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Africa rebels: Is a second anti-colonial movement on the horizon?


natural resources. But according to Captain Ibrahim Traore, President of Burkina Faso, the younger generations do not understand why, despite its wealth, Africa remains the region the poorest of the world.

Across the continent, we are witnessing uprisings and armed rebellions led by anti-colonialist military leaders who have sought to regain sovereignty from European imperialist powers, particularly France.

Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are just some of the countries that make up the set of former French colonies in West Africa. They have long been the main source of natural resources for France and other European powers. Niger provides 15% of the uranium needed for French nuclear reactors. Burkina Faso is a major gold exporter, while Guinea is a crucial entry and exit point for trade between France and its former colonies. Mali is another major gold exporter and has been a battleground where the government has fought various armed Islamist groups.

The map of West Africa began to change drastically in 2021. Like dominoes, pro-French regimes began to fall following military uprisings, starting with Mali in May 2021 and the coup. State led by Assimi Goita, who immediately demanded that the French military leave the country. The Central African Republic also expelled French troops in June 2021. In September 2021, Mamady Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, took military control of Guinea.

A year later, Traore became the world's youngest president after taking power in Burkina Faso, and he expelled the French military in January 2023. Finally, the July 26 military rebellion in Niger, led by Abdourahamane Tchiani, who now assumes the presidency, also expelled French forces and banned the export of uranium to France.

The case of Burkina Faso and Traoré is particularly interesting. During his recent trip to St. Petersburg for the Russia-Africa Summit, Traore gave a speech in which he said Russia was part of the African family. He condemned the plundering of the continent by European powers and ended with the slogan "Fatherland or death! We will vanquish !– using the words of Ernesto Che Guevara and the national motto of Cuba.

Many have compared Traoré to Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, also called the "African Che Guevara". Sankara had also expelled French forces, nationalized the country's resources, and implemented socialist policies of redistribution, before being assassinated in a pro-French coup.

So what are France and its partners going to do? The United States and Britain have already cut off all aid to Niger and its allies in response to their ban on uranium exports to France. On July 30, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a confederation that includes many former French colonies, issued an ultimatum to Niger: Tchiani had one week to leave power, failing which a military intervention would be launched with support from France. Nigeria, France's key ally in the region and leader of ECOWAS, has been chosen as the launch base for a possible military intervention. However, the Nigerian senate has rejected the request of the very unpopular president, Bola Tinabu, to authorize military action against his neighbour. The ultimatum expired and Niger closed its airspace to all commercial aircraft.

The presidents of Burkina Faso and Mali have responded that any military intervention in Niger would amount to a declaration of war against them. But African states also have an ace up their sleeve: their longstanding friendship with Russia.

Delegations from 49 African countries attended the recent Africa-Russia Summit in St. Petersburg. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he supports Africa's fight against neo-colonialism, saying Moscow has canceled a total of $23 billion in African debt and confirming that more than 50 tonnes of grain would be delivered to the continent free of charge.

Friendship between the peoples of Africa and Russia dates back to the XNUMXth century. The story of Abram Gannibal, an African general in the service of the Russian army and great-grandfather of the legendary poet Alexander Pushkin, is one of the most fascinating parts of the history of Russian-African relations. Brought from Constantinople to Peter the Great as a child slave, he was freed from bondage and educated at the Tsar's palace. He would not only become a high-ranking military officer in the Russian army, but also the tutor of the young Alexander Suvorov, the famous general who defeated the Ottoman Empire in two wars, among other exploits.

At the twilight of the scramble for Africa, only one nation remained independent in the sea of ​​colonial conquest: Ethiopia. The Italian attempt at invasion and subjugation ended in catastrophic failure for the colonizers, with Russia providing crucial aid to the Ethiopian nation struggling for sovereignty and independence. The Soviet Union becamethe armory of the oppressedfor many young African nations seeking freedom from their colonial masters. Weapons and ammunition produced in the USSR were delivered to the many revolutionary and anti-colonial forces in the region, such as the MPLA in Angola, the ANC in South Africa, the PAIGC and its leader Amilcar Cabral in Guinea-Bissau, and many more besides. The memory of this solidarity is still fresh in the minds of many Africans, young and old.

Support and admiration for Russia resonates throughout the African continent, beyond the former French colonies. At the large gathering of South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters, the group's leader, Julius Malema, condemned France's actions on the continent and proclaimed: "We are Putin, and Putin is us! And we will never support imperialism against President Putin !”. A real wind of change seems to be blowing over Africa, away from the old European colonizers and towards a new multipolar world.

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