Sapien Sapien: Traces of colonialism on full display

Queen Elizabeth II

The image of newly elected Kenyan President Dr W Ruto grinning from ear-to-ear aboard a bus with other African leaders as they are taken on a tour to mourn the departed stalwart of colonialism, Queen Elizabeth II, highlights the zenith of the existence of vestiges of colonialism. This tour of shame occurred amidst the reality that Western leaders such as Biden were allowed the luxury of gallivanting in their state of the art security vehicles as they attended the same event. The Berlin Conference, a Western charade aimed at partitioning Africa, occurred between 1884-85 yet its remnants have lingered with the African continent to this day. Celebration of African independence remains a footnote event if one considers that Africans are still bonded to the very same yoke of colonial repression, 26 years after the "end" of apartheid in its purely white format in South Africa.

The image of African leaders bunched together as they compete for attention to mourn Elizabeth, a colonial behemoth, runs contrary to characterisations by then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton when African giant, Muammer Gaddafi was lynched to death in Sirte, Libya. Clinton uttered the now infamous words, "we went, we saw, he died!"

When African leaders get promoted to glory, all derogatory remarks are given by Western leaders from "dictator" to "autocrat" yet when their Western counterparts meet the same inevitable fate they get poetic elegies from African leaders as if they are competing to resurrect the departed. Probably that is what must be embraced at that level but the trend is despicable to say the least. Amidst all this, prominent leaders, primarily Xi of China and Putin of Russia were not in attendance due to one reason or another. Zimbabwe was represented at the ceremony by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frederick Shava.

Talking of China, the ongoing China-Taiwan debacle continues to escalate without an end in sight. As African leaders queued to board a bus to have a glimpse of the remains of the British Queen, Biden was announcing that America stands ready to defend Taiwan in the event China decides to use military force to reclaim the island. The Americans have thus far been known for pursuing a policy of "strategic ambiguity" insofar as the hottest geopolitical issue of the 21st century is concerned. This policy entails that America does not give diplomatic recognition to the sovereignty of Taiwan whilst it avails it with instruments of defence needed to ward off an anticipated Chinese aggression.

Taiwan was controlled by mainland China during the Qing Dynasty before the territory was relinquished to the Japanese occupiers in 1895 during the Sino-Japanese war. Control of the island under the Kuomintang reverted to mainland China in 1945 after the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated by nuclear bombs. The Chinese civil war that followed thereafter resulted in the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek fleeing to Taiwan and claiming sovereignty. This sovereignty has been resisted by generations of Chinese leaders with the most prominent being Xi himself who promised that Taiwan and any other "Chinese overseas territories" remain part of China and force is going to be used where necessary in order to reclaim these territories.

Taiwan plays a crucial role in global economic statecraft as envisaged by the presence of the largest semiconductor manufacturing company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, in that country. This country controls over half of the global production of semiconductors and having it falling into the hands of Beijing remains a bad omen to the interests of the US and its allies.

As if not enough, Taiwan sits on a chain of islands favourable to American interests. Essentially, it is the gateway to the west for China as they say.An attack by China on Taiwan will definitely be spearheaded by an amphibious attack whilst cyber attacks and hypersonic missiles will form part of an array of instruments of havoc available at the disposal of the Chinese.

This attack, due to risks of an insurgency and related resistance, remains utopian, at least in the short-to-medium-term. This means that the enforcement of the Primakov Doctrine by Russia as it tussles the west in Ukraine under the auspices of the Gerasimov Principle is one sure way of seeking to strike a balance between the interests of China and the hegemonic influence of America and her allies.

Queen Elizabeth is dead but her death will not stop the deepening of hostilities between China and Taiwan and by extension the US. The Trade War came and went under the Trump administration. Covid-19 disrupted the balance of power and led to escalation of hostilities and intensification of state-on-state conflict. All this is occurring against the aspirations of the UN Charter whose objectives resonate around ensuring that warfare shall not destroy humanity ever again as was witnessed during both the first and second world wars.

As we watch in awe, strategic alliances remain imperative. The realignment of global forces remains a nascent reality that must always be pondered upon.

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