"Many African states are created artificially." Why the new "race for the black continent" Russia is losing the West and China
Material posted: Publication date: 20-08-2015
Doctor of Historical Sciences, Deputy Director of the Institute of African Studies Dmitry Bondarenko told "Lente.ru" which African countries can be called "failed states", about the dangers and benefits of European colonialism, the development of mobile communications in the world fueled civil wars in Congo and why Africa needs China.

«Resources of Africa is it prokljate»

What do you think of the judgements extended recently, what the majority of the African countries more than for half a century of independence of a steel «not taken place states» (Failed state) to which did not manage to provide the high-grade existence?

Bondarenko: Concerning concept Failed state there is not less a popular belief that it has especially ideological character and specially has been developed in the West to interfere with internal affairs of the African countries. The true share in it, unconditionally, is. Logic application that a certain state has not taken place and it is possible to influence it from the outside, is observed not only in Africa and not only in connection with the West.

Actually, of course, there is a sense to speak about some cases when the state is so weak that it appears not to carry out the basic functions in a condition: defence, the law and order, population social protection. But state functions quite often mix with methods of their fulfilment. Therefore concept «not taken place state» «the totalitarian state», «the authoritative state» often confuse to the concept, otherwise, «the undemocratic state». And if in any country civil war, for example, flashes, it allows an occasion to some to declare there and then it «not taken place state». To such sights, in my opinion, does not suffice historical and sotsiokulturnoj depth.

You can give an example any state of Africa as which in the pure state it is possible to consider not taken place?

Somalia, certainly. Its present position in much is caused by the ethnocultural reasons. The country is occupied by the cattle breeding tribes to which traditional culture any state structures are alien. It is peculiar to Somalis rodoplemennoe thinking, and they remind these Chechens from them tejpovoj system where all keeps on related-clan communications.

With 1969 for 1991 of Somalia an iron hand Siad to Barra to which, apparently, managed to break former rodoplemennye traditions managed and to create the strong effective state. But as a result it has failed and ran from the country which after that has broken up to some quasistates - the territories controlled by local clans.

The Somali children look at the soldier of the Transition government
Photo: Noor Khamis / Reuters

Some consider as not taken place state Democratic Republic Congo (the former Zaire), though there a situation other. Congo represents a typical example is artificial the state created by colonialists occupying huge territory (the second for the area in Africa after Algeria) and uniting hundreds different ethnoses. And some of these people have own state traditions still with dokolonialnoj epoch.

Besides the said country till 1960 was a colony of Belgium. And Belgians from all Europeans were the most senseless and cruel colonialists. They practically gave nothing to the local people, trying thus on a maximum them to gather. Belgium to the last clung to the colonial empire. Perhaps, only Portugal resisted to decolonization even longer.

Congo is very rich valuable, including rare natural resources that provokes many forces in the country and outside it to escalation of the long-term internal conflict. In general, natural resources of Africa is it prokljate. Monstrous on cruelty and scale of disasters long civil wars not only in Congo, but also in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leones have been in many respects caused by struggle for their bowels.

Congo is known to that in the late nineties - the beginning of 2000th years there there were two bloody wars: the First Congolese and the Second Congolese. Last many name «the First World War of Africa» or «Great African war» as in this conflict have appeared all neighbouring states are retracted almost. What now there conditions, whether have come a certain stabilisation?

All of us use mobile phones and other gadgets, but we do not reflect that in each of them is kolumbo-tantalit, received of koltanovoj ores, about 80 which percent of world's reserves is in Congo. Therefore wars there have received still the name "koltanovyh". Bloodshed in Congo has been in many respects caused by attempts of different forces to establish the control over deposits koltanovoj ores at the expense of which export wars were financed.

Though now war was completed, the Democratic Republic Congo stays in very bad condition: huge streams of refugees, universal poverty. Intensity there and until now remains, especially in east regions of the country, and to approve that the Third Congolese war is absolutely impossible, I would not become.

The miner from Democratic Republic Congo holds in a hand a mineral koltan
Photo: Zuma / Global Look

«Trajbalizm remains a serious problem of Africa»

Often say that one of the main problems of Africa is trajbalizm that is when for the majority of the population the more breeding consciousness, than national is characteristic. Whether try to struggle with it and where it is better it turns out?

Really, trajbalizm - an enormous problem. For the majority of Africans loyalty in relation to any local generality (to a tribe, ethnos or traditional political formation) is more important than an accessory to a national generality (state).

Why it so? The matter is that the majority of the modern states of Africa, with rare exception, has been created is artificial. It means that till their colonial epoch did not exist, they are originally based by Europeans as the colonies. Within the limits of colonies one people could be violently connected with perfect others. Therefore practically all European colonies were polietnichnymi. On the other hand, by it were broken traditional cultural, economic and political connections. Often one people were divided on different colonies. For example, the West African people of a house have partially appeared in the British Nigeria, and partially - in the French Niger.

Now slowly and gradually in many African countries elements of a civil society are formed, new generations of Africans have a national consciousness. Is better it it turns out in the countries where there were preconditions for consolidation or there was a statehood private experience still in dokolonialnuju an epoch.

For example?

It is Tanzania, where very strong national consciousness. In its basis the unique arabo-African culture suahili which was generated still in dokolonialnyj the period lies. 99 percent of the population of the country know language suahili, approximately 70 percent of inhabitants consider its native. During colonial times language distribution suahili was very much promoted by Christian missionarys who on it preached. By the way, now suahili gradually becomes the most popular language in all Africa.

Well and, certainly, after finding of independence of the power of the country successfully carry out realised to the policy on strengthening of national consciousness. Now, truth, a situation in Tanzania worsens, but under influence not breeding contradictions, and religious (between Islam and Christianity).

However experience of Tanzania and language suahili is for Africa more likely an exception. For example, in Nigeria posters «One country - one nation» everywhere hang. But this phrase is written in English, because other language which would unite all Nigerians, no. A similar situation and in other African states.

Certainly, the problem trajbalizma remains very serious for Africa. With it try to struggle, but everywhere by different methods. In one countries institute of breeding leaders simply prohibit, in others - on the contrary, aspire to build in traditional breeding structures modern system of the government (for example, Zambia), especially at local level (Benin and a number of other countries).

Meeting of members of a tribe masai
Photo: Axiom / Zuma / Global Look

«Development of Europe pushed her to expansion to Africa»

You already spoke about senseless and cruel Belgian colonialists. Management methods how much differed with the African colonies at different European powers?

Europeans used two systems of colonial management: direct and indirect. The direct control provided local population attraction in colonial administrative apparatus on a post local and the average level without thinking about local political traditions. This system prevailed in all European colonies except the British. Englishmen have developed more refined and effective system of indirect management which, on the contrary, provided a support on local traditional hierarchy. Though, for example, in Southern Rhodesia (present Zimbabwe - a comment of "Lenty.ru") where many settlers from Great Britain have located, Englishmen applied a direct control.

Whether fairly all present problems of Africa to connect with a heritage of a colonial epoch?

Certainly, no. In the history there is no unequivocal division on good and bad. In dokolonialnuju an epoch development of Africa strongly differed from development of Europe. Certainly, arrival of the European colonialists has essentially distorted a natural course of history on continent. One scientist, my colleague, after a trip to Africa has told that Europeans have committed there two crimes: the first - that in general have come there, and the second - that then have left therefrom.

Africans before occurrence of Europeans had a original and self-sufficient civilisation, culture, a way of life. Also would be an error to consider that their European colonisation has made of savages civilised people. But arrival of Europeans definitively also has irrevocably retracted Africa in the international system of relations then the world became rather global.

Certainly, Africa long time played a role of a raw appendage of Europe. And wreck of colonial system has been in many respects caused by a decline of an epoch of industrial capitalism. Requirements for former quantity of raw any more were not, and the African colonies became unprofitable.

White colonizers in village on the river Niger (modern Nigeria), 1947
Photo: East News

On the one hand, the colonialism has brought a lot of harm to Africa. Yes, it has really distorted its original civilisation. But on the other hand, such course of world development was historically inevitable. Development of the countries of Europe pushed them to expansion to Africa. Also it is not necessary to forget that a modern transport infrastructure, and also and health cares in the African countries have started to create education systems Europeans during the colonial period.

«Now to Africa the huge flow of Chineses» has rushed

Now it is very frequent in neocolonial policy carrying out in Africa reproach China. How much these charges obosnovanny? And in general, what influence now renders China to Africa?

Of neo-colonialism charge not only China, and practically all who comes to Africa. China has started to be approved on continent by the end of 1980th years when Soviet Union therefrom has left. Now it has occupied key positions in Africa, actively forcing out therefrom the West. To what African country now you will arrive, everywhere you will see Chineses.

China is useful to Africa, including as alternative I Will sink down in which role acted as the USSR earlier. It is very important to African politicians to have the different global centres of force between which it is possible to maneuver. And China very successfully plays it. He constantly underlines that, unlike the West, never was a colonial power; and even, on the contrary, on a level with Africa suffered from the European imperialism.

At the same time in Africa China often charge of carrying out on continent of frankly cynical policy. He, unlike the USA and Europe, does not demand from the authorities of the African countries to adhere to democratic standards and observance of human rights. To it it is uninteresting. Chineses have come to Africa behind profit. For the sake of achievement of the purposes they can easily go, for example, on payoff of local officials, thereby encouraging and without that widespread corruption in the African countries.

Therefore to China in Africa ambiguous and even the guarded relation. The population lower class sincerely rejoices that China in literal sense has filled up continent with the cheap consumer goods. But thinking people disturbs that the Chinese import destroys the local industry which simply does not maintain a competition.

But Chineses charge not only of it. Them reproach that by means of investments into Africa they get rid not only of superfluous dollars, but also from superfluous people. Whether truth, what already now live in Africa more than one million Chineses?

Last years to Africa the huge flow of Chineses has rushed. Their presence can be observed at different levels - from the largest corporations to small shops in the remote villages where even the electricity is not present. The Chinese companies working in Africa at a provision of employment even on unskilled and low-wage jobs, contrary to the local legislation, prefer the compatriots, instead of local residents. It leads to serious social pressure which often becomes complicated the haughty relation of Chineses to natives. For example, four years ago in Zambia during a labour dispute on copper mine the Chinese managing directors have opened fire on the African miners and have wounded 11 persons.

The shop of footwear belonging to Chineses, in Kampala (Uganda)
Photo: Stephen Wandera / AP

I observed, when in one city in Tanzania at the Chinese shop the small weaving mill has opened. All workers on it were too Chineses who worked there vahtovym a method, practically without leaving enterprise territory.

«What can present Russia offer Africa?»

You have told that China has in many respects replaced Soviet Union in Africa. And modern Russia has there any significant positions? In Africa, in your opinion, we should conduct what policy now?

In 1990th years Russia has left Africa. In nine countries embassies, and almost in all states to the south of Sahara - the Russian cultural centres were closed. In public opinion of our country the point of view began to prevail that Russia should be with «the civilised world», and it ostensibly automatically assumes that about «the backward states» it is necessary to forget simply. Began possible to sneer at Africans, to deride them in comic programs poshlejshimi and the silliest jokes about «a tribe a curbstone-jumba».

The situation began to change a little in second half of zero years. At first in 2006 Putin has visited Morocco and the republic of South Africa. Then in 2009 Medvedev has paid visit at once in four African states: Egypt, Nigeria, Angola and Namibia. However results of these trips to no small degree remained at level of political declarations. And it is clear - Russia economically not so is strong, as the countries of the West or China. Concerning the given aspect, unfortunately, we can offer Africans much less, than they.

In the political relation of the country of Africa are important for Russia at votings in the various international organisations at least because in Africa there are 54 states. Besides presence on continent or at least imitation of this presence are necessary for our country for maintenance of the status of great power. And when now say that we should recover the lost positions of Soviet Union in Africa, for some reason forget a simple thing: the USSR, besides ideology, much that gave to the African countries. And what present Russia can offer Africa? Clearly that it not in a condition there to compete neither to China, nor with the USA or the European Union.

The president of Russia Vladimir Putin on a visit in Cape Town (republic of South Africa), 2006
Photo: Howard Burditt / Reuters

What then a policy is the most reasonable to conduct Russia in Africa?

Russia, first of all, should develop strategic understanding of for what communications with Africa are necessary to our country, what character they should have and that also is very important, how many we are ready to pay for it. At present I see one conceptual element in the Russian policy in Africa: as now Russia does not presume wide economic, political and cultural expansion on continent, the aspiration to concentrate on the several essentially important countries for it is shown. With other African states acceptable level of friendship is as far as possible supported. I not undertake to approve that such approach absolutely correct, but, anyway, any display kontseptualnosti in the approach is always better than its total absence.

And what countries of Africa for us are most important?

I think that it, first of all, those states where there went our presidents.

Andrey Mozzhuhin

Source: <http://lenta.ru/articles/2015/08/19/africa/>

Tags: resources , security , geopolitics , Africa