Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Imperialism/Globalization - Part 2

African History
I cannot give a serious account of African history here, but some broad conclusions can be made. The history of colonialism, conquest and foreign domination plague Africa today and is the source of many of the root causes of the conflicts and crisis throughout the continent. And of course, the ongoing political, military and economic intervention of the imperialist powers continues to affect African developments.
One of the main challenges before us is to understand how Africa went from being the frontline of the international struggle for national independence and against imperialism to becoming a continent of crisis, corruption, poverty and war. African nations like Ghana in 1957, Algeria in 1962, and Kenya in 1963, were beacons of anti-colonial struggle worldwide and were examples to liberation movements in Asia and the Middle East.
The Pan-African movement throughout the 20th century played a key role in creating continental unity to solve the problems of colonialism, neocolonialism, racism and poverty. Also, it should be noted that the Soviet Union and other socialist countries financed and trained many of the national liberation movements. Many of those movements not only had Marxists in their leadership, but several enshrined Marxism-Leninism in their statutes and principals. Many of them, however, abandoned Marxism in name and practice following the crisis in socialism in the early 1990’s.
The newly liberated peoples of Africa were united for the last half of the 20th century against apartheid and its clients in Southern Africa. The front line states of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, bordered South Africa and were destabilized by military and covert intervention by the apartheid regime. They also provided support for the African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and other liberation forces, which often operated from exile in their countries. With the unprecedented victory over apartheid in 1991 and the subsequent collapse of the UNITA in Angola, RENAMO in Mozambique, the racist regime in Southwest Africa (now Namibia) and other right-wing forces propped up by apartheid, conflicts between the frontline states and within them came to the fore. One example is the internal discord in Zimbabwe that has gained so much attention in the ruling circles in the US and UK.
At the Treaty of Berlin in 1884-1885, the European powers carved up Africa into colonial holdings. Previously, Europe mostly traded with existing African states and tribes, staking claim to coastal fortresses and ports. The Treaty of Berlin mandated that European powers hold agreements with local leaders and stake claims to physical territory in order to solidify their claim to a colony. The scramble for Africa began. By 1900, nearly all of Africa was under direct colonial control by European countries. There was also notable economic and political influence of the US, including its near-puppet state in Liberia. Within 100 years, Africa was transformed. By 2000, nearly all the continent was independent. It went from being a massive landmass of hundreds of peoples, languages and cultures with little to do with one another, to being a continent dominated by foreign powers, carved up into arbitrary nations, united in their common experience of slavery, brutality, imperial control and struggle for freedom.

Political Affairs Magazine - Africa Today