Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Live Aid - Live 8

Over twenty years ago, there was a high profile pop concert organised by the Live Aid group, to help the famine in Ethiopia. Now two decades later nothing has changed.

The Live 8 concerts addressed the effects of poverty not it causes. Unless the present social system has changed, for many more decades down the line there will be more Live Aids, more GB summits on this poor continent, and more Bonos and Bob Geldofs, yet all their cries for billions to be spent on aid are still unlikely to make more than the smallest dent in the deprivation.

Although there is criminal incompetence of Africa’s post-colonial black elites (the people who call themselves presidents, prime ministers, and in some instances kings and princes of the continent have waged war on their own people and plundered the continent’s wealth to ever bulging Bank account in Switzerland), the main problem of the continent is capitalism.

It is common knowledge that up to two-thirds of the world’s population are hungry, while millions actually die from starvation each year. Why in a world of potential plenty is so elementary a human need as food neglected for some many people?

Some would deny that we live in a world of plenty and claim that the cause of world hunger is natural scarcity. That in other words, some people starve simply because not enough food can be produced.

In the present state scientific knowledge and productive techniques, enough food could be produced adequately to feed the population of the world.

World malnutrition then is not a natural but a social problem. Its cause must be sought not in any lack of natural resources but in the way society is organised. World society everywhere rests on the basis of the resources of the world, natural and manufactured, by very rich minorities.

Rock stars or any other celebrities will not persuade the rich class to make world poverty history. It’s in fact the world market system that ruled the world. Acting like a natural force beyond human control, it has much power than any national government.

The market creates an artificial scarcity and organised waste that is responsible for poverty and hunger in the world today. The law that governs everywhere is "no profit, no production".


Monday, May 28, 2007


Three stories of the ongoing tribulations of the Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana


It has been estimated that the so-called Bushmen of the Kalahari have lived in southern Africa for at least 20,000 years, but that cuts no ice with the zealots hell-bent on the development of capitalism in that part of the world.

"The Bushmen of the Kalahari – among Africa’s last indigenous peoples – are on the verge of losing their ancestral homeland after the Government of Botswana stepped up a campaign to force them into squalid resettlement camps" (Times, 12 September). The government has sent heavily armed wildlife guards into the Central Kalahari Game reserve – an area that had been promised to the Bushmen "in perpetuity". Their aim is to remove some 200 to 250 Gana and Gwi who have returned there from the resettlement camps. The Times report continues: "Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, which has been highlighting the Bushmen’s plight, said: ‘The Government seems hell-bent on finishing them off this time. The situation is very urgent. Unless circumstances change through outside intervention, this could very well be the end of these particular people’".

The plight of the Gana and Gwi people is by no means unique. The development of capitalism crushes all the tribal societies it comes into contact with. In the past we have had the slaughter of the native Americans in the USA, the butchery of the Australian aborigines and more recently of the Yanomami in Northern Brazil. The concept of a tribal society that lives by gathering and hunting with no recourse to capitalism’s markets is anathema to a property-based social system.

The Botswana government has destroyed the tribal wells and banned hunting in its efforts to restrict tribal groups. The growth of farming and diamond mining probably lie behind the government’s recent actions. Some government ministers have hinted that the evictions are needed because deposits of diamonds have been found in the area, although the state diamond company, which is an offshoot of De Beers claim they are uneconomic to mine. "However, De Beers does not rule out mining them at a later date."

The development of capitalism in Africa must crush tribal communities just as it did in Europe and America . The only hope for a communal life-style is not a return to primitive tribal society, but the transformation of present day private property, profit-producing society into the new social system of world socialism.


January 2007 , Bushmen began returning to their ancestral lands inside Botswana's largest game reserve this weekend, despite what their supporters describe as a heavy police presence and attempts to persuade them to stay in relocation camps. The Bushmen have lived in southern Africa for more than 20,000 years and are thought by some experts to be one of the oldest--if not the oldest--people on the planet, in genetic terms.

Basarwa tribesmen, also known as Bushmen, won a court order in December allowing them to return to land in the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which, at 52,800 square kilometers, is larger than the nations of Denmark and Switzerland.In its ruling, Botswana's High Court called the government's eviction of the Basarwa "unlawful and unconstitutional" and said that they had the right to live on their ancestral land inside the reserve. The court also ruled that the Basarwa who live in Botswana have the right to hunt and gather in the reserve . But the harassment continues - the government continues to dispute the Bushmen's return, maintaining that only the 189 people who filed the lawsuit would be given automatic right of return with their children--well short of the 50,000 Basarwa who live in Botswana, 2,000 of whom say they want to go home. And officials also argue that tribesmen cannot take along domestic animals or other items that have become necessities for these descendants of hunter-gatherers.

According to Survival International, government officials forced nearly all of the Bushmen to leave the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in three separate events in 1997, 2002, and 2005. Their homes were dismantled, their school and health center were closed, and their water supply was destroyed. Botswana's government has sought to evict the local tribesman numerous times over the last 20 years, ostensibly to promote tourism and protect wildlife in the area, although many believe the main reason has more to do with diamond mining aspirations.

Life in relocation camps outside the reserve has been especially difficult for the Bushmen, Survival says. Rarely able to hunt, they have been dependent on government handouts while their society has become gripped by alcoholism, boredom, depression, and illnesses such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS .

"The government has given various different reasons for the evictions," Survival International's Ross told OneWorld. "The government said it's for the people's own good--that they can't live hunting and gathering in this day and age, that they need to become civilized. The president said if the Bushmen want to survive they'll have to change or they'll perish like the Dodo. They've also said it's because the game reserve is for animals and that the Bushmen are a danger to animals.What Survival believes is that the Bushmen were evicted because there were diamonds found under their land in the early 1980s,"

Ross said. "There isn't mining in the reserve at the moment but we believe the government wanted to get the Bushmen out of the way so future diamond mining could take place."
Ross noted much of Botswana's foreign exchange comes from partnerships with diamond companies like DeBeers.

"DeBeers has a concession in the Kalahari Game Reserve," she said, "so it has the right to explore for diamonds in the reserve. I would ask the government to explain that."


The leader of the San Bushmen met British lawmakers in London on Wednesday in a bid to drum up support for his people's struggle to return to their land in the Kalahari desert in Botswana.
In December 2006, a court in Botswana's southern city of Lobatse ruled that hundreds of San Bushmen were wrongly forced out from the Kalahari Game Reserve after a marathon legal battle. The Bushmen maintain they were driven out of the Kalahari when vital supplies were cut off in order to make way for diamond mining -- a claim the world's top diamond producer has denied.
But despite the court victory, the Botswana government is trying to prevent them returning to their land, claimed Survival International, a London-based non-governmental organisation supporting tribal people. In addition, the attorney general has said that only Bushmen named in the court case can return, Survival said. Despite the court ruling that the evictions were illegal, the government has refused to help the Bushmen make the long journey home. It has also banned the Bushmen from taking their small herds of goats back to their land. Since the court ruling, Bushman hunters have been arrested, beaten and held for days without food.

The government of Botswana has set down conditions for travel to the country by a UN human-rights spokesperson in what critics say is part of a concerted campaign to cover up the state's shoddy treatment of the San Bushmen. The government invoked a special clause of the constitution in requiring the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Mexican Rodolfo Stavenhagen, to get a visa to visit Botswana, said Survival International, the British-based human rights group. Most visitors to Botswana merely require a visa stamp in their passport on entry to the country. The same restrictions were imposed in March on 17 individuals including four Survival staff, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson and other journalists and human rights activists, most of whom had taken an interest in the eviction of the Kalahari Bushmen .

Sesana said , 'We Bushmen won our court case, and this made us feel strong again. But now the President is ignoring Botswana's own court. I am asking people in Britain to please help us, because people are dying in the places where we have been forced to live.'
Sesana will also go to Downing Street to deliver a letter from the Bushmen to Tony Blair expressing their dismay at the British government's support for the evictions.

About 100,000 San live in the region: 50,000 in Botswana, 4,500 in South Africa, 38,000 in Namibia, 1,600 in Zambia and 1,200 in Zimbabwe, according to the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA), based in the Namibian capital of Windhoek.

Who Gains from Female Circumcision

Female circumcision, like male circumcision, is a practice that dates back to the remotest of times in history. Today, however, the former has come under fire by feminists and other concerned groups and individuals. Why male circumcision is not touched is not clear. Perhaps the whole issue is still part of the male chauvinistic nature of contemporary society since it may not be plausible to claim that male circumcision is harmful as there are no statistics regarding the casualties the practice has caused or how it has affected fertility.

I am not holding brief for this custom but some of those against it fail to situate the practice in its right perspective and thus fail to find the right solution. This myopic attitude is reminiscent of similar haughty attempts to characterise traditional African religion as "barbaric" and "uncivilised" (when in fact all religions are the same).

Like other customary practices, female circumcision is a tool in the control and manipulation of society by the elders and leaders who in traditional society were the owners of wealth. In the case of female circumcision, a group of individuals (including vocal and influential women) soon emerged who specialised in the art of operation. In many areas, these "doctors and paramedical staff" introduced mysticism into the act in order to gain a monopoly over their "profession". As religion and spiritualism are part and parcel of their life, it is always easy to weave the supernatural element into anything that is done. This mystification is usually intensified if there are some material gains attached.

It is common knowledge that not all those who are involved in collecting girls for the ritual nor those who carry out the operation do so for a fee. Yet they get more than if they were charging fees. It is the same with traditional healers. They charge no fees but you give what you feel like giving—and the gift/payment is usually more than a mouthful.

Those who organise female circumcision get a lot of material gains from the parents, relatives and well-wishers of the girls. For instance, the food requirements, drinks, kolanuts, tobacco, etc., of both girls and organisers are provided for by the girls' parents. And here we are talking about a period which could last as long as six months though these days the period may be just about two months in some areas. But the organisers actually make their money during the "passing out" of the circumcised girls. In most cases, each chief organiser (who is always an influential woman) becomes a social, political and spiritual "mother" to all girls circumcised under her authority—they all join her camp. Such women constitute the ideologues of the practice of female circumcision and they concoct all myths to perpetuate the custom. Those girls who do not go through it are stigmatised and derided and may even find it difficult getting a husband.

Perhaps started by men to control family property relations, female circumcision is strongly encouraged today by some females for the sake of material gains.
One other prominent feature in the whole affair is the intervention of non-governmental organisations. Needless to say, much credit goes to these NGOs for "sensitising the international community" to this "evil custom". But it is equally important to point out that, far from helping solve problems, NGOs are themselves an offshoot of the profit system. In fact, the ideology of NGOs enhances the money system and perpetuates its evil practices through the half-baked and inadequate measures they put forward for solving the world's problems.

I know very well that there are genuine individuals who are doing their best to ameliorate the deplorable state of mankind. However, I do not think they can make any meaningful headway by targeting isolated issues like discrimination against women or, to be specific, here female circumcision.

What I therefore put forth as a lasting solution to these undesired customary practices and to the gender problem is a holistic and all-round approach. This entails a complete rejection of the status quo. Production of goods and services should be organised for the sake of satisfying needs and not for profits. Therefore money in all its forms (cheques, treasury bills, tickets, etc) should go. But as this cannot be wished away, people will have to come together and through concerted effort push towards the realisation of the objective in a world socialist movement.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Inside the sports industry

On the night of Saturday 16 December 2000 the crowd at the Sheffield Arena must have been stunned when Paul Ingle's corner forced him back to the centre of the ring to be savagely crushed by his opponent Mbulelo Botile of South Africa. Even one of the commentators remarked that the decision of Ingle's managers was shockingly unreasonable. Not unexpectedly, Ingle was carried unconscious to hospital with brain injuries. At the end of round 11 everybody, more especially Ingle's corner, knew he had lost the bout.

The question on the lips of many was why the towel was not thrown in. But how could they do that when they were playing according to the rules of today's international sports—the cash and fame first before the contender. In fact Ingle's corner callously hoped that their man could miraculously pull a knock-out.

Gone are the days when games were organised with a view to merely entertaining the audience. In our day the motive behind any activity sports included, is profit. If, in the process of any sporting activity people get entertained, it is an unintended outcome of a purely business-oriented venture. In reality sport is now a multi-billion dollar industry masquerading as an entertainment agency. It has become an industry dominated and controlled by corporate bodies.

Sporting activities are organised mainly by IOC, FIFA, CAF, JBF, WBC, etc. The funds with which these bodies organisc games are provided, in the main, by big business. Since business concerns will only spend money if they will make a profit, one can easilv understand why they provide the funds—they are financially interesting.

Advertising is an essential ingredient in all profit-oriented activity. Getting people to become aware of one's products is a vital competitive move. Corporate groups sponsor IOC and Co in exchange ttr the right to advertise their products on radio, TV jerseys, shinguards, gloves, and soon that is why you can never see World Socialist Movement or World Of Free Access or SPGB printed in bold characters and lined up around playing fields on stadiums. What you see is Coca Cola, Amstel, Visa, MasterCard, Western Union Money Transfer, Motorola, Ericsson, etc.
In the same vein other businesses deeply involved in the promotion of commercialised sports are the media houses. TV magnates are able to pay and have a stranglehold monopoly of coverage. They reap huge profits when they "sell" their "product" to other media groups.
Since today's sports is a matter of business due to its profit-oriented nature, it is always spiced with the not uncommon shady deals. Business is nothing but legalised stealing. Its main rule is "grab-as-much-as-you-can". International sports is therefore plagued with such inevitable phenomena as bribery, corruption, match-fixing, gambling, betting, pools, etc. In fact most many sports ministers, members of IOC, FIFA (the chief organisers of international sporting activities) siphon away huge sums of money in the process of organising games. A typical example can be seen in the famous Salt Lake City scandal which not only exposed but also shattered the credibility of the IOC and blew apart its five interlocking rings. Again, quite recenily some German sportswriters have alleged that the German government and some corporate groups bribed Thailand, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to vote for Germany to host the 2006 World Cup. The multinational corporations mentioned were Daimler Chrysler, Bayer, BASF and Siemens (Gambia Daily Observer 21 November 2000).

Wealth (goods and services) is created by labour. In the sports industry the creators of service (entertainment) are the sportsmen and women. These (most1y) youth are by no means different from workers in the factory; clerks in the bank; teachers in the classroom, etc. Sportsmen and women sell their labour power (i.e. their ability to run, jump, kick, swim, etc) to the owners of the means of production and distribution of the services produced. In sports the means of producing and distributing entertainment include the stadiums, the factories the assorted sporting gear, the media houses, etc. These are owned by corporate bodies, states, local councils and the like. The youth use these facilities to entertain society, who pay money that goes to the owners of these means. The sportsmen and women arc then paid wages by the owners (the employers).

It is a common business practice to fire workers who are considered to be not too productive. In the same way sportsmen and women who do not move mountains to prove, maintain and improve upon their competitiveness risk being booted out of employment. Even the language used by employers, especially owners of football clubs, clearly smacks of the business element in sports. Football clubs who hire the services of footballers are often heard talking of "buying", "selling", or "giving out on loan" such-and-such a player. Indeed one sometimes gets the impression that the players are not just wage-earners but real commodities! In one report by Reuters carried in the 6 November Daily Observer (Gambia), entitled "Pele attacks 'slave trade' in young players", the Brazilian Sports Minister decries the ahnost slave-like ownership of young footballers from Africa, Brazil and Argentina in particular. A very recent example is the case of Kanu Nwanko whose masters, Arsenal, refused to release him (from their bondage) to go to play for his "national" team during the just-ended Sydney Olympics.


Having been considered as "commodities" whose price is influenced by market forces, sportsmen and women are constantly engaged in fierce competition with each other. Competition is an unhealthy phenomenon but in sports it is even worse. The use of drugs to enhance performance is a direct result of the unwholesome profit-oriented practices. In the final analysis these people who use the drugs suffer and get disgraced when they test positive. By contrast the organisers and drug dealers, sitting behind their dark sunglasses at the VIP stands get away with their dirty profits.

But perhaps the most serious effect of this dubious U-turn in sports from entertainment-oriented to profit-oriented can be seen in the growing number of serious and in some cases fatal incidents involving sportsmen and women. The story of the British boxer Paul lngle has already been mentioned. No-one is unaware of the world-famous pugilist, Mohammed Ali. There is also the tragic fate of Michael Watson, another British boxer. A Colombian defender, Escohar, was gunned down in Bogota when he madvertently scored an own goal during the 1994 World Cup. He met this unfortunate death not because Colombia could not go ahead to win the cup but because, as it was generally believed, some big business people had lost huge sums which they staked in a betting game.

Sports and politics

Another interesting aspect of sports is that it is very much encouraged by governments especially in poor countries. The main reason for this support is the mind-numbing power of sports. A lot of money is spent to get people hooked to and addicted to sports. In fact sports plays the same role as religion, alcohol and the like. Commentators, sportswriters and the like are trained to be able to present the dullest of events or matches to appear to be the most interesting ones to listeners and readers. Sporting activities, as such, are organised constantly and at short intervals—from community through national to international levels. As people's interest in games soars so is their attention diverted from the mismanagement of social wealth that goes on in the corridors of power. In fact the revolutionary consciousness of people addicted to sports is usually completely blunted.

On this same political front, one notes the narrow-mindedness of so-called sports analysts when they opine that sports encourages togetherness and even has the magic of bringing peace to rival nations. This view dates back to the days of the "Cold War". These analysts considered the participation in international games by the "West" and the "East" as a positive step towards defusing tension in their world. But a deeper insight into the role of sports in the relations between nations or countries reveals the exact opposite of the claims of these sports experts. Modern capitalist sports is organised with a view to realising profit. Profit-making thrives best when people are kept divided. There is no way then that sports as it is organised today can bring peoples of the world together as one. In reality sports entrenches petty, myopic nationalism and chauvinism. Witness for instance the violence of the famous "English hooligans" during football matches in Europe. There are always running battIe in the streets of towns and cities all over the world during games especially football. Each country sees the other as an enemy. People competing under national flags only helps in keeping them disunited. But we need a single world without boundaries.

Yet sports, at all levels, can be made to achieve its original objective—to entertain both participants and spectators. This however can only materialize when it is freely organised by all persons interested in it—and not only by those who have money. But this possibility is itself dependent on the level of consciousness of humanity When the majority of people come to understand that a society that undertakes every venture with a view to making profit is bound to he plagued with shortcomings. "Money is the root of evil", as the saying goes. So it is only when the stadia and the factories producing sports-ware are commonly owned by all people, and when the present artificial boundaries dividing them and nations are dismantled that the present violence-prone, drug-infested activity called sport coupled with the slave status of most sportsmen and women can be eliminated. Then sports and games in general can play their unalloyed role of entertaining humankind free of charge.


The Dream

From The Sunday Herald :-

In the muddy pits of Koidu, the capital of Sierra Leone's diamond industry. 200,000 miners search for diamonds with a bucket, a spade and a sieve.

Mohamed Sano gave up farming three years ago and came to seek his fortune .
"If I have enough money I will stop," says the 25-year-old as he stands knee- deep in murky water, swilling another pile of gravel around and around in his sieve. It is unlikely. He says: "I see small, small diamonds but never a good one." Yet with a with a gamblers' tenacity, hoping that today he might find the tiny glinting stone that will change his life.

Nearby another former farmer, 29-year-old Aiah Manjah, shovels piles of mud and gravel out of Congo Creek. He has not seen a diamond in a fortnight, but maintains: "Digging is how we get fast money, farming is too slow." - He has been digging for the past 10 years.

Since the end of a savage civil war five years ago, one that was dramatised in the recent film, Blood Diamond. Now there are no drugged-up teenagers pointing AK-47s at the miners while they dig, stealing their diamonds to fuel a crazed rebellion.

Instead , it is the class war .

With peace have come international mining companies eager for a share of Sierra Leone's riches, and their growing control of the mining industry is changing it beyond recognition.

The large mining companies swallow up concessions far larger than the one-acre patches of land that the grassroots miners dig. The biggest company is Koidu Holdings, owned by Israeli diamond magnate Benny Steinmetz. The contrast between this operation and the local miners could not be starker. Its four square-kilometre concession produces 11,000 carats of rough gem-quality diamonds every month, hauled out of a pit which, at 76 metres deep, is the world's largest vertical pit-mining operation.At current prices these are worth an estimated $25 million a year, a large chunk of the $136m that Sierra Leone exported officially in 2006.

Cecilia Mattie, coordinator for the National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives says: "There are a lot of handshakes with the chiefs, who are getting cars and houses while the community gets nothing. We have these mining companies in this country yet there is no electricity and poor water supply, so why are they here?"

Patrick Tongu, field supervisor for the National Movement for Justice and Development adds: "The community are the real losers in this."

By law 3% of diamond exports are taxed by government, and one quarter of this comes back to the mining communities in the form of public projects and infrastructure improvements. In reality, say local activists, the miners see few or no benefits.

The miners earn an average of $1.50 per day plus a small share in any big diamonds they find. The bulk goes to their employers: men who can afford the $300 annual licence fee.

Shaka says: "Diamonds can make you a millionaire overnight." - in this, the world's second-poorest country, every sweating mud-spattered man is hoping it will be him.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Online Picket Line

Why unions must set their own agenda in online campaigns
Knee-jerk assumptions undermine working class solidarity

I have been helping organize online campaigns in support of workers’ rights for several years now. The latest campaign I’m helping with concerns Zimbabwe. It supports a call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions demanding that President Robert Mugabe respect workers rights.

Very few of the campaigns that I have been involved in may be considered controversial – at least they are not usually controversial within the labour movement. When you attack a company like Wal-Mart, everyone on the left has only nice things to say about you.

But campaigns like Zimbabwe and ones we have done in support of trade unionists in Eritrea and Belarus, have generated their fair share of critical comment.

More critical comments have come in about Zimbabwe than any other recent campaign. Despite this criticism, it is still one of the largest and most successful online campaigns I’ve been involved in.

There is only a minority of activists who have an issue with this sort of campaign. What they say, more or less, is: ‘Robert Mugabe, for better or worse, has made enemies of George Bush and Tony Blair. If they and their stooges in the media (CNN and Fox News) say Mugabe is a dictator, therefore Mugabe must be a pretty good guy. Any anyway, didn’t he do some kind of land reform?’

This argument reflects a larger failure of thinking and is a real problem for our movement.

Let’s start with Zimbabwe.

The call for an international online campaign of protest came from the organized working class in Zimbabwe. The only national trade union center in that country is the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

It has all kinds of critical things to say about the Mugabe regime and as I write these words, it has called its members out in a general strike. Those unions in Zimbabwe are being backed by trade union movements all across Africa - in Nigeria, in Ghana, and above all in South Africa.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has taken a very strong stand in support of the ZCTU and against the Mugabe regime. They have done so for the same reasons that they are also struggling against the tyranny in Swaziland and for the same reasons that they played such a heroic role in the struggle against the apartheid regime in their own country. The South African unions feel so strongly about Zimbabwe that they have broken ranks with their partners in the African National Congress, whose leadership is wavering on Zimbabwe rather than taking a stand.

In other words, among African trade unionists in the front lines of the struggle against poverty, racism, neoliberalism and neo-colonialism, there is near-unanimity on the question of Zimbabwe. If this had happened in any other country, activists would not hesitate to lend their support.

A few years back I was involved in a similar campaign in support of free and independent trade unions in Belarus.These unions were being crushed by Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. I learned about the issues there not from Belarussian unionists, certainly not from Fox News, but from progressive Russian trade unionists who were concerned that a neighboring country was plunging back into the dark days of Stalinist dictatorship.

Despite this seemingly clear-cut case, I got the occasional angry email from leftists in the West who had a kneejerk reaction – if the Bush administration didn’t seem to like the dictator in Minsk, ipso facto he must be some kind of progressive.

When Eritrea arrested trade unionists and jailed them in a secret prison in Eritrea a year or two ago, I had a number of angry emails from leftists who were vaguely convinced that the Eritrean regime was progressive and could not possibly be arresting innocent trade unionists.

I think that for many of the people who send these kinds of messages, Bush and Fox News are setting their agenda much more than they would like to admit. Rather than form independent judgments based on reading a wide range of media – and online media offers us lots of news that you don’t see on network television – these comrades are simply taking whatever agenda they see coming out of the White House and reversing it. If Bush says black, they say white. They are allowing the corporations and their political representatives to determine their politics. This is nonsense.

During the Cold War, we knew that Western opposition to Stalinism didn’t make the Soviet Union a workers’ paradise. One had to form independent judgments based on what was in the interests of the working class – and not be guided solely by opposing whatever the ruling elite seemed to be supporting.

In the post-Cold War world, we cannot afford to make that error. When workers appeal for our support, we need to look at the concrete situation in their country, and not make our decision based on what we think George Bush or Tony Blair would do.

An injury to one is an injury to all – and that’s true even when the one doing the injuring is no friend of George Bush. These are the ABCs of working class internationalism and they must be repeated from time to time and passed on to the next generation.

Industrial Worker , journal of the Industrial Workers of the World , May2007

Zimbabwe Workers Struggle

Zimbabwe workers win court case , face violence

A court has dismissed charges against three top officers of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), ruling on March 29 that the government failed to present evidence proving the
union federation had violated "exchange control" regulations to affect the market. ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe, Elijah Mutemeri and Vimbai Mushongera were involved in an attempt to organize workers in the informal sector by founding a new organization, the Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA). The Zimbabwean police raided its office in 2005.

Informal workers are one of the most widespread but precarious sectors of the Zimbabwean economy. Through the creation of the ZCIEA, the ZCTU had sought to represent these often voiceless workers. Reportedly, the government saw the new organization as a potential rival political party, fomented by the British-based Commonwealth Council of Trade Unions. The British government is one of Zimbabwe’s most outspoken critics in the European Union and Commonwealth and its strong links to Zimbabwe’s labor movement are well known.

The inability of Zimbabwe’s government to prove its case in court and the court’s decision to stand by the law instead of the government’s desire to convict its opposition may signal a weakening of the government’s authority.

In a recent police report, the Zimbabwean police also complain about the judiciary’s independence and unwillingness to support the government’s repression of the opposition. The police has "no support from the judiciary who continue to either release accused persons on either free or make them pay very small bail, allowing them to go out and continue with their illegal activities," according to the report.

Police violence dogs "Stay-Away"

Zimbabwe’s government and paramilitary supporters used threats,intimidation, violence, kidnapping and murder to fight the April 3rd and 4th stay-away general strike called by the Zimbabwean trade union congress. Unknown assailants kidnapped one teachers’ union officer who remains missing, while others beat a television cameraman to death. The government is now demanding that all companies that did close their doors justify their actions in writing.

Preliminary reports say that the stay-away was not as successful as the opposition had hoped for. However, the ZCTU points out that, considering the widespread intimidation that prevailed, the level of participation in the action was impressive.

President Robert Mugabe, once hailed as the country’s liberator from colonialism, has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. It is now in an economic and political tailspin. Mugabe blames Zimbabwe’s current crisis on his domestic opposition and on foreign interference. Despite the dire situation, the ruling party has already confirmed Mugabe as its presidential candidate for the 2008 elections.

An opposition movement for change formed in 1999, but has failed so far to mobilize enough popular support to force Mugabe out of power. Its activists have faced systematic police harassment and brutality.
May 2007 issue of the Industrial Worker , journal of the Industrial Workers of the World

Thursday, May 24, 2007

La Francafrique

In previous blogs we have highlighted the roles of Chins and The united Staes in the politics and economics of Africa and in case we are criticised for not mentioning the other nations exploiting the continent , we have decided to highlight the French on this occasion

French businesses have longstanding operations in Africa. The continent accounts for 5 percent of France’s exports. Though France has diversified its sources of raw materials, Africa remains an important supplier of oil and metals. There are 240,000 French nationals living in Africa.

About 6000 French troops engaged in peacekeeping operations are deployed in Africa in both military and advisory capacities, according to the French Ministry of Defense. There are three main French bases in Africa. The largest is at Djibouti , with smaller forces at Dakar in Senegal and Libreville in Gabon. Their purpose is to promote regional security, though the base in Djibouti allows France to exercise a measure of military influence in the Middle East. (Also in Djibouti are about 1,500 American personnel stationed at the former French base Le Monier since 2003.)

Chad. France fields some 1,200 troops in Chad to protect French nationals, support the government of President Idriss Deby Itno, and provide logistical and intelligence support to Chadian forces. On a recent visit, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin promised France would “honor its agreements with a friendly and legitimate government.”

Central African Republic . France maintains some 300 troops in the CAR capital Bangui as part of Operation Boali, charged with restructuring the local armed forces and supporting FOMUC, an African force led by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, a regional body. François Grignon of the International Crisis Group say it’s likely “French special forces were engaged for limited but decisive operations.” The Economist reported that French fighters, attack helicopters, and special forces quashed a rebel advance on the capital Bangui in late 2006, allowing government forces to retake towns captured by rebels.

Ivory Coast. France deploys approximately 3,000 troops—under a UN mandate—to patrol the buffer zone between the rebel-controlled northern regions and the government-controlled south. Locals tend to view French troops as an occupation force; one French observer, as quoted in the Economist, calls Ivory Coast “France’s little Iraq.”
"First, we send soldiers to protect our nationals," declared diplomatic correspondent Christophe Ayad. "Then, we send more soldiers to protect the soldiers protecting our nationals. In the end, we send soldiers to decide a war."

Togo. French soldiers and transport aircraft are stationed in nearby Togo to support the operations in Ivory Coast.

France conducts joint maneuvers and peacekeeping training through the Reinforcement of African Peacekeeping Capacities (RECAMP) program and its Peacekeeping School (EMP) in Mali, which has trained over 800 African officers. These institutions intended to support the African Standing Force, a 20,000 strong rapid-response peacekeeping force projected to be ready by 2010.

France intervened militarily in Africa 19 times between 1962 and 1995. Most of the operations were ostensibly to protect French nationals or subdue uprisings against legitimate governments. Yet Professor Shaun Gregory of the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in England points out that the standard for military support was contingent on an African leader’s willingness to support French interests.

French hands had blood on them during the Rwanda genocidal massacres . Despite having been a Belgian colony, by 1990 Rwanda was a fully-fledged member of "La Francafrique".
The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1990. The aim of this Tutsi dominated army was a return to their Rwandan homeland. The RPF were vilified by high-ranking French military figures as a "terrorist" bunch of foreigners from Uganda, and likened to the "Khmer noir".
Elite French paratroops were sent into Rwanda to keep the RPF at bay, in one of sixteen non-UN mandated military interventions by Paris in Africa between 1960 and 1994. Officially France sent more than $25 million worth of arms to Rwanda between 1990 and 1993, as well as providing army trainers to motivate and advise Habyarimana's army. Witnesses have recently testified that the French were also involved assisting with the newly formed youth militia, which were later to carry out the bulk of the genocide. In late June 1994 Mitterrand launched Operation Turquoise as a "humanitarian" intervention to protect Tutsis. While it undoubtedly saved around 10,000 lives, it also allowed fully armed genocidaire to escape over the border into Zaire, from where they were to relaunch attacks on the newly installed Kagame government. Such attacks, which independent NGO's said were partly financed and aided by French operatives .Mitterrand went further, to block desperately needed EU aid to the devastated country.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Being "on the game" is a Western euphemism that insults as well as harms. It insults because prostitution is hard and unpleasant and often dangerous work. It harms because society punishes those who sell their bodies outside marriage. Prostitution is no "game". Nonetheless, the euphemism is useful in that it reveals the usual contempt with which prostitutes are viewed and the consequent lack of provision for their specific needs, and for the needs of women in general.

In Western society prostitutes have formed unions and have taken to the streets to protest against the cynical morality of those who condone marriage of convenience but balk at their more straightforward counterpart.

In Eritrea, traditional attitudes towards unregulated sex are uncompromising; sex outside marriage is "prostitution" and the reaction to this societal threat is ostracism of the woman. The language reflects this with implacable bluntness; "Shermuta", "Menzra" and "Meamen" are all terms for "Whore". And they mean just that.

Before the 1998 war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, a survey by the Social Affair Authority (SAA) showed that the number of Eritrean and Ethiopian working girls in Asmara and other cities were almost equal. After the expulsion of all Ethiopian women who used to work in bars and hotels, the majority of prostitutes who work in the cities now are Eritreans.

Prevailing economic conditions as well as the inevitable changes arising from the growth of urban heterogeneity mean that the proportion of Eritrean prostitutes is rising. Sexual mores are changing among young people. The equation between extra-marital sex and prostitution means that losing her virginity makes a girl unmarriageable, and an outcast from her community. Lacking the educational qualifications necessary for work in the city, the girl may find employment in a bar where peer and financial pressures lead her to take the only immediate option for survival.

Girls as young as 16 years old are entering into Asmara, Keren and Massawa, from rural areas, and almost all who do become prostitutes. A lot of them support their families without telling them where the money is coming from. Some of them want to do it for a little time and then do something else, get married and have kids - the same dreams and aspirations as other women. But, no one gets a clean slate around the corner street of Asmara.

According to the Ministry of Health’s policy, every bar owner in Asmara and other cities and towns is required to register the prostitutes working from their premises. But fear of disclosure means that women try to avoid giving their names or operate from private, in unlicensed places called "Segretos". And pimps are unlikely to step forward and admit the source of their income.
Anonymity may save a woman from censure, but it makes her vulnerable to STD and AIDS. Although AIDS awareness among the known prostitutes is high, no survey has been conducted among other women who sell their body for quick cash in secret without the knowledge of their partners. Married women are ashamed to visit a clinic for a check-up in case they are spotted by someone who knows them.

Being "on the game" is not for a laugh; in the market economy, selling your body for sex is a form of wage slavery - exchanging the commodity you have (ie. Sex) for the one you don’t (money). There is also an ideological undertow dragged along in the wake of this modish new sex trade, the one about control of one’s own body. To sell yourself for sex, and be okay with, it is in the same league as tattooing or piercing your body.

The vast majority of those who enter into the sex trade have no control of their lives let alone their bodies. They do not have any other means of income except to trade sex for money.

Why should society criminalise these prostitutes? It is all hypocrisy. Those who campaigns for family values seem not to realise that marriage itself is but state-licenced prostitution. As members of the working class, who have nothing to sell but their labour power, prostitutes sell sexual satisfaction to male buyers. On the other hand, many women enter into marriage for little more than the financial security it offers.

In order to survive, to eat, to buy some clothes, it is tempting to accept the offer of the pimp who tells the young woman that she will be provided with security as an employee. Under the present social system if you are a member of the working class you need to sell what you possess, your mental and physical energies, to whomever will make a purchase. In many societies this is not just earning a little extra cash, but the very means of survival. They call it the oldest profession in the world. Indeed it is – it has been around since the birth of class society.

Michael Ghebre
African Socialist 5

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Maize economics

In Swaziland more than a third of the population is in need of food aid, after its worst ever harvest, said a UN food agencies' report.A prolonged dry spell has left around 400,000 vulnerable people in need of approximately 40,000 metric tonnes of food assistance until the next harvest in April 2008 . This year's maize crop is nearly 60 per cent below last year's level, both reducing the availability of food as well as resulting in price surges that will curtail many families' access to food in the country where nearly seven out of ten people live on less than $1 per day.

Meantime in Zambia saw maize prices increase at least three times in the last quarter of 2006, with a 25kg bag selling for as much as US$11, making it unaffordable for the majority of the population, two thirds of which live on a $1 or less a day.

"Most of us can't afford a 25kg bag of mealie meal because we have no money... and there are no jobs, we are forced to buy pamelas (the local name for 1kg mealie meal packs) every day." Martha Daka, a street trader in the capital Lusaka, said.

Analysts said the torrential rains late last year and earlier this year, which swamped thousands of fields in at least five of the nine provinces, would likely hit maize production. About 1.4 million people were affected by the flooding and about 300,000 people, mostly in the agricultural producing rural areas, required food aid. Even without an accurate assessment of the expected harvest, the government has begun exports to neighbouring Zimbabwe, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

While in Kenya the favourite food is ugali. Ugali is the Swahili word for porridge, a milled and cooked form of maize. Served with meat, it is a staple on most menus in local restaurants. It is also the mainstay of agriculture in Kenya. More than 70 percent of farmers are women. Yet in most instances they lack legal ownership of the land. Women might till the land, sow the seeds and harvest the crop, but they often do not see the fruits of their labour. The money ends up in the pockets of their husbands or male relatives.

"Due to natural disasters, such as floods and droughts, some areas cannot even produce enough maize for their own consumption..." said Elizabeth Muemi Kio of Oxfam Kenya

Wanjohi of the Edith Makandi Wanjohi of the International Gender and Trade Network points out that Genetically Modified technology has encouraged monoculture, eroding genetic diversity and "concentrating the benefits of 'new' varieties in the hands of commercial companies, all at the expense of poor farmers". Farmers now have to pay royalties for the varieties they buy."...poor performance has increased and led to the import of genetically modified foods and the dumping of food on the Kenyan market. As a result, farmers can no longer sell their produce at a good market price,"

The world market dominates all the way down to the individual .The value of maize is its exchange value , to be bought and sold as a commodity , and not to be as something to feed people to keep them alive .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

From Liberator To Exploiter- Comrade Capitalist

Mosima Gabriel ("Tokyo") Sexwale - former South African liberation fighter turned business tycoon . He was recruited to the ANC underground by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the early 1970s, went for military training in the former Soviet Union and was infiltrated back into the country in the aftermath of the Soweto youth uprising in June 1976. Sexwale inflicted the first injuries on government forces when he threw a hand grenade at police while entering South Africa from Swaziland. He was caught, went on trial . He was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment and dispatched to join Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners on Robben Island.

Released from prison in 1990, he rose to prominence in the ANC, becoming chairman of the party in Gauteng province and then in 1994 , the first premier of Gauteng.

A newspaper last year listed his investments as worth R978 million (U.S.$143 million), but informal estimates place it at as much as R6 billion. Sexwale founded Mvelaphanda Holdings , a company of which he is still executive chairman. Mvelaphanda is primarily focused on the mining, energy and related sectors. Some of Sexwale's main interests are oil and diamond mining, for which he has been granted concessions across Africa and Russia; these interests are controlled by a subsidiary of Mvelaphanda Holdings called Mvelaphanda Resources, of which he is chairman. Sexwale holds positions in many international organizations, such as President of the South African/Russian Business, Technological and Cultural Association and Vice President of the South African/Japanese Business Forum. He is also an Honorary Consul General of Finland in South Africa.

How was his cash made ?- Black Economic Empowerment (BEE)

Designed to put more of the economy in black hands, in part by forcing the country's largest industries to set targets for training more black workers, promoting more black managers, using more black-owned suppliers and--this is where the controversy comes in--selling ownership stakes to black capitalists. Big firms that want to do business with the state must now file a BEE scorecard to prove they are promoting "previously disadvantaged individuals," including blacks, mixed-race "coloreds" and Indians. Since government spending is some $20 billion a year, or about 20% of GDP, it's a deal not many companies can afford to pass up.
A handful of prominent and well-connected black South Africans--Macozoma, Motsepe, Ramaphosa and Sexwale among them--recognized the opportunity that presented. As South Africa's biggest companies rushed to meet their BEE requirements, they often turned to the same small group of black capitalists, offering to sell or grant equity stakes at favorable terms, often financed by the companies themselves, in return for connections, expertise and links to the black marketplace.

“You need to be palatable and acceptable to your white business, because white business still holds the purse strings, and Tokyo Sexwale is extremely palatable,” says Alec Hogg, South Africa's leading financial analyst and broadcaster.“I think he found the right people to back him. He found one of the leading banks in South Africa, which has virtually given him an open checkbook. And as a consequence of that, he's been able to put together a number of deals - many, many deals in many different areas of the economy.”

Tsediso Phofu, another political prisoner on Robben Island, who was in the same cellblock as Sexwale , founded a school for the mentally disabled, but still makes less than $500 a month, and lives in this one-room apartment with his wife and daughter. He says Black Empowerment hasn't benefited him one bit.

“I feel I've been abandoned. I feel somehow you even regret that what it is that we fought for. Why were you fighting the struggle, for the nation, or for certain individuals to be rich? Meanwhile, you remain in poverty,” says Phofu .

Now Tokyo Sexwale is lobbying for the leadership of the ANC and effectively the presidency of South Africa .

Monday, May 21, 2007

National Liberation

Although we would not accept everything said in this article by K. David Mafabi , a Ugandan journalist , about national liberation , he has a number of observations which may be worth while high-lighting .

"..Another fundamental challenge for the national liberation movement in power is the specific policies to adopt in the management of both politics and the economy. Being circumspect about neo-liberalism is not the same thing as throwing out capitalism ...

...In the former Soviet Union, after the initial radical measures aimed at creating a socialist economy in 1917, V.I. Lenin had to step back and put a number of capitalist measures in place under the famous New Economic Policy to try and save the socialist revolution. This, today, is the essence of the project of building "socialism with Chinese characteristics," which started in 1978...

... The national liberation movement in Africa is of course not about socialist construction. It is about national liberation, where the development of capitalist relations of production and a home market for agriculture, industry and services would give a fundamental boost to national integration..."

All we can add to this is what Karl Marx once wrote :-

"The different states of the different civilised countries, in spite of their motley diversity of form, all have this in common, they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed" - Critique of the Gotha Programme

And that :-

"...the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries" - IWMA Rules

Capitalism is a universal and cosmopolitan phenomenon so also are the working class. The working class cannot emancipate itself nationally.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Book Review - The Beautiful Ones Are Not Born Yet

The Beautiful Ones Are Not Born Yet by Ayi Kwei Armah

The hero is simply called ‘The Man’ and through him Armah tells the miserable story of most working class family heads all over the world even if their plight varies in degrees. The lack of comfort and security imposed by a system in which a few control the resources leaving the majority at the mercy of a hostile market.

Not necessarily hitting directly at the hypocrisy of leadership, Armah nonetheless leads us to rare moments of revealing insights into the role of leaders in society: men and women coming up with new ways of making despair bearable, like Nkrumah, who posed as "savior " but who had worshippers and had no equals in society.

Leaders are surrounded by people like Koomson, the politician, who represents power and authority and all that they stand for - deceit, corruption, sycophancy, debauchery, etc. Though a common dockworker, he manages to get into the party ideological school and comes out with a mouth filled with empty slogans and with a head that constantly thinks of money. Soon, he is able to manoeuvre his way into the position of Minister of State. As The Man wonders: "Is that the place that changed the dock worker Koomson? Or did he go there after he had changed? Because he had changed. I have seen the place, and I have seen him there, and in Accra. He lives in a way that is far more painful to see than the way the white men have always lived here. Is it true then, that after all the talk that is possible, this is the only thing that men are looking for? There is no difference then. No difference between the white men and their apes, the lawyers and merchants, and now the apes of the apes, our Party men. Is that the whole truth? Bungalows, cars, with drivers in white men’s uniform waiting ages in the sun. Women, so horribly young, fucked and changed like pants".

The man refuses to get involved in anyway with bribery and corruption. He sees and feels the class struggle being expressed in a myriad seemingly unrelated ways - men fighting each other over who should lead a whiteman to a prostitute; groups of soldiers fighting groups of policemen, poor natives, conscripted and sent to faraway lands and made to kill other poor innocent people for no reason, etc.

"I do not believe that even this was fully half the horror we all felt. I know that my friends felt the way I felt. And what I felt inside was the approach of something much like death itself. The thing that would have killed us was that there was nothing to explain all this, nothing outside those and ourselves near us or those even weaker than ourselves that we could attack. There was no way out visible to us, and out there on the hills the whiteman’s gleaming bungalows were so far away, so unreachably far that people did not even think of them in their suffering. And for those who did, there were tales of white men with huge dogs that ate more meat in a single day than a human Gold Coast family got in a month, dogs which could obey their masters’ voice like soldiers at war , and had as little love for black skins as their white master."
Sister Maanan, knowing no better, and having no skills to sell, sells her body and indulges in heavy drinking. This situation is still the same today almost half a century after Amah wrote his book. People still consider the former USSR, China, Cuba, etc as examples of socialist states, thereby confounding the problem facing humanity.

But the author tries, even if inadequately so, to break this vicious circle of ignorance and suffering by relating, through Teacher, "the myth of Plato’s cave." It is quite close to the socialists’ view that until the majority understands and wants socialism, eradicating the current unjust state of world affairs does not stand a dog’s chance.

With what is happening under this system, "it should be easy now to see there have never been people to save anybody but themselves, never in the past, never now, and there will never be any saviors if each will not save himself. No saviors. Only the hungry and the fed. Deceivers all."

However, the author makes reference to "socialism", and it must be pointed out, that what he is actually referring to is the ‘state capitalism’ that was mistakenly seen as socialism, and this is why he uses the word in relation to Castro, Lenin, Nkrumah, etc . He also associates Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, China, etc. with that same socialism. Thus, understanding The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, one can see why Nkrumah and his CPP government were never socialist as they were merely striving to emulate the soviet-style brand of state capitalism. The book not just indicts state capitalism but it also provides a ray of hope for a future society in which people will cease to believe in leaders and instead come together as equals to democratically decide how to run society for the benefit of all humanity.

From African Socialist No.1 , Unsigned

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Scramble for Africa's Oil

The radical American radio/tv news show Democracy Now carries an interview with historian and journalist John Ghazvinian and the author of "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil." .

Some excerpts from the interview :-

AMY GOODMAN: But in Nigeria, the way -- when it is covered in this country, the discussion is of the vandals, the criminals that are tapping into the oil pipelines, stealing the oil. Can you describe who it is who is organizing in the Niger Delta, John?

JOHN GHAZVINIAN: That’s a very good question, and if I knew the answer to that, I’d have a lot more insight than I do. I mean, the truth is that it changes often, and these groups splinter, and often, to be honest, a lot of criminal elements also kind of jump on the bandwagon. It really varies day-to-day, and it’s a very difficult and very complex situation to follow.

But in recent -- in the last year and a half, the big kind of group, the umbrella group that’s been getting most of the attention is a group called MEND, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. They’re kind of an Ijaw group. They have kind of inherited the mantle of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, which was also an Ijaw group from a couple years ago. You know, like I say, things have moved on a lot since the days of the Ogoni and MOSOP, but to try to say who exactly is responsible for some of the vandalism or kidnapping, or so on --

AMY GOODMAN: John, their concerns? Talk about who is profiting from the drilling in the Niger Delta?

JOHN GHAZVINIAN: Yeah, this is at the bottom of the issue, basically, is that for more than forty years, international oil companies have, you know, pumped billions of dollars worth of oil out of Nigeria. $400 billion has gone into the pockets of the Nigerian government, and most of that money, frankly -- a lot of that money -- has been salted away into foreign bank accounts by corrupt politicians and then, of course, has gone away, disappeared in the form of profits to multinational oil corporations.

Who has not seen the profits from oil exploration is probably the real question, which is the people of the Niger Delta. You have people living in stone age squalor, in mud huts, you know, in swamps with no roads, no electricity, no running water. I spend a lot of time in the Delta, and I’ve seen the way people live there. And, you know, through their backyards you have thousands of miles of pipelines, ultra-modern, multi-million-dollar, air-conditioned, state-of-the-art facilities going up, and people just haven’t seen any benefits from the oil exploration. And over time, that has turned into a fairly nasty sort of militant insurgency, as I think shouldn’t surprise anyone, really.....

AMY GOODMAN: John, can you talk about how China has emerged as a major oil player in Africa and their difference in diplomacy and strategy than the United States and the US multinational oil companies?

JOHN GHAZVINIAN: Yeah. This is a very interesting question, actually. I mean, China is a big, big part of the story. They now get 30% of their oil from Africa, which is really extraordinary, and about 10% from Sudan, specifically. This is, you know, I think --

JUAN GONZALEZ: When you say 30%, are you talking 30% of their imports or 30% of their total oil use?

JOHN GHAZVINIAN: When it comes to China, there’s not a really appreciable difference, to be honest, but 30% overall, actually -- 29%, I think it is now, specifically.

But the thing about China is, you know, I think we hear a lot of this kind of Yellow Peril talk in the press, you know, that they are kind of a maligned force in Africa, and I think it’s actually a mixed bag. It is true that China goes in and doesn’t ask a lot of questions of countries like Zimbabwe or Angola or Equatorial Guinea. But, you know, there’s also a sort of, if you like, less threatening side to China's presence in Africa. They, for many years, have trained thousands of Africans in Chinese universities, sent thousands of doctors to Africa, and Africans haven’t forgotten that.

The Chinese are very good at -- you know, like they came into Angola a couple years ago, and they said, “Look, you just had a thirty-year civil war, you’ve got a lot of needs. You need a new airport. You need a new railway, a new highway. We’ll build all that for you, and we’ll give you a $2 billion credit facility, no questions asked.” Now, that got a lot of criticism, because basically for many, many years, the IMF has been in this kind of longstanding battle with the Angolans, saying to them that you have to be more transparent, you have to tell us what happened to the $4 billion of oil money that went missing in the final years of the civil war, all of which is fair enough, but at a certain point the Angolans said, “Actually, the hell with you. We’re getting a lot of money from oil now. We’re getting - we have a lot more oil than we’ve ever had. The price of oil is really high. And the Chinese have just given us all this money. So we’re not going to open our books to you.” And, yes, that did get a lot of criticism, and I think it is important for people to know what happened to the missing $4 billion, and I wouldn’t want to play that down. But at the same time, it’s also very important for the Angolans to get a new railway, a new highway and a new airport. And that’s something that I think tends to get ignored often in this kind of very polarized debate over the influence of China in Africa....

JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you talk a little bit about the impact of this kind of development on poor countries like Chad, the influx of oil workers -- I think you call them oilfield trash -- that come in from all over parts of the world, end up working and living in these areas, and all kinds of clandestine industries arise to meet their needs?

JOHN GHAZVINIAN: Yeah, it’s really extraordinary. You know, you start to see this again and again and again, as I did, you know, as I traveled through all these oil towns in Africa. You have often hundreds, if not thousands, of oil workers from all over the world sent on four-week shifts in to work on the rigs, and they’re often housed in these extraordinary compounds with kind of -- behind these very high razor-wire walls in these kind of sprawling Southern California-style compounds with, you know, swimming pools and air-conditioned basketball courts, and so on, and, you know, kind of everything that you’d want, really, all the food flown in from the States or from Europe.

And then, just on the other side of the wall, you have people who are living without any running water, who are walking for miles just to fill up their buckets of water, people who are suffering from malaria, living on less than a dollar a day, and so on. I mean, the contrast is one of centuries, really -- the gap, the gulf, if you will, in living styles. And this is a real affront, actually, in the face of the people who are sitting there, who realize, you know, there’s a lot of oil in our country, there’s a lot of money being made, but somehow we’re not seeing any of that. And that’s something that you hear a lot of anger and a lot of frustration about just on a very visceral level.

Prostitution also is a big problem in a lot of these places. You know, obviously, you have these guys, and they’re all sort of men, really, who come and work on the rigs from all over the world and have a lot of money, obviously, that they bring with them. So you have girls coming from all over the place, you know, to kind of service their needs, as it were. And that obviously, you know, contributes to HIV and broken homes and all kinds of social problems, as well.

You can read extracts from his book :-

Here you can read about When ExxonMobil Came to Chad

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Angola - Beauty and and the Beast

Angola fought an anti-colonial guerilla war against Portugal for 14 years before its political independence in 1975. Right after independence, the three liberation movements involved in the struggle for independence fought each other for control of the country, initiating a civil war that lasted until 2002leaving a death toll of over one million and nearly four million displaced from their homes .
When independence was declared, 95 percent of the Portuguese population—approximately 340,000 people—fled the country, leaving behind houses, apartments, and farms. Most of these abandoned properties were later occupied by Angolan families.The number of houses abandoned was especially high in urban centers, where the majority of Europeans lived. The government process of granting land rights to families that took over abandoned properties was also not completed and many individuals throughout Angola, particularly in Luanda, never received formal titles to housing they occupied after independence. 68% of urban dwellers living below the poverty line.

The Angolan government forcibly evicted 20,000 poor people, including small-scale farmers, and destroyed 3,000 homes between 2002 and 2006 in the capital, Luanda, "to facilitate development and 'beautification' in the public interest".

Research found that evictions of Luanda's poor are not isolated events. A pattern of abuse is laid bare in the study, showing a concerted campaign by government to clear poor areas around the city. Those affected included the elderly, children and female-headed households -- left destitute by evictions that took place without regard for ownership or tenure claims, and in the absence of legal grounds for removal. Most evictees only realised they were being turned out of their homes when bulldozers and trucks arrived, and victims were typically not allowed to gather their possessions. In those cases where residents were informed of an impending eviction, they were not allowed enough time to rescue their belongings. Local government officials and police used violence, intimidation and "excessive force" to remove poor people from informal areas around the city.

The BBC explains the land was cleared to make way for new homes for the new Angolan elite and ruling class .
They are very expensive looking. They're surrounded by high walls and fences, they all have car ports, there are big satellite dishes on many of them and the roads are all paved. Everything is very neat and tidy. Large condominiums - high-quality, gated housing for locals and foreigners - have sprung up; last month the country's first indoor shopping centre, Belas Shopping, was opened, an investment of $35m (£17.7m); a Hugo Boss store for men's clothes has opened in the heart of Luanda

Angola is sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer after Nigeria , presently the largest supplier of crude oil to China and the seventh largest supplier to the United States. About 1.4 million barrels of oil are produced daily, a total that is projected to rise to two million this year. It is also one of the world’s largest diamond producers - with both industries capable of increasing their output. Together with other natural resources such as iron ore, phosphates, copper, bauxite and uranium, Angola should be one of the richest countries of the African continent and even the world. Angola's economy grew 14.3 percent last year and is expected to grow by a whopping 31.4 percent in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Despite those figures, little of the wealth has trickled down to the great majority of the country's 13 million people. Angola ranked 161 of 177 countries in the U.N. Development Programme's (UNDP) 2006 Human Development Index. The 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International ranked Angola 142 out of 163 countries . The high rate of child mortality [260/1000] has stayed the same from 2002 to 2004

"They say we live in a rich country, but the people don't see any of that wealth" says Killa ,a young rap singer . "We don't blame the international community.The people who should be blamed are those who open the gates and let them in. The foreigners come here to exploit our riches and they are helped by the barons of this country."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Religion , Race and Class

The absurd claim of racism is that people’s behavioural, physical and cultural traits conform to a certain fixed and immutable pattern; and this determines the superiority or otherwise of a group in relation to others. This is an outlook that has been used to justify some of the most unspeakable and horrendous crimes against humanity, sometimes leading to killings of genocidal proportions.

In Eduardo Galegno’s Open Vein of Latin America, he recounts that before foreign conquerors set foot on the soil of the land, the Indians totalled no less than 70 million. But a century-and-a-half later, they had been reduced to 3.5 million; and in 1685 only 4,000 Indian families remained of the more than two million that had once lived between Lima and Paita. Yet Archbishop Linan by Cisneros exposed how some of the church elders had perfected lies into a fine art. He said: "The truth is that they are hiding out, to avoid paying tribute, abusing the liberty which they enjoy and which they never had under the Incas."

Racism, however, is flawed on a number of counts, not just for its barbarism and irrationality. Its fundamental arguments are basically weak. Where are those people who conform to racial purity, let’s say in terms of colour? You will meet a lot of dark-skinned people in Africa, but you will no doubt also come across light-skinned types in southern Africa and eastern Nigeria. How can one also argue that the Yanamani Indians or the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert are less intelligent than people in Norway or Japan. The two groups live in different material conditions, and these varied environments impose on them tasks and solutions that respond to their peculiar circumstances. In spite of the gaping loopholes in racists’ theories, racism has been used together with religion to justify the enslavement of other people.

Islam, Christianity and Hinduism

The Arabs and their Muslim counterparts, according to Dais Brion, were the first people to develop a specialised long-distance slave trade from sub-Saharan Africa. They were also the first people to view blacks as suited by nature for the lowest and the most degrading form of bondage. Rotter’s pioneering work and the research of Benard Lewis reveals that for medieval Arabs the blackness of Africans suggested sin, damnation and the devil. Arab scholars, most of the time, also invoked the biblical curse of Canaan to explain why the sons of Ham had been blackened and degraded to the status of natural slaves as punishment for the sins of their ancestors.

By the 10th century, some Muslim writers asserted that Ham begot all blacks and people with crinkly hair and that "Noah put a curse on Ham according to which the hair of his descendants would not extend over their ears, and they would be enslaved wherever they were encountered". Lewis also quotes a 13th century Islamic historian from Iran who concluded that the Zanj (blacks) differed from animals only because their two hands are lifted above the ground and that many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanj.

In the 17th century, Father Gregorio Garcia detected "Semitic blood" in the Indians, because like the Jews, "they are lazy, they do not believe in the miracles of Jesus Christ, and they are ungrateful to the Spaniards for all the good they have done to them". When Bartolome de Las Casas upset the Spanish court with his fiery denunciations of the conquistadors’ cruelty in 1557, a member of the Royal Council had replied that Indians were too low in the human scale to be capable of receiving the faith. Another justification for holding other people as slaves was found in Leviticus 25:44 which said, "Both thy bonds-men, and thy bonds-maid, which thou shalt have, shall be the heathen that are round you; of them shall ye buy bonds-men and bonds-maids." But the most popular text on the matter is found in Genesis 9:25 which says, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren." Some slave-owners went beyond the bible arguing that it might be wrong to enslave Christians, but that the Negro was not a human being and therefore could not become a Christian. One pious lady said, when asked if her Negro maid was to be baptised, "you might as well baptise my black bitch." While Bishop Berkeley put the same idea into philosophical language when he said, "Negroes were creatures of another species who had no right to be included or admitted to other sacraments."

Similarly, racist sentiments are expressed in the Rig Veda, the Hindu scriptures of ancient India. Indra, the God of the Aryans, is described as "blowing away with supernatural might from earth and from the heavens the blackskins, which Indra hates". The account further reports how Indra "slew the flat-nosed barbarians, the dark people called Anasahs. Finally, after Indra conquers the land of the Anasahs for his worshippers, he commands that the Anasahs are to be flayed of [their] black skin."

The first distinctive feature to be noted in religion and racism is their appeal to a two-category system which presupposes a basic division of mankind into an "in" group and an "out" group. In addition, this fundamental division is supported, initiated and sanctioned by God himself. God has a special concern for the "in" group, and it receives his sustaining aid and grace. By contrast he is indifferent or hostile to the "out" group. In the final analysis God does not value all men equally, consequently he treats them differently. And this difference is not accidental but central to his will and purpose. The two-category system is correlated with an imbalance of suffering in which the "out" group suffers more than the rest of the people. In the account of the Rig Veda, for example, we know that God has less affection for the Anasahs because they suffer more than the Aryans. It is also evident from holy books like the bible and the Rig Veda that God’s favour or disfavour is correlated with the racial or ethnic identity of the group in question. God’s wrath and hostility are sometimes even directed at the physical features of a particular ethnic or racial community.

In the bible, Yahweh often sides with the Israelites in the murderous campaigns to grab land from the Jebusites, Canaanites, Philistines and Amalekites in the same way that he was used to justify colonialism. Similarly, in African traditional religion, the God of a particular ethnic group assists it to overcome its enemies and brings prosperity to the "in" group. It stands to reason that whilst there is no rock-solid evidence to support the claim that God created man, there is enough justification in the materialist assertion that God is an invention of man. This is grimly illustrated by the fact that while Saddam Hussein was calling on God to help the Iraqis in the Gulf War, George Bush was doing the same thing. No God caused the death of the young men who were slaughtered; but the misguided beliefs and the greed of the ruling class.

Production and production relations

Consequently, the "out" and "in" scheme of analysis has nothing to do with God. It is a manifestation of the concrete and material world of humans reflected in their consciousness in the process of the production and distribution of wealth. Ultimately, production and production relations determine the ideas individuals have about themselves as a group, and about society at large in matters of morality, religion, metaphysics, etc. And it is only when we have identified and understood the material assets and constraints of a society, how it produces goods to meet its material needs, how the goods are distributed, and what type of social organisation sprouts from the organisation of production that we would have come a long way to understanding the culture and religious views of that society.

If the production relations are such that makes it possible for a minority to appropriate the end-product of the labour of the majority the views of the minority become the dominant ones in society, whilst the opinion of the majority are suppressed.
The ownership of the means of production is thus important in understanding people’s perception of social phenomena – religion, philosophy, art etc. Bearing this in mind, we shall find that religious perceptions in any class-divided society are not neutral, but a tool in the hands of the dominant class in its struggle to maintain its control over economic surplus. Religious and all manner of spurious ideological theories are contrived by the ruling class or its representatives in the intellectual community and church organisations to keep the downtrodden perpetually entrapped in the vicious circle of exploitation.

As children in a predominantly Catholic community, we used to be told that God was surrounded by a host of angels with archangels. God was the boss and each angel and archangel had a specific assignment to perform in heaven. This was a world-view that sought to give blessing to the master-servant relationship that existed in the feudal era and class society in general.

Some quotations in the bible are also anti-worker if applied in today’s circumstances. Take for instance the saying, "But I say unto you, that ye resist no evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy cheek, turn to him the other also." I suppose that when the Accountant General’s Office slashed as much as a 100,000 cedis from my salary in March, I should have responded: "Please my Lordship why are you so generous with me? Take 100,000 cedis more." This would have been submissiveness stretched to its idiotic limits, and an invitation to exploitation and despotism. It could mean an acceptance of wage slavery, a system that is inimical to working people’s interests.

The New Testament also advises us to despise and deprecate worldly things in lieu of heavenly rewards. What would this mean for those who have already made material gains here on Earth? If people like Bill Gates are also God-fearing they would have a double reward; one on Earth and the other in heaven, whilst the God-fearing poor will have only one. As for the poor who are not God-fearing, the extent of their loss and damnation is inestimable. The end result of these teachings, if employed in a class society, makes the working people docile and facilitates their exploitation by the owning class.

Convenient smokescreen

But this is not all. It also calls forth the other forms of alienation which are not strictly economic, but are organically linked to it. It is important to note that racism and religion tend to elevate the culture and other virtues of the dominant class; and denigrate that of the oppressed. But the class character of this domination especially becomes difficult to unmask if the oppressor class has a different racial background from the oppressed, as was the case during the heady days of apartheid and colonialism. Skin pigmentation and other physical characteristics subsume the class dimension of the problem, and exploitation is seen through the binoculars of race. One therefore develops a superiority or inferiority complex, depending on one’s physical traits; and the fundamental issue, which is class exploitation, is lost. Given these circumstances racism becomes a convenient smokescreen with which the ruling class masks its exploitation of labour. Eventually the attention of the working class is diverted from the real causes of its predicament; and a section of it becomes a pliant tool of the ruling class in its attempt to entrench the capitalist system.

The effect on that section of the working class which does not share similar physical characteristics with the owning class is to deny itself as different from the dominant class. It identifies and shares the convictions, doctrines and other attitudes of the dominant class which oppresses it. Guilt and an inferiority complex promoted by the dominant class and imbibed by the oppressed become the result of this process. Consequently the attempt to escape this inferiority by denying and condemning oneself becomes a lifelong struggle.

Let’s consider this for one moment. It is important to note that for many Christians, the traditional African religious individual is superstitious and worships idols and several gods; there is only one God, though he has a son begotten by the Holy Spirit. This god is white, his angels are white; and when the saved finally go to heaven, they will wear white robes of purity. But the devil is black; his angels are black; sin itself is black and when the sinful finally go to hell, they will be burnt to black coal. It is surprising that the African converts sing in pleading terror: "Wash me Redeemer, and I shall be whiter than snow?" And is it any wonder that some Africans buy skin-bleaching creams to lighten their dark skins? Is it also surprising that so-called educated and enlightened women often buy red, blonde or brunette wigs to hide their black hair or spend hours on end in hair saloons trying to make their hair curly and long?

Christianity even denies the African the right to their name. A name is a simple symbol of identity. But the African convert would normally be required to discard his African name and give himself such good Christian names as Smith, Verwoerd, Robert, James, Julius, Ironmonger, Winterbotham, Elizabeth, Summer, Winter and sometimes Autumn. This business of getting new names has its roots in slave property relations, where the person of the slave was the property of the owner to be disposed of and used as the master deemed fit. So slaves were branded with the master’s name.

The same story is true in art, dance, music, drama etc, but the ultimate objective in class society is one—to control the productive forces and appropriate economic surplus irrespective of the exploiter’s race or tribe. Economic control however is much more difficult to attain without political control. Political control is therefore established through proxy governments. Even then the vampire system finds that economic and political control are incomplete without cultural and hence ideological control. So the system employs religion and bogus theories like racism to ensure the mental castration of the worker, be he European, Asian or African.

From Africa: A Marxist Analysis

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Poverty of Education in Ghana

There is a close affinity in Ghana between post-independence politics and the pre-independence era when the political and intellectual African elite were mobilising support from the African masses to overthrow the colonial establishment. Both have been full of promises and rosy dreams of what the future ought to be like.

Elections in Ghana these days, for example, remind one of the politics of agitation by the Nkrumahs, J. B. Danquahs and the Houphuet-Boignys in the colonial days. Equality, freedom and freedom from poverty and oppression are sonorously proclaimed these days too; and every available propaganda tool is used by parties to discredit other political parties in the bid to win the support of the voting public. But the results of these bitter campaigns have always ended the same way. As soon as any political party assumes the mantle of office, the ideas that it used to politicise the masses to propel it to power becomes a fetter on the purpose of the leadership of the party. The demands for equality and freedom from poverty, and the vitriolic criticisms launched against the oppressive economic policies of previous governments, are inevitably forgotten and equally inevitably people come to direct them at the party that has taken over the reins of power. The difficulty of the political leadership is that it wants to inherit the privileged positions of previous governments that it has unseated either in an election or a coup d'état, without implementing the progressive and radical sounding ideas which had helped it to come into power. It knows too well that its interest as the representative of the ruling class and international capital are diametrically opposed to the interest of the majority. And it cannot fundamentally transform the existing relations of production in the interest of the masses, without limiting its own access to economic surplus. The interests of the Ghanaian ruling class since independence is just the same as those of the old colonial regime; and it works with the forces of neo-colonialism and international capital to negate the consciousness of the masses, using its unlimited access to the economic surplus to attain this objective.

Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas

The national bourgeoisie and international capital have succeeded in foisting their ideas on the majority of the people largely because of their control over material production. Marx and Engels' claim that "the class which has the material means of production at its disposal has control at the same time over the mental means of production, so that generally speaking those who lack the mental means of production are subject to it" seems to describe the Ghanaian situation aptly. In no other field have the techniques of mental control been employed with such efficiency as in the educational system. Apart from being inaccessible to a majority of Ghanaians it seeks to create the myth that the current neo-colonial and capitalist direction of development are sacrosanct and inviolable. The school curriculum, especially in the social sciences, is replete with all kinds of bogus assertions seeking to justify the unjustifiable. The educational system has thus evolved essentially into a positive instrument serving neo-colonialism and the ruling class in Ghana; whilst at the same time making it difficult for the propertyless classes to understand the true nature and causes of their wretched conditions.

This is evident in the economics syllabus in educational institutions and the thinking of prominent intellectuals on the subject. They all reflect the ideas of bourgeois academicians in America and Britain. Consequently, the ideas they propagate manifest the interest of capital. Books written by Harvey, Adam Smith, Caincross and Hansen are not only important textbooks for students but reference books for teachers. The ability to regurgitate the ideas in these books in examinations qualifies one to be a graduate of economics and enhances the chances of an individual to aspire to lucrative jobs. These books are devoid of class analysis in their presentation of current economic problems, ignore imperialistic influences as factors in the underdevelopment of a country, and propagate the myth that without foreign investment economic growth and development would be hampered. The exploitative aspects of foreign and Ghanaian enterprises are either completely ignored or little discussed. The worship and devotion to free enterprise is therefore total. The impression that private investment of capital is essential for economic growth relegates labour to a secondary position in industry and prepares the minds of the people to accept the dominance of capital over labour in the process both of production and distribution. It also seeks to imprint in the minds of the recipients of education the idea that the profit motive is both essential and intrinsic to increased productivity; and the belief that free-for-all competition at the market place is the only way to realise the overall interest of society.

The alternative to the free market policy is normally presented as the state ownership of the means of production. What is not discussed or is not known is that the state ownership of the means of production, prescribed and fixed in law, does not preclude the exploitation of labour by capital. Capitalism is not only characterised by the legal form that class possession of the means of production takes. That is the superficial aspect of it. The essential aspect is the social fact that those who "possess" the means of production exploit wage labour and accumulate surplus value thus obtained as capital. The immediate post-independent West African economic situation would suffice to illustrate this point. Workers sold their labour power to various state enterprises; and the products of their labour were sold in the market place with a view to profit. The difference between the wages of the producers and the value of what they produced was used for capital accumulation and the consumption of the privileged classes. Under the guise of socialism, the state was employed by the ruling classes to appropriate economic surpluses from the masses. State ownership sought to hide the monstrosity of capitalist exploitation by confusing socialism with state property and presenting it to the producers of wealth as the best.

With the failure of the economic recovery programme staring them in the face, the ruling class has become louder in their call for "indigenisation" in recent times. Suddenly, the ghost of economic nationalism is being resurrected after it had been banished from economic planning. Conspicuously absent are those aspects and activities of enterprises that have made their operations inimical to the interest of a majority of Ghanaians, irrespective of their origin.
The ethos, symbols, values, lifestyles, relations of production and modes of operations are not of primary concern to the new converts of indigenisation. What matters is the encouragement of Ghanaian manufacturers to produce more to capture the local market from "foreigners". But such factors as mentioned constitute strong inbuilt pressures on local entrepreneurs to cave in to the wishes of foreign capital. Instead of enterprises becoming more and more national in the use of local resources and in satisfying the needs of the vast majority of Ghanaians, it is in fact the Ghanaian entrepreneurs who are going to become less and less national. The ultimate beneficiaries will be the privileged class whose share of the surplus in the exploitation of Ghanaian labour would increase. Indigenisation would, therefore, essentially become a weapon of the haves in the country to realise their dreams of increasing their wealth which was somewhat crushed during the heydays of liberalisation.

Ethnic chauvinism

In sociology and anthropology one encounters the bogus assertion that Ghana has ethnic and not class relations. This argument is nurtured by bourgeois politicians and their mentors in sociology departments who want power based on communal hegemony. Normally the place occupied by individuals in a historically determined system of social production is not made the basis of analysis. While it is not denied that ethnic consciousness exists in Ghana, the phenomenon has to be recognised as part of the ideological rationalisation that reinforces and in turn reflects the existing relations of production. Classes in Ghana may be embryonic but they exist. Thus while ambitious petty bourgeois politicians preach and fan the deadly parochialism of ethnic chauvinism, they actively form alliances with petty bourgeois elements in the various other ethnic groups to consolidate their repressive domination of the masses. Ethnocentrism, as presented by bourgeois sociology, is essentially a weapon of the dominating classes to dissipate the energies of the working class, divide them, and strangle potentially progressive organisations.

Another fraudulent intellectual claim obviously calculated to instil false consciousness in the recipients of education is that Ghana's present underdevelopment is a direct inheritance from the pre-colonial times. The history departments and historians of repute in universities have made no attempt to prove or disprove this assertion. They just reproduce it for students to swallow and regurgitate during examinations. The impression this propaganda pap seeks to create is implicit: that pre-colonial conditions continue to be reproduced. But three questions immediately come to mind when issues of this nature are discussed. Is this claim correct? If it is correct why is it that these conditions have persisted in spite of years of colonialism and neo-colonialism? What forces are reproducing them and why?

It should be understood that societies are not static and Ghanaian societies were not an exception to this law of development. They also went through the processes of change that characterised societies elsewhere. These changes were to be found in the revolutionary transformation of the social structures, relations of production and techniques of production of social groups. What impacted negatively on these processes of change were two things—the slave trade and the subsequent integration of Ghanaian societies into the world capitalist system in a subordinate position. One cannot deny the infrastructural changes that contact with Europe brought in its wake; but the subsequent material benefits benefited the metropolitan bourgeoisie and the sham bourgeoisie in the colonial country. It condemned the majority to perpetual poverty.

Some contemporary African writings used as literature books in universities and secondary schools in Ghana also do not adequately address the phenomenon of exploitation. Mongo Betis's Poor Christ of Bomba; Rene Maran's Batouala; Oyono's The House Boy; Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God; and Camera Laye's African Child tend to emphasise the superstructural aspects of colonialism. The imposition of colonialism through brute military force and the subsequent destruction of African socio-cultural and political institutions are given prominence in these writings. What is not normally clearly established, or is often ignored, is the link between the superstructural aspects of colonial rule and its economic base—production relations. The colonial production relations were the foundation upon which the political, juridical, ethical and religious aspects of colonialism were founded. But in these works the cultural and political aspects of colonialism are artificially severed from the production relations which provided it with its life-force and dynamism.

However, available evidence proves that the real reason for colonialism was to ensure the haemorrhage of capital from the fringes of the capitalist system to its core. The cultural and political domination which were made very much part of the colonial system were therefore a means to an end.

From the pamphlet Africa-A Marxist Analysis