By: Gaffar Habeeb Olatunji
The terrifying scene of the deep rooted violence in the Central AfricanRepublic (CAR) is a reconnaissance of “Tears of the sun”, the 2003 bloody movie directed by Antoine Fuqua, which depicted how Africa had swiftly drifted from a land of promises and hopes to a butcher house. Although, comparing the bloodshed in CAR to a movie does not do the justice, but it is, at least,the only way for one to maintain sanity fromthe reality of terrors humans are capable of r a i n i ng on f e l l o w h u m a n s . C A R has collapsed—first in a spark of political violence and then in a deadly factional slash religious massacre that has earned it the one of the very worst places in the world.
The good news, however, is that the “frail” political and security situation is slowly, but gradually improving, following the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation in May. The top United Nations official in thatcountry told the Security Council in August, warning that support was needed from the international community to sustain thispositive momentum.
If the two sides of theconflict make any sense out of this and laydown their weapons, Central AfricanRepublic will know peace.
The CrisisThe war in the CAR ensued on 10 December2012 between the Séléka (meaning “union” inthe Sango language) rebel coalition andgovernment forces after rebels accused thegovernment of President François Bozizé offailing to abide by peace agreements signed in2007 and 2011. Although Many of the rebelgroups were previously involved in theCentral African Republic Bush War, they werecomposed mainly of Muslims and two majorgroups based in north-eastern CAR: the Unionof Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) andthe Convention of Patriots for Justice andPeace (CPJP), but also includes the lesserknown Patriotic Convention for Saving theCountry (CPSK). Two other groups based innorthern CAR, the Democratic Front of theCentral African People (FDPC) and theChadian group Popular Front for Recovery(FPR), also announced their allegiance to theSéléka coalition.At the end of 2012, Séléka forces hadcaptured many major towns in the central andeastern regions of the country and despiteassistants from neighbouring countries likeChad, Gabon, Cameroon, Angola, SouthAfrica, Democratic Republic of the Congo andRepublic of Congo who sent in troops as partof the Economic Community of CentralAfrican States’ FOMAC force to help theBozizé government against the rebels, thecapital of CAR, Bangui was seized by the rebelson 24 March 2013 at which time FrançoisBozizé fled the country, and the rebel leaderMichel Djotodia declared himself president.
According to the Human Rights Watch,hundreds of civilians were killed —most ofthem women and children, more than 10,000houses burned, and approximately 625,000persons fled their homes to live in desperateconditions deep in the bush in northern partsof the Central African Republic. As if that wasnot horrifying enough, it was coupled withseries of human rights abuses, including theu s e o f c h i l d s o l d i e r s , r a p e , t o r t u r e ,e x t r a j u d i c i a l k i l l i n g s a n d f o r c e ddisappearances.Meanwhile, the Séléka-run governmentunder Djotodia was said to be increasinglydivided, which led to President Djotodiaresignation In January 2014. He wassubsequently replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, however, the conflict in CARcontinued.The Way Out For CAR:The coming electionsIn the atmosphere of crisis, killing and lootingin Central African Republic lies the good spiritof survival, aspiration and hope for a bettercountry; a country where people can livewithout the fear of being chopped offexistence by crime driven youths and militiasfighting for the interests of self-centeredpoliticians. There are Central Africans whostill believe in the redemption of theircountry.
According to Pascal Bida Koyagbele,a presidential candidate and leader of the ‘tibomego’ revolution of KITE (meaning ‘revolution of happiness for the people’ inSango language), the problem in CAR goesbeyond what the people know.“In reality, the cause of CAR’s problems andcrisis are the French who want to divide us.They have always divided us over the years fortheir own selfish interest by using religiousmeans. They divide us in other to exploit ouroil in CAR. The Chinese were ready to explorethe mineral resources with a lot of advantagesfor the people of CAR. For example, theyoffered 55% for the country and 45% forthemselves but France being the formercolonial master does not want to accept that,they don’t want any other country to deal inCAR’s oil. So they insist we accept their offerby force – offering 10% for CAR and 90% forthe French company in total.” He said.With a rather stern voice, he added, “Andthat is the underground cause for all the crisisin CAR; it is a fight for oil.
Their aim is todistabilise the country and divide its people inother to push the Chinese out of CAR just forthem to control the oil.”Back to “Tears of the sun”. The moviemight be just another work of art, but it doeshighlight something – the root cause of mostAfrican crisis, using religious intolerance as aportal, is the fight for oil and power at thedetriment of innocent civilians. In CAR, mostcommunities are still nursing the scars fromthe recent burst of violence.However, like any country recoveringfrom political and religious crisis as it seems,CAR needs good leadership to re-strengthenits political and economic muscles and thiscan only be archived if Central Africans maket h e r i g h t d e c i s i o n s i n t h e c o m i n gparliamentary and presidential election byvoting in the right leaders who have theinterest of the country and its people at heart.In rebuilding CAR, one key elements,a m o n g o t h e r s , i s s a c r o s a n c t –communications. The people need to knowwhat happened, why it happened and how toprevent such event from further recurring inthe future. Bida koyagbele, while discoursingwith Montage Africa Magazine stressed then e e d f o r a s t r a t e g i c n a t i o n w i d ecommunication.“First we need to communicate and nowwe are communicating with people in theCAR; we are explaining to them what is reallyhappening in reality is France who wants todivide us.”“Through massive communication, wewill explain the situation on ground to thepopulation, both Christians and Muslims, andevery other religious body what the situationreally is. The French is spitting them againstthemselves. They provide ammunitions forthe religions to kill themselves in other tocontrol their oil. All the religions will cometogether to rebuild our great nation andrightfully use the mineral resources to care forthe people of CAR and Africa. We will invite toall Africans. This is not a problem of religion atall. For instance the seleka group comprises ofMuslims and Christians, so it’s not about jihadfor Islam, it is just a front instigated by theFrench to distabilise CAR for the interest ofFrance and we’ve got proof to back this statement up.
” He said.However, solving CAR’s problems will notbe absolute if the root causes are noteliminated for good. The French, practicingneo-colonialism, stared up crisis among thedifferent factions involved for their selfishinterest, resulting in religious cleansing andmassacre. According to Bida koyagbele, theFrench must go, they must leave CAR to runits own affair and decide who sell trade its oilwith.“I cannot accept neocolonialism and I amgoing to fight it. We are going to send thispeople; the culprits of the crisis in CAR tocourt to face justice for their crimes.“My mission is to fight for the sovereigntyof Central African Republic and of Africa.Time of neo-colonisation has ended, we willstand on our feet, and I’m sure the entireAfrica will appreciate it and the people ofCAR. I am fighting for the freedom of thepopulation because the people have suffered alot under colonization and neo-colonisation.Most importantly, we want the population tobe happy, we want to be happy in our country,and we want to be happy in Africa.”“After this we will remove the jihadists –the people that the French used to divide usa n d d i s t a b i l i s e t h e c o u n t r y . We a r ecommunicating to the people on the streetthat we have to remove this menace injihadists groups to bring back peace and loveto CAR. And we can do that only by force –with strong harm. We are going to send thispeople to court to face justice for their crimes.”He said.Rebuilding CAR Will Not Be Easy, But NotImpossibleFor a country such as CAR, after haven beendecisively capsized, development has to besystematic and strategic.“We have got plans, not only for CAR, butalso the whole of Africa. We want totransform this country to become thestrongest country in Africa within the periodof 25 years. We have created a vision and amission to actualize it.” Said Bida Koyagbele.“We are going to need more than 10 yearsto transform this country, but we can create asolid and good foundation for better development to follow. We want this countryto play a huge role in the development ofAfrica and serve a compass to other Africannation.” He added.ti bomego’ revolution of KITESimilar to most African countries, the CentralAfrican Republic has had its experience ofpolitical violence amidst corruptions and badleadership which has invariably led to seriesof set-backs for the country. One could catch aglimpse of the situation by carefully lookingat the state of the economy of this Africancountry and scars of conflicts left on thecitizenry. Like Nigerians, the people of CARn e e d c h a n g e a n d h o p e ; t h e y n e e drepresentations in the government whoshares their pains and grieves; who sharemutual experience and background. Without prejudice, the person that seems to fit in thisdescription in the leader of the famers’political movement “ti bomego”, and avisionary, Bida Koyagbele.The ‘ti bomego’ revolution of KITE(meaning revolution of happiness for thepeople in sango language) stands for anideology that integrates the principles ofdemocracy: Humanists principles, fraternity,freedom, and equality. The concept is the rightof happiness for everybody in CAR and acrossAfrica. It represents fights for somethingbetter than democracy, better than the powerto the people, by the people and for the people.It is not about power to the people buthappiness to the people, by the people and forthe people that is called ‘Doubting noni’ inSango.Bida Koyagbele, originator and leader ofthe revolution, who said the concept of powerentails domination and dictatorship of oneclass by another, also stresses that it is notabout the dictatorship of one class but thehappiness of all, in peace, harmony, affluenceand respect.Beyond this aspect, it is about tolerance;work that liberates and makes happy; sharing;human solidarity; individual and communityfreedom; respect; respect for life and foreverything around us, respect for the nature,respect for difference and respect for humandignity; fight against misery and poverty;desire for happiness for all ; all in unity,African unity.Bida wants his country to become thebreadbasket of Africa a regional andcontinental power eventually.
His aim is toindustrialize and modernize CAR’s economy,which will strive to produce and transformwhat the population consumes and to answerthe needs of Africa. He wants to build an entirenation, develop an entire country, andstructure an army, erect schools, universities,health centres, hospitals, roads, and railways,new, modern and sustainable cities.Happiness for allThrough the concept of ‘Bomego ti a Zo’ BidaKoyagbele thinks that happiness is a right andeverybody is entitled to it. Consequently,necessary conditions must be created topreserve this right for all in a democraticsociety, in the rule of law where peace andsecurity are guaranteed. Basic vital needs ofevery human being will also be preserved toprovide everyone with all opportunities tolive happily with dignity and to be fulfilled.Equal Distribution and management ofresources“First I will restructure the country.
Thereare enough resources to go round this entirecountry. We are going to invite Africa andother businessmen to exploit these naturalresources for the greater good of the people ofCAR. Government will also exploit thisresources and provide a friendly environmentto encourage local businessmen so that theycan also invest and trade. We will define ourobjective in exploiting the mineral resources.The resources will not be accessible only to afew people, but to every eligible person. Wewill engage both young and old in themanagement of the government of CAR andall its resources. We will not do this to satisfyCAR alone, but the whole of Africa”“One of the salient thing we need in thiscountry is communication. Communicationamong the people – both Christians andMuslims, and every other religion that we areall one and we should not allow the selfishpeople turn us against one another.” Said BidaKoyagbele.Wo m e n a s a v i t a l t o o l f o r C A R ‘ sdevelopmentAccording to Bida, the revolution was createdfor a better CAR, and it is more concerned withhappiness for the people, both men andwomen. And in CAR the women are moredynamic than the men; they are mored y n a m i c i n t e r m s o f e c o n o m y , t h e ycontribute 75% to the economy in terms ofproduction and distribution. They have moreadvantage because they are highly needed inthe development of CAR and development ofAfrica.“They make up 32% of population in CARand 55% population in Africa.
So thisrevolution include the women, in fact, theyare the core of the revolution. So we are goingto promote these women, offer them goodeducation for free because education is key inevery struggle for development and peace; weare going to offer good healthcare services andgood social commissions, good jobs and equaladvantage with the men.“In addition, the national assembly will bemade up of 50% men and 50% women.”The first set of people to resist the Frenchand stand up against neocolonialism were thewomen of CAR; our mothers, our wives andour daughters. They played great roles andthey have sacrifice a lot for their country, sothey deserve better; they deserve more.” This,Bida promises.For all its worth, an election in CAR – afterthe recent chaos and decimation – is indeed ahuge relieve to its people, Africa as a continentand the rest of the world. But is it a promise of asmooth democratic society where peace andtranquility will reign? Will the election stopthe violence or fuel it? Will it be anotherepisode of an African countries relegatingfrom dictatorship to tyranny in disguise asdemocracy?Central African Republic is at the crossroad of either going from bad to good, or bad toworse, as the case may be, depending on itschoice of the new leadership. The comingelection, as it seems, might be a way out forCAR. Or maybe not.All in all, one thing hasn’t changed: it’scivilians who pay the price of violence. Likethe African adage says’ “wherever twoelephant clash, the grasses suffer the stumps.”