On April 29, 2021 the Expert Community of Russia, with support from the Peoples Friendship University of Russia, The Institute of African Studies of the RAS, The Moscow State Linguistic University, The Institute of Asian and African Countries at Lomonosov Moscow State University, hosted The International Conference for the Development of Russian-African cooperation: situation analysis of the state of affairs in countries, current possibilities for cooperation, application of history periods, negation of principles, all-round development of fraternization as the factors for the preservation of universal human values.
Opening the conference, The Head of the African Department of the MFA of RF, Korepanov D. G. stated that African countries represent a big interest for partnership and cooperation in different areas and spheres, especially for scientists, researchers, historians and other experts. “These are areas of mutual interest and an opportunity for real rapprochement between our countries. We have a lot of matters and general subjects, but as of now, our priority is the cooperation between Russia and African countries” he underlined.
According to the Director of the Department of Asian, African and Latin American countries of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the RF, Nosov S. S., ‘ … the priority geared towards economic cooperation but we also need to develop cooperation in the agricultural and humanitarian areas and also cooperation with the youths.
“Economic cooperation is important” said Doctor Abdel khamid Khussein Elsir Abbas, President of RPO Society for friendship with the Republic of Sudan, Vice-President of Association of African Diasporas, as he expressed his hopes and called Russia a partner that may be relied on for support in the hour of need.
Representatives of African countries and leaders of the International Organizations present at the conference pointed out that strengthening the relationship between Russia and Africa was and is still the priority for Russia and African states.
Throughout the conference, two significant events in Russian-African relations were repeatedly mentioned; the first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in October 2019, which saw the participation of most African leaders, and the plenary session of conference for the Development of Russian-African Cooperation on April 29, 2021, was mentioned in the reports of leading political scientists and scientists.
Experts focused on one of the main aspect of the program; the colonial component of Africa, which was fully elaborated by the speakers in relation to their works from Kenya, Somalia, Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique and other countries, who revealed the origins of the colonial problem with special attention to Britain and America. Thus, the representative from South Africa pointed out the colonial division of Africa: “the process of colonization of Africa reached such a scale that it was called the race for Africa, the entire continent was almost divided between several European powers: Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The Russian Empire was one of the world powers that never aspired to colonize Africa.
Another report reflected on the assertion of England in South Africa, which marked the beginning of a new era in the history of not only the Cape Colony, but also a change in the fate of the entire African indigenous population. South Africa became part of the largest political entity ever created by humanity; the British Empire. It was noted that the 19th century was of paramount importance in the history of South Africa. The English colonial system began to rebuild traditional societies in accordance with the interests of the capitalist economy and white population of their colonies. Africans were submerged in a completely different world, with different laws, moralities and structures. The main patterns of interaction between the European and the black populations of South Africa developed in the 19th Century, which determined the development of the subcontinent over the next century. The analysis of the colonial policy of Great Britain, which led to changes in the traditional African society, is one of the key conditions for understanding the essence of the course of the historical process in this region.
Participants from Mozambique illustrated the colonial policies of Great Britain in South and Central Africa in the late 19th – early 20th centuries, the stages of the implementation of the British colonial policy in Africa in the 20th century, the actions of Great Britain in relation to the free colonies, the stratification of colonial society, the main events and results of numerous wars. They also mentioned that until now, there are still many unresolved issues in the study of the processes of socio-economic transformation of African peoples in the colonial period.
Political scientists stated that discussions about the role played by European colonialism in the destinies of African peoples are still ongoing. Many people consider this period of the African history to be detrimental and speak negatively about the actions of Great Britain on the territory of the continent, trying to recover compensation for the damage caused to them before gaining independence. At the same time, Great Britain and America do not hurry to admit their responsibility for the situation in which the Black Continent finds itself in today. The prerequisites for the crisis in the economic and social spheres of the African countries, such as dependence on foreign markets, imbalances in the development of agriculture and industry, raw materials, direction of the economy, lumpenization of the population and poverty. According to the experts, all these were established during the period of European rule on the continent. The exact number of victims of the colonial campaigns of Great Britain will never be known. It can only be estimated in hundreds of thousands, or even millions of fallen heroes who fought till the last drop of their blood for the independence of their people.
It should be noted that large colonial empires were a source of enrichment for the political class in England. Enormous values extracted by means of robbing the peoples in the colonies, accelerated development of capitalism in metropolitan countries. In relation to this the representative from Nigeria recounted a centuries-long criminal capture of foreign territories sanctioned by the British Empire and the interventions backed by the so-called heroes. The author reminded attendees of the outrages upon humanity as well, such as the implementation of internments as well as full cultural destruction of African states and killing the ideals in large space of the African continent. “Russia is an important player at the international scene. Our presence at this conference proves close links of friendship and solidarity that connect us in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber crime and climatic change. These are the challenges which all African countries face and which require solutions”, said Doctor Mauris Okoli from Nigeria.
The expert in Kenyan history paid attention to the fact that the UK did not want to give away the tidbits and influenced the delimitation of borders in Kenya. She also noted that in the 1950s, the uprising of the peoples of this country broke out against the British practice of taking land from the Africans. Fearing uprisings throughout the country, the British imprisoned more than 1.5 million Kenyans. The prisoners were kept in terrible conditions, tortured and executed, beaten and raped. All of these atrocities became known after thousands of elderly Kenyans filed a £200 million lawsuit against the UK and shared their memories and experiences. According to official UK figures, the number of victims was “minimal”, several thousand people while historians speak of millions.
Certainly British colonial crimes deserve strong criticism. Britain must accept the uncomfortable and overwhelming historical facts of its history. But they prefer not to think about them. London does not see the need to apologize for its crimes against the population of the African continent. Unfortunately, the political development of the continent is shaded by a significant number of conflicts between and within states. The researchers paid special attention to the historical problems of colonialism and African society, analysis of the main threats to the security of the continent, the role of youths in the political life of African countries and interaction with external players on security issues.
This conference will help us find new solutions to the problems raised on a long term basis.
Darya Mirnaya Moscow