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X-Posted from H-NET List for African History and Culture <H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU> From: "Jonathan T. Reynolds" <reynolds@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU> --------------- REPLY 1 From: Donald Z. Osborn <email@example.com> I don't recall ever encountering any North Koreans in my several years in rural West Africa during the period in question (I was in Togo, Mali, Guinea and travels in other countries for 6 yrs. between 1979 and 1987) but remember a discussion with a Togolese student who was surprised that it was the South and not the North that was manufacturing cars for export. Apparently North Korea managed to leave a strong impression through its efforts. In Mali there was a story that a group of North Koreans who came to construct a government building (in Badalabougou quarter of Bamako, not far from the old bridge) all died after completion of the project when their plane crashed on take-off. ------------------------------ REPLY 2 From: David Gordon University of Maryland <firstname.lastname@example.org> Richard Wewrbner describes the Heroes Acre centerpiece, designed and buit by the North Koreans in "Smoke From the Barrel of a Gun," in his edited collection, MEMORY AND THE POSTCOLONY (Zed, 1998) ------------------------------ REPLY 3 From: Reinhart Koessler University of Mūnster <email@example.com> North Koreans have also built the Heroes Acre structure outside Windhoek, Namibia, which was finished in 2002. It is largely similar to the one in Harare analyzed by Werbner. On a visit to the building site shortly before completion, it seemed there were exclusively North Koreans involved in the actual work, with Namibians only as guards. North Korean experts are also said to be involved in planning the proposed Independence Museum in Windhoek. So it is worthwhile looking at the role of North Koreans in this kind of memory politics. ------------------------------ REPLY 4 From: Kelly J. Morris <firstname.lastname@example.org> After serving in Togo from 1969 through 1972, I returned in 1974 to find a visible North Korean presence. This presence was most evident in two manifestations. First, in the sole newspaper, the state-run Togo-Presse, the North Koreans bought 2 or more advertising pages in just about every issue to glorify Kim Il Sung (and help subsidize Togo-Presse). Second, the North Koreans assisted the single political party (the Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais - RPT) in the development of its party organization, mass movements, and infrastructure, and the development of a Kim-like personality cult around President Eyadema. The Togo-North Korea connection seemed odd at first glance but it had a certain logic to it. Like North Korea, Togo considered itself a divided nation and longed for reunification with "Togo-Brittanique" (and joint ownership of the Akossombo dam). Therefore, Togo could justify to its Western friends this departure from its usually pro-Western and anti-Communist foreign policy. The North Koreans' goals in Togo were not related to ideological conversion but rather to obtaining public support and votes in the UN for its position on Korean reunification. This is not an unusual tack. After all, in the 1920s and 1930s the Soviet Union provided similar party-organization assistance to the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintung) that was opposed to Mao's Communists. The North Koreans provided other kinds of assistance to Togo, in the form of some public works projects and modest miltary and agricultural missions. By the 1980s and early 1990s, there were rumors of North Korean embassy staff in Togo and Benin being involved in counterfeiting USDs, drug smuggling, and money laundering but I have no proof of any of this. Finally, an anecdote: in 1974, I lodged a group of Peace Corps Trainees and their Togolese French teachers in a modest mountaintop "campement" for several weeks' intensive language instruction. One Sunday afternoon, a delegation of North Koreans with an escort of motorcycle police descended upon the facility where lunch had been prepared for them. After lunch, they were treated to folkloric dancers and drummers. As was the custom at the time ("authenticite oblige"), someone yelled "animation generale" and everyone - North Koreans, policemen, and PeaceCorpsmen - joined in the dance. Ever the teacher of "cultural sensitivity, I called one of my charges over and reminded him not to dance with a beer bottle in his hand. "Oh, sorry," he responded. "It's just that I've never danced with a motorcycle cop and a North Korean at the same time!" ------------------------------