Lineaments of Multipolar World Rising: Africa and Russia harmonize (Part 1)
“The axe forgets but
the tree remembers.”
— African Proverb
The first anniversary of commencing the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Ukraine provides us a time for reflection. The tip of a complex iceberg, the SMO marked the divergence into deep discord between the combined West and the Russian world. The former remained intent on the maintenance of evaporating hegemony while the latter was equally bent on sovereign equality of states, peaceful preservation of its glorious unique civilization and a win-win future with others. Much remains unclear below the warming surface. Most of mankind has clearly turned away from the combined West. There is a furious realignment evident from the post-World War 2 International System painstakingly crafted by the West in all domains: in monetary, economic, financial, trade supply routes, military technologies and alliances, and the very spiritual and psychological architecture of humanity’s quilt.
Our roaring twenties began with the cruel Baghdad murder of the ambushed lion General Qasem Suleimani. It rapidly unrolls and reveals the decay of the entire paradigm of impunity and unearned privilege. A dismayed world’s hopes pivot to the rising of the sun from the setting of the sun. This new age is marked by the dizzying array of telluric high-speed connectivity between Asia and Africa in the forging of a World-Island with the Levant land-bridge. Goods, humans, ideas, new knowledge and technologies are on the move! High speed trains and modern highways connecting Shanghai to Damascus along the ancient Silk Roads, and soon meandering south to Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town via Palestine and Sinai and/or bridges over the Gulf of Aqaba; inland protected water ways from St. Petersburg on the Baltic to Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman along the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC); high speed internet fiber links and a Russian “Starlink” constellation. Oceania of the pillaging Sea Peoples increasingly looks on forlorn from the outside at the productive hive of the Rest in proud helplessness and mute isolation. The World-Island is hardened against them after the bitter experiences of the last three decades. Layers of unmatched air defense, cutting edge hypersonic missiles with reach longer than aircraft or their naval carriers, and media-policing protocols against externally driven hybrid war unleashing local youth on destructive rampages within their own cities. A new multi-modal Great Wall is erected in front of our eyes against modern Hegemony.
300 years after Peter I “the Great” Romanov, the Russian intelligentsia and bureaucratic levers of state power reoriented their compass from its former fixed western direction. The travels and tasks of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with respect to China, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dominated the news cycle. These efforts had accelerated over the last decade, focusing on bolstering economic, political and security connectivity with neighbors and the near-abroad. However, with the start of the SMO, there was a new emphasized turn toward Africa. It had been largely abandoned in Russian calculations during the implosion of the USSR and lean budgets of the 1990s.
To use the old colonialist European term, there is a new silent ongoing “scramble for Africa” among the Big Powers. However, the designs of Russia (and China) are markedly different. Equally a breath of fresh air, this new Russian imprimatur toward Africa is a useful metric of the renewed focus on counteracting the aggressive west in all global directions. The significant experience, expertise, and prestige of Russia’s world-leading diplomatic corps was applied towards strengthening and uplifting the vital African strand of the rising multipolar world. From July 24, 2022, Lavrov had three demanding multi-nation African tours in a mere 200 days. One in three (33%) of his visits abroad since the SMO was to Africa. This had increased from 1 in 31 (1%) in the year prior to the SMO. The basis for interaction and commonality of purpose was regaining full sovereignty, mutually productive and non-exploitative development, and to together withstand in every domain the eternal imperialism afflicting both sides.
Why is Africa so important? Why especially now? How is this reflected in the changed Russian diplomatic, economic and security priorities? How is this reflected in the frenetic activity by both blocs – the combined West and the multipolar world – in the global showdown activated by the SMO? Has it set off alarm and ripples in the West? What have been western countermoves so far? And where do these significant new trends lead? The following sections will explore these queries in detail.
“Seeing is different
than being told.
— African Proverb
The true scale of Africa vis-à-vis most other continents is extraordinary. Africa is both the second most populous and second-largest continent. It has approximately 6% of Earth’s total surface area and 20% of the land area. Much of the misapprehension of its scale lies in the deceptive 500-year-old Mercator projection map. You can take India, China, Japan, the entire United States, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., all of Western and Eastern Europe, and their combined land masses and peoples, and all fit into the continental land-mass of Africa. (Map 01: True Scale of Africa)
The massive geographical scale also provides the main reason for the lack of African development and modernization. Of course, lack of access to revolutionary western technologies and investment, under-developed infrastructure as well as continuing unequal western resource-extraction basis of relations formed a generous helping. But geography formed the dominant and long continuing challenge inherent in connectivity with Africa. Further than Western neo-colonialism, “the geographic barriers to economic and cultural exchanges within and without sub-Saharan Africa have been formidable,” hindering development and promoting provincialism, fragmentation, and insularity. Thus building infrastructure and connections in challenging terrain, as well as detachment from a western grasp focused on resource-extraction and willful underdevelopment, provide the key mechanisms of helping Africa to develop. Achievement of these tasks will simultaneously deprive the west of a vast source of rent extraction. This informs ongoing western rage at the Chinese-Russian tandem which discharge these critical tasks in Africa; China builds and funds without onerous political interference and intrigue, and Russia arms, advises, trains in self-defense, and imparts useful developmental technologies.
The African continent’s true scale of resources is equally astonishing and widely misrepresented. (Map 02: African Resource Wealth) The enormous, valuable, and still mostly unexploited natural resources boggle the mind. The Valdai Discussion Club reports, “Africa has 30% of the world’s total minerals, 10% of oil reserves, 8% of gas reserves, and nearly 60% of the world’s untapped agricultural area.” All this is underreported in part to raise the importance and significance of comparatively scant western resource-base and physical size. This adds to psychological pressure on other civilizations and regions to submit to the “western parent” seeking to dictate to all from an assumed commanding position. It also masks the ongoing western predation and vacuum-extraction of African wealth and resource. For example, this literally sustains entire countries such as France; without its neo-colonial holdings in Françafrique, it would plunge into destitution. A key pillar was the 1945 creation of the CFA franc (franc de la Communauté Financière Africaine, or “franc of the African Financial Community”), the currency of sub-Saharan Africa’s French dependencies – initially pegged to the French franc and later to the euro.
“In 1962, French President Charles de Gaulle commissioned his adviser Jacques Foccart to build up Françafrique. “Foccart built a network of personal contacts between the French leadership and the elites of the former French colonies,” Paul Melly told DW. “These were often very personal connections, but they also had an opaque, very paternalistic, very controlling character.”
Foccart came up with the treaties that are still in force today. In exchange for military protection against attempted coups and the payment of hefty kickbacks, African leaders guaranteed French companies access to strategic resources such as diamonds, ores, uranium, gas and oil. The result is a solid presence of French interests on the continent, including 1,100 companies, some 2,100 subsidiaries and the third largest investment portfolio after Great Britain and the United States. France also retains the right of first refusal on all natural resources and privileged access to government contracts… “If France loses Africa, France is nothing.”
…According to the agreement, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) will no longer have to deposit half of its foreign exchange reserves with the Banque de France as was the case until now. However, the fixed parity with the euro will be maintained, allegedly to prevent inflation. At least this will put an end to remittances from Africa to France. But it will not enable an African independent monetary policy… African countries paid up to 65% of their foreign exchange reserves into the French treasury…”
Africa may have more resources than Russia. This appears kept under wraps by the Lords of War & Chaos, until they can submit Russia and “other residual rebels,” then enjoyed at leisure – so they hope. Once you see the comparative size with West Europe, and keep in mind the bottomless greed in most men’s hearts (the real Heart of Darkness), and the black Teknologia and Pharmakeia which came together some centuries ago during Herr Faust’s bargaining, then the global rampage of the last 500 years makes better sense.
When Europeans were in their medieval Dark Ages, one African king Mansa Moussa of Mali (of the land of Timbuktu fame) went to the Hajj, travelling from West Africa through Egypt to Mecca. Along the way he gave such alms in gold that it dropped the global value of gold! Maybe he foolishly inspired the looting and pillage still underway to this day; the avaricious Venetians and Iberians took note back then. One can tell the stupendous wealth and resource-base merely by the names given to the European colonial territories – the Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, the Slave Coast… Africa has incomparable wealth in scale and diversity of mineral and natural resources.
The African human scale and potential is equally staggering. Most of the population is sub-Saharan. (Map 03: Africa Population Density) Valdai Club continues, “… by 2040, Africa will have the largest labour force, as a quarter of the world’s population will live there; with young people accounting for more than 60%.” Walter Rodney describes in his “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa:”
“Africa is home to some 5,500 distinct tribes and people groups with complex linguistic and cultural traditions that span humanity’s story over a 150,000 thousand years. They dynamically range over Africa in the form of some 55 nations and 12 kingdoms numbering over a billion people, with more than half of them 18 years old, or younger, born of the world’s fastest growing population (average age 19.7 years). They are, sit atop, and are amidst an incomparable, incompletely mapped, and incredibly diverse concentration of the Earth’s bioorganic, natural, mineral, human resources, and developing skills.”
Certainly, African populations are amazingly diverse – in art, language, culture, religious ideas, and genetic diversity – and home to one third of the world’s more than 7,000 languages. For instance, in the two Congos, there are 286 living languages; in Kenya, 69; Tanzania, 128; Morocco, 11; Cameroon, 286; South Africa, 24; and in Nigeria, 514.
The geopolitical scale of Africa in helping build the nascent multipolar world is similarly substantial. One sees the fiercely competing summits, declarations and activity by the two emerging blocs: the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit (the last was held December 13-15, 2022) juxtaposed with the the Russia–Africa Summit (last held October 23-24, 2019) and the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (last held November 29-30, 2021). There are now near-continuous treks by the foreign policy and leadership establishment of both blocs to Africa. This wooing will only accelerate.
The African Union, headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, forms the continental institution of 55 African nations. Its role ever increases in organizing and defending pan-African socialism, sovereignty and principles of unity and fairness among themselves and on the global stage vis-à-vis former colonizers. Its most recent Assembly gathering of February 18-19th, 2023, was remotely addressed by both Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China. South Africa forms the “S” in BRICS. Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal are all current prospective African members of the expanding BRICS+ multipolar grouping. The trend will accelerate as the western-centric international organizations lose attractiveness and legitimacy as they ever double-down in unipolar maintenance efforts. Africa’s 55+ leaders reached an important milestone in creating a united African market with the launch of the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 7 July 2019 in Niamey, Niger. The 55-nation trade bloc will unite 1.3 billion people and create a USD 3.4 trillion economic bloc. At the time, it was the largest trade bloc to be created since the 1995 foundation of the World Trade Organization and is set, by 2050, to become an integrated market uniting some 2.5 billion people.
thank you, ahh, i learned more in your overview than i have from a full term study. it’s beautifully presented, i found the maps especially informative, really a fine example of seeing is much better than being told.
A very informative article AHH, thank you.
A magnificent tour de Africa, and beautifully written too… BRAVO AHH!!! The consequences of this continent in unison giving the one-fingered salute to the western colonial rapists are of enormous consequence. The same thing with LatAm where their population, ~2x that of the U$, 1.4x the EU, and 20 times… Read more »
Thanks compadres! Col, pl don’t give my conclusion away! I am building to it. There’s about 3 more chapters to go.. I would like to thank many fellow Africans and lovers of Africa who inspired over the years this work. To mind comes fellow Saker commentator Pillar, who last year… Read more »
All good Ahh… and silly me, I dived into devouring the article so voraciously, I didn’t even absorb the fact that “Part1” was denoted in the title. The last thing I want to do is to steal any of your thunder. This is important work… indeed a commentary on the… Read more »
Col, no harm no foul. I was joking. Indeed, a perfect storm has arrived… I agree, in writing this review of Russian-African relations, the metrics are quite shocking. This also informs why they double-down into the Abyss. Russia absolutely must die from their perspective now. It almost single-handedly dismantles a… Read more »
AHH, the major attacks that spring to mind that were intent on tearing the Russian Civilisation apart were obviously Napoleon and Hitler… things didn’t exactly go according to plan. Now Natostan is having a go… we need to come up with a suitable label for the third major attempt… perhaps… Read more »
Having read only the first part, Latin America and the Caribbean, much like the continent of Africa, have potential in developing their own respective paradigms, much like Euroasia, which has accomplished a lot since the beginning of this second millennium. It’s a matter of both LATAM and Africa to wean… Read more »
Ahh, that was breathtaking. I spent 30 years in Southern Africa among Africans and it was a humbling experience. Homo Sapiens have occupied the Southern Tip of Africa for at least 300,000 years or 15,000 generations, without spoiling their nest as we have done. They did not live “short brutish… Read more »
homo consumer, who has since evolved into homo stupidus. 😉
Emersonreturn, Homo Suicidal.
Yet, the fight still continues. The US is exerting unprecedented pressure on African countries in an attempt to disrupt the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov