(this is a long overdue post)
On the 7th February 2011, after referendum, President Al-Bashir of Sudan accepted the secession of the southern half of his country. The success or failure of this move should be a blueprint for a slew of overdue secession in Sub Saharan Africa.
Between 1890 and 1960, Europe colonised africa, and redrew its borders. Superficial efforts to understand the ‘African’ way and euro-centric political imperatives resulted in a new map of Africa which was less of a ‘partition’ and more of a consolidation.
These new boundaries lumped together different elements into ethnically, politically, culturally and economically heterogenous units.
As european powers one by one gave their african colonies independence they left behind unstable nation-states which were inherently fractious.
Combine this with multi-party democracy (the quintessential political expression of adversariality) and you have a recipe for conflict. Thus the political history of SSA in the last 50 years has been one of ‘democratic’ winners rapidly overthrown by violent losers. Almost every single sub- saharan country has seen violent coups or civil war since independence. Peaceful politics is hindered by factional conflict and a near complete absence of national identity. Perhaps secession into homogenous nation-units is part of the answer, especially if they can organise into larger economic blocks. Much of Africa will be looking to Sudan to prove that breakup can promote peace.
PS – everyone should read Martin Meredith’s The State Of Africa.