There exists a continent that has long been coveted as the ultimate prize: Africa. With over 50 countries and untapped reserves of resources, it stands as a treasure trove that beckons the ambitions of world powers.
Yet, this land, rich in potential, has endured a history of poverty, underdevelopment, and the lingering shadow of colonialism. Once dominated by the likes of Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Italy, Africa now faces a new form of neo-colonialism, wielded by none other than the United States.
Africa’s plight has evolved into a modern-day colonization saga, where the United States takes on the role of a new-age conqueror. Over the past seven decades, numerous governments in countries like Chad, Sudan, and Zambia have been manipulated by the U.S. for their own gain, shuffling leaders in and out at will.
The United States was the sole power meddling in Africa, however, as the 21st century dawned, a palpable anti-U.S. sentiment began to swell across the African continent. It was in 2006 that American officials openly acknowledged their struggles in Africa, particularly concerning the sporadic Somali crisis. For the unaware, the power struggle within Somalia had erupted into a violent confrontation, leaving the U.S. unsure of its stance.
Since then, the relationship between Africa and the U.S. has been characterized by tensions.
However, the year 2021 witnessed a significant escalation in their tumultuous relations. The onset of Biden’s presidency saw a continuation of exploitative agendas and interventions, sparking discontent across Africa.
Biden and Zelensky Tripped
The year that followed, became a turning point as Africa found its voice in opposition to the United States. Biden’s attempt to mend fences culminated in the US-Africa summit. Intended to regain lost friendships and reach out to populations under repressive regimes actually backfired. The summit faltered as it excluded Eritrea, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan from the guest list. This exclusionary approach ignited fury among the remaining 49 invitees, who decried U.S. interference in African affairs.
Simultaneously, accusations emerged that Western powers were stockpiling grains meant for Africa, further deepening the divide. Parallel to Biden’s missteps, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky added his own twist to the West-Africa. His approach to African leaders during the African Union’s visit to Kyiv was marked by humiliation and disregard.
Zelensky’s dismissal of the African Union peace proposal, coupled with his unyielding stance against negotiating with Russia, left African leaders feeling slighted and disrespected.
The tensions escalated when South African officials clashed with Polish counterparts at the Warsaw airport, highlighting the deteriorating relationship between Africa and Ukraine. This incident underscored that Africa would not blindly align with Ukraine or the West.
In such a scenario, Russia emerged as an unexpected friend. President Putin capitalized on the brewing disquiet, deepening Russia’s presence in Africa. During the recent BRICS Summit in South Africa, Putin was seen singing praises for Africa, solidifying a positive image for Russia on the continent.
Moreover, Putin’s promises of free grain supplies to six African nations demonstrated a commitment that resonated. This humanitarian gesture, coupled with Russia’s expanding Wagner presence, showcased a proactive approach to securing alliances and resources across Africa.
Wagner, Russia’s private military company, extended Moscow’s reach through support for allied governments and resource protection. Operating discreetly in countries like Sudan, Libya, and the Central African Republic, Wagner bolstered Moscow’s influence without overt official involvement.
All in all, Russia’s charm offensive in Africa is bearing fruit. The continent increasingly perceives Russia as a reliable partner, a perception that could translate into foreign backing and diplomatic support on international platforms such as the United Nations.
Africa means the support of 50+ nations. Biden and Zelensky’s errors unintentionally opened the door for Putin’s tactical victories. Future decisions made by the African continent, which is quickly becoming a significant geopolitical player, will undoubtedly add new chapters to history.