Jose Matemulane said he left his native Mozambique nearly two decades ago, spent years studying in St. Petersburg and saw the Russian soul. Now he’s in the vanguard of Russia’s new foray onto his home continent, where he is spreading the word that working with Moscow to reduce the influence of Americans and other Westerners is in Africa’s best interests.
“The Russians have their own way of thinking different from the Western patterns,” Mr. Matemulane said. “I used to tell people: Russians are nothing else than white Africans, white blacks.”
Russia has been playing for power in Africa in recent years by sending arms, offering mercenaries, and cinching mining deals. More quietly, it has started to set up a low-profile infrastructure of political influence that bears echoes of the Kremlin’s strategy in Europe and the United States. And it is already identifying African politicians and activists who will carry its message.
Deploying its international propaganda arms, the television channel RT and the Sputnik news agency, the Kremlin is honing this message: While Western Europe and the United States are continuing a centuries-old tradition of exploiting Africa, Moscow is ready to engage with Africa on mutually beneficial terms.