chapter  3
Conflict and war in Africa
ByWilliam Reno
Pages 12

Imagine journeying to the past. In the present, Africa’s wars present a picture of a bewildering array of militias and rebel groups fighting faction-ridden government armies engaged in a sort of gang warfare in places like Congo and parts of Sudan. Factional strife in Guinea-Bissau reflects struggles over the control of drug trafficking and its proceeds. Family and clan politics in Chad produces outbursts of violence and political instability. Central African Republic provides a terrain over which armed groups from the region range. Then the observer arrives in Africa at the start of the 1970s. Disciplined rebel offensives in Guinea-Bissau drive out Portuguese colonial forces and the rebels govern most of the countryside. By 1973, many foreign countries recognize the rebels as the legitimate government of that country. Nigeria’s separatist Biafra rebellion has just been crushed after clashes between armies that resembled Second World War modes of fighting more than the activities of the many militias that later appear on this territory. Rebellion against minority rule in Rhodesia attracts considerable overseas aid and rebels use their liberated zones to present a vision of the politics of the future. International organizations and many foreign governments assist South Africans in their struggle against apartheid as this issue animates activists across the globe.