Tag Archive | "AFRICA"

Africa: Contradictions between Regional Security and Imperialist Interventions


Assessing the 31st Ordinary African Union Summit in Mauritania


Note to readers: please click the share buttons above  

Featured image: French President Emmanual Macron meets with African leaders at AU summit in Mauritania, July 2, 2018

On July 1-2, 2018, the 31st Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU)was held in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott under the theme of “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

This gathering took place amid the burgeoning challenges facing the African continent involving the efforts to realize a meaningful peace process in the Republic of South Sudan, an ongoing independence movement to liberate the Western Sahara from Moroccan occupation, gender equality and end to violence against women, the recently-announced African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the role of imperialism as it relates to the question of national and regional security.

An Elusive Peace in South Sudan

Several days prior to the convening of the AU Summit, a peace agreement was signed in Khartoum, Republic of Sudan, bringing together President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Reik Machar. For over three years, the government  and ruling party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Juba, has been split leading to the declaration of the SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) headed by Machar.

Under the June 23 deal which was designed to go into effect on June 27, Machar is to be reinstated as Vice President of South Sudan. Nonetheless, just hours after the ceasefire was scheduled to begin there were reports of violations from both the SPLM and the SPLM (I-O). 

During the week of July 16 the United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo against Juba. Nonetheless, neighboring head-of-state President Yoweri Museveni has called for the lifting of sanctions by European states on South Sudan. Museveni made this statement while he met with a visiting official delegation from Britain which included the Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster. 

Despite these promising developments, other opposition groups within South Sudan have complained of not being consulted by the two main tendencies, SPLM and SPLM (I-O). The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) has stated that it is awaiting the governance agreement that was scheduled to go into effect on July 17. Meanwhile the SPLM Leaders Former Political Detainees (SPLM—FPD) is calling for greater AU involvement in the discussions expressing distrust over what they claim to be the lack of transparency in the process being primarily led by the East African Inter-regional Authority on Development (IGAD). 

Western Sahara: The Quest for National Independence

A major anti-colonial struggle being waged by the Polisario Front and the Sahwari Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which is recognized by the AU, has become a more complicated situation in light of the readmission of the Kingdom of Morocco in 2017. Morocco had remained outside the former Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the AU for more than three decades due to its support for the liberation of the people in this former Spanish colony which has been occupied for over 40 years by the neighboring monarchy. 

According to a report on the AU Summit in Mauritania published by the Journal of Cameroon, it says:

“The African Union has renewed its resolve to seek more engagement with the United Nations to resolve the unresolved question of the Western Sahara, a territory under Moroccan control. In a communiqué at the end of the 31st AU Heads of State Summit in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Monday, the 54-member continental body said its members have agreed to support ongoing efforts led by the UN to broker a lasting and mutually agreeable solution to the decades-old crisis.”

This same article continues in regard to the AU position noting the regional body is:

“encouraging parties to the crisis to demonstrate flexibility and resume talks without preconditions as the only way to addressing the protracted controversy surrounding the destiny of the enclave, which straddles Morocco in the north and Mauritania in the south. Emerging from several hours of talks on the issue, AU leaders agreed that the UN’s role will be crucial drawing up the details that would form the basis of a durable compromise between the protagonists to the conflict, which is one of Africa’s forgotten crises.”

Gender Equality and the AU

A joint session of the preliminary meetings of the 31st Ordinary summit was held on June 30 between current AU Chairperson President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica of Croatia. Kagame, who heads the Central and East African state with the largest representation of women within the parliamentary system than any other country in the world, noted that women can contribute far more to society when they are empowered. 

During the “Women in Power” symposium the Rwandan leader said:

 “Women can deliver more when they are enjoying their full rights. But with men and women working together using their talents to the maximum the effect is not just additive, it multiplies.  All of society benefits. The sum is indeed much greater than the parts.”

Kagame continued by emphasizing:

“Despite the goodwill, substantial problems remain in the way of women’s whether cultural, legal and economic empowerment. There are important policy changes to advocate for and that will always be important and must continue to be a priority as will be discussed today.”

Nonetheless, the burning question today related to AU-EU relations center around the so-called “migration crisis.” Millions of Africans are fleeing the continuing imperialist war in Libya and other regions of the continent attempting to travel across the Mediterranean into southern, eastern and central Europe. African women are adversely impacted by this dislocation and displacement through violence, human trafficking and deaths.

Thousands have died annually since 2014 while the influx of large numbers of Africans and Asians in the European states has pushed to the fore right-wing, neo-fascist elements some of whom have increased their presence in parliamentary bodies as well as becoming ruling parties in the governments of Hungary and Italy. In response to this phenomenon of the backlash against migration from the Global South, EU leaders are advancing programs designed to encourage people to either remain in Africa or be repatriated. 

Such projects are inherently flawed since they do not address the underlying historical exploitation and national oppression through colonialism and neo-colonialism. Africa remains dependent upon European and North American capitalist regimes where terms of trade, commodity prices and military policy leave the continent at an extreme disadvantage. 

Economic turmoil prompted by the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011, the proliferation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the undermining of the international energy and strategic minerals markets and the refusal of the imperialists to open up the United Nations Security Council to permanent status for AU governments, illustrates the glaring dubious character of EU foreign policy. Despite the platitudes of EU leaders, their statements ring hollow when the overall character of relations is objectively assessed.

Free Trade and Regional Security: The Irreconcilable Contradictions

As leader of the AU, Rwandan President Kagame has motivated the adoption and ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). More AU states are signing the AfCFTA and taking the initiative to their legislatures for implementation.

The economic plan would theoretically combine a $US3 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) constituting the sum total of goods and services within the AU. The program is designed to eliminate tariffs in inter-African trade facilitating the uninhibited movement of resources across the continent. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the agreement in Mauritania during the summit while encouraging his counterpart in the West African state of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to follow suit. Buhari’s hesitation it is said derives from the trepidation among Nigerian industry fearing an undermining of their financial status both domestically and internationally. Nigeria and South Africa have the two largest economies within the AU and any effective free trade area requires their full participation.

Ironically the AU summit was visited by French President Emmanuel Macron who spoke to the members of the G5 Sahel Regional Force nations including Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. These former colonies of Paris came together in 2014 under the guise of fighting terrorism carried out by Islamist rebels across these states.

G5 Sahel Regional Force map

Attacks on a French military installation in Mali at Sevare along with two other locations, and in southeast Niger, resulting in the deaths of 10 soldiers, highlighted the precarious security situation leading up to the Mauritania AU summit. France admits to having at least 4,500 troops in the Sahel region ostensibly to enhance security.

What are often not discussed are the interests of France and the U.S. within these West African nations. Both AFRICOM and French military forces are escalating their occupations creating further uncertainty among the civilian populations. The British government of Teresa May is also entering the fray assisting French and U.S. forces with surveillance drones and helicopters. 

However, the military interventions of Paris, London and Washington are not acts of charity by any means. These policies reflect the degree of underdevelopment in post-colonial Africa. The imperialists are in the region to secure the natural resources including uranium and oil. 

The pretext of fighting Islamists cannot be taken at face value in that these same elements were deployed by the EU member-states and Washington in Libya during the overthrow of the government of former leader the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Syria has been a focus of destabilization utilizing certain Islamist groups that are armed and trained by western governments. 

A free trade zone in order for it to reach its full potential must be secured by the African governments themselves. It would not be rationale for the AU member-states to rely on the imperialist governments to supply them with security assistance without continuing their neo-colonial policies which are the antithesis of genuine economic development and regional sovereignty.

Undoubtedly the ruling classes of Western Europe and North America understand this dilemma quite well. African states should know that the economic renaissance of the continent cannot reach its fruition at the behest of the same imperialist nations which continue to benefit from their systematic underdevelopment and dependency. 

Consequently, until the AU makes the decisive turn inward breaking its subservient ties to imperialism there will be the inevitable instability and impoverishment. Any military program aimed at sustainable security requires the formation of an All-African military force which bans the construction of bases, drone stations and open monitoring of its territories by the Pentagon and NATO forces. 


Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from the author.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Africa: Contradictions between Regional Security and Imperialist Interventions

Africa: 2018 Outlook

Africa’s known for its internal divisions and predisposition to conflicts, especially those which are encouraged from abroad, and it’s with this in mind that there are plenty of reasons to worry about its stability in 2018. Proceeding from North Africa to Southern Africa, Egypt is regularly attacked by terrorists in the Sinai and elsewhere, posing a real threat to President Sisi’s government. In addition, Egypt believes that its water security is endangered by Ethiopia’s plans to build the Grand Renaissance Dam, and the continued development of this megaproject is expected to see tensions soar between the two states as it eventually nears its completion. This could possibly even see Egypt extend covert support to Ethiopia’s Oromo people, the country’s largest minority that’s been engaged in large-scale anti-government protests over the past year and recently started clashing with the Somalian minority over land rights, a conflict which might grow to take international dimensions if Somalia’s Al Shabaab terrorist group decides to intervene in support of its ethnic compatriots.

Egypt’s next door neighbor of Libya is still caught up in a multisided civil war, albeit one which has since crystallized mostly into an east-west rivalry and could be partially resolved by next year’s presidential elections, dependent upon Saif Gaddafi and General Haftar entering into an agreement to politically cooperate with one another. As for Algeria, the inevitable passing of aging and reportedly incapacitated President Bouteflika might spark speculation about the country’s possible return to its 1990s civil war, but its “deep state” will probably ensure a smooth leadership transition just like the one that took place in Uzbekistan in 2016. Moving southwards into the Sahara, Mali is still a terrorist-infested nest that France and its fellow G5 Sahel allies are unable to resolve. Moreover, its problems have begun to spill across the border into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, the latter of which is an exceptionally fragile and failing state with the world’s highest birthrates.

Niger abuts Nigeria and is allied with it in a War on Terror against Boko Haram and alongside Chad and Cameroon, but the West African giant on whose territory most of this conflict is being fought is beginning to unravel along regional lines. There have always been divisions between the Muslim north and the Christian south which were only united into a single colony in 1914, spilling over most dramatically in the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War over the southeastern self-declared secessionist region of “Biafra”. Nowadays there are signs that the chronic impoverishment of this oil-rich region is once again giving rise to anti-state violence, whether in the form of “rebels”, bandits, or terrorists. Worse still, “Biafra” borders the Northwest and Southwestern regions of Cameroon that are at the heart of that country’s own separatist conflict over what its supporters call “Ambazonia” and which has recently turned very violent over the past couple of months.

Continuing along, not only is Cameroon afflicted by Boko Haram and “Ambazonian” separatism, but it’s also caring for many refugees from the Central African Republic, which has been in a genocidal state of civil war between Christians and Muslims since 2013, ignobly competing with neighboring South Sudan for being the most dysfunctional state in the world and together with it forming what can be described as a “Failed State Belt” in the continental heartland. While these two conflicts might worsen in the coming year, their humanitarian consequences might pale in comparison to if the Democratic Republic of the Congo descends into civil war, which it’s basically on the brink of doing already. The last Congo War killed an estimated 5 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, and the present low-level one is being “justified” on the basis of President Kabila delaying national elections but is mostly driven by mineral interests.

The killing of 15 UN peacekeepers in northeastern Congo by the anti-Ugandan and Salafist terrorist organization called the “Allied Democratic Forces” shows that this corner of the country isn’t immune from the violence either, and Uganda might be in for a rough ride if President Musaveni passes away without any clearly designated successor, though the scenario could unfold according to the prospective Algerian one where the “deep state” takes matters into its own hands in the interests of national stability. Nearby Burundi was once thought to be a crisis in the making, but President Nkurunziza has succeeded in wiping out the anti-government fighters who were opposed to his controversial third term in office. That being said, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi were all involved to one extent or another in the last Congo War, so the collapse of the Democratic Republic might have unexpected consequences for them as well.

Nearing the southern tip of the continent, the ruling FRELIMO party of gas-rich Mozambique will probably continue peace talks with the Cold War-era armed RENAMO opposition, and Zimbabwe will likely proceed with its leadership transition in peace. As for regional hegemon South Africa, newly elected ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa will continue to reform the party from within by making it more business-friendly and less multipolar ahead of the 2019 national elections, though apart from the ever-present potential for labor and xenophobic violence, no large-scale political destabilization is expected. Altogether, to summarize Africa’s most important 2018 fault lines, the War on Terror in Mali might spread throughout other parts of West Africa, and Nigeria and Cameroon’s separatist conflicts might begin to morph into a single transnational battlespace. Ethiopia will continue to be challenged by some Oromo groups, while the Congo could slide into a civil war that once again draws in many international participants. Finally, North Africa might stabilize, while East and South Africa will remain mostly the same.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Africa: 2018 Outlook

The Revitalization of Detroit: Disempowerment and Displacement Serve as Major Impediments

Prestige projects financed through tax captures and forced removals of African Americans breeds rejection of existing development models

On May 12 the much-heralded QLINE will be launched along Woodward Avenue in the city of Detroit.

This transportation vehicle looks like a hybrid of both a street car and an extended bus which operates on rails.

The project has been touted by the corporate media as the latest edition in a number of other business ventures which ostensibly represent the renaissance of the city.

However, if this effort had undergone any serious analysis, evaluation and debate among the people of Detroit it would have never been funded at the level of the official cost of $140 million. Any debate and electoral referendum in favor of the QLINE would have failed if the desire was to meet the needs of the people of Detroit.Image result for detroit qline

This QLINE scheme was ten years in the making when it was first broached in 2007 under the administration of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. There were persistent funding shortfalls until the federal government under the Department of Transportation, along with the State of Michigan agreed to provide assistance.

Nonetheless, it was the same federal government which reduced subsidies to municipalities in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession which brought massive cuts in public transportation services throughout the metropolitan Detroit area. The Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority (SMART) in response to federal cutbacks slashed routes which would take people from the central city to the suburbs and back. Within the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), whole routes were eliminated and dozens of bus lines were rescheduled to run less frequently providing no services at certain times of the day.

Such a policy does not provide the people of the city, documented as being the poorest of any other major urban center in the United States, with the public transport needs to travel to work, for shopping, medical visits and other necessities. Most of the people who are new residents in the Midtown and Downtown areas of Detroit own automobiles or utilize Uber, Lift and Zipcar.

Image result for joe louis arenaIn addition to the QLINE, there is the new hockey and basketball arena owned by Ilitch Holdings through the granting of free land, massive tax breaks and the transferal of public revenue to private interests. The Ilitch operation located on the edges of downtown was a totally unnecessary project since Joe Louis Arena on the riverfront was perfectly suited for the same sports activities. Joe Louis Arena, named after the legendary African American boxing champion of the 1930s and 1940s, is scheduled to be demolished with its land turned over to a private bond holding group which was involved in the forcing of the City of Detroit into financial ruin.

To build the arena which is to be accompanied by another entertainment and housing district for the partaking of wealthy white residents who are expected to re-locate and frequent these establishments, thousands of people were systematically forced out of the area previously known as the Cass Corridor. The Ilitch Holdings arena-entertainment complex is uncritically praised as a hallmark of the commitment of the billionaire ruling class to the rebuilding of the city.

The City of Detroit’s first white corporate-imposed mayor in 40 years, Mike Duggan, announced in late April that there was a new acquisition of land in the Cass Corridor, now often referred to as Midtown by the local business and government-funded news outlets, to the tune of $77 million in investments to construct a housing complex. Undoubtedly, if the trend continues for Midtown and Downtown apartments, lofts and condominiums, the prices are far above the level of affordability for the majority of the African American people who constitute over 80 percent of the population.

Although the Duggan publicity narrative about the latest Cass Corridor/Midtown site is that the location is vacant after the closing years before of the Wigle Recreation Center, its abandonment being a manifestation of the economic and social downturn in Detroit, a group says that it has already rejuvenated the location through a sporting association.

Image result for wigle recreation center

According to the Detroit News,

“The site is the home of ‘the Wig,’ a DIY skatepark built by Community Push three years ago, when [Derrick] Dykas says the area surrounding the Wigle Recreation Center was in disrepair. At that point, the center had been shut down for almost a decade, and left in its place was tall grass and trash.” (May 1)

This same report goes on to quote this local activist as saying,

“When we came and started building, we were picking up dirty needles, condoms, and there were kids that were right out here playing on recess while there’s guys shooting up in the building next door,’ Dykas said, pointing to a school across the street. We got them out of here. We made this place safe again.”

Such an occurrence as this illustrates clearly that none of the projects being promoted by the leading corporate interests now effectively running the municipal government are designed to encourage African Americans, Latinos, Middle Easterners and working class people in general to remain in the city. At present tens of thousands of owner-occupied homes across Detroit and Wayne County are slated for tax foreclosure.

Moreover, there is no documented proof that the proliferation of a small number of prestige projects can actually generate sustainable economic growth. Beyond the construction of the arena and high-priced housing units how many people will be able to benefits from the profits gained through the exorbitant rents charged by the landlords who are given tax breaks in such operations?

Poverty and Displacement: By-products of a Failed Policy

Despite the propaganda of the Duggan administration and his corporate backers, Detroit is still the most underdeveloped major municipality in the United States. The decline of the automotive industry (1975-2009) and its subsequent packaged-bankruptcy and restructuring, has not benefited the people of Detroit as a whole.

Image result for mike duggan

Left: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

Car transportation was deliberately promoted in the city for decades. In 1956, the remaining street car lines which at one time had provided citywide and regional transportation links were pulled up at the aegis of the automotive industry. Nothing was ever implemented as an alternative for the needs of the working population and poor except the insufficient bus lines which have suffered from neglect and downsizing for years.

These factors are compounded by the predatory municipal lending practices of the financial institutions that ensnarled the declining population in unrepayable loans and interests-rate swap swindles. In 2013, under the undemocratic imposition of emergency management, the City of Detroit was forced into bankruptcy by a corporate law firm, Jones Day, in contravention of the electoral will of people throughout the state of Michigan.

Over 600 people with employment, residential and business interests in the city filed objections during the initial bankruptcy court proceedings before Judge Steven Rhodes in 2013. Yet Rhodes continued with the farcical process further transferring wealth from pensioners, the City of Detroit public assets and its homeowners to the same banks which engineered the economic crises.

Transportation, Housing and Education: The Keys to a People’s Revitalization

The Motor City Freedom Riders (MCFR), a grassroots organization which has advocated the development of a genuine regional transportation system in metropolitan Detroit, recently called for a demonstration on the opening day of service for the QLINE. MCFR will gather at the northern starting point of the QLINE on Woodward Avenue near Grand Boulevard early on the morning of May 12 to expose the utter waste of public resources and lack of practicability of such a venture.

In a May 2 statement issued by MCFR it emphasizes that,

“the region’s political and economic elite is breaking out the champagne to celebrate the QLINE, but they’ve shown little interest in a new push for real regional transit that will address the transit crisis and make a positive difference for bus riders and the broader public. If they refuse to act, we will…. The transit crisis is an issue which intersects with so many others: education, environmental health, access to employment, disability justice, economic development, climate change, racial equality, and independence for our elders, and so much more.”

When there is inadequate public transportation and a burgeoning housing crisis this can only lead to further population decline. During the census period of 2000-2010, the city of Detroit lost approximately 237,000 residents, one-quarter of its people. This was largely due to the elimination of industrial jobs and the targeting of the majority African American neighborhoods for predatory mortgage lending resulting in 100,000 foreclosures after 2006.

Image result for detroit moratorium now

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs has waged a campaign for the last nine years to halt both mortgage and property tax foreclosures in Detroit and around the state of Michigan. Federal Hardest Hit Funds, the pittance of the Congressional bailout monies allocated ostensibly to the people in late 2008, are not being utilized in Detroit to keep working families in the neighborhoods. These resources are misallocated for demolition purposes through the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA), a supposed quasi-public entity which is under Department of Justice investigation based upon its corrupt practices. The Duggan administration has pressured the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to redirect all funds from the Hardest Hit program to demolition furthering the displacement of Black and working class people. (www.moratorium-mi.org)

A restructured K-12 educational system transforming the Detroit Public Schools into a Detroit Community School District has not resolved the deterioration which under state-control for more than a decade resulted in the closure of over 250 buildings and the elimination of thousands of employees. There are more for-profit charter schools providing largely sub-standard education to Detroit youth than the public system.

It is impossible to revitalize a municipality without quality education being available to the families living there. The majority of students attending charter and public schools come from households which fall below the poverty line.

Until the questions of housing, public transportation, education and water services are seriously addressed there cannot be a genuine reconstruction of the city of Detroit. As an edict of the Duggan administration’s policy, some 18,000 households are scheduled for the termination of their water services over the coming weeks.

The policy orientation of Duggan is weighed heavily in favor of the wealthy conglomerates controlled by the likes of Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske and the Ilitch family. The banks work in conjunction with the local capitalist class to perpetually disempower the African American majority.

This reality is mirrored across the U.S. where increasing amounts of the wealth of American society is utilized for the enrichment of the corporate elites. Only a redistribution of wealth and empowerment of the working and oppressed peoples will remedy the situation creating a viable system of living and governance in the urban areas.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on The Revitalization of Detroit: Disempowerment and Displacement Serve as Major Impediments

African challenges to African development

Africa Leadership

Development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development  that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities. But sometimes even such initiatives are resisted by anti-African development leaderships.

The parlous story of African economic and social development since independence best expressed in the failure to achieve the autonomous capacity for self-actuated development and in particular to create conditions of national and continental modern mass production and prosperity is well known and need not be repeated. It is enough to re-state that Africa’s development failure was because of the leaderships’ choice to retain, maintain and expand the inherited exocentric colonial system of development incapacitation, primary commodity export, import dependency and poverty generation.

The progressive efforts of some African states and leaders to change the system and create self-reliant economies were stymied by the leaderships’ ideological inadequacies and dependency, the balance of payment crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent economic crises and decline. This provided the avenue for Western multilateral imperialist agencies the World Bank and the IMF to successfully infiltrate Africa, re-colonize African states and convert them into neo-colonial out-posts of the so-called neo-liberal consensus. This framework embodied in the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) with its destructives conditionalities: currency devaluation, trade liberalization, subsidy removal, deregulation and privatization, re-directed the African states to focus on expanded raw materials production and exports and to abandon industrialization and development capacitation.

The application of these anti-development SAP dogmas in the 1980s and 1990s ushered in two decades of deepening indebtedness, serious economic crises, de-industrialization, socio-economic decline, deepening impoverishment and political repression. On the other hand, the period also saw the upsurge of popular democratisation struggles, civil rights campaigns, the restoration of democracy, and the establishment of electoral democracy and the decline of military interventions in African politics. In the economic sphere, there were innovative dependency-reducing responses. This was because among businesses there was an increased re-orientation toward local sourcing of well-known agricultural and mineral endowments to expand production. This led to the emergence of new economic sectors and especially the expansion of cottage, small and medium scale consumer goods industries which were operationally autonomous due to the increased utilization of local resources for production and self-development.

In addition there was relative political stability and policy and institutional support for businesses through the creation of enabling environments for attracting investments.

It was partly because of these new domestic conditions and the economic self-activation, and the partly because of return of better commodity prices in the first decade of the 21st century, that the Western media fabricated and propagated the new view of “Africa Rising”. This became a very popular and re-assuring slogan among some African leaders, politicians and intelligentsia.

However, it was an insecure condition because a “Rising Africa” whose upsurge is generated by increased external demand for primary commodities is essentially insecure. It does not represent genuine African development that is based on expansive domestic production and prosperity generation. It merely reinforces African dependency on primary commodity export and its dependence on the importation of manufactured goods. It is evaporating with the speed with which it was proclaimed.

But there was a more consequential development story of this period that ushered in what this author describes as the Affirmative African Narrative phase of development. This is the progressive assumption by African businesses of the leadership role in promoting national and pan-African development. This new trend of African self-development is captured by the new concept of “Africans Investing in Africa”. This is the process by which African industrial, service, and commercial enterprises began to make large-scale investments in many different African countries. The investments involve for example the expansion of banks, telecommunication companies, trading companies and so on. Examples of these include Nigerian bank like UBA, Zenith, Access, First Bank; South African banks like Standard Bank and Moroccan banks; telecommunication companies such as MTN of South Africa, ECONET of Zimbabwe and GLOBACOM of Nigeria. Others are Shoprite, Coca cola and South African Breweries.

While Africans investing in Africa is becoming common and commendable, it is important to emphasize that NOT ALL African investments in Africa are of equal economic importance or strategic development value. For example, African investments like Shoprite and similar companies which merely establish commercial or trading enterprises that do not add value to African economies are no different from traditional non-African FDI companies that are established to create captive markets for products from their home countries and thereby maximally exploit Africa.

On the other hand, African companies that make investments that are decisive and transformational are those that deliberately promote and advance African development capacitation, through local resource exploitation, mass industrialization, large scale industrial, agricultural and mineral production, and beneficiation for internal use.

In terms of investment for development capacitation through local resource utilization and valorization, the vanguard African company is the Dangote Group. In order to ensure that Africa achieves self-sufficiency in the critically important infrastructure development requirement – cement – Dangote embarked on a pan-African investment strategy to establish integrated plants, or grinding plants or cement terminals in African countries according to their resource endowments. The Group’s ultimate objective is to become the ascendant cement manufacturing company in Africa. There is no question that the Dangotean strategy of development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development and to create a secure development upsurge and continental prosperity that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities.

This Dangotean transformational mission and project is now being threatened by what seems like the unwillingness of African countries to respect and maintain carefully crafted legal investment agreements as sacrosanct documents and binding commitments. Within the past year the Group has faced major challenges as a result of the failure of some African states to keep their sides of the bargain or agreements concluded with Dangote Group. This happened late last year in Tanzania when the government seemed to renege on some elements within the agreements reached with the Dangote Group to give it concessions and incentives for the massive investments of over $500 million that the Group made in the construction of the monumental cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. This Dangote Cement Plant with its 3 million metric tonnes per annum capacity is the largest cement plant in Eastern Africa. In addition to the cement plant, other associated Dangote development projects include the construction of a coal power plant and a jetty. While these are primarily beneficial to the Group’s business, they also represent important investments and permanent additions to Tanzania’s power and sea transport sectors.

Together these projects have generated significant direct employment opportunities and as they mature and attain full production capacity the multiplier effects in various sub-sectors would be expansive and extensive, thereby creating prosperity and income in the community as well as revenues for the local, regional and national the governments. But due to the problems, Dangote had to temporarily shut down the plant; and after negotiations and assurances that restored the original terms, the plant resumed production. This Dangotean Tanzanian experience of government infidelity to the sanctity of agreements can only create profound doubts among business people on the readiness of African states and leaders to move Africa forward.

But the Group’s challenges in Africa are not over. Just recently, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Oromo Regional State where Dangote’s new over $400 million, 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant is located came up with new conditions that are bound to disrupt the operations of the Dangote plant. In what it claimed is an attempt to provide employment for jobless Oromo youth it decided to withdraw all mining licences and agreements already concluded with Dangote and similar other companies with mining concessions. In its place the regional government claimed that it would create youth owned companies that would now supply the minerals required by the cement and other plants.

This action of the Oromo regional government in illegally annulling legally approved mining agreements with the Dangote Group and other companies raise major questions on the genuine preparedness of African states, politicians, and bureaucrats to foster Africa’s self-development through Africans investing in Africa. Without question the action of these governments represents major challenges to Africans’ assumption of responsibility for their development and the emergent Affirmative Africa Narrative. In fact at its core, these anti-investment actions are a repudiation of the long-standing aspirations of Pan-Africanism and its advocates, and the practical commitment of the continental organizations like the former Organization of African Union (OAU) and the current African Union (AU) to promote African-led development through investments, intra-African trade and exchange, as instruments for creating secure African development and domestic prosperity-generation.

This is a good example of how some African leaderships’ represent serious obstacles to African development. Quite clearly any aspiration for Africa’s take off through self-actuated development as represented by the transformational efforts of Dangote and similar committed pan-African economic revolutionaries is weakened by such leadership unfaithfulness, irresponsibility and lack of serious commitments to African investors.

Despite these set-backs, it is important for African states and the continental and regional economic groups to reaffirm their commitment to African-led transformational industrial development as the basis for Africa’s capacitation for self-actuated development. In this light, it is imperative for the AU and its various economic agencies to design Continental Investment Protection Agreements that would commit African states to respect and uphold already approved agreements and avoid arbitrary nullifications of legally binding instruments. An additional guarantor is for each African state to negotiate investment protection treaties with each other. In fact this is especially indicated for countries such as Nigeria where investors are increasingly embarking on Pan-African development investments.

Finally, pan-African transformational investors like Dangote should remain committed and not be discouraged by these clearly disruptive actions of hapless, backward and anti-African development leaders. The Dangotes’ of Africa as continental transformational vanguards should remain firmly committed to their chosen paths of legal profit making and simultaneous contribution to Africa’s transformation, economic development, prosperity-generation, psychological liberation, and the restoration of Africans dignity and equality with others in the world. These are worthwhile and enduring ideals and challenges that transformational revolutionaries and societal game-changers are bound to encounter and overcome so as to create new worlds.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on African challenges to African development

Africa’s name, knowledge and dynamics


It is wrong history to teach that Africa was named by Greeks or Romans when these colonialists illegally occupied this unique continent through aggression and invasion. This was in 332 B.C. until the Roman invasion in 30 B.C. Africa got its name from Africans.

It is estimated that there are six thousand languages in the world. 3,000 of them are in Africa. If languages that have faded away are counted Africa had more than the present number.

One of the oldest names of Africa is Alkebu-Lan. This name has been interpreted as meaning “Mother of Nations” or “Mother of Mankind.” Africa is also one of the oldest names of this continent. Many theories about who named Africa have been thrown about:

  1. That the name came from a Roman soldier called Skippio Africanus.
  2. That the name is from Arabic Afriqiyah.
  3. That the name for Africa came from Leo Africanus. (1495-1554 A.D.). This date is too late for him. The Romans and the Greeks were long gone. This African scholar was a youth who was taken to slavery and later made a gift to Pope Leo X. This Pope realising this young man’s brilliant mind released him from slavery.
  4.  During his life Leo Africanus is said to have travelled in Timbuktu in Mali and Songhai in present Nigeria. He patriotically associated his name with the great continent of his ancestors –Afrika. The forces of European imperialism had begun to inflict the continent through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

It does not make sense to attribute the naming of Africa to Leo Africanus. The Greeks occupied Africa in 332 B.C. They were followed by the Romans in 30 B.C. These imperialists had long left when this brilliant scholar was born. Mizraim/Kemet (ancient Egypt) became occupied by Arabs only in 461 A.D. The people of Kemet/Kmt/Chemi/Khemi called themselves Kemmiu. This means Black people.

Greeks had earlier called Africa Aphrike as they could not pronounce the existing name Af-Rui-Ka.  The Greeks had already failed to call Mizraim/Kemet by one of its names Hu- Ka-Ptah. They corrupted this name into Aigyptos, while the Romans followed with their Aegyptus in their Latin language.

The Greek and Roman name for Mizraim/Kemet/Hu-Ka-Ptah translates into Egypt in English. The indigenous African name, Hu-Ka-Ptah, broke the jaws of the Greeks and the Romans. They could not pronounce this Mizraim/Kemet name; hence the name Egypt today. In fact, Egyptology and Egyptologist should be called Kemetology and Kemetologist respectively. Kemet/kmt was one of the correct names for “Hu-Ka-Ptah.”

Anyway let us go back to Africa’s name again. The Romans merely described Africa as “land of Afri” or “Afer terra” which meant “land of Afri” (black people). The names Afer and Afar are Phoencian. Phoenicians were descendants of Canaan son of Ham.  They also spoke of “Afri tribes.” This was long way back in the B.C. period when Africa was far advanced than Europe.

The Bible refers to Africa and its ancient extension in the Near East as the Land Of Ham, many times (Genesis 9:1; 10:6:20; Psalm 78:51; 105:23; 105:27; 10:6-22; 1 Chronicles 1:8) This includes Ham and his descendants.

These Phoenician names also mean “land of dust.” It is not clear whether they meant ordinary dust or the dust from which God created humanity according to many religions. Anyway, Phoenicians called themselves Kena’ anu or Kena’ ani, a Canaanite language. They called a book Byblos.

This section of Black people/ ancient Africans traded in paper which was called Papyrus, from which books were made. Papyrus was grown in Kemet/Kmt. Byblos (Biblyus) is the Canaanite/Phoenician word from which the name of the Bible is derived. Other words so derived are bibliography, bibliotheque, biblioteca and bibliotheke.

Concerning this originally Canaanite word, Byblos, a historian has commented: “This is highly ironic considering the very negative treatment that Canaanites receive in the [Eurocentric misinterpreted] Old Testament [about ‘The Curse of Ham.’”]

Other indigenous people of Africa used the name “Afri” or “Ifran.” The ancient language of Mizraim/Kemet (ancient Egypt): Kemetic called Africa, Af-Rui- Ka. It means the opening of Ka. Ka means soul or spirit. It also means the “place of birth.” Most African languages seem to have all agreed on the “root” “af,” “ifran,” “Afer,” “afar.” etc.

In Azania (South Africa) there is a common root “ntu”/ “tho” for African languages demonstrating that they come from a common stock. Here is an example. Ancient Africans called their countries after their skin colour or language collectively. Kush, Mizraim/Kemet, Nubia, Numidia, Khart-Haddas, Azania meant black man’s country.

In Africa, especially in Southern-Central Eastern Africa any human being was umntu, motho, muntu. This is in Xhosa, Sesotho and Zulu languages. Their common philosophy is Ubuntu/ Botho. When it came to land it could be according to the language of the people e.g. Venda, Swazi, Sesotho, Sepedi, Setswana, Shona, Sindebele etc.

But when it came to the whole country, it was described as “Land of Black People” or “Blackman’s Country”- Izwe labantu abantsundu or abamnyama, Naha ya batho ba batsho, Shango la vhathu va tswu, Tiko ra vanhu va mtima, Vana vevhu! This is collectively in Sesotho, Nguni, Venda, Tsonga and Shona respectively. In Sesotho all Africans are called Bana ba thari e ntsho (children of the black mother).

There seems to have been this commonality when the ancestors of Africans named Africa. This was long before the Greeks and Romans knew anything about this unique continent whose people have never coveted the land and riches of other people and stolen them at gunpoint.

The name Africa is consistent with the other oldest name of the continent – Alkebu-Lan -“Mother of Nations.” Kemetologist/Egyptologist Gerald Massey was a very learned English man about Africa. He has endorsed the etymology of the word African as meaning origin. He has pointed out that “Africa was the prime source of the world’s people, language, myths, symbols and religions.”

The name Africa has indeed come from the heart of Africans with their then over 3000 languages. Africa became known to Europe through the Greeks and the Romans, but these Europeans had heard this name from Africans.

Greeks and Romans were drawn to the glory and riches of pre-slavery and pre-colonial Africa. Those were days when Julius Caesar, in adoration and admiration of the “Mother of Nations” – Alkebu-Lan – Afrika; could without fear of contradicting himself, say: “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi!”- “Out of Africa always comes something new.”

The distinguished Roman scholar Pliny the Elder had already   proclaimed, “Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre.” “There is always something new coming out of Africa.”

The view that the name Africa came from Africans and not from Greeks and Romans or Arabs has been endorsed by well informed researchers and writers. Some of them are Prof. Ivan Van Sertima, author of Blacks In Science.

Gerald Massey, an accomplished English Egyptologist, went to the extent of saying that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was incomplete without spiritualism from Africa.

Dr. Yosef A. ben-Jochannan simply titled his book, Africa: Mother Of Western Civilisation. The celebrated African Kemetologist/Egyptologist, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, has pointed out that “During antiquity, scholars considered Ethiopians, Egyptians and Colchians as Black people. Nobody can cite a denial of this fact in the ancient text.” Indeed, “the father of European history,” Herodotus wrote about this way back in the B.C. era.

What the Ancients said about Africa

Before Africa and her people suffered the holocaust of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, colonial stealing of their countries and riches by Western Europe that dehumanised Africa’s people through racism, this is what the ancients said about Africa and Africans:

1. Ibn Hisham, the biographer or editor of Prophet Mohammed, has recorded that this Prophet of Islam so trusted the people of Africa that he instructed those who were persecuted in Mecca for their religion to go to Kush/ Ethiopia [Africa]. “You will find a king under whom none are persecuted. It is a land of righteousness where God will give you relief from what you are suffering.”

2. Lucian was a Greek satirist (a “free thinker”) of the olden days. He is recorded as saying, “The [Greek] gods on certain occasions do not hear the prayers of the mortals [in Europe] because they are away across the oceans among the Ethiopians [Africans] with whom they dine frequently on their invitation.”

3. Diodurus Siculus was a veteran ancient Greek historian. What did he write about the pre-slave and pre-colonial Africa? “The Ethiopians [Africans] were the first to honour the gods and hold sacrifices and festivals and processions and the rites by which men honour the deity and that in consequence their piety has been published abroad among all men…the sacrifices practised among the Ethiopians are those that are the most pleasing to heaven.”

4. In his lengthy two-volume treaties, Ancalypsis, pages 137-138, Sir Godfrey Higgins has written, “The Infant in the arms of his mother, his eyes and drapery white, is himself perfectly black.

If any reader doubts my word, he must go to the cathedral at Moulins – to the famous chapel of the virgin at Loretto – to the church of Saint Lazaro, or the church of Stephen at Genoa…to the cathedral at Augsburg, where are a black virgin and child as large as life…to Panthem – a small chapel of Saint Peter on the right hand side….”

Sir Higgins adds, “There is scarcely an old church in Italy where some remains of the worship of BLACK VIRGIN AND BLACK CHILD are not to be met with.”

He, however, observed that lately, “Very often the black figures have given way to white ones and instead of the black ones as being held sacred, they were put into retired places of the churches, but were not destroyed.”

This is how racism has been used against Africa and her people by the architects of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism for which there has been no reparation or and meaningful apology. History must be written as it happened. A mutilated and manipulated history is a perfidious lie that must be destroyed.

What the Bible says about Africans

What does the Bible say about Africans whom it calls Kushites, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Nubians and by many other names? Through his Prophet Amos in chapter 9:7 God asked this question:

“Are not you Israelites the same as the Kushites? Declare the LORD. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt?” (New International Version of the Bible)

“Are you not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith, the LORD .Have I not brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt?” (King James Version of the Bible)

Also through the Bible in Psalm 68:31, God shows great interest in Africans: “Princes shall come out of Egypt; and Ethiopia [Africa] shall soon stretch out her hands to God.”

The New International Version of the Bible reads: “Envoys will come from Egypt; Kush will submit herself to God. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. Sing to the Lord, to him who rides the ancient skies above, who thunders with might.”

“Princes shall come out of Egypt [Africa]; Ethiopia [Africa] shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.” (The Amplified Version of the Bible).

See what happened about 74 A.D. in Acts 8:26-40. Consider also the fact that the earliest martyrs of the Christian faith were Africans.

In Deuteronomy 23:7-8 God had a command for ancient Jews who had been preserved in Africa.“….Do not abhor an Egyptian (African), because you lived as an alien in his country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.”

The Amplified Bible reads,“ …You shall not abhor an Egyptian [African] because you were a stranger and temporary  resident in his land. Their children may enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation.”

On the matter of making Jesus “White”

On another matter of history affecting Christian theology a prominent first century historian Flavius Josephus who lived in Galilee at the time of Jesus has described Jesus as “Man of plain looks, extremely learned and full of vigour with a dark skin.”

If Jesus is divine an image of him defiles and corrupts God’s glory. Not even Black people, who have a reason to claim the skin colour of Jesus while in human form here on earth, may make an image of Jesus.

He Himself taught that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in truth and in spirit” (John 4:24). He told the doubters, “Blessed are they that have not seen but they have believed” (John 20:29)

That renowned religious reformer, John Calvin, was right when he wrote, “A true image of God is not found in all the world; hence God’s glory is defiled and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form….Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption His majesty is adulterated. And He is figured to be other than He is.”

Scientists have failed to find a “White” Jesus

Richard Neave in Britain, a retired medical artist from the University of Manchester, constructed a face [of Jesus] using forensic physical anthropology. The face that the learned man constructed revealed that Jesus could not have a broad face and large nose. This would differ markedly “from the traditional depictions of Jesus in [European] renaissance.”

Adam Clark in his Commentary of the Whole Bible (1832) referred to his understanding of the description in Lamentations: 4:7-8 by Prophet Jeremiah. It reads,” Her Nazarites were purer than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies …. Their visage (face) is blacker than coal….”

The Simplified Version of the Bible verse 8 reads:  “[Prolonged famine has made] them look blacker than soot and darkness …”

Incidentally, it was Ebedmelech, a black official of a King, who rescued Jeremiah from death (Jeremiah 38: 7 ). At some point Prophet Jeremiah fled to Kemet (ancient Egypt) in Africa where he later died. (Jeremiah 43)

Anyway, back to Clark. He points out that, Jews/Israelites as a group or in whole or part were originally black. He concluded that, “Jesus, broadly Caucasian,” would not fit in the Western World.

Mark Goodcare of the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham tried to find the skin colour of Jesus as “white.” He used the third century images from the synagogues. His experiment led in a different direction. He found that Jesus’ colour “would have been darker and swarthier.”

A “White” Jesus is bad history

A writer has remarked, “Insisting that Jesus was white is bad history.” He points out that the myth of a ‘white’ Jesus “is deeply rooted in the Western European Renaissance where Western artists depicted Jesus as ‘white.’ But the scholarly consensus is that Jesus was like the most first Jews, “a dark-skinned person.”

Of course, there is no “white Jesus” in the Bible. Matthew describes Jesus as descending from David (Matthew 1:5; 22:43-45: Rev. 22:16).  Salmon’s wife was Rahab (a Canaanite, a descendant of Ham) (Matthew 1:5, Joshua 2:2-4.) David begot Solomon with Bathsheba whose first husband was Uriah (Matthew 1:7; 2 Samuel: 11:3). She gave birth to Solomon (2 Samuel12:24). Solomon himself married a daughter of an African King (1 Kings 3:1).The earthly genealogy or family tree of Jesus Christ is clearly recorded in the Bible e.g. Matthew 1:2-16.

Referring to His human form while here on earth, Jesus Himself declared, “I am the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)

In reality and truth, there are no “white” people on this planet earth, if the simile “as white as snow” or as “white as milk” are not wrong English. Or have a different meaning from that of African languages.

Disciples of Jesus never preached a “White” Jesus

None of the disciples/apostles of Jesus Christ ever preached a “white” Jesus who is a European. Paul, the most prolific of them, proclaimed:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellence of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know  anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified….That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2; 7 )

Emphasising this point beyond reasonable doubt to another group of people, Paul warned: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, Let him be accursed.

“As we said before, so say I again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that which you have received, let him be accursed. For, do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brothers [and sisters], that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” (Galatians 1:8-11)

Back to Africa

Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, that great Pan Africanist scholar and visionary, was right when on April 1906 told American students at Columbia University:

“Africa in her ruins is like a golden sun, that having set beneath the western horizon still speaks to the world she sustained and enlightened. Africa is truly the history of a people whose inward tide has often been full of tears. But her bondage shall never quench the fire of former years until her destroyed glory returns.”

God bless Afrika, Her sons and daughters!

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Africa’s name, knowledge and dynamics

Anti-Imperialism, Pan-Africanism and Nkrumah’s Ghana. The Historic Role of Shirley Graham Du Bois


Ghana Independence 60th Anniversary. A Towering Political Figure impacting the Radical Phase of the First Republic.


With March 6 representing six decades of statehood for the West African nation of Ghana provides an excellent opportunity for a political, economic and historical assessment of post-colonial developments on the continent.

In 1957 there were very few liberated areas in Africa. Egypt had been considered independent for many years although prior to 1952, Cairo was largely a neo-colony of Britain as a result of its control over the Suez Canal. President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a co-leader in the Free Officers Movement which seized power on July 23, 1952, after consolidating power some two years later in 1954, nationalized the Canal in 1956.

In response Britain, France and the State of Israel invaded the North African state with the intent to remove the Nasser government. The United States under the-then President Dwight D. Eisenhower viewed the British-led intervention as an effort to reassert London’s imperialist project which had been severely curtailed as a result of World War II, threatened to withdraw Washington’s underpinning of their national economy if the intervention was not halted.

The action taken by Nasser represented the emerging assertiveness of African and other oppressed nations during the 1950s. It was in 1954 that the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) launched its armed struggle against French colonialism which had dominated the country since 1830. It has been estimated that one million Algerians died during the liberation war however the movement prevailed over the conventional military superiority of Paris.

Sudan gained its independence from Britain in early 1956. The people had engaged in anti-colonial revolts since the latter years of the 19th century.

During the European colonial period the nations of Ethiopia and Liberia were considered independent.  Nonetheless, with these states being surrounded and under the economic dominance by the imperialist countries they could in no genuine sense be considered sovereign nations. Ethiopia was invaded by Italy in 1896 and 1935 by Italy. Libyans fought a three decades-long war against Rome in the early years of the 20th century before being subsumed by imperialism.

The African Diaspora and the Anti-imperialist Struggle

Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois (February 23, 1868-August 28, 1963) was described by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as the “Father of Pan-Africanism” due to his involvement in African affairs dating back to the late 19th century. In 1896, Dr. Du Bois completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University on the Suppression of the African Slave Trade, 1638-1870.

By 1900, Du Bois had traveled to London to participate in what is considered to be the First Pan-African Conference organized by Trinidadian Barrister Henry Sylvester Williams. Du Bois recalled that he was secretary of the Conference and drafted its resolutions.

Later he would convene a series of similar meetings known as the Pan-African Congresses from 1919 to 1923. By 1927, when the Fourth Pan-African Congress was held in New York City, it was being structured, organized and funded by the women’s organization the Circle for Peace and Foreign Relations headed by Addie W. Hunton, a prominent African American who had intervened in support of Black soldiers during their deployment in France for the U.S. at the conclusion of World War I.

Hunton and her predecessor Anna J. Cooper were instrumental in the rise of independent African organizational culture emanating from the late 19th, early 20th centuries. Both Cooper and Hunton were internationalists in their outlooks and had definite views on the essential role of women in social transformation and political development.

Lola Shirley Graham was born on November 11, 1896 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of an African Methodist Episcopal minister. She had initially met W.E.B. Du Bois through her father while she was a child.

Shirley Graham Du Bois with Malcolm X in Ghana, May 1964

Graham Du Bois attended the Sorbonne in France to study music and later enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio, renowned for its training of African American women dating back to the pre-Civil War period. She obtained both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Oberlin in music during 1934 and 1935 respectively.

Graham Du Bois became a prolific writer, composing plays, musicals and publishing biographies. She would spend decades in the theatre while maintaining an interest in political movements as well. She became an organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where her future husband was a co-founder, serving as the editor of the Crisis Magazine from 1910-1934.

Her politics moved more to the Left resulting in her joining the Communist Party of the U.S. during the 1940s and serving on a high level within its structures and concomitant mass groups and coalitions that were either controlled or influenced by the Marxist-Leninist Party. With the passing of W.E.B. Du Bois’ first wife Nina Gomer in 1950, Graham Du Bois became closer to the retired professor and prodigious author.

Her burgeoning personal relationship with Du Bois moved him further into left-wing circles becoming a consistent ally on the periphery of the CP. Du Bois was a leading member of the Council on African Affairs (CAA) which was founded in the late 1930s by perhaps the leading artist in the U.S., Paul Leroy Robeson, a graduate of Princeton and Columbia University Law School who became an actor, singer and social scientist.

By 1945, Du Bois would travel to Manchester, England to serve as Chairman of the Fifth Pan-African Congress. Other leading people within the conference were George Padmore, an African-Trinidadian who was the former leader of the Red International Labor Union (Profintern) and a member of the Communist Party in the U.S., who later broke with Moscow in 1934 after the rise of Germany as a fascist state. In addition to Padmore, Francis Kwame Nkrumah, was the organizing secretary for the Manchester gathering.

Nkrumah from the Nzima people of western Gold Coast had studied for ten years in the U.S. (1935-1945) at Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania. During his tenure in America in addition to obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees in Philosophy, Economics and Theology, Nkrumah had become a licensed minister providing him with platforms to speak in African American churches and other social organizations.

After being involved in the Left, nationalist and Pan-African movements in the U.S., Nkrumah moved to England in 1945 with the hopes of pursuing a doctorate at the London School of Economics. Instead he became enmeshed in the anti-colonial milieu in Britain. He was embraced by Padmore, by then a well-known journalist who wrote extensively on African affairs.

The resolutions of the Fifth PAC were far more radical than preceding conferences held between 1900 and 1927. A stronger participation of labor and farmer organizations along with youth ensured a more forward looking political direction.

Moreover, the weakening of heretofore dominant European imperialist states such as England, France, Italy, Spain and Germany provided an incentive for colonial territories to adopt an aura of urgency in regard to the attainment of national independence and sovereignty. The U.S. which emerged triumphantly from World War II became the supreme imperialist center of global hegemony backed by international finance capital based in New York.

Although Washington paid lip service to the notions of self-determination for colonial peoples, there was still a protracted struggle to be waged against the rising Socialist camp. The Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the fighting against Nazi Germany, was able to maintain its existence and expand anti-capitalist influence through the founding of several socialist governments in Eastern Europe.

Asia witnessed revolutions which consolidated after the War in North Korea, North Vietnam and mainland China provided a clear social and economic alternative for the colonized territories. Consequently, by 1947 a Cold War surfaced pitting the world capitalist system against the Socialist countries.

In 1950 full-scale war erupted again in Korea over the direction of the peninsula formally dominated by Japan from 1905 to 1945. The Korean War (1950-53) resulted in the deaths of four million people. The deployment of the 500,000-member Chinese People’s Volunteer Army beat back U.S. imperialism ensuring the survival of the North leading to the formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Increasing numbers of people and territories were seeking a way out of the capitalist and imperialist system.

The Du Boises, Pan-Africanism and Cold War Repression

The year 1948 became a watershed in the intensifying hostility among the two rival camps as the Left in the U.S. began to advocate for peaceful coexistence between the differing social systems of capitalism and socialism. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in an effort to stave off a total collapse of the capitalist system in the U.S., adopted socialistic reforms such as controls on the banking industry, the creation of social security, welfare, unemployment benefits, and public works projects aimed at infrastructural development and employment creation.

These programs did not emerge from the imagination of Roosevelt. They were demands advanced by the CP and other mass organizations aimed at tackling joblessness, hunger, home foreclosures and evictions as well as the threat of global class warfare. The inability of capitalism to resolve its own internal crises was revealed during the 1930s as the Great Depression did not end until the entrance of the U.S. into World War II in December 1941.

Threats of another imperialist instigated conflagration were all too real by 1948-49. Du Bois’ refusal to go along with the Cold War domestic policies of the administration of President Harry S. Truman which was the adoption of an anti-communist position in exchange for minimal reforms in the areas of Civil Rights. In the aftermath of the War, there was an upsurge in racist violence directed towards African Americans. Therefore, the symmetry of national oppression and hostility against the Socialist camp necessitated a duplicitous stance on the part of the U.S. ruling class.

Du Bois’ rejection of the Truman candidacy of 1948 and his embrace of Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party sped-up his inevitable departure from the NAACP for the second time in a decade-and-a-half. After his attendance at the Paris Peace Conference of 1949 and the advocacy of détente with the Soviet Union and China, Du Bois became a target of the federal government. By 1951 he and four associates were under indictment for failing to register as an agent of a foreign government.

It was during this period that Du Bois married Shirley Graham. They embarked upon a national tour of the U.S. to build support for his acquittal. The case against Du Bois collapsed under the weight of its own folly. Nonetheless, many other prominent Leftists were convicted on similar charges resulting in prison terms, deportations and professional isolation. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed by the American government in 1953 for purportedly sharing nuclear information with the Soviet Union.

Shirley Graham Du Bois and her new husband had their passports confiscated by the U.S. government preventing them from traveling abroad during the years of 1950-1958. After the Supreme Court held that these measures were unconstitutional, the Du Boises went on a world tour of Europe, Asia and Africa.

Graham Du Bois visited Ghana in December 1958 to address the All-African People’s Conference held in Accra. The event attracted the participation of 62 national liberation organizations from around the continent.

The paper delivered by Graham Du Bois on behalf of her husband entitled, “The Future of All-Africa Lies in Socialism”, asserted that:

“Africa, ancient Africa, has been called by the world and has lifted up her hands! Africa has no choice between private capitalism and socialism. The whole world, including capitalist countries, is moving toward socialism, inevitably, inexorably. You can choose between blocs of military alliance, you can choose between groups of political union; you cannot choose between socialism and private capitalism because private capitalism is doomed.”

This address goes on to ask: But what is socialism? It is a disciplined economy and political organization in which the first duty of a citizen is to serve the state; and the state is not a selected aristocracy, or a group of self-seeking oligarchs, who have seized wealth and power. No! The mass of workers with hand and brain are the ones whose collective destiny is the chief object of all effort.

Gradually, every state is coming to this concept of its aim. The great Communist states like the Soviet Union and China have surrendered completely to this idea. The Scandinavian states have yielded partially; Great Britain has yielded in some respects, France in part, and even the United States adopted the New Deal which was largely socialism; though today further American socialism is held at bay by 60 great groups of corporations who control individual capitalists and the trade union leaders.”

Such an appeal to the national liberation movements and independent states would of course draw the negative attention of U.S. and world imperialism. This concern was reflected in the thousands of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files which were meticulously kept on both W.E.B. and Shirley Graham Du Bois in this period.

After traveling to the People’s Republic of China in 1959 the Du Boises were accused of being in violation of U.S. policy of entering Socialist states without authorization. Their passports were revoked once again. They then successfully appealed this decision which provided the activist couple with the capacity to visit Ghana in July 1960 to attend the Republic Day ceremonies and the Conference of the Women of Africa and African Descent.

Intelligence agencies were concerned about the travel plans of the couple. A confidential FBI memorandum from the office of John Edgar Hoover, Director, forwarded to the Office of Security Department of State dated June 20, 1960, noted that the Du Boises had been issued passports on June 7. The applications for the passports revealed the couple would leave New York by air on June 20 to visit Ghana to attend the ceremonies surrounding the establishment of the First Republic headed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

This memo also made reference to the awarding of the Lenin Peace Prize to Dr. Du Bois by the Soviet government. Linking the Du Boises to the Communist movement the document reads:

“William Du Bois is Negro author, lecturer and scholar who has [a] long history of affiliation with communist front groups. He was a recipient of a 1958 international Lenin Peace Prize awarded by the Soviet Government. His wife has also had history of association with front groups. Subjects have received official invitation to attend the ceremonies of the inauguration of the new Government of Ghana.  Pertinent reports and memoranda concerning subjects have previously been furnished State and CIA, who are interested both in subject William Du Bois’ receipt of the Lenin Peace Prize and in the foreign travel of both subjects. Information re: passports telephonically furnished to Liaison Section by State Department.”

The Chicago Daily Defender, an African American publication, reported on September 4, 1960 that Graham Du Bois would be a featured speaker at an event planned for November 8 at Carnegie Hall in New York entitled “Rally for Peace and Friendship.” The event was sponsored by the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship (NCASF).

This same report indicated the Du Boises spent July and August in Ghana where in addition to participation in the Republic Day activities, Graham Du Bois served as head of a delegation of African American women who attended the Conference of Women of Africa and African Descent held in Accra. While in Ghana, the Du Boises toured the country visiting various villages, cities and rural communities in an effort assess the social and economic measures being implemented by the people.

Ghana, Socialist Construction and the African Revolution

Ghana gained independence in 1957 and became a Republic in 1960 with Kwame Nkrumah moving from being Prime Minister to President. The Du Boises were invited guests of the state ruled by the CPP and President Nkrumah. They were asked by the government to remain in Ghana and become full citizens. Du Bois was solicited to establish his long-planned Encyclopedia Africana Project aimed at the rewriting of African history from the perspective of the people themselves.

Although they returned to the U.S. in 1960, by the following year the Du Boises had relocated in Ghana. A report in the Ghana Evening News on October 11, 1961 stated the couple had arrived in the country that very morning. In another article published by the Evening News on October 16, reports the Du Boises had been paid a visit by the People’s Republic of China Ambassador to Ghana, Huang Hua and his wife, over the weekend of October 14-15. The article notes the ambassador “had a friendly talk with them.”

The following year on December 17, 1962, the FBI was advised by an undisclosed (redacted) source that high-ranking Communist Party African American official Henry Winston, while visiting Moscow had indicated during a personal conversation which took place in November, that Du Bois and his wife Shirley:

“after five weeks in China during late September and October, 1962, stayed in Moscow for twelve days in November, 1962. In China, the Chinese treated them lavishly and gave them many gifts. William Du Bois received medical attention, which, together with treatment received in Great Britain, he credits for saving his life. This same treatment was refused him by the Soviets due to his advanced age. The overall effect of the China visit on the Du Boises was great to the point that Shirley Du Bois thinks of the Chinese as ‘racial brothers’.”

This FBI document goes on to emphasize that:

“The Soviets are fearful of the Chinese influence on the Du Boises, in that they may lose their support in the ideological dispute with the Chinese. To counter this, the Soviets had Winston return to Moscow from Sofia, Bulgaria, to discuss matters with the Du Boises. The Soviets showered Du Bois with gifts and honors and arranged meetings with Brezhnev, President of the USSR, and with Khrushchev. Although the Soviets were not completely successful with William Du Bois, and much less successful with Shirley Du Bois, they were able to get William Du Bois to issue a public statement supporting the Soviet position in Cuba. Another reason why the Soviets tried to influence William Du Bois is that he is very close to President Nkrumah of Ghana, a leader of the neutralist camp. The Soviets believe that they can determine Nkrumah’s position and policy through Du Bois.”

Through other quotes attributed to either one or both of the Du Boises, whose sources are not cited in the FBI files from the above-mentioned report, says:

“We are the only American Negroes in Ghana who have visited the Peoples Republic of China. I assure you that none of the remarks attributed to these ‘American Negroes’ were ever uttered by either of us. As you know we were very recently in China as well as in the Soviet Union. During this time in both countries we talked with the highest leaders as well as people in all walks of life. But we do not feel equipped to hand out advice to either of these Socialist Giants as to how they should settle their differences.”

The FBI document then goes on to suggest that the Soviets being fearful of Chinese influence in Africa, were preparing Winston for a visit to the continent. Agencies apparently believed or had been informed that Dr. Du Bois had arranged for Winston to travel to Ghana. There was also the hope that Winston would visit other states in Africa as well in April 1963.

While in Ghana, Graham Du Bois continued to write extensively on the freedom movements of African Americans in the U.S. as well as the overall global anti-imperialist struggle.

In the February 1963 edition of The World Review, the journal of the NCASF, on page 17, there was an article by Graham Du Bois entitled “January 8 in Ghana.” This article reviewed the mass struggle of the Ghanaian people against British colonialism which resulted in the release of Nkrumah from prison in February 1951 and the development of a path towards the acquisition of national independence in 1957. January 8, 1950 was the day of “Positive Action” where the CPP called for a national strike demanding independence for the Gold Coast.

Political Affairs, the theoretical journal of the Communist Party in the U.S., published an article by Graham Du Bois entitled “Africa Must Save the Congo”, where the author traces the events inside the mineral-rich Central African state from the period of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba’s appeal to the United Nations for assistance in the early days of independence in after June 30, 1960. She concludes that imperialism has created a disastrous crisis inside the country and consequently prevented the UN from bringing stability. She reports that African states were working towards a solution to the Congo problem.

Du Bois became the Director of Encyclopedia Africana and served in that capacity until his death inside the country on August 28, 1963. FBI files reveal that Graham Du Bois renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a citizen of the Republic of Ghana in October 1963.

A memorandum from the Department of Justice FBI dated October 10, says: “On October 4, 1963, the United States Embassy at Accra, Ghana, advised the Department of State that subject had renounced her United States Citizenship under Section 349 (A) (6) Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, on that date. On October 5, 1963, the Embassy advised as follows: Subject intends to apply for United States visa for a Ghanaian passport in order to come to the United States in February, 1964, to attend a memorial rally in honor of her late husband, W.E.B. Du Bois. It was believed that Kwame Nkrumah, Chief of State of Ghana, and the Ghanaian press will be severely critical of the United States Government if subject is denied a visa.”

Subsequently, Graham Du Bois was denied a visa to reenter the U.S. By the concluding months of 1963, the Cold War atmosphere surrounding the direction of the Civil Rights Movement had become even more pronounced. The March on Washington of August 28, 1963 was held on the same day as the passing of Dr. Du Bois. Although NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins acknowledged the death of the co-founder of the organization, he slandered the legacy of Dr. Du Bois by claiming that he had taken another path in recent years.

The spring and summer months of 1963 were marked by heightened mobilizations on the part of the African American people against legalized segregation and national oppression. Events in Birmingham, Alabama; Danville, Virginia; Cambridge, Maryland; Somerville, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi, among many other areas, had aroused the national consciousness in the U.S. and around the world.

Mao-Tse-tung, the Chairman of the Communist Party of China (CPC), issued a statement in response to the unrest in the U.S. marred by the assassination of Medgar Evers, the NAACP Field Secretary in Jackson, Mississippi on June 12. Reviewing the events of 1963, Mao condemned the U.S. for its treatment of the African American people. He began the statement by acknowledging that former NAACP leader in Monroe, North Carolina, Robert F. Williams, then living in exile in Cuba, had urged him on two occasions to make a comprehensive appeal for global support of the African American struggle against the racist U.S. political system.

In concluding this statement issued on August 8, the CPC leader called upon the peoples of the world to express their unconditional solidarity with the African American people:

“I call upon the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie, and other enlightened personages of all colors in the world, white, black, yellow, brown, etc., to unite to oppose the racial discrimination practiced by U.S. imperialism and to support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination.

In the final analysis, a national struggle is a question of class struggle. In the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling clique among the whites which is oppressing the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists, headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are carrying out oppression, aggression and intimidation against the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. They are the minority, and we are the majority. At most they make up less than ten percent of the 3,000 million people of the world. I am deeply convinced that, with the support of more than ninety per cent of the people of the world, the just struggle of the American Negroes will certainly be victorious. The evil system of colonialism and imperialism grew on along with the enslavement of the Negroes and the trade in Negroes; it will surely come to its end with the thorough emancipation of the black people.”  (Peking Review, No. 33, Aug. 16, 1963)

The lingering Cold War mentality of two African American leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, James Farmer, the Executive Secretary of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), who at the time was serving a jail sentence in Louisiana, and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, immediately rejected the statement issued by Chairman Mao. Graham Du Bois in an article entitled “The Great Debate”, admonished Wilkins and Farmer for their anti-Communist responses.

Graham Du Bois accused Farmer of being brainwashed for symbolically biting the hand stretched out to assist him in his Louisiana jail cell. Wilkins’ championed the welcoming of the leadership of the March on Washington by President Kennedy and the legislation submitted to Congress for a Civil Rights bill in the summer of 1963 as proof that African Americans did not need the support of CPC. Conversely, Graham Du Bois noted that the anti-Communist statement by Farmer issued on August 20 could not free him from detention in Louisiana so he could participate in the March on Washington.

The recently-naturalized Ghanaian citizen stressed that people around the world had praised the call by the CPC Chairman to unite in support of the African American struggle. She stressed that never before had such an appeal been made by a large and powerful nation like China.

She went on saying:

“We, in soon-to-be-united Africa, hear this call and the accompanying statement with uplifted hearts. Africans know well that the discrimination practiced in the United States is indeed discrimination against Africa, than not only have the imperialists and racists robbed, plundered and ravaged this fruitful continent, but they have employed every means of degradation, oppression and shame to humiliate Africans and all the children of Africa. The wealth, prosperity and advancement of the United States were built on the annihilation of one people (the American Indian) and the enslavement of another. Beginning with all the back-breaking labor of clearing and developing wilderness and building cities, the Negro’s contribution mounts and expands through every field of endeavor—reaching particular heights in music, literature and science.” (Muhammad Speaks, Nov. 22, 1963, pp. 19-20)

In early 1964, Graham Du Bois was appointed by Nkrumah as Director of Ghana National Television. The project was a massive undertaking which required the solicitation of support from other sympathetic nations. Eventually the Japanese Sanyo Corporation agreed to supply much needed technical assistance.

Not only was she involved in the development of the first national television network in Ghana, Graham Du Bois was functioning on a high level within the CPP government as an administrator within the state publishing house. She worked directly with President Nkrumah and was a part of his inner circle of advisors.

After returning from the Second Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) held in Cairo, Egypt in July 1964, where she consulted with Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz) on the efforts of the newly-founded Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) to build support for the struggle inside the U.S. among heads-of-state, the UN and national liberation movements, she would announce the convening of a course on television screenwriting in Accra. The aim was to train a cadre of writers for Ghana National Television which was due to be launched in a few months.

She had signed up Donald Ogden Stewart, the American Communist expatriate living in London, to serve as Director of Television Writing. Stewart was a screenwriter, widely known for his sophisticated comedies and melodramas, such as The Philadelphia Story (based on the play by Philip Barry), Tarnished Lady and Love Affair.

In a letter to her New York-based attorney, Bernard Jaffe, she reported that she had received nearly 150 letters of application for the class. The course began with 76 people in attendance. By October 17, 1964, after ten weeks, there was regular participation of fifty to sixty people every week. She pointed out the uneven development of the students which were lectured by her in basic writing and techniques for television broadcasting.

A subsequent letter to Jaffe from Graham Du Bois dated February 21, 1965, discusses the mounting pressure by the imperialist states on the CPP government. She conveys to her lawyer how:

“It would be silly to emphasize that Africa is going through a crucial period when the entire world seems to be hurtling through space bent on its own destruction. Until a few months ago Ghana seemed like a safe haven busily intent on attending to its own pressing business, organizing and developing at breakneck speed, working hard and running forward. We never attempted to isolate ourselves—but we do steer our own ship and hold high a pilot light for the rest of Africa. So what happens? Attempts at assassination fail. Attempts at stirring up internal dissension fail! We keep moving forward. So now the World Marketers close in! They are trying to strangle our economy, cut off our trade, freeze certain foreign exchange, while, at the same time, choke us with foreign goods. Nkrumah answers by refusing to release precious cocoa, imposing rigid import restrictions and telling us we must DO WITHOUT until new adjustments can be made with socialist countries! It will work. Nobody is going to starve, but new, industrial projects such as TELEVISION have been hard hit. Television must import everything in the line of equipment and working materials. And here we are—in the last quarter, ready to make final preparation for beginning and unable to get final essentials for our work. I must ‘hold the line’ ‘keep high the morale and spirits of my workers’, continue with everything it is possible to do—and there is much to do—and radiate assurance that everything will be all right!”

One year after this letter was written the CPP government under President Nkrumah was overthrown in a U.S.-engineered police and military coup. Nkrumah was out of the country on a peace mission to China and North Vietnam seeking to find a solution to the escalating imperialist war against the people of Southeast Asia. The coup led to the purging of the CPP from government and the elimination of hundreds of political and economic projects.

Graham Du Bois was placed under house arrest while being removed from her directorship of Ghana National Television. Many others were killed, imprisoned and driven into exile. Nkrumah left Peking after being told of the coup stopping over in Cairo en route to Conakry, Guinea led by President Ahmed Sekou Toure, Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG).

Shirley Graham Du Bois with Malcolm X in Ghana, May 1964

Nkrumah was given not only political asylum in Guinea but was appointed by the government as co-president. He would settle there until 1971 when he was sent to Bucharest, Romania for treatment of cancer. He died on April 27, 1972.

Graham Du Bois was able to leave Ghana and would settle in Cairo and the People’s Republic of China where she died in 1976.

The role of Shirley Graham Du Bois and Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in Ghana was indicative of the political character of the CPP government from the period of tactical action (1951-56) to independence (1957-66). Hundreds of African Americans either visited or settled in Ghana during this time period, many of whom making technical and political contributions to the African Revolution which was centered in Accra.

Since the 1960s, the work of the Du Boises has gained attention among many students, intellectuals and activists in the U.S. and internationally. Nevertheless, the political significance of their contributions remains highly obscured due to the continuing institutionally racist and anti-Communist social atmosphere which prevails in colleges and universities in America.

The current generation of activists and intellectuals must unearth and review these monumental achievements in order to gain clearer insight into the actual political, social and economic history of the U.S. There is much within this period of 20th century historical processes that could be utilized in building stronger movements for Pan-Africanism and Socialism in the contemporary era.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Anti-Imperialism, Pan-Africanism and Nkrumah’s Ghana. The Historic Role of Shirley Graham Du Bois

Hybrid Wars and the Geopolitics of South Atlantic Africa. The Russia-China Strategic Outpost

the-grand-chess-board 3

As the third-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa and the continent’s number one oil producer, Angola seems set for a promising future. The country finally pulled out of a 27-year long civil war in 2002 and has been rapidly building up its infrastructure ever since, even if its economy still retained its energy-exporting dependence.

The economic crisis that’s been caused by the latest oil slump has given Luanda a pressing motivation to finally diversify its revenue base and begin exploring the manufacturing industry and steel production.

Only time will tell if this is too little too late or the right move at the right time, but the most fundamental component of Angola’s diversification strategy is its ambition to serve as a terminal point for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia’s multinational railroad projects. Together these constitute the coast-to-coast Southern Trans-African Route (STAR) being spearheaded by China, which in turn reinforces the Chinese-Angolan Strategic Partnership and underscores the unparalleled importance of Luanda in Beijing’s continental grand strategy.

Benguela Will Brighten Angola’s Future

China’s New Silk Road vision for Africa encompasses much more that natural resource extraction. It in fact aims to facilitate the continent’s commercial capabilities in serving as a labor and export market for China’s overcapacity. African countries can only be in a position to purchase excess Chinese products if they themselves have a stable and growing economy, which is impossible to maintain under an energy export-centric system. Therein lays the strategic value of Chinese investments in Angola and the other countries of the South-Central, East, and Horn of African regions that are expected to be connected to the new transnational multipolar transport corridors that Beijing is financing and constructing all throughout the continent. Angola’s role in this ambitious construction is to function as STAR’s South Atlantic terminal via the colonial-era Benguela Railroad that China just rehabilitated last year.

Following its (re-)inauguration, Angola now has the potential of joining its Atlantic port of Lobito to the mineral-rich former Katanga region of the DRC, as well as to the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. Moreover, the construction of the Northwest Railway in the latter landlocked state would directly link Lusaka to Lobito, and in an even broader context, provide a safer alternative to the conflict-prone Congo in connecting Angola with Tanzania, or in other words, bridging Africa’s Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts. In the event that a commercially viable transport interconnector can be created between Tanzania and Kenya, then the broader potential would emerge for Tanzania to establish a mainland trading route with Ethiopia via the LAPSSET Corridor. By extent, this would then make it possible for two of the continent’s largest economies of South Africa and Angola to conduct overland trade with its fastest-growing one in Ethiopia by means of the stable East African Community (EAC) transit states of Tanzania and Kenya.

Angola’s key to cashing in on this transregional real-sector economic corridor is the Benguela Railroad, and it’s the only infrastructural hope that Luanda has for sustainably augmenting its intra-African trade and not losing out on this historic opportunity for physically networking its economy with its continental counterparts. Given this supreme importance, it’s not hyperbole to state that Angola’s future is dependent on Benguela, since it’s only a matter of time before the energy bonanza dies out and/or the impoverished population becomes violently unhappy (due to foreign NGO prodding) with the rising income inequality that’s been piercingly aggravated by the present economic crisis. Without the sort of renewable economic opportunities that international transport infrastructure can bring to Angola, its entrepreneurs will have difficulty cost-effectively penetrating other markets. Even in the event that they opt for maritime trade routes across the cape and all the way to the other side of Africa, they’d lose out on competitively valuable time in doing so that could otherwise be optimized by relying on the new interconnected rail routes.

The Russian-Chinese Strategic Outpost In The South Atlantic


It has been comprehensively described how Angola fits into China’s larger plans for Africa, and that’s not even counting the fact that the country is Beijing’s second-largest supplier of oil, but Russia also has an interest in Angola, too. Whereas China’s focus is evolving from energy imports to multinational transport facilitation and real-sector investments, Russia’s is still concentrated on natural resource extraction and the global energy market in general. Moscow also maintains close military relations with Luanda dating back to the Soviet era, and it uses this strategic connection to reinforce its bilateral partnership and ensure that it’s not totally left out of the economic developments in the country. The confluence of Russia and China’s attention in Angola means that the South Atlantic country is host to a unique interplay of the global Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership. This plays out through Moscow assisting with security and energy marketplace cooperation while Beijing reliably purchases the said energy supplies from Luanda and works on modernizing its real-sector economic potential.


Prior to addressing the traditional military-energy mainstays of the Russian-Angolan Strategic Partnership, it’s important to touch upon the recent commercial incentives that have emerged as a driving force in the bilateral relationship. The outcome of the Angola-Russia Intergovernmental Commission meeting in April was that both sides would work towards deepening their cooperation in the spheres of automobile technology, light and heavy industry, fisheries, manufacturing, mining, renewable (solar) and non-renewable energy, railroad components, and agriculture. It’s hoped that closer collaboration in these sectors can lead to an increase in bilateral trade from its present level of $244 million last year to something worthier of the high level of strategic relations that both sides presently enjoy, though that isn’t to say that this current state isn’t commendable as it is. One report writes that this rate is actually “four times more than the amount yield [sic] in the previous period”, which indicates that economic relations are already growing at an astronomical pace and will likely continue along a positive path for the coming future, though probably not in such an exponential way.


The most well-known characteristic of Russian-Angolan relations is their visible military cooperation, with the latest deal being signed in 2013 for the export of $1 billion worth of Russian jets, tanks, artillery, arms, and ammunition to the African nation. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s leader since 1979, visited the Kremlin and met with President Putin in 2006, while then-President Medvedev reciprocated the measure and went to Angola in 2009 during his tour of Africa. These leadership summits underscored just how important each side views the other, and they served to remind the world that Russia had not forgotten about Angola despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the renunciation of their shared ideological ties of communism. Modern-day Russian diplomacy towards Angola is driven by military considerations just as much as it is by energy ones, and nothing illustrates this more clearly than a brilliant article written by Gustavo Plácido Dos Santos for Eurasia Review.


In “Russia’s ‘Charm Offensive’ In Africa: The Case Of Angola – Analysis”, the researcher writes that sub-Saharan Africa is already awash in oil and is expected to produce more gas than Russia by 2040, thus making it an attractive alternative source for non-Russian energy imports for the EU. He believes that Russia’s energy cooperation with Angola is centered on giving it a position in the hydrocarbon-rich Gulf of Guinea and thus allowing it to indirectly exert influence over the EU’s forthcoming reserve pool, ironically negating Brussels’ hope that the region would not in any way be under Moscow’s sway. This is a clever approach by Russia’s energy corps and perfectly supplements what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense have in mind for Angola.

Leadership Assistance:

By becoming a greater energy power hand-in-hand with Moscow’s expertise and investment in this field, Luanda can then be in a better position to purchase more weaponry for defending its interests, with the combination of energy and military power leading to the inevitable expansion of political influence throughout the region. China’s assistance in guiding Angola’s transition from a vulnerable resource-exporting economy to a more stable commercially linked one via the New Silk Roads is integral to sustaining Luanda’s projected leadership, and it’s here where the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership again overlaps in the South Atlantic and gives the US yet another reason to want to sabotage Angola’s rise.

Angola’s African Power Plays

Angola is one of Africa’s fastest-rising powers, and it’s taken the opportunity to flex its muscles abroad on more than one occasion, even during the times that it was embroiled in civil war. Here’s a look at the instances in which Luanda make Angolan influence felt in different parts of Africa:

Shaba I and II:

Following the immediate post-independence crisis in the Congo, new leader Mobutu renamed his country Zaire forbade its mineral-rich and secessionist-prone southeastern province of Katanga from going by its original name, instead rechristening it as “Shaba”. The pro-American leader actively cooperated with the West in turning his country into the camp’s geostrategic African stronghold, and this naturally saw him extending support to the allied pro-American UNITA rebels fighting in Angola’s civil war. In response, the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party and its Soviet and Cuban patrons are suspected of having aided the Zairean rebel group “Front for the National Liberation of the Congo” in their 1977 invasion of Shaba from Angolan soil. The US and France sent material and military support respectively and the invasion was repelled, but a follow-up attempt was made one year later in which France once again teamed up with the US in order to save their proxy.

São Tomé and Príncipe:

The former Portuguese colony in the Gulf of Guinea gained independence in the same year as Angola did in 1975, and only three years later it requested its fellow freedom fighter’s troops to quell a coup attempt in 1978. Relations have since been very strong between the two Lusophone states, and the islands are a priority vector of Angola’s grand strategy. Being situated where they are in the oil-rich waters right off the coast of Nigeria, they’re primed to be used as a launching pad for further Angolan influence along the waterway and around the West African bend. In fact, São Tomé and Príncipe is so significant to Angola because it represents the first node in a larger Lusophone chain of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) from Western Africa to the US and the EU, all of which are under varying degrees of Luanda’s influence.

Together with Cabo Verde (formerly Cape Verde until 2013) and Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe could one day collectively constitute a West African “string of pearls” along the maritime Silk Road, especially as multipolar-aligned Angola continues to receive assistance from the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership in its quest to become an African Power. Each of these states could fulfill their own respective logistical roles in hosting warehouses and storage facilities that facilitate the convenient transshipment of African goods to the US under the framework of the trade-enabling African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). A similar such agreement might be signed between the EU and different African countries or regions sometime in the future, at which time these Lusophone SLOC would become doubly important.

The only inadvertently negative consequence of Luanda’s rising influence in São Tomé and Príncipe is the potential that this has for sparking a strategic dilemma between Angola and Nigeria. This will be addressed at the end of this section, but the author would like to draw the reader’s attention to a comprehensive article written by the aforementioned Portuguese political scientist Gustavo Plácido dos Santo, this time called “Nigeria And Sao Tome And Principe: A Relationship Centered On Oil And Geostrategy – Analysis”. The researcher compiled a diverse collection of facts about the bilateral relationship between these two states, especially as it relates to the energy sphere and future anti-piracy security measures in the Gulf of Guinea, to postulate that Abuja has a discernable interest in the islands, but that Angola’s rising military and investment cooperation with the islands might lead to Nigeria feeling threatened.


MPLA hosted the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) which was fighting throughout most of the Cold War against apartheid South Africa’s occupation of what is nowadays called Namibia. During that time, the South African military regularly violated Angolan territory and participated in many battles with the country’s military. Angolan-Namibian ties continued to strengthen after independence and fortuitously provided a common geographic platform for bringing Luanda and Pretoria together as well, after which their relations finally began to take off at the turn of the century. It was right before that time that Angola and Namibia entered into a broader multilateral mutual defense pact in 1999 that also included Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In order to explain the peculiarity of how rivals Angola and the DRC came to militarily support one another, a conversation must be undertaken about the First and Second Congo Wars that raged throughout the latter half of the 1990s.

First and Second Congo Wars:

Angola invaded Zaire in 1997 in order to avenge Mobutu’s decades-long support for the pro-American UNITA rebels. It wasn’t the first country to get involved in the fray, but its large-scale participation could be considered as a tipping point for the anti-Mobutu coalition due to Angola’s proximity to the country’s capital and the fact that it opened up a second Western front to accompany the first one in the East. Rwanda and Uganda had by that time already been streaming towards Kinshasa as part of their jungle blitzkrieg, and unable to fight a two-front war against such capable military foes, Mobutu abdicated shortly thereafter and the rebel chief Laurent Kabila became the country’s president, after which he renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His former Rwandan and Ugandan allies tried to turn him into their puppet right away but he rebelled and expelled their forces from his recently liberated country, which in turn sparked the Second Congo War. It was through this conflict which some have called “Africa’s World War” that Angola and the DRC became mutual defense partners and Luanda sent soldiers to Kabila’s aid. In the nearly two decades since, the relationship has had its ups and downs, such as when Angola and the DRC resolved the border dispute between them in 2007, but yet Angola still continued to kick out Congolese citizens en masse under the pretense that they were illegal immigrants.

It’ll later be seen when discussing the Hybrid War scenario of Kongo Kingdom Revisionism why this may have been a much more forward-looking strategic decision than the short-sighted reactive one that people thought it was at the moment, but for now it’s enough to say that state-to-state relations between Angola and the DRC are stable and improving despite the illegal immigration impediment. Each side is gradually bettering their connectivity and security cooperation with the other in light of the Benguela railway’s refurbishment and the associated cross-continental New Silk Road benefits that it will make available to both of them, and this can be expected to lead to even closer relations in the coming years that might eventually put to rest the low-scale rivalry that still exists between them.

Republic of the Congo:

Angola’s most daring military operation was probably when it sent its troops to back the rebels of former Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso in retaking the Republic of the Congo’s capital of Brazzaville in late 1997. No other foreign forces were involved in this campaign, unlike in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, but just like during the First Congo War, the rebels probably wouldn’t have prevailed had it not been for the Angolan intervention. Luanda’s strategic objective in this campaign was to install a friendly government in Brazzaville that wouldn’t provide aid and sanctuary to the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) that’s fighting for the independence of the barely discontiguous province north a few kilometers north of the Congo River.

Although obviously not a factor at the time, Angolan influence over President Nguesso could indirectly give Luanda another trump card over Kinshasa when it comes to the Chinese-supported trans-African routes being developed through the DRC. The Southern Trans-African Route (STAR) terminates at the Atlantic port of Lobito, while its northern counterpart, the Northern Trans-African Route (NTAR), will reach the ocean either at the poor and geographically unsuitable DRC port of Matadi or the deep-water and much more accessible Republic of Congo one in Pointe-Noire. Since Matadi isn’t foreseen to ever become anything more than a secondary backup to Pointe-Noire, the Republic of the Congo will ultimately hold the final say over the DRC’s transcontinental trade route, thus giving Brazzaville’s allied government in Luanda a say over Kinshasa by extent.


The last significant projection of influence that Angola partook in was in Guinea-Bissau, though this one was much more covert and barely made the headlines. The former Portuguese colony is situated along the forecasted Lusophone SLOC from Western Africa to the US and EU, and it’s also a notorious drug-smuggling point for South American cocaine to Europe. It’s so deeply enmeshed in the drug trade that The Guardian even declared it the world’s first “narcostate” in 2008, pointing to the fact that the fifth-poorest country in the world was practically controlled by Colombian cartels and their corrupt military partners.

The coup-prone country experienced a successful military seizure of power in 2012, ostensibly in reaction to what the plotters denounced as a “secret deal” between the Angolan and Bissauan governments for “Angola to attack Guinea-Bissau’s military”. To add some context to what might otherwise sound like an unsubstantiated claim, Angola had deployed 270 troops to the country to help reform the military and hopefully put an end to this institution continuously undermining the political authorities. Whether Luanda was indeed trying to ‘destroy’ the military through this format or not, they probably saw it as a threat to their future influence over the state, hence why they launched the coup and Angola withdrew its troops a few months afterwards (though the departure was announced a few days before the regime change unfolded).

Angola’s attention to this seemingly obscure state is driven by its shared colonial history, familiar Lusophone identity, and its strategic position along the SLOC. Luanda likely thought that it could easily reform the Bissauan military and turn the state into an outpost for projecting dual maritime-mainland influence. Whatever its motivation was in getting involved with Guinea-Bissau, Angola clearly failed to achieve its objectives, and while the two states have since normalized their relations and decided to strengthen them, it’s very likely that Luanda won’t engage in another power play there anytime soon. This doesn’t mean that the two countries can’t pragmatically cooperate on joint projects, but that the Angolan military will probably never be redeployed to the country again, thus preventing a repeat of the pre-coup events that sparked the regime change and keeping relations at a respectful level free from unnecessary distractions and future speculation.

An Angolan-Nigerian Rivalry?:

Angola’s rise as an African Power is pushing up against Nigeria’s future ambitions in the Greater Gulf of Guinea space and the broader West-Central African region in general, though it hasn’t yet gotten to the point of an observable rivalry between both sides. Angola and Nigeria have the potential to pool their capabilities and become the cores of a larger multipolar network throughout the whole of Atlantic Africa, and neither objectively has anything to fear from the other. It’s possible for a friendly competition to develop in which Abuja and Luanda stake out their own respective spheres of influence and then work on pragmatically integrating these areas into a collective framework that ultimately complements the multipolar vision for the continent. It’s still too early to tell which direction Angolan-Nigerian relations will go, but the US certainly has a stake in stoking a manufactured strategic dilemma between both sides and getting them to deeply distrust one another to the point of encouraging a divisive Cold War between them.

São Tomé and Príncipe is the perfect location for this to happen, just as Dos Santos warned about in his article for Eurasia Review. It would geographically make sense for the islands to partner more closely with Nigeria out of their common anti-piracy interest in protecting their oil-rich waters and the Joint Development Authority that they both share, but the socio-cultural factors connecting it to Angola might mean that Luanda could interpret any prospective security cooperation between the two as being against its interests or vice-versa vis-à-vis Abuja if São Tomé and Príncipe invites Luanda to take on this role instead. Right now the state of Angolan-Nigerian affairs in regards to São Tomé and Príncipe is calm and there seems to be no reason to worry, but all that it might take to change the situation is one or a few high-profile successful or attempted hijackings before the joint anti-piracy initiative that Dos Santos suggested would be brought to the fore of the Gulf’s geopolitics.

From Angola’s perspective, any relative Nigerian advances in what it believes to constitute its soft sphere of cultural-political influence (the Lusophone space), as well as over another oil-exporting country like itself (albeit nowhere near as big as either of these two), could lead to the eventual retreat of Angolan influence in similarly composed states (e.g. Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea) and scuttle Luanda’s plans for regional leadership. From the reverse angle, Nigeria knows that if Angola came out on top in any prospective competition for São Tomé, then it could indirectly gain influence in the waters of its strategically placed Exclusive Economic Zone, which a look at the map shows would essentially hem Nigeria in along its southern maritime periphery and give Luanda influence within close proximity to the country’s oil-producing Niger River Delta. If Angolan anti-piracy vessels started patrolling the nearby waters outside of any multilateral military understanding that included Nigeria, then it would certainly be assessed as a strategic threat in Abuja.

If the US succeeded in starting a Cold War between Angola and Nigeria for São Tomé and Príncipe, then it would directly play right into Washington’s strategic hands by having two of Africa’s West Coast powers face off against one another in a mutually disadvantageous scenario. Nigeria is already a weakened giant both because of its internal identity-political dysfunction and the resultant (Western-supported) outgrowth of Boko Haram, and even though Angola is clearly on the ascent, its rise could severely be hampered by an unnecessary and potentially costly rivalry with Nigeria. The US would prefer to have two embattled states contain one another and pick their rival apart than to have one or both of them peacefully succeeding and tilling the political landscape to make it more fertile for multipolarity. Seeing how Nigeria is currently beset with a multitude of serious problems stemming from Boko Haram and other regional threats such as the Niger Delta-based “Avengers” and similar criminal-separatist organizations, it’s going to be a while before it can ever return to substantially chasing its leadership ambitions, therefore leaving Angola as the last target in the duo for the US to destabilize.

Plotting Against Angola

Having established that Angola is a reliably stable country that endeavors for regional leadership on both the high seas (the Lusophone SLOC) and the continental interior (its involvement in the DRC and terminal role in STAR), one can conclude that the country is well on its way to becoming a cornerstone of multipolarity in Africa. Despite the structural risks that are still present in the economy due to its excessive revenue dependency on energy exports, the country has by and large remained on the positive trajectory that the MPLA civil war victors have laid out for it.

Even though long-serving and elderly President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has no clear political heirs, it’s feasible that his billionaire entrepreneur daughter Isabel (who also doubles as Africa’s richest woman and the current head of the state oil company Sonangol) might one day take up the reins and ensure strategic continuity, which in that case would reinforce the Russian position in Angola because of the fact that she was born in the USSR to an ethnic Russian mother and realistically retains a positive attitude towards her maternal homeland. Since it can be predicted that Moscow’s influence will only continue to rise within this country together with China’s, the US might seek to tap into its decades-long Cold War-era reserve of on-the-ground proxies to encourage a series of counteracting Hybrid Wars.

In relation to the ever-present threat of a Color Revolution and possibly preceded by or unfolding in coordination with it, these could take the form of a revived UNITA insurgency, Cabinda separatism, and Kongo Kingdom revisionism.

UNITA 2.0:


This Portuguese-era rebel group never stopped fighting after the colonialists departed, instead turning their guns on their MPLA rivals who were by then leading the newly independent country. This immediately threw Angola into the throes of civil war before it ever had a chance to know peace. UNITA ended up being heavily supported by the US and apartheid South Africa, while MPLA was backed up by the USSR and Cuba, the latter of which staged a dramatic years-long military intervention by sending tens of thousands of troops to assist its beleaguered socialist ally in Africa. The civil war between UNITA and the MPLA continued even after the Cold War had ended, though by the mid-1990s the US officially disowned its warlord proxies and joined the rest of the UNSC in sanctioning them for violating ceasefire accords.

This marked a turning point in the civil war and might have been influenced by the US’ realization that UNITA wouldn’t win and that it would be much better for Washington to team up with the MPLA instead of fruitlessly keep opposing it by backing the losing side. The US may have desired reliable access to Angola’s large oil sector, and whether or not this was indeed the full motivation behind the decision to drop UNITA, it turned out to play exactly to Washington’s favor in that regard over two decades after the fact. Following the Angolan military’s neutralization of UNITA founder Jonas Savimbi in 2002 and the end of the civil war that year, the US removed sanctions against the guerrilla group which had by that point legally transitioned into an opposition party, but its diplomatic support for the government in the final stages of the war and its abandonment of UNITA led to a breakthrough in bilateral relations most clearly manifested in the energy sector and the 2009 declaration of a “Strategic Partnership Dialogue”.

Energy Politics

The US is now Angola’s second-largest oil export market behind only China, and the South Atlantic state is the US’ 10th largest import source as of May 2016. Furthermore, when the US’ domestic fracking industry underperformed in the past year because of the energy crisis, Washington opted for replacing some of its lost production with an increase in Angolan imports. The two countries are evidently very close in this sphere, but it’s clear that the relationship isn’t so integral to the US that the country would be irreparably damaged if this was disrupted. This could be taken to mean that whatever Angola’s motivations might have been in allowing the US to become its second-largest oil purchaser, this state of affairs doesn’t in any way ensure that the country is safeguarded from American-supported destabilization. It’s true that the opportunity to provide the US a reliable backup source of oil was advantageous to both sides – the US was able to diversify its imports while Angola’s MPLA ruling party could “make nice” with their former enemy and bring in much-needed revenue directly from the dollar’s source – but there’s nothing in this relationship that can’t be substituted by another actor, such as the US depending more on Nigeria and Angola on China, for example.

Neither side inherently ‘needs’ the other, though their energy partnership is for now a win-win arrangement that could indefinitely continue so long as the US wants it to. There’s no sensible reason why the US would want to change this relationship except in the event that its domestic fracking production picks back up and Angolan imports are no longer required at their current level, but even then, it’s more prone to simply decrease its purchases and not overthrow the government. However, when analyzed from a broader strategic perspective, for as positive as the US’ relations with Angola presently are (especially in the energy sector), they’re not influential enough to get Luanda to use its exports to China as a proxy instrument of American pressure against Beijing. Therefore, aside from the already presumed Law of Hybrid War motivation for destabilizing Angola as a means of disrupting the multipolar transnational connective infrastructure project (STAR) running through its territory, the other reason that the US has for doing this is to create an opportunity for an allied political force to seize power and subsequently exert indirect American influence over China’s main African source of oil.

This by itself isn’t a coup de grace against Beijing, but combined with other energy-related Hybrid Wars all across the world, could contribute to crafting a future where the US in one form or another acquires the power to disrupt, control, and influence most of China’s foreign energy sources, which in that case would give Washington unthinkable leverage over Beijing and possibly even end the New Cold War with a unipolar victory. This is why the US might seek to support a second UNITA insurgency in Angola – not to ‘steal’ the oil for itself, but to establish a degree of control over it so that it could deny it to its competitors in the future, similar in essence to the reason why the US launched the War on Iraq. Behind the rhetorical polemics about “democracy” and “weapons of mass destruction”, one of the realpolitik ‘justifications’ other than geostrategically rearranging the Mideast was always for the US to directly or indirectly control its rivals’ oil, whether through an on-the-ground occupation or an allied proxy government, both of which did not yield the expected results for a wide range of reasons. Despite being an expensive failure in the Iraqi case, the strategic ‘reasoning’ behind the war is still attractive to the minds of the US’ zero-sum “deep state” decision makers, which is why they may be tempted to wage a Hybrid War on Angola.

The Insurgent Trigger

The most realistic circumstances under which UNITA might try to return to the forefront of domestic politics would obviously have to be after President dos Santos’ death or resignation. This is because the 2010 constitution stipulates that the president is no longer directly elected by popular vote, but that the leader of the winning party in parliamentary elections immediately assumes this office. It’s expected that the transfer of power from dos Santos to his future successor will serve as the trigger event for sparking a preplanned Color Revolution driven by demands for a “democratic vote” and other rabble-rousing liberal-progressive rhetoric designed to drum up easily manipulatable popular anger against the authorities. It doesn’t matter too much whether this is directed against scarecrows such as his daughter Isabel or perhaps even a ruling party apparatchik, because what’s important is that UNITA and its affiliated pro-Western NGO allies will work hard to channel the civil society energy that they’ve manufactured so as to improve their odds of ‘democratically’ seizing power.

Needless to say, the government won’t make an exception to the constitution just to please the ‘opposition’, so it’s not predicted that they’ll reinstitute presidential elections, though depending on the circumstances of dos Santos’ succession (whether he unexpectedly passes away in office or initiates a phased leadership transition), there might be early parliamentary elections (which in turn would lead to a new president). UNITA doesn’t stand a chance at winning them, though they’ll try to agilely ride the wave of social discontent amidst the ongoing economic (energy commodities) crisis in order to boost their previous showing of 18% in 2012. Unhappy with not winning the presidency, some of their members may then use the party’s defeat and the indirect elections to that office as the ‘justifications’ for taking back to the bush and waging a low-level insurgency, which they’d of course would expect to receive some level of American support (whether directly acknowledged or indirectly and covertly supplied). It’ll more than likely be the latter, and it doesn’t seem foreseeable that the US will at this time devote too many resources or attention to such a campaign aside from putting it on the backburner as an option to return to in the future whenever the subjective ‘need’ arises (such as the possibility for a grand bargain with China or to disrupt its Angolan energy supplies and STAR).

So as not to be misconstrued, the author is not necessarily predicting that UNITA will indeed take up arms once again, but is instead postulating the scenario under which this might be possible. In any case, it’s not expected that UNITA’s second insurgency will be anything like RENAMO’s in nearby fellow Lusophone Mozambique. The two rebel groups differ for a few reasons, including most importantly the fact that UNITA’s founder was killed in 2002 while RENAMO’s most prominent Cold War-era leader continues to live, lead, and fight. Another factor that can’t be overlooked is that UNITA doesn’t control or lay claim to any physical territory despite its history of support in the eastern regions (which is where they may return to in the event of a second outbreak of conflict), unlike RENAMO which operates in 6 provinces and controls swathes of territory outside the reach of government forces. The last point to be mentioned on this topic is that Angola is already an energy giant while Mozambique is on the path to becoming one. Luanda accordingly has much more money available at its disposal for state-of-the-art weapons purchases that would greatly enhance its ability to defend its sovereignty and carry out anti-terrorist operations against any forthcoming UNITA insurgents, while comparatively poorer Maputo isn’t yet strong enough to do any of this and is thus in a much more vulnerable position that could more easily be exploited.

Cabinda Separatist Crisis:


The exclave of Cabinda (inaccurately called an “enclave” by the main separatist organization) is but a tiny fraction of Angola’s territory and population, but it disproportionately produces 60% of the country’s oil. Luanda won’t ever let this territory go no matter what happens, yet this hasn’t stopped some from trying to fight for independence. The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) that was spoken about earlier in regards to the Republic of the Congo is the main rebel group operating in the province, and it’s formed from several insurgent organizations that joined together in 1963 in order to optimize their efforts at achieving the shared objective of future state sovereignty.


The way that they see it, the small exorbitantly oil-rich province is being denied what some locals feel is their fair share of the revenue proceeds, which instead must be sent to Luanda and divided amongst the other much poorer provinces. FLEC points to Cabinda’s identity and historical uniqueness relative to the rest of the country and the fact that the territory was briefly administered as its own separate colony by Portugal. They insist that if the oil revenue was concentrated in Cabinda, then the less than one million citizens that inhabit their prospective country would become unimaginably wealthy and achieve the sort of socio-economic development that they feel they’ve been deprived of for decades. Looked at from the opposite angle, the Angolan authorities view Cabinda as an integral part of their country and an irreplaceable source of wealth for the state as a whole. They could convincingly argue that the exclave’s resources have contributed to modernization and development all throughout the country, thus benefiting the greater good of Angolan nationhood as opposed to only a handful of people in a small sliver of land.


Regardless of which side is normatively ‘right’ in this conflict, objectively speaking, an upsurge in militant Cabindan separatist activity on whatever grounds it’s argued would have the most immediate potential for destabilizing the state. Angola depends much too heavily on Cabinda to not be affected by an incipient wave of violence there, and even though the oil rigs are far offshore and seemingly untouchable, that still doesn’t mean that disturbances in the mainland portion of the province wouldn’t impact on its maritime counterpart. All that it takes is one or a few high-profile piracy or missile attacks targeting one or some of Angola’s many Western offshore energy investments in order to create panic among the relevant community and engender an immediate and harsh military crackdown. The state rightly recognizes that instability in the jungled interior could thus lead to the inevitable outgrowth of coastal conflict, which is why they absolutely need to contain whatever violence might break out and prevent it from interfering with Angola’s offshore energy extraction.

There’s already evidence that a new wave of insurgent activity is about to strike Cabinda, as seen by FLEC’s surprise attacks against the Angolan military there at the end of July. According to the separatists, they killed 9 government troops and injured 14 in a jungle ambush, and they also called on international oil workers to leave the province. This is a clear statement of intent signaling that plans are already underway for a rebel offensive or return to guerrilla warfare in the coming future, though with foreign contractors likely remaining at their job posts and not heeding FLEC’s call, it seems all but inevitable that some of them will be taken hostage, kidnapped, or killed in the future as part of a dramatic attention-grabbing flare-up in the region. Even with increased private military and Angolan state-provided security, oil workers, their job sites, and barracks are just too soft of targets to be adequately protected at all times, so Angola and its partners need to brace themselves for the possibility that civilians will be caught in the crossfire of a renewed Cabindan secessionist conflict.


Under the present domestic and regional circumstances, the Angolan military is more than capable of dealing with a new Cabindan insurgency, but if this reaches its zenith concurrent with other crises in the country such as an oncoming Color Revolution during next summer’s parliamentary (and thus by indirect extent, presidential) elections, the authorities might be overwhelmed and taken off guard. Additionally, if the US’ succeeds in a future regime change operation in the Republic of the Congo (considering that its most recent lackluster one failed) or the neighboring DRC, then either of these countries could come under the control of American-influenced client regimes that thus become “Lead From Behind” participants in the militant campaign for Cabindan independence. That would not only increase the rebels’ chances of success – whether in achieving independence, drawing the Angolan military into a quagmire, or carving out ‘liberated’ territory (no matter how small) – but it would also spike the possibility of state-to-state violence between Luanda and whichever of the two neighboring governments provides aid to FLEC. This would consequently internationalize the secessionist crisis and massively complicate Angola’s peaceful rise to regional leadership.

Kongo Kingdom Revisionism:


The last Hybrid War scenario in Angola is the least likely to occur in the short-term, but might be the most destabilizing if it suddenly pops up amidst a Color Revolution, a second UNITA insurgency, an intensified Cabindan separatist campaign, or a combination thereof. To explain, approximately 8% of Angolans are of the Bakongo ethnicity, with most of them being concentrated in the northern provinces of Zaire (which is coastal and well-endowed with offshore oil reserves and an LNG processing facility) and Uige where they form a majority of the population. These two regions used to be part of the pre-colonial Kongo Kingdom, which also stretched into Cabinda, the Bas-Congo province of the DRC, and areas of the Republic of the Congo (which is nearly half Bakongo).

Foundational Concept

It’s very difficult for outside observers to gauge the sense of transnational ‘identity togetherness’  that this demographic feels and the potential for it to be politicized into a separatist movement, but it can generally be assumed that foreign-directed NGOs would be instrumental in consolidating this sentiment and manipulating it for geopolitical gains. One of the most probable starting points for the weaponized information campaign of Bakongo nationalism would be the historical experience of the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) rebel group during the civil war period. This organization played a much lesser role than UNITA did, but it nonetheless is relevant in this context for having brought together many Bakongo people under a shared militant banner. When taken together with the historical memory of the Kongo Kingdom, the FNLA functions as the military-political tool for actualizing this territorially revisionist project, no matter if it’s organizationally spread across the tristate region or concentrated in the Angolan-DRC borderlands.

Cross-Border Trouble

The author wasn’t able to find information about any active Bakongo separatist groups in Angola (other than FLEC, with Cabindans being a part of this civilization), but there was one organization in the DRC which repeatedly came up throughout the research as a group to watch. The Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) has been involved in several violent provocations against the Kinshasa authorities, and their main objective is to create a sovereign Bakongo state out of the Bas-Congo province. Clearly, though, this would naturally extend into Angola, both in Zaire and Uige provinces and Cabinda, so the group must automatically also be seen as a threat to Angola’s sovereignty alongside the DRC’s. BDK is troublesome for both states because it could catalyze a conflict between them, whether one in which both governments are fighting the same allied network of interrelated cross-border insurgents or a scenario through which an expansionist regime-changed pro-American DRC uses the group as a proxy lever for destabilizing Angola on America’s behalf.


Both possibilities could happen, with the first one occurring either under the already existing conditions or amidst the type of total-state breakdown that will be discussed in the next chapter about the country, while the second might happen if the DRC decides to devolve along the lines of an “Identity Federation” (whether on its own prerogative or in response to another civil war). If the aforementioned political reconstitution enters into force, then it could be safely inferred that the Bakongo would receive their own quasi-independent statelet in Bas-Congo province which could then be used as a springboard for a revived FNLA Bakongo nationalist movement in Angola. This would naturally merge with the Cabindan separatist campaign that was described above in order to throw most of Angola’s northern borderland into conflict, thereby jeopardizing the government’s oil revenues in Cabinda and Zaire provinces. Ironically, this would be a ‘reverse-Shaba’ in the sense that it wouldn’t be Angolan rebels invading the DRC’s restive Katanga province, but Congolese DRC ones invading the Bakongo frontiers of Angola.

Even though the Benguela railway doesn’t run through any of the forecasted operational areas, it would likely be used in this scenario as an instrument of blackmail by Kinshasa owing to Luanda’s future real-sector economic dependency on this route, which would then in that case totally disrupt China’s cross-continental New Silk Road plans for this part of Africa and fulfill the strategic objective of Hybrid War. Moreover, because of Luanda’s proximity to the DRC border and the Bakongo-majority-inhabited areas of its own internal borderland, if military forces in the DRC ever got powerful enough either in a nationwide sense or a non-state regional one like in Bas-Congo province with the BDK, then they might be able to decisively threaten the Angolan capital under the pretense of staging a ‘humanitarian intervention’ for the Bakongo and thus indefinitely hold out the Damocles’ Sword of regime change over the MPLA.  There is nothing to indicate that this would happen anywhere in the coming future, but it’s still a strategic risk that Angolan policy makers should monitor just in case, as the geopolitical foundation for this danger will never change so long as the borders and their related demographics remain the same as they are today.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently residing in Moscow. Thew views expressed are his own. He is the author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015). This text will be included into his forthcoming book on the theory of Hybrid Warfare.


Hybrid Wars 1. The Law Of Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid Wars 2. Testing the Theory – Syria & Ukraine

Hybrid Wars 3. Predicting Next Hybrid Wars

Hybrid Wars 4. In the Greater Heartland

Hybrid Wars 5. Breaking the Balkans

Hybrid Wars 6. Trick To Containing China

Hybrid Wars 7. How The US Could Manufacture A Mess In Myanma

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Hybrid Wars and the Geopolitics of South Atlantic Africa. The Russia-China Strategic Outpost

Shoah’s pages



June 2020
« May