Malcolm X’s declaration that the basis of all revolution is land is not mere rhetoric. It is a fundamental fact. Revolution is fought to make the land’s resources available for the survival and development of the people.
Of all the things that come from land nothing is more important than food. Diamonds, gold, uranium, coltan and silver cannot be eaten. It is food that sustains life. Access to it is among the most fundamental of human rights.
The Land and Freedom Army in Kenya (commonly called the “Mau Mau”) which fought for liberation from the 1940s through the early 1960s included the word “land” in the organization’s name because of clarity about the objective of their struggle. There can be no freedom when land and resources are monopolized by foreign forces, a domestic minority
ruling class, or a combination of the two. We call this neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism (a new form of colonialism) facilitates imperialism, which is essentially foreign domination of Africa through brutal monopolization of African resources. These practices enrich a corrupt few and impoverish the great majority. Africans are rendered landless or subjected to foreign market forces.
As just one example, when Bill Gates says we should not give up luxuries to combat climate change, the masses of Africa’s people respond: “What luxuries?” Those who live on the equivalent of two U.S. dollars a day in Kenya struggle to cope with the inflated cost of food caused by climate change. Bill Gates speaks for the less than one percent who control about 40 percent of the world’s wealth. Monsanto (Bill Gates’ corporation) seeks a monopoly over land and food production. Partnering with greedy elites in Kenya, he pursues control of seed supplies and accumulation of land from small Kenyan farmers.
Monsanto took control of the local seed supply and replaced it with genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers in India over the course of 15 years. This destroyed the tradition of local seed banking for re-use and plunged farmers into debt for nonreusable GMO products. This massive debt resulted in the takeover of farmland, crop failure and more than 200,000 suicides among small farmers in 15 years.
In his book “From Seeds of Suicide to Seeds of Hope: Why Are Indian Farmers Committing Suicide and How Can We Stop This Tragedy?” author W. Norton Grub explained:
“Monocultures and uniformity increase the risk of crop failure, as diverse seeds adapted to diverse to eco-systems are replaced by the rushed introduction of uniform and often untested seeds into the market. When Monsanto first introduced Bt Cotton in 2002, the farmers lost 1 billion rupees due to crop failure. Instead of 1,500 kilos per acre as promised by the company, the harvest was as low as 200 kilos per acre. Instead of incomes of 10,000 rupees an acre, farmers ran into losses of 6,400 rupees an acre. In the state of Bihar, when farmsaved corn seed was displaced by Monsanto’s hybrid corn, the entire crop failed, creating 4 billion rupees in losses and increased poverty for desperately poor farmers. Poor peasants of the South cannot survive seed monopolies.”
There are 60 varieties of natural rice in India that are bred to grow in diverse climates and environments, from low moisture seeds to those that grow in saltwater. Monsanto’s objective is to destroy and sideline these seeds. Beyond suicides and destruction of local farms, the GMO created food insecurity poses a threat to the entire Indian population that is potentially genocidal.
Destruction of food security is destruction of life. It is precisely the type of crime that flourishes under capitalism, a genocidal economic system. Although Africa has more farmland than any other continent, it also suffers from high infant mortality rates, malnutrition, and general food insecurity.
The contrasts are striking. Kenya has a well-developed infrastructure but because of stark class disparities, superhighways can be found in some regions and mud roads in others. Elected officials are paid the equivalent of 10,000-6,000 U.S. dollars a month compared to working class salaries of $130 U.S. dollars a month.
Kenya is not unique. In too many countries in Africa, land and resources remain in the hands of white settlers, multi-national corporations, and a few African elite families. Cash crops create starvation in the face of plenty. The reclamation of land and resources for the masses of Africa’s people is a revolutionary act. Only the organized masses with a clear scientific revolutionary ideology can bring this about. In Kenya the people need a nationally consolidated African
people’s formation that makes constitutional land provisions a reality. Zimbabwe stands as a sterling example of what can be accomplished in Africa with respect to land reclamation and the redistribution of land to the people. The evidence is found in the table below:
The way is clear. The revolutionary road must be traveled to reclaim Africa’s land for Africa’s people, and to end their starvation.