African Union Seeks Peace

The conflicts facing Africa are troubling. Can the African Union make any progress in promoting peace? What will it take to bring lasting peace?

The 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 30. The meetings opened in the massive, new Chinese-built AU headquarters complex, constructed for $200 million as China’s gift to Africa.

I drove past the headquarters shortly before it was completed this time last year. The contrast between the shiny 20-story high-rise and the rest of the gritty city is striking—a symbol of the difference between African aspirations and tenacious reality.

High on the agenda this year, as every year, will be peace and security on the troubled continent. Security concerns focus especially on Africa’s newest nation, South Sudan, which is in the midst of a bloody civil war, as well as the Central African Republic and Somalia, which also are both involved in ongoing civil conflicts.

As it happens, South Sudan and Somalia are located on either side of Ethiopia, and their troubles are crossing borders. The UN reports that Ethiopia has a refugee population approaching half a million, including additional refugees arriving from Eritrea to the north.

A troubled continent

The list of ongoing or very recent conflicts in Africa is troubling:

  • The crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has simmered down for the moment, but has not ended, as not only Congo and Rwanda, but also rival warlords, vie for control of the mineral-rich region.
  • Congo-Kinshasa, as the DRC is called locally, is such a mess, it often has multiple uprisings going on at the same time, none of them directly connected. Often the brutality against civilians is unspeakable.
  • The failed state of the Central African Republic is in the throes of a civil war that has the potential to lead to genocide.
  • Ivory Coast has just emerged from a decade-long civil war; and while there are signs of hope and normalization, the violence has not completely ended.
  • Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon are dealing with an al-Qaeda–linked terror insurgency in the Islamic north of both countries.
  • The government of Mali might have fallen to an al-Qaeda–backed insurgency if France had not intervened, with American logistical support, to stop the advance.
  • Violence continues in Libya following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
  • Egypt is still on the brink of a civil war.

Even Ethiopia, now a paragon of stability by African standards, was not that long ago a killing field. On my last visit, I walked through the genocide museum in Addis, patterned after those in Rwanda, displaying photographs, clothing and bones of some of the up to 500,000 victims of the Red Terror of the late 1970s.

Any hope for Africa?

Trillions of dollars in aid has poured into Africa over the decades. The UN maintains thousands of peacekeepers in Africa, and there are constant diplomatic missions to stop wars and negotiate peaceful agreements. Yet it all seems for nothing.

Is there no solution to the troubles of Africa?

Back to basics

What is truly needed to solve the problems of Africa is not more money, more troops or more peace missions. Rather, it is a change of thinking, a change of priorities—a change of heart and mind.

The apostle James explained: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3).

What is truly needed to solve the problems of Africa is not more money, more troops or more peace missions. Rather, it is a change of thinking, a change of priorities—a change of heart and mind.War, fighting and violence of all kinds—whether on the personal, national or international level—come from simple but wrong ways of thinking: lust, envy and illicit desires for pleasures. Until these plagues are rooted out of the hearts of men, violence, domination and abuse of all kinds will continue. No amount of foreign aid or summit talks will overcome them; the suffering will continue.

Impossible as it sounds, such a revolution of spirit is coming at the return of Jesus Christ to earth. Several times in the book of Ezekiel, God promises: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Then God’s Spirit will be available to everyone on earth, and the world will change because God’s law of love will be the guide for all human beings.

The Holy Spirit is offered now to those God calls, whom Jesus called a “little flock” in Luke 12:32 (and if this intrigues you, you should find out more about how you can receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit!), but we can all take comfort in the knowledge that one day soon war will finally cease and become entirely a thing of the past.

Africa, like the rest of the planet, will finally become a paradise of peace. Read more about this by downloading the free booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.

(Photo by GovernmentZA/CC BY-ND 2.0)

About the Author

Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker is a pastor, writer, editor and administrator. He serves as regional director for the French-speaking regions of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, and as chairman of its Board of Directors.

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