The good and bad side of Security in Africa

By: James D. Hallowanger |

James D. Hallowanger

Security in Africa is a matter of inconsistency depending on the way the institution is governed by the power that be Besides, definition of security might be some how confusing when it comes to its components.

Security is the freedom from, or resilience against potential harm caused by others. Beneficiaries of security may be of persons and social groups, objects and institutions, ecosystems or any other entity or phenomenon  vulnerable to unwanted change.

There are always a void in Africa security when it comes to  running these security institutions. Some African elites or head of states have less interest in security . For some, Security is just a mere bag boy or messenger to be sent on errand  Like the western countries , where security is paramount and respected, there are lapses in African security when  it comes to its setting and operations . African were left alone to handle their  security after the departure of their colonial bosses.Men and women who fought in the bushes were given top security positions as a way of appeasing their worth to the struggle of independence by their so-called political heavy weight. some educated and others semi educated These individuals were afraid to educate these self-styled generals who have fought and won the war of independence. For them, educating these generals was a matter of exposing their powers. As the result, the security remained dump and comprised . The head of these security apparatus could not even  compose a sentence nor even write their own names.

Example, In my native country Liberia, I was recruited in 1987 to join the Special Security Service, now referred to as EPS. My recruiter makes me to understand that : there will be no way I could continue my education because of their policy in the service.

In Africa, the way of joining any security institutions is through what African called the “back door” . Meaning not the right way or not through the merit system.

According to Dr.Christian Von Soet, lead research Fellow, at GIGA Research programmer 2 “ Peace and Setting”, The African Continent has made great strides in reducing the number of violent conflicts since the of the Cold War. In essence, the Cold War was the period of human rights abuses in Africa with out Check by the So-called Super Powers .Once you dance to their drum was a matter of accepting their support. Examples: Idi Amin Dada of Uganda , Joseph Mobutu Sesesekou of Zaire now DRC, William VS Tubman of Liberia etc.

Liberia was founded 1822, by the American government and gained her Independence in 1847. Liberia did not fight for her independence like the other African Countries. I am talking about physical fighting with guns , where comrades shared their blood for their countries.

The political prudent says any thing  you owned on graity will be of no used to you . For these  reasons, they have allured it to  the  under development of Liberia “ayahkah”!. When Tubman assumed the presidency some of his Military high commands and other head security institutions were semi educated .Most of his so-called generals were part of the elites. I am talking about the Americo -Liberian elites. Most of his so-Liberian Security were made of 95% of the lower ranging personnel   and were the indigenous Liberians. Because of his fear, all he could tell the soldier was : “OBEY, OBEY”. Gio man says, Une Lay way. Meaning , my mom ooh! With no much support until President Tolbert assumed office ,majority of the lower ranking personnels and officers lived in a Zjnc  shark , some live near the executive seat (Executive Mansion) residence of the presidency.

In Africa, when a new political administration comes to power, she comes with her corps of officers including some partisans, I meant real civilian , who are placed in some of these high class security positions with no knowledge of what to do. During the civil war in my native country Liberia , the politicians without no clue or knowledge and with so-called malice from the security apparatus in the country proposed to dismantle the whole security structures in the country. Doggit, where have you seen such. And so, with heavy heart , Liberia security, including the national army, Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) , the Liberian police Force ( LNP) etc were all dismantled. , In 10 years, some one who have just joined the force are all holding top security positions with no experience.

But this is the thing, when the United Nations were deployed in Liberia we discussed in severals of our meetings that Police should start with the salary of $500.00 United States dollars . And I am sure  these proposals were given to the government, but because of the government limitations or way of looking at security, I am sure it was turned down. Instead,members of the legislature now takes lion shares of the government’s salaries .what a wickedness.

Besides, African government officials are in the business of downplaying their own security men and women . For then, security is a dumping ground where any Dick and Don can join the institution any day. During the 1960,s and up to now in Africa, an individual could bring goat and chicken to the head of the security institution and that person is placed on the payroll without going through the regular process, wow! What a sad move! Besides, the civilians themselves had no damn respect for their own men in armed. Guess what? When they go out of their country especially , Western countries,they keep their tails on their back and their between legs. whenever they enter a western country, they are the most respected guys when they  come in contact with police in London and New York . Nonsense and deceptions at its highest!.

In 1992, the former Police Director of operation of my country Liberia Abraham Kromah said 45% of the police were illiterate.

In Zaire , now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba  became prime Minister  with Joseph Kassabugu  as president .Lummuba made Josep Mobutu , a Journalist by profession his is foreign Minister, and later appointed Mobutu the head of the army because Mobutu knew a bit about military . In the AFRICAN security structures, you will see lies, gossips and undermining.  Once an individual is educated  and experienced, he or she becomes the target of gossips , lies and undermining.

Example, when I served as deputy and acting Director of Special Security Service , now (EPS) at the time during Madam Sirleaf Administration, some one had gone to one of the renowned newspapers to convince them that I was one of the commando of the NPFL. Their damn calculation very simple, I am a Gio man from Nimba . To make matter worse, the VIP that I was protecting has the guts to tell me, I was a fighter and she knows that. I was stunned, I was perplexed and downhearted. Right in the office of the president and from the president mouth, I knew it was the matter of protecting my self and proving my innocence to the VIP and those in the office .At that movement, I hate right back, but with respect, I said Madam President, yes, I am a Gio from Nimba , I was not part of the so-called revolution and I don’t have blood on my hands. In that movement, the office went silent with disbelieve. Brownie Samukai who was minister  of National Defense walked to me and said Hallowanger, cut it off. And spoke Gio in my ear , go to the office,it was the time I got to know that Samukai has Gio background . Watch out for by book in the coming two years on some of these matters.

Africa has one of the best and trained security personnels on the planet. The problem with our security structures is they not are not constant , changes are made from time to time when there is a changed of government.

However, and inorder for security structures to remain intact, politicians must allow security to be  independence of them selves .

African leaders should be briefed by their National Security Council for the transitional period before taking office .

In order for security to be respected in Africa  and be paid accordingly, all ex security men and women should  find their way through the national legislature or parliament where  they will make laws for the betterment of their men in armed to have weight. Or else, security in Africa will continue to remain a mere shadow of themselves from time to time. Just my take!

About the Author: Mr . James D. Hallowanger, has obtained three master degree(s). 1 Political Science, International Relations From the IBB- Graduate School, University of Liberia .

2 Criminal Justice Administration with emphasis in Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism. Lindenwood University, St . Louis USA

5. Public’ administration with emphasis in Public Policy from Lindenwood University in St.Louis Missouri ,USA.

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About Cholo Brooks 13163 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.