Africa

Africa

There will be no peace

The confrontation between Ukraine and Russia has grabbed the headlines recently but it can only be understood in a more global context in which we are seeing a constant sharpening of military tensions and open conflicts across a very considerable portion of the planet.

A history of class struggle in South Africa

The main purpose of this article, the first in a series on South Africa, is to restore the historical truth about the struggles between the two fundamental classes, namely the bourgeoisie (for whom apartheid was only one means of domination) and the proletariat of South Africa that, for most of the time, was left to struggle for its own demands as an exploited class, from the epoch of the Dutch-British colonial bourgeoisie and then under the Mandela/ANC regime.In other words, a South African proletariat whose struggle fits perfectly with that of the world proletariat.

Mali: the music suffocated by capitalist terror

War declared on music and dancing, nothing less. “Culture is our petrol... Music is our mineral wealth” says Malian kora player Toumani Diabate in The Guardian on October 23. Unfortunately for the region it is also laden with oil and sought-after minerals. Music, which it’s internationally renowned for, has coursed through the blood of Malians for ages. Now Sharia demands that it is replaced with Qur’anic verse. Not only is the music dying under this capitalist terror but so are many in the region, some through lynchings, stoning to death, whipping and torture, cutting off limbs.... No wonder “No-one is dancing”, and there’s worse to come.

Contribution to a history of the workers' movement in Africa (part 4): Second World War to 1968

It is well known that French imperialism liberally drew its cannon fodder from among the youth of its African colonies, as was demanded by its high level involvement in the Second World War. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers, the overwhelming majority of them young workers and unemployed, were enrolled and sacrificed in the bloody imperialist slaughter. With the conflict over, a period of reconstruction opened up for the French economy whose repercussions were felt in the colony in an unbearable exploitation that the workers began to courageously struggle against.

Contribution to a history of the workers' movement in Africa (part 3): The 1920s & 30s

Following World War I, the echo of the Russian revolution rang around the world. Senegal was no exception to this general tendency, and Senegalese workers conducted a whole series of militant strikes and revolts in the fifteen years that followed the end of the Great War.

Contribution to a history of the workers' movement in Africa (part 2): 1914-28

Between 1855 and 1914, the proletariat that emerged in the colony of French West Africa (FWA) underwent its class struggle apprenticeship by trying to come together and organise with the aim of defending itself against its capitalist exploiters. Despite its extreme numerical weakness, it demonstrated its will to struggle and a consciousness of its strength as an exploited class. We can also note that, on the eve of World War One, the development of the productive forces in the colony was sufficient to give rise to a frontal collision between the bourgeoisie and working class.

Western intervention in Libya: a new militaristic hell

Since March 19th, there has been no let- up in the military intervention in Libya under the dual banner of the UN and NATO. But we needn’t worry: the last G8 summit has reaffirmed that the members of the coalition, putting their differences to one side, are 'determined to finish the job', having called on the Libyan leader to relinquish power because he has 'lost all legitimacy'.

What is happening in the Middle East?

The current events in the Middle East and North Africa are of major historic importance, the consequences of which are difficult to discern. Nevertheless, it is important to develop a discussion about them that will enable revolutionaries to elaborate a coherent framework of analysis. The points that follow are neither that framework in itself, still less a detailed description of what has been taking place, but simply some basic reference points aimed at stimulating the debate.

Oil slicks in Nigeria: capitalism is a world-wide plague

While the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has become the biggest environmental pollution in the history of one of the most developed countries, the USA, and while it has made the consequences of the failure to protect the environment apparent, the pollution of the environment in a gigantic scale has almost become part of daily life in Nigeria.

New massacres in Nigeria: capitalist barbarism at work

In Nigeria there is no doubt that there has been a real development of hatred within the Christian and Muslim populations, but a stark question is posed: who is really responsible for all these massacres? Who is permanently fanning the flames between the different communities? Who is arming and protecting the killers in both camps?"

G8: this system creates poverty

So the generosity of the G8 countries has not lived up to the commitments made at Gleneagles, but the promises to double aid to Africa by 2010 have been reiterated. Real money was promised for tackling HIV, TB and malaria, but this is not just for Africa and there is no evidence that this is new money. Promises cost nothing, but they are good spin. It is no wonder that celebrity campaigners like Sir Bob Geldof and Bono are making a fuss.

Slavery: foundation stone of capitalism

We’re really sorry about slavery, say the Church and the Government and the Queen. It was a real blot on Britain’s moral integrity and we really wish it hadn’t happened. But thank goodness for chaps like William Wilberforce who pricked our consciences and persuaded us to renounce the slave trade. Let’s put his head on a stamp and make a film about him. Let’s listen to earnest speeches by the Archbishop of Canterbury and we can all feel better about ourselves.

Middle East: Despite war, class struggle continues

Most of the news that comes out of the Middle East tells us about the daily sectarian slaughter in Iraq, the brutal bombing of civilian populations by the USA and Israel in Iraq and Lebanon, bloody confrontations between Palestinian factions in Gaza, threats of a new military adventure in Iran… For genuine socialists or communists, the way towards a ‘better world’ lies through the united struggle of the exploited class, the proletariat, against its exploitation. It follows that when you have a ‘struggle’ which divides the proletarians against each other, which drags them into fighting battles on behalf of their exploiters, you are going not towards a better world but towards the catastrophic demise of the present one.

Guinea: workers’ struggle against bourgeois attacks

Since 10 January, Guinea has been going through an explosive social situation, marked by a strike movement unprecedented even in a country which has seen many strikes over recent years. The workers in Conakry, followed by those in several other towns like Kankan, and actively supported by the population as a whole, have given active expression to their mounting discontent and thrown themselves into a movement of protest.

Chinese imperialism in Africa

On the weekend of 3-5 November Beijing hosted a China-Africa forum that top-level delegations from 48 (out of 53) African countries planned to attend. The way that the Chinese media sold the jamboree, along with loyal African cheerleaders, gave the impression that China is a great force for progress in Africa - such a contrast to the colonialists and imperialists of the US, Europe and Japan.

Darfur: Imperialist intervention is never humanitarian

As we wrote in the last issue of WR, Africa “shows in frightening detail the real future that the capitalist mode of production has for humanity”. Few, if any, regions have escaped the never ending cycle of wars, disease, famine and ‘natural’ disasters that have ravaged the continent for the last century, as the imperialist powers have fought over the right to exploit its rich resources.

The immigration crisis on the Moroccan-Spanish border: the hypocrisy of the democratic ruling class

The last two weeks have witnessed startling scenes on the southern border of the European Union. First there were the massed assaults by thousands of migrants on the wire frontier fences erected by the Spanish government, as they tried to break through, leaving behind a trail of tattered clothes and blood. Next came the bullets that cut down 5 desperate migrants – in all likelihood and despite the media coverup fired by the police of the very “democratic” and “pacifist” government of Señor Zapatero, who likes to present himself as a kind of inoffensive Bambi. There then followed the massive deployment of legionaries and Guardia Civil with the aim of “humanely” (sic!) repelling the migrants. On the 6th October, after behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Spanish and Moroccan governments, events took a new turn with the machine-gunning of 6 migrants on Moroccan territory. These deaths marked the beginning of a whole series of increasingly brutal acts: migrants abandoned in the desert south of Uxda on the 7th October, massive raids in Moroccan cities where the migrants were concentrated; repatriation flights to Mali and Senegal with men and women handcuffed and crammed in together and the news that huge numbers of migrants had been abandoned, in the buses of death, in the Sahara desert.

‘Debt relief’ fraud

In the run up to the summit in Edinburgh, the finance ministers of the G8 announced a deal to end the debt burden of some of the poorest countries in Africa and elsewhere. For Chancellor Gordon Brown it was “a significant step forward”; for Bob Geldof, the moving figure behind the ‘Live8’ concerts and demonstration, it was a “victory for millions

Only the communist revolution can make poverty history!

The forthcoming British presidency of the G8 - and the accompanying summit in Scotland in July - has been the focus of a campaign to ‘Make Poverty History’: a coalition of ‘the great and the good’. Churches, charities, trade unions, and a galaxy of celebrities are calling for fair trade, debt-relief and improved aid. Huge parades and rock concerts are being planned, their stated aim being ‘to make the politicians care’...

Ivory Coast: French imperialism defends its interests

In early November, Ivorian president Ghagbo, impatient to escape the French restrictions which limited his government's authority to the south of the country, bombarded rebel-controlled towns in the north. The French government had for months turned a blind eye to Ghagbo's war plans, until the Ivorian state bombarded positions held by French forces, killing nine French soldiers and one US civilian, and wounding 22 others. French president Chirac ordered the immediate destruction of the 'Ivorian airforce' - two planes and five combat helicopters.

Horn of Africa: 20 years on, capitalism is still creating famine

Twenty years ago one million people died of starvation in Ethiopia following a severe drought. In response to the tragedy Bob Geldorf organised charity concerts and released 'Do they know it's Christmas' as part of the benefit. Since then many Ethiopians have relied on aid to stave off famine. Today followers of Sir Bob will release a new version of the same record in the face of a much more extensive crisis in and around the Horn of Africa. In other words, the problem has got worse over the last 20 years.

Against the descent into chaos

The slaughter of British tourists in Uganda has prompted the 'concerned' press to remind us of the terrifying scale of the war and chaos afflicting the entire African continent. An article in The Guardian of 6 March includes a list of the countries hit by war, genocide and internal collapse: Algeria, Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzavile, Sudan, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Rwanda/Burundi, Angola, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Uganda and nda/Burundi, Angola, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Uganda and Lesotho. The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea was a full scale confrontation between states, in which tens of thousands died over a worthless piece of land. The war around the Congo "described as the first continent-wide war, is reshaping Africa. A host of countries have been drawn into the conflict over Congo: Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Sudan and Chad on one side against Uganda and Rwanda on the other" (The Guardian, 6.3.99).

Zimbabwe: Government and opposition are both against the working class

The EU observer mission sent to watch the election in Zimbabwe were not happy about the "climate of fear" and that the "Zanu-PF leaders seemed to sanction the use of violence and intimidation". However, as the Movement for Democratic Change, lead by Morgan Tsvangirai, won 57 seats, despite being only able to safely campaign in 25 of the 120 at stake, political parties in Europe declared their satisfaction. In Britain, Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat all appreciated the work of Tsvangirai, a leading trade unionist often called a ‘British puppet’ by Zanu-PF. Such accusations are based on the reality that he was in constant contact with the British government throughout the campaign, and all British coverage of the Zimbabwe election campaign was devoted to the denunciation of violence and the demonisation of Mugabe.

Massacres in Sudan: A product of rivalry between the great powers

30,000 killed, 1,200,000 driven from their homes, "Water systems, food stocks and agricultural tools have been destroyed, cattle looted, thousands of villages burned, men executed, women and girls gang-raped" ('Sudan: Without help, a million could die in Darfur', International Herald Tribune. 11.6.2004). This policy of terror is being carried out by the Sudanese state in its Darfur region. The state has used the army and the feared Janjaweed militias to 'pacify' the offensive by the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equity Movement (JEM). The SLA and JEM for their part have used the population as cannon fodder in order to further their own sordid nationalist aims. These massacres are only the latest in 30 years of civil wars that have left up to three million dead and millions displaced. Wars in which all sides depopulated their rivals' areas: "Population displacement on a large scale has become a major feature of the war. It is not an incidental outcome of the fighting but is one of its objectives; it involves not just the removal of whole groups and individuals from their home areas, the incorporation of those populations either into competing armies, or into a captive labour force" (The root causes of Sudan's civil wars, D H Johnson, The International African Institute, 2003, p.155). This barbarism has been conducted in the name of Allah, Christ, ethnic and regional freedom and democracy, but its cause is imperialism.

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