Black Star Journal
Commentary on the news, culture, sports and current events of sub-Saharan Africa from someone who's lived there.
The author served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa.
All essays are available for re-print, with the explicit permission of the author. Contact him at mofycbsj @ yahoo.com
Friday, February 15, 2013
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
How Mali became a failed state
The Washington Post has a good analysis of Mali's rapid descent into a virtual failed state following a military coup d'Etat three months ago that overturned 20 years of democracy.
Mali was hardly a paragon prior to the coup that brought to power a junta headed by Capt. Amadou Sanogo to power. The government was increasingly corrupt and ineffectual. The military was poorly armed in the face of a combined insurgency of Tuaregs who wanted a separate state in the north and of Islamists who wanted all of Mali united under a harsh form of Sharia.
However the coup rapidly accelerated, rather than halted, Mali's slide into chaos. The junior officers couldn't decide if they wanted power or not, though they did decide to help themselves to government laptops and other office equipment as part of their looting 'strategy.' The rebel groups took advantage of the indecision to seize most of northern Mali, including the culturally significant city of Timbuktu, where the Islamists have blown up ancient statues and started imposing Taliban-esque punishments.
Meanwhile, the military leaders have certainly gotten comfortable with the lavish perks of power (even as the regional body ECOWAS doesn't recognize the coup) as their country burns. The Post articles concludes: Businessmen are still waiting in front of [Sanogo]'s office to see him, with the customary suitcase of cash, a sign of his enduring influence.
Update: The Post ran another article a few days ago on a mysterious crash in Mali that killed three US Army commandos. The soldiers were engaged in anti-terrorism operations in the Sahara against the Islamists. The crash occurred *after* the US suspended military cooperation with Mali following the coup,
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Evil scum war criminal pats himself on the back
In his sentencing hearing yesterday, evil scum and war criminal Charles Taylor pleaded for mercy from the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone... without acknowledging any guilt. The former Liberian dictator was convicted by the court of knowingly aiding and abetting war crimes in that country’s civil war (he’s never been charged for his role in the barbarity in his own country).
Taylor had the gall to praise himself as bringing healing and reconciliation to Liberia. He is correct.... sort of. Healing and reconciliation arrived in his country, but only after he fled the country in disgrace.
Prosecutors called for an 80 year sentence for the convictions, a term which defense attorneys called ‘disproportionate.’ They are correct, it is disproportionate. Taylor’s reign of terror which destabilized an entire region merits a much harsher sentence.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Record foreign investment in Africa
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Murderous war criminal scum finally receives justice
One of the world's worst war criminals finally received a small measure of justice this week. Former Liberian warlord and dictator Charles Taylor was convicted of multiple counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone. Taylor was convicted of aiding and abetting crimes in that country by arming Sierra Leone rebel groups knowing full well of the groups' actions.
As you might infer, I hold particularly enmity for this vile piece of trash. I lived in Guinea in the mid-90s, when the country hosted over half a million refugees from the Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil wars. I personally knew people whose lives were ruined by Taylor's roving bands of murderous thugs.
Since Taylor still has many allies inside Liberia itself, he was never going to be treated for the even greater he was responsible for in his own country, so it's a consolation that he will like spend the rest of his miserable life rotting in jail.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Mali: a boon to African democracy?
The recent events in Mali, previously one of the most stable, democratic countries on the continent, have been widely described internationally as a blow to African democracy. Over at SEADiaspora blog, Adien Ignoi takes the opposite view. The refusal of the Malian population to accept the junta's legitimacy, essentially forcing it to hand back power to civilians, is, in his view, a good sign.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
You want power? You can have it
A follow up on the recent military theft of power in Mali that overthrew the democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT)...
If you'll recall, the coup leaders insisted their action was solely motivated by the desire to stop the insurgency in the north of the country and to preserve Mali's territorial integrity. So what was one of the first acts committed by soldiers following the consolidation of the coup? The looting of the presidential palace.
Not that the country's territorial integrity has fared much better. The army has lost control of several key towns since the coup, most recently Kidal. The major northern town of Gao is also under assault.
The ruling junta calls itself the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy, a beautiful Orwellian name, since it was they who disestablished democracy in the first place.
Even as the French government formally condemned the coup, it was common knowledge that Paris had been considered ATT too lax in fighting against the Islamist insurgency. This has fueled speculation that the French may have had some role in the regime change. While there seems to be little concrete evidence to that effect, the long history of La Françafrique nourishes such suspicions.
Black Looks blog offers a fresh perspective on the events.