In July 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited four African countries at once
A photo: REUTERS
What do we know about the Black Continent? At best, some snippets of nursery rhymes – about Barmaley, wild monkeys and the Mumba-Yumba tribe, not much different from them … In general, about the same as the average Westerner thinks of Moscow: a zone of eternal snow with drunken bears on bicycles.
Meanwhile, over the past 10 years, Africa has been the No. 1 region both in terms of economic growth dynamics and future prospects. She looks like a fairy-tale princess who has woken up from a magical dream and, like Russia, has remembered her roots.
And there is something to remember. Do you know where one of the oldest universities in the world is located, known for almost ten centuries, with a legendary library of hundreds of thousands of ancient manuscripts? In Timbuktu – once one of the largest cities of the Mali Empire (there was such a state in West Africa, which was not inferior to medieval France in wealth and power).
Or where is one of the earliest surviving manuscripts of the New Testament kept? In the Ethiopian monastery of St. Garima, written between 1400 and 1600 years ago.
Or where are the most mysterious megalithic buildings, in comparison with which Stonehenge looks like a pile of children’s cubes? Also in Africa – giant boulders-ruins of Great Zimbabwe. Who erected them and why is difficult to say. In the 20th century, with a white minority, the then administration pressured scientists to falsify the excavations, denying the fact that blacks could create such a miracle.
You have not heard anything about all this – after all, for many decades, monkeying to the West, our education was Eurocentric. And now we are turning there, to the East and the “global South”. And he – to us. Any African from school knows about the “sun of Russian poetry” – Pushkin, whose ancestor Abram Gannibal came from there: either from Cameroon, or from Abyssinia. For them, the Russian patriot “Lyaksandra Sergeevich” is the embodiment of the sunny African spirit.
Pushkin was killed in cold blood by the Frenchman Dantes – and at the same time Africa was dismembered by his compatriots. Yes, formally colonialism ended almost everywhere by the middle of the 20th century (including thanks to the USSR, which zealously supported the liberation movements on the continent) – but the West continued to control finance and the economy in the “young democracies”, pumping out national wealth through local corrupt oligarchs and officials – almost like in weak Russia of the 1990s.
And then the revival began – both Russian and African. And what is amazing – it happened synchronously. In 2014, Russia declared to the whole world that it would no longer play by the rules of the West. And she began to conduct a completely sovereign policy. African leaders rushed to Moscow, dreaming of the same thing. A couple of years later, Russia signed an agreement on military-technical cooperation with the Central African Republic (CAR). And lo and behold – with the help of our “tourists” in one of the most unstable countries in the region, the civil war almost came to naught.
Some time later, the Republic of Mali came to an agreement with the Kremlin. Deliveries of our combat helicopters began to the once great country, now almost falling apart, and entire regions were liberated from terrorists. Needless to say, the French, in whose informal department both Mali and the Central African Republic were previously, could not cope with the militants for years. But local resources were regularly exported.
It is not surprising that now, in July 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has triumphantly visited four countries of the continent at once. Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Republic of the Congo – and all in five days. Try to maintain such a pace, and even successfully negotiate.
And we have something to offer. The West closes the markets for Russian goods and energy carriers – well, okay, sit in the dark, hungry and unwashed. And we will cooperate with Africa: in addition to our military experts, it needs our wheat, our fertilizers, our electrical engineering.
In Egypt, for example, with the support of Rosatom, the construction of the first national nuclear power plant has recently begun. This means that the economies of the two countries will be bound by “long contracts” for the supply of “nuclear pills” and other equipment. Russian workers will receive orders for decades to come, and Africans will receive cheap clean energy (environmental problems and a lack of electricity are the scourge of its booming megacities).
So Lavrov’s African voyage is, without exaggeration, a “Kissinger maneuver” 50 years ago, when the Americans won China over to their side with spectacular diplomacy. At that time, this impoverished, backward, agrarian country was distinguished only by demographic resources – like today’s Africa … And no one could have imagined that even during Kissinger’s lifetime, the same China would turn into an economic giant.
And now: the largest cities of the Black Continent – Addis Ababa or Lagos – from some angles are indistinguishable from Dubai … well, okay, Dubai that way 20 years ago, when it just started building the first skyscrapers and turning into a global business center.
So strengthening contacts with Africa is an investment in the future. And in this, as we have seen over the past 20 years, the Kremlin strategists understand.