Sunday, January 6, 2008

The story of Africa?

(I have recently been hearing about the conflict in Kenya (which may have genocidal elements) after an election in which the result is being disputed. I began to think about the real cause of the conflict in Kenya and many other conflicts on the African Continent. So I wrote a little allegorical story.)

Best Friends

Two little boys where the best of friends; they came from different families but they felt like brothers. The played wonderful games together, they explored, they had loads of fun.

One day a new kid showed up on the scene; he was a few years older than the boys. He began to play with them and observe them. He noticed that the younger boys had nice games, new footballs and basketballs to play with and always had a little bit of money for snacks or ice cream

So one day when the older boy was alone with one of the younger ones he told him that his friend, the other younger boy, had confided in him that sometimes he thought he was stupid and only tolerated hanging out with him because there weren't any other kids to play with.

On a different day the older boy relayed the same information to the other little boy.

Soon the little boys who had been the best of friends became suspicious of each other, they began to bicker and fight.

The older boy would always be there to break up their little fights. He also separately made each of the boys believe that he was really only friends with him.

Soon with out the others knowledge the little boys where giving money and buying things for the older boy. They were just so happy to have the older boy as a friend. They let him borrow their games and sports equipment.

As the little boys grew older they began to resent each other even more. Neither had forgotten the information their older friend had shared about the other.

That resentment continued and ultimately ruined the friendship of the two boys.

One day when the boys where teens and in high school they got into an argument over a girl. One of the boys pulled a gun out of his back pack and shot and killed his former friend.

Now one of the boys was dead and the other was in prison, possibly for life.

The older boy pretended to be upset, but he secretly thought them stupid for letting him ruin their friendship.

Soon the older boy found another set of best friends.

Do you think as I do that Europeans and others such as the Chinese (supporting the Sundanese Government) are responsible for planting the seeds of conflict in Africa?

What do you think of my allegory? (I've never written one before)


John B. said...

This is as good an explanation as any
of what is behind the current troubles in Kenya (or Nigeria or Sudan or. . .)

Villager said...

Your explanation is well thought out. My question?

Where are the elders for the two young boys. Why aren't they available to mentor/help/guide them through the lies of the older boy?

Can African Americans play a role in helping our African brothers and sisters?

peace, Villager

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

love the alllogory. And from all the placwe i have been in Africa, and lived it is a lot different from a far. I still love it. I lived in Nigeria for 16 months - my fav country of all, and stayed in senegal twice, both for 6 months. The their is Adis in Ethopia, and the five consecutive summers I lived outside Durban in Kwa Zulu Natal - I know . I just love Africa, U gotta live there and not just visit or be a tourist to understand what I am talking about.

PS: Harlod Ford is m neighbor, i mean grew up across the street from me in memphis

Classy Black Woman said...

I love this allegory. It illustrates how many countries in Africa have been psychologically manipulated into failed states by European interests.

Mes Deux Cents said...

John B,

The problems in Kenya are really disturbing. The whole horn of Africa is in turmoil.



I think that if there was an effort made possibly we could help. I think though that we are too focused on our perceived problems to notice.

Maybe the elders fell pray to the charms of the older boy too?


Wow; I would love to travel like that on the continent.

My first stop would have been Mombassa, but I guess things might not be so good there now.

How do you think Harold’s engagement/ marriage will affect his political career?



I wonder if there needs to be a complete remapping of Africa. The Europeans did not pay attention to the alliances/ non-alliances of the people who have now ended up in nations together.

Miriam said...

I agree with your allegory. Very much, I've heard this story so many times in so many ways, this is just very generalized and can cover all of them. Only thing, i'd not make the older boy older, just more clever. Like a fox.

Don said...

That's pretty good stuff, Mes. And I have witnessed, heard about, and experienced situations in life similar to the tale you described.

I am ignorant to the Euro and Chinese shenanigans, but I will say that if a friendship was manipulated in this manner, it wasn't much of a friendship in the first place.

Blame only goes so far.

Shelly said...

Really nice allegory, MDC. (I'm gonna have to try and do one or two of those...)

I'm nowhere near educated enough on world politics to comment too heavily on the many, many factors behind the history of African conflict but the lesson in your story certainly illustrates a real truth as far as I can see.

Mes Deux Cents said...


I made the boy older to show that he had more worldly experience, likening that to the travels of the Europeans.



You should read about China's support of Sudan. It's relevant as the Olympics are this summer. I'm wondering if there will be protests or will people just ignore the connection.



I look forward to reading your allegories. I bet they will be great.

I'm no expert, but I have read and heard a lot that has led me to these conclusions.

Ehav Ever said...

Interesting analogy. Yet, I think it is a bit simplistic. I would make the following additions. Please excuse my grammar. Even this is over simplifying the issues.

There was a playground with hundreds of kids. Some were friends, but some were not. Some of them played wonderful games together, but there were those who were always in conflict.

There were other playgrounds and some of the kids had contact with kids on those other playgrounds. There were also times when some of the kids in the 1st playground were conflict with kids from the other playgrounds. There were also times when kids from the other playgrounds would kidnap kids from the 1st playground. There were also times when all the various playgrounds traded in candy, sweet drinks, and such. There were kids who came from the playground in the east, some to make the 1st playground their new playground. Some came to take over as much of the playground as they could. These kids mostly took control of the northern and eastern part of the playground.

One day several kids from the north showed up. These kids had been conflict with each other in their own playground for a long time. They had just recently began to turn on the lights in their playground because for so long it was dark in their own.

They came to the 1st playground in search of an upper hand in their own playground. These kids were also spying out the other playgrounds in order to gain the advantage over the other kids in the northern playground. They also had their sites set on a playground in the west that they had recently found out about, but this playground needed work for it to become what they wanted.

The kids from the north began to fight each other for a chance to have an advantage in these new playgrounds. When it came to the 1st playground they made friendships with the bigger kids on the 1st playground. They worked with some of the bigger kids in the 1st playground to take kids from the 1st playground and move them to another playground. Many of these bigger kids in the 1st playground did not care as long as there was something in it for them. So they worked with them and with some of the kids from the eastern playground to play tag and take the smaller whom they caught from the 1st playground and trade them for the sweet things from the northern and eastern playgrounds.

The kids from the western part of the 1st playground who were caught and taken to the western playground to build it up. The kids taken from the eastern and northern parts of the 1st playground were taken to various parts of the eastern playground.

Over time many of the kids from the northern and eastern playgrounds began to divide up the first playground. The kids from the northern playgrounds were even able to gain the advantage over the eastern playgrounds. The kids from the northern playgrounds further began to divide up the 1st and the eastern playgrounds. They also set their sights on the western playground, a place, which they had previously never been. They began to compete against each other for control. Often forming play-groups in the other playgrounds out of kids who had never played together. They also left behind toys that didn’t work, methods of play foreign to the playground, and they often supported bullies.

Soon all of the playgrounds became foot-stools to the kids from the northern playgrounds. Yet, in their attempt to be able to play in all of the playgrounds the northern playground kids began to loose their control. One after another various playgrounds became independent, or so they thought. Over time kids with the most charisma took control of different sections of the playground. They often became bullies, and over time the 1st playground and the playground in the east became hotbeds for conflicts. As the playground in the north and the west gained more power the 1st and the eastern playground began to wane. The toys of the northern and western playgrounds became the new status symbol for the playground, and those kids who had the power used the resources of their part of the playground to get the new toys of the northern and western playgrounds, at times at the expense of the kids in their own playground.

The northern playgrounds began to loose some of their power when the playground in the west became independent. Over time all the playgrounds were involved in a multi-playground conflict, which threatened to destroy each playground. Even as this conflict subsided, small playground conflicts continued.

As time went, on the 1st playground, the eastern playground, and the southwestern playground all became places of deep-seated conflict. They also became reliant on the toys of the northern and western playgrounds. Even the one area of the 1st playground that was never completely controlled by the northern playground over time was affected by the change in the rules of playground.

All the kids who play in each playground now, are affected by the play of the past. Many playgrounds have been able to benefit from the games of the past, while others still suffer from it. Thus the problem may be rooted in defining what exactly is fair play. Maybe the problems of each playground is rooted in something missing from the method of play. Maybe, there are things that the kids who play on each playground can do fix some of the problems. Yet, maybe there are some things that can’t be fixed until the architect of the playgrounds redefines the meaning of fair play.

clnmike said...

Great story. I think it captures the troubles that are brought about by foreign interest in Africa. You can trace almost any conflict on the continent from some residue of colonialism.

What is disappointing about Kenya is that it was supposed to be one of the more stable regions in Afica.

i hope they can put out the fire before it consumes the region.

Mes Deux Cents said...


Lol, the point of an allegory is to simplify the story,

Yours is good, it has a lot of detail.


The whole of East Africa is already in turmoil. I hope Kenya finds some order soon.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

You forget who you are talking to here. That was a simplified story, for me. lol Remember the post I did about my last words before my last breath? (smile)

The funny part is that I tried with all I had to keep the story short, but there was just to much.

The sad part is that many of the conflicts in various countries in Africa are so deep seeded, that even trying to redefine terroritories would cause a war. Look at what happened between Ethiopia and Eretria. Ethiopia was never colonized, but the and Eretria have been in an off and on border war for at least 20 or more years.

I remember when how sad I was when I saw the special that was done on Patrice Lamumba. He was caught between a rock (USA) and a hard place (Russia) and when he chose one over the other he was destroyed. I remember seeing footage of how when he was captured during the Coup he was paraded and tortured in front of the media.

Anonymous said...

A great deal of the conflict in Africa (let's not forget western Africa-Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone) and central Africa (everyone has forgotten the Democratic Republic of the Congo-DRC) and their Civil Wars are based on ethnic/tribal conflicts. This is a concept thats hard for African American to get our heads (and hearts) around since we are the products of many tribes and races.

While the European Colonial masters of the past exploited this cultural phenomemon, it has been there for centuries-let's not lose sight of the fact that frequently tribes would sell conquered tribes to slave dealers.

While I worked for the UNHQ (the Department of Peacekeeping Operations), I noticed the influx and influence of the Chinese and others on the continent. It's all about money. Africa is the source of an incredible amount of the world's untapped natural resources (gold, oil,and coltan-the little known metallic ore used to produced your cell phones, computers and other electronic devices-it is believed that 80% of the world's supply is in the DRC). China is potentially the largest consumer of these goods and would like to be the largest producer-what better way than to throw money at incredibly poor people and win their hearts and minds. But I digress....

The concept of tribalism is fascinating. You may know me, may not know of me or my relatives, but if I show up at your door and need food and shelter and we're the same tribe-what's mine is yours. But it goes deeper...if someone has "wronged me", you have a family obligation to defend the tribes honor. I remember talking to a Congolese friend one day about their conflict...until the Congolese become Congolese first and Hutu or Tutsi (yes they are there too)-they will always have problems.

Just think Sunnis and Shias-kinda the same principles.

It is not a simple solution, and it something that is cultural as much as ethnic.

Mes Deux Cents said...


The more I learn about the African continent the less I know.

I was just reading the other day that there are at least 4000 different ethnic groups amongst Black African.

So you are right, for most African Americans it's hard to fathom that they don't just see each other a Black.

I know that there is more at play then the legacy of colonialism. But I can't help but think they; the Europeans did not consider ethnic conflict when they outlined nations.

As I've said before the solution may have to do with changing the dynamics by making new nations of people with no history of conflict.

What do you think about that?

Anonymous said...


You are on the mark regarding the making of new nations-think about it, most peaceful nations are ethnically homogenous...the US is the exception.

As a native New Yorker (the ultimate melting pot), it was fascinating to travel to Asia, Europe and Africa and realize that while we have our racial problems, we have nowhere near the problems other nations have-to include Africa.

The Colonial masters carved up their trophies with no regard to the tribal or ethnic lands-it's been a "mess" every since.

Unfortunately, I don't believe the "Power Brokers" who've become accustomed (read wealthy) "governing" those lands, will eagerly "do the right thing".

Mes Deux Cents said...


Maybe the African Union will gain more power and support at some point. That organization might be effective in quelling some of the violence.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I worked with the African Union while at the UN. They are as organized and "united" as the countries they represent (Kenya was one of the major contributors as one of the more stable countries on the continent). They are also heavily dependent on their former colonial masters for funding and training.

It is a mess!

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron