Searching for Peace in Africa: An Overview of Conflict Prevention and Management Activities

alt Monique Mekenkamp, Paul van Tongeren and Hans van de Veen (eds)
Published by: Utrecht: European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation, 1999
ISBN: 10: 9057270331 13: 978-9057270338

Reviewed by: George Mboya Journalism Graduate, United States International University – Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 3 No. 1, 2003

If there ever was a book written about Africa that offers prospects for hope on such a grim subject, then it is this one. The book resulted from the work of numerous authors who have ably assisted the editors, and whose expert views on the conflict in Africa are fresh, provide food for thought, and urge Africa to awake from slumber and seize her moment. The book is set against a background in which ten major conflicts in Africa in the past 25 years have claimed the lives of between 3.8 and 6.8 million people. In 1998 alone, of the 200 violent conflicts occurring world-wide 72 were credited to Africa, thus making Africa ‘the most warring region on the planet’.

Protecting Sub-Saharan Africa: The Military Challenge

L. Du Plessis And M. Hough
Published by: Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, 1999
ISBN: 10:0796919003 13:978-0796919007

Reviewed by: Brig. James Machakaire (rtd), Intern in ACCORD’s Peacekeeping Unit
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 1999

This book examines how policies adopted by states after independence influenced the enhancement of security through investment in and development of the armed forces. Coincidentally most states in this region attained independence by armed struggle. The desire and temptation to enhance security through the rapid and massive development of military strength was so high on the agendas of most of these states, that it over- shadowed the need to rationalise distribution of available resources.

Peacemaking in South Africa: A Life in Conflict Resolution

alt Van der Merwe, H.W.
Published by: Cape Town: Tafelberg, 2000
ISBN-10: 0624039137 13: 978-0624039136

Reviewed by: Jaap Durand, retired Vice-Rector of the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2002

This is the autobiography of a man who played a significant role in the peace-making process in South Africa that led to the negotiated settlement in 1994, which is often described as the South African "miracle". H.W. van der Merwe, now deceased after a long illness, had been described by the media as the man "who brings South Africa's enemies together".

Invisible Stakeholders: Children and War in Africa

alt McIntyre, Angela (ed.)
Published by: Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, 2004

Reviewed by: Annie Derges, Senior Documentalist, SAPES Books
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 6 No. 1, 2006

When you hear the words ‘child soldier’, do you conjure up (as I admit to having done) the image of the child-abductee holding an AK-47 and dressed in cast-off scraps of uniform? Or the tramp of small feet of the children of Northern Uganda, portrayed in a recent documentary film, who make their way each night from the villages to the safety of towns? Or, as you approach a road junction in your car, in almost any city of Africa, and that child approaches, hand outstretched, do you think: if war broke out, that child would be better off as a soldier.

A Peace of Timbuktu, Democratic Governance and African Peacemaking

Robin-Edward Poulton And Ibrahim AG Youssouf
Published by: United Nations Institute For Disarmament Research, New York And Geneva, 1998
ISBN: 10: 9290451254 13: 978-9290451259

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane, Research Assistant in ACCORD’s Research Unit
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 1999

The statement that something ‘new’ always comes out of Africa, as depicted in Pliny the Elder’s story centuries ago, is clearly reflected in this book. This something ‘new’ contrary to the ugly picture painted by Pliny of Africa, happens to be positive.

Africa was not unaffected by the turbulent years of the Post Cold War era. Since the end of global bipolarity, the winds of change have blown strongly across the African continent. This is most graphically evidenced in the process of democratisation, which witnessed the ousting of ‘Big Men’ like Kenneth Kaunda and Hastings Banda from the corridors of power. A peace of Timbuktu reflects on the processes of change resulting from the replacement of an oppressive regime by a democratically elected government.

Understanding Peacekeeping

alt Bellamy, A.J., Williams, P. and Griffin, S.
Published by: Polity, Cambridge, 2004
ISBN: 10: 0745630588 13: 978-0745630588

Reviewed by: Cedric De Coning, Research Fellow at ACCORD and Advisor to the Training for Peace in Africa Programme
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2005

Bellamy et al start their book with a quote by Alan James: “the fullest perspective on peacekeeping…is one which places it firmly in the context of international politics.” Understanding Peacekeeping provides a comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of contemporary peacekeeping and attempts to contextualise peacekeeping in both the historical and contemporary international political systems. The authors argue that peacekeeping is “contemporary international society’s most sustained attempt to manage violent conflict” and that understanding the theory and practise of peace- keeping should therefore shed “significant light upon important trends and developments in global politics.” They argue that peacekeeping has always been an ad hoc response to particular problems, and that is why the concept defy simple categorisation based on the tasks peacekeepers fulfil in different historical periods. This is also why they feel an approach that focuses on the role that peacekeeping plays within wider processes of global politics is needed. The authors identify two key questions at the outset which they aim to answer in this book, namely: “what are the chief characteristics of the contemporary political environment in which peacekeepers operate, and how have peacekeepers come to understand their role within it?

Unbowed: One Woman’s Story

alt Wangari Muta Maathai
Published by: William Heinemann: London, 2006
ISBN: 10: 0434016314 13: 978-0434016310

Reviewed by: Karanja Mbugua, Senior Researcher at ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 2006

Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai is the first woman in Africa to win the Nobel Peace Award, which crowned her international recognition in the field of environmental conservation. Unbowed: One Woman’s Story is her memoir.

Written in chronological order, the narrative is simple and descriptive. The book is divided into 13 chapters and an epilogue. It ends with a short story, which Prof. Maathai says was narrated by one of her aunts. Former US President, Bill Clinton, prefaces the memoir, but it has no introduction.

To Walk Without Fear: The Global Movement to Ban Landmines

alt Edited By Maxwell A. Cameron, Brain Tomlin And Bob Lawson
Published by: Oxford University Press, South Africa, 1998
ISBN: 10: 0195414144 13: 978-0195414141

Reviewed in Conflict Trends Issue 1 of 1999

To Walk Without Fear is a comprehensive and authoritative account of the global movement to ban landmines. It brings together leading academics, senior policy makers, and prominent leaders of NGOs to examine and draw lessons from the ‘Ottawa Process’, which culminated in December 1997 when over 120 states signed a convention to ban the use, sales, and production of landmines.

Theories of War and Peace: An International Security Reader

alt Edited by E. Michael Brown, R. Owen Cote, Jr.; Sean M. Lynn-Jones and E. Steven Miller
Published by:(1998), The Mitt Press, London
ISBN: 10: 0262522527 13: 978-0262522526

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 1999

This book deals with the theoretical issues around the concepts of war and peace. The first section of the book, entitled Realist theories of war and peace begins with a chapter by Mearsheimer that focuses on post-Cold War Europe. The section deals mainly with the question whether Europe would be able to maintain its peace and stability in a post- Cold War era. The analysis is done within the context of the bipolar world (Cold War) versus the multipolar world (post-Cold War). Drawing from the neo-realist theory of international relations, the first article presents four different scenarios for a post-Cold War Europe. The author concludes that Europe would face incredible destabilisation due to multipolarity as there would be no clear (military) power to ‘moderate’ the activities of other states. It is the absence of this great power that leads to anarchy with states pursuing their own national interests. The author seems to suggest that this could only be avoided if the United States and Russia continue to play the role of superpowers in Europe in order to maintain stability.

The State, War, and the State of War

alt Holsti, Kalevi J.
Published by: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996 (reprinted in 1997, 1998)
ISBN: 10: 052157790X 13: 978-0521577908

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 1 No. 2, 2000

Attempts to offer an understanding of the relationship between war making and state creation in the world have been undertaken by many international relations and strategic studies scholars. In most of these attempts attention has been focused on how state making in Europe differed from that in other parts of the world. In this context, we have come across a number of publications on the collapsing or deteriorating of States in Africa. Linked to this is the question of war and how the world has come to understand it. In all these attempts various authors have tried to explain the changes that have taken place regarding the nature of wars and conflicts in the world.