- Some of us feel that since African countries were designed by the colonial masters, then we should consider the idea of revising their architectural-territorial design
KIGALI, Rwanda: Last week, the Commonwealth Heads of State Conference convened in the Rwandan Capital Kigali. The conference is a platform for the former British colonies to assemble and reassert their solidarity as sister states with a historic allegiance and loyalty to the Queen of England.
Interestingly and paradoxically speaking, this time, there has been a departure from protocol because the host country, Rwanda, had never been part of the common wealth by virtue of the fact, it has never a British colony at all. The only link that Rwanda can claim to have with the common wealth fraternity is that, the current leader, President Paul Kagame, was born and raised in Uganda, which is a known British protectorate (by the way, Uganda itself was not a colony but a mere protectorate – a discussion for another day).
In fact, more controversy has been stirred by the election of President Paul Kagame as the current Chairman of CHOGM. There are those who believe this infiltration of the commonwealth by a non-member, has happened because the Queen is almost senile and has lost the will to assert her authority. Nevertheless, Rwanda has set precedence, of unbelievable proportions.
The DRC Discussion
Most political pundits expected that since Rwanda has been one of the major players in the destabilization of the Congo, the 2022 conference should have been an opportunity for Rwanda to engage member countries to discuss issues of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has suffered from instability for a better part of the 21st century.
Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, who by the way received a hero’s welcome from the Rwandan citizens who thronged the roads to welcome him right from the border point of Katuna to Kigali, had got a golden chance to advance an ultimate solution for settling the Congo question, once and for all. But nothing of real substance came out of the 2022-Kigali-CHGOM, in terms of stabilizing the DRC.
As you read this, another rebel group known as the M23 has already claimed a Congolese territory. This group recently captured the Congolese town of Bunagana, and reportedly claims to be fighting for the rights of the Tutsis that are spread across most parts of Eastern Congo. Now, since the conflict has taken an ethnic dimension, then the solution is practically easy. The world leaders should consider the solution of giving them the right to self-determination for threatened ethnic groups.
Some of us feel that since African countries were designed by the colonial masters, then we should consider the idea of revising their architectural-territorial design which is known to have been based on imperialistic grounds, resulting into the constant instability we are experiencing today. In most parts of the African continent, you find many countries whose boundaries were insensitive to the communities in those territories. For instance, there are communities which were divided right in the middle by the colonialists which resulted into irrational divisions between many tribes.
For instance, Uganda and Kenya share a border where tribes like the Itesot, Karamojong, Samia, etcetera … were divided by the boundary to the extent that at one time we had two brothers one known as Aggrey Awori as a minister in the Ugandan government and his brother Moody Awori as a Vice President of Kenya! Although no animosity exists between Kenya and Uganda at the moment, in regard to these irrational territorial boundaries, you cannot rule out its possibility in future. But for the case of Congo, we have a clearly drawn need for repartitioning this huge country.
Why Repartition The DRC?
The DRC is huge a country. As big as the size of western Europe! It has over 200 tribes and 700 languages! There are some Congolese patriots who are arguing that although there are many communities in the DRC, they are not hostile to each other. But we are telling them that although they are not hostile to each other, they have failed to manage themselves correctly as a viable state. Now, the territorial size wouldn’t have mattered if it was stable and progressing. After all, America and China, which are huge countries with sizeable population, are doing well to the extent of dominating the world. But we must admit that it has not worked for Congo.
Even the issue of so many ethnicities wouldn’t have mattered if they had lived in harmony. There are other theories which suggest that even homogenous societies like Rwanda, Burundi and Southern Sudan can be rocked by instability. Yes, Rwandese Tutsi and Hutu committed genocide against each other even when they are known to speak the same language. But they have occupational differences with the Tutsi mostly inclined to be cattle keepers and rulers while the Hutus are cultivators.
If living together can lead to genocide, like we saw Rwanda undergo in 1959 and 1994, then it’s not a bad idea discussing their separation. In fact, experience and history have showed us that although a country of diverse ethnicities can live in harmony, the same has not worked for the DRC and to some extent, Nigeria. In fact, Europe itself was designed along homogenous societies. Any slight difference was resolved by separation. This partly explains why Europe has been peaceful for such a long time until the advent of the Russia – Ukraine war, which is also precipitated by the desire for self-determination by the Ukrainians.
And I can bet my hand that the Russia-Ukraine war will end with the creation of another state somewhere between the two countries, unless otherwise! Yugoslavia had to be repartitioned into many states that ranged from the Slavs, the Slovaks etc, basing on ethnic, religious differences. Otto Von Bismarck managed to re-unite Germany by tracing all the people with the same Germanic ancestry.
For the case of the Congo, it’s even easy. Immediately after getting independence in the 60s, some parts of Kasai and Katanga fought to secede from the large Congo. The same can be made of Nigeria where some parts of Biafra wanted to secede from the larger Nigeria. Although Nigeria is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, it would have done extremely well if it was repartitioned basing on religious and ethnic entities. You will agree that the Bokoram terrorist outfit has done a lot to undermine the continued growth of the Nigerian economy.
Likewise, if the Katanga had managed to secede from the DRC, it would have had no regrets at all. But look at the mess it has endured for the last 60 years of being forced to be part of the larger Congo. In fact, besides Katanga and Kasai which were very clear about their aspiration for self-determination, other parts of Congo like north and eastern Kivu need to be galvanized into well manageable viable states. Congo can be regarded as the only country that has been under the direct control of the United Nations for the last 60 years! This is partly because it’s unmanageably huge and lacks a leadership that can galvanize it as a viable state.
Although the world leaders are shying away from the idea of repartitioning or splitting the Congo, they know deep inside that it’s the only way out of the mess. Each time Europe undergoes war, territorial boundaries are adjusted. After the Napoleonic wars, we had many countries created and others dismantled.
After the Second World War, we had Germany split into Eastern and Western Germany while Korea was split between North and South Korea. After the end of the cold war, we saw hundreds of countries seceding. From Russia, we saw Eastern Germany re-unite with Western Germany. Unfortunately, Africa has not had the opportunity to dismantle the colonial boundaries. In fact, after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the Congolese wars that followed, we should have seen a new territorial redesign for the great lakes’ region. Now, is the time to start dismantling this imperialistic design in the DRC and replacing it with a territorial design based on original African sentiments.
The author, Fred Daka Kamwada is a journalist and author
He can also be reached via Engage him on [email protected]
- Fred Daka Kamwada is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda
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