The State of the World's Refugees

alt Hussein Solomon
Published by: Oxford University Press, 2000
ISBN: 10: 019924104X 13: 978-0199241040

Reviewed in Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2002

The world has changed fundamentally since 1951 when the UNHCR was established with a budget of US$ 300 000 and a staff component of 33 to deal with 400 000 refugees who were homeless in the aftermath of the Second World War. By 1999, the UNHCR budget had surpassed US$ 1 billion and it employed more than 5 000 staff in 120 countries to respond to a worrying population numbering some 22,3 million of which 52,4 percent were refugees. These figures clearly indicate the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis confronting policy-makers. This, then, is a timely publication which examines the development of international refugee law and the establishment of institutions devoted to the protection of refugees and other displaced people over the past 50 years.

Property & Freedom

alt Pipes, Richard
Published by: The Harvill Press, London, 1999
ISBN: 10: 0375704477 13: 978-0375704475

Reviewed by Kole Omotoso
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 1 No. 2, 2000

The freedom that property confers on the owner has always been recognized in all cultures. The words of a propertied person are valued over those of a person without property, the Yoruba of Nigeria like to say. Ancient societies in their wisdom allow only those with property to participate in the deliberations of the community. Why then was organised religion able to preach the total rejection of property? Why was it that the way forward for the world was not that everyone should have property in order to be free? Why is it that the development of the modern free market system deals with having and not having to keep the market going? Perhaps most important for those who hope for total liberation of humanity from all forms of bondage, why does the dream of the common ownership of property continue to be unrealisable?

Phases of Conflict in Africa

alt Kadende-Kaiser, Rose & Kaiser, Paul J. (eds)
Published by: Toronto: De Sitter Publications, 2005
ISBN: 10: 0973397896 13: 978-0973397895

Reviewed by: Emmanuel Kisiangani, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 6 No. 2, 2006

Africa has been judged to be more afflicted by serious armed conflicts than any other region on the planet. It is however important to put the causes of these conflicts into proper perspective, rather than simply concluding that they are tribal or ethnic. In most cases, the underlying causes are closely interwoven in both national and international arenas. The international factors include the consequences of the Cold War and its aftermath, as well as the globalisation and liberalisation of the world economy – which have generated a sense of political and economic insecurity in Africa. National factors that have contributed to armed conflicts in Africa include discriminatory political processes and skewed resource distribution (in some cases going back to the colonial period), centralised and highly personalised forms of governance, corruption and mismanagement. While debates often conceive the causes of conflict in Africa in both national and international dimensions, in practice, attention to dealing with these conflicts is in most cases paid at the level of and in the context of the countries concerned. The consequence is that conflict resolution strategies fail to appreciate the complex nature of disputes in Africa. The book Phases of Conflict in Africa aims to provide an analytical framework for conceptualising and dealing with some of these conflicts, particularly in West and Central Africa.

No-Party Democracy in Uganda, Myths and Realities

alt Mugaju, Justus and Oloka-Onyango (eds.)
Published by: Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2000
ISBN: 10: 9970022040 13: 978-9970022045

Reviewed by Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

The question of democracy, as it relates to the right of people to decide who and how they ought to the governed, still remains one of the thorny issues in African politics. Of course, notwithstanding countries like Botswana, Senegal and South Africa who appear to be consolidating their democratic paths, most African states are still battling with this issue.

Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa

alt Villa-Vicencio, Charles and Verwoerd, Wilhelm
Published by: University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town Zed Books Ltd, London, 2000
ISBN: 10: 1856498190 13: 978-1856498197

Reviewed by Jaap Durand
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

Referring to the Zimbabwean crisis caused by the occupation of farms by war veterans of the struggle for freedom from colonial domination in the old Rhodesia, a political commentator in an Afrikaans newspaper observes that it would not have happened if Zimbabwe, instead of giving amnesty to violators of human rights in the old Rhodesia, had set up a truth commission similar to the one in South Africa. This is a remarkable acknowledgement in a newspaper that consistently had shown itself as a severe critic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This indicates that the debate on the TRC is not yet over and that, as the time goes on, new perspectives on the work of the TRC will open up. In this respect, the collection of essays on the TRC in Looking Back, Reaching Forward can play an important role, because here we have the remarkable story and a debate triggered by it from the inside – in the words of the editors: an “internal critique”.

From Enslavement to Environmentalism: Politics on a Southern African Frontier

alt Hughes, David McDermott
Published by: Seattle and London: University of Washington Press in association with Weaver Press, Harare, 2006
ISBN: 10: 0295985909 13: 978-0295985909

Reviewed by Reviewed by Annie Derges, Senior Documentalist, SAPES Books
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 7 No. 1, 2007

The politics of land dispossession and repossession in Zimbabwe are much in the news, and much written of, invariably in oversimplified terms. This eminently clear and readable account of the complexities of land disputes provides a different conceptualisation of territory and geography from an anthropological point of view. The author, on field expeditions to two small habitations in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, encountered vastly different concepts of territory and geography. How has it come about that a people, divided arbitrarily by a colonial border, view the landscape and the politics of land so differently?

For Better or Worse? Women and ZANLA In Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle

alt

Josephine Nhongo-Simbanegavi
Published by: Harare, Weaver Press, 2000
ISBN: 10: 079742105X 13: 978-0797421059

Reviewed by Terence M. Mashingaidze, Lecturer, Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 3 No. 1, 2003

Traditional scholarship about Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle tended to be gender neutral and highly romanticised. The liberation fighters were presented as fair, brave and disciplined whilst the opposite applied to the forces of the colonial state. Recent historiography is now showing that all the protagonists in the war perpetrated injustices against the unarmed civilians and within their ranks. It is in this vein of challenging, reconstructing and deconstructing dominant notions and paradigms that Nhongo-Simbanegavi’s book, For Better or Worse? Women And ZANLA In Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle, emerges. The book deserves the commendation of all those interested in the history of African liberation movements. It is probably the most cogent refutation of the claims of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) to the establishment of gender equity during the war of liberation. It shows the resilience of patriarchal hegemony in the various contexts that punctuated Zimbabwe’s history, such as the colonial and post-colonial periods, and the times of war and peace. The book is well researched and weaves a rich tapestry of women’s, mostly combatants’, experiences during the war and in the post-colonial dispensation. Besides oral interviews and data from secondary sources, the book relies heavily on the rich but largely inaccessible ZANLA archives at the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) headquarters in Harare.

Consolidation of Democracy in Africa: A View from the South

alt

Solomon, Hussein and Liebenberg, Ian
Published by: Ashgate: England & USA, (eds.) 1999
ISBN: 10: 0754611744 13: 978-0754611745

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

Since the emergence of the Post-Cold War era a large amount of contributions have been made, both as oral and as written statements, about Africa's democratisation (or lack thereof). As Africa approached the turn of the 20th century, the issue of democratic transition and consolidation continued to be a matter of contested terrain among academics, students of African politics and policy makers. This book should be seen as a further contribution to this vigorous debate about the nature and content of democracy in Africa. It deals specifically with the issues involved in the process of democratic consolidation. Consisting of nine chapters, this book looks at various organs of society (for example, civil society, the state, the military) and the extent to which each of them contributes to or hinders democratic consolidation.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

alt Lt.Gen. Romeo Dallaire, 2004
Published by: Arrow Books
ISBN: 10: 0679311726 13: 978-0679311720

Reviewed by: Cedric De Coning, Research Fellow at ACCORD and advisor to the Training for Peace (TfP) programme
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 2005

General Romeo Dallaire has done the peacekeeping community an enormous service by painstakingly reconstructing the events that led to the Rwanda genocide and the international community’s response, or lack thereof, in the days and months that followed. The book is written from his personal experiences and painful memories as commander of the United Nations (UN) forces in Rwanda. He sheds light on the various historic and political events that built up to the genocide, including the broken political process and the apathy of the world as events unfolded in Rwanda. What sets this book apart is the insight General Dallaire provides into the workings of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) and its relationship with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the UN headquarters in New York.

Putting People First: African Priorities for The UN Millennium Assembly

alt Edited by P. Mathoma; G. Mills & J. Stremlau
Published by: South African Institute Of International Affairs (Saiia), 2000
ISBN: 10: 1919810145 13: 978-1919810140

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 1 of 2000

The twenty-first century, Africa’s 53 countries stood out as the stage of unending conflict, where death and poverty became the order of the day. Visuals of malnourished Angolan children show the result of an ugly civil war; thousands of human skeletons exhumed after the Rwanda genocide, which was all due to the politics of identity; and civilians with amputated limps in Sierra Leone – all these images and many more will forever serve as a reminder that the twenty-first century was not kind to Africa.