Africa’s anti-imperialist wave

At the time of writing, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is contemplating an invasion of Niger. This comes after that country experienced a military takeover by anti-Western officers. Both France and the United States have military bases in Niger. The US operates the world’s largest drone base in the city of Nagadez.

Up to one-third of French lightbulbs are powered by uranium from Niger, when only 16% of Nigeriens have access to electricity. 14 West African nations use the CFA Franc currency, imposed by the French, with their currencies linked currently to the Euro. This is imperialism.

However, there are signs of resistance. As Vijay Prashad writes:

“The coup in Niger follows similar coups in Mali (August 2020 and May 2021) and Burkina Faso (January 2022 and September 2022), and Guinea (September 2021). Each of these coups was led by military officers angered by the presence of French and US troops and by the permanent economic crisis inflicted on their countries.”

Burkina Faso’s new president, Ibrahim Traoré, has vowed to defend Niger if it is attacked by the ECOWAS states. He was joined by the Malian President. Channelling Burkina Faso’s former President, Thomas Sankara, who was murdered by the French, he said that “The heads of African states should not behave like puppets in the hands of the imperialists. We must ensure that our countries are self-sufficient, including as regards food supplies, and can meet all the needs of our people.”

Niger has been hit with sanctions and aid being cut off from the West, has responded by ceasing exports of uranium to France. The fact that imperialism and its puppets are so intent on inflicting further hardship on a country which is the third poorest in the world shows the hypocrisy of the Western response to the war in Ukraine. Imperialism only has interests.

While it is too early to say what is the ideology of these military regimes, it is clear that the old colonial powers are finding it hard to exert their dominance over the Sahel region. The same conditions of imperialist arrogance, extreme poverty, racism, theft of resources and starvation that motivated Thomas Sankara to become one of the heroes of the region still continue. As Sankara once said:

“Imperialism is a system of exploitation that occurs not only in the brutal form of those who come with guns to conquer territory. Imperialism often occurs in more subtle forms, a loan, food aid, blackmail. We are fighting this system that allows a handful of men on Earth to rule all of humanity.”

– G. Harrington, CPI International Newsletter, Vol. 1 2023