Alex de Waal
The modern history of the Horn of Africa is marked by protracted violence. The two powerful states of the region, Ethiopia and Sudan, are hybrid imperial creations from African and European colonialisms. For centuries, the dominant states of the Ethiopian highlands and the Nile Valley have been predators on the peoples of their peripheries, inflicting slavery, subjugation, and massacre upon them. The other states of the Horn, Eritrea and Somalia were forged out of resistance to the centres of state power, and each exists insofar as it can dispense violence. This article consists of four sections. The first outlines the key themes. A second part briefly surveys the position of the Horn of Africa within scholarly and legal approaches to genocide. The major part outlines twenty-two episodes of extreme violence, including mass killing and group-targeted repression, over the past half century. The final section draws some general conclusions.
Dominik J. Schaller
This article discusses genocide and mass violence in Africa during the colonial period. While European colonial rule lasted only several decades, it had a profound impact on Africa. The history of European colonialism in Africa is of unprecedented socio-economic, political, and cultural change, mass violence, and exploitation. Until recently, the historiography of colonialism and genocide has portrayed the Africans as passive and apathetic victims of European power and violence. But Africa did not degenerate into a graveyard because of the Europeans' attempt to transform the continent and its inhabitants according to their ideas. European colonialism did not succeed in completely destroying African cultures and identities. Africans always found ways to preserve their cultures and to reconstitute their social organizations, however totalitarian and coercive the colonizers' policies and fantasies about absolute power were confirmed.
Every generation born since independence in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Burundi has lived through either a war or genocide. A low-end estimate of deaths that resutled would stand at 1.4 million while 2.6 million would be at the high end. They would increase considerably if the indirect effects of war and genocide, notably disease and hunger, were also counted. These numbers have reinforced perceptions of the region as Africa's heart of darkness. This article aims to summarize the postcolonial record. It describes all the principal episodes of violence against civilians in each country since independence. It also provides a critical overview of the violence. It identifies the characteristics that define the regional context in which these numerous episodes of violence occurred.
This chapter explores the evolution and characteristics of scholarly writing on the history of African warfare and military organization. Beginning with an overview of the challenges involved in reconstructing Africa’s violent past, the paper deals with war in the deeper past before focusing on the nineteenth century, an era in which it is argued Africa experienced a revolution in military affairs. Violence and military structures took new forms in the twentieth century, from colonial armies to modern armed struggle aimed at the overthrow of authoritarian regimes. Throughout, the chapter proposes new avenues for research, including making ever closer connections between violence, politics, and economy over the longue durée.