Murphy's Law: Where Africa Leads The Way


March 1, 2016: Africa has, since the 1960s been the source of most of the wars worldwide. This despite the fact that Africa only has 15 percent of the world population and about three percent of GDP. There are reasons for this.

Africa has not, like Eurasia, gone beyond tribalism to the more efficient nation state. Most of Africa is still firmly stuck in the tribal phase of cultural development. Many of the 54 nations in Africa have a dozen or more major tribes that survive because the tribe serves as a more reliable source of government and justice than the national government. Tribal loyalties still outrank national ones. Because of the primacy of tribal loyalty, crimes within the tribe are punished. But anyone outside the tribe can be bought and sold. As a result in most Africa states corruption is rampant.

The corruption makes it extremely difficult to create efficient security forces because these police and soldiers will be compelled to put tribal loyalty above the need to apply the laws equally to everyone. Thus elected officials at the national or provincial level favor members of their tribe and that usually incurs the anger of the tribes that lose out. This tends to trigger lots of rebellions and civil wars.

The security forces are crippled by the corruption in many ways. Thus while Africa accounts for about three percent of world defense spending African security forces get much less for their money. When you examine that spending in detail you find that African nations often buy weapons and military equipment from Western suppliers (who are obliged to make the details public) at twice (or more) the cost that less-corrupt nations pay. The reason for the higher prices is that the buyer agreed to these prices because they intended to spend half that money illegally. This cash tends to disappear because of bribes or outright theft. The corruption also means that money for the troops (pay, food, medical care) is often stolen as is money for maintaining equipment or buying ammo or fuel so troops can train.

Thus it should not be surprising that the security forces are often unable to defeat tribal rebels, who are fighting as tribal militias under leaders they trust and who look after their fellow tribesmen. The tribal loyalties leaders to more rebellions and civil wars while the less effective security forces mean these wars last longer.


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