The Second Awakening of Africa Spurs the Rise of the Global South


By Mr. Li Zhigang, Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy

The BRICS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia from June 10 to 11. At this meeting of foreign ministers, which was the first after the historic expansion last year, chief diplomats of Egypt and Ethiopia made their debut at the BRICS family. Together with South Africa’s Foreign Minister Pandor and other BRICS counterparts, they articulated the voice of both Africa and the BRICS to commit to upholding multilateralism, international fairness and justice, and the common interests of the Global South.

In the mid-to-late 20th century, African countries won national liberation and independence one after another, which was regarded as Africa’s “first awakening” featuring anti-colonialism and the quest for independence. In recent years, with reinvigorated energy and vitality, the African continent has embraced the “second awakening” and become an epitome of the Global South seeking prosperity through good governance and building strength through unity.

First, Africa is striving for political autonomy. A number of African countries have deeply reflected on the fact that Western electoral systems, multi-party systems, and separation of powers are costly and unsuitable in Africa, thus putting forward the political proposition of the “second independence”. With enhanced self-governance capabilities, many African countries have said resolute “no” to external interference and the Western paternalism. In international affairs, more and more countries in the continent choose independence and reject taking sides. As a case in point, after the new round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict broke out, South Africa firmly championed international justice and launched a public lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Second, Africa is seeking self-reliance in development. Unreconciled to being trapped at the bottom of the global value chain, African countries demand to break the old economic order dominated by Western countries and defend their right to fair development. Ethiopia, Rwanda and Mauritius prioritize both markets and capital, and the “developmental state” model in which the government engages in economic activities and controls key industries. Countries including Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Guinea and Congo (DRC) seek to optimize the utilization of their own resources, especially energy and key minerals, for the benefit of the people. With the banner of climate justice and energy justice held high, Africa enthusiastically participates in or hosts international conferences on such issues as climate change and food security. The AU actively promotes the diversification of development partners and continuously expands Africa’s network of friends.

Third, Africa is building self-strength through unity. The AU has listed the implementation of the 2063 Agenda as its primary concern, adopted the second 10-year implementation plan, sped up the building of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and established a pan-African payment and settlement system, in an effort to robustly advance regional integration. Through strengthened internal coordination, Africa stepped forward to mediate the Ukraine crisis and presented a 10-point peace initiative. The AU became an official member of the G20. Africans have served as leaders of the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization. The 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement and the 3rd South Summit were held in Africa. All these facts testify to the substantially elevated international influence of Africa.

Fourth, Africa is fostering cultural confidence. Africa proposed the “African idea of Africa” with the goal of reshaping perceptions on African history and culture, and forming a common value system across the continent. The AU 2063 Agenda sets the African cultural renaissance as an important goal, and the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance officially came into effect. Africa and the Caribbean countries spearheaded a global movement to examine slavery and the slave trade, urging that European countries render formal apologies and make compensation for the slave trade hundreds of years ago. With the joint efforts of African countries, Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, among others, publicly apologized for their colonial crimes. France admitted its responsibility in the Rwandan genocide. And Western museums were forced to return some cultural relics looted from Africa during the colonial period.

Africa’s “Second Awakening” will accelerate the rise of the African continent, fortify the strength of the Global South, and promote fairer and more equitable international order and global governance. With a similar destiny in the past, China and African countries have stood in solidarity with one another during their respective fights for national liberation and independence, helped each other on the road to economic development and national rejuvenation, and forged the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness.

China’s development and cooperation with Africa have injected greater confidence into the “Second Awakening” of Africa. Moreover, China’s modernization breaks the myth that “modernization equals Westernization”. It provides a pathway and an alternative for developing countries like those in Africa to modernize, and presents China’s perspectives on humanity’s exploration of better social systems.

In September this year, the 2024 summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the 9th Ministerial Conference will be held in Beijing. Chinese and African leaders will gather together to discuss the future cooperation between China and Africa. China hopes that the two sides will work hand in hand to propel modernization and build a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future, so as to infuse sustained momentum into the global modernization effort, and set a successful example for bolstering the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

*Source: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of South Africa