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The non-State that is the Central African Republic

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When one looks at the current state of the Central African Republic (CAR), you see a country torn apart by years and decades of internal conflict since the country gained so-called independence from its French Colonial master.

The majority of the international community focuses specifically on the religious and ethnic dimension of the conflict in the CAR, thus neglecting almost completely, issues of governance, poverty and inequality in terms of access to state power and state resources that continue to plague the country’s instability. The binary account of the conflict loses the narrative of a country that inherited a French created nation. This was designed to divide the native people according to various religious and ethnic groupings in order to achieve their colonial mandate of usurping the country of its wealth for the benefit of the colonial masters and settler minority.

Today in the CAR, about half of the population is dependent on external humanitarian aid, meaning the state alone is incapable of providing the necessities for human survival to its population. After more than 5 decades of independence, the country is still unable to fully function without external aid, thus making the state of CAR vulnerable to external control, particularly Western countries that seek to exploit the country’s resource material.

The fundamental problem with the CAR is that the paradigm upon which the state is functioning is based on Western cultural paradigm that does not seek to serve the interests of the people of the Republic but will continue to serve the interests of the West. The Western paradigm and state system perpetuates poverty and inequality forcing the country to permanently rely on humanitarian aid for survival. It also propagates white supremacist attitudes.

The modern day state systems are an inheritance of European world of states created through the Treaty of Westphalia and was designed to solve the challenges faced by Europeans in the 15th century. This political order was forced on the rest of the world.

The challenge that African countries face today is to produce their own solutions in relation to the problems that humanity faces as opposed to extrapolating the solutions of Europe to African problems.

De-Coloniality as a paradigm of thought, questions the logic upon which the current nation-state operates; the nation state as a structure was created by Europe as a solution to its world system in the 19th century. Capitalism as an economic structure was also an invention of Europe to resolve its economic crisis problems.

It thus becomes important to understand the historical developments of the world that have led to the crisis, poverty and underdevelopment that African countries, including the Central African Republic, are experiencing today. It is important to historicize poverty and underdevelopment in Africa by associating it with modern slavery, division of labour, race and capitalism in order to understand the recurring travesty that plagues African countries to this day,  long after colonialism.

Post-colonial discourse creates the illusion that African countries have gone through a process of decolonization. This has become the biggest myth of the 21st century. The fallacy of progression is this idea that anything new is better than before or that everything in the past is worse than the present, while the other extreme is thinking that everything in the present is worse than the past. De-Coloniality as a paradigm to analyse the current condition of African people lies between these two extremes. By historicizing issues and proposes the shifting of the geography of reason and thus looking at those on the receiving end of the European system since its inception.

According the Eurocentric narrative, modernity is a self-emancipating project and thus countries that find themselves wanting and underdeveloped, is due to their inability to modernize themselves and having to follow the Western trend of development.

This Eurocentric narrative hides the darker side of modernity which is coloniality. Modernity is a complete civilization; it is a colonial project designed to extinguish other civilizations. This can be seen by the many warring countries across Africa, all in the name of democratization and modernization. It has left millions of African people living below the poverty line.

So what is to be done with the Situation in CAR and other African counties facing similar crises of starvation, poverty and an excessive dependence on foreign aid?

There needs to be a deeper search to the CAR crisis than just a simple treatment of the symptoms of poverty and underdevelopment. There needs to be an admission by African states and failed states that the Eurocentric model of modernity is not a “one-size- fits-all solution”. In fact Eurocentrism and modernity are the very diseases that have created the African problem and cannot now be used as the cure. A complete paradigm shift based on African epistemologies needs to be the foundation upon which any solution for African problems should be derived.


Nwabisa Sigaba

Researcher: Media Review Network.