The case for Africa and Global Peace Index

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By Paige Garland

Paige Garland

So today, I skimmed through the last weekend newspapers searching for stories of Africa…and just like so often before, what I read focus’ on the violence….the authors book review of ‘The State of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence’ by Martin Meredith, commences “To best understand the enigma that is Africa, one might begin with a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Housed in a modest, tasteful soft-pink structure in the Rwandan capital, complete with a gentle fountain and rose garden, the centre’s collection is one of the direst, traumatizing and heart-punching shards of recent human history imaginable.” (James Rose, ‘The Weekend Australian Magazine – Review, 28 January 2012).

 What will it take for Africa to be viewed as ‘peaceful’ rather than ‘violent’?

The Global Peace Index (GPI) is an international ranking system that is published annually by theInstituteofEconomicsand Peace. The GPI ranks the relative peacefulness of 153 countries of the world. The country ranked 1 is the most peaceful whereas the country ranked 153, the least peaceful.New Zealandconsistently performs very highly, ranked 1 and 2 in the last two years. In 2011 the Democratic Republic of Congo rated 148…which sadly mean that it rates as one of the ten most violent countries in the world.

So how did Sub-Saharan Africa do in 2011?

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region in the world least at peace of the seven regions. However, within Sub-Saharan Africa some countries ranked well! The top ranked countries were –Botswana(Actual ranking: 35/153), who scored best for the third successive year;Malawi(Actual ranking: 39/153) and Ghana(Actual ranking: 42/153). With Tanzania scoring the best locally, ranked 56/153. YAY TANZANIA!

How to become more peaceful?

Rwanda and Uganda’s ratings in the Peace Indicators could be improved by reducing the ease of access to small arms and light weapons; continuing to improve their relationships with their neighbours; reducing the number of homicides; and reducing the likelihood of terrorist acts.Rwanda also rated highly in the areas of the perception of criminality in society, the level of organized internal conflict and the number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 people.

The other area thatRwanda’s results could be significantly improved are the Electoral process and participation in democracy. In ‘Related Indicators’,Rwanda’s electoral process scored 0.83 out of a possible 10 that is ‘very low’; whereas my countryAustraliascored 10/10. In order to score higher, elections must be more competitive, offering a far larger range of political choices to citizens. Political participation and political democracy were also areas for continuous improvement.

…let’s hope that one day I open the newspapers and read stories about the level of peace inAfrica.  All Africans can do it…as those inBotswana, Malawai andGhanaare demonstrating.

Global Peace Index – Rwanda for Number 1! …with Uganda, Tanzania and DRC in hot pursuit.  That gets my vote!  Paige Garland   29 January 2012


Editor’s note: Paige Garland has more than 20 years of managerial experience in the community services sector. She is in private practice as a Life, Career and Business Planner based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Paige helped plan and then presented at a global conference on Strengths-based practice held in Hyderabad, India in 2005. She is a Board member of Queensland Women in the Public Service (QWIPS) and has voluntarily mentored women in government for approximately five years. Her life as a person with a disability has been showcased in 2011 to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Expert Group Meeting, her story having been published on the ‘1,000 Voices’ website, an initiative of Griffith University. In 2010 Paige won a scholarship through the Australian Institute of Management to complete post-graduate study. Paige volunteers as President of the Parents and Citizens Association at a local primary school. She has a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Management); Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication; a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Australian Institute of Management.

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  1. James Rose

    February 3, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Hi Paige, You rightly lament the fact that Africa is often seen as Violence Central. If you would have taken the time to read my full review in The Australian, it was exactly my point that the West generally fails to make eye contact with Africans and to understand true African stories, relying instead on such Big Man histories such as, I would argue, Martin Meredith’s book. Hopefully you can take the time to get past the first para. Cheers and best wishes. J

    • Paige Garland

      February 12, 2012 at 10:42 PM

      Hi James, Yes I did read your full review. I concur that you did explore the issue that too often people in the ‘West’ fail to listen to Africans about their countries…as your review of that book showed. It was good to read the rest of the article, my point is that your first paragraph was to dwell on the violence – the way you engaged your readers (got their attention) was to focus on a memorial to the violence…and in particular one of the most extreme ends of it ie the Rwandan genocide. Rwanda is trying to create a new image of itself to the world…and we all have our part to play in that globally. We can decide how we portray it…what messages we send in Australia about Rwanda, DRC etc. We would be helping them if we spent more time focusing on their strengths, talents….the positive contributions they are making…than the endless perpetuating of the overly simplistic image of their societies as ‘violent’. As a member of several FB forums that involve Rwandan Journalists and Editors, a recent participant, a US based journalist, Rena Deann posted an article on the topic the perpetuation by the ‘Western media’ of these narrow images of Rwanda. It was largely supported by colleagues.

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