Become a Patron!

Aerial view capturing the contrasting worlds of an African mine and a protest against resource exploitation, highlighting the tension between natural wealth and human rights.
Aerial view capturing the contrasting worlds of an African mine and a protest against resource exploitation highlighting the tension between natural wealth and human rights

The Tug-of-War for Africa’s Resources: Unpacking the Role of Coups

Unveiling the intricate web of resource extraction, human rights, and political instability in Africa’s recent coups.

By Darius Spearman (africanelements)

About the author:

Darius Spearman is a professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been teaching since 2007. He is also the author of various books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890.


A wave of coups has swept across Africa, leaving many to wonder: what’s fueling this surge? The answer, it turns out, lies beneath the soil: resource extraction. From oil to diamonds, the continent’s natural wealth has become both a blessing and a curse.

The Geopolitical Landscape

From Gabon to Sudan, coups have become a recurring headline. But the international community seems more focused on restoring “constitutional order” than addressing the root causes. The West’s involvement often comes with strings attached, usually in the form of resource extraction contracts.

CountryResourceYear of Coup
Table 1: Recent Coups and Their Resource Links (Source: IPS News)

Resource Extraction: The Underlying Issue

Resource extraction isn’t just about minerals and oil; it’s about power dynamics and systemic exploitation. These economies are often built on the backs of their own people, creating a cycle that mirrors an internal colony.

Chart: Top 5 Extracted Resources in Africa

  • Oil
  • Gold
  • Diamonds
  • Uranium
  • Copper
    Source: World Bank

The Human Cost

Rural communities bear the brunt of this exploitation. Their lands are seized, and their rights trampled, all in the name of economic progress. This grim reality echoes the harsh conditions once faced by enslaved individuals in the Deep South.

The Role of ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has made strides in promoting stability. However, their efforts often fall short when it comes to genuine political transformation.

Table 2: ECOWAS Interventions and Outcomes

The Domino Effect

The instability doesn’t stop at national borders; it ripples through the continent. This cascade of events can even influence sectors as specific as medical research, given the continent’s history of exploitation in this field.


Addressing the root causes of these coups requires a multi-faceted approach. It’s not just about political stability; it’s about social justice, economic equity, and true freedom.