African Politics and Realities

African Politics and Piracy

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We have all been fascinated at one point in our lives by stories of pirates sailing the seas in the quest for treasures and adventure, now….we just fear them!

In recent years, the waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa have witnessed increased attacks of the “new breed” of pirates, the Somali pirates on vessels navigating through those waters. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), at least 219 attacks occurred in the region in 2010, with 49 successful hijackings, and more than 1000 hostages taken, highest number in recorded history, in a method that has become a Somali pirates trademark.

However, Somali pirates of the East seem to have found their counterparts in the West, with attacks increasing during 2011 in the Golf of Guinea, which stretches along the costs of a dozen countries from Guinea to Angola. Although the number of attacks is significantly lower than that of their eastern counterparts, the IMB is already categorizing the waters of Benin and Nigeria as having the same risk as that off Somalia’s coast.

Even though the West African pirates seem to prefer “simple” robbery and use of violence, unlike their Somali counterparts which prefer hijackings and taking prisoners, the panic effect they have on the ships navigating their waters doesn’t appear to be less powerful or effective. As a result of these increasing pirates activity, ships navigating the waters of the Golf of Guinea, one of the busiest routes off African waters, are faced with a dilemma, safety over profit, and dozens of ships seem to have already started fleeing those shores, according to Maxime Ahoyo, the navy chief of staff in Benin.

If the activities and effects of African piracy are visible to anyone interested in finding out, what are its causes and background? Well, while the Somali case is attributed to home politics, or rather to lawlessness and lack of government which has allowed the pirates to keep vessels on the coast for months on end , the situation seems to be different on the west coast of the continent. There, the instability in the Niger Delta together with the lawlessness created by the illegal sale of oil and longstanding corruption on mainland seem to be the underlining factors behind the phenomenon. What is safe to say is that African piracy has global effects, and the involvement of the US and other western states, who have an anti-piracy armada patrolling the waters of East Africa is more than enough proof to that extent.

Perhaps these modern-day pirates do not live up the the legends, myths and stories we all know, but it’s probably because our world lacks the ability to wrap criminality into adventure, or because they use GPS instead of a compass, or motor speed boats instead of the “Black Pearl”. Who knows, maybe in a few hundred years things will change…

By Florin Sandu


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Written by fashionroseblog

March 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

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