In this Segment, we explore the role that religion and ethnicity are used in African politics and conflicts. This is an important discussion in view of the on-going conflicts in Central African Republic and South Sudan and the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda.
Guests and Panel
- Claude Gatebuke who survived the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and a Human RIghts and Democracy activist. He currently serves as executive director of the Great Lakes Action Network.
- Mwangi Chege, a Research Associate at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC.
- Tseliso Thipanyane - AfrobeatRadio Human Rights producer
- Wuyi Jacobs - Host
On Monday, April 7, 2014, Rwanda and the international community marked the twentieth commemoration of the Rwandan genocide that saw over 800 000 people (mainly of Tutsi origin) killed in the quest for political power in that country.
Following this genocide and its worldwide condemnation, it was expected that the usage of ethnicity and religion in the quest for political power that is often accompanied by violence and atrocities will be a thing of the past.
It was also expected that African leaders, with the support of the global community, will ensure that never again will African people, including innocent children, be abused and killed for simply being members of a particular ethnic or religious group.
However, soon after the Rwandan genocide, political conflict shocked the foundations of Kenya in 2007/8 where over a thousand people were killed and over 600 000 people were forced to flee their homes. This has been followed by conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire and Mali where religion played a big factor.
And more recently, the on-going conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Meanwhile in Nigeria, with a long history of the use of religion and ethnicity in politics, is seeing a significant spike in the use of religion based violence perpetrated by the so called Boko Haram.
These conflicts, resulting from struggles for political power and increasingly economic factors as well, raise many questions and concerns in relation to the challenge of diversity in Africa.
It raises questions of what the real agenda behind much of these conflicts are, and the involvement of external players. It also raises the questions of why, after so many years, since the end of colonialism with its divide and rule strategies, many African countries continue to experience conflicts where ethnicity and religion are big factors.