"Stanley thus laid the groundwork for long Belgian rule over the Congo, a regime that we know today claimed between 8 million and 30 million African lives. The French, who did not recognize Leopold's private colonization, tried to lay claim to the region themselves.
"Out of this dispute, the Berlin Conference of 1884 convened, at which 13 European countries and the U.S. recognized Central Africa's Congo region as Leopold's private property.
"But the effects of the Berlin Conference were much broader. It went on to divide the continent into incomprehensible pieces, in a process now known as the Scramble for Africa.
"The Europeans basically invaded, imposed a new map on Africa according to their geographical needs, divided tribes and communities that traditionally got along and confined traditional enemies inside new shared borders.
"All these years later, border disputes are still unresolved, as in Somalia, one of the most homogeneous countries in Africa. Ongoing conflict there began in 1886, when the British invaded the northern part of the country, the French took a piece in the north and Italians captured southern Somalia. Ethiopia's then emperor, Menelik II, encouraged by Britain, took over the Ogaden region.
"Celebrated Somali poet Mohammed Abdullah Hassan led a 22-year-long colonial resistance, one of the longest and bloodiest in sub-Saharan Africa, in which Somalia lost a third of its population in the north.
"The decisive end came when the British, having lost too many of their men, called on a squadron from the Royal Air Force, fresh from a World War I bombing run, to destroy the resistance. Ethiopia's support back then for the colonial powers made a long-term enemy out of its neighbour, Somalia.
"During a ceasefire in the 1980s, Somalis lived under a U.S.-funded dictatorship that was overthrown in 1991. The country was in complete anarchy, with a handful of powerful warlords struggling to dominate one another. More than a decade later, an alternative in the form of the faith-based Union of Islamic Courts emerged, crippling the warlords and restoring order in the capital of Mogadishu. Undaunted, the U.S., citing fears of Al Qaeda involvement, reorganized and funded the warlords under the umbrella Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terorrism.
"Fast-forward to 2007: Ethiopia is now withdrawing after its December invasion, and the U.S.-backed pro-Ethiopian Transitional Federal Government, which made warlords from the Alliance into ministers, has been discredited by its reliance on Ethiopian forces.
"Division and conquest, war and subjugation, tactical separations, ideological impositions and here we are, under the sun of a day when average people in these conflicts no longer know what happened to put them there, why they are dying and why they will continue to die, plagued by disadvantage, hunger and war.