Over the life of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (50 Years) and its women’s wing, the All-African Women’s Revolutionary Union (38 Years), two of the consistent elements of our party’s programme have been the political objective of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism, and the principle of revolutionary solidarity with the International Socialist and Anti-Imperialist movements. For the A-APRP/A-AWRU these two elements are complementary. Throughout our party’s history we have occasionally been misunderstood and/or in some cases attacked for these positions. We want to address both of them below and provide an analysis from our ideological perspective as to why we take these positions so that people understand, even if they do not agree.
Why Are We Pan-Africanist?
The A-APRP/A-AWRU is a part of the International Socialist Movement. We are Socialist, Anti-Imperialist and Anti-Zionist. We understand that oppressed African people (like other oppressed people) are exploited as workers under international capitalism, where generally those who labor do not own and control the means that produce wealth and those who own and control the means that produce wealth do not labor (but instead live opulently off the labor of the exploited majority). At the same time we also understand that African people have a particular historical position within the current dominant world social-economic system of capitalism-imperialism. It was the invasion, rape and eventual colonial occupation of Africa (along with the settler colonial entities setup in North/South America and the Caribbean that included the wide scale genocide of the indigenous populations), which gave rise to the system of Imperialism developed in Europe.
The working classes of Europe and later North America and Asia, while also exploited by this same system, have at the same time in a twisted way been partial ‘beneficiaries’ of the ultra exploitation of Africa and African people. It is the mineral wealth (Oil, Gas, Gold, Diamonds, Platinum, Timber, Uranium, Coltan, etc) and the agricultural wealth of Africa that have fed the factories of Europe and North America for centuries and increasingly in recent times Asia. This has allowed the capitalist system to give some minimum level of economic security to a portion of its populations which has manifested into what is referred to as the middle class. This relative economic security provided by imperialist countries to a portion of their own populations, along with the systematic indoctrination of racist ideology within the minds of that same population has resulted in the international working class having a very low or even in some cases non existing level of solidarity with African people who would otherwise be seen as fellow compatriots in the international class war between the oppressors and the oppressed.
We understand the truth in what Ahmed Sekou Toure, the First President of Guinea-Conakry and Secondary-General of the Democratic Party of Guinea-African Democratic Rally (PDG-RDA), stated famously that, ‘Imperialism will find its grave in Africa.’ Why is this? It’s because Africa represents the lynchpin of the world imperialist system. It is where imperialism operates most intensely and exists as imperialism’s most critical area of control strategically. Imperialism cannot survive without the ongoing theft of Africa’s wealth. African people do not benefit from Africa’s immense natural resource wealth.
In 1972, in his classic book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, renowned Pan-Africanist historian Walter Rodney wrote, “When citizens of Europe own the land and the mines of Africa, this is the most direct way of sucking the African continent.”[i] Decades later, the situation remains unchanged. According to the Mark Curtis and Tim Jones article, Honest Accounts 2017 – How the World Profits from Africa’s Wealth, “Foreign companies take most of the profits generated by Africa’s natural wealth….Money is leaving Africa partly because Africa’s wealth of natural resources is simply owned and exploited by foreign, private corporations. In only a minority of foreign investments do African governments have a shareholding; even if they do this tends to be small, usually around 5-20%[ii]. Additionally, these corporations pay little or no taxes to Africa as a result of a tax structure imposed on Africa by imperialist countries under the guise of “encouraging investment”. Once this stronghold is lost through the mass political uprising and organized revolutionary struggle of African people, it will be impossible for imperialism to maintain its control over any other area of the world.
It is also true that revolution cannot be exported. The best intentions of non Africans who may contribute honestly to our struggle can only be a complement to what we do as an African people. Amilcar Cabral, Revolutionary Pan-African Theoretician/Organizer and co-founder of the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), stated that ‘National Liberation is an act of culture.’ For Africa, the process of National Liberation has not been completed. And for the A-APRP/A-AWRU, National Liberation can only be completed with the achievement of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism: The total liberation and unification of Africa under Scientific Socialism. Thus those within the International Left who believe that Pan-Africanists should be exclusively working within the confines of the international socialist movement, should know that the greatest contribution which African people can make towards the inevitable defeat of Imperialism and the eventual establishment of World Communism, is the destruction of imperialism in Africa through the establishment of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism. Revolutionary Pan-Africanism is an objective designed both to free African people from domination and helps advance the global struggle against what the great V.I. Lenin called: Finance Monopoly Capital, The Highest Stage of Imperialism.
In the process of working to achieve Revolutionary Pan-Africanism, we are continuing the mission defined for us by our ideological and political ancestors including Edward Wilmot Blyden, Henry Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Ahmed Sekou Toure, W.E.B. Dubois, George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah to name a small few. This mission was further clarified during the 5th Pan-African Congress held in 1945. It was at this conference that the call was made for the development of mass organizations incorporating workers, youth, women and intellectuals in order to intensify the struggle for the decolonization of Africa (and the Caribbean) as a prerequisite step towards eventual Pan-African Unification.
Why We Engage in International Solidarity?
As we stated in the previous section, we know that African people have a historical requirement through our condition under imperialism which requires us to fight for an objective orientated towards our specific needs for our positive collective development. We have taken Pan-Africanism to be that objective. At the same time, while we are African, we are part of a larger world. We share the same global space called the Planet Earth with others. The African people, while having some struggles unique to ourselves, have interests in common with other populations of the world. The issues of imperialism, neo-colonial subjugation, class exploitation, gender oppression are experienced by all populations to one degree or the other.
The same political forces that created and developed the system of Apartheid in Southern Africa are the same ones that established the settler colonial entities called Israel (Illegal name given to Occupied Palestine), Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas. Any victory of peoples’ forces outside of Africa against imperialism assists the liberation process for us inside Africa, as the base of operation of our common enemy is reduced by those victories.
Walter Rodney eloquently explained in his classic work: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, how the colonial policy of imperial England and France strategically exported elements of the merchant classes of other areas under European colonial domination like India, Syria, Lebanon and others to areas of Africa to serve as a buffer class between the European colonialists and the African masses. These exported elements in many cases were viewed as threats to the foreign exploitation of their respective homelands imposed by imperial Europe. While this policy had origins in Africa, it was extended out to many African populated areas such as the Northern South America (example Guyana), and some of the Caribbean Islands (example Trinidad/Tobago). We have also seen this policy extended to the inner cities of North America where many of the supermarkets, petro stations and hotels in African communities are owned and operated by non European “foreigners”. Because of this reality, which was instigated by imperialism, some forces within the African nationalist community have taken the view that all of the people from those communities (Indians, Arabs, etc) are universally enemies of African people and should never be given support in regards to their national and class struggles by Africans. The A-APRP/A-AWRU understands that these mercantile forces represent a specific, minority CLASS element only. They represent a class element that is in fact at odds with the working masses within their very own communities (in Asian and Arab countries). We as a party stand in solidarity with any forces that are honestly and legitimately struggling for the supremacy of the working and exploited classes throughout the world regardless of the negative actions and views that a class segment of those populations have relative to African people.
Revolution is a science. It is not about feelings or sentimentality but what we call a dialectical & historical analysis of history. It requires having clearly defined goals and objectives based on scientific analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the people and the enemy. It is about developing and implementing a winning strategy and making adjustments when strategies fail and/or become obsolete. To be a Pan-Africanist is to be conscious of the necessity to recognize the importance of African culture and its’ role in developing our ideological foundation. We are Africans and will not compromise our nationalist position before our objective of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism is achieved. We are also conscious members of the world community and know that we ultimately seek to create a greater world where there is mutual respect and human camaraderie to help us reach our goal: the full, all-round development of human society.
[i] Rodney, W. (1972). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications.