The BBC report on CAR cannibalism: Why I ate a man’s leg depicting one of many disturbing incidences in the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic brings to the fore some of the underlying causes of the conflict in the African State. This conflict, whose narrative has taken a religious perspective demonstrates the challenges of not addressing past injustices.
The ‘cannibal’ in this case speaks of his own victimhood as the cause of his strange and vengeful act. What could possibly drive one human being to eat the flesh of another absent of the fear of starvation? The cannibal mentions a pregnant wife and other relatives who were killed by ‘Muslims’ as the cause of his rage. It’s simplistic to reduce the cause of the conflict in the CAR to sectarian violence. There is more to the conflict over the past few years in that country, which we know has an international aspect to it, given the ongoing Bemba trial at the ICC. Religion is however a major factor in the current escalation of violence. The anger that drives the ‘Christians’ to turn violently against ‘Muslims’ is indicative of deeper issues. There are unresolved concerns of the people from the past that have caused a recurrence of violence. The cycle of violence has no doubt turned past victims to perpetrators of today’s conflict. Unless the CAR’s past is unearthed and issues of contention between the different parties addressed, there will be a resurgence of violence and it may take on a different form religious or other form. The victims must remain at the centre of the resolution of concerns. It is their stories and experiences that will provide the key to the solutions. We may be angst and repulsed by Ouandja Magloire, the ‘Mad-dog’s’ criminal acts, but it is these kind of stories that shed light to the issues, force us to apply our collective thinking and action to the problems in the CAR as opposed to reading yet another story of an African country somewhere going to the dogs.