Of Declines and Rises – of Africa – of Russia and China – and of the World

“Putin: Russia ready to engage in civilized competition for cooperation with Africa”

What do you make of this story?  I see in it a microcosm of all that is good or bad about the modern world and, with the situation in Syria temporarily taking a back stage seat, it seems that it is Africa’s turn to take the limelight.  

This story comes today alongside more than ten other Russia-Africa-centric stories on the TASS news agency page.  Coincidence?

OK, I don’t seek to direct your thoughts in any particular direction on that but just allow me to explain the feelings this generates in myself.

Now, I see Africa as an often neglected, often taken for granted as one of the world’s major backwater regions, often raped and pillaged, often misunderstood, mis-governed, a crowded continent of disadvantaged, under-educated, abused by all and sundry, proud but oppressed peoples, kept largely in borderline poverty for the benefit of others, yearning for their share of the perceived benefits of a globalised civilisation and a chance to break free of all that fate has historically burdened them with.   

The West has historically and traditionally treated Africa and Africans atrociously.  Stealing and plundering at will.  And what is worse, still continues to do that, even and perhaps now out of necessity to desperately prolong their own inevitable slide into collapsing states and empires.  With that decline and the contemporary rise of China and now Russia, a new regime is making inroads into the heart of Africa and the hearts and minds of Africans.  Is that for the better or just more of the same with different faces, different languages – but the same driving needs?

I would like to think that this is for the better.  That this changing of powers is somehow a more altruistic approach.  That Africa may begin to lift itself with helping hands (not greedy, grasping hands as in earlier times) to a more stable, elevated, secure, more appreciated position among the nations of the world.  The tone of this TASS article and what I know of Russia under Vladimir Putin tends to support that.  Of China I am not so sure, although I feel that Chinese oppression of others is not a particularly dominant national trait (in spite of Western endeavours to make that appear so).

And yet, if Africa – and I suppose we should also include South America and the emerging southern parts of Asia (what is now described as ‘The Global South’) does participate in some sort of economic uplifting to a more equal standing in that regard with the rest of the world, that in itself brings with it its own new, fairly new – but even now being felt – set of problems.  Problems of the breaking of limits as to Earth’s capabilities to sustain such increased demands on its finite and long abused natural resource constraints.

However we may feel about the emergence of Africa and other parts of the global family in their drive for equitable recognition and shared power, it all devolves into becoming just another nail in the coffin of the current way of life those top tier nations have, by exploitation of others and the land we all live and depend on, enjoyed for – I was going to say ‘so long’, but it is actually for just a momentary ‘blip’ on the time-line of humanity.

We simply cannot afford to live the way we do now – any of us.  Is that not becoming glaringly obvious?

And the conclusions that may be drawn from that situation, are they not yet becoming glaringly obvious also?  

So, whether we operate now or in future times from a position of altruism or greed, of selflessness or selfishness, of desperation or acceptance, we all face a future – mostly of our own making, possibly at one stage avoidable but also perhaps laced with a degree of inevitability – of which it is difficult to ascertain or project whether there is anything beyond that for us.

Only time will tell.

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