World News and Trends Africa a crisis torn continent

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World News and Trends Africa a crisis torn continent

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Daily Mail columnist Stephen Glover explains: "In post-colonial Africa political power has been exercised solely for the benefit of the elites and their families, most of whom have enriched themselves on a vast scale. Ordinary people could be ignored, or if they become tiresome, persecuted. Their lives were not valued or their rights respected."

For instance, in Sierra Leone horrifying violence against civilians has led to the deaths of 50,000 people and massive injuries to many more. The sight of people missing part of their limbs is fairly common. On-site reporter and photographer Stuart Freedman filed these words for The Independent on Sunday: "In one of the century's most grotesque acts of collective cruelty, tens of thousands of people have been deliberately maimed, in punishment for lack of enthusiasm for a rebel regime ..."

Meanwhile, tribal fighting ravages Nigeria. A mass murder-suicide of some 1,000 members of a religious cult recently occurred in Uganda. The country's vice president, Mrs. Specioza Kasibwe, described the cult's leaders as "diabolic, malevolent criminals masquerading as holy and religious people who outwitted the security network to exploit the ignorance of thousands."

Civil war has created the world's largest internal flight of refugees, in the Sudan. Nearly two million people will soon need food aid. In the words of The Sunday Times: "Weather has brought the drought, but war has exacerbated it."

The misery of Mozambique because of the recent floods that devastated much of southeastern Africa is known to anyone who watches international news. Hundreds are dead, thousands face hunger, and the country's economy faces a rough road.

On the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is not only mired in a costly, futile war with Eritrea, but is faced with a massive famine that threatens the lives of millions. The fighting has forced farmers to abandon their harvests in grain-producing regions and has inhibited the distribution of foreign aid.

Such is the general state of Africa. Strictly speaking, in relative terms few bright spots such as Ghana lie on the horizon. In Ghana, by regional standards, the country is prosperous and stable. While good things have happened in South Africa, its rates of murder and rape lead the Western world.

Rupert Cornwall summed up the African situation for The Independent on Sunday: "Maybe Africa is painfully inching towards a new era, free of post-colonial illusions and Cold War distortions. But for all the brave talk, the continent is entering the new century where it began the last one—at the bottom of the international heap. And not many futurologists would bet that it would be very different 100 years from now." (Sources: The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Economist [all London].)

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