New Africa emerges

For a long time a playground for mercenaries, Africa can nowadays boast a measure of political stability by pointing to the infrequency of coups on its shores.

For a long time a playground for mercenaries, Africa can nowadays boast a measure of political stability by pointing to the infrequency of coups on its shores.

Thankfully the winds of change that slowly sweep through the continent are alienating the soldier of fortune and rendering him something of a skunk in the bush.

Few will decry the demise of mercenaries who have been mainly used in the past as a weapon against the masses by dictatorships to shore up their iron-fist rule or, in some cases, deployed by clandestine colonial forces to force a regime change.

This week's sentencing to 34 years imprisonment of mercenary leader Simon Mann, found guilty of trying to topple the Equitorial Guinea government in 2004, aptly underscores the twilight days of the soldiers of fortune.

The sentence should send a tough message to his ilk that a united Africa will no longer give free rein to modern-day armed adventurers.

Though Mann's conviction and sentence has brought closure to a sordid tale that began its trail in South Africa, the extent of the plot and its funders will remain a matter of public conjecture for a long time.

Unanswered questions abound, while the real culprits freely enjoy the high life in some of the world's capitals today.

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