What the Fall of the Berlin Wall Meant to Africa

ABC's Dana Hughes reports from Nairobi:

Post-colonialism, Africa was split into Cold War camps with both the West and the Soviet Union propping up some very dubious regimes in the name of the Cold War. Apartheid existed in South Africa for decades largely because the West was convinced the African National Congress was a communist organization. As much as America and Britain disdained the apartheid system, they feared a possible communist South Africa more.

But once the Berlin wall came down, support for the apartheid regime essentially collapsed and a year later Nelson Mandela was released. The Soviet Union, dealing with it's own collapse, also stopped support for Mozambique's government and Angolan rebels, plunging both countries into long-lasting bloody civil wars.

Perhaps no other country in Africa had as drastic a change to it's governance after communism fell than the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) For decades the West provided blind support to the country's kleptocratic dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Once the Cold War ended he himself said, "they pulled the rug out from under me." Support for his corrupt regime quickly dried up and he was deposed just seven years later.

But the West's long-term support of Mobutu left the Congo with a democratic void leaving it vulnerable to a regional war that has killed as many people as in World War II, the repercussions of which are still being felt today.

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