Tackling Terrorism In Africa: An Open Letter To African Kings, Presidents And Ministers Of Governments

In pursuit of their sinister political agendas, terrorist groups in Africa continue to engineer a series of increasingly brutal and disgusting atrocities. At the beginning of the month, Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that has waged an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009, cast its evil shadow over Cameroon. The terrorist organization killed at least 70 people in an attack on the Cameroonian town of Fotokol, a February 4, 2015, report on BBC says.

Boko Haram’s most recent killings add on to its long list of baneful atrocities. The number of lives on the group’s murderous hand was estimated to be at least 13,000 people as at late 2014. This is according to a painful admission by Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan. President Jonathan was addressing the United Nations Security Council in October 2014 when he made this revelation.

Boko Haram’s depravity is perhaps only rivaled by equally heinous acts committed across Africa by other variations of extremism such as Al-Shabab.

As this scourge of terror, death and anguish continues to erode at the very soul of Africa, my frustration and sadness deepens in a similar if not greater magnitude. I am deeply disturbed by how the lives of Africans are unjustly valued at cents on the dollar.

This has prompted me to write this brief letter to strongly but respectfully urge African Kings, Presidents and Ministers of Governments to take the following measures to safeguard our great continent against terrorists, criminals and other pestilent elements within our midst.

Fight fire with fire

Wholesale slaughter and unprovoked aggression are the stock and trade of extremist groups such as Boko Haram and Al-shabaab. These deranged animals, as Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta described them at the wake of Al-shabab’s appalling December, 2014, quarry attack in Mandera that left 36 dead, cannot be swayed by reason. For these terrorists, force, and not negotiation, is the only weapon that will prevail.

The use of force, despite the negative connotations it arouses, is the core mandate of any government seeking to protect lives and property. This because any sound constitution recognizes the fact that only the government has both the divine and constitutional power to use force in the pursuit of justice.

Our governments should pursue our terrorist aggressors relentlessly, regardless of the backlash it will attract; especially if this backlash comes from the West. The West has a habit of shooting down solid security policies taken by Africa while it itself has the most extreme measures to counter terrorism. America, after the dreaded 9/11 attacks, introduced a long list of measures that allowed it to ‘legally’ use the strongest force imaginable to deal with terrorists.

In the summer of 2002, for instance, America launched the $100 million Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group (P2OG). This group has the legal power to proactively and preemptively provoke responses from known terrorist groups. In layman terms, P2OG carries out secret missions to stimulate reactions among terrorist groups by provoking them into undertaking violent acts that would expose them to counter-attacks by US forces. This essentially means prodding the hornet’s nest and waiting by the side with a can of insecticide. This policy, despite sounding extreme, has been used extensively, including in Algeria. A 2010 report on Aljazeera captures author of Dark Sahara, Professor Jeremy Keenan’s, views on P2OG and how Algeria was part of the ‘pilot’ program for P2OG.

While P2OG and America’s other similarly extreme counterterrorism measures raise a slew of legitimate human rights concerns, its results are clear for all to see. America has been able to deflect major terror incidents ever since 9/11, despite being in the crosshairs of virtually every foaming at the mouth jihadist.

Africa should follow in the footsteps of America. Groups that need to resort to violence and dangerous propaganda to advance their political agendas in Africa should be met with the harshest retaliation possible by legitimate governments. This, I believe, African governments should do; and if the West tries to stop them, African governments should not complain, but ask the West for tips on how to legally institute groups such as P2OG.

Foster unity

Today, African musicians produce colorful renditions of pop culture that make Hollywood brim with mixed feelings of jealously and admiration. Despite the tremendous change in African culture, however, we should never forget where we came from. Accordingly, we should keep close at heart the teachings and instructions that our forefathers gave us.

It is through their wisdom that our ancestors were able to survive the scorching African heat and freely roam the plains, all the while ducking hungry lions and avoiding cold-blooded Nile Crocodiles by the riverbed.
One saying by the sages that cuts across all African cultures is that of unity; and not just unity, but unity in the face of crisis.

‘In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.’ ~ Nigerian proverb translated into English and sourced and from Afritorial.

African Kings, Presidents and Ministers should strongly heed the instruction given to us by our forefathers on the need for unity. This is particularly true now that Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, has been elected chairman of the African Union. Mugabe was elected to chair the AU in January 30, 2015.

President Mugabe, as we all know, has his plentiful share of critics. While some criticisms leveled against him are justifiable, I strongly maintain that he should be treated with respect, especially by Africans. A January 31 2015 article by Mail and Guardian editor, Charles Obbo, demonstrates the disrespect that some have come to treat Mugabe with. The article title distastefully reads: “Uncle Bob is new AU honcho: ‘Mugabe may be a son of a bitch, but he’s Africa’s son of a bitch”.

Regardless of the message that Obbo’s article intends to pass, the use of certain words such as the ones boldly used in the title of his article are not fitting for our leader, especially at a time when we thirst for unity in Africa. While I understand Obbo’s need to inject artistry and imagery in his articles—something he has successfully and quite admirably done in past articles over his illustrious career—he went a tad bit far in his review of Mugabe’s leadership.

Mugabe as the leader of the African Union should be treated with respect. He is not only of great age, 90 turning 91 on February 21, but he managed to fend off persistent rabid attacks from westerners who were trying to arm-twist him into adopting policies he did not agree with. This is the kind of leadership Africa needs now; for right now our fortunes are great and everyone, including those who have a clear history of acutely shortchanging us, wants to be our friend.
African Union leader Robert Mugabe

We should unite behind our leaders, especially Mugabe, who is now chair of the African Union

Everyone is entitled to their view regarding Mugabe’s leadership, but having him as a leader is better than having no leader at all; or worse still, having foreigners dictate our lives. I believe that a group that has a leader that steers it in a wrong direction is far much better than a group that has no leader at all. And there is nowhere that this observation is more apparent that in the study of evolution theory. Evolution has shown us that civilizations that adopt cohesive group strategies have higher survival rates than those that pursue individualistic strategies; with current examples of successful cohesive groups being the Jews and historical examples being the Athenians.

United behind powerful leaders who have been given the power by the people to exterminate terrorists and other criminals, Africa will be able to rise and fulfill its promise of economic prosperity, peace and justice.

The next time an irascible and densely bearded terrorist leader such as Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau sends his evil troops to lay waste to our lands under the guise of religion, Africans, through their leaders, should stand united and retaliate with might and just. My African Kings, Presidents and Ministers, kindly give ear to this humble advice from a concerned young African.


Disclosure: Article represents personal views of the writer and not affiliate organizations

Lennox Yieke is a business journalist, marketing consultant and loyal Pan-Africanist. He has contributed content to top financial media outlets, including The Motley Fool, winner of Glassdoor’s prestigious No.1 place to work for in America in 2014. Currently he is the editor of Business Monthly, East Africa’s leading business magazine with over 220,000 loyal monthly readers. Yieke admits that the hardest part of his work is not reporting about mega business deals or pitching complex marketing ideas to clients, but confronting his African identity. He painfully agrees that while the world moves ahead, Africans at the grassroots remain ignored. But instead of complaining, Yieke is using the opportunity that Rural Reporters has presented to highlight the plight and success stories of Africans at the grass roots. “Real transformative change in Africa will only come when we empower the folks at the bottom of the pyramid and tell their stories,” he declares. Yieke can be reached at Yieke@media7groupkenya.com. Follow him on Twitter @lyieke
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