The Curse of Berlin is the Conference of Berlin between 1884 and 1885 at which the rules on how Africa was to be partitioned were set by the European states. Africa’s contemporary relations globally are affected by both historical and structural events. Even though the study adopts a historical approach, its main focus is on issues affecting Africa today. The focus is on Africa’s quest for security, political and peacekeeping roles. Towards the end of the Cold War is considered to be in 1989, events in Germany had a very big influence on Africa. The unification of Germany marked the end of the separation of Germany from Europe. The same effect had the demise of Communist Decree in the Eastern Europe. However, the Bismarck curse supporters were interested in the future of African continent. Some conflicts were taken place in Africa in Eritrea and Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Other problems arose because of the internal pressure inside the countries. This could be predicted, because Africa had once faced the political intrusion earlier in this century. Now that it was in the post-apartheid period and marginalization had become something of a greater concern. It was very obvious that African countries failed to deliver from the colonial legacy. I
Africa’s political and economic systems were still attached to those bequeathed by majestic statesmen in Berlin. The African leaders had also failed to produce the effective regional incorporation schemes to set free their nations from the burden of the old colonial boundaries. To remove the curse caused by geopolitical sorcery of Bismarck, Africa was forced to pursue a pursuit for three “magic” kingdoms: unity, security and hegemony.
Since decolonization of Africa, it has experienced continued civil feuds and interstate wars because of power struggle. These conflicts have been the target of peacemaking and peacekeeping initiatives of the Western powers, the United Nations (UN), and neighboring African states majorly because institutions in Africa mandated with this task of settling these disputes remain weak thus easily manipulated by the greedy few who want to serve their own interest at the expense of the majority’s (those who want to cling on power).
The longstanding animosity with former colonial powers further complicates and affects the efficacy of African peacekeeping (Addison & Murshed, 2002). Addison and Murshed (2002) further argue that the initial creation and agreement to a peace agreement depends largely upon the credibility of those making the offer.
The European Union (EU) has found regionalism to be a preventative solution to conflict. After two world wars, its states have opted for negotiations and mediations over the table rather than in the battlefields. They used economic interdependence and political integration to establish the EU as a forum to negotiate and mediate issues.
The success of Europe in quelling violence and civil feuds through regionalism has given many; hope that this interdependence of states through regional integration could be the possible remedy for the turbulence in Africa.
In the Curse of Berlin, the efficacy of Africa’s response to regionalism, in particular the African Union (AU), and its peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts in Darfur and Western Sahara, is evaluated. Questions stemming from three typical areas of AU peacemaking and peacekeeping: economical, political, and socio-cultural are also asked for instance, why is the AU having financial problems? If the purpose of peacekeeping is to broker peace through the compromise between the opposing parties, is it within the interest of member states that are the subject to peacekeeping measures to contribute the state funds to the AU Peace Fund? Why do Governments such as Sudan and Morocco object to the intervention of UN peacekeeping forces while inviting an AU peacekeeping mission? Is the AU peacekeeping more acceptable because of its African origin, or is it because of its widespread record of lame-duck peacekeeping missions that offer little threat to the offending government? This study will attempt to address these questions within two case studies of Darfur and Western Sahara.
It is believed by many that the end of colonial period led to propagation of conflict in the underdeveloped world (Binaisa, 1977). Consequently, many scholars and peacekeeping envoys are looking towards newer and less expensive measures to facilitate peacekeeping operations. Many are now looking at the ethnic component as well as the political and economic components when considering African peacekeeping operations. In regards to preventive peacekeeping measures, many scholars aim to study the source of conflict within Africa, hoping that understanding it can prescribe methods for the lasting effects of a successful peacekeeping mission.
Though ethnocentric peacekeeping conventionally is widely accepted, Adedeji (1999) objects to ethnic divisions being a dividing force, so long as languages, religions and cultural differences define ethnicity. He states that several stereotypes for the source of African conflicts are rooted in ethnic and tribal conflicts that often stump or regress development processes. Adedeji (1999) opines that these ethnic and tribal rivalries are often propelled by the political class for their own interests, which in turn has led to conflict.
Wall and Druckman, (2003) however, disagrees with Adedeji, citing examples from the French and Belgian eras of Rwandan colonization. They mention that the Rwandan genocide was rooted in Belgian political and social mechanisms that stymied the inter-caste movement which existed during the French colonization period. This led to an adversarial social construct between the two castes, and became increasingly militaristic. Binaisa (1977) explains that peace is best achieved through the cooperation, strengthening and reexamination of sub-regional peacekeeping capabilities. However, he touches on the logistical, training and financial shortcomings of these groups, despite their ideological strengths and commitments as the major impediment to their effectiveness. These ideological strengths and commitments are grounded in prevention. Some of the preventative measures include:
• Instituting and implanting efficient democratic systems which take the ethnic realities of each state into account
• Instituting a system of government based on permanent social dialogue and quest for political consensus
• Establishing an independent judicial system that majority have trust in. This can be ensured through a transparent process where the public are also involved which is accessible to and is perceived by all as independent of the state
• Respect for the human rights and the rejection of impunity
• Eradicating exclusion and intertwining ability in the running of public affairs
• In cooperation with international organizations, conducting policies which address issues such as debt, regional integration, women, children and cultural identity (Berman & Sams, 2000).
Despite the creation of the Cairo Declaration, which was meant to point to the Organization of African Unity (OAU)/AU’s need to take a wider view on conflict prevention, conflict management and its resolution, Murray (2001) states that the OAU/AU must improve their record of quelling gross human rights violations if they are to meet the goals of peacekeeping missions in Africa.