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detail from Buste d\'homme

Arms Free Africa

Most of the world’s active conflicts are in Africa...

  •   Algeria 
  •   Angola 
  •   Burundi
  •   Chad
  •   Cote d'Ivoire,
  •   Democratic Republic of Congo 
  •   Ethiopia,
  •   Guinea, 
  •   Kenya 
  •   Liberia, 
  •   Mauritania
  •   Morocco
  •   Nigeria,   
  •   Rwanda
  •   Sierra Leone,
  •   Somalia,
  •   Sudan,  
  •   Togo
  •   Uganda
  •   Zimbabwe ...  from War and Peace edition.
Detail from Buste d\'homme; Florence Beal Nenakwe

 A Call to Action  


The response to our Special Edition on War and Peace in Africa demonstrated the depth of passion provoked by that subject on the continent. Yet, to bring about real change in the status quo, we must accept responsibility. Real change begins when we prioritise solutions above excuses, when we focus implacably on the true victims.

Who are those victims today? Once again, the statistics point the way: to the most sick, most hungry, the most broken… the African continent accommodates us all, yet, this continent that makes the least weapons also fights the most wars – and has the largest refugee populations and war casualties in the world. This is taking ‘accommodation’ one step too far.

Trade, particularly trade in armaments, never exists in a vacuum. There is always a moral scale, and much of the transactions in the African arms trade will be found on closer examination, to resemble the trade in the dentures of victims on their way to gas chambers.

The state of the Arms Trade today permits a robbery of innocents. It is murder by proxy for short-sighted profits. This situation gives us a responsibility beyond literature, beyond mere editorials. It calls us to action. And it is a call founded on this principle:

Developed countries that sell armaments to illegal and immoral governments in Africa are waging a proxy war against unarmed populations. They must be held accountable for the carnage caused by their weapons. Governments and multinationals that accept money from brigands and illegal regimes are no better than receivers of stolen property. At best, they appoint themselves trustees of the wealth of the people they dispossess - to the value of their arms transactions. These funds should be disgorged to succour the dispossessed.

Dictators do not become bloodthirsty scourges on their people, on their own resources. They are mostly armed and enabled to do this, and this, by countries that often espouse scrupulous ethics on their own shores.

The reasoning behind our Call to Action can be simply explained: the young public institutions, like police and law courts, of many African nations have been so subverted by ruling cliques that they have no independent will of their own; developed countries and multinational corporations that deal with those countries are liable, morally – and ultimately, legally – to account to the people of the victim countries, for transactions that are manifestly contrary to their public interest.

In other words, forget about calls for reparations for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which was in part enabled by the arms ‘traded’ between Western countries and African despots, but do return the millions raked in last week, last year, last decade as a result of the arms traded with today’s African despots. Today’s arms trade may be as ‘legally justified’ as slavery and apartheid was in their time, but – make no mistake – they are just as iniquitous.  We must not wait another hundred years, to recognise in retrospect the evil that is happening right before our eyes.

This is a simple call for us to disengage from a public whose passivity is the problem, from an intellectual vanguard whose incuriosity permits the perpetration of avoidable violence against innocent civilians in Africa and elsewhere. All over the world, our governments, and companies we own and work for, take these actions in our names. They are accountable to us. Please support this campaign to

Close the flow of armaments to war zones.

Encourage African countries to commit to pegging expenditure on Defence at 1% of GDP or less, and to

Create a Continental Fund to build civil Infrastructure, to establish and strengthen civilian-based mediation frameworks and to permanently rehabilitate the victims of war and conflict.

Thank you.

Chuma Nwokolo
African Writing.

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