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.

Unintended Consequences of Peacekeeping Operations

alt Edited by: Chiyuki Aoi, Cedric De Coning And Ramesh Thakur
Published by: United Nations University Press, 2007
ISBN: 10: 9280811428 13: 978-9280811421

Reviewed by: Geoff Harris, Professor of Economics and Director of the Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies programme at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 2007

Things do not always turn out the way you plan, and the unexpected often happens. This book examines the unintended consequences of peacekeeping operations (PKOs) – some of which were reasonably expectable, and some of which were not.

Unintended Consequences of Peacekeeping Operations contains 11 chapters arranged in four sections, with introductory and concluding chapters by the editors. The first section reports on the unintended consequences of PKOs for women; the second and third sections examine the impact of PKOs on the host economies and troop-contributing countries respectively; and the final section considers issues of accountability and the extent to which unintended consequences can be prevented or managed. The introductory chapter notes that there were ‘three unwritten chapters’ – on Aids, corruption and the United Nation’s (UN) response to various unintended consequences.

Very Brave or Very Foolish? Memoirs of an African Democrat

alt Author Quett Ketumile Joni Masire
Editor Stephen R. Lewis, Jr.
Published by: Macmillan Botswana Publishing Co., 2006
ISBN: 10: 9991240489 13: 978-9991240480

Reviewed by Tor Sellstrom, Senior Advisor to ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2007

In a modest, true-to-type Botswana way, this significant insider account of an African success story quietly made its way onto the market in late 2006. It is a fascinating tale, narrated by former president Ketumile Masire and edited by Professor Stephen R. Lewis, Jr (1). As the title informs, the memoirs are of – not by – Masire, based on approximately 65 hours of recorded conversations with Lewis. In addition to students of contemporary Botswana’s domestic and foreign policies, the narrative is highly recommended to those concerned with issues of leadership (passim, but in particular pp. 83-102), political and economic governance (pp. 146-245) and conflict resolution in Africa (pp. 301-316).

Women In Parliament: Beyond Numbers (A Revised Edition)

alt Julie Ballington And Azza Karam
Foreword by: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Publisher International Institute For Democracy And Electoral Assistance (International Idea), 2005
ISBN: 10: 9189098196 13: 978-9189098190

Reviewed By: Natalia Zakharova and Nathalie Lasslop
In Conflict Trends Issue 1 of 2007

The extent of the two editors’ working experience around policy and gender issues is ‘beyond numbers’. Julie Ballington, a specialist on political participation and representation of women, headed the project on Gender and Elections at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa prior to working for International IDEA and recently joined the Programme for the Promotion of Partnership between Men and Women at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Azza Karam, a specialist on gender and the Arab region, is now a Senior Policy Research Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and used to work at the World Conference of Religious Peace, and at the University of Belfast, before becoming the architect of IDEA’ s gender and Arab world programmes.