George Ayittey · @ayittey

15th Apr 2012 from Twitlonger

@TCrackCrack Secessionist wars in Africa have been FEW, not countless: Casamance (Senegal (dormant); Tuareg, Mali (active); Biafra, Nigeria (put down); South, East and Western Sudan (one successful, two active); Cabinda, Angola (fizzled), Katanga, Congo (put down); Ogaden, Ethiopia (active) – total is 9. No secessionist wars in Somalia. The Somali are ethnically homogenous. After the ouster of military dictator, General Siad Barre in 1991, central government in Mogadishu disintegrated as “educated barbarians” – warlords and Islamic extremists – battled fiercely for control, even though the capital has been reduced to an ash heap of rubble. At that point, Puntland and Somaliland decided to walk away from the chaos in Mogadishu. There was no war of secession. They have indicated that they would be willing to come back if Mogadishu can get its act together.
Break-up or secession is NOT the solution to Africa’s woes. There are more than 2,000 ethnic groups in Africa, with 250 in Nigeria and over 400 in Congo DR. If secession is taken to the limit, we may end up over 1,000 “Little Djiboutis” all over the continent, each with its own president-for-life, Swiss bank account and one-plane fleet of airlines.
The solution is reconfiguration of the colonial state – from unitary state system to federal or confederal system. The unitary state system is unsuitable for ethnically homogenous Somali, let alone multi-ethnic African nations. It concentrates power at the center, which leads to competition among various groups to capture that power. We need a state structure that DECENTRALIZES power and allows the constituent ethnic groups the autonomy and freedom to pursue their own affairs – not dictated to by the center as currently. Such a state structure can be found in Africa’s own indigenous system. All the ancient empires of Africa – Ghana, Mali,, Songhai, Great Zimbabwe, etc. – were confederacies. Modern day Switzerland is a confederation of 26 cantons.

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