Africa

The National Question in Nigeria is probably one of the most complicated in the world - with over 120 languages spoken, three main ethnic groups, none of which constitutes a majority of the population, and the religious divide between Christians in the south and Muslims in the north. Over the past few years thousands of people have been killed in ethnic clashes. Unless the working class can offer a way out, Nigeria could be dragged into a bloodbath of barbaric proportions. Here we are publishing a collection of articles from the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers' Alternative, concerning this question.

Recently we received a request from an SACP activist for our comments on the exchange of letters between an SACP leader and an ANC leader that were published in the SACP quarterly journal, the African Communist. Quotes from Marx and Lenin were used to justify the pro-capitalist policies of the government. Jordi Martorell sets the record straight by explaining what Marx and Lenin really stood for.

This was the editorial from the first edition of the Nigerian Marxist paper, the Workers' Alternative which was launched in October, 1998.

The regime headed by Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria prides itself at being "democratic". Recently it was involved in passing judgement on the electoral process in Zimbabwe. But behind the democratic façade hides the same old despotic regime of the military that governed Nigeria for many years in the past. At the University of Ilorin, a leading student activist, Tosin Akinrogunde, has been expelled for protesting against the sacking of teachers who were involved in a strike in 2001. During his long history of student union activity he has been expelled several times, and in 1999 was also arrested and imprisoned for five weeks. This case will go to court and will incur legal...

Jordi Martorell reviews this new book by Patrick Bond and Masimba Manyanya. It traces the economic history of Zimbabwe over the last 100 years but pays special attention to the last 20 years since the coming to power of Zanu-PF. But while they make a damning condemnation of the IMF and their policies that have wrecked the Zimbabwean economy, the authors are proposing reformist solutions of tariff barriers and exchange controls, which will not solve the main problem which is the over-exploitation of the workforce. There is no way forward on a capitalist basis.

87 people were arrested on Saturday April 6 at a protest outside the house of Johannesburg's mayor, Amos Masondo, in South Africa. The protest was against the practices of the privatised South African electricity company ESKOM, which has been disconnecting users who cannot afford to pay their bills. It was organised by the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC) which has trained activists in how to reconnect people's power supplies.

This is another editorial from the Workers' Alternative, written at the time of the transition from the previous military dictatorship to the present civilian regime. At that time there were many illusions in so-called "democracy", as people hoped it would rectify the dire economic situation. We are republishing it now, as we believe it is as relevant now as when it was first published. (June, 1999)

We are pleased to announce the publication on the internet of Richard Monroe's history of the ANC movement. This pamphlet, written in the 1980s, deals extensively with the struggles of the 1950s and the tactics adopted by the middle-class ANC leaders, who favoured negotiations with the "progressive" section of the capitalists. It was originally printed in issue 13 of Inqaba ya Basebenzi ("Workers' Fortress"), the publication of the Marxist Workers' Tendency of the African National Congress in March 1984. Now we have an ANC government in power which is pursuing capitalist policies, and we have new layers of workers moving into...

The Western imperialists were very quick to brand the recent elections in Zimbabwe undemocratic, but there is no shortage of undemocratic and rigged elections in the African continent. Jordi Martorell takes a timely look at the history of the country since independence in 1980; its relations with the IMF, and why the imperialists have switched their support from Zanu-PF to the MDC. He says the main lesson to be drawn from the history of Zimbabwe in the last 20 years is precisely that genuine national liberation cannot be achieved simply by winning formal independence and democratic rights, but only by the overthrow of the capitalist system itself. Capitalism has sufficiently proven...

Nigeria is facing the worst crisis in its history. So-called "democracy" has not improved the lot of the Nigerian masses. Manufacturing industry is in a state of collapse. And now the financial sector is also on the brink. In the past two years we have seen two general strikes and practically every section of the Nigerian working class has taken part in strike activity. Even the police has been out on strike and built its own union. And now there are rumours of a mutiny among the soldiers. Nigeria is facing an Argentine-type scenario. From the Editorial Board of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers' Alternative.

We have received this report about the brutal repression at Sidi Ben Abdellah University last May which left 4 students dead. The news about these clashes have not been reported anywhere outside Morocco and the Moroccan press has given an extremely biased version of them. We urge our readers to express solidarity and spread the news of what actually happened.

The United Nations has betrayed the Saharawi people once again. After ten years of promising a referendum on self-determination, they have now dropped this plan altoghether and are proposing limited autonomy. We publish here an article from the Spanish Marxist paper El Militante written just before the latest developments. The author argues that the Saharawis will find their best allies in the Moroccan workers and youth in their common struggle against the hated Moroccan monarchy and for a Socialist Federation of the Maghreb. (J.J. Catala, June 2001) Also in Spanish:...

AIDS ACTION recently staged a successful march in Durban against pharmaceutical company Merck over its part in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations Court action against the South African government. Pravasan Pillay, an AIDS ACTION activist, charts the genesis of the March Against Merck.

Nearly 40 South African pharmaceutical companies are taking the South African government to court in order to defend their massive profits, even if this means the death of millions of people who are HIV positive. The case opened at the Pretoria High Court on March 5th. This article examines how the profit motive of the pharmaceutical multinationals prevails over the lives of millions of people.

On Saturday October 21st, nearly 40,000 people participated in 14 marches and 5 pickets all over South Africa to protest against racist and discriminatory banking practices. The day of action, called the 'Red Saturday', was organised by the South African Communist Party as part of their Red October Campaign. This article looks at the way South African banks discriminate against working class and poor people and argues that the SACP should have raised the issue of nationalisation of the banks.

We have received the following solidarity appeal from the Swaziland Solidarity Network. Swaziland has been under state of emergency since 1973. In the last few days a number of leading activists of the Swaziland Youth Congress have been arrested and tortured. In protest a group of trade unionists and left activists have now occupied the US embassy in the capital. We appeal to all labour movement, youth and left-wing activists to express their solidarity with the Swazi comrades and protest against the repressive actions of the regime.

This article was first published in the October 2000 edition of the Nigerian Marxist journal, the Workers’ Alternative. We think the analysis developed here by the Nigerian Marxists is still valid, and that the development of the MDC in Zimbabwe is full of rich lessons for the Nigerian and other labour movements. It shows that a mass party based on the trade unions can be created, and can be very successful - but also that this is not enough. To prevent the party from being taken over by capitalist elements, it must be controlled by the working class and have a socialist programme.

This article exposes the conditions of the workers at the farm owned by Obasanjo, the ruler of Nigeria. Obasanjo is the "civilian" president of Nigeria, who was in power in the past, but as a military dictator. He is now in power as a so-called civilian.

A week-long general strike from 7th to 13th June 2000 took place in Nigeria. It was in protest at the 50% increase in the price of fuel announced by the government of President Obasanjo. The strike was successful in forcing the government to drastically reduce the announced increases. We publish an eyewitness report we received.

It is important that we view the situation in Sierra Leone from its roots, i.e. from neo-colonial independence. The current civil war is a confirmation of the impasse capitalism has landed the country in. It is a reflection of the total failure of neo-colonial capitalism. All it can guarantee in the long run, unless the workers take power, is barbarism.

Sierra Leone is a very rich country in diamonds and bloodshed. The reason for the protracted civil war tearing Sierra Leone apart is the legacy of British colonialism and the struggle by the ruling cliques to rob the country's wealth.

As much as half of South Africa's workforce participated in a 24-hour nation-wide general strike called by the 1.8 million strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on May 10th. The main reason for the strike was the jobs crisis but it did reflect a wider discontent with the pro-capitalist policies of the ANC government. The article argues that talking about socialism is not enough and that the leaders of the SA Communist Pary and COSATU should break with the capitalist wing of the ANC and put forward a clear socialist alternative.

This document was written by Zimbabwean socialists in 1985 and deals in detail with the history of the struggle against colonialism, the character of the Mugabe regime and the tasks facing socialists in Zimbabwe at that time. We have decided to republish it here to give revolutionary activists in Southern Africa and in the rest of the world a better understanding of the background to the current crisis.

Mass protests of university and school students shook the Tunisian regime in April. Some sections of the workers, protesting against privatisation, also joined in. We have received the following article about the situation in Tunisia toghether with an interview with a Tunisian student activist.

All the world media have turned their attention to Zimbabwe in recent months since landless peasants started occupying white-owned big commercial farms. The press has unleashed a hysterical campaign against those land occupations which they depict as illegal and violent. They completely ignore the responsibility of capitalism and imperialism for robbing the land of the black peasants and pushing them into utter poverty. How do the white settlers dare to say those lands are theirs! When they robbed the lands of the blacks peasants they used all the violent means of repression possible.

The night of January 17th 1961 Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba, was shot dead in Katanga. Forty years later a new book by Belgian sociologist Ludo De Witte uncovers proof of what everyone already knew: the complicity of the Belgian government and the United Nations in this crime. Pierre Dorremans looks at the political background of this case and explains the politics of Lumumba.

Capitalism can't be blamed for the weather, but the disaster which hit this impoverished country has been made a thousand times worse by their inability to do anything that isn't profit motivated. The price of lives is weighed up against what they can buy and how they can be used.

Here is a report on recent events in Nigeria. Five students were killed by a cultist gang, that is a neo-fascist type organisation, at Ife University. Our comrades were closely involved in the events and some of them are lucky to be alive, as the gang were looking for some of them. Luckily our comrades escaped.

An article from the Nigerian Marxist paper Workers' Alternative which looks at the problems facing the student movement in Nigeria, and the events leading up to the arrests of our comrades there!

In spite of the fact that women constitute a sizeable percent of the Nigerian workforce, putting in the same time as their male counterpart, with their labour of no less value, and in the vast majority of the cases, having the same responsibilities, women are still discriminated against as "second class" workers.

On June 2nd the ANC won, as was expected, a landslide victory in South Africa's second democratic election. This article looks at the policies of the first term of the ANC government, the debates within the South African Communist Party, and the perspectives for the next five years.

"When I started work here 5 years ago I could see very clearly - now I couldn’t see very well, thanks to WAPCO".  These words, made by a WAPCO worker give a clear indication of condition of work in this "slave-camp". The working conditions are no better than most other factories. It follows the all too familiar pattern in Nigeria - more work, less pay.

"Victory is certain! The struggle continues! Amandla!" With these slogans, Jacob Mamabolo, president of the South African Students Congress, closed his political report to the organisation¥s 7th Annual Congress. The Congress, which took place at the Vaal Triangle Technikon from December 1st to December 5th, with the participation of 600 delegates and visitors, did not discuss just purely student issues, but dealt with the main debates and challenges facing the South African revolutionary movement at present.

In this article, the comrades of the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative, examine the revolutionary essence of the music and songs of the late Afro-beat master, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who died on August 2, 1997. The article was originally written on the first anniversary of his death. This artist was and still is extremely popular among African workers and youth for the radical and revolutionary content of his lyrics.

In May 1997 Kabila came to power in the former Zaire (which he renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo), ousting dictator Mobutu. The US diplomacy was euphoric. They now had a string of "client" regimes which included Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Rwanda, the DR of Congo and also a great deal of South Africa's foreign policy in the region was dictated by Washington. But many things have happened since. At least nine African countries have become involved in the Congo conflict which broke out on August 2. What is the meaning of the conflict in the DR of Congo?

The ruling class of Nigeria is facing a dilemma. The Indonesian revolution has brought home to them what could happen in Nigeria in the coming period. As in Indonesia, one man at the top was attempting to hold onto power in spite of the growing undercurrents of discontent among the masses. The overwhelming majority of the Nigerian population wants an end to military rule. That is why people came onto the streets to celebrate the death of the hated dictator, Sani Abacha, in June.

The brutal air strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan constitute a further sample of the bullying tactics of US imperialism and will be condemned by activists in the labour movement everywhere. By such means Washington uses its powerful airforce in order to throw its weight around and intimidate and blackmail all the peoples of the third world. This latest escapade is clearly intended for US public opinion, to show that "something has been done" in relation to the terrorist bombings in Kenya.

This article, by Ted Grant, deals with the refugee crisis in Central Africa at the end of 1996, when Belgium and French imperialists were demanding military intervention in the area for 'humanitarian purposes'.

On October 16, 1997, the troops of the former president of Congo Brazzaville, M. Sassou Nguesso, took control of the capital Brazzaville, thus ousting the current president Pascal Lissouba, after a five month long civil war. It would be very difficult to understand the reasons for this conflict without taking into account the background struggle for influence between French and US imperialism in Africa, and the interests of the different oil companies in the rich oil fields in Congo Brazzaville's Atlantic coast.

On May 17 the forces of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) took Zaire's capital Kinshasa and changed the name of the country to Democratic Republic of Congo putting an end to 31 years of dictatorship by Mobutu Sese Seko. This article analyses the different forces behind the conflict and outlines a socialist perspective for the masses of the Central Africa region.

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