East Africans more "civilized" than West Africans?

Both places have experienced pro-longed civil wars, ongoing rebellions etc. But I just noticed a difference, and I am not sure whether it is true.

That is, the treatment of enemy civilians, in particular women and children. In West Africa, such as Liberia, Siera Leone, etc. the rebels constantly rape conquered villagers, chopping off enemy civilian’s hands and arms, forcefully recruit child soldiers. set up slave camps for mine extractions etc.

On the other hand, in East Africa, such as the ongoing Somali civl wars, and wars in the past such as the Ethiopian wars, while these are/were still very violent, such atrocities seemed much less prevalent. We don’t hear rebel soldiers mass-raping women, and we don’t hear much about child soldiers there.

So is it likely that these Africans living in the horn of Africa are more civilized (according to Western standard, of course) than the Africans living in the tropical regions of West Africa?

I’m not very familiar with African history, but it seems to me that western Africa had a much more traumatic experience with colonialism; any community will revert to some pretty savage behavior if put through sufficient disruption.

Is it time for another game of “Rank the races from worst to best,” again already?

Ignoring the obviously provocative nature of the question, I don’t think there’s any real evidence that warfare in East Africa is notably less nasty than warfare in West Africa. You aren’t going to find many people willing to argue that the violence in Darfur is somehow more civilized than other contemporary conflicts.

Fairly or unfairly, though, widespread limb hacking and cannibalism isn’t something I associate with Somalia, nasty as that conflict may be.

As I understand it, there were a lot of horrendous atrocities committed in Uganda (LRA), and in the Rwandan genocide (and in neighbouring eastern Congo). These are not in East Africa, but do show that such crimes are not restricted to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Article: “Hacked arms and legs display the despair of Somalia”

Article: “Mass Rapes Spike in Somalia”

Somalia has had its own brutal history:

Most likely confirmation bias. Besides, is there really any way to quantify this?

My grasp of African history centers on the exploration era, but anyone even slightly familiar with Sir Richard F Burton knows that Somalia has been a savage place since well before the present era. Even the Arab traders who passed through it to their mining colonies deeper in the continent regarded the Somali strip as an extremely dangerous zone.

East Africa does have a lot more links traditionally with the rest of the “civilized” world.

The Major from Fawlty Towers:

*"No, those are the **west *Indians. These people are wogs!!" :smiley:

Since I doubt we can quantify this in any meaningful way, let’s move it over to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

It’s bizarre to judge a society’s degree of civilization based on the brutality of its warfare.

Japan is one of the most civilized places in the world–especially compared to its Asian counterparts. But the Japanese have historically been animals in war.

Brutality and civilization are not mutually exclusive.

:dubious: I beg your pardon?

While Uganda is usually referred to as Equatorial Africa, it’s more east than west, lying just to the west of Kenya, a coastal country. Not only were there historical atrocities in Uganda dating back much further than Idi Amin, it continues today with the Lord’s Resistance Army, who carry out the whole limb-lopping thing.

East African countries were generally more partitioned by colonial occupiers, throwing traditionally warring tribes together and attempting forced assimilation, i.e. Rwanda. When the colonial powers left, tribal animosities immediately flared once again and continue unabated in many countries both east and west; see Congo, Zaire, Sudan, et al.

On the west African bulge, many of the countries were unintentionally (and fortunately) partitioned largely along tribal lines, the Bambara of Mali being a good example. When France left the area, there was less retribution, generally speaking.

On a personal note, my impressions of Mali during the two years I lived there were of a largely peaceful and friendly Muslim people, other than sporadic problems in the north with the Tuareg, who felt disenfranchised. Crime was low and alcohol was scarcely used. The people were largely poor and hard-working, but we never felt threatened, regardless of where we traveled.

The contrast between Mali and Uganda, where I lived for a year, was remarkable. Uganda is mostly Christian; alcohol abuse and crime are rampant, and I found the local people to be largely hostile to white faces. The LRA was already operating in the north, having spread into Uganda from their operating base in neighboring Sudan. Traveling outside of Kampala was a risk because of bandits.

It is not. There have been plenty of child soldiers in Somalia and Eritrea. That’s not to mention the wider East Africa with bad actors like the Lord’s Resistance Army and those charmers in RENAMO down in Mozambique.

Could you obtain a cite? I don’t think Burton singled out Somalis for being more savage then any other people he met on his journeys (19th cent British explorers thought a good majority of the world was savage). If you want to go 500 years further then Burton, Ibn Battuta traveled most of the Islamic world and had this to say about Zeila [

](West Chester University) and this to say about Mogadishu


Asia covers a lot of ground. I believe he thinks you’re painting with a pretty large brush.

I said Japan is one of the most civilized places in the world, especially in Asia.

I’m not finding how this is at all a controversial statement.

Heh, well we ARE participating in a thread that pits “east” vs “west” Africa (in the silly term of “savageness” no less). The broad brush ship sailed a loooooong time ago.