From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject African Liberation Day: The Enduring Struggle against Colonialism and Capitalism
Date May 31, 2020 12:05 AM
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[This Pan-Africanism is, at its core, a people’s movement for
the liberation of humanity from the exploitation of capitalism and
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May 25, 2020
Peoples Dispatch
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_ This Pan-Africanism is, at its core, a people’s movement for the
liberation of humanity from the exploitation of capitalism and
imperialism. _

All-Africa Peoples Conference Accra, Ghana 1958., Pan Africanism
Today Secretariat


May 25 is celebrated as African Liberation Day. It is a commemoration
of the struggles for liberation from colonialism, and specifically
marks a key date in the struggle for Pan-African unity: the formation
of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. Comprising 21
member states, the primary aim of the organization was to support the
liberation movements in Africa’s remaining colonies and to
coordinate the construction of a new African society free of

This struggle to build African solidarity through Pan Africanism was
driven by revolutionary leader Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister
and president of an independent Ghana. Within a year of the west
African nation’s independence on 15 April 1958, Nkrumah convened the
All African People’s Conference – the first meeting of independent
African states. This meeting followed in the footsteps of the 1900 and
1945 Pan African meetings (in London and Manchester respectively) and
was attended by 200 delegates representing 60 organizations from 27
countries, including key leaders like Patrice Lumumba. The conference
set the stage for connecting diverse movements of resistance from
different contexts under one banner. In an adaptation of the explosive
declaration in _The Communist Manifesto, _the meeting announced  to
the world: “Peoples of Africa, Unite! You have nothing to lose but
your chains! You have a continent to regain! You have freedom and
human dignity to attain!” To the colonizers, they boldly pronounced
this fundamental demand: “Hands Off Africa! Africa must be free!”

The Pan-Africanism that arose during this time recognized that
colonialism was a system of capitalist expansion through brutal
exploitation and racist oppression. The colonial project has always
been one of the development of imperialist countries through the
underdevelopment of the global south in general and Africa in
particular. Nkrumah, together with other revolutionary groups, sought
to build solidarity through the unity of African governments in order
to gain economic freedom and bring an end to exploitation and
oppression for the people of Africa.

This Pan-Africanism is, at its core, a people’s movement for the
liberation of humanity from the exploitation of capitalism and
imperialism. The Organisation of African Unity – and later the
African Union – have disappointed many by not advancing the
revolutionary program towards a unified, socialist Africa.  In fact,
many governments in Africa have, under pressure from imperialist
institutions, routinely abandoned scientific socialism for chauvinism
and neoliberal capitalism. These failures and limitations should,
however, not distract us from the inspiration that the people of
Africa, their organizations and their movements draw from the struggle
for Pan-Africanism. This full liberation of Africa, its immense
material wealth and the workers of the world, constitutes the
substantive significance of the 25th of May.

Across the African continent, various liberation movements were able
to secure political independence from colonial rule. This political
independence was however not accompanied by economic independence –
a phenomenon characterized by Nkrumah as ‘neo-colonialism’ as
early as 1965. The continued exploitation of Africa’s resources and
people through neo-colonialism was cemented by means of neoliberal
austerity programs enforced by imperialist institutions, such as the
IMF and the World Bank. The capitalist stranglehold on the continent
has maintained Africa’s status as resource rich yet indebted,
exploited and thus impoverished.

In attempting to dispense with the prescriptions of capital, the
majority of founding African leaders made genuine strides towards
building socialism in their respective territories. History is replete
with accounts of the consequences of these actions. Kwame Nkrumah was
overthrown, Thomas Sankara was toppled and assassinated while Sekou
Toure of Guinea faced massive repression from France. Under these
economically repressive circumstances, the envisaged genuine working
class democracy could not materialize.

The development of capitalism on the African continent has been at the
expense of the majority of its people; privatizing natural resources
and, over generations, denying many their freedom to access and own
land. These sharpening contradictions of the class nature of our
society have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people’s organizations of the  continent, which gathered in
Winneba in 2018 to continue the march towards freedom and
Pan-Africanism, insisted that the time is now to unite the struggles
of the masses against capitalism and imperialism. This call for a
rekindling of the popular demand for a unified Africa under socialist
rule is even more pressing at a time when 22 individual men own more
wealth than all the women on the continent combined. As Nkrumah
declared at the inaugural meeting of the OAU, “There is no time to
waste. We must unite now or perish.”

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