. 10
( 12)


in major urban battles, in one of which eighteen Americans were
killed. Television viewers back in America saw the dead bodies being
dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. President Clinton, who
had just been elected to of¬ce, promptly ordered the withdrawal of
most of the U.S. contingent and, by the end of 1994, the greater
part of the UN forces had followed their example. The cost of the
UN mission to Somalia ¬nally reached $1.6 billion, and its failure
had far-reaching consequences in the reluctance of the United States
to participate in any further African con¬‚icts. It was no less a set-
back for the United Nations, which, with its meagre resources and
Into the Third Millennium 343

constantly escalating responsibilities, could no longer risk military
involvement in the more dangerous cases requiring its interven-
tion. After the U.S./UN retreat, Somalia, including towns such as
Mogadishu and Kismayu, was split up among some twenty-six war-
lords, con¬‚icts among whom continued well into the new century.
More peaceful economic activity picked up, most notably in the live-
stock trade. In 1998, Saudi authorities lifted the ban on Somali live-
stock imposed because of an outbreak of rinderpest, which had an
immediate impact on the economy of the north-western regions,
with the ¬rst shipment of 9,000 animals leaving the port of Berbera
in Somaliland in May 1999. The south of Somalia slowly recovered
from the 1997 ¬‚oods of the Juba and Shebelle Rivers, which had dev-
astated the surrounding farmlands. The new millennium seemed to
bring some hope to the Somali people. Public order reemerged from
the grassroots with what has been termed ˜bottom-up™ local admin-
istrations and, thus, even in a largely stateless society, it was possible
for economic and social regeneration to take place despite the anar-
chy of militia politics.

The Tragedy of Rwanda and Congo

The most widespread and frightful of all the violent episodes which
af¬‚icted Africa during the last decade of the twentieth century were
those which occurred in Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern Zaire. In
Rwanda, this took the form of carefully prepared genocide by a
hardcore of militant Hutu on their Tutsi neighbours and fellow coun-
trymen. This was not, as in Somalia and Liberia/Sierra Leone, the
internecine ¬ghting of warlords. Rather, it was a sudden explosion
of the centuries-old rivalry between Tutsi cattle owners and Hutu
agricultural peasants for the control and use of land in one of the
healthiest and, therefore, most densely populated corners of the con-
tinent. Hutu and Tutsi “ who made up some 15 percent of the pop-
ulation in both countries “ spoke the same language and shared the
same religious and cultural traditions: distinctions between the two
groups were those of class or caste rather than of ethnicity. In colo-
nial times, it was advantageous for the Belgian administrators to
reinforce the superior social and political position of the Tutsi, but
even before independence, the Hutu had driven large numbers of
Maximum territory held by
Mouvement pour la Liberation Gbadolite
(Mobutu's palace)
du Congo (MLC)

W hite N il e
[Jean-Pierre Bemba] Lisala DA
(Mobutu's birthplace) Albert N
Maximum territory held by A

Rwanda-backed ng o re

Rassemblement Congolais pour ur Ituri

la Democratie (RCD)

th) 1993
Hutu Militia “ Interahamwe Victoria
N Goma
7 Banyamulenge
99 Kigali
1 Hills
Ikela Kivu


R E P. O F

re 98 Bujumbura
CONGO a 19




Ta n g a

Inga dam
CABINDA Mbuji Mayi


Laurent Kabila
rescued by Angolan,
Zimbabwean and
OCEAN Namibian forces
Lubumbashi T
0 100 200 300 400 500 miles I
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 km
M e

32. Crises in Rwanda and Congo (Zaire).
Into the Third Millennium 345

Tutsi from disputed territory, most of whom had taken refuge in the
neighbouring districts of southern Uganda. By the early 1970s, the
violence had spread to Burundi where, in 1988, a Tutsi-led govern-
ment turned upon the Hutu in an attempt to eliminate all the better
educated among them who might be capable of forming an alter-
native administration. By the end of 1993, hundreds of thousands
of Hutu survivors had ¬‚ed to Rwanda, Zaire, and Tanzania, while
many others were living in refugee camps around the borders of
their own country. Meanwhile, in Rwanda, a Hutu government had
since 1990 been facing an insurgency movement launched by Tutsi
refugees in Uganda led by Major-General Paul Kagame “ himself
a child of Tutsi refugees of the 1960s “ who had served in Musev-
eni™s National Resistance Army, becoming deputy head of military
intelligence. Kagame™s Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) was already
achieving considerable success in the eastern part of the country.
In April 1994, the presidents and members of the governments
of both countries attended a regional conference in Dar es Salaam
in an attempt to implement earlier peace accords for Rwanda. The
Burundi president was persuaded to return home with his Rwandan
counterpart in the latter™s aircraft. The plane was shot down by a
ground-to-air missile as it was approaching Kigali airport, and all
on board were killed. Although it was never determined who the per-
petrators were, it was rumoured that they could have been members
of the Rwandan army, acting deliberately to in¬‚ame inter-communal
con¬‚icts. Following this disaster, units of the presidential militias re-
sponded by launching a pogrom against the Tutsi population of the
country. Hutu citizens were incited by the virulent anti-Tutsi broad-
casts emanating from a station calling itself Free Radio“Television of
the Thousand Hills. Commonly known as the Hate Radio, its noisy
pop-style transmissions directed poor Hutu peasants and the young
urban unemployed to take up their reaping knives and incendiary
torches and slaughter their Tutsi neighbours. So many did so that
between April and July 1994, around 800,000 Tutsi may have been
killed, while hundreds of thousands more ¬‚ed their homes in the
hope of saving their lives. Kagame™s insurgents from Uganda took
advantage of the prevailing chaos to accelerate their campaign by
seizing the capital, Kigali, before moving into the southern and west-
ern parts of the country.
346 Africa since 1800

As a consequence, between 1 million and 2 million Hutu, shep-
herded by their own militia and the soldiers of their defeated army,
moved en masse into the neighbouring Kivu province of Zaire,
where they established themselves in makeshift encampments “
unlit, undrained, and entirely dependent on outside help for food
and even drinking water. Local resources were completely inade-
quate to deal with a human in¬‚ux of this magnitude, and tens of
thousands died of disease or starvation before international relief
could be brought to them. It has been estimated that by the end of
that July 1994, no more than a third of the 7.5 million people who
had inhabited Rwanda three months earlier were still alive and re-
siding within its borders. The response of the outside world “ and in
particular America and Europe, as well as the UN “ both to the geno-
cide and to the plight of the refugees, was largely one of helplessness.
Most neighbouring African states did little to help, and what inter-
vention there was merely made matters worse. By the time the UN
¬nally launched relief operations, it was a case of too little, too late.
The newly established government of Kagame, although it claimed
to be impartial between the two communities, in practice did lit-
tle to encourage the refugees to return. Those who attempted to do
so found their land and property redesignated for Tutsi occupation,
and often faced arrest or ill-treatment by the military or the police.
Most refugees, therefore, remained in eastern Zaire under the polit-
ical in¬‚uence of the hard-line Hutu militias, who had organized the
massacres and were now engaged in preparing a forceful return, an-
tagonising their Zairean hosts and the international aid workers sent
to help them. Naturally, the Kagame government regarded their pres-
ence so close to the frontier as a constant threat, and this feeling was
shared by the Tutsi and another Tutsi-like people called Banyamu-
lenge living in the grassland strip of eastern Zaire between the forest
and Lake Kivu. Both groups believed that the Hutu refugees should
be driven farther away from the frontier, into the barely habitable
Ituri forest to the west. In the absence of cooperation by the govern-
ment of Zaire, they felt entitled to take preemptive action themselves
to achieve this objective.
The main consequence of this situation was to demonstrate the
utter inability of President Mobutu™s government in Kinshasa to de-
fend any of its frontier regions from incursions by neighbouring
Into the Third Millennium 347

countries. Soon Rwandan troops, strengthened by army units from
Uganda, were occupying all of the open country east of the forest and
chasing Hutu refugees retreating up the two forest roads leading to
Kisangani, some 800 km (500 miles) into Zairean territory. Simulta-
neously, minor warlords from the Sudan were in¬ltrating the country
to the north of the forest, while the Banyamulenge in the south of
Kivu province had found a gifted war leader in the person of Laurent
Kabila, a former aide to Patrice Lumumba and a lieutenant in the
Maoist insurrection of Christopher Gbenye, who had been operating
as a warlord in the mountains to the west of Lake Tanganyika since
1964. Kabila™s present ambition was to overthrow the increasingly
unpopular regime of President Mobutu. To that end, early in 1997
he launched a brilliantly successful insurgency by moving his nu-
merically insigni¬cant army rapidly from one little airport town to
the next, recruiting supporters as it went, until in May it reached the
neighbourhood of Kinshasa. By this time, Kabila™s forces had been
joined by contingents from the armies of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi,
and Angola. Already a sick man, Mobutu ¬‚ed with his family, ¬rst to
Togo and then to Morocco, where he died a few weeks later as the
guest of King Hassan. Kabila joined his victorious forces in Kinshasa
and, with the approval of his Rwandan and Ugandan supporters, de-
clared himself president of what was to be known henceforward as
the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo DR).
As president, Kabila lacked the natural charisma and political
¬‚air of Mobutu Sese Seko, and soon proved himself even less adept
than his predecessor at providing bene¬cial rule to the huge coun-
try. Before long, Kabila turned on his Banyamulenge and Rwandan
sponsors by blocking the expansion of their in¬‚uence in the eastern
part of the country and by declaring himself in sympathy with the
Hutu rebels there. In response, the Rwandans and Ugandans in 1999
launched a new insurgency movement against him, quickly conquer-
ing most of the eastern provinces and sending troops by air to cap-
ture Congo™s Atlantic ports and the power station at the Inga dam.
Kabila, for his part, turned to the Angolan, Namibian, and Zimbab-
wean governments for troops to rescue his tottering regime. Sudan
also supported him and, so too, brie¬‚y, did Chad. Thus, the Congo
DR became the scene of a full-scale African war, involving the armies
of six foreign states. Kabila™s new allies set about reconquering the
348 Africa since 1800

west and the south, while the Rwandans and Ugandans extended
their control over the east and south-east. But all alike participated
in plundering the riches of the Congolese lands. Angola was inter-
ested in the offshore oil of the Congo estuary; Rwanda and Uganda
in the diamonds and coltan, ivory, and timber of the north-eastern
mountains; Zimbabwe in the copper and agricultural produce of the
Early in 2001, Laurent Kabila was shot dead by a bodyguard, and
his twenty-nine-year-old-son Joseph was proclaimed president, thus
becoming the world™s youngest head of the world™s most chaotic state.
Father and son, however, could hardly have been less alike “ Laurent
the warmonger, lazy, corrupt, drunken, polygynous; Joseph thought-
ful, industrious, sober, monogamous, surprising many by his moder-
ation and good sense. He gradually replaced his father™s sycophants
and cronies with career administrators, while western diplomats re-
ported a willingness to take advice from outsiders. The son™s eco-
nomic reforms were rewarded by a promise from the World Bank
of a loan of $400 million. Slowly, the chaotic military situation in-
side the Congo clari¬ed in favour of Joseph Kabila, so much so that
he was able to dispense with all the foreign armies that had come
to his assistance, except for his bodyguard of Zimbabweans. On the
political side, the South African government of Thabo Mbeki took
the initiative as mediator and, between July 2002 and the end of
the year, Rwanda and Uganda undertook to evacuate their forces
from the eastern Congo, whereas Kabila agreed to form an interim
government which would include the leaders of the various rebel
groups. Progress toward bringing the con¬‚ict to a conclusion was to
be monitored by an independent panel of UN and Southern African
personnel. Unfortunately, these accords soon began to unravel. Both
Uganda and Rwanda continued to arm rival militias, and both coun-
tries were ready to re-invade the north-eastern lands of the war-torn
Congo. By April 2003, when yet another peace deal was signed be-
tween the Congo government and the main rebel groups, six or seven
warlords™ ¬efdoms stretched from Ugandan-occupied Bunia in the
north to Rwandan-controlled Bukavu in the centre. When Ugandan
forces withdrew from Bunia in May 2003, rivalries between Hema
and Lendu groups over land in the heavily forested Ituri province
soon led to a complete breakdown of law and order. A French-led
Into the Third Millennium 349

force was assembled in an attempt to keep the warring factions
apart. Peace seemed as far off as ever. Meanwhile, a leading aid
agency calculated that 4.7 million people had died as a direct re-
sult of the civil war. If this ¬gure is close to accurate, the war in the
Congo claimed more lives than any other con¬‚ict since the Second
World War.

Warlords in Liberia and Sierra Leone

Yet another region of the continent which suffered greatly from in-
ternal con¬‚ict during the 1990s was the area straddling the border-
lands between Liberia and Sierra Leone. The violence started in 1989
in Liberia, when the country was invaded by Charles Taylor, a for-
mer high of¬cial in the Liberian government who had ¬‚ed abroad
following a charge of serious fraud. During his time as an outlaw,
Taylor had become the political spokesman for a group of fellow ex-
iles scattered through several neighbouring countries, known as the
National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL). The military leader of
the NPFL was a former of¬cer in the Liberian army, Prince Johnson,
who recruited a rabble of unemployed youngsters “ boys and girls,
many of them orphans “ whom he turned into a brutally effective
force. Some 10,000 strong, these ˜children™ were regularly drugged
with crack cocaine and trained in terrorist techniques of killing, mu-
tilation, rape, and incendiarism. Starting from bases in the north-
west of the country, the rebels moved onto Monrovia in July 1990,
but Johnson™s forces reached the capital before Taylor and gained
control of most of the city. At this point, the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS) dispatched a peacekeeping force
made up of troops from anglophone countries, with Nigerians well
in the lead. Within weeks of their arrival, Johnson abducted Presi-
dent Doe from under their noses, took him to his camp, and there
videotaped his torture and execution. Thus disgraced by his military
colleague, Taylor™s bid for the presidency inevitably failed, but he
remained in control of key areas of the interior. Here, he set up a
warlord economy based on the extraction of diamonds, timber, rub-
ber, and iron ore, yielding him an income of some $200“250 million
a year. During the next ¬ve dreadful years, Liberia was torn apart
by warring factions. Some 60,000 armed youngsters ravaged the

Bamako Ouagadougou

SIERRA (Rebel stronghold)
British forces
Makeni KailahunMacenta
2000“02 Freetown Touba
Bo tr

Moyamba un
co Kenema 1999)

nd RUF
Me Volta Lake
(Sankoh) Man
ECOMOG/UN Bouak© Bondoukou


1996“2000 1991 (Taylor's

Lac de Kossou

ba y
L base 1994)
Approximate frontier between Monrovia po Tay

IB w lor ol
Islam and Christianity Lom©
er 's ta
E ba
Muslims to north; Christians to south R se Accra

Buchanan I A

Bouak© Towns in rebel hands,
Ivory Coast 2002
0 100 200 300 miles
West African forces
French forces
Diamond mining areas 1990“98 Cape Palmas 0 100 200 300 400 500 km

33. Warlords in West Africa.
Into the Third Millennium 351

countryside, scattering hundreds of thousands of terri¬ed refugees
into Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Burkino Faso. In Liberia, all factions
were involved in shady commercial transactions, including members
of the peacekeeping force. Cease¬res and disarmaments brokered by
ECOWAS were, however, gradually made to stick, so that by 1997
it was possible to hold national elections. Charles Taylor received
three-quarters of the vote, thus ¬nally achieving the presidency by
peaceful means after his earlier attempts to seize it by violence had
failed. Unfortunately for the ruined country, however, resistance to
the Taylor government soon led to a renewal of civil strife. By 2003,
large parts of Liberia were once again in rebel hands, and violence
spread over into the neighbouring Ivory Coast, itself the scene of
similar con¬‚icts.
During the early stages of the Liberian civil war, the Sierra Leonean
president Joseph Momoh and his successor Valentine Strasser, both
military men, had strongly supported the efforts of the ECOWAS
peacekeepers to maintain a lawful government in Monrovia. It was
thus very much in Taylor™s interests to foster a similar insurgency in
Sierra Leone, as it was also to get a hold over the diamond-bearing
areas in that country which were much more productive than those
in Liberia. A Sierra Leonean movement, known as the Revolutionary
United Front (RUF), was therefore recruited, trained, and armed un-
der Taylor™s patronage in the Liberian hinterland. It was led by Foday
Sankoh, a former corporal in the Sierra Leone army. The nucleus of
the RUF invaded Sierra Leone in March 1991, and built up its num-
bers by conscripting youngsters, many of whom were committed
to the movement by being made to take part in acts of terrorism
against locals who opposed the Front. The practice of mutilation,
in particular, sent uncompromising messages to supporters of the
lawful government in Freetown. By 1994, the RUF was in control of
most of the diamond mines, the product of which was exported in
its raw state through Taylor™s hinterland camps in Liberia, and from
there by air to buyers, many of them in Israel. The pro¬ts of the
trade enabled Sankoh to extend his campaigns up to the outskirts
of Freetown. As happened previously in Liberia, a mainly Nigerian
peace-keeping force was sent by ECOWAS, which sustained heavy
casualties. The UN, too, sent in an international contingent, which
was no more successful. At this point, when Sierra Leone appeared
352 Africa since 1800

to be on the edge of total breakdown, Britain independently dis-
patched 1,000 crack troops to defend the capital, while a naval force
stood offshore. Thus reinforced, the peace-keepers gradually gained
ground, and the British-trained government forces began to disarm
the rebels. In due course, Sankoh was captured and held for trial on
war crimes. By the beginning of 2002, the civil war appeared to be
over. Many of the rebel soldiers had been successfully reintegrated
into the government forces and, in May 2002, the lawful president,
Ahmad Kabbah, was re-elected by a large majority of the voters. The
cost of the rebellion in human lives may never be counted, but it
is thought that at its height, more than a third of the population of
Sierra Leone had ¬‚ed into Guinea and other neighbouring countries.

Muslim North Africa

During the 1990s, the Maghrib countries of North-West Africa “
together with Libya, Egypt, and the Sudan “ were able to be much
¬rmer than many sub-Saharan states in resisting internal and exter-
nal demands for political and social change and economic reform.
The international and social relations of these Arabic-speaking Mus-
lim countries formed part of a nexus embracing the Middle East as
well as the Islamic areas south of the Sahara. The strength of these
social and religious bonds is well illustrated by the huge growth in the
numbers of people making the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina from
the entire compass of Islamic lands stretching from Morocco to In-
donesia. In the early twentieth century, about 70,000 pilgrims made
the hazardous journey to the holy cities each year. Thanks to cheap
air travel, by the 1990s religious tourism was bringing an estimated
1.3 million foreign pilgrims a year to Saudi Arabia™s holy cities, in
addition to the 1.4 million coming from within the country itself. In
Mecca, on the Mountain of Umar, developers were planning to clear
thousands of old buildings to make way for high-rise towers of hotels
and apartments of twenty to forty ¬‚oors, to house the more prosper-
ous pilgrims, and the traditional monthlong Hajj in Ramadan was
being increasingly extended to include the months on each side of
it. No doubt, only a handful of these pious pilgrims would return
home from the Hajj ¬red by Islamic militancy, but nearly all would
¬nd their sense of the universal brotherhood of Islam strengthened
Into the Third Millennium 353

by the experience. Nevertheless, from whatever source, all the North
African lands were powerfully affected by the growth of radical Islam
as both a political and religious movement. In various forms, it posed
a threat to King Hassan of Morocco, to the autocratic government
of Tunisia, and to President Mubarak of Egypt. In Algeria, it caused
a festering civil war. Moreover, young Muslim volunteers from the
North African countries had contributed powerfully to the forces of
the Taliban resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the
1980s and when, following the Soviet retreat, their services were no
longer required there, many returned home during the 1990s and
greatly enhanced the military skills available to revolutionary move-
ments in all of these lands.
The most tragic con¬‚ict between an established regime and the
new surge of Islamic radicalism occurred in Algeria, where the gov-
ernment had been attempting since the 1980s to liberalise the so-
cialist edi¬ce established by Ben Bella and his successors during the
previous three decades (see Chapter 17). In 1988, a ˜war on bu-
reaucracy™ was declared to reform one of the largest and most all-
pervasive governmental machines in Africa. But much to the alarm
of the old-time leadership, the militant Islamic Salvation Front (ISF)
narrowly won the ¬rst round of a general election held in 1991. The
army and government apparatchiks moved swiftly to take control by
cancelling the second round of the election and by formally dissolv-
ing the ISF. Thousands of militants were interned in camps in the
Algerian Sahara, and mosques were placed under surveillance. The
regime acted more from motives of self-preservation by an elite of
generals, party bosses, and in¬‚uential businessmen than from any
real concern for democracy. Their coup ushered in a period of mount-
ing unrest, culminating in an outright civil war, which by the end of
the 1990s had claimed the lives of more than 80,000 Algerian civil-
ians. In 1999, Abdelaziz Boute¬‚ika became president and remained
so after winning the 2002 election, which marked the return of a
parliamentary majority for the FLN heroes of the struggle against
France in the 1950s. But, by the turn of the new millennium, most
Algerians had been so alienated by the manipulative nature of poli-
tics in their country as to boycott the elections. The most alienated
group of all were the Berbers of Kabylia, who made up nearly a third
of the population. Soon, what had started as a movement demanding
354 Africa since 1800

minority rights for the Berbers had developed into an outright insur-
rection. Meanwhile, sporadic radical Islamist violence continued,
some of it exported to France and elsewhere in Europe. In the after-
math of 11 September 2001, President Boute¬‚ika was able to provide
the Americans with a list of several hundred extremists believed by
his intelligence service to have links with al-Qaeda.
Although seemingly less violent, a basically similar situation pre-
vailed in the other two countries of the Maghrib. In Morocco, King
Hassan maintained his tight control of the political scene throughout
the 1990s, ruling the country through a narrow clique of courtiers
and administrative of¬cials, still known by their pre-colonial des-
ignation as the Makhzen (al-makhzan), and concentrating his own
energies on building up a huge personal fortune, including a ¬fth of
the arable land, control of phosphate mining, and the expropriated
holdings of the former French settlers. Hassan™s foreign policy cen-
tered on the incorporation of the Western Sahara, with its known
deposits of phosphates and its promise of offshore oil (see Chapter
17). After elections held in 1998, Hassan appointed the leader of the
opposition socialist party as prime minister. His son Muhammed VI,
who succeeded him in 1999, belonged to a more westernised gener-
ation brought up in a computer-literate age. He projected the image
of a modern, popular, jet-setting Muslim ruler, and promised greater
democratic participation in his country™s politics and greater free-
dom of the press. Like Tunisia, Morocco™s economy bene¬ted from
a thriving tourist industry. But the Makhzen remained ¬rmly en-
trenched and, in practice, dominated the scene. The revelation in
2002 by the Moroccan intelligence service of alleged plans by al-
Qaeda activists to blow up American and British warships passing
through the Straits of Gibraltar was widely seen as an acknowledge-
ment for American support for Morocco™s position over the Western
Sahara during the previous decade.
Meanwhile, Tunisia™s president since independence in 1956, Habib
Bourguiba, was examined in 1987 by a panel of doctors called in by
his cabinet, who declared him too ill and senile to continue in of-
¬ce. His place was taken by the prime minister, Zine al-Abidine Ben
Ali, who embarked on a series of seemingly liberal and democratic
reforms. Tunisia developed its tourist industry and, by doing so, be-
came one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. But, before long, Ben
Into the Third Millennium 355

Ali became much more dictatorial, banning all but a handful of tame
opposition parties, relentlessly harassing human-rights activists, and
violently cracking down on Islamic militants. In 2002, he contrived
a referendum amending the constitution to allow him up to twelve
more years in of¬ce and judicial impunity for life.
Egypt, to a much greater extent than the other North African coun-
tries, had more than an African role to play upon the world stage.
Its population of 60 million was the largest of any Arabic-speaking
country and, in cultural matters, it was still the leader. Whereas the
rest of the Arab world might respect Saudi Arabia for its wealth,
military power, and religious clout, it read Egyptian newspapers and
books and listened to Egyptian broadcasting. Egypt, in fact, had a
larger educated middle class than any other Arab country and, as
a result, leaned toward liberalism in religious and political affairs.
Indeed, President Husni Mubarak ushered in his long rule, when he
succeeded Anwar Sadat upon the latter™s assassination by militant
Islamist soldiers in 1981, with promises of both political and eco-
nomic liberalism. But, in the face of the growing opposition from
militant groups such as the Gamaat Islamiya (Islamic Associations)
and Al-Jihad, Mubarak reverted to the heavy-handed authoritarian
rule of his predecessors. The militants turned increasingly to vio-
lence, not only against the state and opponents, but also against
tourists, this reaching its climax with the massacre of sixty people
at Luxor in 1997. Only by the end of the 1990s had Mubarak largely
won the war waged on the Egyptian state by the Islamists. On the
other hand, the government™s policy of privatising and modernizing
the economy led to the emergence of a new class of professionals
and entrepreneurs, whose presence changed the Egyptian middle
class more radically in the space of ten years than anything else had
done in the thirty years since Nasser. The social and economic inter-
ests of this devout middle class tended to prevail over its ideological
inclinations. This great shift in Egyptian society, which involved a
depoliticisation of Islam, can be gauged by the springing up of new
kinds of religious leaders, employing the media techniques of Amer-
ican televangelists. One such, Amr Khaled, was a Cairo accountant
turned star televangelist. His message was inclusive and comfort-
ing rather than patronising and rough, his style coaxing rather than
hectoring. The veil was to be worn, he maintained, not from fear of
356 Africa since 1800

hell¬re, but because God would love you better if you did. Khaled
drew thousands of fans, most of them women, to weekly sessions at
a mosque in a remote Cairo suburb, while his television show, broad-
cast throughout the Arab world on an Islamic satellite channel and
subtitled in English, brought studio audiences to tears. But, with the
mounting international tensions that ushered in the dawn of the new
millennium, such urbane manifestations of religion would be sorely
tried by the perception of Islam under threat from Western nations
bent on avenging the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
Straddling uncomfortably the landscapes of Muslim North Africa
and Christian or animist sub-Saharan Africa, the tone and actions
of the government of Sudan became more strident as the century
wore to a close. In 1989, a military coup led by General Omar al-
Bashir overthrew the government of Sadiq al-Mahdi. It soon be-
came apparent that the real power behind the new regime was the
charismatic Hasan al-Turabi and his National Islamic Front, which
represented a long process of in¬ltration by the Islamist intelligentsia
of the entire state apparatus, army, and ¬nancial system. Sudan be-
came the ¬rst state in Africa to embrace Islamic militancy, and its
relations with western countries “ and with African countries that
were not predominantly Muslim “ suffered accordingly. Fleeing from
harassment by the Saudi government, Osama bin Laden took refuge
in Sudan in 1991 and became so prominent in jihadist activities
that he was expelled in 1995, whereupon he moved to Afghanistan.
Sudan openly supported Iraq in the Gulf War of 1991“2 and, when
in 1998 the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were at-
tacked by terrorists, America retaliated against alleged Sudanese in-
volvement by obliterating a pharmaceutical factory near Khartoum
with cruise missiles. The in¬‚uence of al-Turabi™s National Islamic
Front persuaded the government to reintroduce Shari™a law in 1991;
although the punishment articles were not applicable to the three
Southern regions, the intention was clear enough.
The interminable civil war became even more bitter and divisive
following the discovery and exploitation of oil in the contested border
region between north and south in Bahr al-Ghazal province. The
presence of oil in commercial quantities had been con¬rmed in 1981,
but the troubles in the south delayed full-scale production until the
late1990s. The Sudan People™s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the other
Into the Third Millennium 357

L. Nasser



ub Port Sudan


Independence 1956 SUDAN
Nimeiry coup 1969

N ile
Nimeiry toppled 1985

CHAD Sadiq al Mahdi 1986

Gen. El-Beshir coup 1989

Hassan al-Turabi power


behind scene

Osama bin Laden in


Sudan 1991“1995

U.S. bombing pharmaceutical


factory 1998



° °°
El Fashir °

i te

Kosti ° ° ° ° ° °

B lu
El Obeid
° ° °° °


°°°° °° °° °° °°



L. Tana

Nyala D




Heglig Fashoda ET
Bahr el-
Bentiu at
N Jonglei Canal
I irrigation project.

BAHR When finished
CENTRAL will bypass Sudd
U hite

EL-GHAZAL swamps and

AFRICAN irrigate over

NILE 3.5 million acres

D le

N i


The South
Oilfields 0 100 200 300 miles

Oil pipeline, Heglig to Port Sudan
°°°°°°° 0 100 200 300 400 km

34. Sudan: North vs. South.
358 Africa since 1800

factions in the south naturally wanted to include the oil¬elds in any
future separate region; the regime was equally determined to pre-
serve Sudanese unity. The construction of a pipeline to the Red Sea
coast occasioned more con¬‚icts. The government resorted to their
usual savage means in their attempts to pacify the oil-bearing region,
again arming the Baqqara and other nomadic groups, and encourag-
ing them to attack the lands of the sedentary farmers. The SPLA split
into two mutually hostile groups “ the parent, mainly Dinka, faction
under John Garang still ¬ghting for independence, while the Nuer
under Riek Machar entered into deals with the Khartoum regime.
Once the oil began ¬‚owing in 1999, the government was able to more
than double its military budget. Although the Khartoum regime ex-
ercised an economic stranglehold over the South, the foreign oil
companies required a contented southern workforce, preferably
English- rather than Arabic-speaking. Thus, the logic of the situa-
tion at the start of the new millennium was that, while the Sudan
would remain one country, the Khartoum government would need to
desist from its efforts to Islamise and Arabise the South and to allow
it a large measure of autonomy in its internal affairs. Attempts to
broker peace agreements between the two sides came and went, but
one drawn up in 2002 in Nairobi appeared more likely to succeed.
By then, the civil war had lasted on and off for four decades and had
cost the southerners inestimable numbers of dead and maimed, as
well as immeasurable disruption to the economic and social fabric
of their land.
The wild card among the Muslim states of northern Africa dur-
ing the 1990s continued to be the Libya of Muammar Gadha¬.
Whereas during the 1980s, Gadha¬ had devoted his attention to the
Arab-Israeli con¬‚ict, accepting Palestinian migrants to Libya and
providing moral and material support for anti-American terrorism
throughout the world, he now turned to developing closer economic
relations with Italy and extending his political and religious outreach
to Africa south of the Sahara. UN sanctions on foreign companies
investing in Libya following the Lockerbie affair did not prevent the
Italian energy conglomerate AGIP from signing a contract for the
annual supply of 8 billion cubic metres of natural gas, involving
the construction of an undersea pipeline between the two countries.
And, in 1999, Libyan ¬nancial institutions acquired an 8-percent
Into the Third Millennium 359

share of the re¬nanced Banco di Roma. Gadha¬™s interventions in
sub-Saharan affairs had begun as early as his support for Idi Amin in
Uganda (see Chapter 21), and he had long been active in supporting
the Muslim north of Chad against the government of the Christian
and animist south. In the early 1990s, Gadha¬ was deeply involved
in the supply of arms to the insurgent warlords in Liberia and Sierra
Leone. He was forging links much farther south by the late 1990s.
In 1998, the state-owned oil company Tamoil, acting in de¬ance of
UN sanctions, began to supply an increasingly cash-strapped Zim-
babwe with oil in exchange for the transfer of equity shares in the
pipeline linking Zimbabwe with the seaport of Beira in Mozambique.
Other assets transferred to Tamoil included controlling interests in
Zimbabwean banks and tourist organisations.
Soon, Gadhaªs interests in Zimbabwe extended into South Africa.
In 1999, Nelson Mandela was helpful in mediating a settlement of the
UN sanctions on trade with Libya, and was rewarded by an invita-
tion to South African companies to start exploring for new reserves
of oil in Libya, with a view to establishing an independent source
of supply. Gadha¬ brought to the summit meeting of the OAU in
July 1999 demands to hasten African unity, and two months later
called a meeting in Tripoli to push his cherished plan for a United
States of Africa. His guests showed some initial reluctance, but ¬-
nally adopted a declaration advocating the replacement of the OAU
by a new organisation to be called the African Union, to be gov-
erned by a Pan“African parliament. Although Gadha¬ had hoped
that its capital would be established in Tripoli, the majority preferred
that the secretariat of the new organisation be sited in Johannes-

The Bumpy Path of Parliamentary Democracy:
(1) West Africa
The troubles of Liberia and Sierra Leone excepted, the states of west-
ern tropical Africa emerged from the 1990s stronger and more demo-
cratic than they had been at the beginning of the decade. The narrow
political and military elites which had held power since indepen-
dence were now giving way to both internal and external pressures
for reform. Most of the independence leaders and their supporters
360 Africa since 1800

were either dead or retired. A new generation of voters had emerged,
better educated and much more widely informed than their prede-
cessors. Half of them now lived in cities comprising populations
of many ethnic origins. The new generation had learnt to think
in regional, if not yet in fully national terms, and to cast its votes
accordingly. Political appointments were shifting to limited terms,
so that they could be changed without military intervention. The
most decisive of these changes occurred only toward the end of the
decade “ around forty years “ therefore, after the coming of political
Hitherto, the only country in West Africa which had enjoyed not
one, but two, peaceful transfers of the presidency was Senegal, where
Leopold Senghor had set the tone by voluntarily resigning the pres-
idency for a chateau in Normandy in 1980. His successor, Abdou
Diouf, was defeated in a parliamentary election in 2000, when the
long ascendancy of the Democratic Socialist Party was broken by
Abdoulaye Wade. The change of party was likewise carried out peace-
fully and con¬rmed by another election in 2001. In Ghana, which ran
truer to type, there had been an alternation of civil and military gov-
ernments, followed by the long presidency of Jerry Rawlings, which
began with a military coup in 1980, but ended, after several electoral
victories, with the defeat at the polls of his National Democratic Party
in 2000 by John Kufuor™s New Patriotic Party.
In Ivory Coast, the founding president, Felix Houphou¨ t-Boigny,
continued unchallenged until his death in 1993. Multi-party elections
had been introduced in response to international pressures in 1990,
and Houphou¨ t was succeeded, according to the constitution, by the
president of the National Assembly, Henri B´ di´ , who was con¬rmed
in of¬ce at the next presidential election in 1995, after introducing a
law banning any candidate who was not an Ivorian by birth. The sig-
ni¬cance of this condition was that the cocoa farmers in the southern
parts of Ivory Coast had been recruiting employees from neighbour-
ing states “ especially Burkino Faso, Ghana, and Mali “ who were
mainly Muslims and, therefore, likely to join forces with the Mus-
lims who lived in the north of the country. B´ di´ was overthrown by a
military coup led by General Guei in 1999, but, in the face of interna-
tional pressure, the latter called an election in 2000, which was won
by the Ivorian Popular Front led by Laurent Gbagbo, who became
Into the Third Millennium 361

president in the country™s ¬rst democratic transfer of power. But
the political manoeuvrings of B´ di´ and his successors had stirred
bitter resentments in the poorer north, sparking widespread revolts
by Muslim northerners and their immigrant allies in 2002. In an
attempt to prevent the situation in Ivory Coast from degenerating
into another Liberia or Sierra Leone, French troops intervened. The
French government subsequently attempted to broker a peace agree-
ment, but, at the time of this writing, it was unclear what the outcome
would be. Clearly, however, the outbreak of violence posed the dan-
ger that it would in¬‚ame religious rivalry not only in Ivory Coast,
but also in adjacent countries, nearly all of which had a similar fault
line between northern Muslims and southern Christians. In B´ nin, e
the government of Matthieu K´ r´ kou, which had seized power by a
military coup in 1972, was ousted at a presidential election held in
1991 by Nic´ phore Soglu. As a former executive director of the World
Bank, Soglu was in a prime position to dismantle the parapherna-
lia of the previously Marxist state. Thus cleansed, B´ nin emerged
as a fully democratic country “ so much so that in 1996, K´ r´ kou
was reelected as president, with his rival Soglu serving as prime
Nigeria, by reason of its geographical size, its variety of natural
resources, and its vast population of 120 million, was clearly the
most important state in tropical West Africa, but perhaps for these
very reasons it had been more frequently subject to military rule
than any other. President Ibrahim Babangida, who in 1985 had taken
control of Nigeria from the previous unpopular military government,
formed a National Electoral Commission in 1991 to oversee the tran-
sition to civilian government, but a whole series of elections was
declared null and void by the regime before Chief Moshood Abiola
of the Social Democratic Party won the presidental election in June
1993 with a clear majority of states. The military government, how-
ever, refused to accept Abiola™s victory. Faced with a wave of demon-
strations and strikes, Babangida himself stood down and a civilian
non-elected head of state was appointed. After Abiola returned from
a visit to Britain to a hero™s welcome, Babangida™s defence minis-
ter, General Sani Abacha, staged a bloodless coup and reinstated
military rule. He immediately abolished all democratic institutions
and political parties. Subsequently, the president issued well-worn
362 Africa since 1800

statements about facilitating a transition to civilian rule, but, faced
with threats of further coups and widespread economic disruption
caused by strikes of oil-industry workers, the new government found
every excuse to tighten its grip on power. In 1994, would-be president
Abiola was arrested and detained in solitary con¬nement till his
death four years later. The same year saw the intensi¬cation of the
bitter campaign waged by the Ogoni people for compensation from
the Shell Oil Company for environmental damage to their home-
land. The violence in Ogoniland reached a climax in May 1994, when
Ken Saro-Wiro and other activists were arrested by the government
Internal Security Task Force. Saro-Wiro and ¬ve colleagues were
tried by a military tribunal, sentenced, and executed in Novem-
ber 1995, whereupon Nigeria was suspended from the Common-
wealth. After brutally suppressing opposition to his rule, Abacha
devoted himself to the plunder of the public revenues and especially
of those which came in foreign currency from the exploitation of oil.
Abacha died mysteriously in June 1998, and a subsequent investiga-
tion found that he and his family had stashed away more than $3
billion in foreign bank accounts.
Following a brief period of provisional administration by the army,
a return to civil government was declared and an election in 1999
was won by Olesegun Obasanjo, a retired general. Obasanjo had been
the somewhat reluctant military ruler of the country from 1976 till
1979, before returning the country to a civil rule which did not last. As
both a Yoruba and a Christian, Obasanjo faced the thorny problem of
establishing his authority with the Muslim majority in the poverty-
stricken north. In late 1999, ¬rst Zamfara, then Niger and Borno,
followed by the great cosmopolitan state of Kano, indicated their in-
tentions to impose the full weight of the Shari™a legal code, including
its penalties of amputations and ¬‚oggings (see Map 28). Local politi-
cians, bereft of serious economic and social programmes, latched on
to Shari™a as an easy tool to win support from a population desper-
ate for an end to years of frustration, corruption, and “ more than
anything “ hopelessness. By the ¬rst year of the new millennium,
eleven of the thirty-six Nigerian states had imposed Shari™a law. The
claims by Muslim leaders that Shari™a would not affect non-Muslims
were misleading in that its ban on alcohol, cinemas, and integration
of the sexes in most spheres of life would clearly affect everyone.
Into the Third Millennium 363

Riots inspired by religious hatreds broke out in the north and the
south, while the violence surrounding the exploitation of oil in the
south-east was a running sore to the Obasanjo regime. Neverthe-
less, the OECD in its report on the economic outlook for 2001“2
was able to conclude that the rule of law had been restored; that the
courts were enforcing fundamental human rights, including freedom
of speech and association; and that the independent news media had
regained their freedom and vibrancy. This optimistic assessment,
however, was belied by a per capita drop in income from $1,600
in 1980 (the year of President Shagari™s ˜boom budget™) to $270 in
2000, ranking Nigeria among the twenty poorest countries in the
world. Legislative and presidential elections took place in April 2003,
which, if brought to a successful constitutional conclusion, would
be unique: since independence in 1960, Nigeria has not transferred
power from one civilian administration to another without the in-
tervention of the military, which has ruled the country for thirty of
its forty-three years as a sovereign state. In the event, Obasanjo was
re-elected president, albeit in a ¬‚awed electoral contest.

(2) East and South-Eastern Africa

With one or two exceptions, the countries of east and south-east
Africa survived the 1990s without serious civil violence. In Uganda,
the long horror of government by plundering tyrants from the less
developed northern half of the country “ ¬rst initiated by Milton
Obote in 1966, continued by Idi Amin from 1971 till 1979, and re-
sumed by Obote between 1980 and 1985 “ had been replaced by the
gentler political ascendancy of Yoweri Museveni and his National
Resistance Movement (NRM). As the NRM gradually shed its initial
military ¬‚avour, showing concern for human rights and the rule of
law, it continued to forbid the formation of rival parties. In 1995,
however, elections by universal suffrage were held for a Constituent
Assembly, with candidates standing as individuals not as party mem-
bers, but with the party leaders free to engage in electioneering. This
led in 2001 to a presidential election, when Museveni was con¬rmed
in of¬ce, but with a limit of two more ¬ve-year terms. The national
army remained necessarily active in repelling incursions inspired
by the Sudan government across the northern frontier and, less
364 Africa since 1800

necessarily, with its own incursions into eastern Congo. The Khar-
toum regime supported the Lord™s Resistance Army (LRA) child ¬ght-
ers, many of whom were trained in camps on the Sudan side of the
border. The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, a former Catholic altar
boy, claimed to have been called by God to topple the ˜satanic™ govern-
ment of Yoweri Museveni and to institute the Ten Commandments
as the Ugandan constitution. Beginning in 1994, Kony instituted a
reign of terror in parts of northern Uganda, which continues at the
time of this writing. But, for most of Uganda, civil life gradually re-
covered from the destruction and devastation of the Amin and Obote
years, and even made itself unique in Africa by achieving a reduction
of 2 percent in the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection.
Kenya and Tanzania during this period were each still ruled by the
same parties which had been in power since the early 1960s, but with
strikingly different results. During the long leadership of President
Daniel arap Moi, as earlier under Jomo Kenyatta, the Kenya African
National Union (KANU) had been the party of a mainly urban elite of
lawyers, civil servants, army and police of¬cers, and businesspeople
who had grown wealthy as the patrons and landlords of a middle
class of artisans, traders, and transporters who inhabited the back-
streets of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu. It was in many ways a
vibrant and productive elite, although marred by corruption and in-
tolerant of criticism, especially at election time. When Moi retired
from the presidency in 2003 after twenty-four years, in parliamentary
elections KANU was defeated by a new party “ the National Rainbow
Coalition “ organised by the seventy-¬ve-year-old vice-president,
Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki thus succeeded to the presidency in lieu of
Moi™s candidate for the post. Tanzania during the 1990s was mainly
engaged in conducting a staged retreat from the nobly egalitarian “
but economically disastrous “ policies pursued by Julius Nyerere
prior to his retirement from the presidency. His successor, Ali Has-
san Mwinyi, lost no time in accepting the advice of the IMF and the
World Bank to ¬‚oat the currency, decentralize economic controls,
and privatize many of the public corporations. Multi-party govern-
ment was legalized in 1991, but not tested until 1995, when the candi-
date of the former single party “ Ben Mkapa “ was elected president,
albeit by a narrow majority. At the turn of the millennium, Tanzania
remained a desperately poor but proud country, with a strong sense
Into the Third Millennium 365

of national identity, much strengthened by the continuing ef¬cacy
of Kiswahili as an African lingua franca, taught in the schools and
spoken with ¬‚uency by most of the population.
In southern-central Africa, the 1990s saw the end of two lengthy
presidencies which had endured since the grant of independence
in 1964. In 1991, Kenneth Kaunda™s United National Independence
Party was defeated at the polls by the Movement for Multiparty
Democracy, an alliance of some thirty ¬‚edging parties assembled
by Frederick Chiluba, a trades-union leader from the Copperbelt.
Chiluba substituted cabinet government for Kaunda™s increasingly
autocratic rule and soon addressed the main economic problem of
the country “ the disastrous fall in the world price of copper, al-
most halving the value of Zambia™s exports. Embarking on a policy
of retrenchment and privatization, Chiluba managed to balance the
budget, but only at the cost of widespread unpopularity, which led
to the breakup of his coalition. When his prot´ g´ , Levy Mwanawasa,
won the December 2001 presidential election, he set about the pro-
cess of prosecuting Chiluba for corruption, as earlier Chiluba had
attempted against Kaunda. In Malawi, a country that had become
during Hastings Banda™s later years a nasty police state, the senile
tyrant was at last forced into retirement in 1994. The principle of a
multiparty state had been reluctantly accepted in the previous year,
and elections in 1994 returned the United Democratic Front, with
Bakili Muluzi, one of Banda™s former cabinet ministers, as presi-
dent. Like Chiluba™s in neighbouring Zambia, Muluzi™s government
became increasingly unpopular and, in 2002, parliament rejected
a proposed constitutional amendment which would have allowed
Muluzi to run for a third ¬ve-year term. And, in the Indian Ocean
island of Madagascar, the Malagasy Republic “ the world™s third poor-
est country “ managed to survive prolonged civil unrest after a dis-
puted presidential election in 2002.
The success story of this region was, without a doubt, Mozam-
bique, which entered the 1990s as a war-torn disaster area. A Marxist
FRELIMO government, led by Joseph Chissano, fought with a mis-
cellaneous ethnic opposition (known by its acronym as RENAMO)
armed and encouraged by the secret police of apartheid South Africa
until the ANC government took full power there in 1994. The dev-
astation of the country was such that, of its population of some
366 Africa since 1800

16 million, 1.5 million had ¬‚ed as refugees into Malawi, Zambia,
and Zimbabwe. An additional 3 million had been driven from their
homes to the shelter of the exploding suburbs of Maputo, Beira, and
Nova Sofala. After several previous failures, the Italian government
in 1992 ¬nally brokered the Rome Peace Accord between the warring
parties. UN-supervised elections were held in 1994 and, although
RENAMO contested the resulting FRELIMO victory, the fragile
peace held. Chissano, who had close ties with Nelson Mandela and
Thabo Mbeki in neighbouring South Africa, at their suggestion ap-
plied for membership in the Commonwealth, which was granted
in 1995. During the next few years, Mozambique evinced remark-
able powers of economic recovery from the devastation of the civil
war. Even the migration of people ¬‚eeing violence and drought to
the coastal towns proved advantageous: good agricultural land was
freed for farming by modern methods, while the new townsfolk pro-
vided a willing labour force for the development of new industries,
some of which had been set up by overseas companies investing in
a stable country. This burgeoning industrial sector would be even
more ¬‚ourishing if Mozambique could bene¬t from the power pro-
duced by the huge Cabora Bassa dam on the Zambezi (see Chapter
19). However, under an agreement signed in 1984 by Portugal and
South Africa, as well as Mozambique, the operating company was
forced to continue selling most of its output to South Africa at a very
low price until 2030. Meanwhile, Mozambique had to buy back its
own power from South Africa, at ten times the cost.

(3) Southern Africa

In Africa south of the Zambezi, civil violence ¬‚ared most obviously in
Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe had held sway since 1980. By the
1990s, Mugabe was wielding power with steadily increasing autoc-
racy, using the characteristic methods of a police state “ misuse of the
police forces, interference with the judiciary, muzzling of the press,
expulsion of foreign journalists, to name only a few. The crucial is-
sue, though, was the ownership of land, whereby a handful of white
farmers owned half of the country™s land “ and the most fertile half at
that “ and used it for the production of cash crops, especially maize
and tobacco. The large rural labour force was made up primarily of
Into the Third Millennium 367

migrants from neighbouring Mozambique, as African Zimbabweans
had long ago drifted from their poorly situated agricultural land to
the towns “ to work in mining, manufacturing, transport, and tourist
services, in a highly diversi¬ed urban economy. Mugabe wanted to
use the landed estates of the white farmers to reward his political sup-
porters so, beginning in 1997, he authorized their seizure by gangs of
thugs. The farms were turned over to mostly young and unemployed
members of the ZANU/PF party, who had no experience with com-
mercial farming and no capital to sustain it. The result “ food short-
ages and in¬‚ation, which proliferated as land seizures multiplied
from the designated estates to white-owned farms generally. The
chief sufferers were the townsfolk, among whom political opposition
gathered momentum, coalescing around the Movement for Demo-
cratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai. The general elections of
June 2000 were disgraced by government-inspired violence and in-
timidation, which was repeated in the presidential elections of 2002.
The latter returned Robert Mugabe for a ¬fth term of of¬ce.
The most serious aspect of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe
was its potential repercussions on neighbouring South Africa, where
a much larger and more developed economy was threatened by ex-
treme differences in the sharing of that wealth, and where no less
than 87 percent of agricultural land was still in white ownership. The
ANC government of South Africa had shown admirable restraint in
its Reconstruction and Development Programme drawn up in 1994,
which had set a target of 30 percent of the land to be returned to
African ownership within ¬ve years. With urbanization set to reach
70 percent of the population by that date, it was probably an achiev-
able objective on the basis of reasonable compensation for the pre-
vious owners. But there was always the risk that the landless would
one day take the law into their own hands and, with the Zimbab-
wean precedent at close hand, that risk would become larger, or so it
would appear to potential investors in the outside world, where most
of South Africa™s external trade was with the most developed coun-
tries. This outside world was critical of President Mbeki “ who took
over the of¬ce from Nelson Mandela in June 1999 “ for his failure to
join it in denouncing Mugabe, but this was because it saw only half of
the picture. The other half concerned Mbeki™s strongly held view that
Africa must be left to solve its own problems. South Africa, with its
368 Africa since 1800

population of 43 million; its mean per capita income of $2,650; and
its highly trained army, navy, and air force of some 80,000 “ backed
by a thriving arms industry “ enjoyed a position of leadership with
Nigeria and Libya. It was busy brokering peace between the Demo-
cratic Republic of Congo and its assailants from Zimbabwe, Rwanda,
and Uganda. South Africa was the leading member of the Southern
African Development Community and the prime mover of the New
Partnership for Africa™s Development. And, as the headquarters of
the new African Union, it could not easily engage in public denunci-
ation of its own constituents.

F ollowing our region-by-region survey of events in the 1990s,
it seems appropriate to conclude with an overview of general
factors concerning the African continent as a whole, as they ap-
peared to stand at the end of that decade. First, despite the toll taken
by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other killer diseases, Africa™s popula-
tion continued to rise by 2.4 percent a year. Whereas in 1900 Africa
comprised 4.5 percent of the world™s total population, by 2000 this
¬gure had risen to 10 percent of a world total of 6 billion. Largely
for this reason, the people of Africa had become, statistically, the
poorest in the world. Whereas the gross national per capita income
of the United States stood at $34,100 and that of the UK at $24,430,
Africa™s richest country, Libya, thanks to its oil and its barely habit-
able deserts, hovered around $7,640. South Africa had $2,620 and
Egypt $1,490. But, at the lowest end of the scale, almost nine people
out of every ten in Africa™s poorest countries were living on less than
$2 a day; of these, two-thirds struggled to survive on less than $1 a
The urbanization of Africa during the 1990s had altered the whole
pattern of government and society in most African countries. Al-
though the poorer quarters of African towns might seem squalid to
the passing traveller, life in them was regarded by their inhabitants as
a considerable improvement over rural areas still lacking electricity,
piped water, and drainage, and with most effective activity con¬ned
to the daylight hours. The urban peripheries of African towns might
start out as tin shanties erected by the occupants with their own


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