Friday, May 31, 2024

Part II: Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Africa Must Not Miss The Opportunity


By Isaac Mwanza

(Continued from yesterday)

The resentment of South African towards the West and in favour of Russia is somehow justifiable. In the 1960s and into the 1980s, Western countries had classified the South African black liberation leaders Nelson Mandela and his Southern Rhodesian counterpart Robert Mugabe as terrorists.

Mandela had remained on the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008. The West had watched and failed to condemn the military and civil onslaught of black native population during the Apartheid era.

Russia stood with the black people of South African, Namibia, Southern Rhodesia and the former Portuguese African territories, arming, training and representing their interests across the political spectrum.

The fight at local level, in Southern Rhodesia and later in Namibia and South Africa itself, was heavily supported by Russia which offered not just arms but military training, propaganda and powerful diplomatic support at the United Nations.

It was clearly a fight not just against the proxy oppressive white regime on African soil but also against their principals in Amsterdam, Paris, London and Washington DC.

In the face of the Russia – Ukraine conflict, Zimbabweans appear more grateful to Russia for having provided support to the Zimbabwe African People Union which operated from Zambia during Zimbabwe’s independence struggle.

Zambians appear not to have forgotten that when the Ian Smith regime had launched airstrikes inside Zambia in 1979, the West turned its back on us while the Soviet Union (Russia) together with China, provided Zambia with the military aid which made it possible to continue with the struggle to remove the unwanted, exclusionary and discriminatory white regimes in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa itself.

It is no wonder, then, that when Zambia’s public broadcaster posted a BBC news story on its Facebook page on 23 January stating that Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, would be visiting South Africa for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine 11 months ago, the reactions of Zambians on the ZNBC social media became obvious. At least 99 percent of the comments showed Zambians approved of the epic journey by the Russian Foreign Minister to Africa.

It’s common knowledge that Russia’s imperial past did not extend to Africa. However, Russia created a history of herself when she resolved to back Africa’s liberation movements fighting for independence from the exploitative western countries of the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Spain.

Even the Germans had had “colonial possessions” in south-west Africa as well as in East Africa, of which it was dispossessed at the end of World War I in 1918. This is why Russia appears to elicit more support among Africans than Ukraine which seems to have lost its way since it’s departure from its centuries-old union with Russia, including in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR.

While it was possible to conceive of countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan etc. as separate countries within the USSR, Ukraine was always viewed as an integral part of the Russian Federation which was the largest component of the USSR. There is therefore some puzzlement that Ukraine ever became a separate nation-state from Russia.

Africans have not forgotten the dark hours when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and brutally killed at the hands of NATO in 2011. We have generally questioned NATO’s double standards over the Palestine-Israel conflict or it’s brutal invasion of the sovereign Nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, led by allied Western forces on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction, and that Afghanistan’s Islamic government was harbouring terrorists who brought down the twin towers in New York city, killing thousands of innocent American and other citizens.

We as Africa strongly condemned the twin towers attack, but has never accepted it as a legitimate excuse for the US-led western invasion of Afghanistan or the false assertion that Iraq’s former leader Saddam Hussein had a hand in planning it.

We also know, thanks to Western education, that a major confrontation between the United States of America and Soviet Union ensued 60 years ago which almost brought the two long standing foes close war in what had been dubbed the Cuban Missile Crisis, in 1962. The reason?

America could not stomach the idea that Russia was placing its nuclear missiles and associated defensive arms and military equipment at her doorstep in Cuba, just 135 kilometres away from American shores.

The U.S. had failed to overthrow the new Communist government of Fidel Castro which had taken power in Cuba by overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Bautista. It is on record that the US organised an ill-fated military expedition of Cuban exiles to invade and retake power from Castro, but had met with a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the new Cuban government in the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion. The role of the then Soviet Union was invaluable and demonstrated that Russia was ready to help Cuba defend her sovereignty.

Aren’t we then justified in our reasoning that what is good for the goose is good for the gander? If it was good for America 60 years ago to resist the military presence of its main rival in her back yard, it should equally be good for Russia to resist the presence of NATO military forces in her next door, Ukraine.

Russia has believably been resisting attempts by NATO to admit former countries that constituted the Soviet Union into its Alliance on the ground that such a move threatened Russia’s security. NATO, on the other hand, has been blatantly incorporating former Soviet States into its alliance and then setting up military bases in those European countries completely surrounding Russia while pretending that the new missile bases in Poland, for instance, are to stop Iranian missiles which may in future be aimed at the United States and its NATO allies.

Lest we forget, in 1983 the United States invaded the tiny nation of Grenada, in the western Caribbean Sea, when it elected a Socialist government which identified with the Soviet Union. Thousands of US poured into the tiny country, at the orders of President Ronald Reagan, because the United States could not tolerate a Soviet-friendly government in its sphere of influence”.

[To be continued tomorrow. For any comments and contributions, send email to [email protected]]

Published the Zambia Daily Nation


  1. Perfectly written Isaac. This is the whole truth. Please continue with good work to educate those, who may have forgotten or young people who may not have been exposed to hisory of the global world which is marred by blackmails of the undesirable by some quarters

  2. This is full of misinformation, in 1961 the Commonwealth kicked South Africa out because of it’s racist policies, Uk gave 31 countries independence without a shot being fired between 60 -85. Prime minister Frazer of Australia was the first white country to support Mugabe in the early 70s and called on the Commonwealth to sanctions on the Smith govt. and South Africa , later Canada and New Zealand followed and the entire Commonwealth except UK.
    the Russians and Cuba were here for 1 reason as the UK and Americans, there is big money in arms Sales and they were paid in gold .minerals and Ivory. Northing is for free and human rights mean nothing to all these countries. Mandala was not prohibited in the US up to 2008 as he visited in the 90s both to the US and Canada.

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