By Biko Agozino
Africa needs a democratic revolution led by the working people. For that to happen, the united peoples of Africa must start their own socialist party whose primary goal is to take over state power from the neocolonial bourgeoisie and their imperialist allies. Once in power, the party must embark on a revolutionary programme of actualizing Africa’s unfinished liberation.
The revolutionary situation in Africa today can be analyzed concretely and strategically under the following themes and categories as a guide to the resolution of activists committed to launching a platform for a social democratic revolution across Africa under the ideological leadership of the working people and revolutionary intellectuals in alliance with the peasantry, following Lenin closely (1):
The articulation of race-ethnic-gender-class politics
The old neocolonial regimes across Africa have been thoroughly discredited and have lost the hegemonic struggles for legitimacy before the people. They represent the less than one percent of the class of phantom bourgeoisie, a parasitic class that lacks any of the productive capacities usually associated with a capitalist ruling class, according to Fanon. The rulers use clientilism to buy the services of the workers in the state machineries of the army, police and the bureaucracy as the state apparatuses for oppressive and exploitative rule over the masses. They are in alignment with archaic monarchical rulers who should have been abolished throughout Africa and replaced with elected Town Mayors checked by Town Councils. The African comprador bourgeoisie are maintained in office with the support of the foreign bourgeoisie who are only interested in the expropriation of surpluses from our hard-working people and in the extraction of natural resources.
In some African states, power has shifted to reformist regimes that frequently prove incapable of transforming the structural contradictions that condemn more than one billion talented Africans to a life of insecurity in the midst of abundance. Some of these neoliberal regimes try to legitimate themselves in office by obsessing about the recovery of public funds stolen by past regimes while the elements in the current regimes rarely get caught until they are out from office and their bourgeois rivals try to recover stolen loots from them, to be stolen by the incumbents in turn.
None of the neoliberal reformist regimes in Africa has shown interest in convening the constitutional conference of all Africans to chart a new course of state formation that would benefit all Africans at home and in the Diaspora with emphasis on class-race-ethnic-gender justice articulation or intersectionality. All the ministerial appointments are given to lackeys of the bourgeoisie and the vast majority of them are masculinists and ethnic triumphalists without room for gender parity despite the immense talents of African women and their enormous contributions to the decolonization struggles and despite the symbolic gender parity in the African Union parliament.
Given the above conditions, no bourgeois regime deserves the loyalty of African activists, workers and peasants. It is up to us as scholar-activists to ally with workers and peasants and build an alternative platform for the masses and boldly campaign to win power democratically and thereby end the misrule of our people by a parasitic gang of exploiters and oppressors.
The foreign policy of Africana Mass Party
The Africana Mass Party must avoid being boxed into the colonial boundaries imposed on Africans by imperialists. Already, opportunist groups are laying claim to the name of parties circumscribed by the boundaries of individual neocolonial states in Africa. Let us leave them with their discredited ideologies of bourgeois nationalism and let us avoid what Fanon identified as the pitfalls of national consciousness.
Let us boldly call our party the Africana Mass Party with a manifesto to organize in every African state. Instead of regarding Africa as the center of our foreign policy, let us smash the colonial boundaries that the masses have disdainfully disregarded. Africa should be the center of our domestic policy and the working people should be mobilized to erase the crippling colonial boundaries and allow our mighty people to rise and be counted as citizens of the 21st Century.
In alliance with imperialism, the ruling classes across African states have intensified the war of maneuvers and war of positions against our people by colluding to arm terrorist groups and the genocidal states as the excuse for foreign aggression in Africa (4). The reformist regimes run around the imperialist countries begging for more arms with which to wage war against our people and simply hide the huge military aid funding that they receive annually from imperialists in foreign bank accounts while committing genocide against our people with crude fetishes of militarism. They divide the masses by inciting the lumpen proletariat to rise up and attack fellow Africans whose languages are mocked as incomprehensible Makwerekwere (2).
The Africana Mass Party in Africa will abolish the importation of arms from any foreign suppliers and will concentrate on building social security by investing in agricultural, educational, health, scientific, and technological revolutions that will also enable Africans to develop and produce all the means necessary for the defense of our people. Since the armies, police and bureaucracies across the states in Africa have shown no interest in fighting against the enemies of Africans but only specialize in committing genocide against our people, let us commit ourselves to the abolition of the armies of occupation and the repressive police forces that the imperialists imposed to keep our people under oppression eternally.
The need for dual power now
The Africana Mass Party must organize a dual power now even before we win any state office. We must have organs for the education of our people, for health research, for agricultural experiments and outreach for cooperative economics, for media and cultural work and for the security of the workers and peasants without waiting for the discredited phantom bourgeoisie to offer leadership to Africans. This will enable the Africana Mass Party to counter the dictatorship of the phantom bourgeoisie with the democracy of the working people across Africa.
Let us plan our local party branches in every ward and in every state across Africa and in every diaspora African majority state that commits to our program to enable us to hold our annual congresses as soon as possible. With the trust that we are bound to enjoy among the majority of Africans at home and abroad, if only one-third of Africans are able to sign up as card-carrying members of our party it will be one of the biggest mass parties in history.
As a revolutionary party, the masses of our people will be attracted to our party and will rapidly swell our ranks. We had better be ready to lead this massive awakening in our people lest petty bourgeois ideologues hijack them and deceitfully use them to shore up the discredited system of neocolonialism. Let the bourgeois parties go to the people against the Africana Mass Party and let us see who would more quickly organize and mobilize our people across the ridiculous colonial boundaries that our people have always transgressed in their search for survival.
The tactics of the Africana Mass Party
We must concern ourselves with objective conditions and not with any ideas in the heads of any individuals. Our work is carved out for us by Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, Claudia Jones, WEB Du Bois, Pierre Mulele, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, CLR James, Samora and Justina Machel, Ruth First, Joe Slovo, Kwame Toure, Chris Hani, A.M. Babu, Samir Amin, Edwin and Bene Madunagu, to mention but a few, as that of the merciless practical critique of the pitfalls of national consciousness with which the phantom bourgeoisie has been dividing and dominating our people (3).
As Steve Biko observed, the most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressors is the minds of the oppressed. If we allow our people to be seduced permanently by the ideology of nationalism, sexism and ethnicity, they will continue to refer to the comprador bourgeois dictatorships across Africa as ‘our national leaders’ whereas the working people have no nations yet, all we have is Africa full of oppressed and exploited working people yearning to be mobilized and united to free ourselves from oppression and exploitation democratically.
The bourgeoisie maintains its domination over the masses in Africa through the exercise of hegemony or intellectual and moral leadership sold to the people, not by force but not without force or the threat of force, but through coerced consent engineered through ‘deception, flattery, fine phrases, promises by the million, petty sops, and concessions of the unessential while retaining the essential’, as Lenin put it (1), followed by Slovo and by Madunagu in the defense of national democratic revolution strategy as a step towards revolutionary internationalism (3).
To counter the bourgeois propaganda and threat or use of force, we need to launch our newspaper as an essential tool in the mobilization and re-education of our people across Africa. The availability of Internet and information technologies means that we have no reason to postpone this crucial decision any further except the lethargy that Eskor Toyo railed against. Even before the party is launched, let us constitute the party organ and start reaching out to the people on a daily basis (5).
Petty bourgeois defense of the nation
Given the threat of wars and terrorism across Africa today, it is common to observe petty bourgeois intellectuals calling for the defense of the fatherland by all patriots. This is a way to deceive the masses by making them believe that their interests are the same as those of the bourgeois dictatorship and their imperialist partners. The defeat of terrorism is sold to the masses as a task for all the people but the propagandists have never offered any example where terrorism was ever defeated militarily even by the mighty militaries of imperialism. Instead, wherever the imperialist forces have intervened militarily to defeat terrorism, they have managed to make matters worse for the poor masses who are routinely destroyed by the imperialists as collateral damage while being simultaneously targeted by the terrorists for kidnapping and suicide bombing.
Down with militarism and up with education of the masses as a way to eliminate the oppressive conditions of mass impoverishment that breed terrorism. Down with national consciousness that seeks to divide and weaken Africans and up with internationalism among African states to leverage our immense resources for a peaceful and democratic development of our societies. Down with sexism and sectarianism!
How can war be ended in Africa?
The wars raging across African communities cannot be ended with mere slogans. The wars cannot be ended merely by appealing to the working people of Africa to declare their will and preference for peace. The wars are raging across Africa not because the bourgeoisie is an evil class bent on the complete destruction of the people; although bourgeois war-mongers definitely benefit from the wars.
The wars raging across African communities are the result of 1000 years of underdevelopment that stripped Africans of our indigenous philosophy of non-violence and imposed the rapacious ideology of capitalist greed as the means of achieving societal goals via selfish profits. To end the tendency to wage wars across Africa, we must overthrow the system of capitalism and replace it with socialism.
When the working people take over control of state power across Africa, there will no longer be any need for the workers’ state to wage war against the working people. The Peoples Republic of Africa will be too busy providing the social security needs of Africans and will not have the time or resources to devote to war-mongering internally or externally. With the unity of the working people across Africa as citizens of a democracy of scale, no internal or external ants would ever be tempted to attempt to swallow the African elephant again by force or by fraud.
The Mass Party will usher in a new type of state in Africa
The dual power structures built by the party now will lay the foundation for a new type of state across Africa through which the people shall govern their own lives. The bourgeois states imposed on Africans by imperialism and retained by the comprador classes rely on the monopoly over legitimate force to keep the people under domination.
The Africana Mass Party will abolish the capitalist state of militarism as soon as we achieve state power, the proletarian state would cease to be a bourgeois state for the oppression of other classes by the bourgeoisie. The standing army and the police state would be abolished and replaced by the masses of the people armed with knowledge and technologies of the self to defend their rights and maintain their wellness democratically and non-violently.
The Africana Mass Party is not an anarchist party because we recognize the need to win state power and use the power to smash the exploitative structures of capitalism before allowing the state to wither away when there is no longer any need for the state to be an instrument for the oppression of other classes by the ruling classes. We will prevent the restoration of the police force by organizing community watch committees across Africa and by relying on restorative justice models as opposed to retributive justice.
The agrarian and national program of the Africana Mass Party
Currently, there are agrarian and nationalist crises all over Africa. Nomadic cattle herders are frequently in conflict with sedentary peasant farmers because somebody’s cattle ate somebody’s crops and somebody is always trying to steal somebody’s cattle, resulting in armed conflict in which massacres are common.
The cattle herders should be commended for single-handedly supplying the beef that has fed our people for more than 100 years and the peasant farmers must be commended for growing most of our staple food items. The current crises arose from the fact that the mode of production lags behind the means of production and we must revolutionize both the mode of production and the ownership of the means of production in the agrarian sector and in the industrial sector.
Instead of relying on the archaic medieval methods of herding cattle for hundreds of miles in search of pasture and water, we must develop cattle ranches where the cattle must be kept and feeds are brought to them instead. This will create sources of livelihood for the youth who may specialize in cutting grass and supplying to the ranches while the ranches would help to improve nutrition by supplying milk to school children.
Moreover the youth who are employed by wealthy absentee owners of the herds would finally have the ample opportunity to go to school with their peers. Some of the peasant farmers may team up and start their own cooperative ranches too with the support of grants from the Peoples Republic of Africa.
With the threat of desertification intensifying and forcing ethnic nationalities to encroach on the land of their neighbors, the Africana Mass Party will nationalize all land in Africa and allocate land to all who need it to avoid a situation where a few capitalist farmers own all the fertile land while the masses of the people are reduced to unemployed landless farm workers. We will support the conservation of forests by developing wind and solar power generators for cooking and electricity across Africa. We will launch a program of planting trees for each African citizen every year to help us to sequester the carbon emission in the atmosphere.
The Africana Mass Party seeks to defeat those who are bent of dividing the people along ethnic lines. We will build a larger state to encompass the whole of Africa as an alternative to unviable multiplication of sovereign state structures that imperialism mushroomed across Africa for the obvious purpose of underdeveloping the divided and weakened Africa, as Rodney observed.
However, the unification of Africa will not be attempted by the Africana Mass Party through militarism and violence but through the democratic unification of the people. The more democratic the Peoples Republic of Africa, the more confident the Africana Mass Party will be in guaranteeing the right to self-determination for all ethnic nationalities, and the right to secession from the Peoples Republic of Africa.
Africana Mass Party and Africana womanism
The Africana Mass Party recognizes the undeniable contributions of African women to the liberation struggle. As Samora Machel stated, we do not regard the liberation of women as an act of charity for which the men expect to be patted on the back. Rather, we regard the liberation of women from sexism as inextricably intersected or articulated with the struggle against imperialism and racism; it is the precondition for the revolution (3). Accordingly, all elected or appointed offices of the Africana Mass Party, all offices of the Peoples Republic of Africa and all employment opportunities in industries will be filled on the basis of gender parity.
We will enforce compulsory education for all our people, including women and men. We will enforce equal pay for equal work. We will legalize the right of women to choose abortion and we will legalize sex work. We will legalize same sex relationships and provide comprehensive health coverage for all Africans. Women and men will have equal access to land and equal human rights in the Peoples Republic of Africa where oppressive widowhood practices will be outlawed.
The need for a new international socialist alliance
Socialists are not nationalists; we are internationalists. Thus, the Peoples Republic of Africa will offer citizenship to the African Diaspora internationally and to working people globally who wish to join us in building the People’s Republic. As the crises of late imperialism force poor people to risk their lives in their attempts to migrate, the peoples republic of Africa will be welcoming poor refugees and migrants who seek to come to Africa in search of peaceful coexistence, irrespective of race-class-gender.
We will ally with socialist parties in other parts of the world and collaborate in the innovation of policies that will advance socialism worldwide for the benefit of the working people of the world. For this purpose, the Africana Mass Party will convene an international conference of all socialist parties in the world to be held in Africa for the first time. We must declare to the world that the Africana Mass Party is active in the new Socialist International without waiting for an international congress and that we are ready to advocate for all oppressed nationalities anywhere in the world.
Our internationalism starts right here in Africa by abolishing the ridiculous colonial boundaries that imperialism imposed on us. Our internationalism is extended to the African Diaspora all over the world who have a right to return as citizens of the Peoples Republic of Africa united democratically, while Diaspora states that wish to join the Peoples Republic of Africa will be welcomed with open arms.
What should we call our party?
We must call our party simply the Africana Mass Party without limiting the organization to the colonial boundaries of any African state or to the continental Africa, excluding the Diaspora. We must reach out and organize branches of our party across Africa and the African Diaspora and avoid the lethargy of nationalist parties. As Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem used to scream: Do Not Agonize! Organize! (6)
* Biko Agozino is Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Virginia Tech.
Further readings and references
- V. Lenin (1963) ‘The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution: Draft Platform for the Revolutionary Party’, in Selected Works, Vol. 2, Moscow, Progress.
- B. Agozino (2016) ‘Series Editor’s Preface’ in David Matsinhe, Apartheid Vertigo: Discrimination Against Africans in South Africa, Aldershot, Ashgate.
- See Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, New York, Grove Press, 1963; Kwame Nkrumah, Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, London Thomas Nelson, 1965; Claudia Jones, Carol Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of a Black Communist Claudia Jones, Durham, Duke University Press; WEB Du Bois, ‘The Pan-African Congresses: The Story of a Growing Movement’ in W.E.B. Du Bois: A Reader, David L. Lewis, ed., New York, Owl Books, 1995); Pierre Mulele, Ludo Martens, The People’s Uprising in the Congo (Kinshasha) 1954-1968: The Way of Patrice Lumumba and Pierre Mulele, Brussels, Labour Party of Belgium; Amilcar Cabral, Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings of Amilcar Cabral, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1979; Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, London, Bogle l’Ouverture, 1972; CLR James, A History of Pan-African Revolt, Washington, D.C., Drum and Spear Press, 1969; Samora and Justina Machel (Ian Christie, Machel of Mozambique, Harare, Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1988); Ruth First (The Barrel of a Gun: Political Power in Africa and the Coup d’Etat, London, Allen Lane, 1970); Joe Slovo (The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution, SACP, 1988); Kwame Ture (Ready for the Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael, London, Simon & Schuster, 2003); Chris Hani (My Life: An Autobiography Written in 1991, Johannesburg, SACP); A.M. Babu (African Socialism or Socialist Africa?, London, Zed Press, 1981); Samir Amin (Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or ending capitalism?, Oxford, Pambazuka Press, 2010); Edwin Madunagu (Problems of Socialism: The Nigerian Example, London, Bogle l’Ouverture, 1982); Bene Madunagu, (Women’s Health and Empowerment: Speeches, Essays and Lectures, 1995-2006, edited by Edwin Madunagu and Akpan John, Calabar, Clear Lines Publications, 2007).
- A. Gramsci (1971) Selections From the Prison Notebooks. London, Lawrence and Wishart
- Eskor Toyo (1989) The Working Class and the Third Republic, Calabar, Directorate for Literacy.
- Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Pan-Africnism: Politics, Economy, and Social Change in the Twenty-First Century, New York, New York University Press, 1996.
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