The Unseen Danger in Political Violence

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

The Unseen Danger in Political Violence

Recent rioting in Kenya could have consequences the participants aren’t considering.
From the April 2008 Trumpet Print Edition

For weeks on end, the blood of 25 fresh corpses a day soaked into Kenya’s soil. Following a fraudulent election on Dec. 27, 2007, violent protests and deadly attacks forced 600,000 Kenyans from their homes, wiped out hundreds of thousands of jobs, and ruined the national economy.

In February the death toll in the violence passed 1,500 people. Both sides in the conflict formed militias, possibly aided by organized crime. Two opposition lawmakers were assassinated. In the name of political freedom, Kenyans burned each other’s businesses and hacked each other to death with machetes.

“Kibaki’s government will never work in Kenya,” said one protester of the president he now views as illegitimate. “We will paralyze them even if they kill our leaders.”

As hope for a return to normalcy evaporated with the smoke rising from the Kenyan landscape, anxious outsiders threatened to “impose a solution.”

The two leaders at the center of the strife signed a shaky power-sharing agreement after two months; observers say it could easily collapse. But there is a critical lesson in how the unrest prompted international intervention. It is a lesson that hits far closer to home than the affluent, complacent West would think.

Betrayed Promises

Though you wouldn’t know it from mainstream press coverage, Kenya’s political problems predated the recent violence.

True, the nation’s previous election, in December 2002, in which 24-year dictator Daniel arap Moi was thrust from power, was hailed as a democratic success story. Mwai Kibaki rode a wave of popular support into office as a reformer who would clean up endemic corruption and greed that had kept the ruling class wealthy and the people impoverished. But instead, Kibaki set about cementing his own continuous rule using the same Big Man tactics his predecessor did: purchasing loyalty and silencing enemies.

As for the economic prosperity that Kenya has enjoyed—a 6 percent increase in gross domestic product for the past two years—it has not filtered down to the people. In 1990, 48 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Today that figure is nearly 55 percent—a majority of Kenyans living on, at best, a couple dollars a day. Growing unemployment sends more restless people to the streets, fueling tribal tensions.

When an election approached and voters had an opportunity to hold Kibaki accountable for these failings, polls showed his opponent—Raila Odinga, from a rival tribe—in the lead. Hope for change turned to anger, however, when, after various reports of vote fraud emerged (some constituencies had suspiciously remarkable voter turnout, for example—115 percent in one case), Kibaki was declared the winner and hastily sworn into his second term that very day. Soon, the streets exploded with violence.

Sadly, Kenya is just one in a litany of stories across Africa that all have the same moral: Democracy is betraying its promises. In country after country, this betrayal creates disillusionment and despair, which then give way to mayhem.

Andrew Feinstein declares, in relation to the most successful of African nations, South Africa, that “the country is in desperate need of focused, enlightened and efficient government to address the linked catastrophes of aids, poverty and crime” (Prospect, January 2008).

Enlightened observers of the African scene similarly agree that the problem—continent-wide—is a lack of effective, efficient, responsible governance.

The time is fast approaching when that government will be imposed from the outside.

Cancer Spreading on the Continent

There is truth to the idea that the world tends to overlook Africa’s crises. In recent African hotspots, slow Western reaction enabled problems to balloon into catastrophes. Think Rwanda, Congo, Darfur.

However, Africa is at or near the top of a number of international to-do lists, and it is claiming more attention all the time. United Nations’ peacekeeping forces are crawling all over Kenya’s troubled neighborhood. The UN sponsors a remarkable eight missions in Africa, and the growing numbers of blue helmets are already at record numbers. Africa presently demands the attention of two thirds of all UN forces in the world.

And these struggles won’t simmer down anytime soon. Political instability and tribal conflict seem to be spreading across Africa like cancer, generating fresh supplies of migrants, refugees and dead bodies on what seems like a monthly basis. The Darfur disaster, despite the presence of nearly 20,000 peacekeepers, has spilled into neighboring nations, aggravating existing troubles in Somalia. Over 200,000 Sudanese refugees have also fled into Chad and the Central African Republic; the resulting violence has opened the door for the European Union to start building a 3,700-member peacekeeping force in those two nations. Foreign peacekeepers also find themselves trying to keep a lid on political turmoil in Côte d’Ivoire, and on rising border tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Foreign deployments patrol disturbances in Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. Sub-Saharan Africa hosts 10 foreign military bases and training missions, six of them belonging to France alone.

The calls for intervention we heard regarding the situation in Kenya were the latest in an astonishing trend. After decades of independence following colonial rule, Africa is in danger of being recolonized.

The humanitarian duties being undertaken by today’s peacekeeping forces may have an aura of benignity, even righteousness. But history teaches a brutal lesson: Peoples weakened by division and infighting invite foreign conquest.

A Black Gold Mine

Look around. The same forces that fueled past imperialistic adventures are alive and well in human nature today. Chief among these is the lust for resources. And in our voracious, globalized modern world, this powerful motivator is at historically epic heights.

Africa holds an estimated 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves. It produces over 60 metal and mineral products. A number of the world’s most important metals and minerals—gold, diamonds, uranium, manganese, chromium, nickel, bauxite, cobalt, platinum—are produced in Africa. But the biggest prize: Crude oil is being discovered in massive amounts. The Corporate Council on Africa reports that Africa contains over 90 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, representing 9.1 percent of the world’s total reserves. Africa has greater oil production potential than Russia. To outsiders, it looks like a black gold mine.

You can be sure, this makes Africa a major strategic concern.

Clearly, outside nations—particularly China and those in Europe—are doing all they can to charm African states out of their wealth using purely economic incentives. Trade is flourishing, investment is building African infrastructure. Louis Michel, the EU’s commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Assistance, said in December, “Africa is no longer perceived as a burden but rather as an opportunity.”

That opportunity can be seized peacefully as long as those African states are stable and secure. But when chaos erupts such as that in Kenya, other nations see two things that compel them to intervene: loss of value in their investments, and an opportunity to assert control and stake a greater claim.

It is within this context that the competition for Africa’s rich resources and cheap labor force is heating up. There is a new scramble for Africa. It is a new wave of colonization, first through aid, economics and diplomacy, then by force of arms.

And from any objective point of view, Africa is in no condition to resist what’s coming.

Recolonization

Europe in particular has a storied history of exploiting the African continent for its wealth. “Europeans overwhelmed [Africa] in the last quarter of the 19th century, looking for loot,” wrote Blaine Harden. “Total conquest took all of about 25 years” (Africa: Dispatches From a Fragile Continent).

In colonial days, an “imperial contract” existed between Europe and Africa: Europe plundered Africa’s wealth, including raw materials and labor, in exchange for continental “civilization.” During World War ii, Hitler’s economy minister looked to revive and expand that contract, calling it “Eurafrique,” or Eur-Africa. Mussolini and France’s Vichy regime also used the term. It was buried in the 1970s. Memories of that unsavory past came to life just last year, however, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy revived the concept as part of his foreign-policy vision. South Africa’s Sunday Independent reported, “Sarkozy may have used the term Eurafrique out of ignorance of the past, but it represents a lingering state of mind that many hoped was gone forever” (Dec. 9, 2007). Hope as many might, the Eurafrique concept does linger in European minds. And it will grow as the need for resources grows.

Note the following comments from a February interview with a German diplomat conducted by one of Germany’s foremost news sources. Deutsche Welle stated, “Europe is paying more attention to both the potential and the problems of Africa. … Horst Köhler recently made his fifth trip to Africa as Germany’s president. … Germany has been very present in Africa and is increasing its activities there.” German Foreign Undersecretary Georg Boomgaarden commented, “[I]n the future we’ll be increasingly connected to [nations in Africa] by the need for natural resources and other interests. In terms of development, we’ve been active for a long time in Africa. But in 2008 we’re beginning a special program. … [W]e’re looking for more dialogue with Africa” (February 17).

Journalists at the German Foreign Policy agency recognize Germany’s heightening interest in Africa. They say the German Foreign OfficeSSRqs Africa policy demonstrates a desire to expand its imperialist interests into that continent. “The German Foreign Ministry has presented a new continental political program to aid in its struggle to obtain hegemony over Africa. Over the past three days, the €20 million program ‘Action Africa’ was introduced in three West African states. The program consists of proposals in the realm of education, culture and sports and will contribute to Germany’s advantage over its rivals among the world powers on this continent rich in resources” (February 13).

This time, the competition for Africa’s resources is not so much among individual European powers as it is among China, Russia and the European Union, spearheaded by Germany. Of these three powers, Germany is most determined to lead in the race for Africa’s raw materials and cheap labor pool. As German Foreign Policy points out, “With ‘Action Africa,’ Berlin renewed its attempt to get an advantage over its great power rivals on the African continent. _‚_20 million have been made available this year for this program. The program is mainly comprised of projects to establish links to the African elites” (ibid.).

Looking at this trend in light of history provides a much more sober view of just how we can expect it to unfold in the time ahead. But it is when compared with the perspective offered by biblical prophecy that it actually becomes frightening.

“It Will Never Happen Here”

The most chilling prophecy to be fulfilled in the near future, as the Trumpet has repeatedly proven, is that of a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe. Detailed passages in the book of Revelation describe the nature of this mighty kingdom of the north. This German-led empire will become infamous for its voracious appetite for resources (e.g. Revelation 18:12-13). It is prophesied to corporately reinvade its old African colonial possessions, pillaging resources to feed the furnaces and drive the machinery that will turn out tools of war for a remilitarizing imperialist power. Shamefully, among those resources will be a slave market of unprecedented proportions.

Kenyans would do well to think on these prophecies. The misguided individuals using political pretexts to justify violent tribal feuding are, in fact, only speeding the day of their nation’s downfall at foreign hands.

Here history affords another lesson—one that should hit close to home for those in the West, particularly America, Britain and Israel.

In times past, God allowed the nations of Israel to endure forced slave labor when they turned their back on His protection. The captivities of Israel and of Judah are well documented in secular history, and their spiritual cause—disobedience to the Creator—is detailed in Scripture.

Right alongside those prophecies of Africa’s plunder are those of the modern descendants of Israel and Judah—America, Britain and the Jewish state of Israel—convulsing in social disorder not unlike that which choked Kenya, and then, riven by division and infighting, falling prey to the same European empire. You can read about those prophecies in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

The affluent, complacent West looks at Kenya and thinks, It will never happen here. Biblical prophecy shows that assumption is flat wrong.

Look at Kenya, and behold your future.

As we witness events moving toward the fulfillment of these prophecies, however, we should also recognize the fingerprints of the God who issued these biblical forecasts for our benefit. As Jesus Christ said, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.”

With editorial assistance from Ron Fraser