How the Czechs Discovered Africa

Sometimes, interesting stuff is being published in the mainstream Czech media publish, such as this article. It is rather short so I will translate it here.

Give them a lesson Russia, is being heard from Africa, anti-Western sentiment is being spread here.

There is an increasing anti-Western sentiment being spread in Subsaharan Africa. Local social media are being filled with messages supporting Russian actions in Ukraine. Russia is being defended by members of African governments, the opposition, and panafricanists. The television channels in Subsaharan Africa are airing the Russian version of events in their news programmes, and do not hide their support for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

“Putin wants to elevate his country, he does not have the blood of slavers and colonisers on his hands. Even though he isn’t my messiah, I prefer him over those damned African presidents that are beholden to Western oligarchy,” -said supporter of panafricanism, Kemil Seba, reports AFP.

In a similar manner, the leader of the South African far left, Julius Malema: “We say to NATO and America that we are not supporting them. We are with Russia and want to thank them. May they give the West a lesson, we need a new world order, we are tired of taking orders from the Americans.”

On social media, an increasing number of people are critical of the “imperialists” and those that agree with Russia’s actions. “On YouTube, channels spreading destabilising discourse are bustling. They are distancing African regimes from the West, and serve Russian interests.” -Said Mahama Tawat from Malmö University in Sweden.

We can see Russian influence in practice on the streets of Bamako, Ndjamena, and Ouagadougou, where protesters with Russian flags express their displeasure with French military presence in the Sahel. And it is also visible in the media.

Panafrican television channel, Afrique Média, which broadcasts in Cameroon regularly features debates where support of the Kremlin and Kemil Seba is also frequently featured there. “Ukrainian-Russian war, how the Putin government has sown panic in the West?” and “The plan to murder Vladimir Putin, how far can West go?” are just two examples of debating topics on their Facebook page.

Some African governments also support this pro-Russian atmosphere, as was shown in the vote in the General Assembly of the UN that was held on 2 March on a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Out of 35 countries that have abstained from the vote, 16 were African. Among them we need to count also Eritrea, which voted against the resolution, and 8 African countries that did not take part in the vote.

“The countries that have abstained are all, with the exception of Senegal, countries with authoritarian regimes, or those that have historical and often military ties [to Russia] since the days of the USSR.” -commented Tawat.

Some African nations have openly sided with Moscow. For instance, the Central African Republic has asked Moscow for help during an offensive of militant groups in 2020. Military units in these countries, according to the UN have been recruiting reinforcements in the form of many Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group.

Mali, that asked French troops to leave their territory receives weapons from Russia, including attack helicopters. Their military speaks of an “old and honest” partnership with Russia. There are many Russians heading to Bamako that are labeled as instructors, the French and their allies consider them to be close to the Kremlin affiliated Wagner group.

Russia adjusts its propaganda according to the receiving audience

English speaking Africa is in a similar situation. Tanzania has signed an agreement on military cooperation in 2016, which includes training of African soldiers on Russian bases.

The son of the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, an important general named, Muhoozi Kainerugaba has recently expressed support for Vladimir Putin with a tweet saying: “The majority of the non-white people support Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely justified here.”

As is featured in an analysis of the French institute for international relations, the Russians tailor their messages according to the public it is intended for. “Xenophobic appeals and statements against migrants and muslims are aimed at European society, while messages about decolonisation and the end of imperialism are aimed at Africa.”

A fertile soil for the spread of disinformation was created in Africa. The start of the war in Ukraine is congruent with the boom of panafrican social networks, where the Russian invasion is justified and Russian military might is demonstrated.

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It is a form of lazy analysis when one tries to blame Russia for opposition to mass immigration. But little do the authors realize that mass immigration in the West and neocolonialism are two sides of the same coin. The underdevelopment of Africa and its status as resource appendage of Europe, is the cause of Africans migrating towards Europe.

In this way, the Africans have a lot of in common with the Russians, who are as well victims of neocolonial policies in the West, and a peripheral nation, and thus shares many interests with Africa. It is in the interest of Russia and China to make Africa more independent of the West, however, I do not know why Russia would oppose mass immigration into Western countries? After all, immigrants from former colonies tend to hold a grudge against the West for colonial times exploitation, hence such immigration is weakening, not strengthening the Western societies.

What does Russia win from supporting anti-immigrant parties in the West, who are not exactly pro-Russian?