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Former liberation movements' meeting: The way forward

By Paul T. Shipale
With the Former Liberation Movements in Southern Africa meeting’s this week in Windhoek, allow me, from the outset and as a foretaste, to warn that these movements should search to reinvent themselves into formidable vanguard progressive centre-left-mass parties, which provide objective and informed analysis of a strategic transformational ground, lest they play into the hands of those who want to implement the “Regime Change” doctrine in Africa through intellectualized exclusive oligopolistic cartelized elites parties.

Lest we forget, Professor Prah wrote, on account of our massive resources, predatory societies and Institutions have historically preyed on us. Nevertheless, travelling through a difficult historical terrain of long exploitation and servitude, fraught with painful and harrowing experience, a century later, the colonial system has come and gone, disappearing as surreptitiously as it had originally crept in on us, but not without a fight which saw the slow but steady unravelling of colonial power by these movements.

Indeed, these movements have a long history dating back at the time when President Julius Nyerere formed the Pan-African Freedom Movement of East, Central and Southern Africa, known as PAFMECSA, which played an important role by uniting the African Liberation movements.

Through the Co-ordination Committee for the Liberation of Africa, with its headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam, and training bases at Kongwa, and later at Morogoro and Nashingweya, in Tanzania, the OAU also provided all-round political and material support to all freedom fighters from FRELIMO, the MPLA, ZANU and ZAPU, as well as SWAPO, the ANC and PAC of South Africa. Of course, this was not welcomed by the arch-colonialist.

The Boers Nationalist Party were quick to chuckle gleefully and listened to Macmillan in a stony, unbelieving and coldly defiant silence when he read out loud the writing on the wall to a chagrined and unbelieving white racist parliament, through “The wind of change” speech but in the end, they couldn’t have their cake and eat it.

Nevertheless, Chinweizu Chinweizu contends that we must discuss and debate and criticize everything, including ourselves, so as to minimize error through harvesting our collective wisdom.

And how do we establish what each is due without thorough evaluation? Chinweizu asked this in a forwarded message to Bankie F Bankie on Sunday, 24 July 2011, on Nkrumahists and Nkrumah’s book on Consciencism seeking to study and re-evaluate Nkrumah and his life work. Chinweizu says “for 50 years some have been celebrating and implementing incorrect ideas and not evaluating or improving them. They will glorify and entrench errors, even if these errors will clearly guarantee our defeat. Chinweizu then posed the question to find out who benefits from non-discussion when it hides our weaknesses instead of exposing them for correction. He says the Ndi-Igbo people say that one should not out of politeness swallow poison. So, Chinweizu continues, let’s thrash out our differences thoroughly, and learn from the exercise and go on and do our work better. As Mao would say, thrashing out our differences is part of active ideological struggle and is a weapon for ensuring unity within the movement. And as Cabral put it: “Now taken together, unity and struggle mean that for struggle unity is necessary, but to have unity it is also necessary to struggle. And this means that: Unity for us to struggle against the colonialists and struggle for us to achieve our unity.”

50 years ago, Professor Prah says, some countries were no more than vast farms producing palm oil, peanuts, bananas, or cocoa due to the mono-cultural economies and serving economic accumulative processes to maintain and service Western hegemony in western metro poles, afterwards, horrific civil wars were fought over oil, while in some countries, extended fratricidal conflicts were like a sword of Damocles over their head or the albatross on their neck encouraged by super-power rivalry for spheres of influence. For this reason, most of the progressive governments adopted the stance of non-alignment, grounded in the spirit of the Bandung Conference of 29 states, of 1955, and hoped they would be able to stand aloof of the rivalries and contentions of the two global power blocs due to the impact of the Cold-War and East-West rivalries on African states.

Surely, this was a good transformatory instrument in the hands of the exploited classes, peoples and nationalities in their quest for liberation and emancipation but it has proved, with hindsight, says Professor Prah, to have been a misconceived view that did not locate African history in the context of the globally evolving hegemony of Western capitalism.

On his part, Chinweizu says, we can no longer ignore the issue of the agendas of others and embrace them uncritically, out of gratitude for whatever help they extended to us, but should upheld the interests of Africa at all times and never sacrifice them to even-handedness or anything else. Even if different influences have shaped our thinking, up and above this, our basic frame of reference was, is and should always be our unique African heritage anchored on the ideals of Pan-Africanism.

Dr Nkrumah’s words are haunting us today when he wrote in 1965 in his book “ Neo-Colonialism, the last stage of imperialism” and warned us, to paraphrase him, that in reality the economic system and thus the political policy of a neocolonial state, is directed from outside, despite being in theory an independent state with all the trappings of sovereignty. Indeed, capitalism has become such a greedy and war-mongering system with a relentless drive for profits leading the world into ecocidal extinction.

It is against this background that the Namibian Founding President on 29 July 2011, is reported to have blasted the Western Imperialists’ countries and said the architects of the ongoing war in Libya are bankrupt and are seeking means to keep their ailing economies afloat. Dr Nujoma then issued a challenge to all Pan-Africanists saying “As Africans, we must stand up as one and fight these imperialist countries.”

Prem Shankar Jha (2006:17) argues that capitalism is on the verge of bursting its nation-state container and is going global in the process wreaking havoc and destruction on a global scale and this destruction is real and palpable, whose implications are felt not only in Africa but also in the West. Within a period of two decades, four countries have been destroyed and the fifth about to be devastated. Two of these are on the African continent. The continent is being militarized as American imperialism spreads its tentacles through the US new military’s Africa command, known as AFRICOM and seeks more and more naval bases on the Indian Ocean rim. The capitalist-imperialist system constructed by the West over the last five centuries is indeed in crisis as evidenced by the massive US’s deficits and debts as well as the riots and violence in the so called capitals of the civilized worlds such as London. Some have argued that the fall of Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis following it, marks the beginning of the end of capitalism as we know it. Others are taking the position that the centre of gravity and hegemony is shifting from the West to the East and the BRICSA countries comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; yet others believe that capitalism is poised to reconstitute itself in new centers. The debate rages on.

Against this background, I applaud the youth and in particular, the SPYL and ANCYL for putting the challenge of economic freedom sharply on the African’s agenda. Though many are critical of their proposals, they have drawn attention to the most serious issues facing Africa. Nevertheless, there are those who do not want the youth to express themselves, in order to lend them prestige and shield them from scrutiny. Amid the sharp public commentary on nationalisation and other issues, as Cyril Ramaphosa says, the greatest mistake we can make is to ignore the concerns they are rising, because they go to the heart of the issues that we need to be grappling with.

Similarly, former liberation movements, if they don’t trickle economic benefits to their support base of the majority rural and peripheral- urban poor and the youth, they risk being accused of being hijacked by a few petit bourgeoisies and intellectualized class of the elites with a comprador mentality turning these mass political parties into elite-centred parties. For this reason, Professor Prah says, so long as we are as Pan- Africanists not organized and not operating under some discipline “interlopers”, free-wheeling and free-dealing intellectual highwaymen will feel welcome. Worst, they can even operate easily under flags of convenience and appropriate noms de plume.

In other words, to paraphrase Cabral, national liberation meant people reclaiming their right to make their own history. This called for nothing less than a structural reconstruction of the economy and reorganisation of the state and not to solve world problems created by capitalism based on IMF solutions. Nevertheless, none could be successfully done under the Western capitalist domination of the economy and the political hegemony of imperialist ideologies and policies.

The few who attempted were assassinated, overthrown or forcibly removed. Nkrumah is the case in point, Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of independent Congo for only three months, was assassinated by the Belgian government, according to De Witte’s book, with the assistance and collusion of the CIA because they viewed him as a strategic threat to their economic interests. Agents of Portuguese colonialism assassinated Amilcar Cabral just before independence.

Chris Hani was killed on the eve of the transfer of power. Steve Biko, who redefined the concept of a positive identity of the oppressed, was tortured to death by the henchmen of apartheid.

Indeed, the revelation by Wikileaks that the “ Defiance Campaign Launch” that unmasked those who have been conducting the orchestra in the background in the bid to oust President Mugabe and recolonize Africa, using stooges that they can manipulate and the recent revelation that there was a planned Military Operation called “Operation Shumba” mulled in 2007 by the US National Security Council in support of a perceived breakaway faction of ZANU-PF in alliance with Morgan Tsivangarai’s MDC-T should be a wake-up call even to the Former Liberation Movements in Southern Africa, and the entire continent of Africa to establish its own standby force. It is time we build our own future consistent with our own dreams and we can do this with the help of our friends such as Cuba and others with whom we have bonds of solidarity and friendship written in blood and a shared vision of a just world based on a long and fraternal relationship which dates back to the liberation struggle. Another challenge; the founding of national liberation movements, such as SWAPO, MPLA, FRELIMO, ANC, ZANU-PF, CHAMA CHA MAPINDUZI, was unique in crafting among the people an antiethnic common identity but as people assert new identity interests, a bigger paradox emerges that of finding out if the nations can develop a shared sense of identity while recognizing the existence of these multiple identities and multiple claims. Still, the best solution is Pan-Africanism.

Disclaimer: These views do not necessarily represent the views of my employer nor am I paid to write them.


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