African Legends 8 .....By Dotun Oyeniyi

 For 33 year after her independence from France in 1960, Ivory coast enjoyed some political stability and peace, probably forced. The death of its charming but dictatorial leader, Felix Houphouet – Biogny, put paid to that. Ethnic tension and xenophobic politics quickly spiraled to a boiling point under Biogny successors, Henri Bedie, Robert Guie and Laurent Gbagbo, all of them from the south of the country and putting exclusionary policies in place against the north until the country was set on fire in 2002 as the Muslims dominated north, regarded largely as non – Ivoirians as they are believed to have emigrated from Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Senegal; took arms against the south. The war lasted 5 years before some peace return. Three years later, Laurent Gbagbo threw the nation back in crisis following his refusal to accept the result of the 2010 presidential elections, popularly believed to have been won by Alassane Ouattara. The civil conflict only ended when Gbagbo was arrested on 11 April 2011 and taken into the custody of the ICC for trial.

The Democratic Republic of Congo crisis started just days after her independence from Belgium in 1960 and was ongoing for 5 years and led to the loss of over 100,000 lifes including that of its first Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. Joseph – Desire Mobutu, who later changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko, seized power in 1965 in a military coup and for over three decades until May 1997, Zaire ( as it then was ) was a one – party state under the firm, violent and corrupt grip of Mobutu until Laurent Kabila led militias to dislodge Mobutu from power.

The genocide in Rwanda, an offshoot of tribal xenophobia left a permanent black spot on the black man’s history. The tribes of Hutus and Tutsi were artificially created by Belgium, Rwanda’s colonial master which named the taller and fair skinned Rwandans as Tutsi and the shoter dark skinned Rwandans Hutus. By early 1990s, president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutus assembled and army of Hutu interahamwe ( those who attack together ) and began to arm them as he was also using anti – Tutsi rhetorics in his speeches. On 6 April 1994, Habyarimana died when his plane was shot down. It was not certain who shot the plane down but the Hutus went on rampage and sought out the Tutsi for attack. Within three months, over a million Tutsi were killed. When the Tutsi, led by Paul Kagame fought back, they also killed the Hutus in hundreds of thousands.
                                 To Be Continued…….. 

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