The Roots of War in Africa

Earlier this year, I got what sounded like an impossible assignment: Explain why there’s so muchworld-ark-novdec-cover1 war in Africa. On the face of it, the question is almost laughable. But underneath lie real issues that have to do with identity, political evolution and how we decide who gets what. The story starts like this:

I was sitting on the plane to Uganda with a Belgian carpet salesman next to me. He leaned over and asked where I was going. I told him Kampala.

“Ah,” he said, “Africa!” He shook his head like he’d never heard anything so sad. “You see the way they kill each other?”

“Um, yeah,” I said, not sure what else to say.

“They blame us! And, okay, we did some not-so-good things. But it’s been a long time, and they’re still killing each other!”

“Why do you think that is?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Do you have a better explanation than it’s a little…” He chose his words carefully. “…a little in their system?”

You can read the rest at World Ark Online, or in full graphic form here.


  1. Frank, thank you for your article, Finding Peace In Africa. You are a marvelous writer. I’m flying to Uganda on New Year’s Day and then on to Sudan. Our team, Sudan Sunrise, along with a Ugandan architect and engineer will bring earth presses to teach Southern Sudanese in two villages how to make Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB) to build schools. One school will be in GorAyen, village of Francis Bok, former slave. The other in Manute Bol’s village of Turalei. Darfurians, once used by the government to kill Southern Sudanese, will help to build these schools and Darfurian children will be invited to learn there also. I’m hopeful as signs like these of peace and reconciliation continue to spread throughout Sudan. Different tribes, regions and religions forgiving each other and working together for a new Sudan. May Sudan one day be known as an example of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. May we do all we can to stand with them in the process.

  2. Just read your not-long-enough article in Heifer’s Ark. It was such a quick insightful read but certainly I had my appetite whet for more.
    So, I’ll read your “more”. probably looking most for info on the US and THEM sort of explanation of how we are as humans. I sure have seen that divide working in my longish lifetime.

    I’m glad to have found you. And keep walking…I do in L.A. and one sometimes only sees bits of interesting life by taking the slow mode of travel.. by one foot in front of the other.


  3. That was the only question on a take-home exam I wrote once. Brutal. As I recall, my answer involved a lot of mumbo jumbo about “play theory” and “relative poverty”.

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