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BOOK REVIEW 

Title: THIS WAY AFRICA: An Integrated Approach And Call To Transform Africa
Author: Valentine Manyor Mbianyor
Reviewer: Rev. Fr. Raphael Kolle Njumbe

CameroonPostline.com — This book echoes the words and thoughts of a young observant, concerned and growing African, who has not remained indifferent to the realities of his continent; one who does not intend to curse the darkness but is ready to light a candle.

The author describes his one-hundred-page book as a religio-political write-up which focuses on conflicts in Africa. In the mind of the author, flows the spirit of sadness, irritation and sympathy, considering the naked state of affairs in Africa: armed conflicts, violence, bad governance, various struggles, lack of ethics and morals and even the gradual take-over of secularism with the disregard for God and His Word.

To pass across his message, Manyor Mbianyor uses a simple and straight-forward style: identifying the problems of Africa; examining their root causes and effects; clearly demonstrating the fact that solutions to African problems could be handled by Africans themselves; and using some icons within the history of Africa who lit a candle to dispel the darkness.

Above all, he shows the central place of God and His Word, for “if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labour”. THIS WAY AFRICA is divided into six chapters. It opens with a forward by Mgr. Immanuel Bushu, Bishop of the Diocese of Buea, who clearly summarises the work as “an essay on Africa in distress and the practical things that need be done now to make Africa better”. 

The author himself states in the introduction, what he is out to elaborate. He says: “Though freedom is considered as man’s natural state and inalienable right, it has often been marred by numerous conflicts in the world, especially in Africa… It is very striking to know that, even those who orchestrate these conflicts, posit love and peace as motivating factors”.

The challenge is, therefore, very clear. How does he go about it? He invites all his readers to “co-operate towards resolving, preventing, managing and ending the numerous conflicts ravaging and plaguing our rich and blessed continent, Africa”.

Now is the time to render the operating platform of Africa blissful and sustainable. In the opening chapter, the author shares his initial thoughts; examines the nature of conflicts in Africa and clearly brings out the types of conflicts and their dimensions. He identifies as prominent, religious and ethnic conflicts and demonstrates these with examples from Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon and the Republic of South Africa.

Chapter two elaborates the causes of conflicts in Africa. These are viewed from the internal and external perspectives. The following are identified as internal causes: warfare arising from state degeneration or collapse of state; ethnic rivalries; regional or secessionist rebellion; lack of socio-economic development; non alternation of power: leaders clinging to power.

Examples abound in the African continent that the author uses to clearly defend his point.
External causes include: segregation and inequitable methods of administration by some colonial masters (the ills of colonialism).

The author, in chapter three, uses the example of some affected countries on the continent to lead us to a better understanding of the consequences of conflicts in Africa. The cases of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Sudan, and I personally add Cameroon. (We cannot ignore the misery some inter-tribal conflicts have caused in the Northwest Region of Cameroon).

Having examined the causes and effects of the conflicts plaguing the African continent, the author, in chapter four, attempts solutions on how these could be eradicated and stamped out. While remaining optimistic, I would like to note here that conflict would always exist as long as two human beings live together. This implies that man may never live in an absolute conflict-free society.

The author breaks this chapter into two parts. The first part deals with suggested remedies for the numerous conflicts in Africa. These include: human capacity building, institutional capacity building, collaborative engagement, peace and conflict education, and affirmative action

The second part focuses on an integrated approach to managing conflicts in Africa. These include: the Biblio-centric approach, the ethical principles approach: the social good principle; the divine command principle; the double effect principle and the respect for and implementation of state constitutions approach.

Chapter five is must-read. The author uses it to show some legends, icons and great statesmen who have succeeded in making history. These are drawn from Sacred Scripture, from philosophy, and from Africa and other continents. The author highlights international organisations that are working tirelessly to assist Africa in its conflicts as well. If these could make the difference, then the challenge is ours today. You and me can equally make history and transform our blessed continent and the world. 

Flowing from the wisdom from experience, the author lures us to the concluding chapter. This chapter is A CALL TO ACTION. We are all challenged to realise that it is in our hands and hearts that we can better transform Africa and the larger world.

This can be done when we create authentic and remarkable opportunities and changes in our respective communities; for charity begins at home. With optimism, we say, as Christians, “Immanuel” God is with us. This is a humble attempt to tackle a very complex situation: conflicts in Africa and possible solutions. The input might seem insufficient for many, but what is important is that a young man has dared.

This daring attitude is what is recommended for a genuine education today. We need educated people who reflect and propose solutions to challenges that face man everyday. We do not wish to develop a fatalist attitude of thinking that there is nothing we can do. Try any of these proposed solutions and conflicts in Africa would dwindle.

First Published in The Post print edition (No. 1330)

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