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The Cold War: Post-Colonial Africa, the Theatre of Superpowers’ Rivalry

The Cold war of 1945-1991 was an ideological conflict between the capitalist NATO, under the United States of America and the communist USSR by Russia. It was a world war because the influence of the ideological rivalry between these two superpowers was felt from America to Europe, Asia, Australia, down to Africa. The whole world was ideologically divided and secret and propaganda diplomatic practices became the order of the day. Basically examining this conflict, it was one that wasn’t fought with firearms, rather both the USA and USSR were suspicious of each other and they turned the Less Developed Countries (LDCs) and the underdeveloped ones to battlefield. The conflict between North Korea and South Korea was intensified by the Cold war; the USA supported South Korea while Russia supported North Korea. In brief, the whole world, in terms of international politics and relations, was bifurcated into two blocs: the Eastern and the Western blocs- though many countries (some of which are from Africa) claimed to be neutral throughout the ideological war.

Some of the African countries had independence during the Cold war. It is inarguable that African countries only had numerical strength, it became so fortunate for her to have joined the international system as sovereign nations during this warring period. African became a typical stage to perform the ideological conflict between the West and East. With the aid of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), some of the African countries arrived at natural decision- the Non-Aligned Movement (that is, not for the East or the West). The neutrality of African countries in reality was a mere theoretical development. African countries could not in reality shun the West or the East as shown in their foreign policies, therefore pawns in the hands of the Super Powers.

 There was injection of arms into the continent by the superpower states. As stated by Oyebade, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola and Mozambique and Liberia spent a greater proportion of their gross national product on the military.1 These countries sought to acquire sophisticated firearms from the East or the West. This escalated crisis, led to political instability, shattered economic growth and in general contributed to the development of underdevelopment of Africa, in general.

Military technology was used in the pretext of helping African countries. The Cold War period was the period when the two major superpower countries, by all means, tried to spread their ideologies. Capitalism and socialism became the vantage point for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) respectively, and the two states used the two organisations as proxies to intervene in African domestic politics. The whole African countries were very careful in making foreign policies as they did want to be punished by the East after the fall of the West, and vice versa the indecisive nature of African relations in the international arena rendered its theatre of the superpowers’ rivalry.

African leaders coveted the superpowers’ 21st century ammunitions, therefore spent the highest percent of their national gross domestic product on the acquisition of these firearms. For instances, Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, and others benefited from the injections of different sorts of ammunitions of mass destruction.

Under the pretext of peace maintenance, the United States of America interfered in the Congo Civil War of 1960-65, after the latter’s independence from Belgium in 1960. Congo for an instance became a hot spot for the performance of the rivalry between the USA and the USSR, with the clear influence of the East and the West in its domestic politics. While the Soviet Union influenced the collapse of Portuguese rule in Angola, it nearly dominated Southern Africa in 1951 with the aids it provided for countries like Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and others. Over 200 military advisers and about 300 civilians of the Soviet Union were in Mozambique by 19792.

 The strategic importance of South Africa particularly summoned the attention of the NATO to truncate the activities of the USSR in South Africa. The US intensified its trade relations with South Africa. America’s investment in South African in 1975 was $1.67 billion, 1.18% of its total foreign investment, 3 supported different organisations for the liberation of African countries. The whole Africa became a laboratory for Cold War experiments. In 1989, the USSR failed and was forced to adopt the ideology of the West. Since then, African countries that have been in the bud of indecision, weak and underdeveloped in the New Global Order. Africa was pushed to abysmal emptiness, as producers of raw materials and consumers of foreign goods and services.

Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.