Africa and the West
Volume 11, Numéro 14, Pages 69-86

Curse Or Blessing: Natural Riches And Civil War In Postindependence West Africa

Authors : Afkir Mohamed .


It has been commonly stated that Africa’s post-independence conflicts stem from ethnic and regional antagonisms. This is true to a certain extent but another dimension equally played a role in creating and extending life to serious conflicts leading eventually to civil wars: the natural riches such as diamonds and oil. In different places in Africa, conflict and civil wars stemmed from the desire to control riches as well by nationals as by foreigners. Taking as examples Nigeria and Sierra Leone the aim of the proposed discussion is to discern the grounds that made of riches a curse leading to civil wars rather than a blessing that could lead to rapid development in Africa. In both countries, civil war tattered the young nations along ethnic and regional lines, but the shadow of conflict over riches with local as well as external dimensions is strongly present in both cases. In Nigeria, civil war took place between the Igbo in the South East and the Muslims of the North, but at the heart of the matter situated the question of the rich oil fields in the Igbo regions. In Sierra Leone, civil war took place ostensibly for political reasons but diamonds were the real secret behind.


West Africa ; post-independence conflicts ; civil wars.