Interview with Warren of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front done at the St. Imier international anarchist meeting about the importance of forging both organisational and personal ties with comrades around the world. In addition Warren sheds some light on the origins of anarchism in Africa. Interviewed by Adrien of the ZACF’s sister organisation Motmakt from Norway.
Transcript of the interview
Motmakt: I’m here in beautiful St-Imier, Switzerland. And we have taken refuge from the sun and are drinking a little bit of beer and are having a great time. I am here with Warren from the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front, and I was wondering Warren how did you hear of the St-Imier conference?
Warren: As a member of the anarkismo network, it was through that network that we firstly made aware of the fact that the conference was happening here, which for us was very exciting, and it was through that network that we received an invitation from one of the organizers.
Motmakt: This is in St-Imier, Switzerland, where one hundred and forty years ago, the first anarchist international took place. And as such it’s a pretty historically loaded place to be, and this has also been called an attempt at a second anarchist international, do you have any hopes or expectations around that?
Warren: First of all it’s very exciting for us, sometimes in South Africa, because we are the only anarchist organization that is based down in the south of Africa, at times we feel a bit isolated. So despite the fact that we know that comrades do exist in other parts of the world, meeting comrades face to face, meeting comrades that we’ve had relations with for the last ten, fifteen years gives a face to the name, to the interactions that we’ve had. So for us it’s very exciting that, you know, were not just a small group of anarchists, but were surrounded by people that are all anarchists, so on one end that’s very exciting.
My expectations for this particular meeting more specifically to get in touch with the other organizations and delegates of the members of the Anarkismo network. Again to meet face to face with them to develop personal relationships, as well as to strengthen the organizational ties that exist between our organizations. And also meet with the comrades and the delegates from new organizations or at least the organizations who have just recently joined the Anarkismo network. Again to develop personal ties and to develop organizational ties.
Motmakt:: Well in Norway, which is pretty much as far away from Africa that you get, naturally we haven’t heard a lot about anarchism in Africa. Do you have anything you can tell us about anarchism in Africa and about what the situation for anarchists is?
W: That’s quite a long story because as syndicalism, or anarchist trade unionism develops at the end of the eighteen-hundreds and nineteen-hundreds, it also spreads through particular immigrant workers and anarchist activist to the north of Africa, particularly Egypt and then down to the south of Africa through Scottish migrant workers. In fact some of the first trade unions and political organizations that sought to mobilize and organize black workers, and by black I mean African coloured or mixed race, as well Indian workers in southern Africa, they were influenced by anarchism and syndicalism. However that disappears for quite some time.
Recently anarchism has reemerged after about eighty years of Marxist and Leninist domination in South Africa. And although we are still a small movement we are a growing movement, and one that works actively with and in poor working movements in South Africa. Where we find desperate poverty, and where we find lots of people struggling on a daily basis for access to running water, electricity, housing and land. That’s generally a lot of our work. And we engage in a particular program of intensive political education to develop an anarchist understanding, through those social movements, through those independent trade unions into the community, so that we can insert anarchism not only in terms of the solidarity and social work that we do, but we can insert anarchism into those communities and those organizations, brought to those communities and those organizations by activists who understand the the culture, language. Who understand the operation and the essence of living in those communities. So that’s generally some of the work that we do.
Motmakt:: Thank you very much for talking to me Warren!
Warren: Thank you Adrien!