in the region and produce enough food to feed the population. However, the state’s less interest in Darfurians’ welfare has resulted to poor provision of security in the region has denied respective population with opportunities to fend themselves (de Waal, 2007, p. 96). Drought is not a lasting matter when people are provided with the proper environment to look for solutions. In the case of Darfur, the people would have easily developed solutions to their problem to their solution rather than waiting for help from the state, which has anyways been oppressive. Darfurians are fully capable of helping themselves through drought crisis when the right environment is provided.
As illustrated various sections of this chapter, the complex emergency in the region has been facilitated by the state’s failure to play its role of protecting its citizens’ life, liberty and property. Unfortunately, the state has been at the forefront of blocking Darfurians’s abilities to help themselves. This has especially been done through government-sponsored violence and poor provision of security. The state has also failed in the duty of punishing individuals that have been taking part in activities destabilizing the region (Ejibunu, 2008, p. 104). The inability of the international community and Sudanese citizens to hold state accountable for its actions is among the reasons of continued suffering in Darfur. Citizen groups that try to push for accountability have been threatened with prosecution, which has led to people fearing on taking stern actions. At the international level, Sudan’s sovereign friends with special interests in mineral resources have been hindering international efforts to take stern actions. The state’s tight control in movement of persons in the region has resulted to inability of local and international relief agencies to provide the much-needed help. This has also made it hard for the people of Darfur to relocate in other areas in the region and consequently embark on food production. The end result has been continued suffering of the masses in Darfur.
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