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Africa at the Crossroads

It does call for new thinking and re-imagination of the direction that Africa must take from here. First, there is a history to what Africa has become. We did not just find ourselves where we are. We have been made; fashioned according to what extra-African forces thought of Africa and wanted for and from Africa. It has never worked; at least not for Africa and Africans. Africa and Africans must now make choices. Between continuing creating Africa in the fashion of competing trans-African forces or breaking ranks and looking in for an African continent that must work and work for Africans.

Clearly, the international system is undergoing major geopolitical shifts. And with them are major shocks in Africa. Amid changing geopolitical dynamics, Africa is both searching for and being courted by “new” strategic partners. It almost became clear that Africa was torn between choosing between the west and the east. Many commentators thought of Africa as having to decide between the US and its western allies, which has unsuccessfully attempted fashioning Africa in their way since the end of the Cold War on the one hand and China on the other.

But, then there is Russia too. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the African political capital largely dissipated. As the Russian Federation sought a new identity in the new world order, it turned West with Russia’s new leaders abandoning the past. Africa has largely served as a scapegoat for Russia’s problems since the end of the Cold War. Today Russia is attempting political relevance beyond the middle east. From annexing parts of Ukraine to being actively engaged in the dirty wars of the middle east, Russia is clearly, and apparently desperately so, seeking relevance and global spheres of influence. But Russia must reign wide and far and Africa is the most – and indeed traditional – battle zone.  This is that continent whose leaders have perennially failed to devise an African vision outside the realm of competing foreign forces and interests. 

Even as Africa it is attempting a search for and being courted by “new” strategic partners, it becomes clears that the so called “new” strategic partners are only new to the extent that they are doing what they are doing in different times. They remain the same actors that have inter-changeably held Africa hostage for centuries.  It is sad to see the current scramble for Africa. This brings with it memories of the pains of 500 years of slave trade, historical colonialism, Africa’s role in the major wars – in which Africans fought wars whose owners and ends they knew not – and then of course the pain and loss that came with 5 decades of the Cold War. Which way Africa?

Africa at the Crossroads Africa at the Crossroads Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on March 13, 2018 Rating: 5

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