Should African borders be rebooted?

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,638
Benin City, Nigeria
Maybe we have different ideas of what constitutes "extremely diverse".

Looking at this map of where the major linguistic divisions are, I'm skeptical of the notion that that description applies to India. There might be a few more important subdivisions along cultural lines that don't correspond exactly with the linguistic division, but really unless one is talking about the finer, smaller details when assessing the cultural distinctiveness of groups, I don't really see it.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,679
Florania
I do think the borders need to be redrawn, and I think the biggest benefit to redrawing the borders would be that ethnic conflicts would decrease and the focus on ethnic politics within countries would also decrease, so that the governments of various countries could move closer to a meritocratic government. The other major benefit would be that in those cases where there are some groups that are currently more economically productive and who are really trying to modernize their countries (groups that are effectively subsidizing the development of the areas of other, less productive or less modernizing groups), these groups would be free to actually develop at the pace they want instead of being held back by their obligations to some other less productive groups in their countries. Additionally, the less productive groups would be incentivized to "pick up the pace" and put vastly more effort into becoming more productive and into developing than they currently are. Although that would be a significant challenge at first, it would be better in the long run so that the efforts of those more productive groups are not just wasted.
Instead of wasting resources and energy to maintain an unsustainable, unstable "larger state", do you mean redrawing the borders along ethnic or cultural borders will result in more homogeneous, stable, and sustainable states?
Yugoslavia was a good example of a failed union.
Why did the relatively diverse Sihelian empires, Kingdom of Kongo, and a few other African empires flourish?

When you discuss such a matter with an African, you could discover a certain difference between what the establishment of an African country considers and what the common people of that country thinks. After the military coup of 2012 the country wasn't exactly in nice conditions. The military commanders did this accusing the elected President not to be able to defeat the rebels in the North East [Tuareg tribes who wanted the independece of their territory]. The military commanders created a curious "government" with an odd acronym [CNRDR]. The forces still loyal to the President begun to prepare a counter coup [while the Tuareg tribes kept on rebelling]. It was a mess. Despite an agreement for a transition period and a temporary government supported by the Parliament the military commanders arrested the Chief of the Government some months later ... The President of the Parliament [in that moment President of the country], in agreement with the "Economic Community of West African States" [ECOWAS] asked the intervention of the French Air Force against the rebels in the North [so against the Tuareg tribes]. It was January 2013 and thanks to that intervention several cities in the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists were liberated.

Since 2014 [with an elected government] in Mali there is a French mission of counter-terrorism, the Barkhane. As for I have understood common people thinks that these French troops are there to control the natural resources of the country. They would use the rebellion in the North East as an excuse to stay. In the meanwhile the negotiations for the autonomy of the Tuareg region go on. My impression is that in Mali [where the 80% of the population is Muslim, in a similar way to the Senegalese population] they tend to see Tuareg tribes as fighters for their independence more than as terrorists. And they tend to blame the military coup of 2012 [they don't trust so much those commanders ... friends for the French ...].

To say all, they underline that in Mali there are some of the greatest gold mines and places where to find diamonds [about gold it's true, checking on the net I've found out that Mali is the third producer of gold in Africa despite the poor condition of its mines, imagine if the industry would be improved ...]. In a few words they suspect that the French have come back to put their hands on those resources. The colonial past is something impossible to erase in the history of a people, no way.

I would say that until the French aided from the sky it was ok, but when they begun to see French troops on the soil ... they begun to suspect something. Probably they would be glad to concede the independence to the Tuareg territory not to see French soldiers around ... but the establishment of the country is planning something well different.

Now, obviously immigrants from Mali who work in Italy are from the common people, sure they are not from the middle class of the country [which is anyway a minority] where I guess there is a well different opinion about the European presence [Italy is experiencing something similar: at the Italia Africa Business Week 2018 we have heard African businessmen asking to Italians to "come back to Africa"]. In other words High and Middle Classes want Europeans to come back, common people not that much ... overall when Europeans come back wearing military uniforms ...

As an aside note, also Italian forces are in the region, at Niamey, Sahel, after not little "misunderstandings" just with the French who gave the impression not to want us in the area ...
The Mali Empire was one of the wealthiest and successful of the Sahelian empires; the current poverty of Mali renders its past success quite unbelievable.
What led to the success of the Mali Empire?
The current Republic of Mali is plagued with underdevelopment and all the consequences of it. Is the Republic of Mali itself one of the unsustainable state?
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,211
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Instead of wasting resources and energy to maintain an unsustainable, unstable "larger state", do you mean redrawing the borders along ethnic or cultural borders will result in more homogeneous, stable, and sustainable states?
Yugoslavia was a good example of a failed union.
Why did the relatively diverse Sihelian empires, Kingdom of Kongo, and a few other African empires flourish?



The Mali Empire was one of the wealthiest and successful of the Sahelian empires; the current poverty of Mali renders its past success quite unbelievable.
What led to the success of the Mali Empire?
The current Republic of Mali is plagued with underdevelopment and all the consequences of it. Is the Republic of Mali itself one of the unsustainable state?
What I have understood is that the colonial period didn't leave a rich Mali, but probably it was the first independent government to make a terrible mistake: in 1960 they obtained the independece and after a brief federation with Senegal they wanted to create a totally Socialist country [the first President Keita took such a decision, as for I have understood]. And it didn't work ... Economy planning was a failure and a part cotton industry all the economical sectors suffered too much. The situation was so tremendous that Keita was forced to ask to France to sustain the Mali Franc [imagine how they felt to have to ask for aid to the colonial power!]. In 1968 the Army solved the problem ... overthrowing Keita. But the basic mistakes were still there: during the Cold War Mali stayed with Moscow keeping on applying a form of Soviet Socialist which didn't allow the economy of the country to revover ... And the internal political situation didn't help: between 1970 and 1990 there were 5 coup attempts ...
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,679
Florania
What I have understood is that the colonial period didn't leave a rich Mali, but probably it was the first independent government to make a terrible mistake: in 1960 they obtained the independece and after a brief federation with Senegal they wanted to create a totally Socialist country [the first President Keita took such a decision, as for I have understood]. And it didn't work ... Economy planning was a failure and a part cotton industry all the economical sectors suffered too much. The situation was so tremendous that Keita was forced to ask to France to sustain the Mali Franc [imagine how they felt to have to ask for aid to the colonial power!]. In 1968 the Army solved the problem ... overthrowing Keita. But the basic mistakes were still there: during the Cold War Mali stayed with Moscow keeping on applying a form of Soviet Socialist which didn't allow the economy of the country to revover ... And the internal political situation didn't help: between 1970 and 1990 there were 5 coup attempts ...
Even by African standard, Mali is one of the poorest country by both income level and socioeconomic indicators.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,638
Benin City, Nigeria
Instead of wasting resources and energy to maintain an unsustainable, unstable "larger state", do you mean redrawing the borders along ethnic or cultural borders will result in more homogeneous, stable, and sustainable states?
Yugoslavia was a good example of a failed union.
Why did the relatively diverse Sihelian empires, Kingdom of Kongo, and a few other African empires flourish?
The kingdoms or empires that thrived either were not culturally divided, or had one specific group acting as a uling class which usually tried to integrate other groups into the ruling group's culture (through marital alliances or through religion, for example) to some degree, and thereby develop a unified culture.

The Mali Empire was one of the wealthiest and successful of the Sahelian empires; the current poverty of Mali renders its past success quite unbelievable.
What led to the success of the Mali Empire?
The current Republic of Mali is plagued with underdevelopment and all the consequences of it. Is the Republic of Mali itself one of the unsustainable state?
65% of the Republic of Mali is desert, it has no significant regional trade comparable in scale in any way to what existed centuries before for the Mali empire, it is landlocked, it has not made much progress in diversifying its economy, and it is not even close to industrializing its economy.

And of course there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the Republic of Mali and the Mali empire anyway.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Drawing country borders along ethnic lines sounds fine in theory, but often not practical in reality, since ethnic groups are not always neatly separated by geography. Different ethnic groups often lived side by side.

The stability of European countries is often a product of time. Scotland was originally composed of several different ethnic groups spesking different langusges, Picts, Gaels. Anglo-Saxons, Norse. The creation of the Scottish nation was a product of centuries of poltical unification. Swizterland does alright despite being composed of several different language groups.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,638
Benin City, Nigeria
Drawing country borders along ethnic lines sounds fine in theory, but often not practical in reality, since ethnic groups are not always neatly separated by geography. Different ethnic groups often lived side by side.
Different ethnic groups mostly lived in their own communities or states except in cases where some sort of political integration was occurring either through warfare and the subsequent deliberate assimilation of other groups into the ruling group's culture by members of that ruling group, or as a result of some earlier cultural fusion of compatible groups (usually through the adoption of a shared language).

Much of Africa, like much of Europe was not some cosmopolitan jumble everywhere. Yes there were some places or sub-regions that were much more mixed up, but that wasn't really the rule and ethnic groups mostly had definite areas that they were located in.

The stability of European countries is often a product of time. Scotland was originally composed of several different ethnic groups spesking different langusges, Picts, Gaels. Anglo-Saxons, Norse. The creation of the Scottish nation was a product of centuries of poltical unification. Swizterland does alright despite being composed of several different language groups.
The exact same process took place in parts of Africa though. Cases like the Gonja in northern Ghana, the Itsekiri in southern Nigeria, the Mende in Sierra Leone, etc are cases of fusion of ethnic groups. But in those cases an actual cultural synthesis occurred over time. They weren't all just crammed into one community or state overnight before a shared culture developed.

As for Switzerland, sure, but wars against outsiders may have played a role in unifying them as one people. Also if one can talk of Swizterland's unity then one can also look at the issues that Belgium has had with division or tribalism along linguistic lines.

The "stability of European countries" also occurred after wars that cost many, many lives, and one of the biggest issues involved in these wars was ethnic nationalism.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,211
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Regarding the stability of European countries, I would note that the wars in Yugoslavia are not so far in the past and still today between Ukraine and Russia there is an ongoing low level territorial war ... I would say that the stability is contentrated in Central Europe ... even in Spain we record secessionist movements.

Reality is that the geopolitical layout is variable as for its own nature. And today the great moves of population are making ethnic countries more and more rare.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Same ethnicity is no guarantee of freedom from civil strife, as the English Civil War demonstrated.
Regarding the stability of European countries, I would note that the wars in Yugoslavia are not so far in the past and still today between Ukraine and Russia there is an ongoing low level territorial war ... I would say that the stability is contentrated in Central Europe ... even in Spain we record secessionist movements.

Reality is that the geopolitical layout is variable as for its own nature. And today the great moves of population are making ethnic countries more and more rare.

Yugoslavia was a relatively new country, created only after WW1, and from what I can tell, its borders we're not drawn strictly along ethnic lines. It was less than a century old when it dissolved. While Italy and Germany were created along ethnic lines, in others the ethnic identity itself was the creation of the nation, and not the other way around. Over enough time, a nation can forge a common identity. By the time the Roman empire ended, many of the people of the empire thought of themselves as Roman, rather than just a Gaul, an Iberian.

While it is easier to successfully forge a nation when you have common ethnicity, you can still do so even with a diverse population. India is an ethnically diverse country, but still is pretty solid.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
No borders should be permanent, they exist when the side who wants them has the power to do it. If they lose it, the borders change.