14 Civil Wars and Genocides that claimed an estimated of 14.7 million lives in Africa

To support war for a period of one year, you have to be super rich, because war is very expensive to maintain. Africa has been on the wrong side of history. These Civil Wars and genocides are engineered by human’s greed of power, control and wealth. Not only domestic elites wanted control over the resources, power and control, they had and still have external forces behind them. This list consist of Civil Wars and genocides from late colonial period to post-colonial period.

NOTE: Some figures are roughly estimated slightly below to slightly high actual figures. 

14. The Mau Mau Uprising (1952-1960) 300,000 Kenyans were killed. 

This is among the most heinous crime committed by British in their colonies. This story of brutality started on 20 October 1952 when a state of emergency was declared by Sir Evelyn Baring as response to Mau Mau uprising. “During the entire Emergency from 1952 to 1960 the total number of settlers who died were 32, there were fewer than 200 British soldiers and policemen killed, and 1800 ’loyal’ Africans. As for the Kikuyu 300,000 were unaccounted for at the end of emergency.

13. The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1998-2000) 300,000 deaths.

As many as 300,000 people have been killed in this war, up to one million people have been displaced, hundreds of dollars have been diverted from social development to arms procurement of this savage and useless fighting. The war was triggered by border dispute, according to a ruling by an international commission in The Hague, Eritrea broke international law and triggered the war by invading Ethiopia. At the end of the war, Ethiopia held all the disputed territory and had advanced into Eritrea. After the war, as of 2019, Ethiopia still occupies the disputed territory along the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, Badme, even after the UN body, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruled that the disputed Badme territory belong to Eritrea.

12. The Sierra Leonean Civil war (1991-2002), 50,000-300,000 people deaths.

The war began on March 23, 1991, when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under Foday Sankoh, with support from Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor and his group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NFL), started an offensive in an attempt to overthrow the government of Sierra Leonean President Joseph Momah. This civil war was one of the bloodiest in Africa resulting in close to 300,000 deaths and one million displaced. During the first year of the war, the RUF took control of the diamond-rich territory in eastern and southern Sierra Leone. The war took long and violent due to constant supply of resources to rebels from diamond. In May 2000, the rebels (RUF) were advancing to Freetown, with the help from United Nation forces, British troops and Guinean air support, the Sierra Leon Army finally defeated the RUF before they could take control of Freetown. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah a newly installed president declared the civil war finally over.

11. The Burundian Civil War (1993-2005), 300,000 deaths.

The Burundian Civil War lasted from 1993 to 2005. The war was as a result of standing ethnic divisions between the Hutu and the Tutsi ethnic groups in Burundi. The first democratically elected President Melchior Ndadaye murder was the major cause of prolonged war. The war formally ended with swearing in of Pierre Nkurunziza in August 2005. Children were widely used as soldiers in both sides of the war. The estimated death toll stands for 300,000 during that period.

10. The South Sudanese Civil War (2013-present), 400,000 deaths.

This Civil War is ongoing conflict, between forces of the government and opposition forces. President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president Dr Riek Machar and ten others of attempting coup in 2013, Machar denied any attempt to overthrow the government and fled to lead the SPLM in fighting SPLM-IO igniting civil war. Ugandan forces were deployed to fight alongside government troops. Today, many rebel groups have emerged supported by different world powers, safeguarding different multinational corporates and firms with interests in oil, gold and other valuable resources. Contrary to ethnic based violence as media portrays, this conflict is more complicated which has led to over 3 million people being displaced and 400,000 deaths.

9. The Ugandan Civil War or bush war (1980-1986), 500,000 deaths.

This civil war was fought by the Ugandan official government and its armed wing, the Ugandan National Liberation Army (UNLA), against a number of rebel groups, the major one being the National Resistance Army (NRA) of Yoweri Museveni. The NRA victory saw Museveni becoming President of Uganda. Other anti-NRA movements including Lord Resistance Army of Joseph Kony and Acholi’s UNLA soldiers continued to fight Museven’s NRA in the next decades, this mean a de facto civil war continued in northern Uganda after NRA took power.

8. The Darfur genocide (2003-present), up to 500,000 deaths.

This is the systematic killing of Darfur men, women and children which is ongoing in western Sudan. It has become known as the first genocide of the 21st century. There are over 3 million victims, perpetrated by Sudanese government, Janjaweed and the Sudan Liberation Army.

7. The Somali Civil War (1981-1991), again from 1991-present, Total of 500,000 deaths so far.

An abortive military coup in April 1978 paved the way for the formation of two opposition groups: the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) and Somali National Movement (SNM). Both organisations undertook guerrilla operations from bases in Ethiopia from 1982 against Mohammed Siad Barre government. Barre was ousted in 1991 by clan warlords after 22 years in power. Soon after Barre’s fall, the northern province of Somaliland broke off from from Somalia and declares its independent. In 1998 the northern province of Puntland follows Somaliland’s example and declares its independence from Somalia. Much of the country today is under control of the Somali government and Allies. Up to date more than 500,000 people died as a result of war related calamities.

6. The Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), over 500,000 people killed.

The war began immediately after the Angolan independent from Portugal in November 1975, between two former anti-colonial guerrilla movements, the communist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the ant-communist National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The war was all about power struggle sponsored by Soviets (MPLA) under Augostinho Neto and USA (UNITA) under Jonas Savimbi, it was a cold war battleground between Soviet Union, South Africa, Cuba and United States. The war ended in 2002 when Jonas Savimbi truly died, since he had previously “died over 15 times” after he confronted government army on February 2002, along riverbanks in the province of Moxico, his birthplace. More than 500,000 people died as a results of war.

5. The Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992), over one million people died.

Key figures in FRELIMO were Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machel, and Joaquim Chissano. Like Angolan Civil War, this war was fought between Mozambique’s ruling Marxist Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), and anti-communist insurgent forces of the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO). RENAMO under its second leader, Alfonso Dhalakama, reached its peak of power, controlling large parts of the country, especially in the north and being able to carry out raids virtually anywhere outside major cities. Over one million people Mozambicans were killed in the fighting or starved due to interrupted food supplies; and additional five million were displaced across the region. RENAMO was supported by West Germany, USA, Rhodesian and South African white led governments. After the end of cold war, both RENAMO and FRELIMO lost their supporters and financiers from both Eastern and Western sides, finally they signed peace treaty in October 1992.

4. The  First and second Liberian Civil Wars (1st Civil War 1989-1996), (2nd Civil War 1999-2003) a combination of one million people died.

The former government minister, Charles Taylor moved in from Ivory Coast to start an uprising against Samuel Doe’s government. Samuel Doe had previously in 1980 led a coup that overthrew the elected government in 1980, in 1985 there was an election that was considered fraudulent. Taylor’s forces, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) battled against Prince Johnson’s rebel group, the Independent Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), a faction of NPFL, to control the capital city, Monrovia. However, in 1990, Johnson’s rebel forces seized Monrovia and executed Doe. Ceasefire was brokered in 1995, it was broken the following year and new election was held in 1997. Charles Taylor was elected Liberian President in July 1997. This peace did not last long, in 1999 the Second Liberian Civil War broke out, when a rebel group backed by Guinea, the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), emerged from northern Liberia. In the 2003, another rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), emerged in the south, by June to July 2003, Charles Taylor’s government only controlled a third of the country. Charles Taylor’s government was defeated, and Charles Taylor was exiled to Nigeria, Transitional Government of Liberia was installed and peace agreement was signed in Accra Ghana in addition to deployment of United Nation Mission in Liberia. By the end of two civil wars a total of more than one million people died. All sides of the war used child soldiers.

3. The  Rwandan Genocides (April to July 1994), over one million people died.

The genocide happened during the civil war in Rwanda. The genocide was organised by the Hutu political elites, who occupied senior most position in national government against the minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu.

The genocide was planned earlier before according to most historians. However, the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994 created a power vacuum and triggered all angry bees to become loose.

Genocidal killing began the following day after the assassination, when the soldiers, police, and militia executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu and political leaders. Belgium, France, the US; and other nations ignored the genocide which caused worldwide shock.

About 70% of the Tutsi population was wiped out, an estimated 1,000,000(including moderate Hutu) Rwandans were killed.

250,000 to 500,000 women were raped during the genocide. The genocide ended with the military victory of the Rwandan Patriotic Front of Paul Kagame.

2. The Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-1970) 2 million people perished.

This war was between the government of Nigeria and secessionist state of Biafra. The conflict was as result of economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various communities in Nigeria. Like many other African nations, Nigeria was an artificial structure initiated by British which had neglected to consider religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences. The military governor Colonel Odumwengu Ojukwu, announced Biafran as an independent nation on May 30, 1967. Thinking it would be an easy task, the Federal Government launched a “military action” to retake the territory. However, the Biafrans responded with an offensive of their own making the war to last longer than the anticipated from Federal Government of Nigeria.

During the war, there were 100,000 military casualties and up to 3 million civilians’ deaths mainly due to starvation and diseases caused by blockade from Nigerian Government.

Many people died as a result of blockade from Federal Government of Nigeria

1. The First and second Democratic Republic of Congo wars, first (1996-1997), 800,000 dead, second (1998-2003 ended officially but conflict continued up to 2008), 6 million deaths, a combination of 7 million deaths from both wars.

The First Congo War, dubbed Africa’s First War, was a civil war and international military conflict which took place in Zaire (present day DR Congo). The conflict resulted in a foreign invasion that replaced Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko with the rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. More than a year, a second Congolese war broke out, commonly known as the Great African War or African World War in August 1998. Nine African countries and around twenty five armed groups became involved in the war. By the end of 2008, the war and its aftermath had caused 5.4 to 6 million deaths, mainly due to starvation and diseases, making it the deadliest conflict worldwide after World War II.

RCD, Tutsi groups of Laurent Nkunda supported by Rwandan and Ugandan Governments, alongside other collaborative rebels advanced to Kinshasa in a bid to oust Kabila as president since they thought Kabila was a foreign pawn. On verge of being defeated, President Kabila sought a last desperately needed support from Cuba, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Namibia, Angola and Libya, enabling him to repel rebels outside the capital. The war officially ended in July 2003, when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. Both wars caused devastating effects to civilians claiming around 7 million lives surpassing the renowned Jews Holocaust.


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