Governing Violence In Africa


The horrendous gun violence inside and outside St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, South West Nigeria has aroused diverse characterisations. Some persons saw it as a ‘’Sacrifice’’ by politicians contesting for the presidency of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – due on June 7h, 2022. Albinos are killed for success in business. Shedding blood would bring political triumph.

Others blamed foreign Intelligence agencies who saw opportunity to incite inter-religious chaos across Nigeria as enraged Christians surge forth in revenge. The Buhari government has bruised financial appetites that wished to win contracts awarded to China for the construction of railways, bridges and other infrastructure.

His rebuking President Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire for elongating his tenure; not openly criticising Russian intrusion into Mali, Central African Republic and Chad would annoy business executives used to playing lucrative games in West Africa.

These lines of thought meet on governing violence; a subject in which Japan’s record is instructive. A combination of very cold weather, periodic earthquakes which have killed thousands of people; religious beliefs which emphasise self-sacrifice and intensive discipline, have forced the Japanese to govern violence. Lethal cold imposes discipline on the mind. The violence in utter loss of certainty aroused by an earth tremor teaches the value of calm discipline, dialogue with fate and nature.

A Japanese film on LOVE which I saw in Oslo, Norway’s capital showed a young man having a farewell dinner with a girl friend, calmly cut off his little finger, wrap it in a napkin and hand it over to the girl to keep as his pledge to her. They were very calm. Snow was falling outside as a witness.

In daily life Japanese do a lot of bowing to each other as part of conversation. It is a form of ‘Soft Violence’. Japanese managers of companies are aware of the burden in this ritual. As relief, corporate executives drink much alcohol together till late at night.

Toyota Company evolved the ritual of getting its management relieve stress by lining up near a railway line and SHOUT to the fullest at a rolling train. Young women are trained with skill for building relaxation in an exhausted executive. Upward moving executives are expected to sing for superiors and peers as they socialize. A common song is the latest hit on the music map.

. ‘Soft Violence’ has also been channelled into both extraordinary forms of barbarism; and skill in manufacturing and creating consumer goods…

The genocidal violence which in 1959 and 1994 had Hutus hack to death thousands of Tutsi countrymen, women and children, indicated compulsive rejection of underlying Soft Violence in social relations. Some observers reported incidences of Tutsi elites getting up from a common pot of beer, standing on backs of Hutus and splashing urine on them.

. The seemingly insane barbarism exploded periodically showed the failure in this governance of both Soft and Hard Violence in past relations in Rwanda and Burundi.

. These were regimes of permanent insecurity by a minority group who assume that constant humiliation of those different from them is the most effective way of protecting their power and enjoyments.

Fidel Castro, a son of big land owner and a student in a prestigious Law Faculty in Cuba was offended by degrading attitude of American Mafioso to Cuban girls driven into prostitution by poverty. He took up arms to end that contempt. Inequality in land drew rural poor into joining his struggle to end their hunger.

The NUER (in South Sudan), the BALANTE (in GUINEA BISSAU) and SOMALI, in contrast, reject expressions of ‘soft violence’. An insult is instantly challenged. If the clash leads to bloodshed it must be countered with bloodshed. The dignity of the individual is paramount. The NUER resent being bossed by the majority DINKA. The ‘’balanced respect’’ can easily tip into anarchy.

A notable response in managing soft violence against African-Americans and Asians is the emerging publication of SORY BOOKS FOR CHILDREN in which all races, colours, ethnic symbols are included. A computer artist in Central African Republic is creating computer games which enable African youths to explore and learn about African achievements in history to overcome inferiority complexes induced by Euro-American racist lies.

Protecting ‘Balanced Respect’ in Somalia and South Sudan has led to 30 years of violence and failure to sustain a central government authority.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo unequal access to guns has resulted in over 120 militia groups terrorising communities to supply valuable minerals to suppliers of guns.

The governance of violence has become a major challenge for Africa. It is imperative to borrow from Japan’s example of creativity turning their ‘’soft violence’ into a tool for economic and political governance, as a power stronger than guns in hands of individuals and ethnic groups.