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Book Review: Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency


altMuch about the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram is shrouded in mystery. Last week the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, claimed Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, was no longer the group’s leader and the man now in command was open to talks. Then day’s later Shekau released a recording saying he has not been replaced, helping further build the mystery.

Around 15,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram’s campaign of armed attacks, bombings, and kidnappings launched in 2003.

Virginia Comolli, a Research Fellow of the International Institute of Security Studies in London, gives a sound account of the rise of militant Islam in West Africa. Boko Haram is part of a long history of violent radical Islam in northern Nigeria that dates back to the jihad of Usman Dan Fodio. He began his holy war in 1804 and five years later established the Sokoto Caliphate, the most powerful West African state at the time. This is a considerable legacy on which jihadi groups can build inspiration.

The British governed through traditional rulers and permitted Sharia law, thereby helping defuse jihadi inspiration. But the seeds for jihadi mobilisation remained, and the Maitatsine uprising of the late 1970s and early 1980s was the first sizeable post-colonial confrontation of the Nigerian state with radical Islam.

Ideology and inspiration from the past combine with the splintering of Islamic groups, often driven by sheer charisma and the desire to gain political influence, to keep the strong jihadi tradition alive. Comolli casts doubt on the role of Islamic schools as an overwhelming driver, but does see the region’s rapid population growth rate and high youth unemployment, as well as the popular feeling that the North has been undermined by the South as key factors behind Boko Haram's growth.

Comolli also points out that the delayed campaign of the Nigerian security forces, which has often heavily relied on detention and torture, has contributed to the loss of hearts and minds.

Founded in 1995 at the University of Maiduguri, Boko Haram was initially a peaceful group, but new leadership seized control and put it onto a violent path in 2003. There are signs of splintering, with Ansaru, another jihadi group, being one known breakaway from Boko Haram.

Comolli admits she faced challenges in researching her topic. She was barred from talking to Boko Haram prisoners by the Nigerian authorities and had to rely heavily on government officials, NGOs, and academic research as sources. Interviews with present or past Boko Haram supporters, rather than relying so heavily on officials and heaps of academic research, would have made the book a gem.

Her book came out before a Northerner, General Muhammadu Buhari, was elected President, and promised to deal with the Boko Haram threat. Nevertheless she sees the campaign, as a long and difficult one, requiring a more subtle approach and close cooperation between Nigeria and its neighbours that share the threat - Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.

Her conclusion may well be sadly realistic – even if Boko Haram is crushed, a new version will rise to feed on grievances and inequality.

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Hurst; 1 edition (June 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1849044910
ISBN-13: 978-1849044912

   

Book Review: Raising The Bar: Hope and Renewal in South Africa


Raising the Bar - Hope and Renewal in South Africa. Raising the Bar is Songezo Zibi’s first book and seeks to provide a thorough, accurate analysis on the different issues preventing South Africa from moving forward.

Zibi’s writing explores aspects of South African society by identifying challenges to the country’s development and examining possible solutions which would manage and eliminate these challenges.

The book’s focus is divided across a broad range of topics such as race, education, ethics, leadership, politics, government, violence, the role of women and social taboos within South African society.

Throughout the book Zibi makes reference to instances in his own personal life, grounding his writing. In examining race relations in South Africa he makes interesting observations, in some cases based on his personal experiences. He examines the notion of “blackness”, a hotly contested subject in South Africa and argues that the term is intellectually dead and must be rethought. Definition renewal should be sought by examining key ethical and social values within black society which should give rise to an autonomous term rather than one dependent on “what whites do or do not do”.

Zibi also argues for ethics-based transformation where he states that transformation should address social justice, rather than focus purely on race. He presents various examples in illustrating his view; one is that of a black chauvinistic man hired into a senior position, a move which does not represent transformation because our constitution is built on gender equality.

In a critical review of South Africa’s politics he argues that the country’s leaders have destroyed any trust the public had for them as a result of high levels of corruption and tax evasion. There is also a dire need for more formal education within the country’s leadership, an element which is severely lacking. Until leaders can emerge who are trustworthy, well-educated and have real vision the country will continue to face a crisis of leadership, he believes.

The author’s views on violence, women and taboos within South African society are fascinating; again, many of his arguments are grounded in his own memories growing up. He shows how South Africa’s violent society is in many ways grounded in a history of violence. Zibi examines this while also incorporating the philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s views on objective violence and subjective violence. In South Africa for instance, the physical strike action of miners represents objective violence, however there is this consistent failure in engaging with the subjective violence of the story, namely the conditions in which they work. As South African society is also one of entrenched patriarchy there must be a directed attempt towards eradicating the belief that many men have regarding their superiority to women, Zibi says.

When it comes to cultural beliefs and taboos the book highlights how South Africans shy away from uncomfortable societal truths, such as how religious beliefs conflict with the constitution, truthful conversations about behaviour during the armed struggle and discussions on white privilege as a result of apartheid. The author believes that these kinds of taboo topics have to be addressed if we are to move the country forward.

Raising the Bar is an intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking book which seeks to answer the question: how can South Africa move forward? In his analysis Zibi provides insightful and strong arguments as to the country’s problems and how we can fix them. A great read for those wanting to expand their knowledge on making South Africa better and furthering the country’s development.

   

Sporting Soldiers: South African troops at play during World War I


Sporting Soldiers.For soldiers in the First World War, sport was a way for them to escape the horrors of the battlefield or the monotony and dreadful conditions of prison camps. Sport was a part of soldiers’ lives, yet it is a subject not often touched upon in the various accounts of the Great War.
   

SANDF Medals and Decorations


The medals and decorations list of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) currently numbers 66, of which 52 are for acts of bravery, valour and other meritorious deeds performed before April 2003. The remaining 14 are presented for these and other acts performed after that date.

The pre-April 2003 list is:

Castle of Good Hope/ Kasteel de Goede Hoop (CGH). Instituted as the prime military award and also the highest award that may be bestowed on a South African. The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by a significant act of valour or most conspicuous bravery or during a pre-eminent act of self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of an enemy. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Honoris Crux Silver/ Honoris Crux Silwer (HCS). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional deeds of bravery, against an armed enemy, while in great danger of life. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Gold Star for Bravery/ Goue Ster vir Dapperheid (GSB). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in great danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Star for Bravery in Gold/ Ster vir Dapperheid in Goud (SBG). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptional deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in great danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Honoris Crux (HC). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in danger of life. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Bravery Star in Silver/ Dapperheid Ster in Silwer (BSS). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla who have distinguished themselves by performing deeds pf bravery against an armed enemy while in danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Star for Bravery in Silver/ Ster vir Dapperheid in Silwer (SBS). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK who have distinguished themselves by performing deeds of bravery against an armed enemy while in danger of life before April 27, 1994.

Pro Virtute Decoration/ Pro Virtute Dekorasie (PVD). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF in recognition of distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Star for Conspicuous Leadership/ Ster vir Uitnemende Leierskap (SCL). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla in recognition of distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field before April 27, 1994.

Conspicuous Leadership Star/ Uitnemende Leierskap Ster (CLS). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK in recognition of distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field before April 27, 1994.

Southern Cross Decoration/ Suiderkruis Dekorasie (SD). The decoration may be awarded to officers of the SANDF for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Pro Merito Decoration/ Pro Merito Dekorasie (PMD). The decoration may be awarded to other ranks of the SANDF for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Gold Decoration for Merit/ Goue Dekorasie vir Verdienste (GDM). The decoration may be awarded to former members of Apla for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Decoration for Merit in Gold/ Dekorasie vir Verdienste in Goud (DMG). The decoration may be awarded to former members of MK for outstanding service of the highest order and the utmost devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Pro Virtute Medal/ Pro Virtute Medalje (PVM). The medal may be awarded to other ranks of the SANDF and the Auxiliary Service of the SANDF and other armed forces attached to or serving with or rendering service to the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by their distinguished conduct and exceptional combat leadership in the field.

Ad Astra Decoration/ Ad Astra Dekorasie (AAD). The decoration may be awarded to air crew members of the SANDF on board aircraft for excellent flying skill or outstanding ingenuity or skill during emergencies or unusual situations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Army Cross/ Leerkruis (CM). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SA Army who have distinguished themselves in dangerous or critical situations by exceptional courage, leadership, skill, ingenuity or tenacity in the handling of personnel, weaponry or other equipment. The Air Force Cross, Navy Cross and a Medical Service Cross may be awarded to members of the appropriate services under similar circumstances. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Southern Cross Medal/ Suiderkruis Medalje (SM). This medal may be awarded to officers of the SANDF for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Pro Merito Medal/ Pro Merito Medalje (PMM). This medal may be awarded to other ranks of the SANDF for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Merit Medal in Silver/ Verdienstemedalje in Silwer (MMS). This medal may be awarded to former members of MK for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Silver Medal for Merit/ Silwer Medalje vir Verdienste (SMM). This medal may be awarded to former members of Apla for exceptional meritorious service and particular devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Military Merit Medal/ Militere Meriete Medalje (MMM). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF for service of a high order and devotion to duty. A bar may also be awarded for a successive similar achievement.

Merit Medal in Bronze/ Verdienstemedalje in Brons (MMB). This medal may be awarded to former members of MK for service of a high order and devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Bronze Medal for Merit/ Bronsmedalje vir Verdienste (BMM). This medal may be awarded to former members of Apla for service of a high order and devotion to duty before April 27, 1994.

Pro Patria Medal/ Pro Patria Medalje. This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the former SADF for service over a period of 55 days continuous or 90 days non-continuous operational service in the operational area of the former South West Africa, or other operational area as defined by the Minister of Defence, before March 21, 1990.

Cunene Clasp/ Kunene Gespe. Awarded to members of the former SADF for participation in Operation Savannah over the period August 25, 1975 to March 27, 1978.

Southern Africa Medal/ Suider-Afrika Medalje. This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the former SADF for participation in cross-border operations after April 1, 1978 and before March 21, 1990.

General Service Medal/ Algemene Dienstemedalje. This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF for military service of 55 days continuous or 90 days non-continuous between January 1, 1983 and August 19, 1993. The medal may also be awarded for participation in internal military operations as from August 20, 1993, or for service rendered as part of a military operation beyond the borders of the Republic of South Africa, or for official visits or inspections in connection with an operation. The period of qualifying service shall be a minimum of 30 days which may be continuous or non-continuous.

Maluti Clasp. Awarded to any members of the SANDF or Auxiliary Service in the SANDF, or any armed force attached to or serving with, or rendering any service to the SANDF who was engaged, for one day or more directly in, or in support of Operation Boleas and Operation Maluti over the period September 22, 1998 until May 14, 1999 and the second phase of the operation in Lesotho, codenamed Operation Maluti over the period May 18, 1999 until May 26, 2000.

Operational Medal for Southern Africa. This campaign medal may be awarded to former MK/Apla members who rendered service in a military operational capacity beyond the borders of the RSA for at least 60 days (which need not be continuous) before April 27, 1994.

South Africa Service Medal. This campaign medal may be awarded to former MK/Apla members who rendered service in a military operational capacity within the borders of the RSA for at least 60 days (which need not be continuous) before April 27, 1994.

Unitas Medal/ Unitas Medalje. Instituted as a commemorative medal for the unification of defence forces and armed forces in the RSA which commenced on April 27, 1994 and who rendered actual service over the full period April 27 to May 10, 1994.

Bat to the Medal for Distinguished Conduct and Loyal Service. The bar may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have rendered 50 years qualifying service.

Medal for Distinguished Conduct and Loyal Service/ Medalje vir Uitnemende Gedrag en Toegewyde Diens. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have rendered 40 years qualifying service.

Good Service Medal (Gold)/ Medalje vir Troue Diens (Goud). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 30 years qualifying service.

Gold Service Medal/ Goue Diensmedalje. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former Apla on the date of 30 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

Service Medal in Gold/ Diensmedalje in Goud. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former MK on the date of 30 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

John Chard Decoration/ John Chard Dekorasie (JCD). This decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Citizen Force on the date of 20 years qualifying service. A clasp may be awarded for 30 years qualifying service.

De Wet Decoration/ De Wet Dekorasie (DWD). This decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Commandos on the date of 20 years qualifying service. A clasp may be awarded for 30 years qualifying service.

Good Service Medal (Silver)/ Medalje vir Troue Diens (Silwer). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 20 years qualifying service.

Silver Service Medal/ Silwer Diensmedalje. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former Apla on the date of 20 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

Service Medal in Silver/ Diensmedalje in Silwer. This medal may be awarded to persons who served with the former MK on the date of 20 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

John Chard Medal/ John Chard Medalje. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 10 years qualifying service.

Good Service Medal (Bronze)/ Medalje vir Troue Diens (Brons). This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Permanent Force on the date of 10 years qualifying service.

De Wet Medal/ De Wet Medalje. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who served in the Commandos on the date of 10 years qualifying service.

Bronze Service Medal/ Brons Diensmedalje. This medal may be awarded to persons who served in the former Apla on the date of 10 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

Service Medal in Bronze/ Diensmedalje in Brons. This medal may be awarded to persons who served in the former MK on the date of 10 years qualifying service before April 27, 1994.

SADF Champion Shot Medal/ SAW Kampioenskut Medalje. This medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF who were adjudged the annual champion shots in the categories of small bore, full bore, service and pistol shooting.

Cadet Champion Shot Medal/ Kadet Kampioenskut Medalje. This medal may be awarded to the school cadet who is annually adjudged the champion during the final school cadet Bisley.

Mention in Despatches/ Vermelding in Berigte. This award is a miniature replica of the national Coat of Arms worn on the appropriate campaign medal related to the operational service the member rendered. The award may be awarded to members of the SANDF as special recognition for conduct and devotion to duty during operational circumstances for which no other medal can be awarded. If the recipient has no campaign medals the emblem is worn junior to all medals, mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic. If the member has no medals, the emblem is worn mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic.

Chief of the SANDF Commendation/ Hoof van die SANW se Aanprysing. This award is a certificate and may be awarded to military and civilian members of the SANDF and DoD, civilians employed by the State or the private sector and other institutions who have committed themselves to render a direct contribution and meritorious service towards the SANDF.

Other Commendations. Commendation certificates are instituted for all Chiefs of the Services as well as Chiefs of Staff Divisions for meritorious service and a meaningful contribution towards the SANDF. Various officers commanding have instituted commendation certificates and the use thereof enjoys high esteem.

Decorations on the post April 2003 list are:

Nkwe ya Gsuta (NG) (Golden Leopard). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of exceptional bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successful similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

Nkwe ya Selefera (NS) (Silver Leopard). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of conspicuous bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

Nkwe ya Boronse (NB) (Bronze Leopard). This decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

iPhrothiya yaGolide (PG) (Golden Protea). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who distinguished themselves by exceptional leadership or exceptional meritorious service and the utmost devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

iPhrothiya yeStilva (PS) (Silver Protea). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who distinguished themselves by outstanding leadership or outstanding meritorious service and particular devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a similar successive achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

iPhrothiya yeBhronzi (PB) (Bronze Protea). The decoration may be awarded to members of the SANDF who distinguished themselves by leadership or meritorious service and devotion to duty. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement. The award of an insignia shall indicate the award of the decoration for service in active military operations. Insignia will be awarded/issued according to the Service in which the recipient was serving at the time of the action for which the decoration was conferred.

Tshumelo Ikatelaho (General Service). This campaign medal may be awarded to members of the SANDF and of any Auxiliary Service in the SANDF and of any Armed Forces attached to or rendering any service to the SANDF who was engaged for one day or more directly in or in support of a military operation, belligerent or otherwise.

Medalje vir Troue Diens/ Medal for Loyal Service. The medal and subsequent bars may be awarded to members of the SANDF and of any Auxiliary Service of the SANDF whose character and conduct have been irreproachable and who, on or after April 27, 2003, completed the required years qualifying service, which need not be continuous.

Emblem for Reserve Force Service (RD). This emblem is awarded to officers and other ranks of the SANDF Reserve Force who, after April 27, 2003, completed the prescribed period of 20 years loyal service to qualify for the award of the Bar to the Medalje vir Troue Diens 20 years and whose character and conduct have been irreproachable and who are in every way considered worthy and deserving of recognition for Reserve Force service. The required minimum of five years’ service in the Reserve Force may be rendered in any years (which need not be consecutive) prior to, during or after, the qualifying period for the award of the 20 year Bar to the Medalje vir Troue Diens provided the member shall be serving as a member of the Reserve Force at the time of qualifying for the Emblem.

Okhankanyiweyo (Mention in Despatches/Vermelding in Berigte). The award is a miniature replica of the national Coat of Arms worn on the appropriate campaign medal related to the operational service the member rendered. The award may be awarded to members of the SANDF as special recognition for conduct and devotion to duty during operational circumstances for which no other medal can be awarded. If the recipient has no campaign medals the emblem is worn junior to all medals, mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic. If the member has no medals the emblem is worn, mounted on a bar covered with the appropriate piece of tunic.

Long Service Awards for Civilians. The award of long service certificates may be awarded to civilians members (PSAP) of the SANDF. Certificates are awarded for 10 and 20 years continuous service.

Public Service Certificates (PSAP members). The award of long service certificates may be awarded to civilian members (PSAP) of the SANDF. Certificates are awarded for 20 and 30 years continuous service. A cash amount is also awarded on completion of 30 years continuous service. The amount will be adjusted annually on April 1 according to the CPIX for the period January to December of the preceding year.

Badge for Voluntary Reserve Force Service. This emblem is awarded to members of the SANDF Reserve Force who have distinguished themselves by rendering five years praiseworthy voluntary Reserve Force service. This emblem is awarded for service rendered from October 28, 1985.

Commendation by Chief of the SANDF. This award is a certificate and may be awarded to military and civilian members of the SANDF and DoD, civilians employed by the State or the private sector and other institutions who have committed themselves to render a direct contribution and meritorious service towards the SANDF.

   

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