It’s been a while since Raphael Lemkin defined genocide in 1943, and to keep everybody on their toes, Abebe Zegey thinks we should craft a new definition. Professor Abebe Zegey, Chair of Genocide and Holocuast Studies at UNISA and director of WISER at Witz, made his case for redefining genocide on the Africa Past & Present podcast last week:
“The way we understand genocide in Africa is through the prism of the Holocaust… But the nature of violence and genocide in Africa is so different and we need to understand that. We need to go back and redefine genocide and redefine it in the context of Africa if we are going to be effective.”
Zegey makes an important point: the nature of violence in Africa – its form, and logic – radically differ from the nature of violence outside Africa. The cultural and political systems of meaning embedded in African violence are fundamentally unique. In analyzing these dimensions of African violence and crafting appropriately tailored definitions, Zegey contends that we will be better able to understand genocide in Africa.
Or, in other words, screw false universals masked in international legal terms, we need a new definition for African genocide. Proposals?