What we’re witnessing in Africa just isn’t an anti-colonial revolution | Opinions


On August 17, Arikana Chihombori-Quao, former everlasting consultant of the African Union to america, claimed the current army coups in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have been a part of the early levels of an “African revolution” towards Western neocolonialism.

“What’s going on now in Africa is a revolution just like what we noticed with the demise of the mighty Roman Empire, just like what we noticed with the autumn of the mighty British Empire,” Chihombori-Quao stated in an interview with New York-based Nigerian information channel Come up TV.

This wave of army interventions is a response to the West’s ongoing “plunder of the continent’s pure assets”, she defined. “That is just the start of the African revolution and it’s not going to cease.”

Chihombori-Quao went on to argue that these current coups “led by our folks” symbolize “youngsters of Africa taking again what’s ours” and don’t have anything in widespread with the brutal Western-led army interventions of the previous.

Positive, Western powers dedicated notably heinous crimes towards younger African democracies within the final century. The Western-orchestrated 1960 coup within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for instance, noticed the nation’s first democratically elected prime minister, independence hero Patrice Lumumba, assassinated by a swiftly put collectively firing squad and his stays dissolved in acid. All for the worry that he could have introduced the DRC nearer to the Soviet Union and given Moscow entry to its valuable pure assets.

These current coups fortunately didn’t embody such atrocities and weren’t overtly aimed toward furthering the pursuits of colonial energy. However does this robotically imply they have been “led by our folks”, and aimed toward delivering on the folks’s want to finish colonial plunder, as Chihombori-Quao claims?

Not a lot.

Initially, each single one among these coups was led by highly effective and privileged high-ranking military officers – males whose lives are far faraway from the on a regular basis experiences of “our folks”. And these males seem greater than prepared to suppress the voice of the folks, at any time when it occurs to not align with theirs. They haven’t any downside with crippling democracy and even bodily harming the very folks they declare to symbolize when it suits their agenda.

These males not solely upended the democratic course of by toppling governments delivered to energy by moderately free and honest elections, however are additionally dragging their ft about setting a date for brand new polls. Mali’s army authorities – just like the unelected regimes in close by Chad and Sudan – has repeatedly delayed a transition to democracy. There may be not a lot hope for Niger, Burkina Faso or Guinea’s swift return to full democracy both.

In Could, the United Nations reported that Malian troops – with the assistance of overseas army personnel – tortured, raped and killed no less than 500 civilians throughout a five-day anti-dissident operation in Moura in March 2022.

Across the identical time, Human Rights Watch reported that on April 20, 2023, Burkinabe troopers burned houses, looted property and summarily executed no less than 156 civilians in an identical six-hour operation in Karma, northern Yatenga province.

Coup leaders like to speak the anti-imperialist discuss as a result of it provides them legitimacy and helps them garner public assist, however they’re much extra reluctant to stroll the stroll.

Burkina Faso’s interim president, Ibrahim Traore, for instance, likes to make use of fierce anti-imperialist rhetoric at each alternative.

Talking on the Russia-Africa Summit in July, for instance, Traore took a swipe at Africa’s older leaders, saying, “The heads of African states mustn’t behave like puppets within the arms of the imperialists.”

However, sarcastically, he has brazenly demonstrated sycophantic affection for Vladimir Putin of Russia, a distinguished and notably brutal imperial pressure in Jap Europe, and more and more in Africa.

Traore just isn’t the one “anti-imperialist coupist” in Africa who seems suspiciously blind to Russia’s demonstrably brutal imperialism.

The army authorities in Mali is thought to be very near the Kremlin and has had assist from the Russian Wagner mercenary group in its efforts to stifle dissent. Niger’s coup generals have additionally brazenly requested Wagner for assist in coping with the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS.

A lot for coup leaders standing with on a regular basis Africans towards imperial powers.

This, after all, just isn’t meant to minimise the hurt Western colonialism inflicted on Africa. The West has been for hundreds of years, and stays to at the present time, probably the most damaging outdoors actor and the strongest pressure towards swift, unbiased improvement and deepening of democracy on the continent.

Certainly, the remnants of the West’s abusive colonial preparations are nonetheless crippling African states, politically and economically.

For instance, 14 African international locations, together with Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, nonetheless use the neocolonial CFA franc – which is assured by France and pegged to the euro – as its foreign money.

In return, France requires these international locations to maintain 50 % of their overseas trade reserves with the French treasury.

This adversarial and dear monetary entanglement has allowed Paris to train undue and outsized affect over CFA franc international locations’ financial and political affairs.

In consequence, most of those international locations have struggled to flourish within the postcolonial period. Niger, for instance, is likely one of the world’s poorest and least developed international locations. Together with Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, it occupies the bottom ranks on the United Nations Improvement Programme’s Human Improvement Index.

Whereas Russia is undoubtedly a damaging imperial energy, each in Africa and elsewhere, it’s the West that’s primarily liable for Africa’s persistent financial and developmental shortcomings.

That is maybe why Chihombori-Quao is popping a blind eye to the shut relations Africa’s new army leaders have with Russia, and insisting on presenting them as anticolonial revolutionaries.

In reality, she appears to consider within the anti-imperialist credentials and anticolonial intentions of those generals a lot that she describes their actions not as coups however an “ideological realignment of financial, political and social values”.

However what have these army regimes stated or executed up to now to realize that much-longed-for realignment? Are they charting a brand new path ahead for an unbiased Africa, freed from all imperial intervention and manipulation? Have they, for instance, introduced any plans for bringing an finish to the CFA?

Sadly, it appears, these new army regimes, regardless of their anti-imperialist posturing, lack a powerful ideological grounding and political course.

I’m an African. I do know what colonialism has executed, and what neocolonialism continues to be doing to those lands. As such, similar to Chihombori-Quao, I additionally lengthy for an African revolution to place an finish to this plunder. I would like predatory Western governments and corporations to finish their exploitation of Africa and all African nations to face tall and unbiased within the worldwide area.

However I refuse to assist undemocratic actions.

What we’re witnessing in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and past just isn’t the start of an “African revolution”. What we’re witnessing is just some army elites profiting from the real struggling and frustration of their folks to additional their pursuits. They’re using anti-imperialist rhetoric to win assist from the streets, however doing little or no to really additional Africa’s independence and free it from the clutches of out of doors powers.

Each coup, no matter any anti-imperialist or populist facade it could placed on, is an assault on democracy. Navy rule, nevertheless people-oriented it could seem like, is at all times a menace to the rule of regulation. And it’s not the perfect car for selling strong financial progress and improvement.

Chihombori-Quao is correct – African international locations do have an ethical and financial crucial to finish neocolonialism. However, in addition they have an obligation to respect folks’s human rights and implement any essential sociopolitical and financial adjustments to make sure true African independence inside a democratic framework.

Allow us to cease celebrating dangerous energy performs by self-centred army elites as acts of anti-imperialist resistance, and focus as an alternative on planting the seeds for a real African revolution that will finish neocolonial theft of our assets for good, and empower on a regular basis Africans to form their very own future free from oppression.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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