The Roots of African-on-African Violence

The massacre at Garissa University College and the recent violence against other Africans in South Africa, especially Zimbabweans is the latest in the large number of African-on-African violence that we’ve seen throughout the continent since independence. Along with these events have been the genocide in Rwanda and the civil wars countries such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Congo and other nations. This is not unlike the alarming rates at which African Americans and West Indians have been killing each other.
We see all around the world African people have been engaged in aggression against each other. Much of these acts of violence can be explained through what is known in psychology as “displaced aggression.” That is when a person takes out their aggression not on the direct source of that aggression, but on a different target. A commonly used example of this would be a man who gets berated by his boss at work, but instead of confronting his boss out of fear of being fired, the man goes home and takes out his aggression by abusing his dog. It is the same way with Africans, who turn their aggressions against each other.

Rather than taking out our aggression on the sources of our oppression and exploitation, we often turn that aggression inwards towards ourselves. For example, the outrage in South Africa is not targeted towards the Europeans that continue to enjoy the riches that their ancestors stole from the local African population. Instead, the aggression is targeted towards other Africans, specifically "foreign" born Africans.

We also have to consider that these attacks against foreigners are clashes that are essentially over the borders that were drawn up by the Europeans. In fact, many of the post-colonial clashes have been over things that Europeans imposed on African people. The genocide in Rwanda was largely the result of the divide and conquer tactics of the Germans and Belgians. The civil wars in the Sudan was the result of the divide and conquer tactics of the British and in Djibouti the French employed divide and conquer tactics to maintain their control over their colony.


The other explanation for the violence is the Eurocentric system itself, which has historically degraded African people. When African people come to accept this system as their own, they are as accepting their own inferiority. Bobby E. Wright argued African people kill each other because they “have been led to believe that they are part of the psychopath’s system,” a system of white supremacy   that has historically “encouraged the killings of Blacks.” 
Original author: D Omowale
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