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The quest for happiness as an underlying motive for violent conflict in Africa

Mark Chingono


Violent conflicts continue to be a major feature of much of Africa’s political landscape. Not only are Africa’s conflicts increasing, but they are also interpreted and theorised in varied ways, with irreducible discrepancies. In the dominant literature, ethnicity, religion, resources, territory, poor governance, and the struggle for power, among others, have been identified as the major causes of violent conflict on the continent. This paper, a broad brush that raises more questions than answers, argues that, underlying these apparent causes of violent conflict is the undying desire for happiness. It concludes by paraphrasing Von Clausewitz’s dictum that war in Africa is a pursuit of happiness by other means and, therefore, to prevent it, policy should promote popular happiness.

Keywords: happiness/unhappiness, violent conflict, development, democratic governance, ethnic identity, Africa

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eISSN: 2309-737X
print ISSN: 1562-6997