Peace: A World History

Antony Adolf
Cambridge, Polity Press, 2009, 272 pp.
ISBN: 0780745641263

Reviewed by Laura Grant, a recent intern at ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 10 No. 1, 2010

In Peace: A world history Antony Adolf challenges the assumption that peace is solely the absence of war, and aims to provide a history of peace as an independent and self-sufficient concept. The author undertook the work

… in the belief that coming closer to terms with how and why the world’s peaces came or ceased to be what they are is a first and necessary step in renewed directions towards world peace – only to discover that, of necessity, there is no last.

Adolf contends that peace is not a state to be achieved but rather a process to be maintained, and that a better understanding of the history of peace will improve its prospects in the future. Hoping to contribute to this objective, Adolf has compiled an overview of peace from prehistory to the 21st century and beyond.

The Media and Conflicts in Central Africa

Marie-Soleil Frère, with a contribution from Jean-Paul Marthoz
Lynne Rienner Publishers 2007, 287pp.
ISBN (hbk): 978-1-58826-489-3 / (sbk): 978-1-58826-465-7

Reviewed by Paulo Nuno Vicente

In these times of Internet communication and mass media overflow, do we really know anything about the Other? What can we summarise from media reports about Africa, except prejudgments and superficialities? How truly informed are we about conflicts in Central Africa?

In this book, Marie-Soleil Frère synthesises the interaction between the mass media and conflict in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, the Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Saviours And Survivors: Darfur, Politics And The War On Terror

Mahmood Mamdani (ed.)
Published by: Human Sciences Research Council Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7969-2252-6

Reviewed by Karanja Mbugua, Senior Analyst with ACCORD’s Peacemaking Unit
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 9 No. 1, 2009

The conflict in Darfur, Sudan, has attracted a tremendous amount of attention in the last six years. Scholars, humanitarian organisations and investigative commissions and panels sponsored by the African Union and the United Nations have produced a large amount of information and analyses regarding the context, actors, causes and consequences, underlying goals and interests, and other dynamics that have been driving the conflict. These analyses, which reflect the different views and interests of the various groups in Sudan and in the West, are human rights, political science or anthropological narratives of Darfur in particular, and Sudan in general.

Democratization and Islamic law: The Sharia Conflict in Nigeria

alt Harnischfeger, Johannes 2008
Frankfurt/New York, Campus Verlag, 244 pp.
ISBN 978-3-593-38256-2

Reviewed by Prof Françoise Parent-Ugochukwu who is currently attached to the Open University in the United Kingdom (UK)

This book is the fruit of a three-year research mission in Nigeria (1993–1996) followed by three research trips in 2001, 2002 and 2006, during which the twelve States of the Federation which adopted Sharia in various degrees were covered: Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, Niger and Gombe. It is a precious first-hand account of the implementation of Sharia in the north of the country, prompted by the fact that ‘observers in Europe and North America paid little attention to the political implications of Sharia’ (p. 17). It is based on interviews with local informants, personal observations, and the scrutiny of archive documents, media articles, religious tracts, the Quran, the Bible and academic publications. Central to the book are the effects of Sharia both on the Muslim community and on Muslim-Christian relations. The author first attempts to ‘reconstruct some of the reasons that led to the Sharia campaign’ (p. 28), going back into history up to Usman Dan Fodio’s jihad in 1804 (p. 42), which presented Islam as the only unifying factor between Fulani, Hausa, Nupe and Yoruba. For Harnischfeger, the colonial period which followed was ‘a blessing for the spreading of Islam’ (p. 54), as the British closed the region to Christian missionaries, a move which, while facilitating the rapid Christianisation of the south, led to positive discrimination in favour of northerners and to the present educational imbalance between North and South. Sharia remained in force in all Emirates until the Independence, with non-Muslim settlers – mainly Igbo and Yoruba – discriminated against.

Peace and Conflict in Africa

alt Francis, David J. (ed.)
Published by: Zed Books, London / New York, 2008
ISBN: 10: 1842779540 13: 978-1842779545

Reviewed by Karanja Mbugua, Analyst with ACCORD’s Peacemaking Unit
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 9 No. 1, 2009

Many interpretations of peace and conflict in Africa are too simplistic. The book under review, therefore, seeks to deviate from those interpretations and provide a more detailed perspective. A collection of essays edited by David J. Francis, the book is touted as an introduction text to key themes with regard to peace and conflict in Africa. The book aims, firstly, to introduce the reader to the concepts, debates and issues in peace and conflict in Africa, and, secondly, to stress the importance of indigenous African approaches to peacebuilding. Thus, the book is divided into two parts. The first part has seven chapters and deals mostly with concepts and the discourse of peace and conflict in Africa. Part two has five chapters and deals with issues in peace and conflict.

The Resolution of African Conflicts: The Management of Conflict Resolution and Postconflict Reconstruction

alt

Editors Alfred Nhema and Paul Tiyambe Zeleza
Published by: Ohio University Press, 2008
ISBN: 10: 1847013023 13: 978-1847013026

Reviewed by: Sadiki Koko, Senior Researcher at ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 1 of 2009

An observation of conflict trends in Africa indicates that intrastate armed conflicts, which were on the rise between 1990 and 1998, have significantly decreased in number. Many conflicts on the continent have been settled and others are in the process of being resolved, generally through peaceful means. However, a number of conflicts remain a challenge in Africa.

The daunting challenges of post-conflict reconstruction facing the majority – if not all – African countries recovering from violent conflicts pose the risk of conflict relapse. This trend has been observed in recent years in a number of African countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria’s Foreign Policy after the Cold War

alt Adebajo, Adekeye & Mustapha, Abdul Raufu (eds)
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, Durban, South Africa, 2008
ISBN: 10: 1869141482 13: 978-1869141486

Reviewed by: Reviewed by Garth le Pere, Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 8 No. 2, 2008

This elegant book covers an expansive thematic mosaic. Its sixteen chapters provide incisive analytical coverage, conceptual insights and empirical richness, pointing to the factors and imperatives which have shaped Nigeria’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. That it succeeds so admirably is a tribute to the editors and well-chosen authors. Each chapter helps to impose order on this complex mosaic.

Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War

alt Meisler, Stanley
Published by: John Wiley & Son, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2007
ISBN: 9780471787440

Reviewed by: Theo Neethling, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Military Science (Military Academy), Stellenbosch University
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 8 No. 3, 2008

In Kofi Annan, A Man of Peace in a World of War, Stanley Meisler presents a biography of Kofi Annan as a man who rose from schoolboy in Ghana to world statesman and Nobel prize winner, and of the joys and despair that marked his decade as leader of the United Nations (UN). The book is not an authorised biography and Annan did not read the manuscript before publication, but he was aware of the biographer’s intentions and co-operated with the project. He also encouraged his staff and friends to meet with Meisler.

Meddlers or Mediators? African Interveners in Civil Conflicts in Eastern Africa

alt Gilbert M. Khadiagala
Edited by: Daniel Druckman and William Donohue
Published by: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007
ISBN: 10: 900416331X 13: 978-9004163317

Reviewed by: George Ngwane, Executive Director of AFRICAphonie, a pan-African organisation focused on enhancing democracy and economic development, based in Cameroon.
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2008

Gilbert M. Khadiagala’s well-researched book sheds light on the vagary of conflict mediation through citizen-led (elder statesmen), state-centric and regionally-driven initiatives. Meddlers or Mediators focuses on five civil war case studies within the eastern region of Africa but, beyond this, is also a profile of those involved or who intend to be involved in the complex and cumbersome search for peace in conflict-prone Africa. After identifying three categories of mediators (state, elder statesmen and regional institutions), Khadiagala provides a cross-cutting description of any mediator in chapter one: “having muscle, clout and leverage”, “having both power and stature to reward or to punish the disputants for cooperative or uncooperative behaviour” and “having deeper knowledge of the conflict and proximity to the disputants”.

Sudan: The Elusive Quest for Peace

alt Iyob, Ruth & Khadiagala, Gilbert M
Published by: International Peace Academy. International Peace Academy Occasional Paper Series. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, 2006
ISBN: 10: 1588263509 13: 978-1588263506

Reviewed by: Jannie Malan, Senior researcher, ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 8 No. 1, 2008

Writing a book – one book – on the elusive quest for peace in Sudan is a daunting and difficult task. Each of the many social groups who happen to live in this large and variegated country may of course prefer to write or read their own books and focus only on the versions of history, culture, religion, human rights and social justice that they are used to and that support their views. If individuals from one group were to read a book written from another group’s perspective or from a perspective that claims to be objective, they may be inclined to write critical comments and corrections in the margins, or reach a point where they throw down the book in disgust.