from The New York Times, March 29. 2009
Clearly, the African disaster most in view today is Sudan, or more specifically the dirty war that has raged since 2003 in that country’s western region,Darfur.
Rare among African conflicts, it exerts a strong claim on our conscience. By instructive contrast, more than five million people have died as a result of war in Congo since 1998, the rough equivalent at its height of a 2004 Asian tsunami striking every six months, without stirring our diplomats to urgency or generating much civic response.
More interestingly, the author maintains that much of what we see today as a racial divide in Sudan has its roots in colonial history, when Britain “broke up native society into different ethnicities, and ‘tribalized’ each ethnicity by bringing it under the absolute authority of one or more British-sanctioned ‘native authorities,’ ” balancing “the whole by playing one off against the others.”
Mr. Mamdani calls this British tactic of administratively reinforcing distinctions among colonial subjects “re-identify and rule” and says that it was copied by European powers across the continent, with deadly consequences — as in Rwanda, where Belgium’s intervention hardened distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi.
In Sudan the result was to create a durable sense of land rights rooted in tribal identity that favored the sedentary at the expense of the nomad, or, in the crude shorthand of today, African and Arab.
Other roots of the Darfur crisis lie in catastrophic desertification in the Sahel region, where the cold war left the area awash in cheap weapons at the very moment that pastoralists could no longer survive in their traditional homelands, obliging many to push southward into areas controlled by sedentary farmers.
He also blames regional strife, the violent legacy of proxy warfare by France, Libya and the United States and, most recently, the global extension of the war on terror.
This important book reveals much on all of these themes, yet still may be judged by some as not saying enough about recent violence in Darfur.
Mr. Mamdani’s constant refrain is that the virtuous indignation he thinks he detects in those who shout loudest about Darfur is no substitute for greater understanding, without which outsiders have little hope of achieving real good in Africa’s shattered lands.
Here's an article by Keith Harmon Snow with more information about Darfur that is not discussed in the mainstream media http://www.allthingspass.com/uploads/html-264THE%20WINTER%20OF%20BASHIRS%20DISCONTENT.htm