CHANGE is one of the few constant factors in our lives, perhaps since the beginning of time. Unless driven by the people, the fear of change is another constant. This is because humans, by nature, are creatures of routine because that gives them comfort and a sense of control.
Whatever the circumstances, change is unavoidable and sometimes the options available are limited to either embracing and accepting it or where possible, guiding the change process within the spectrum of our comfort zone. The world we live in today is a result of these two factors.
The world is on a precipice of major political changes which present the two options mentioned above — either to embrace and accept the change or to control it. In a world so invested in the geopolitics of power and control, both options provide some wins and gains depending on how each political bloc plays its game.
The Western bloc has controlled world politics as well as the global economy for over a century. It has done so by investing in industrialisation, technology and mechanisation as well as enslaving and colonising other regions.
These have helped it to establish major economies from which its people benefit up to this day. It has maintained extractive, exploitative, and oppressive relations with its former colonies even when the latter claims to be independent.
In comparison to recently emerged economies such as Russia, and some Asian as well as Latin American countries, it is fair to say that the Western bloc had it easier considering that it enjoyed access to slave labour and raw materials via its exploitative tendencies and yet its economies were slow to boom.
In addition, it dominated the global scene for far too long, and yet today, it watches as the global political dynamics are gradually shifting due to several factors.
Most Western analysts and scholars are grappling with the question of how the West is losing it or has lost it. Relevant as this question is to the Western bloc, it is mundane and misses the bigger picture, mainly understanding the natural progression of things.
- Open letter to President Mnangagwa
- Feature: ‘It’s worse right now than under Mugabe’: Sikhala pays the price of opposition in solitary cell
- Masvingo turns down fire tender deal
- Human-wildlife conflict drive African wild dogs to extinction
It is as good as asking how one’s grandparents became old. The Western bloc is gradually reaching its shelf life. However, this does not mean it will plunge to the bottom, but will remain standing like an old temple in whose aisle no one worships.
The Western world is succumbing to age and time but if we are to be more personal and analytical about it, we can mention a few actors. Its repressive tendencies were not going to last forever, and neither was its warmongering nor its exploitative behaviour in other regions. The Ukraine war is not the major factor driving the unfolding global changes, but it indeed accelerated the process.
The war in Ukraine intensified when the world was already unhappy with the Western bloc over its management of global trade and economic affairs.
How the Western world managed the Ukraine war further expanded the global fissures leaving Europe and the United States in one corner as the rest of the world either stood against the war or by Russia.
Despite having endured diminished Russian energy and other supplies, the West despised the ties between Russia and African States, reducing them to voting numbers instead of the real value of their contribution to European economies.
The Western world demonstrated disrespect for the African Union’s efforts to stop the war in Ukraine. It is only now with what is unfolding in Niger, Burkina Faso, and other African countries that Europe is realising that it faces a major threat of losing both the Russian and African supplies which are needed to sustain their economies.
Perhaps that wake-up call is going to make them realise that Russia is playing a much bigger game aimed at accelerating Europe’s downfall and paving the way for a multipolar system.
With the time and age factor in motion, it follows that either one or more centres of power will emerge. And what the Western world is facing today is the threat of substitute or being substituted by newly emerging economies and centres of political power outside its bloc.
To African countries and other developing countries, the West now offers far less, if at all anything, compared to Asia, the Middle East or Russia.
Their trade partnerships come without conditions, and they feel they are treated as equals. This is why some African countries are finding the guts to reject Western financial aid, arguing that six decades of aid have not resulted in development.
For that reason, they would rather pursue alternative partners where they get value for their natural resources.
For those who have looked up to the West as an obvious reference point, their pertinent question is: Where does that place the bloc in the next five decades.
For African countries, it may be exciting to watch the demise of a global bully. However, it is vital that the continent strategically positions itself as a player and graduates from being touchline political cheerleaders.
The current geopolitical changes are fertile with a myriad of opportunities, and they need a plan. Africa should not approach the changes as beggars.
It possesses nearly half the world’s gold, more than 30% of all minerals, and 12% of oil. Africa has some of the most fertile land on the planet. This may be a great time for Africa to take control of its affairs and define its destiny. It needs courage.