Tag Archives: Nigeria

Third Horseman of the Apocalypse

In the Christian Old Testament, seeking food for self and animals is often a part of the stories. Herdsmen like Abraham moved to find better pastures for their flocks. A famine in Israel sent Jacob and his large family fleeing into Egypt. Lack of rain in the time of the prophets led Elijah to a miraculous encounter with a poor widow.

Obviously, areas with less predictable rain, as in much of the Middle East and parts of Africa, are more likely to suffer famine than countries in temperate climates. Sometimes, however, famine is not caused by weather but by conflict.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who follow each other in the book of Revelation in the Christian New Testament, are sometimes depicted as conquest, war, famine, and death. The third horseman, famine, is not the result of weather but of conquest and war. It is human caused.

This kind of famine is afflicting millions of people in the countries of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. In Sudan, they flee power struggles, often over oil revenues or ethnic rivalries. In Nigeria, people flee terrorism. Somalia’s looming famine is partly a problem with lack of rain but is increased by struggles with the terrorist group, al-Shabab.

Yemen, a country in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, suffers fallout from rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its arch enemy Iran. The two countries are supporting rival factions that are tearing the country apart. Terrorist groups also have made inroads, as they often do in areas of conflict.

Some relief is possible if food shipments can be unloaded in one of the ports. According to reports, Saudi Arabia has so far been unwilling to allow shipments to the people they are fighting.

The United States has supported Saudi Arabia in this struggle. If we are truly a compassionate nation, we will exert as much pressure as possible on Saudi Arabia not to use starvation as a weapon of war. Else, we will be collaborators in the resulting deaths.

Why Has Democracy Slowed in Africa?

An article in The Economist (August 20, 2016) discussed the perceived slowing of democracy in Africa. Some African nations, like Nigeria, are more democratic than they were a few years ago, but others have backtracked. The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, changed the country’s constitution so he could run for a third term. Other leaders appear to ignore constitutional safeguards.

Democracy is a young movement in most African nations. Representative institutions in Europe began centuries ago. The American colonists built on them, beginning in the 1600’s.

Terrorist incidents in Africa have created opportunities for more autocratic leaders. Armies have grown and become more influential in African politics.

China is exercising more influence in Africa and serves as an example of a country with economic success that is not a democracy.

However, three changes in the African landscape may eventually increase democracy’s attraction. One, the population is younger and becoming more educated, making it more likely to favor political reforms.

Two, the population is urbanizing. Urban centers are more likely to elect progressive leaders.

Three, the digital age has come to Africa. Corrupt practices can be better monitored. Rigging elections, for example can be offset by smartphones recording votes as they are tallied, making numbers harder to manipulate later. The internet encourages citizen involvement.

The Economist article ends on a high note. This time, the move for more democracy doesn’t come from well-meaning donor nations but from Africans themselves, giving it a firmer foundation for success.