To Cure Africa’s Heart-Rending Misery, we Need Working Class/Peasant Counter-Power, Anarchism

Contributors: Bongani, Dikeledi, Khayalethu, Lucky, Mzee, Nkululeko, Nonzwakazi, Nonzukiso, Siya, Warren (TAAC)

Published in “Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective”, numbers 5/6, November 2015

strike“Africa today lies prostrate, bleeding, and embattled on all fronts, a victim of capitalist and, to a great extent, state socialist ambitions. The heart-rending misery of its peoples, the conditions of abject poverty, squalor and disease in which they live, exist side by side with the wanton luxury, rapacity, and corruption of its leaders.”

Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey, 1997, African Anarchism: The History of a Movement, Sharp Press: Tucson, Arizona.

Our vast continent, Africa, is the poorest in the world, host to dozens of wars and conflicts, and marked by instability and inequality. The root causes of the instability lie in political corruption and the profiteering system run by local and international elites.

The local ruling classes are interested in making profits and getting wealthy, by any means necessary. The elites are not promoting the development of the working class and peasants (small farmers), but only worsening our conditions. If the choice is between building a road in a poor area or pocketing the money, they will pocket the money.

Greedy Elites, Weak Economies

Political and economic domination by small African elites, allied to ruling classes from other regions, is part of the instability, corruption and exploitation. Ordinary people in Africa face a severe lack of necessary goods and service delivery. Often the allocation of goods and services is through corrupt political relationships, not on the basis of need but on the basis of personal and political ties. Corrupt capitalists, corrupt politicians, are part of a world where the gap between the haves and have-nots is very wide.

These weak economies, reliant on poor infrastructure and low-value raw materials, are marked by low wages, mass unemployment and tensions across society, and plunder by elites. Either the state elite controls the means of production and the working class has no say but must just do as it is told, or there is privatisation and private ownership, where the business elite is in control.

And meanwhile, African economies are generally at the bottom of the ladder in the world, a situation caused both by imperialism and by the indigenous elites.

In this world, you face the danger of eat-or-be-eaten. At the bottom the food chain we’re under the rule of the minority who make up the oligarchy, a world of rule by the few, where we are locked up and locked out. In this world, we are taught to hate each other, based on language, looks and origins. But our enemy is not each other, it is the classes that rule us from above.

Class-Consciousness Building

In order to have a way forward, Africa requires a long-term programme of class-consciousness building, relevant education and increasing social/ class struggle.

There must be collective unity and solidarity amongst the suffering ordinary people in Africa, the workers, unemployed, the peasants, and the poor. No matter the race or colour or culture or origin, we must unite in the class struggle, so we can achieve a radical breakthrough, not just in one country but in all countries.

This includes removing inequality through the abolition of post- colonial capitalism and the state and the ruling classes, and starting to ease the agony of extreme want. Real, people-centred development is possible only if we break away from both state and capitalism – two major forces of oppression – and create a self-managed, bottom-up society and economy planned from below to meet needs, not greed.

The fundamentally capitalist state system in Africa has created unsuitable socio-political and economic structures. It needs to go. Anarchism is the way forward.

The Future

The future lies in the direction of freedom, equality and community participation – not hatred. Crisis- ridden capitalism, the state system, selfish individualism and competitiveness are problems to end.

We need peace amongst the masses, and struggle against the ruling classes!