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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Mr David Dobrovoda

MA (SOAS)

Overview

David Dobrovoda
Name:
Mr David Dobrovoda
Email address:
Thesis title:
Czechoslovak-African Political Relations in the 20th Century
Internal Supervisors

Biography

I come from Bratislava, Slovakia. I have a strong interest in the humanities, particularly in history and politics. The broad spectrum of courses in language and area studies at SOAS made it very easy to pursue this interest.

PhD Research

Currently, I am fully engaged in researching various forms of political relations  between Czechoslovakia and Africa throughout the last century. In my thesis I am trying to prove the hypothesis that the relations of once African colonies, later independent African states, with countries such as Czechoslovakia had had a significant impact on the deconstruction of colonialism in these countries and their early independent development.

Czechoslovakia, since the 1920s, enjoyed decades of rich, diverse and complex relations with Africa. The core part of my dissertation will be dealing with the Cold War period. Using the case studies of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, I will try to illustrate all the different kinds of political relations and their impact on the development in these countries. Formal diplomatic relations were only one part of a larger image; I try to uncover previously untold stories of Czechoslovak support to numerous independence movements (KANU, ZANU PF, ZAPU, ASP etc.), secret services activities, weapon smuggling groups, and others.

The Superpowers' struggle for regional influence greatly affected the political development in Africa in the decades of Cold War, and Czechoslovakia played a special role in Africa as an extended arm of Soviet policy engaged in proxy conflicts with the USA. As a consequence, Czechoslovakia was a major actor in this development, having direct impact on events such as Idi Amin's coup d'état in Uganda, the struggle for dominance within Kenyan KANU, ZAPU's fight against the Rhodesian regime, or the Tanzanian project of 'African socialism'.

My research methodology is based on vast archival research in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, and Africa. My past archival research of this topic gives promising prospects of large amounts of information studied for the very first time. Work in archives will be supplemented with a number of interviews made mainly during my field trip to East Africa.

By successful completion of my thesis I hope to draw attention to a previously neglected aspect of recent African history. Provoking a debate on this aspect of post-colonial discourse  would be another welcomed result.