Al Jazeera English: ‘Red Africa’ – From a generation of cinematographers to the end of apartheid – Africa, Cuba and the Soviet Union

Between East and West: The Cold War’s legacy in Africa

Though often absent from retellings of the Cold War, the interventions and alliances conceived in Southern Africa between the 1960s and 1980s, had a profound and sometimes devastating impact.

Newly independent nations such as Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) provided the stages for some of the most bloody proxy battles between “East” and “West”, as the United States, apartheid-era South Africa and China tried to prevent the spread of communism in the global south, while Cuba and the Eastern Bloc sought to support it.

This month, as part of its “Red Africa” research project, Calvert 22 , a London-based, Russian-financed foundation, presents “Things Fall Part”, a nostalgic exhibition of various artworks drawing on the legacy of the “friendships between Africa, the Soviet Union and related countries during the Cold War”.

A closer reading of the objects on display, however, reveals a nuanced and conflicted history, the impact of which is still palpable today.



A Soviet poster from 1967 reads: ‘The dawn of freedom cannot be prevented.’  [Courtesy of Yevgeniy Fiks as part of the Wayland Rudd Archive]


Jo Ractliffe’s Triptych I, is a series of black and white photographs from a 1975 mural on a house in Angola, showing Cuban leader Fidel Castro; the first Angolan president, Agostinho Neto; and Leonid Brezhnev, then president of the USSR [© Jo Ractliffe. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town-Johannesburg]


Adriano Mixinge and fellow Angolan students on the Isle of Youth, Cuba, 1979 [Courtesy of Adriano Mixinge]


Nadine Wanono sits against an oil drum during a Study for Monument to Jean Rouch’s Super 8 film workshop in Mozambique Col. J. Navacierra [Angela Ferreira]


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