Surprisingly, one of yahoo.com's breaking news headlines on their homepage today is "Outsiders Criticized for Roles in Chad War."
I have a very beautiful map of the African continent about to be hung in my new study - a satisfying 120cm x 100cm, with mountain ranges incorporated into the political colouring of each country, and flags for each along the bottom. Most useful for dreaming and reference. See www.craenen.com
for my version, or just a comprehensive worldwide map selection in general. It is also available from Africa Book Centre
, listed under maps as AFRICA: 1: 8 000 000 MAP
. On this map I am struck by the absence of roads shown for Chad - Nigeria to the west has quite a network, even Libya to the North has a few, but Chad shows only a handful and most are Southern in the area of the capital, Ndjamena. In the North of the country there are shown a smattering of what are marked as "seasonal roads" - I am intrigued.
A little research tells me Chad's oilfields are in the South of the country. Chad has only recently (2003) begun to export oil - decades of civil war put paid to this idea previously. As it is landlocked, the oil is transported 1 000km away to the Cameroonian coast for export. Not much is written in English about Chad, but last year two reports came out from Amnesty International
and the Nordic Africa Institute
respectively. They will date rapidly, but are worth a look if you are interested in the region.
The war in neighbouring Sudan's Darfur region is impacting Chad dramatically as refugees cross the border for safety. The best book on the civil war in Sudan is The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil War
by Douglas Johnson, but this covers the civil war across the entire country. The conflict in Darfur specifically, which did receive some newstime last year from the BBC, has less written about it. Christopher Hurst & Co. Publishers in London recently began a "Crises in World Politics"
series. The first title in the series is on Darfur: DARFUR:THE AMBIGUOUS GENOCIDE
. The author is Gerard Prunier, the French academic currently living and working in Ethiopia - married to someone from either the Sudan or Ethiopia, I don't remember which.
Darfur...is big, with a surface of nearly half a million square kilometres (150,000 square miles) and it is generally dry without being desert. It was long an independent sultanate (from approximately the fourteenth century till 1916), later becoming a province of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1898-1956) and then a state of the Republic of the Sudan on its independence. (Prunier p.2)
The instinctively editing part of my brain winced at the number of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but I suspect this is because the book was rushed out when Darfur hit the news. I understand Prunier is notoriously difficult to cajole into handing in manuscripts on time, so no doubt this played a part too. I found the book very interesting as I know little about Darfur, so it filled lots of gaps in my education. Prunier includes an interesting discussion on genocide - is Darfur really a genocide? does it matter? He points out that to those in Darfur, any success at remaining in the international eye is contingent on convincing the international community that it is. Either way, he argues, something must be done to pressure the Sudanese government into controlling the militias and reducing violence in the region.
Labels: African Non-Fiction