Africa’s ‘Big States Crisis’ Has Deep Historical Roots

African leaders pose for a group photo at the opening session of the 33rd African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo).
African leaders pose for a group photo at the opening session of the 33rd African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo).

One of the most important problems in modern African history is also among the most widely misunderstood. For decades, both journalists and scholars have lamented that Africa’s borders were drawn up by outside powers, beginning with Europe’s so-called Scramble for Africa, between 1881 and World War I. This threw all sorts of linguistically, religiously and politically disparate groups into newly formed colonies and, soon afterward, new African nations, in which they were suddenly forced to try to get along together in the task of building independent republics. The mistake in this logic isn’t that these things didn’t happen. If one […]

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