Saturday, 28 November 2015


To have a clear understanding of the African-Russian relations one has to have knowledge of the Soviet Union and the Africa’s hunger to be in touch with the world in the early 1960s. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics commonly known as Soviet Union or USSR was a multinational union that had a centralized government and economy under the governance of the Communist Party in Moscow. Even though the idea of this union was birthed by Vladimir Lenin after leading an October revolution which replaced the leadership of the Tsars (monarch leaders), it is believed the impact of this union was only felt by the world at large after the British Empire recognized it on 1 February 1924 and this marked massive growth such as total electrification of the country.
And since USSR was now recognized it had to make its presence felt through the establishment of educational exhibition and scholarships to developing countries such as those in  Africa which the leaders of the soviet union believed were ‘socialism- oriented’ and military aid in  the fight against what the termed ‘capitalism’.  Moreover relations with the Soviet Union were considered ‘evil’ by African elites who were against the ideology of socialism, but loved what the Soviet Union had to offer for friendship. And in countries such as Angola ideological war was in full force when in the early 90s Angolan government adopted pro-western foreign policy replacing the Marxist-Leninism policy and this led to Soviet union supporting Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) fight against its political  rival the National Liberation Front of Angola backed by United States and China. I believe the above is one of the many consequences that most African elites feared about having friendly ties with the eastern or western bloc of Europe.
Even though war was a result of some of the above this did not prevent many African countries sign bilateral agreements and memorandum of understanding that saw thousands of African students benefiting from the rich soviet educational system. To date, even though the USSR broke up in 1991, the Russian Federation still offers educational scholarships and military aids which is a privilege to many African students studying and living in Russia.
In conclusion, even though the Federation of Russia is different from the Soviet Union problems faced by students are still the same such as racism, language barrier and the fearsome Russian winter and it is important to finalize by stating that African-Russian relations is one fruitful relation that has yielded many fruits through outcomes such as ‘mixed’ marriages, political context and development for 50 years now.

written by Musanda Sishumba (writer at africaworld news)

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