A few days ago, the SUNHAK PEACE FOUNDATION awarded the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate 2019. The award, alongside a monetary award of Cash Prize of US$500,000 to the World Fighters Foundation. SUNHAK FOUNDATION posted the story thus on its website:
· Awarded 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize for his contribution in leading Africa’s agricultural innovation and promoting good governance in Africa.
· Calling out to international community that, “There cannot be peace in a world that is hungry.”
Will put his best effort in the eradication of famine and hunger and complete employment of youths in Africa.
Guess what Adesina did…the AfDB president donated the sum of US$ 500,000 in cash to charity, precisely to the World Fighters Foundation. It is not fight in terms of the pugilist or boxer. It is fight in terms of combating poverty. I confess I exclaimed when I read the piece. I calculated the US$500,000 in naira and discovered that it is in the region of One Hundred and Seventy Million Naira! N170 million naira.
When he was asked to give a word on receiving the Sunhak Peace Prize for 2019, he said “The Sunhak Peace Prize is a call to do more for me. ‘’I want to thank the Sunhak Committee for recognizing my 30 years of services that have put in lifting millions out of poverty, not just Africa. ‘’There are millions who are still suffering from poverty and I want to encourage and enlighten them, so they can live better life. I hope one day, we could live in a world where there is no hunger. “I am thankful that I am receiving the award in Seoul, Korea. ‘’Seoul city is a dream city for me and I learn a new lesson every time when I come here. The Korean peninsula was divided into two lands after the Cold War. ‘’There was not enough food and resources. ‘’This country started with national income of one hundred US dollars and that number jumped to $31000. This improvement is just amazing. This shows a great lesson on how Korean people had the vision and passion in developing their own nation”
Adesina immediately announced he was donating his $500,000 share of the prize to fighting hunger in Africa: “There is tremendous suffering going on in the world. While progress is being made, we are not winning the war on global hunger. There cannot be peace in a world that is hungry. Hunger persists in regions and places going through conflicts, wars and fragility. Those who suffer the most are women and children,” Waris Dirie, has played a leading role in drawling global attention to the fight and against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and the need for legislation to ban the practice. Dirie said, “Female Genital Mutilation scars victims physically, emotionally, and mentally.”The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is carried out on young girls between infancy and the age 15. Adesina who believes a peaceful world will be a food secure world, pointed out that only 1% of the world’s richest own 50% of global wealth.
I read the piece again and discovered that there are very positive things we could gain from the story. The website has the post: MAKING THE WORLD BETTER FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS and another quote: ‘’IN THE SAME WAY THAT PARENTS LOVE THEIR CHILDREN, THOSE LIVING TODAY MUST TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO ASSURE PEACE FOR THE SAKE OF FUTURE GENERATIONS’’
The Sunhak Peace Prize honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to peace and human development, working to resolve conflict and restore balance to the relationship between humanity and the natural environment. The Sunhak Committee recognized Dr. Adesina’s contributions in leading Africa’s development by greatly improving food security in Africa by implementing agricultural policies which surged agricultural innovation to the African continent.
“Nothing is more important than ensuring that we feed the world and eliminate hunger and malnutrition. Hunger is an indictment on the human race. Any economy that claims growth without feeding its people is a failed economy. Nobody has to go hungry, white, black, pink, orange or any colour you can think. ‘’We must reduce global income inequality. We need wealth, yes, but we need wealth for everyone not just a few. Today, the poor are stuck and only end up eating crumbs, if any at all, that fall from the tables of the rich. This sense of exclusion and lack of equity or fairness often drives conflicts. We have an opportunity to reverse the situation through sustainable agriculture as a business, and not as an aid program.” That piece provoked me into going into my records to pull out a piece that contains part of the reasons Africa is the poorest region in the world.
CONFLICTS IN AFRICA The natures of sub=regional conflicts have been described as strange and peculiar. “These conflicts are cruel, protracted, make no distinction between combatants and civilians, often have no discernable political agenda (unlike the Cold war insurgencies), and are relatively resistant to external pressure” (Hutchful, 1998, 1). Different types of conflicts have arisen in Africa in the past 100 years. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Aide-Memoire equates conflict in Africa to civil war and describes four dimensions of a civil war. For example Salim (1999) classifies conflicts in Africa to include ‘’Boundary and territorial conflicts, civil wars and internal conflicts having international repercussions, succession conflicts in territories decolonised, political and ideological conflicts, and others, including those related to transhumance and irredentism. During the four decades between the 1960s and the 1990s, there have been about 80 violent changes of governments (Adedeji 1999, 3) in the 48 sub- Saharan African countries. During the same period many of these countries also experienced different types of civil strife, conflicts, and wars.
At the beginning of the new millennium, there were 18 countries facing armed rebellion, 11 facing severe political crises (Adedeji 1999, 5), and 19 enjoying more or less various states of stable political condition. And some of the countries in the last two categories have only recently moved from the first category. A UNDP representative paints the picture in these terms: A snapshot of explosive conflict in today’s Africa presents a worrying picture: of Eritrea and Ethiopia; of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, the last with the longest-running civil war on the continent; of Sierra Leone with gruesome atrocities against civilians; of Somalia, Burundi, Guinea Bissau and Lesotho, the latter reeling from South Africa’s recent intervention.” The World Bank puts the annual global cost of conflicts at US$100 billion; the African Development Bank estimates that on average, states affected by conflict and fragility, have missed out on half their potential GDP since 1980. Countries in conflict suffer a rapid decline in cross-border trade and do not attract foreign investment.
They (Africans) often suffer extreme devaluation of their currencies. ‘’Their infrastructure is destroyed or damaged; hospitals and schools may be used as camps for displaced people; children miss out on years of education. More consequences include poverty that is afflicting millions who also lack access to basic healthcare. They are vulnerable to climate shocks and price volatility, leading to food and nutrition insecurity which has been described as a ‘’serious obstacle to long-term stability and development for Africa’s people, its institutions and its businesses. ‘’Two recent examples are the 10 million people of South Sudan – a country which should have been moving on from conflict and poverty to economic development – and the resource-rich Central African Republic, which could be an engine for regional economic growth. Both are in the grip of a major conflict. Children, women and men are dying, families and communities are being uprooted, and South-Sudan and the Central African Republic are losing the fragile development gains they have made.’’
WHY AFRICA IS POOR — DAVID OYEDEPO:I then went for Bishop David Oyedepo’s speech delivered at COVENANT UNIVERSITY a few years ago. Bishop Oyedepo asserted that: ‘’The effects of all these conflicts on the development of Africa have, to say the least, been devastating. In his address to the 9th Convocation Ceremonies of Covenant University, Ogun State, Nigeria, delivered on June 27, 2014; its Chancellor, Dr. David Oyedepo took a cursory look at the cost of some major wars in Africa, and pointed out how foolhardy it is to go to war. In the paper titled: ‘The Way out for a Nation on Trial,’ Oyedepo painted a gory picture of destruction, disruption and desolation of lives and property, and pointed out that there is the need for introspection on the part of Africans. He noted that ‘’All of the statistics should, in the paper presented by him provoke ‘’commitments of timely engagement in a quest to finding solutions to this looming danger, by finding the way out of our current events before it degenerates to a calamitous situation.’’ Oyedepo reeled out the statistics below that are strong enough to make Africans reason positively:
Nature of Conflict: Ethnic and religious
Duration: 1955-1972; and 1983-2005 (almost 50 years of conflict)
Casualties: About 500, 000 killed; over 2million displaced
Nature of Conflict: Religious and ethnic (Darfur Genocide)
Duration: 2003-Date (9 years of conflict)
Casualties: Over 400, 000 killed; 3 million displaced
Nature of Conflict: Religious and ethnic
Duration: Ogaden War, 1977- 1978; CivilWar, 1991-2003; Islamic War, 2003- Date (22 years of conflict)
Casualties: 550, 000 killed
Nature of Conflict: Power struggle
Duration: 1971-1984 (12 years of conflict)
Casualties: 500, 000
Nature of Conflict: Ethnic
Duration: April-July 1994 (just within 100 days)
Casualties: Over 800, 000 killed
Democratic Republic of Congo
Nature of Conflict: Power tussle among political gladiators, and resource struggle
Duration: 1996-Date (6 years of conflict)
Casualties: 800, 000 killed
Nature of Conflict: Ethnic and political (class, personal; ambitions of warlords)
Duration: 1990-1995; 1999-2001 (7 years of conflict)
Casualties: 220, 000
Nature of Conflict: Political, resource (diamond) struggle, ethnic
Duration: 1991-2000 (9 years of conflict)
Casualties: 200, 000
Nature of Conflict: Power struggle, class and personal ambitions of Political leaders.
Duration: 1969-1979; 1989 (11 years of conflict)
Casualties: 300, 000; 30, 000
The Civil War, an ethnic induced conflict of only 30 months claimed over 800, 000 lives.
EFFECTS OF CONFLICTS: From pre to post colonial era, till the present, Africa continues to be haunted by political instability and crises occasioned by wars and conflicts, most of them orchestrated and provoked by avoidable conflicts. Peace has continued to elude several nation-states with the result that enorous resources that could have otherwise been expended on development are wasted on armaments and the prosecution of civil and religious wars. The giant of Africa, Nigeria has fought a bitter and fratricidal civil war that commenced in 1967, and lasted till 1970. It was provoked by political intolerance which almost tore the nation apart. Before the Nigerian debacle, a very fierce war, engineered by foreign interests had been fought in Congo Democratic Republic. Additionally, Somalia, Chad, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia and the Maghreb nations have all tasted civil and military disturbances that have rocked several parts of the region. From available indications, all these conflicts have slowed down the development of Africa. The economic situation in Africa also would improve if the military conflicts that have plagued the continent over the past half-century stopped.