African peacemakers: Rescuing Europeans from mutual slaughter

Ogunsakin Mustapha
9 Min Read
Owei Lakemfa

By Owei Lakemfa.

Seven African leaders stunned the world on June 16 and 17, 2023 when they went on a peace mission to warring Ukraine and Russia.

The reaction from many in the West was that of contempt; how is it the place of lowly Africa to intervene in a war of Europeans?

In fact, Poland tried to scuttle the mission by detaining for 30 hours the aircraft carrying the protection unit of President Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the delegation. Its claim was that the security men carried “dangerous goods”(weapons). Did they expect them to carry candies? The protocol all over the world is for the paper work for the weapons to be submitted; but Poland declined.

Eventually, the aircraft which also had a dozen journalists on board, could not join Ramaphosa as Hungary barred it from using its airspace. These are clear indications that some Europeans countries do not want peace.

The United States had also tried to scuttle the peace process by its Congress insisting that sanctions be imposed on South Africa for being a member of the Brazil, Russia, India , China and South Africa, BRICS, economic initiative and promising to allow President Vladimir Putin on whom it had imposed unilateral sanctions, to attend the BRICS meeting in South Africa without any consequences.

The reaction of some in Africa was one of self-denigration: how can African leaders think of making peace among Europeans, especially when the Pope, the United Nations and China had failed? Some, in trying to portray the African leaders as jobless busy bodies asked: what is Africa’s business? I will tell you what our business is by retelling a true story.

The European countries in search of territories, and to exploit the world’s human and natural resources went on a voyage to colonise the rest of the world.

As is often the case with the greedy tortoise, they came close to blows, and in 1884, met in Berlin to agree on how they would steal the resources of other peoples without fighting themselves. But greed has no limit, so on July 28, 1914, they commenced an All-European War. Since there were no persons to mediate, the Europeans were left on their own and at the end, 16 million human beings were killed in what they beatified as the First World War.

Despite the Europeans proclaiming that the First World War was a “War to end all wars”, they were back at another endless slaughter from September 1939. This time, some 85 million human beings were killed. They christened this slaughter, the Second World War. In each of these wars, genocide was a side menu. In the first, Armenians were the main victims, while in the second it was six million Jews. In all these, innocent Africans, Asians and Latin Americans were killed as they were forced to fight for both sides.

So today, with the same countries engaged in another slaughter, is it logical for anybody to ask what the concern of Africa is?

If the senseless war in Ukraine were not brought to a quick and peaceful end as the African leaders are trying to do, is anybody in doubt that all humanity would be affected and that part of the war would also be fought on African soil as it happened in the Second World War?

When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday told the African leaders that he is not interested in peace and is confident of resolving issues militarily, is anyone fooled that his faith is in the decimated Ukrainian armed forces? Is anybody in doubt that the war in Ukraine is an international one with the military from various countries, including America, Asia and Europe, engaged? Are we to pretend that since those armies are not fighting under their countries’ flags, then they are not on the battle field?

Did those querying the business of Africa in pushing for peace, listen to Putin when the African peace ambassadors asked him if the Russian nuclear weapons recently deployed to Belarus would be used? He had retorted that in case of a “threat to the Russian statehood” they would be used. He emphasised: “In that case, we will certainly use all the means that the Russian state has. There should be no doubt about that.” So, is Africa to do nothing in the face of a possible Third World War in which nuclear weapons will be used or do people think all these is a joke?

Those who argue that Africa has no business initiating peace in Ukraine are like occupants of a multiple storey building who claim that it is not their business if an occupant on the ground floor decides to blow up his flat.

Some scoff that the African leaders returned home empty handed. Such people do not seem to understand that a peace process is not a quick fix; once it is not going to be an imposition, it is often a marathon race. An African saying goes: an elder that listens to only one side of a story to pass judgement is a wicked elder. So the African leaders have gone to Kyiv and Moscow, listened to the combatants, poked them for response and watched their body language.

A wise step the African leaders also took was to ensure their team includes friends of the warriors and their allies who might be beating the drums to which they are so energetically dancing. It is a known fact that South Africa is not opposed to Russia; Egypt is an ally of the United States and Senegal strives to be in the good books of France.

Again, there are those who argue that we have not been able to settle African conflicts like the senseless one in Sudan. True, but that does not mean we cannot strive for peace in Ukraine as we are also doing in Sudan. By the way, who praised Africa for the peace process in Ethiopia?

Then, there are those who query why the African countries went on the peace mission rather than the African Union, AU. To me, it is not on all issues we must wait for the bureaucracy of the AU to agree before an action can commence. In any case, how do they know the AU was unaware of the peace mission? How do they know the delegation did not get the nod of the AU before setting out?

I wish the African peacemakers: Presidents Ramaphosa, Macky Sall of Senegal, Comoros’ Azali Assoumani and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly of Egypt and the envoys from Congo-Brazzaville and Uganda, success.

Africans cannot just sit back and watch the Europeans engage in another mutual slaughter or ignite a Third World War.

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