Earlier this year, I got what sounded like an impossible assignment: Explain why there’s so much 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?”