Tuesday 31 May 2022

Jack Dempsey: American Hero

Portrait of Jack Dempsey by Gregg Sellars.

Born on June 24th, 1895, William Harrison Dempsey who was better known as Jack, Dempsey, rose to fame as the World Heavyweight Champion during the “Roaring Twenties”.

While his rags-to-riches story personified the American Dream, his stunning ring achievements, which were underlined by a ferocious approach to boxing and personal charisma guaranteed him iconic status.

During his championship reign between 1919 and 1926, he set record breaking attendance figures. Many of his fights would in the course of time become renowned events. His championship victory of Jeff Willard was accompanied for decades by rumours that he may have hidden a horseshoe in his glove. Then million-dollar gate bout with the French light heavyweight champion Georges Carpentier posited the Frenchman as a war hero and Dempsey as a wartime slacker. He fought what writer Frank Menke described as the “Fight of All Ages” with the Argentinean Angel Luis Firpo who threatened to dethrone Dempsey by dropping him twice and knocking him out of the ring before Dempsey come back and knocked out his opponent. His Independence Day bout against Tommy Gibbons in Shelby, Montana succeeded in bankrupting the town and his rematch with Gene Tunney in 1927, a year after he lost his title, came to be known as the “Battle of Long Count”.

His restaurant on Broadway, known simply as “Jack Dempsey’s” became an American institution.

He died on May 31st, 1983.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is based in London, England. He is the author of Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal and Jersey Boy: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula. He is a contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing, part of the Cambridge Companions to Literature series.

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Origins of Rock n' Roll: Big Jay McNeely, the "King of the Honkers".

Big Jay McNeely ripping things up at the Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles in 1953. Photo Credit:  Bob Willoughby.

Big Jay McNeely was one of the pioneers of "Jump Blues".

The "Jump Blues" genre, popularised by artists such as Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner, was one of the music styles that would coalesce to form what came to be known as "Rock n' Roll".

Known as the "King of the Honkers", his patented "Jay Walk" had McNeely blasting his horn as he writhed his way around the stage on his back.

McNeely was popular during the 1950s up to the early 1960s. He left the music industry in 1971 to become a postman but returned to recording and touring during a blues revival in the early 1980s.

McNeely was born in 1927 and died in 2018.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

May 25th 1963: Africa Day | The establishment of the Organisation of African Unity

Kwame Nkrumah speaks as Ahmed Ben Bellah and Gamal Nasser look on

"Africa Day". The Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U.) was formally founded in May 1963 at a landmark summit. The summit was marked by three speeches delivered by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt (then named the United Arab Republic); Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; and Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria in Africa Hall, the conference building in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. All three men belonged to the "Casablanca Bloc" of African nations who aimed to have a federation of African countries in contrast to those of the "Monrovia Bloc" who felt that African unity could be gradually achieved through economic cooperation. However, all were committed to the idea of expunging colonialism and Apartheid from the African continent.

1. Nasser called for an All-Africa Charter, periodic meetings of African Heads of State and a total boycott against racial discrimination by "all ways and means." In addressing the issue of past exploitation, Nasser said "we are prepared to forgive the past, but we are not ready to forget." He called on the conference to establish an organisation "to guide a free and united African will."

2. Kwame Nkrumah, the leader of the "Casablanca Bloc" and leading exponent of the ideology of Pan-Africanism, developed his theme that Africa must "unite or perish". He proposed that a constitution for "union government of Africa" be drawn up, and that plans needed to be made to integrate economic, foreign and defence policy as well as the establishment of common African citizenship. An overarching economic plan would involve setting up a common market, a central bank, and common currency.

3. Ben Bella attacked Portugal and South Africa. He claimed that 10,000 Algerian volunteers were ready to fight for the "liberation of Angola". "We must all agree to die a little so that African freedom shall not be an empty word". Africa could not tolerate ten million Portuguese insulting with impunity over three hundred million Africans. He called for the adoption of an African Charter. Ben Bella's speech was the shortest one but reported to have drawn the strongest applause.

All heads of state later attended a large reception hosted by Emperor Haile Selassie, the penultimate event before the signing of the All-Africa Charter the following day, May 26th. Calls were made to sever diplomatic relations with both Portugal and South Africa and the institution of a trade boycott.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Sunday 15 May 2022

Captain Robert Nairac: Boxing in Life and Death

Captain Nairac posing with fellow soldiers of the Grenadier Guards (left) and working the heavy bag as an amateur boxer while a student at Oxford University.

Captain Robert Nairac, the British Army Guardsman who was famously kidnapped and killed by Irish Republicans during the Northern Ireland troubles, was a man of many talents. At Ampleforth College, a Catholic public school, and then Lincoln College at Oxford, he combined his studies with a range of sporting interests.

He played rugby for his school and continued this both at university where he was selected for the Oxford University 2nd XV and at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy where he played for the first team. Nairac was also a keen boxer. He was a leading boxer at Ampleforth which had annual “needle” bouts with the Royal Grammar School, an independent school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

He is credited with reviving the fortunes of the Oxford University Amateur Boxing Club and subsequently became an "Oxford Blue", defeating Cambridge opponents in four varsity boxing contests.

The appeal of boxing to the adrenaline-seeking adventurer is with hindsight not surprising. While it contrasted sharply with his leisure pursuits of fly-fishing and falconry, he must have been attracted to those elements of the sport which are kindred with those of good soldiering: discipline, tenacity and fitness.

His army career was destined to take him to the northern part of Ireland, an island where the sport of boxing had long found a natural home. And it was by twist of fate that Nairac would cross paths with two Irishmen who like him had a passion for boxing.

It is claimed that while at Oxford in the late 1960s, Nairac went three rounds in a boxing match with a young Belfast docker named Martin Meehan.

Meehan would later become a commander of the Irish Republican Army.

Meehan was sworn into the brotherhood and became a member of the Third Battalion Ardoyne. Ardoyne, a district of Belfast, was his birthplace, and it was at St. Gabriel’s Amateur Boxing Club that he first laced the gloves.

The streets of Ardoyne would become familiar to the guardsman Nairac, who patrolled them during several tours of Northern Ireland. One of the last pictures of him was taken as he spoke to a group of Ardoyne children three weeks before he was seized in South Armagh and spirited over the border where he was tortured and killed.

Nairac, who was serving as an intelligence liaison officer, was on a mission in what was dubbed “Bandit Country” by Merlyn Rees, a serving Northern Ireland Secretary, because it was a hub of paramilitary activity and an extremely dangerous area for members of the security services.

At the Three Steps pub, in Dromintee, South Armagh, Nairac contrived an elaborate disguise that included an Ardoyne accent when attempting to engineer a meeting with a mysterious contact. Nairac’s stagecraft included singing Republican songs with the resident pub band.

The irony is that a former amateur boxer was at the heart of Nairac's downfall on that night of May 14th, 1977. 

Terry McCormick, a painter by trade, had been an Irish boxing champion at juvenile, schoolboy and adult levels. He had boxed with the Star Club of Belfast and knew that Nairac's affected Ardoyne accent was nothing like the accents which he had grown accustomed to hearing in North Belfast.

He believed Nairac, posing as “Danny McErlean,” an “Official Republican” from Ardoyne, was a security operative, and at closing time (11.45pm) sent two of his friends, both IRA sympathisers, to invite the undercover soldier to meet him outside.

McCormick’s intention was to give Nairac a good hiding.

One story tells of Robert Nairac using his boxing skills to fend off the group of men who escorted him to the car park for a while before he was overcome. In all likelihood, it appears that Nairac, who had been unarmed while in the pub, had got a hold of his Browning pistol in his Triumph Dolomite, but was felled by a heavy blow thrown by McCormick.

Overpowered by his attackers after a brief scuffle, Nairac was bundled into a car and taken across the border into the Irish Republic. He was dragged from the car when they got to a bridge which crossed the Flurry River in Ravensdale Forest.

Nairac employed his boxing skills in attempting to fight his way out and came close to making his escape on four occasions. But outnumbered and on the receiving end of McCormick’s crushing punches, Nairac was eventually beaten into a semi-conscious state.

Knowing Nairac’s life was ebbing away McCormick posed as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church and sought to extract a confession from the man whom he thought was an SAS soldier on a reconnaissance mission.

The ruse failed as did the tortures inflicted on the Oxford fighter whose uncomplicated fighting modus operandi had been built on the objective of absorbing punishment to dispense more punishment on his opponents.

An IRA man named Liam Townson was summoned and soon arrived at the field where he shot Nairac in the skull.

Nairac was 28 years old.

Townson’s tribute to Nairac, one which doubtlessly aided the decision to posthumously grant Nairac the George Cross, bore the attributes of an epitaph for a departed pugilist:

"He was the bravest man I ever met. He told us nothing. He was a good soldier". 

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England. He has interests in military history and the sport and culture of boxing.

Friday 13 May 2022

Africa and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Source of Image: The United Nations

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is already beginning to register the effects of what will be a seismic change in the global economic and political order. This is because Ukraine is at the centre of a proxy war in which the geostrategic interests of the United States-led West is being pitted against those of the Russian Federation. And the resultant fracture, which has caused a rise in the cost of oil and the shortage of wheat and a range of commodities, will now almost certainly lead not only to the creation of distinct and competing global trading blocs, but also to a Eurasian military alliance which will stand in opposition to the nations comprising the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). In this world order transformed from a state of de facto unipolarity to one of multipolarity, the onus will be on the African continent to avoid the perils of navigating between mutually hostile power blocs vying for access to Africa’s abundant natural resources by resolving to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

One of the immediate effects of the launching of what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” in the eastern part of Ukraine was the visibility of a large number of African students at railway stations and border posts seeking to leave the country. Ukraine was a favoured destination for African students, particularly in the fields of medicine and engineering, because of the economic value of obtaining a high-quality education relative to the costs which they would have incurred in most Western universities.

But the effect of the war in Ukraine on the African continent will not be limited to the re-direction of migrant students. It will have far reaching consequences spanning issues related to food security, national security, international political allegiances and economic development. Indeed, no sooner had the Russian operation begun did analysts begin to assess the likely impact of higher oil prices on African economies, as well as the threat of hunger. Oil prices, at over $100 per barrel, have surged to their highest for many years, while the cost of wheat, of which Russia and Ukraine account for at least 30% of global production, will lead to an intolerable rise in the cost of bread.

While the rise in oil prices threaten to disrupt the development of African economies which have already suffered from problems associated with the covid pandemic, the disruption of the distribution of wheat and fertiliser owing to the closure of ports on the Black Sea have led to prognostications of food shortages and famine.

Martin Qaim, a professor of food economics and rural development at the University of Bonn has stated that over 100 million people will be sucked into a spiralling epidemic of poverty and hunger, while Matthias Berninger, a former German minister of agriculture, has predicted a large-scale global famine in 2023.

These consequences will compound the lessons African states, to the exclusion of none, have failed to learn from the past. These lessons include the failure of the non-aligned movement which germinated in the wake of the ideological Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as the failure of African nations, despite the abundance of natural and human resources on the continent, to develop for themselves an industrial base within their national economies.

The importance of economic self-sufficiency cannot be overstated because it is the state of affairs which will guarantee the autonomy of African nations if in the future, they are pressured to conform to any ultimatums directed at them by power blocs in competition for their natural resources.

In some respects, the reasons for the fissure in the relations between the West and Russia, which by implication will also involve fractures in the West’s relationship with China, are unimportant: Africa will simply need to adapt to the realities associated with the fast-dawning age of multi-polarity. Nonetheless, it is vital to give a brief background to the genesis of the US-Russia conflict after the ending of the Cold War.

There are of course always two sides to a story.

The Western narrative, often the dominant one given the “soft-power” advantage of control of the media including the resources of the Internet, posits the crisis in Ukraine as being the result of the national paranoia and the ambitions of a revanchist Russian state under the control of an authoritarian leader named Vladimir Putin. And as evidence of this seemingly ineradicable tendency towards national chauvinism and a propensity for territorial expansion, Putin, it is often repeated, has designs to recreate the borders of the old Soviet Union because he once asserted that the disintegration of the USSR was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century.

It did not help when three years later in 2008, Putin claimed that Ukraine “is not even a state”. He has followed this by making successive statements that consistently emphasise that Russians and Ukrainians are “one and the same people.” The implication here according to the Western view is that Putin and the policymakers of the Kremlin do not accept that Ukraine has the right to a separate and independent existence.

The counter-narrative to this is predicated on a historical geostrategic imperative on the part of the United States-led West to apply both military and economic pressure on Russia to the point at which it will surrender its national sovereignty; the idea being that a weakened Russia, whether remaining territorially intact or becoming balkanised, will exist not as a military and economic competitor, but as a geographical entity which is solely dedicated to service the energy needs of the West.

This point of analysis has a theoretical basis in the geostrategic philosophy of Halford Mackinder’s “World Island” thesis. Building on a 1904 paper he titled The Geographical Pivot of History, in 1919 Mackinder asserted “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; Who rules the World-Island controls the world”.

Russia, a contiguous land mass which covers both European and Asian continents, has thus been portrayed in the imagination and political calculations of Western policymakers as a threat to their global domination. Thus, it was that the empires of Britain and the United States confronted respectively what they perceived as the threat of Tsarist and then Soviet expansion. Mackinder’s theory was validated in the thinking of the highly influential Polish-American geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski whose 1988 book The Grand Chessboard explicitly outlines the need for the United States to militarily intimidate Russia to the point at which it is dismantled and transformed into a pliant source of Western energy needs. Importantly, Brzezinski identifies Ukraine as one of three weak points through which pressure could be applied against Russia.

The dissolution of the Soviet empire and the de-sovietisation of eastern Europe which followed on from the ending of the Cold War brought with it a unipolar world which the policymakers of the United States sought to retain. The Wolfowitz Doctrine enunciated in the early 1990s, prescribed that the United States had to do what it could to prevent the rise of another power which could take the place of the vanquished Soviet Union. This meant that the post-Soviet Russian state would be in the gunsights of America which has worked ceaselessly to get Russia to surrender its sovereignty through military and economic measures.

The military component of this two-pronged strategy is borne out by the refusal to dissolve NATO, the military alliance created to confront the Soviet Union, and instead to pursue NATO expansion in defiance of an agreement that the organisation would not advance an inch eastward after the USSR allowed for the reunification of Germany. The United States also proceeded to dismantle the nuclear treaty security system related to both anti-ballistic missiles and intermediate nuclear forces while installing missile shields. Russia is encircled by a host of US military bases on the European and Asian continents. America has also encouraged a range of “colour revolutions” in states situated on Russia’s borders.

The economic component initially involved trying to gain Western control of Russia’s resources through oligarchs such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and when this failed by initiating a series of anti-Russian provocations which were followed by sanctions imposed after the inevitable Russian reaction.

Ukraine has been the centre of this geopolitical confrontation and it is important to point out that the present war which is largely fixated in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine has its roots in the US-sponsored coup of February 2014 in which the democratically elected president, perceived as pro-Russian by the West, was overthrown with the decisive use of neo-Nazi and ultranationalist groups. The Russophobic overtones of the new regime which banned Russian as an official language, as well as the unpunished actions of neo-Nazi groups against dissenting Russian speakers such as the burning to death of protesters in the city of Odessa in May 2014 formally kickstarted a civil conflict between the Ukrainians state and two Russian-speaking separatist oblasts in the Donbas region. The conflict has been ongoing since 2014 at a cost of the lives of thousands of Russian-speaking civilians, despite the signing of the Minsk Accords, which successive Ukrainian governments respectively led by Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky have failed to implement.

The Russian “special military operation” or invasion can thus be argued to be a culmination of this overarching policy of pressurising Russia. It is a policy which several eminent statesmen and diplomats predicted would lead to conflict between NATO and Russia. George F. Kennan, the architect of the Cold War strategy of “Containment”, Dr. Henry Kissinger, the long-term US National Security Advisor, and Jack Matlock, a former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, all warned of dire consequences resulting from the decision to embark on the eastward expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders. William J. Burns, a former US Ambassador to Russia, specifically predicted a civil war ensuing in Ukraine which would result in Russian intervention, a conclusion supported by the academic, Professor John Mearsheimer, who stated the following in 2015:

The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked.

The escalation of conflict and the breakdown in relations between the West and Russia has inevitably led to continuous analyses of which side the international community of nations supports. Where Africa is concerned, some states have strongly condemned Russia’s actions while most have remained quiet, a state of affairs reflected in the UN vote taken on March 2nd, which supported the resolution which condemned Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine”.

There are various standpoints to examine the attitudes of African states and their populations to what all recognise as being fundamentally a conflict between Russia and the West.

One basis of African opposition to the Russian action is predicated on the long-term official attitude of African supra-national institutions towards the inviolability of national borders. Thus, the invasion of Ukraine which will almost certainly lead to the country’s balkanisation, offends the rationale of successive declarations by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and then by the African Union (AU) on the sanctity of colonial-imposed borders.

Also, support for the United States may also simply be based on the realities of American military, economic and cultural domination since its emergence as a global hegemon in the second half of the 20th century.

On the other hand, support for Russia is often based on anti-Western sentiment stemming from the historical legacy of European colonisation and exploitation of the continent. And while modern Russia itself is the inheritor of lands colonised during the time of the Tsars, its role as the dominant part of the Soviet Union in supporting anti-colonial national liberation movements in Africa has tended to provide it with a formidable level of respect not given to the United States which is seen as having bolstered the rule of despots such as Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo.

The association of the United States with the ruthless implementation of neo-colonial policies on the African continent has been deepened in recent times by NATO’s destruction of Libya during an operation in which Islamist proxies were used to effect the overthrow of the secular government of Colonel Muamar Gaddafi. Libya had been earmarked for regime change because of Gaddafi’s plan for African nations to create a common trading currency which it was envisaged would be backed by gold and commodities; thus forgoing the use of the US dollar which has long operated as the de facto world reserve currency.

The US-backed operation in Libya provides a useful backdrop to an examination of a world being transformed from a unipolar to multipolar one. This is because Africa will be in danger of becoming a battleground between Western and Eurasian blocs over its natural resources. The West and China do not possess most of the resources found in Africa and in an atmosphere where a US-led Western alliance of nations is pitted against a Chinese-led alliance, competition for scarce resources threatens to lead to an unwelcome division of the globe into nations which are either supportive of or are hostile to either camp.

One of the effects of NATO’s overthrow of Gaddafi was to destroy significant investments in Libya made by Russia and China, both of which will comprise the significant segment of an alternative trading bloc to that of the Western model.

It is ironic that the pressures applied to Russia by the West over the years has had the effect of pushing Russia into a closer economic partnership with China, thus fostering the creation of a Eurasian union which is antithetical to the continued domination of the global economy by the West.

Africa remains vulnerable today as it was in previous eras to the manipulations of extra-continental powers who vie for global hegemony. The “either you are with us or against us” mentality will prevail in a polarised world. The phrase was popularised by US President George Bush during the so-called “War Against Terror,” when Pakistan was threatened with being bombed back into the stone age if it did not come fully onboard as an ally. But the basis of this approach to international relations are not confined to the circumstances of a unipolar world when the United States threatened other nations to conform with its policies. It is also applicable to a multipolar setting, of which the conduct of the protagonists during the ideological Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union provides abundant evidence.

For instance, the United States was adamant in its policy towards Nasser-led Egypt and Nkrumah-led Ghana that it would not support their respective economic policies unless each country severed its relations with the Soviet bloc. Pressure was even put on Nasser to join the “Baghdad Pact,” an anti-communist military alliance in the Middle East which was modelled on NATO. Failure to acquiesce to Western demands drove Egypt and Ghana into the Soviet sphere, ensuring an animus from the West which led in the case of Ghana to measures that included economic sabotage.

Efforts to develop an effective non-aligned movement ultimately proved fruitless and consequently Africa suffered badly from Cold War-era confrontations between the West and the Soviet Bloc on the continent. Although the USSR had not built up a significant presence in central Africa in the early 1960s, the threat that Patrice Lumumba, the Prime Minister of Congo, would steer his country towards closer relations with the Soviet bloc led to the West’s encouragement of Katangan secession and Lumumba’s assassination. One proceed of this intervention was the installation of Joseph Mobutu as the West’s choice of leader; a man who would back Western interests on the continent while he became an extremely wealthy man, the Head of State of a nation that was phenomenally rich in mineral resources, but which remained one of the poorest nations on earth.

The fears which the West had during the Cold War of Soviet expansion inevitably leading to the Soviet Union’s monopolising of Africa's mineral resources proved to be largely unfounded. It was a conflict fundamentally predicated on ideology.

However, a future Cold War between the West and China (which will be allied with Russia), would largely centre on the access of both parties to mineral resources which they do not possess. This factor as mentioned earlier may lead to Africa becoming the venue of externally directed wars for its resources.

Is Africa in a position to resist this? The prognosis is not good.

Major African states such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo who continue to struggle, often violently, over the basis of national unity are not well placed to resist the range of economic and military pressures which could be brought on them. In examining this, it is important to comprehend the coercive methods of economic control which can be employed.

For instance, the global economic institutions comprising the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which provide loans and oversee development projects have been used as the vehicle through which the exercise by developing nations of their sovereign rights can be trampled on. International debt relief mechanisms are tools that clearly undermine economic self-determination.

Further than this, the tactics employed by the West to destroy the Russian economy, regardless of the wrongs or rights of Russia’s actions in Ukraine ought to provide African countries with ample food for thought. For the logical train of thought of any diligent and self-respecting nation state which may in the not-too-distant future be faced with an “you are either with us or against us” ultimatum should be how could my country survive an aggressive bout of economic sanctions?

The West cut Russia off from the SWIFT system of international money payments. It also froze all of Russia’s foreign reserves held in Western banks, a draconian act analogous to Britain’s recent seizure of Venezuela’s $2 billion worth of gold reserves and the United States freezing of Iran’s foreign assets after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. The West has also taken steps to try to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and the United States has sought to discourage other countries from purchasing Russian oil.

These measures, which were intended to sink the rouble and create the circumstances that would engineer a revolt against President Vladimir Putin, have failed to achieve the objective of his overthrow. In fact it has boomeranged and caused Western economies a great deal of distress which do not augur well for the future. The prospect of the “de-dollarisation” of the world economy will become a reality if a sizable number of countries begin to purchase Russian oil in roubles, and if Russia and China go ahead and create their own system of international payments while they develop trade in Asia and other parts of the world.

Far from being as the late US Senator John McCain put it, a “gas station masquerading as nation”, Russia’s control of many commodities, minerals and fertiliser, mark it out as a key player in the global economy. The denigrating references to its gross domestic product amounting to no more than that of Spain and less than that of the state of Texas, in addition to the comment by McCain led to an underestimation of its ability to withstand the severest form of sanctions. 

The question of whether any African nation state alone or a combination of allied African states could remain resilient in the face of a similar onslaught is doubtful.

As the economist J.K. Galbraith has outlined, Russia has survived because it is a self-sufficient nation which has developed an industrial base:

In a test of wills of power, Russia starts in a strong position. It is nearly self-sufficient in every essential including energy, food, heavy industry and weapons. The loss of familiar western consumer goods can be made up through local initiative - not lacking in today’s Russia, compared with Soviet times - or with China. Russia’s financial assets greatly exceed her debts, even after the loss of her foreign-held reserves.

This point is arguably the biggest lesson African nations should take from the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict: Africa will not be able to withstand the future machinations of those extra-continental powers intent on exploiting her mineral wealth if its countries fail to be bestirred into taking action to achieve economic self-sufficiency and building an adequate industrial base.

And given the perils posed by an encroaching multipolar world, the mindset of the political and intellectual leadership of the African continent ought to be infused with the ferocious resolve of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin who in 1931 said the following:

We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make up this gap in ten years. Either we do it or they will crush us.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England. He has an interest in history and geopolitics.

Thursday 5 May 2022

Rameau's "Les Indes Galantes"

A modern dance interpretation of what is often referred to as a flagship work of the Age of Enlightenment: Jean-Philippe Rameau's French opera-ballet "Les Indes galantes" with the segment titled "Danse du Grand Calumet de la Paix".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Wednesday 4 May 2022

May 4th 1980: Death of Marshal Josip Broz Tito

Charcoal and pastel on paper drawing titled "Marshal Josip Broz Tito" by Marc Stone.

“Stalin: Stop sending people to kill me! We’ve already captured five of them, one with a bomb and another with a rifle … If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send another”.

- Josip Broz Tito, Leader of Yugoslavia.


May 4th marks the death of Marshal Josip Broz Tito who passed away in 1980.

Born of a Croat Father and a Slovene Mother, in 1892, "Tito" was one of the most important political figures of the 20th century because of:

. His role as the most formidable anti-Nazi guerrilla leader during World War 2

. His creation of a socialist model which, while not of the liberal democratic tradition (he was claimed by some to be an authoritarian figure and by others to be a benevolent dictator), nonetheless rejected the totalitarian features of the Soviet Union

. His championing of the Non-Aligned Movement during the years of the Cold War. 

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.