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“The monuments in Mali are the DPRK’s most subdued on the continent”

February 3, 2013

Mansudae serves a very practical purpose beyond keeping the art of socialist realism alive and well in Africa. It provides much-needed hard currency to Pyongyang at a time that is perhaps the apogee of its internationally sanctioned and self-imposed isolation. It also provides African leaders a low cost means of portraying their proud pre- and post-colonial histories.

While North Korea is lambasted in the West for its unwelcome nuclear program and atrocious gulags, for a number of poor African states, Pyongyang is a perfectly amenable business partner willing to work cheaply and finishing projects ahead of time or on schedule.

The visitor to Bamako is greeted by a bronze cast of General Abdoulaye Soumare, Mali’s first Army Chief of Staff after independence from France. Further on is a plinth of a Malian soldier lunging forward with a Kalashnikov in one hand and his helmet raised high in the air. The anonymous soldier, meant to embody national liberation, appears devoid of historical context and is evocative of Bolshevik period propaganda in Russia and the Soviet-inspired official art of Maoist China during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

 

Read More | “Symbolism merges for Mali and North Korea” | Derek Henry Flood | Asia Times Online