The Russian-African Club looks to the future

Russian-African Club

On December 19, 2022, the State Museum of the Orient hosted a regular meeting of the Russian-African Club, established in June 2022. The club brings together Russian and African diplomats, politicians, public figures, representatives of the business community, science, education and culture. Activity of the Club is aimed at promoting further development and strengthening of friendly relations and comprehensive ties between Africa and Russia on the eve of the Second Summit of the “Russia-Africa Partnership Forum”, as well as the implementation of the instruction of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin. The Russian President’s commission to work on the initiative to open a Museum of African Culture at the State Museum of the Orient in Moscow.

Representatives of African diasporas, diplomats from African embassies, representatives of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, educational, research and cultural institutions, governmental authorities and public organisations were invited to the meeting. Also present were African students, students from Moscow State University, PFUR(RUDN) and other Russian universities.

The meeting of the Club members began with a visit to an exhibition at the State Museum of Oriental Art: “From St. Petersburg to Aswan: Dmitry Yefimov’s Journey to Egypt (1834 – 1835)”. The tour ended with a New Year’s surprise, a performance by an ethnic drum music group from Congo. The original and incendiary performance vividly demonstrated the rich musical culture of the African continent.

The meeting of the Club was opened by A.F. Berdnikov, Executive Secretary of the Club, who passed the floor to A. Sedov, Director of the State Museum of the Orient. He warmly welcomed the participants of the meeting and expressed support for the initiatives of the Russian-African Club, especially stressing the importance of establishing the Museum of African Cultures.

Ilyin I., Dean of the Faculty of Global Processes, Lomonosov Moscow State University. He spoke about the idea of the Russian-African Club, its management and structure: “Our Club is a platform for public and scientific-educational diplomacy. Any educator, scientist, diplomat, businessman, politician, representative of creative professions, who shares the principles of equitable dialogue between civilizations for the sake of sustainable global development, for the sake of a just world order, for the benefit and prosperity of our countries and all mankind can take part in its work”.

Deputy Chairman of the Association of Russian Diplomats, former Ambassador to Africa Egoshkin V. E.  Egoshkin expressed confidence that active work with African and Russian youth is the key to the revival and further successful development of strong mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and Africa. An example is the Youth Movement “Diplomats of the Future”, whose members have become members not only of Russia, but also of many CIS countries. The children study the languages and culture of African peoples and participate in competitions devoted to the history and culture of the African continent.

Professor Yuri A. Mazey, Vice Rector for International Activities of Moscow State University, made proposals for the development of the Club, as well as spoke about the forthcoming meeting of rectors of universities in Russia and Africa and the plans for the formation of the Association of Universities of Russia and African countries. “Work is currently underway to prepare a Forum of University Rectors from Russia and Africa on the margins of the Russia-Africa Summit to be held in July next year. We hope that the Rectors’ Forum will be an important impetus in strengthening and further developing educational, scientific and humanitarian cooperation between Russia and African countries”. – stressed the Vice-Rector of Moscow State University.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Equatorial Guinea to the Russian Federation, Luciano Nkogo Ndong Ayekaba, addressed the Club. He noted that Africa will never forget what a huge contribution the USSR made to the emergence of statehood and self-sufficiency of the African continent. And now Russia is making a significant contribution by helping African countries in the economic, humanitarian sphere, especially in the field of education. The ambassador expressed his firm belief that, despite the enormous pressure from the West, Africa will always be with Russia. Development and strengthening of comprehensive ties with the Russian Federation is very important to Africa. In terms of economic cooperation, Africa badly needs Russian entrepreneurs to develop the foreign and domestic market, especially to further strengthen ties with Russia.

The idea of creation of the Museum of African Cultures in Moscow as a branch of the State Museum of the Orient was considered right and timely by the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Butina M.V. The deputy considered the idea of creation of the Museum of African Cultures in Moscow as a branch of the State Museum of the Orient. In addition, Butina M.V. made a proposal to create a House of Africa in the capital on the example of the existing House of Latin America.

These proposals were supported by Kinfu Zenebe Tafesse, President of the African Diasporas in the Russian Federation, President of the Union of African Diasporas, President of the Ethiopian Diaspora in the Russian Federation. He conveyed greetings to the Club members from all African Diasporas, and stressed that he finds it particularly important to assist in employment of African graduates from Russian universities, who have decided to tie their fate with Russia. Among them are many excellent professionals, who have not only bachelor’s degrees, but also academic degrees. They should make a significant contribution to strengthening comprehensive ties between Russia and the African continent, so it is important that they have the opportunity to apply in practice the knowledge acquired in Russian universities.

Louis Gouend, President of the Diaspora of the Republic of Cameroon in the Russian Federation, made his proposals for the development of the Club. In his opinion, the Russian-African Club pursues the right policy, which is to strengthen ties with the African diasporas represented in Russia. This is the key to the success of the Club. Louis Gouend suggested organising an exhibition of African artworks and timing the exhibition to coincide with the Africa Day anniversary on 25 May 2023.

D.V. Vanyukova, Senior Researcher at the State Museum of Oriental Art, spoke on behalf of the staff of the State Museum of Oriental Art. D. Vanyukova, Senior Researcher at the museum, spoke on behalf of the staff of the State Museum of Oriental Art. She spoke about the plans for events aimed at promoting African culture in Russia.

Maurice Okole, president of the Nigerian diaspora in Russia, believes that all Russian organisations aiming to strengthen cooperation with Africa should help Africans learn more about Russia. Peoples of African countries often receive information about Russia through the prism of the Western media. Therefore, the Nigerian diaspora leader considers the most important part of his work to be getting the right information to his compatriots in African countries, promoting Russian culture and scientific achievements among African peoples. Therefore, he believes that members of the African diaspora in Russia should be invited to the Second Russia-Africa Summit.

Bashir Obasekola, president of the Nigerian diaspora in Europe (NIDO), supported his colleague. He noted the long history of Russian-African relations. Members of the Nigerian diaspora participated in two major forums in 2022 – SPIEF (St. Petersburg International Economic Forum) and EEF (Eastern Economic Forum). The Nigerian representative expressed confidence in the need to increase Russian investment in Africa. He also stressed the importance of increasing the number of African professionals educated in Russian universities and helping Russian-speaking graduates find jobs in Africa. According to the President of NIDO, Africans in Russia should be involved in the social, economic and political spheres, which would significantly strengthen the link between Russia and Africa.

The Chairman of the Board of the African Diaspora Union “For Truth and the Advancement of People of African Descent Inganso Gakondo” and President of the Diaspora of Rwanda in the Russian Federation Tulikunkiko François Xavier invited the members of the Club to support the “Forum of African Graduates of Russian and Soviet Universities” (ФАВРИС = FAVRIS). This project aims to promote African-Russian initiatives in various fields of cooperation while activating the participation of Africans educated in the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation and other countries of the former USSR.

Massamba Kah of the Gambia, project leader of the Industrial and Educational Partnership with Africa, proposed the development of the concept of localisation of technology, skills and knowledge in the fields of sustainable environmental management and energy. He spoke about the NITU MISIS African Union, which focuses on targeted recruitment of students from partner organisations in the fields of mining, metallurgy and materials science, adaptation, academic and social support as well as the development of a professional community of engineers.

Chairman of the Commission on Foreign Economic Cooperation with Partners in Sub-Saharan Africa of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr. Anastasiadi A.F. expressed his solidarity with the ideas of the Club and stressed that he considered it particularly important to assist in appointing African graduates of Russian universities to positions of responsibility in their countries of residence. This would be a strong basis for strengthening comprehensive ties between Russia and Africa.

G.G. Monastyreva, Chairman of the Commission of the Council for Nationalities under the Moscow Government, representative of the Association for Economic Cooperation with Africa, conveyed greetings from a representative of the Moroccan Diaspora in the Russian Federation, President of the 3E-bridge Association, member of the Main dans la main, Daoui Wafaa. The representative of the Diaspora proposed to create a professional platform for journalists from African countries where they could tell Russians about Africa and the peoples of African countries about Russia. Daoui Wafaa. spoke about her participation in the recent forum “We are together!” where a working group of Russian and African women has been established and the first meeting of the joint work is to be held in May.

The event concluded with David Okpatuma, the youngest member of the Club from Nigeria, a participant in this year’s two major SPIEF (St. Petersburg International Economic Forum) and EEF (Eastern Economic Forum) forums. He represents the Friends for Leadership team and is chairman of the DevCA Initiative board. In his speech, he particularly emphasised that Russia, although a superpower, was not involved in the exploitation and colonisation of Africa. He expressed the hope that Russian-African relations will be truly mutually beneficial as they have been in the past and work for the benefit of all. He expects young people to be more involved in high-tech fields, including agriculture, communications and information technology. The meeting of the Russian-African Club ended with a friendly New Year’s Eve fellowship with great spirits and positive plans for the future.

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