National Statehood in Central Africa: Gabon

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-11-72-81
K. Turinskaya,
Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 32a, Leninskii Prosp., 119991, Moscow, Russian Federation;
Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, 30/1, Spiridonovka Str., 123001, Moscow, Russian Federation.

Received 05.04.2022. Revised 22.07.2022. Accepted 05.09.2022.

Abstract. The article deals with the Gabonese history in the years of postcolonial development. The author also examines the current socio-political situation in Gabon, a former French colony and France’s stronghold in Central Africa. The Gabonese Republic celebrated sixty years of independence in 2020, as 1960 was proclaimed the “Year of Africa”. Given the controversial regional and international context, attention is drawn to Gabon’s peripheral and unequal status in the global economy and politics. Being rich in oil, gas, manganese, uranium, forests, water, other natural resources Gabon demonstrates deep economic and social imbalances. The country’s economy is showing symptoms of the “Dutch disease”: the discovery of significant reserves of natural resources has led to the outpacing development of the extractive industry to the detriment of other sectors, especially agriculture. Gabon occupies a relatively high position in the list of countries by the HDI though about a third of the Gabonese population is below the national poverty line. The article analyzes the problems of decolonization, regional integration, sovereignity, tribalism, nation-building, and the choice of the course towards capitalism, with almost no socialist ideas in Gabonese public discourse and, at the same time, flourishing concepts of “national unity” and “troisième voie”. The text also addresses the issues of statehood, ideology and institutions of power in independent Gabon while the France’s presence in the African and Gabonese economy and politics seems purely neo-colonial. The article examines the process of establishment and functioning of the Bongo family political regime as well as the phenomenon of dynastic rule in a system with formal democracy.

Keywords: Gabon, Central Africa, statehood, national unity, decolonization, rental economy, neocolonialism


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For citation:
Turinskaya K. National Statehood in Central Africa: Gabon. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 11, pp. 72-81.

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