Johannesburg, South Africa (African Boulevard News) – A growing number of African media and influencers appear to be succumbing to Russian propaganda, praising the country’s actions and its president, Vladimir Putin. This article delves into how these narratives are spreading throughout Africa and the potential impact on the continent’s politics and public opinion. A call to Africa to stand on its own and follow the non-aligned philosophy of the past.
The Rise of Pro-Russian Sentiment in African Media
On Afrique Média, a television channel based in Cameroon with a reach of millions across the continent, pundits regularly praise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. One commentator recently declared, “Glory to Putin.” Such sentiments are not isolated, as similar pro-Russian rhetoric can be found across a range of African media platforms.
Rejecting the West, Embracing Russia?
Some African commentators and activists, including the like of Kemi Seba, Nathalie Yamb, Banda Kani, Modibe Vladimir Modiba argue that true pan-Africanism requires rejecting the influence of Western countries like France and embracing the support of Russia. However, this narrative ignores the fact that both Western and Russian powers have historically pursued their own interests in Africa, often at the expense of local communities. Additionally, the current surge of pro-Russian sentiment seems to be fueled, in part, by a coordinated disinformation campaign originating from Moscow.
The Oligarch Behind the Curtain
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a member of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and financier of the Wagner paramilitary network, is playing a key role in the battle for hearts and minds in Africa. The Association for Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC) maintains close links with several pan-Africanist websites, including Radio Révolution Panafricaine and Afrique Média TV, to convey pro-Russian and anti-French messages. Justin B. Tagouh, who heads the Afrique Média press group, has even visited Sochi twice and claims to have met Putin personally.
Spreading Influence Through Conferences and Partnerships
According to a report by the NGO Free Russia Foundation, AFRIC has organized conferences to promote pro-Russian narratives, such as one held in Berlin in January 2020. Additionally, Afrique Média, the Cameroonian television channel that recently signed a partnership with RT, the state-funded Russian television network, has become a hub for disseminating Kremlin-approved messages to African audiences.
Russia’s Strategic Interests: Arms Sales, Mercenaries, and Agents of Influence
The spread of pro-Russian sentiment in Africa aligns with Russia’s strategic interests on the continent, which include arms sales, the deployment of mercenaries, and the cultivation of agents of influence. By promoting a narrative that encourages African countries to turn away from the West and embrace Russia, the Kremlin is able to expand its sphere of influence in Africa and potentially gain access to valuable resources and markets.
Understanding the Implications for Africa
As African media and influencers increasingly adopt pro-Russian narratives, it is crucial for the public and political leaders to be aware of the potential implications. The spread of Russian disinformation can distort public opinion, skew political decision-making, and ultimately undermine the sovereignty of African nations. In the face of these challenges, a well-informed and critical public is the best defense against the manipulation of information and the erosion of democracy on the continent.