All Protocols Observed,
I bring you warm greetings from the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute (KNII), the National Joint-Action Front composed of the Social Justice Movement, People’s Democratic Movement and the Osagyefo Youth Movement.
We pay tribute to our late Comrade Percy Ngonyama of the Mzala Nxumalo Centre and other progressive colleagues of the Pan-African revolutionary struggle who have also passed on to glory. May their souls rest in perfect peace, for their labour and sacrifices shall not be in vain.
As a determined progressive force, we are connected by one aspiration and dream; the common aspiration of a just world of equal opportunity and the dream of power becoming the common business of all of society. In Durban, we have come with a common voice to contribute and share our thoughts in this 1st African Marxist Conference and on the topic of African Socialism in relation to the African conception of land and labour built over centuries through inter-communal relationships, mutual assistance and that sense of duty of care which birthed a unique system of mutual co-existence.
Classical Marxist socialist philosophy, which found resonance in trade union movements, came out of the industrial revolution’s mode of economic production and commercial exchanges as defined by class differences. The contest between the exploiter and the exploited, oppressor and the oppressed, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat intensified with the final quest to establish a socialist society to improve the conditions of every member of society. Currently, most socialist theories have evolved around the classical works of Karl Marx.
Interestingly, long before the emergence of intellectual classical Marxist socialism on the African continent there was in motion an egalitarian socioeconomic order. This socioeconomic order built on the theme of work and happiness ensured that in a moderate rural environment one was the other’s keeper and they treated each other with empathy. This socioeconomic order based on collective responsibility to the land and the common application of labour came to define the identity and character of the African in the fraternal use of natural resources to produce for use and surplus to generate wealth. Communal life therefore taxed itself to providing the essential needs such as food, clothes and shelter as outlined in classical Marxist philosophy.
According to Casely Hayford, “Before even the British came into relations with our people, we were a developed people, having our own institutions, having our own ideas of Government…”.
In the Bible, the book of the Prophet Isaiah, describes Africa as “the land shadowing with wings; that is hidden in the midst of all knowledge”.
Prior to colonization, Africa’s statecraft and governance system, as an expression of the direct will of the people, guaranteed the security and safety of all of society.
The sense of duty of care ensured that the disadvantaged and less privileged in society were duly provided for. Social order therefore rested on the orderly organization and management of the material conditions of life in the collective interest. The discipline of the individual and their respective labour was at the core of this social order but the security and progress of the individual rested on that sense of responsibility to the common good, welfare and security of the community. The adage that a straw on its own is weak but tens of straws bonded together is strong holds so true here.
Though the bonds that held Africans together got fractured by the encounter with Islam and Christianity some of the validating practices do exist in some parts of the continent. For example, the Mole Dagbana jurisdictional area of West Africa, tracing its roots from the 8th to 16th century Ghana/Mali empires, are found engaged in social activities that foster peaceful co-existence. These strong cultural expressions are supported by effective conflict resolution mechanisms which have stood the test of time. In Mali, there exist the practice whereby when there is great tension and potential conflict is brewing the leading parties are gathered in a purposefully built meeting room where the ceiling is about a meter and a half high forcing all participants to crouch or sit in lotus position. If you are angry and agitated it is you who will knock your head at the ceiling. You will quickly learn to compose yourself and participate constructively. And no one is let out until a resolution is arrived at.
Identifiable ethnic groups like the Frafras interplay with Dagabas in Ghana. Frafras and Dagabas working in the urban areas, as a yearly custom, organize fun games to strengthen ties and entertain themselves. The same exercises take place between the Moshies predominantly of Burkina Faso interplaying with the Dagombas and Mamprusis of Ghana. The Gonjas do the same with the Kassenas, Sissalas, Chokosis, Builsas and Bimobas, while the Kusasis engage with the Nabdams among others. These traditional and cultural activities enrich socialist practice and reinforce Marxist teaching.
Marxism is an expression of our One Humanity and so is the concept of African Socialism which is scientific socialism within an African context. Every child born of the earth, our Mother Earth, is by right entitled to live, grow and prosper on the land. The land as our all-giving and all-protective mother could not be owned. The land was common to all and all of society had the inalienable right to eat from the land by their own labour. That sense of One Humanity was therefore shaped by the value and meaning of land and the application of one’s labour to produce and distribute and exchange surplus to fulfil a social purpose. The generated surplus in in exchange defines capital in relation to land and labour without which capital has no existence on its own.
Capital and its accumulation therefore had a social purpose in the African social context. Capital could therefore not be alienated from the land and labour as the three are the force of wealth generation. As an individual therefore your humanity is defined by your sense of responsibility to the common good of the society you belong to and also to one another. I therefore exist because of you and you exist because of me.
It is with such humanistic philosophy of life that Africa confronted or dealt with outsiders who were welcomed to our shores by our ancestors with open arms and shared and traded with these visitors who later became invaders, conquerors, colonisers and our living nightmare.
When our Glorious Ancestors realised the intentions of the invaders we resisted and have continued to resist and our gathering here is a continuum of that spirit of resistance to the doctrine and practice of the exploitation of man by man and the inhumanity of man towards another. Such is the nexus of Marxism and African socialism.
Many African politicians of the late 1950s and 1960s advanced the concept of African socialism, although definitions and interpretations of this term varied considerably. In 1956 an influential publication on African socialism, LES MASSES AFRICAINES ET L’ACTUELLE CONDITION HUMAINE, was released by the Senegalese intellectual AbdoulayeLy. Ly argued that the way out of the degrading conditions of the African masses was the continued research and development of the African communal way of life to compete on equal terms with the West.
Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Modibo Keita of Mali, Léopold Senghor of Senegal, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Milton Obote of Uganda and Sékou Touré of Guinea, were the main architects of African Socialism according to William H. Friedland and Carl G. Rosberg Jr., editors of the book African Socialism. Senghor claimed that “Africa’s social background of tribal community life does not only makes socialism natural to Africa but excludes the validity of the theory of class struggle,” thus making African socialism, in all of its variations, different from Marxism and European socialist theory.
President Senghor of Senegal stands out among the statesmen of Africa not only for his literary achievements and his political acumen, but also for having made major contributions toward the emergent doctrine of African Socialism. Senghor’s reflections on that subject are based on his emotional and intellectual commitment to African values and realities, and on a thorough investigation of western and communist thinkers. The result is an amalgam aimed at serving the future of Africa.
Julius Nyerere, who wrote extensively on African socialism in his many books borrowed heavily from Marx but based his classics on African conditions and needs. The Arusha declaration of 1967, a development blueprint by “Mwalimu” (teacher) Nyerere, brought to the fore, the principle of Ujamaa (extended family or family-hood in Swahili). Ujamaa was the practice of African socialism based on the understanding and appreciation of African traditional systems, where villages worked and lived happily together for the common good in line with the socialist maxim that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need and a person becomes a person through the people or community”.
Mwalimu relied on an aggressive “Villagisation” programme, relocating millions of Tanzanians into government created “Villages” to form a unified and egalitarian society in a Nation with 140 tribes and significant Muslim and Christian influence but harmoniously co-existing. Nyerere, who was a committed Catholic Christian, worked hard and by 1972, brought the Christian community to support Ujamaa, thereby succeeding in unifying Tanzanian with advances in universal health and education provision and delivery.
The institutionalisation of social, economic, and political equality through the creation of a central democracy; the abolition of discrimination based on ascribed status; and the nationalisation of the economy’s key sectors came to define Tanzania. The “villagisation” of production, essentially collectivised all forms of local productive capacity. Tanzanian self-reliance was fostered through the transformation of economic and cultural attitudes. Economically, everyone would work for both the group and for him/herself. Culturally, Tanzanians must learn to free themselves from dependence on European powers. For Nyerere, this included Tanzanians learning to do things for themselves and learning to be satisfied with what they could achieve as an independent state. The implementation of free and compulsory education for all Tanzanians was to sensitize them to the principles of Ujamaa. Added to these was the creation of a proud Tanzanian through the adoption of Kiswahili as the national language and a highly politicized and disciplined national army.
Julius Nyerere’s leadership of Tanzania commanded international attention and attracted worldwide respect for his consistent emphasis upon ethical principles as the basis of practical policies. Tanzania under Nyerere made great strides in vital areas of social development where infant mortality was reduced; life expectancy as well as primary school enrollment soared.
Kwame Nkrumah the first prime minister and president of Ghana was determined to build a socialist society, one that was Ghanaian in character and African in outlook, and he frequently spoke of the evils of “Neo-colonialism.” Nkrumah looked with disdain upon the export of raw materials to industrialized nations. He described the trade in cocoa as contaminated by capitalism.
Kwame Nkrumah established an Ideological Institute to train Ghanaian civil servants and beginning from 1964 all students entering university colleges were required to attend a two-week “ideological orientation” at the Institute. Nkrumah advised that trainees at the Institute should be made to recognise the party’s scientific socialism ideology as a religion which should be practiced faithfully and fervently.
In a letter dated 4th December 1966, written to his publisher, June Milne, Osaygefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah said “I am a Marxist and Scientific Socialist. But I don’t consider myself in this particular sense a Leninist. Leninism is an application of Marxism to the Russian milieu. But the Russian milieu is not the same as the Africa milieu. What I am trying to do is to apply Marxism-Scientific Socialism to the African situation, in order words, to the African milieu. And here the question of communism comes in – whether I am a communist or not, I am a scientific socialist, a Marxist and if that is tantamount to being a Communist then I am.
But not a Communist of the Marxist-Leninist type.”
On Wednesday, 11th March, 1964, Nkrumah’s government launched its Seven (7) Years Economic Development Plan to consolidate Ghana as a socialist state with full responsibility for the promotion of the well-being of the people. According to Nkrumah, a socialist Ghana must also secure for every citizen at the earliest possible date, an adequate level of education and nutrition and a satisfactory standard of clothing, housing and leisure.
Socialism in its application demands a very different kind of planning and economic structure from the type which was evolved by the colonial administration. The Pan –African socialist outlook of the Nkrumah Government also relied on the past achievements of African civilizations in order to construct a modern egalitarian continental society where the rich and endowed states will share wealth with the lesser endowed to advance universal prosperity.
Led by the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Ghana moved to collectivise agriculture (through state farms), created state run industries, in distilling, metallurgy, tire manufacturing, vegetable oil production, boat building, paper mills, cocoa processing, footwear manufacturing and pharmaceuticals and by 1963, Nkrumah had set up over forty enterprises, including mass housing, hydro electrical power, quality schools, affordable health care systems among others.
On the African Continent, Nkrumah advocated and promoted inter and intra African trade and industry, the African High Command, African Central Bank, and common currency among others for rapid growth and development of the continent. Nkrumah in his book, Africa Must Unite, says that “there are those who argue that the conditions and resources of Africa are not suited to industrialization. In this way, they seek to excuse the economic policy of the colonial powers and support the infiltration of Neo-colonialism. The argument falls to the ground when the facts are examined. We have here in Africa everything necessary to become a powerful, modern and industrialized continent. United Nations investigators have recently shown that Africa is far better equipped for industrialization than almost any other region in the world.”
The ancient Ubuntu philosophy of South Africa recognizes the humane impulse in every human being. The word comes from the Zulu and Xhosa languages. Ubuntu believes in a bond that ties together all of humanity and the fact that a human being is of a high value. According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man with Ubuntu is trustworthy and accessible to others.
The challenges of Africa can therefore be practically solved through scientific socialism from an African perspective.
The ultimate intent of capitalism is huge profit margins which can be realised at the expense of the well-being of the worker. Capitalism which has failed on the African soil is now cleverly being substituted with the so-called Africapitalism, a belief that after huge accumulation of profit, part be ploughed into philanthropic activities.
Africapitalism or philanthro-capitalism is a neo-liberal philosophy espoused by the Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu, who believes in the use of private sector investment to stimulate growth and self-empowerment. He says “Africapitalism is the philosophy that African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.”
The practice of capitalism and its associated features on the continent has not yielded any tangible results of socio-economic improvement on the lives of Africans. It is clear that, due to its failure, it has nowhere to turn to but borrow from the principles of socialism projected in philanthropic obligations or corporate social responsibilities.
This capitalist twist, affirms the thesis of Karl Marx that capitalism is gradually being swallowed by socialist theories and practices, reasons being that we are beginning to see socialist features manifest in philanthro-capitalism.
Just like capitalism has failed to address major developmental challenges of the continent such as accessibility to health, good drinking water in many deprived areas, free and quality education, agriculture, housing, living wage and the likes, so shall Africapitalism fail because their main goal is centered on gaining huge profit margins through the exploitation of man by man.
We see before us how capitalism, for example, has failed to address the problems of the DRC. How therefore can Africapitalism stop this long standing western engineered political conflict in the DRC?
Can Africapitalism, ensure free, fair and democratic elections without imperialist interference?
Can Africapitalism stop xenophobia, sexism, tribalism, corruption and bad governance? The general answer is found in an African proverb that: “lf you want to see how death looks like, then consider sleep”.
Until Africa reverts to co-existential system of living; producing and distributing in common on the strength of scientific socialist policies, Africa’s pride as a source of early civilisation will quickly slip into oblivion. Our belief in an egalitarian system that guarantees the interest of the peasant farmer, working class, market woman, and the house-wife must not be sacrificed on the altar of capitalism.
CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
We, progressive forces of Africa are responsible to organise, orient our common efforts towards the edification of Scientific Socialism based on our own cultural values and lifestyle. Our states ought to be states controlled by the working class, peasant farmers together with traditional rulers playing a vital role.
Could our contemporary challenges be tackled through scientific socialist practice? Certainly, as we have the benefit of hindsight plus the teachings and writings of leaders like Dr. Amical Cabral, Ahmed Sekou Toure and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. Julius Nyerere to help us plus the living example of the discipline of Marxism in practice by the people and leaders of Cuba. The example of Cuba is an open vista of possibilities for Africa to achieve total political and economic liberation and unification. Cuba, as America’s greatest enemy, is in fact the nemesis of global capitalist assault and domination. Marxist discipline, the exemplary leadership of Fidel Castro and the indomitable spirit of the people of Cuba have combined as a countervailing force against the evils of capitalism. Cuban self-belief has triumphed over American bullying. Bullies must be confronted and not allowed to have their way.
Nkrumah cautioned that “Until Socialism, I mean scientific socialism, triumphs over capitalism and imperialism, I shall not stop attacking these social evils.” Nkrumah further affirmed that “Marxism as the key principle to the African Revolution, Socialist Revolution, can triumph, only when workers and peasants are mobilized under the leadership of a Marxist party.” It is Marxist discipline therefore that has held the center of the Cuban society together thus enabling Cuba to withstand the destabilisation assault of the twin evils of capitalism and imperialism.
Gathered here, we must pause and examine the example of Cuba and interrogate ourselves thoroughly on why the tiny island of Cuba has been able to withstand the imperialist aggression of the US. That Cuba still exist as an independent and self-asserting sovereign state is a testimony of the strength of value of scientific socialism as a moral force. It is this moral force that has come to characterise the Cuban spirit as exemplified in the leadership of Fidel Castro. It is this moral force that came to the rescue of Mother Africa at a time of her greatest need. Cuba, under sanctions and faced with unparalleled destabilisation have had that presence of mind to sacrifice their blood on African soil for the liberation of Angola, Mozambique, Namiba and South Africa from Portuguese and apartheid enslavement, humiliation and impoverishment. Not only that, but Cuba is still able to support Africa with doctors to serve in communities that local trained doctors are averse to serving. What is this moral force then that drives Cuba to commit to such internationalist solidarity obligations and with so much conviction and success? Cuba is a success.
The success of Cuba is the triumph of scientific socialism or Marxist discipline and it is this cardinal light of success that imperialist and capitalist America seeks to stifle and blow out of existence. That Cuba under sanctions has a far better health and education provision and delivery system than the almighty United States is a lesson to us all in Africa and it is this lesson that America and its NATO allies seek to obliterate from our consciousness. And they have almost succeeded as most African leaders take for granted the internationalist solidarity obligations that the leadership and people of Cuba have committed themselves to with such conviction. Our gathering here must recognise, celebrate and salute Fidel Castro and the indomitable people of Cuba. Cuba is Marxism triumphant! Cuba is the triumph of scientific socialism! Scientific Socialism is the nemesis of imperialism and capitalism. Cuba is the nemesis of the United States. Cuba is the nemesis of neo-colonialism! Scientific Socialism is the nemesis of neo-colonialism, the last stage of imperialism as Nkrumah wrote and taught us. The Cuban revolution broke the vice and stranglehold of neo-colonialism and if Cuba has triumphed African Scientific Socialism can and must triumph in our collective sense of responsibility to the cause of African Unity as propounded by the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah.
Indeed, together we have to pedagogically engage our people to understand that, the best social philosophy for the rapid and speedy development of Africa rests with our own model of scientific socialism. Nkrumah has defined this scientific socialist path in his praxis and writings referred to now as Nkrumaism. The ideology for the total political and economic liberation and unification of Africa is Nkrumaism.
Thank you for your attention.