Why didn't African Communists federalize their countries along ethnic lines?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
12,805
SoCal
#1
Why didn't African Communists federalize their countries along ethnic lines (which is what the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia actually did)?

Based on this map, there are several African countries where the Communists were in power at some point in time:



Likewise, it appears that ethnic federalization was possible in at least most of these African countries due to the fact that at least most of these African countries were multi-ethnic:

Benin:



Angola:



Mozambique:



Somalia:



Ethiopia:



Thus, why exactly didn't African Communists federalize at least some of these countries (more-or-less) along ethnic lines?

Any thoughts on this?
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,714
Lisbon, Portugal
#2
Why should they?

I've been in Angola often, and I don't see people there identifying themselves according to ethnic lines. It just doesn't happen. Ethnicity is not an issue at all in Angola.

So, I don't think that federalizing the country along ethnic lines would work.

Side note: Your first map was not from Benin, but from Nigeria.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
12,805
SoCal
#3
Why should they?
Well, why exactly did the Communists do this in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia?

I've been in Angola often, and I don't see people there identifying themselves according to ethnic lines. It just doesn't happen. Ethnicity is not an issue at all in Angola.
And was ethnicity an issue in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia?

So, I don't think that federalizing the country along ethnic lines would work.
Maybe not.

Side note: Your first map was not from Benin, but from Nigeria.
Actually, this map shows both Benin and Nigeria; I couldn't find a good map of only Benin, which is why I posted this map here instead. :)
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,714
Lisbon, Portugal
#4
Well, why exactly did the Communists do this in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia?
The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia did that because those countries already had separatist ethnic nationalist movements since the First world war, or even prior.

The idea of federalizing those countries among ethnic lines was to apply the old strategy of: "If you can't beat them, join them" or "fight fire with fire".
In other words, they accommodated those ethnic nationalists by giving them some autonomy in order to control them.

They were no ethnic separatist ethnic movements in Angola, Benin or Ethiopia prior to the Communist takeover. Strong ethnic nationalist sentiment didn't at all existed among the peoples that lived in those countries, so there was no reason to federalize them among ethnic lines.

And was ethnicity an issue in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia?
Yes, it was. Especially after the first world war.

Actually, this map shows both Benin and Nigeria; I couldn't find a good map of only Benin, which is why I posted this map here instead. :)
Yep, I saw Benin there.
 
May 2008
4,461
Fireland
#5
Why didn't African Communists federalize their countries along ethnic lines (which is what the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia actually did)?

Based on this map, there are several African countries where the Communists were in power at some point in time:



Likewise, it appears that ethnic federalization was possible in at least most of these African countries due to the fact that at least most of these African countries were multi-ethnic:

Benin:



Angola:



Mozambique:



Somalia:



Ethiopia:



Thus, why exactly didn't African Communists federalize at least some of these countries (more-or-less) along ethnic lines?

Any thoughts on this?
Lumumba assassination kind of put a spanner in any good that may have emerged from decolonisation. Plans for a co-operative Federalist type system had been long brewing. Cold War imperatives and market-capitalist baselines hijacked all that. Congolese mineral wealth was a straight jacket.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
12,805
SoCal
#6
The Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia did that because those countries already had separatist ethnic nationalist movements since the First world war, or even prior.
Understood.

The idea of federalizing those countries among ethnic lines was to apply the old strategy of: "If you can't beat them, join them" or "fight fire with fire".
In other words, they accommodated those ethnic nationalists by giving them some autonomy in order to control them.
Understood, though for the record, the autonomy which they gave them often appears to have only been nominal.

They were no ethnic separatist ethnic movements in Angola, Benin or Ethiopia prior to the Communist takeover. Strong ethnic nationalist sentiment didn't at all existed among the peoples that lived in those countries, so there was no reason to federalize them among ethnic lines.
So, in other words, large-scale ethnic nationalism didn't reach these African countries yet back then, correct?

Yes, it was. Especially after the first world war.
OK

Yep, I saw Benin there.
OK; good. :)
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
12,805
SoCal
#7
Lumumba assassination kind of put a spanner in any good that may have emerged from decolonisation. Plans for a co-operative Federalist type system had been long brewing. Cold War imperatives and market-capitalist baselines hijacked all that. Congolese mineral wealth was a straight jacket.
Lumumba wasn't a Communist, though.
 
Jun 2013
6,332
USA
#8
The African countries didn't have the needed resources to prepare for such a thing. And the African countries were smaller and had more ethnic groups than the much smaller number of ethnic groups in the USSR.
 
Jan 2015
505
Large Fields
#9
I think it's because communism rejects ethnic nationalism. Also, if you have absolute power, why not dominate the areas when you can?
 
May 2015
954
The Netherlands
#10
I think it's because communism rejects ethnic nationalism. Also, if you have absolute power, why not dominate the areas when you can?
This is very true. The federalization of the Soviet Union was their solution to cope with the problem of ethnic nationalism, which had been an unsolved issue dating back to the Russian Empire. In the Western and Southern (Caucasus) borderlands and among the ethnic German communities there were demands for autonomy. The Bolsheviks embraced the cause of the ethnic minorities to gain their support. If they couldn't overcome nationalism, they could at least harnass it with federalization. In the case of Yugoslavia and Czechoslavia there were also well-developed ethnic identities, with different 'national' histories.

Federalization along ethnic lines was not a typical communist principle, as they opposed nationalism, but the rise of nationalism in Europe simply predated communism and was a force to be reckoned with. Federalization at least created the suggestion of empowerment and protection of the smaller nations in bigger entities.

Since there were no strong ethnic identies identies in most post-colonial states in Africa, there was no need for federalization. They often were/are weak states to begin with, still in the process of modernization, and after decolonization it was more important to create a strong centralized state first. Even today tribal and religious identities are much stronger than ethnic ones in most African countries.
 
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