- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
“When two brothers fight, strangers always reap the harvest” – Ibo saying
“We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories” - Cecil Rhodes
Africa is the embodiment of capitalist exploitation. The natural resources freely available in Africa were a prize that has been coveted. For almost four centuries it has been systematically plundered for its raw materials and human labour. An illiterate and unorganised labour force were an added incentive. In Africa draconian work methods were imposed on workers to extract those resources that made contemporary European factories seem almost humane. Our interests are directly linked with our fellow workers in Africa and if democratic freedoms are now being gained it is in all our interests. The increasing pressure of the economic forces of capitalism and the reforms which are in prospect will simplify the issue into a straightforward confrontation between capitalist and working class interests. This will leave the fundamental problems of the workers still to be solved. Even now the vital work must be to ensure that a growing world socialist movement is extended to Africa.
It is important to understand that society today is divided into the rich and the poor. The rich, who are few, own the means of production and distribution of wealth whilst the poor, who are the majority, own nothing except their ability to work. Again, every political party is owned and controlled by the rich who contribute money to it which is used to canvass the support of the poor masses. Thus, a party in power is, in reality, the executive committee of the rich people behind it. Such a party, therefore, rules in the interests of the owners. All its policies are consequently aimed at the welfare of the rich. Now, since there will arise a conflict of interest between the rich owners and their poor followers, the ruling party or government will have to spend huge chunks of the country's money on arms, maintenance of the army, the police, prisons, etc to hold down the masses so that the rich can make their profits without hindrance. In the process basic necessities such as food, shelter, healthcare, education are underfunded. The little that is provided can only be afforded by the rich. The result, undoubtedly, is discontent, alienation and disobedience among the masses.
Africa has been politically backwards and naïve throughout the last century with so many atrocities, anomalies and injustices. Its children thought that one day, things will be better, but since the era of independence dawned the situation has remained the same or even got worse. Ills, evils and self-destructions of all kinds continue to plague the African continent. Africa has lost its natural, human and material resources to wars and massacres. Coups and counter-coups have continued to play havoc with African society. In Africa,every political leader that comes into power starts to consolidate himself through stamping out political turncoats and the opposition. This easily gives rise to ethnic suspicions. Thus, politicians take advantage of ethnic and tribal prejudices in order to win a political following. The one-party states there were ended but replaced by tribal-based politics. Most African heads only came into power to enrich themselves. The poor and the underprivileged are always the victims of these despots. Not even a saint can make capitalism work other than as a profit-making system in which profits have to take priority over people. Reformist governments fail, not because their members are corrupt or sell-outs or incompetent or not determined enough but because they have set themselves the impossible task of trying to make capitalism work in the interests of the majority. Many African leaders have found this out to their cost.
Pushed to the wall by want, many ignorantly flock to religion as the last resort. Western big business, seeing the opportunity, quickly seizes it to its advantage. They worsen the already bad state of affairs by pumping money into the formation of more religious groups; the production of religious material; and the use of food, second-hand clothing, etc as incentives to the religious leaders and bait for the working class. Once captured it becomes an uphill task to salvage them or even let them see reason. Another problem is the effectiveness of the capitalist propaganda machine. Their ideologues are always at hand to demonise socialism and eulogise the virtues of the free market economy. A few capitalists will enrich themselves, but the African workers who produce riches through their labour power will live out their lives in poverty and misery. As long as wage-slavery is alive so too is the slave mentality – imploring the master to be kind. However, the master is capitalism and it is out of any organisation’s or individual’s control. It cannot be legislated away. There is no lever to be pulled or button to be pressed that can make it more humane.
The reality of capitalism for Africa, a continent which possesses virtually all the resources it takes for development, is the worst hit by hunger, starvation, armed conflicts, instability, displacement and abject poverty. Politicians, jockeying for the little resources left by the capitalist class, display the politics of hide-and-seek, repression and oppression. This is mainly because of the system which encourages capital accumulation and profit-seeking. The cumulative effect is flagrant corruption, deprivation, wastage and impoverishment which intensifies underdevelopment.
It is the problem of "the haves and have-nots" which is central to war, violence and hatred. Thus the real solution will be to eliminate the present situation of a minority owning the means of production and distribution of wealth whilst the majority owning nothing, have to work for the few. In other words, money, buying and selling, commodities and the like must be done away with. Humanity must commonly own the means of production and must have free and equal access to the produce. Under such circumstances, there will be no want and consequently no war and hatred. But this type of system can only be possible when people make efforts to understand it. When they understand and want it, they can organise to usher it in.
Starvation caused by poverty – the inability to be able to buy the commodities that can sustain your life – seems to be looming large for a great many of our fellow human beings. One may ask why Africa has remained the poorest continent the world has ever produced. The answer is simple. Anyone who genuinely wants an end to poverty has to confront the cause. The cause is the profit system. Capitalism. The only cure is a socialist revolution. With this era of political ignorance occupying Africa, there is more than ever need for a continent, indeed a World, without leaders or political borders. Workers in Africa can learn swiftly from the experience of workers' struggles in the past and in other places. They can avoid the mistakes which have been made. They should reject the leadership theory and ensure that their trade unions are thoroughly democratic. Above all, they can set their political sights high and commit themselves to the struggle for world socialism. In this way, the limited demand for the right of political organisation can become the positive work of organising now for a genuine system of world democracy. For the moment, sadly, it seems evident that workers’ movements that exist have goals which are, at most, a form of state capitalism dressed up in radical rhetoric. They embrace "modernisation" so to forge ahead with a more efficient and "inclusive" exploitation of the working class. These leftist do not propose to get rid of the market economy and install a classless society but, on the contrary, take for granted the continued existence of the state, the market and wage labour. In short, capitalism. Most of the “progressives” seek to abolish a surviving peasant economy, turn the population into exploitable proletarians and fully establish capitalist relations of production.
The African working class have the cards in their hands for socialism if only they want it. Indeed, African conditions have revealed capitalism in its harshness and brutality: inequalities are too glaring. In the face of extremities of want and a meagre surplus, it is difficult to sell the idea that those who are in positions to accumulate should take what they can and leave the rest to suffer what they must. Africa's ruling class has run out of ideas for fashioning and inspiring a functional development strategy, limited as it is by the constraints of working with ideas compatible with the maintenance of the existing property relations. The evils of capitalism are conspicuous in Africa and Africans have lost confidence in capitalism. The time is now to co-operate with fellow workers all over the world to establish global socialism. The struggle for democratic rights should not be linked with any political action which will result merely in a new form of tyranny.
Our fellow workers in Africa enjoy one advantage. They can now look at the so-called "success" of black nationalist movements. If this not enough they can look further at the condition of workers in the so-called advanced countries. What they will see is the continued exploitation of workers who suffer all the problems inherent in capitalism. In Britain, the home of "democracy", miners have been beaten, imprisoned and sacked for taking industrial action, as have miners in Africa.