The Bankruptcy of the O.A.U.

Elenga M’buyinga


To all those who devoted their lives to a politically united and genuinely independent Africa, especially Felix Moumie, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah — pioneers of Revolu­tionary Pan Africanism.

Pan Africanism or Neo­colonialism?

The Bankruptcy of the O.A.U.

Elenga M’buyinga

Translated by Michael Pallis

Zed Press, 57 Caledonian Road, London Nl 9DN.

Union des Populations du Cameroun/ The Camerounian People’s Union


Foreword to the English Edition                                  1

The Scope of This Book                                                1

The Central Questions Concerning Pan Africanism      2

The Bogus Francophone/Anglophone Division            3

Class as the Determinant of Africa’s Future                  4

Preface by Woungly-Massaga, Member of the U.P.C.

Revolutionary Committee                                            6

What is to be Done?                                                      6

A Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples 6

The Bankruptcy of the O.A.U.                                     9

Economic Co-operation: A Non-Solution                  11
A Union of Socialist Republics of Africa — The Only

Alternative                                                           13

Introduction to the Second French Edition             17

China’s Position on Africa: A Critical Analysis       17
European Social Democracy: Its Collaboration with

Imperialism in Africa                                            19
On A Divergence within the African Revolutionary

Movement                                                                  24

1. Pan Africanism: A Brief Historical Overview         28

Pan African Ideas Overseas Before 1945                28

The Initial Idea – Solidatiry Among People of African Descent (28)

Garvey and the Back to Africa Movement (29)

Du Bois: Pan Africanism as Anti-Colonialism

(30) The Early Pan-African Congresses (31)

The 1945 Congress and the Adoption of Marxist Socialism (33)

Pan Africanism in Africa, 1945-62: The Two Currents 34

Houphouet-Boigny Exposed: His Opposition to Independence and African Unity (35)

Significance for African Unity (107)

Imperialist Domination and Inter-Imperialist Conflicts: Impact on

Pan-African Integration (111)

Nationalizations: Implications for Socialism (115)

Conclusions                                                                124

3. The Politics of Pan-African Demagogy in Practice 137

Emerging Contradiction between Neo-colonial Bourgeoisies and Imperialism          137

This ‘Formal’Dispute between Bourgeoisies: The Example of

Chad (138)

Impact on the OA.U (139)

Pan-African Demagogy and dose Relations with Pretoria (142)
Roots of Contradiction 144

The Neo-colonialist Bourgeoisie’s Need for Markets (144)

Economism Criticized (144)

The African Bourgeoisie’s Weakness in the face of Imperial Capital (145)

Fear of Popular Struggles (147)

Independent African Capitalism Nevertheless Impossible 148 Pan-African Demagogy, Not Pan-African Unity 150

Deliberate Deception of the Masses (150)

Fate of the Former Revolutionary African States of 1958-62 152

The Case of Guinea-Conakry (152)

The Case of Congo-Brazzaville (154)

Algeria: A Special Case (156) Pan Africanism Today: Basic Conclusions 161

4. Revolutionary Pan Africanism Today                   167

The Objective Basis of Revolutionary Pan Africanism            167

The Essential Requirement: A Break with the World

Capitalist Market 168

The Lesson of 19th Century France (168)

The Lesson of Argentina (169)

The Lesson of the USA. (170) How to Achieve Such a Break 170

A Large Economic Territory via Revolutionary Political Unity (170)

The Existing Micro-States an Immovable Obstacle ? (171) The African Bourgeois Class Can Not Lead 1 his Struggle     172

The Example of the Oil Price Rise (173) Appropriate Political Practice for Pan-African Revolutionaries 176

Conclusions     177

Really to understand what goes on in the world today, it is necessary to understand the economic influences and pressures that stand behind the political events.

Kwame Nkrumah



In this book, which is really more a book by our Party, the Cameroon Peoples’ Union (U.P.C.) than simply by me, the author, we have tried to clarify the question of Pan-Africanism under the present neo-colonial conditions. During the course of more than 30 years of struggle, the U.P.C. in Cameroon, as well as on the African scene generally, has gained a rich political experience which has been set out in various pamphlets, and is brought together in this book.

What gives a certain importance to the present study is that it does not only focus on one or another aspect of the present neo-colonial situation in Africa, but, on the contrary, deals with neo-colonialism in our continent as a whole, and tries to find the fundamental roots of this policy being imple­mented by the present ruling classes in Africa.

The Scope of This Book

In Chapter 1, we give a summary, as briefly as possible, of the various ways Pan-Africanism has been conceived from the time the concept first appeared in 1900 to the May 1963 Conference which founded the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.) in Addis Ababa.

Chapter 2 deals with the evolution of the African economy and of the imperialist nations’ economies which determine that of our countries. This economic base is what can give us the keys to finding the answer to the question how to understand and explain the policies of the African ruling classes during the first 20 years of independence.

Chapter 3 develops our explanation of these policies, which we call the strategy of Pan-African Demagogy. This is the strategy being implemented by the emerging African neo-colonial bourgeoisies, who are telling mountains of lies to the African peoples and to world opinion about economic development, social integration and political unity.

Chapter 4 turns logically to the crucial political question: what is to be done? Here we try to define what it means to speak of Revolutionary Pan-Africanism today.

This is where the original (1975) edition of the book ended. But when our Party decided to publish a second French edition in late 1978 the bankruptcy of the O.A.U. had become a fact of common knowledge, beyond any doubt, and impossible to hide. It appeared impossible to avoid saying something about this problem. So Epilogue on the Bankruptcy of the O.A.U. was added.

The second edition was further enlarged by a Preface and a new Introduction which the reader will find here. Lastly, we should point out that the Appendix that appears here has its aim to criticize politically and ideologically the idea that certain opportunists — Cameroonians and others — are trying to spread amongst revolutionaries in our country as well as elsewhere in Africa.

The Central Questions Concerning Pan-Africanism

Briefly speaking, this whole study turns around two main, problems. The first problem is as follows. Until the Ghana coup of 1966 which overthrew Kwame Nkrumah’s regime, African revolutionary militants considered that the Pan-African Revolutionary Movement included three inseparable components: (1) the progressive independent African states, (2) the liberation movements fighting old-style colonialism, and (3) those revolution­ary organizations struggling against African neo-colonial puppet regimes. Now, it has become necessary in our — the U.P.C. — view to pose the question whether these three components still form a coherent movement: i.e. do they still fight together in the same direction and with the same goals, or not?

The second problem involves the question: Does revolutionary Pan-Africanism, as the ideology of the Pan-African revolutionary movement, still have the same content in 1980 as it had in 1960? If so, why? And if not, what is its present content? As soon as one looks at these two problems, one is led straight to face the following questions:

What is Pan-Africanism, and, more precisely, Revolutionary Pan-Africanism? What does it mean and what are its contents?

Why is it accurate today to claim that the policy of a large number of African ruling parties, which many people pretend is a revolutionary Pan-African policy, is not so at all? Or, in other words, what is this policy of Pan-African Demagogy?

Are we currently undergoing a crisis or, more accurately, the bankruptcy of Pan-Africanism? Who is responsible for this bankruptcy?

Does any link exist between imperialism, in its present form of neo-colonialism, and the victory that opportunism, using Pan-African rhetoric, has for the time being won over the Progressive Pan-African movement?

In which ways are Pan-African Demagogy and the petty-bourgeois micro-nationalisms in Africa connected to each other? What is to be done?

These are the main questions we had in mind when this book was first published in 1975. And they are the questions this book has tried to tackle and solve without beating about the bush.

The Bogus Francophone/Anglophone Division

Our Party and its MANIDEM Movement* (the Popular United Front around the U.P.C.) attach great importance to the publication of this English edition of our book.

* MANIDEM stands for ‘MANIfesto for DEMocracy’.

Firstly, African peoples and specially African revolutionaries are facing today a curious phenomenon — a sort of duality in every field, which divides the Black African peoples into so-called Francophones and. English-speaking (ox Anglophones). Despite some progress during recent years, many persons, and especially intellectuals who are francophones, remain ignorant about what is happening intellectually and politically in the Anglophone countries, and vice versa. Yet each group is well informed about intellectual and other events in France and Britain. We are, therefore, witnessing (and even participating in) a strange behaviour, which actually perpetuates the divisions set up by the slave traders’ conference of 1884-85 in Berlin. Furthermore, it is quite obvious that, by accepting these empty concepts of francophone and Anglophone, we are weakening our own capacity for liberation. We maintain a veritable Great Wall of China between two groups of African freedom-fighters on the senseless ground that these groups speak two different slave traders’ languages. Moreover, problems which are common to all African peoples are usually not tackled by either group from the correct basic point of view: the African Peoples ‘one. Instead they often try to find solutions to African problems according to either the British or the French way of thinking.

Secondly, this question of francophone and English-speaking African countries highlights one aspect of the shameful political bankruptcy of the Organization of African Unity: the language problem. No observer has failed to take note of the fact that the O.A.U. has adopted only three languages for its meetings and documents: English, French and Arabic! Of course, in Africa, countries termed Arab do make up a population of some 70 million people. It may therefore be quite right that their language be used as one of the working languages of the O.A.U. On the other hand, nobody can argue that there are really 50 million people in Africa who in practice use French as their daily language, and the same remark holds for English. So, what about Kiswahili, spoken by something like 100 million inhabitants in Africa, and which is the most important Black African language today and one of the 10 major languages in the world? Had the O.A.U. adopted Kiswahili as one of its languages, such a decision would have helped transform this pre-eminent African mother tongue into a much more highly regarded, studied and spoken tongue in the whole continent. It would have become a tool of communica­tion, at least between African writers, no matter whether they were so-called francophones or Anglophones.

There is one important point which must he brought out. Every African patriot is perfectly aware that countries like Kenya or Tanzania cannot demand that Kiswahili be adopted as one of the working languages of the O.A.U. The reason is quite simple: in view of their well-known puppet behaviour ever since the colonial period, people like Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast would develop their stupid ‘theories’ according to which this would be an attempt by Kenya and Tanzania to impose their own language on the OA.U. And his colleagues in puppetism would also fight to defend their masters’ language. Then, because of the well-known attitude within the O.A.U. (We must, above all, avoid any risk of a split’), everybody would say: let us continue with English, French and Arabic. And the situation would remain unchanged!

This makes it very important that all African patriots and militants adopt a clear position on this language problem and, without any chauvinism, demand that Kiswahili (and even Hausa, the second most widely spoken language in Black Africa, spoken by something like 50 million people) be adopted by the OA.U. as a working language. The question is so obviously important. Yet the O.A.U. which dares to pretend to be working for the liberation of Africa from foreign domination (including, presumably, cultural domination the destructive impact of which is notorious), has not j found even a minute of time to solve it. No wonder we are justified in claiming that the failure of the O.A.U. on this language question is really an event of far-reaching significance.

Talking of francophones and Anglophones in Africa today, trying to make the divisions between these two groups important, and failing to find African solutions to the question of lingua franca in Africa, is really a most shameful sell-out. By failing to solve this and similar problems the O.A.U. and those who support the already bankrupt Addis Ababa organization, are all contributing to keeping what are only secondary problems in the forefront of people’s consciousness. And by doing so, they are helping to hide what is the main emerging question in the present-day Africa: the deeper and deeper division of African society into classes and hence the class struggle which is the inevitable consequence of this division. In creating such a diversion, they of course give great satisfaction to the African neo-colonial bourgeoisies • who are shouting unceasingly that there exist no social classes — and no class struggles — in Africa today. But everyone is aware of the real facts.

Class as the Determinant of Africa’s Future

Indeed, one of the central theses of this book is that what has happened in Africa during the past 20 years, as far as Pan-Africanism and African Unity are concerned, is fundamentally the consequence of the development of classes and class struggles in our continent. Every African who wants to fully understand the trend of events in the 1970s and 1980s must ask: How did Africans of the 1940s and the 1950s, like Jomo Kenyatta, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Julius Nyerere or Kwame Nkrumah in the Anglophones’ countries — or Sékou Touré, Houphouet-Boigny, Felix Moumie or Patrice Lumumba in francophones’ countries — deal with Pan-Africanism and the problems of African Unity? What were their conceptions of this matter? And what happened thereafter?

Some people try to behave as if History has never existed: this is the fundamental behaviour of the African ruling bourgeoisies today. This book, therefore, felt bound to recall some truths impossible to deny because they are registered in History. Using quotations from many of these African Heads of State, our Party intends to prove here that the various political theories and actions re Pan-Africanism and African Unity are rooted on class positions. Many people still try to explain what is happening in our countries in terms of the spitefulness of this or that leader. Some try to explain the total bankruptcy of the OA.U. in terms of the inability of this or that president of the Organization. Our book, in contrast, tries to prove that, if somebody really intends to find the right explanation for the political volte-faces of leaders like Jomo Kenyatta or Sékou Touré (despite the latter’s rhetoric), then one must, first of all, look at the development of the class structure of African societies since independence in the 1960s, rather than at individuals however apparently important their personal roles may be.

Within the Cameroonian revolutionary movement, the embodiment of which is now the MANIDEM led by the U.P.C, we believe that, if African leaders from such different countries as Kenya, Tunisia, Guinea etc. have failed during 20 years of office to achieve genuine liberation and authentic democratic and popular societies, then such a large and important phenomenon cannot be due to the personal defects of this or that individual. It is basically due to social changes which have occurred during the long years of neo-colonialism our countries have undergone since 1960. It is due to the development of capitalism in Africa. And this has led the nationalistic petty bourgeoisie that existed at the end of the 1950s to become a turncoat and a neo-colonial bourgeoisie. Whatever mystifications and panaceas this class may continue to turn out, in attempts to mislead the African workers, poor peasants and radical youths, it is quite clear that the reactionaries will in the long run fail.

Africa has entered a new phase in its history. From now on, there are only two alternatives: Neo-Colonialism or Socialism. But under present African and world conditions, Socialism in our countries necessarily needs the political unity of African peoples and countries. A necessary (and we believe sufficient) condition for this to happen is that the African working class and poor peasantry take hold of the leadership of the revolutionary movement in each country and in the continent as a whole. They must build this movement in the form of a powerful African Peoples ‘Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), fighting clearly for a Union of African Socialist Republics. This is our central argument.

Of course, we are not empty dreamers. We know that many people, hiding their interests behind plausible rhetoric, will find these ideas not at all realistic, even Utopian. But we are sure that the ideas contained in this book and in analyses by other genuine African anti-imperialist militants and fighters will ultimately be proved correct by the direction of History.

Elenga Mlntyinga,

1 May 1981.


In presenting this second enlarged edition of Pan-Africanism and Neo-­colonialism by our comrade Elenga M’buyinga, we feel that one question, above all others, calls for an answer: what course is now open to us; what is to be done?

What is to be done?

The O.A. U. is bankrupt. We need a Revolutionary Pan-African Organization! Raised around various issues, this slogan has been at the heart of all our party’s work on Pan-Africanism and the prospects for an African Revolutionary Movement during the last five years. The bankruptcy of the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.) is a plain and undeniable fact. Yet few people bother to point it out, for the simple reason that the present state of affairs suits the present rulers perfectly. But what is a Revolutionary Pan-African Organization? How can it be created? Why is it now, more than ever, an historical necessity? These questions demand a fuller explanation, especially today.

A Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples

The creation of a Revolutionary United Front of all African Peoples has, in our opinion, become the most important and most urgent task facing pro­gressive African militants. This task is not reducible to promoting a vague solidarity or even to adopting a common strategy of struggle. A Revolutionary United Front of African Peoples can only be viable and impose itself as the necessary historical alternative to the O.A.U. quagmire if it assigns itself, as its central goal, the task of establishing a Union of .Socialist Republics of Africa.

In many respects, the African people enjoy fewer freedoms and civil rights in the era of the O.A.U. than they did under colonialism. But they have acquired considerable experience and reached a higher level of political consciousness: it has now become possible to create a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples, just as, under colonialism, it was possible to launch the R.D.A.(Rassemblement Democratique Africaine).*

* The Rassemblement Democratique Africain (R.D.A.) was a united front of all the Black African French-dominated territories, launched just after World War Two. Its first Congress took place in Bamako (now the capital of Mali) in 1946. Houphouet-Boigny was elected President. But three years later he and his friends decided to surrender to French colonialism and, apart from its Cameroonian branch (the U.P.C.), the Rassemblement failed to carry on its fight for genuine independence.

Publisher’s NoteMobutu made this propagandist – and never validated – claim in order to whip up Western military support for his corrupt regime during the repeated risings in Shaba Province in the late 1970s.

Those who describe the call for a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa as Utopian and who do so while pretending to express the feelings of the African people are hardly trustworthy realists. Let us recall that, following the Second World War, it was exactly this kind of pseudo-representatives of the people, corrupt feudal chiefs and bootlicking petty officials, who thought that independence was also so absurd as to be out of the question. Today, they have become the pillars of neo-colonialism.

The first step in understanding the importance and historical necessity of a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples is to get rid of a myth which is still widely taken as the starting point for every attempt at political analysis of events in our continent. This simplistic myth, wrapped around a neologism, is that East and West are struggling to ‘destabilize’ Africa. Most of the manipulation of public opinion and misleading analyses of African affairs are in some way connected with this myth.

It is a catch-all theory which lends itself well to the most reactionary propaganda uses. South African racists invoke it in their hysterical invective when they claim to be ‘defending the West’. Arab reaction and all those who get embroiled in its strategy use it, and it is the basis for Mobutu’s blatantly untrue claim that his army has captured Soviet soldiers. The People’s Republic of China also pretends to be resisting Soviet attempts at destabilization when it allies itself with the imperialists and other forces most hostile to the libera­tion struggles of the African peoples. One of the top African puppets of imperialism, Houphouet-Boigny, charged by his masters with the defence of imperialist military interventions in Africa, constancy proclaims that ‘he who holds Africa will dominate the world’. It never occurs to this ‘great African’ that Africa might belong to itself rather than to someone else.

Nothing at all can be understood today about any African problem unless one starts from the realization that the one and only force which is ‘destabilizing’ Africa is the impoverished African peoples’ rejection of the inhuman dictatorial regimes to which they are subordinated. This rejection cannot be either neutralized or diffused.

The Western countries are obviously not seeking to ‘destabilize’ Africa. Since formal independence has done virtually nothing to limit the domination, exercised by these countries over Africa, their policy is naturally one of consolidation and defence of the neo-colonial status quo. As in all Third World countries, this policy aims to keep the people in a constantly worsening state of destitution and oppression, by means of dictatorial puppet regimes.

The subversive actions directed by certain imperialist countries, such as France, against some African progressive regimes or even occasionally regimes merely putting up a show of anti-imperialism, are only tactical operations which fit into this broader overall strategy. Indeed, those regimes which have caved in under harassment and accepted the role of serving imperialist interests unconditionally are increasingly allowed by their appreciative masters to retain the use of a more or less radical rhetoric.

As for the socialist countries, they are certainly not seeking to ‘destabilize’ Africa either, as the instigators of the propaganda which presents these countries as fiery internationalists are well aware. The socialist countries’ actions in Africa conform to the requirements of peaceful co-existence, their own self-interest and, often, to the best rules of realpolitik.

Inasmuch as they are Marxist, these countries take into account the historically irreversible character of the people’s liberation movement and the popular revolt against inhuman social systems. Their active participation in the consolidation of what has been won by popular struggles in Africa thus fits into the normal framework of relations between states. It enables them to deploy an internationalist policy which, for all its limitations and whatever its motives, remains a precious and irreplaceable contribution to the process of liberating the African peoples.

How could it be otherwise, when the West shows such a total lack of imagination and bases its policy in Africa on crowning joke emperors and sending mercenaries to save utterly corrupt regimes?

Consequently, and happily, the struggles of the people themselves continue to be the determining factor in Africa’s evolution, whatever outside interests may be involved. The future of Africa is no more in the hands of the imperialist West than in those of the socialist countries. The former offer no alternative to neo-colonialism, desperately shore up discredited regimes and strive in vain to conceal their alliance with the present racist South African rulers; their ship is sinking, and all they can do is patch a few holes. As for the socialist countries, they do not wish to smash the structure • of co-existence; their support for popular struggles is selective and a function of their strategic and economic interests.

African revolutionary militants struggling against contemporary neo­-colonialism must be fully aware of the immense potential and decisive role of popular struggles. Above all, they must rid themselves of a whole range of illusions about aid. Today, the most reactionary position vis-a-vis Africa’s political problems is the one which denies the very existence of popular struggles and explains everything in terms of ‘hegemonic interventions’.

It is quite obvious that Africa is one of the regions of the world whose future evolution will gradually modify the global strategic balance, even without a major crisis. But anybody who recognizes this obvious fact should be able to understand that this is precisely why nobody can (or intends to) ‘systematically export revolution’ to the continent, just as nobody can lastingly repress the revolutionary struggle of the masses. The French neo-colonialists, for instance, will find it increasingly difficult to use their legionnaires and mercenaries, and such operations will have more and more disastrous consequences for their perpetrators, as they provoke an ever more radical consciousness and anti-imperialist opposition amongst the African masses.

It is in this context that one can grasp why it is so important and necessary for African progressives to create a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples. Two kinds of factors underline this urgency: those which are to do with the difficulties faced by militants and organizations struggling against bourgeois neo-colonial dictatorships, and those which flow from the inexorable decadence and growing impotence of the so-called Organization of African Unity.

An increasing number of African revolutionary militants and leaders endorse the project of creating a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples. The complex interplay of state interests frequently leaves them with only two alternatives: either they can abandon the struggle, or they can concert their efforts to find concrete solutions to their concrete problems. Now that the neo-colonial bourgeoisie is operating quite openly on a continental scale, within the O.A.U. framework, the call to create a Revolutionary United Front brings home to every serious African revolutionary that the same continental scale of operationis just as relevant to the development of the struggle against the neo-colonial bourgeoisie.

The Bankruptcy of the O.A.U

This book demonstrates the bankruptcy of the O.A.U. with scientific rigour. Its conclusions are constantly being borne out by current events in Africa. The O.A.U. can still waffle on about Southern Africa for a while, but it is already incapable of playing any real part in the major political problems and crises we face in Africa today. The O.A.U. has absolutely no perspective on Africa’s fundamental contemporary problem, the problem of neo-colonialism, precisely because it is itself a product of neo-colonialism. It is no coincidence that the unification of Africa is so rarely on the agenda at the O.A.U.! The peoples of Africa cannot but react to such a betrayal of their aspirations.

Yet the O.A.U. is not short of champions. Indeed, there have never been so many people hurrying to defend it. This may at first seem mystifying, but if one stops to consider two simple facts, everything becomes clear. Firstly, those who defend the O.A.U. have little else in common. They certainly have different motivations. Secondly, and more crucially, none of the O.A.U.’s champions, beginning with its own members, is at all put out by its bankruptcy. On the contrary, an O.A.U. which dared to concern itself genuinely with African unification would immediately be viewed with suspicion, even hostility, by its own members, notably the lackeys of France, whom that country continues to summon to endless ‘Franco-African Conferences’, just like in the good old days of the Communaute*.

* Publisher’s Note: The short-lived French Community was set up by de Gaulle after 1958 in an attempt to stave off demands for formal independence in France’s African colonies.

In short, the O.A.U. is a Pan-Africanism without Pan-Africanists, the Pan-Africanism of the anti-Pan-Africanists. Everybody knows that the very idea of continental unification has always terrified most O.A.U. members. Even those who based their empty demagogy on the ‘African Democratic Revolution’ are now weary of the pretence.

What really appeals to most O.A.U. members is the splendour of its Summit meetings, which provide such a marvellous opportunity for mystification and propaganda. The O.A.U. is also the ideal diplomatic frame­work within which to cement the active solidarity of the neo-colonial state bourgeoisies and to clinch endless deals, to the greater detriment of the people of Africa and their struggles.

In its present form, the O.A.U. is perfectly suited to the role assigned to it by imperialism. No amount of hypocrisy can hide the fact that the imperialists were the real sponsors of the formula adopted, despite all Kwame Nkrumah’s isolated efforts, in 1963 at Addis Ababa. How delighted these same imperialists must be with their creation, a faithful replica of the equally enfeebled Organization of American States, dominated by a substan­tial majority of dictators who reign by terror j who are manipulated by the Western powers and who are fiercely hostile to any notion of genuine African unification.

Although more surprising, the support which the socialist countries and certain parties anxious to demonstrate their ‘statesmanship’ give to the OA.U. is no less logical. For the former, the defence of the O.A.U. seems to be the best way of showing respect for the young independent states’ of Africa. Unfortunately, this attitude leads them to endorse the neo-colonial status quo blindly. For the latter, support for the O.A.U. is a manifestation of their will to act as serious patriots by defending the colonial interests of their own countries, even if these are not essentially proletarian. In this domain, as in many others, the Chinese have displayed an appalling cynicism, collaborating openly with the imperialists and the worst reactionaries. But they are not alone in behaving like an unscrupulous whore vis-a-vis the decrepit O.A.U.

There are those who think that even to point out the undeniable evidence that the O.A.U. is bankrupt is a manifestation of pure ultra-leftism. Our Party will shortly be publishing an analysis of the relations between the socialist countries and Africa. When some Communists are reduced to saying that they would not hesitate to work against the interests of the African peoples if in doing so they could intensify the co-operation between their government and the O.A.U. states, irrespective of the policy of those states, it is hardly surprising that anybody should be reluctant to investigate the true nature of the Organization.

Not long ago, the French social democrats declared themselves in favour of the African intervention force sponsored by President Giscard and his neo-colonial collaborators. Yet their proclamations on the Third World — especially concerning areas where the interests of French imperialism were not at stake, of course — might have led one to believe that they were well and truly cured of their old delusions, which in the past made them such ardent political proponents of French colonialism.

So much esteem for the O.A.U. plunges the African petty bourgeoisie into total disarray. On the one hand, they cannot ignore the undeniable and blatant failure of this heads of state trade union. On the other, they are seized with vertigo at the prospect of proposing an alternative. They thus sink into a delirium of empty phrases about ‘saving’, ‘reforming’ or ‘democratizing’ the O.A.U., endowing it with endless new commissions, etc.

But if any possible reform could still save the O.A.U., in other words give it even some meaning connected with the name that it bears, that reform would paradoxically have to consist in creating a commission which would (at last!) deal with the problem of unifying Africa.

Let it be said that those African progressives who automatically align their opinions with the diplomacy of this or that socialist country flounder about in equal confusion when it comes to the O.A.U.

Economic Co-operation: A Non-Solution

Could not a few progressive African states, within the O.A.U. or on the margins of the inoperative structures of the Organization, open up some new: perspectives? Can we not advance towards genuine independence and a real unification of Africa by establishing agreements on economic co-operation, and notably by setting up an African Common Market? Unfortunately, the answer is no, for the following reasons.

Current events in Africa do not just highlight the bankruptcy of the O.A.U. They also bring home the collapse of Pan-African ideology in most African states. All concrete proposals for unification have gone by the board and nearly every state has opted unequivocally for narrowly nationalist development strategies. At best, African states retain a cautious notion of ‘solidarity’. All this represents a considerable step backwards compared to the 1960s.

It is now undeniable that the final elimination of the old colonialism will in no way modify the way things are moving and will open up no new perspectives, even for the limited number of relatively progressive states.

We can therefore state in all confidence that today — and indeed, ever since the first O.A.U. Summit — African unity, the realization of Pan-African ideology in the framework of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa, will be brought about by the peoples themselves, or it will never happen.

As for the disproportionate hopes certain people put in the virtues of economic co-operation, it is worth recalling few simple facts. We in Africa are used to economistic arguments. The colonialists themselves once dreamed of avoiding all mass struggle in the territories they dominated by paying their houseboys well and improving public sanitation. The Belgians, in particular, were firm advocates of colonial economism, although they were not alone in pushing stupidity to the extreme — remember the French Constantine Plan in Algeria.

Following the wave of formal independence in the 1960s, and notably at the first O.A.U. Summit in 1963, similar economistic illusions were wide­spread. A whole range of inconsistent theories were based on the naive belief that the great economic and social problems of Africa could be solved by purely economic measures and reforms.

As Comrade Elenga M’buyinga reminds us in this book, Kwame Nkrumah rightly denounced the erroneous neo-colonial economistic theories which claimed that the real independence and unification of Africa could be achieved or even furthered by invoking the miraculous virtues of an African Common Market or by means of economic agreements amongst neo-colonial states still under the economic and political yoke of international imperialism.

As long as we remain under the control of capitalist imperialism and its multinational companies — and in certain African states this control is almost total — no viable strategy for liberation and unification can be based on economistic theses. Let us be blunt: for 15 years the O.A.U. has done nothing but ‘promote the real independence and unity of Africa’ through economic agreements and co-operation. The result? Nil. This book, Pan-Africanism or Neo-Colonialism, makes this abundantly clear.

Of course, no serious African patriot will maintain that African states with different political orientations should necessarily live in a state of con­stant war. In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, economic relations between countries committed or leaning to different social systems are not necessarily reprehensible. It all depends on the political basis for such co-operation.

The progressively orientated African states are exposed to constant harassment from the imperialists, and as a matter of principle must develop policies which will ensure their own consolidation and the reduction of avoidable tensions. Even the newly emerged Soviet authorities, under the great Lenin, were forced to sign the Peace of Brest-Litovsk with capitalist Germany in 1918. But one should not underestimate the vigilance of the progressive militants and peoples of Africa by assuming that they are incapable of drawing a very clear distinction between this kind of policy and games of diplomatic poker in which awkward popular struggles are sacrificed.

It is certainly less Utopian to work towards the creation of a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples and a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa than to hope that neo-colonial economistic theses will ever lead to the slightest concrete result. Let us not forget that the call for an African Common Market was launched 15 years ago by the Guinean, Sékou Touré. It was one of the main batteries used to shoot down Kwame Nkrumah’s radical theses at the first OA.U. Summit. Why have the protagon­ists of this plan conducted no serious political campaign to implement it during those 15 years? They never believed in it themselves, and now it is they who have lost all credibility.

The People’s Republic of the Congo has been outspoken in its rejection of this call for an African Common Market and has denounced the reactionary and neo-colonialist character of such a scheme, given the present African context. In its 16-29 October 1978 issue, the journal, Afrique Asie, reported Congo-Brazzaville’s head of state as saying:

It is essential that the African countries should ensure that their, at present, still largely neo-colonial national economies should become independent, before we can even think of creating an African Common Market.

Indeed, such a project could easily become a monster. We might end up with a vast institution which we could not master and which would thus become a powerful means whereby the old metropoles could perpetuate or even intensify their imperialist exploitation and re-colonization of the continent.

The progressive stance taken by the People’s Republic of the Congo over this suspect call for an African Common Market must be a heavy blow for the strategists of contusion, who no doubt hoped that the Congolese leaders would support them merely to be obliging. It is only to be regretted that the political courage of the Congolese Workers’ Party leaders did not extend to recognizing the real problem for what it was.

For nearly 20 years, despite incessant proclamations about ‘the struggle for economic independence \ nearly all the O.A.U. regimes have proved totally incapable of making any progress whatever in this direction, or of providing for the most elementary needs of their populations!

It is now perfectly obvious that all the promises of future economic progress the O.A.U. regimes have made over the years to the starving and destitute African masses have done nothing and will do nothing to change the neo-colonial dependence of our countries and of the continent as a whole. Our peoples are uniquely qualified to know this: they have had long and painful experience of the verbal incantations and outright lies poured out by O.A.U. politicians whose only preoccupation is to hang on to power and fill their own pockets.

A Union of Socialist Republics of Africa — The Only Alternative

The real problem is that, in the present context, individual African states cannot implement any serious and exhaustive policy of economic indepen­dence and real development in every domain unless there emerges a great and powerful progressive black state, a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa. By turning then backs on the question of the political unification of Africa — under pressure from various sources — the O.A.U. regimes, including those who claim their allegiance is to socialism, condemn themselves to dependency and neo-colonialism.

The only hope for the African masses is thus to fight resolutely to establish a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa. The Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples must be at the heart of the struggle.

The neo-colonial context of the O.A.U. will make the creation of this Revolutionary United Front a vital issue for all patriots who struggle against the African neo-colonial dictatorships. After 15 years of ‘building socialism’ in Africa, the balance sheet makes sad reading; African patriots and the masses of Africa as a whole have no choice but to turn to the creation of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa as their only hope.

There is a fundamental difference between Revolutionary Pan-Africanism and the tendency to undertake commitments to build socialism only in national frameworks. The consequences of this divergence for the future of Africa may be serious indeed. Given the prevailing level of underdevelopment throughout Africa, a multitude of relatively small, even if sometimes fairly rich African countries, heading off one after the other along the road to socialism, would inevitably be condemned to objective dependence on the existing socialist countries in nearly every domain.

Only socialist development within the framework of a large African state organized on a continental or semi-continental scale can ensure an adequate economic equilibrium and forestall all dangers of this kind. As we see it, such a state is also a sine qua non for the real elimination of racial domination and racist crimes against black people.

Only a large state of this sort would not be tempted to invoke fear of ‘Communist domination’ as an excuse for opening itself up to international capital. Indeed, it is quite possible that some socialist countries might encour­age such an opening up to international capital, with its investments and markets, even though such a course in an underdeveloped country can mean only a deadlock for socialist construction.

The question of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa confronts the socialist countries with a simple choice: they can either genuinely contribute to building socialism in Africa, or they can try to create a set of more or less socialistic African client states, which would form a new type of neo-colonial zone.

A Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples would in no way handicap any individual national struggle. On the contrary, it would constantly open up new approaches. It must, therefore, never be allowed to sink into a morass of mere ‘solidarity’, which in this context would mean its death.

Solidarity presupposes distinct objectives, limited co-operation, occasional exchanges. By definition, solidarity cannot mean the fusion of forces in a single struggle. It must be limited to mutual aid and constantly has to be adapted to cope with the chauvinistic selfishness, weaknesses and organizational or political errors of this or that group. In contrast, a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples must spring from a resolutely united, critical and self-critical desire to create the conditions for the most effective mobilization against neo-colonialism in Africa.

The Revolutionary United Front can, therefore, only be viable if it is conceived of and instituted as a means of combat which will unify, lead and co-ordinate the struggles of vanguard Marxist-Leninist national organizations, national popular fronts and all other relevant forces in the various countries.

The so-called Organization of African Unity illustrates its own bankruptcy in every sphere, including the cultural; it is constantly multi­plying its ‘working languages’ but has still not adopted a single African tongue. The Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples will need to adopt a clear policy on linguistic matters. The issue is fundamental.

Throughout the world, thousands of Negro-African intellectuals and thousands of black revolutionary militants have a perfect mastery of the languages our peoples encountered in the course of the terrible sufferings imposed upon them by the slave trade and colonialism. Why should they not now undertake to learn the foremost Negro language, Kiswahili, which is spoken by more than 100 million men and women in Africa and which figures among the ten foremost languages of the world? What better way to expose the hypocrites who claim to be singing the praises of Negritude while serving imperialism and Arab reaction?

It is highly desirable that Kiswahili should become the main language of the Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples and that the Front’s militants and cadres should learn to conduct their activities in the African languages spoken by the African masses.

African patriots must have the courage to define their own line of conduct, and assume the responsibility — which is theirs alone — of mapping out the course of the African revolutionary movement. This duty is not a matter of posing as super-revolutionaries, as our detractors would have it. It is fundamental to the very existence of our struggle. Only one kind of ‘revolutionary movement’, only one kind of ‘patriot’ can decide not to say anything which might displease somebody: the kind whose struggle no longer has any real meaning.

We must thus assume full responsibility for our own political and ideological identity. This is all the more crucial in an Africa where hypocrisy and confusion reign. Those who condemn us for ‘attacking everybody* or ‘running before we can walk’ completely miss the point. Show us the ‘model revolutionaries’ who have obtained real results in their struggle against neo-­colonialism without attacking anybody and we will gladly follow their example.

This edition of this book should encourage further and more precise debate concerning the creation of a Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples. We have only advanced a few propositions to stimulate action and thought. The task of building the organization itself belongs, by definition, to the patriots of the different African countries. We hope that an ever increasing number of African patriots will find in Comrade Elenga M’buyinga’s analyses a new source ofinspiration, new motives to break with resignation, discord and petty quarrels.

To create such a front and to fight resolutely for the inauguration of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa is the task to which we should all devote lour modest efforts. It is the path by which we can build a genuinely socialist Africa, a people’s Africa in which Africans will be truly free and masters of their own destiny.


Member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Union des Populations du Cameroun

November 1978


When our Party first published Pan-Africanism and Neo-Colonialism in French, 15 years had elapsed since the majority of African countries started winning their independence in 1960. But because it came out in 1975, the book could not take into account the most important event to take place in Africa during the 1970s, namely the recovery of national independence by the old Portuguese colonies — Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome. Much of the text was originally written during 1974. The book was not concerned with speculation but rather strove to highlight the essential features which characterize the development of contemporary African society, so it could only base itself on what had actually happened.

Since 1975, the situation in Africa has evolved considerably. Even those who like to bury their heads in the sand have to admit that the recently acquired independence of Mozambique and Angola has had a decisive influence on Southern Africa. Similarly, the significant changes in Madagascar, leading to the emergence of a progressive African country in the Indian Ocean, and the admittedly tortuous development of the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution in Ethiopia have brought about a substantial modification of the balance of forces in Africa as a whole. Despite the notorious impotence of the O.A.U. — an impotence which is only denied out of cynical self-interest by forces both inside and outside the continent — this modification is noticeable even in the decisions which the O.A.U. takes and does not take.

China’s Position On Africa: A Brief Critical Analysis

This Second Edition has therefore striven to integrate these new factors. To save space we have had to leave aside the systematic and painstaking analysis of another remarkable event of the last few years, namely the People’s Republic of China’s shift to a reactionary African policy. Given this omission, we feel obliged to say a few words on the subject here, so that people will at least have an idea of what revolutionary members of the U.P.C. think of China’s present policy in Africa. After all, this policy is now an integral part of the African political landscape. Apart from the politically blind or venal, nobody can afford to treat this major development as merely incidental.

In 1974, the world was told by ‘the cat which is satisfied with catching mice’, that there was no longer a socialist camp and that the fundamental aspect of the international scene was no longer the basic class opposition between the forces of capitalism and those of socialism; instead, we were told to believe in the ‘Three Worlds’ theory. Since then, the African policy of China has moved steadily to the right, timidly at first and then more and more arrogantly.

China’s support for the ultra-corrupt regime of Joseph Mobutu, a man who murdered Lumumba, Okito, M’polo, Mulele and thousands of Congolese patriots, and who is an open agent of the CIA. and the Belgian secret service, has completely exposed the essentially counter-revolutionary character of China’s policy in Africa over the last few years.

The breathtaking cynicism and dishonesty of China’s vociferous approval of France’s armed neo-colonial interventions in Africa eliminated all possible doubt in the matter. China’s support for France’s official policy in Africa comes at a time when this imperialist country seems determined to replace Britain as the greatest black-slaving nation in history, as is clear from France’s 20-year political, military, economic and cultural love affair with racist South Africa and from the development of blatantly anti-black and more generally anti-African racism in France itself over the last few years. The daily murders of Algerian immigrants may go unpunished in France, but they are noted in the rest of the world.

By asking Africans to raise their fists and cry ‘Long live our alliance with the French, English and German imperialists, who are all part of the Second World and who oppose Soviet hegemonism’, the Chinese Three Worlds theory has set the seal on China’s anti-African alliance with the West European imperialists. The latter, of course, remain hand in glove with the United States, the African people’s worst enemy.

It would be comic, if it were not so tragic, to see so-called patriotic and anti-imperialist Africans from countries like Gabon, where every square metre is dominated by French imperialism, waste so much energy denouncing so-called Soviet social imperialism whose threat to their country is as fictitious as the claims of Ahidjo, Bongo, Bokassa, Mobutu, Senghor, Houphouet-Boigny and Hassan II to a non-aligned progressive position.

The theoreticians of the People’s Republic of China, who so carefully gloss over issues of class composition when they claim that the ‘Third World’ has displaced the forces of socialism as the fundamental agent in the struggle against imperialism, are in fact rejecting that which unites all those who recognize themselves in scientific socialism. Thus, it is not so surprising to find the revolutionary China of yesterday arm in arm with people like Mobutu, Bongo, Ahidjo, Bokassa, the Shah or Pinochet. Of course, all this is done in the name of the ‘non-alignment and unity of the great family of the non-aligned countries of the Third World, in their struggle against hegemonism, dominationism and colonialism’. No mention of neo-colonialism, naturally. Neo-colonialism as a theme would require some analysis of concrete cases: Cameroon under Ahidjo, Congo-Kinshasa under Mobutu, Gabon under Bongo, and so on.

It is now legitimate to ask whether China still considers itself to be a socialist country or not? If not, then it should first of all say so clearly, so that everybody could see the attempts by the People’s Republic of China to infiltrate the Third World for what they would then be, a ruse to seize the leadership of a vast body of relatively weak nations, with the aim of struggling against the two other countries with human and geographical resources comparable to China’s. But if the answer is no; if, as our Party still believes, China sees itself as socialist, then its persistence in declaring that the socialist camp is dead and buried and that China is an integral part of some politically and socially heterogeneous Third World’ can only be a ruse geared to attaining hegemony over this ‘Third World’. It is not a matter of good or bad intentions. It is just that there is simply no substitute for a careful analysis of classes and the balance of forces. Even a summary analysis of this kind would bring out the following key fact: China’s position in this Third World that its theoreticians have cobbled together by disregarding the most elementary laws of Marxism-Leninism is a position of potential hegemony. Whether China is socialist or not, its aim isclearly to mislead the African peoples as to who their friends and enemies really are.

Socialist China has even had the effrontery to ask African revolutionaries to compromise with the Pretoria Nazis. The People’s Republic’s insistence in 1975 on the need for an alliance in Angola between the MPLA and Savimbi’s UNITA (an organization then being run entirely under the trusteeship of the Pretoria Nazis) amounts to precisely that: a compromise between racist settlers and African revolutionaries! If an independent and internationally respected China chooses to forget its own historical experience with Japan and other imperialists, that is its own affair. But for China to try to convince the African peoples to forget 500 years of slavery, exploitation, oppression and racism, all in the name of the ‘struggle against Soviet hegemonism’, is quite outrageous, even if it would suit Chinese foreign policy.

Let us be clear. African revolutionary militants have always felt a deep comradely friendship for China, as for all the socialist countries, including the U.S.S.R. But the days when the Africans could be treated as cretins are over.

European Social Democracy: Its Collaboration With Imperialism in Africa

At one stage, one might have thought that the various social democratic forces in Europe had disavowed their infamous colonial past and were prepared to approach the African peoples in a spirit of true friendship. But, since 1975, an offensive led by British social democracy (which implements the policy of Its’ bourgeoisie better than that bourgeoisie itself) and German social democracy (which Rosa Luxemburg described as a ‘stinking corpse’ as far back as 1914) has been underway, with the aim of implanting this kind of social democracy in Africa.2 Faithful to their own traditions, the leaders of the French Socialist Party have reintegrated Senghor, who is now ‘reconciled’ with socialism. In this context, the history of Senghor’s resignation from the Socialist Federation of French West Africa in 1948, on the grounds that it was a dictatorial organization, is particularly illuminating.3

The Rassemblement Democratique Africain (R.D.A.) was founded immediately after the Second World War. It was a federation of Territorial Sections operating in the various black African countries under French colonial domination. As such, the R.D.A. played an effectively progressive role in promoting the emancipation of the African peoples from its foundation in 1946 up to late 1950, and quickly attracted enthusiastic mass support. The Cameroonian section of the R.D.A. was the Union des Populations du Cameroun (U.P.C.). The call for national reunification and independence launched by the U.P.C. from the moment it was founded (10 April 1948) expressed the aspirations of the Cameroonian people so accurately that in a very short time the organization was extraordinarily well implanted in the country. But the R.DA.’s success in Cameroon was enough to frighten the French bourgeoisie, who immediately began putting obstacles in the R.D.A.’s path. The French bourgeoisie was not alone in its efforts:

One of the most characteristic manifestations of the opposition to the R.D.A. mounted by the major French parties, the M.R.P. and S.F.I.O.,4 with the help of the French Overseas Administration, is the way the latter has supported or even created parties which reject the R.D.A. With a few rare exceptions, these parties, unlike the R.D.A. sections, have no real constituency amongst the population; their occasional electoral successes are entirely due to the backing of the Administrator or his faithful traditional Chiefs.

In 1948, the M.R.P. promoted the formation of an Independent Overseas Parliamentary Group, with Mr. Senghor as its most prominent member…. Mr. Senghor had resigned from the A.O.F. Socialist Federation in September 1948.5

Shortly after he resigned from the S.F.I.O., in order to start a Senegalese branch of the ‘Overseas Independents’ (independent of the R.D.A. and” the Communist group in the French Parliament, but dependent on the colonialists), Senghor founded his Bloc Democratique Senegalais (B.D.S.). In 1949. he was rewarded by George Bidault, who appointed him Secretary of State for French Overseas Territories, or Junior Minister for the colonies if you prefer. In Cameroon, the equivalent of Senghor’s B.D.S. was the Bloc Democratique Camerounais (B.D.C.). This body was founded by a former settler from*Algeria, Louis Paul Aujoulat, and his associate Andre Marie Mbida. They later recruited Ahidjo. The B.D.C. was the Cameroonian Section of the *Overseas Independents’ (I.O.M.). As Mamadou Dia said at the time:

The LO.M. movement is not really a popular grouping; rather, it is an attempt to co-ordinate different parties, to integrate them from above. From this point of view it is a step backwards compared to the R.D.A., which has built up its superstructure from the popular masses.6

Mamadou Dia is being tactful. From his account, one might believe that the main difference between the I.O.M. and the R.D.A. was that the former merely co-ordinated ‘from above’ parties which in fact had little real existence. He does not say that the two parties diverged on the main issue: national independence. At the time, the French Socialist Party did not accept the idea of independence for the colonies (which were seen as an integral part of the French national heritage). But Senghor’s resignation from the S.F.I.O. was no move towards political forces favourable to independence for colonized Africa. On the contrary, he shifted towards the M.R.P., which had set up the anti-independence I.O.M. movement. Senghor was in fact expressing his opposition to national independence. As for those who seek today to whitewash Senghor, one might ask who they supported at the time.

Another illustration of the function of the I.O.M. is documented by Claude Gerard, an observer whom not even the imperialists could accuse of being biased in favour of Communists.

In Cameroon, Ruben Urn Nyobe’s U.P.C., which had called for independence and national reunification from the moment it was founded on 10 April 1948, responded to increasing repression with more and more intense resistance, despite having no allies or supporters in the metropole apart from the P.C.F. [French Communist Party].

Unlike the Togolese nationalists, the U.P.C. was not granted a U.N. supervised referendum. Tension grew, till in May 1955, armed struggle broke out. Although localized in the south of the Cameroons [incorrect, EM.], the U.P.C. was the major political force in the country, in both numbers and influence.

Alongside the U.P.C., there were several other parties, the most important of which was the Bloc Democratique Camerounais led by Dr. Louis Aujoulat (I.O.M.), Mr. Duala Manga, a parliamentary deputy, and Ahmadou Ahidjo, councillor to theUnion Francaise, who rallied to this I.O.M. tendency.7

And what was the function of these groups which existed ‘alongside’ the U.P.C.? Quite simply, to fight against the very idea of national independence. Even an author as far from being a Communist as Claude Gerard comes to the same conclusion. ‘The aims of the UJP.C, namely national independence and reunification, were achieved on 1 January 1960 and 1 September 1961, by the non-UJP.C. political forces which had originally opposed these concepts and had thus enjoyed the support of the administration.’8 Unfortunately, the author fails to tell us how this miraculous substitution took place. But it is none the less clear from her account that, when Senghor and Ahidjo present themselves as ‘Fathers of the Nation*, ‘Apostles of Independence’, etc., they are cynically falsifying history, even though many of the original actors are still alive.

Knowing this background, the young people and revolutionaries of our continent have a duty to grasp and explain the exact nature of the present social democratic offensive directed at Africa. A few recent examples should help.

During the last popular uprising against Mobutu’s corrupt and much detested regime in Congo-Kinshasa in 1978, the American and West European imperialists held several meetings, notably in Paris and Brussels, in an effort to save the Kinshasa dictator and his clique, and to decide matters for Africa generally. Once again, it was back to Berlin 1884.

At the first meeting, on 6 June 1978 in Paris, the ‘socialist’ (i.e. social democratic) governments of Britain and West Germany sat side by side with the proudly imperialist governments of the U.S., France and Belgium. At the second meeting, on 13 and 14 June 1978 in Brussels, the same ‘socialist’ governments, plus the Dutch Government, conferred with the imperialist pirates from the U.S., France, Belgium, Japan, Canada and Italy, along with the ultra-reactionary monarchist cliques (those proud defenders of human rights) of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

A year before, in 1977, another popular rising against Mobutu had only been smashed thanks to the intervention of a French-Egyptian-Moroccan expeditionary force.

Given that the underlying causes of these popular uprisings against Mobutu, and indeed against all the present-day neo-colonial bourgeois dictatorships, remained unchanged, the imperialist governments suggested to the bourgeois African regimes of Senghor, Houphouet, Bongo, Bokassa, etc., that they set up a permanent police force capable of flying to the rescue of any African dictatorship threatened by its people. During May 1978, when the French imperialist slave traders held their fifth neo-colonial ‘Franco-African’ conference, this intervention force was again in fact the most import­ant item on the agenda.

Given the French, German and British socialist parties’ unfailing attach­ment to the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights, in Latin America, in Asia, in the Communist bloc, in Papua-New Guinea, among baby seals and at the North Pole, indeed everywhere except ex-colonial Africa, no African militant was surprised to learn that Mr. Charles Hernu, the French Socialist Party’s defence spokesman, had fully endorsed this African intervention force. Having been plied with wine and caviar at the Chateau de Versailles, Mr. Hernu told the press that he found the idea an ‘attractive’ one. A few of the other prominent French Socialist Party figures were not quite so accommodating, but their protests did not go very far.

On 11 June 1978, the First Secretary of the French Socialist Party spoke up:

Whilst I am quite convinced that the Cubans have no business in Africa, I feel that their influence in the continent has been exaggerated. In any case, it is not by imitating the Cubans that France can play an appro­priate role. Rather than arguing about the Cubans, it would be better to discuss the stability of Africa with the Soviet Union. Why are such talks not already underway?

Surely it is time to open negotiations, especially as it is legitimate to ask whether the Soviets and the Communist world have really gained so much ground in Africa over the last few years, or whether they have lost some.

It is thus clear that the French Socialist leader believes that Africa’s problems should be settled by negotiations amongst superpowers, for example, die U.S.S.R. and the imperialist countries. Not so different from Berlin in 1884, after all. Paternalism (at best) remains one of the cornerstones of social democratic policy in Africa.

The French Socialist leader’s suggestion was so much in keeping with the ideas of the neo-colonial lobby and was so much In accord with the interests of the nation’ that it was put into effect barely two months later. Indeed:

A delegation led by Mr. Guy Georgy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Director of African Affairs, held talks with their Soviet counterparts in Moscow from 9 to 10 August [1978]. The Soviet chief representative was Mr. Leonid Hjitchev, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, assisted by the Directors of the Africa Section. The two parties outlined their respective — and contradictory — viewpoints concerning Soviet-Cuban and Western interventions in Africa.10

The social democratic offensive in Africa has recently been manifest in two ways. First, there has been an attempt (which will no doubt continue) to bring together parties such as the UJS.F.P. (Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires),Istiqlal of Morocco, the Tunisian Destour, the Arab Socialist Unions of Sudan, Egypt and even Libya, Senghor’s party and Ahidjo’s C.N.U. Second, during the congress of the Socialist International in Vancouver, Canada, Willy Brandt (that defender of human rights who delivered Louis Metangmo to Ahidjo) and his friends tried to draw in the M.P.L.A., FRELIMO and the P.A.I.G.C. by inviting them to the social democratic assembly.

It is common knowledge that Sadat’s ‘socialist’ Egypt fought alongside Morocco and the French against the patriots in the Congo. In Morocco, the U.S.F. strove to be even more chauvinistic than the bourgeois Istiqlal on the question of the Western Sahara. These parties, and the Moroccan Communist Party, remainedshamefully silent during the Moroccan inter­ventions in the Congo. Under such conditions, it seems obvious that European social democracy, having fought for 30 years to preserve colonialism, is now busily organizing all these parties into an African ‘social democracy’, with the aim of maintaining neo-colonial domination over the peoples of Africa. It is well known that the finance for this ‘African’ social democracy will come from the S.P.D. and its subsidiaries, such as the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the outfit which co-ordinates all the German social democrats’ dealings with dominated countries, as was recently confirmed by the Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler.

It is the duty of every African revolutionary to check this vast enterprise which aims, quite simply, to keep our continent under capitalist slavery.

On A Divergence within the African Revolutionary Movement

The complete independence of the African revolutionary movement is today the absolute precondition of any revolutionary struggle in Africa. As long as the African revolutionary movement as a whole has not resolved to work out and determine, autonomously and responsibly, its own stance, in accordance with the interests and aspirations of the workers and poor peasants of Africa (which in no way excludes militant internationalism, on the contrary), every political force in the world will treat Africa as a backyard to play in. Objective observers will not argue that this is a chauvinistic position on our part, especially if they take into account the remarkable discretion with which world progressive forces approach the subject of African political unity. Yet everybody knows that, as long as Africa remains as split up as it has been since the European slave traders’ conference in Berlin in 1884, the African countries will always be likely to become client states of this or that major power, whether they wish to or not. But, although this is generally accepted, the moment it comes to drawing the relevant political conclusion, a lethargy develops which can have only one explanation: the awareness that the present fragmentation of Africa is in one way or another extremely profitable to a wide variety of forces, who have no interest in seeing a political unification of Africa or the emergence of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa.

Our Party recently became aware of a document produced during a meeting of African revolutionary parties. Certain African Communist Parties met and drew up a programme for the African revolutionary movement as a whole in the corning years. To our astonishment, this long document does not contain a single clear sentence on the crucial subject of African political unification.1 To be blunt, we smelled a rat. Our Party fully intends to con­tribute, as is our duty, to the debate as to the most appropriate programme and most urgent tasks for African revolutionaries today. This is, therefore, not the place for a critique of the programme put forward by the three African Communist Parties in question, especially as the document is full of highly contestable statements. Its immediate endorsement by the ‘International Communist Movement’ expresses an arrogance which is not without dangers even for the most elementary kind of solidarity amongst African revolutionary patriots, not to mention the need for autonomy from the foreign policy of this or that socialist country. We will therefore content ourselves with answering these African Communist Parties’ arguments about those who wish to ‘destroy the O.A.U.’

For at least five years, as we recalled in the Preface, our Party has been pointing to the shameful political bankruptcy of the O.A.U. The epilogue to this volume completes the demonstration. We have not been reticent to say that the O.A.U. is a politically discredited lie-factory which misleads the African people, to the great delight of imperialists, reactionaries and opportunists of all sorts. Without boasting, we can say that the U.P.C. is the only political party in Africa to have taken such a clear stance publicly. We know that our position is fully shared by many African patriots, especially those who struggle against the neo-colonial bourgeois dictatorships in Africa. And we have never resorted to allusion in order to make our point.

We were, therefore, amused to find the following sentence in the document so painstakingly produced by the three above-mentioned African Communist Parties:

The Marxist-Leninists and all the other progressive forces support the O.A.U. while reserving the right to constructive criticism of irresolute actions or actions which are not appropriate to the historical situation: all are opposed to any attempt to destroy the organization.12

So who are these wreckers? Surely clarity demands that they be identified.

To our knowledge, no African state seeks to ‘destroy the O.A.U.’, since it suits them all well enough. Individuals hardly constitute a major threat to an organization of over 50 states. So the African Communist Parties must be thinking of certain specific political parties and organizations.

Everybody knows that, while we in the U.P.C. do not support the O.A.U., we do not call on the progressive African states to quit the organiza­tion.13 But we do think, and believe we have proved, that the O.A.U. is a political con-trick as far as its contribution to African unity goes. Every informed person is aware that the U.P.C. bases its thought and action on scientific socialism, i.e. on Marxism-Leninism, so it is quite wrong to claim that all (African) ‘Marxist-Leninists support the O-A.U.’. A pious wish it may be, a fact it is not. But a Communist Party should not base its approach on pious wishes. Furthermore, is it not naive — or ingenuous — to behave as if one was unaware that one has to work out what it means to be an African Communist and who is in a position to decide what is an African Communist Party? African revolutionaries who have been in exile in the socialist countries for decades only court ridicule when they speak derisively of ‘middle-class democratic revolutionaries’ — just barely good enough to carry out the ‘National Democratic and Popular Revolution’ — and pose as paragons of African Communism. The peremptory affirmation that (African) ‘Marxist-Leninists support the O.A.U.’, without any Marxist-Leninist analysis of what the O.A.U. actually is, implies something quite different, namely that the Marxist-Leninist stance in Africa must follow blindly the diplomatic policy of this or that socialist country, which certifies who is a Communist in Africa and who is not. This amounts to an excommunication of all those who do not support the O.A.U., and who, therefore, in the pontifical opinion of our three ‘African Communist Parties’, do not qualify as true ‘Marxist-Leninists’.

Given the notable divergences which exist between all the various political forces which claim allegiance to Marxism-Leninism in the world, and given the resulting tendency for some of them to consider themselves as the only true Marxist-Leninists, one might, at a pinch, have understood if the comrades who drew up the document had classified the U.P.C. amongst ‘the other progressive African forces’, the ‘revolutionary democrats’. That much, at least, must be granted us by anybody who is not interested only in the wildest subjectivism. So it is quite wrong to claim that ‘the Marxist-Leninists and all the other progressive forces support the OA.U.’. The document’s total lack of a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the O.A.U. and its strangely inexplicit distinction between ‘communists’ and ‘Marxist-Leninists’ is bad enough. We want to make it absolutely clear here and now that the U.P.C. does not support the O. A.U.

The problem which the O.A.U. poses for militant Africa is too serious to be dealt with without a systematic and thorough enquiry. Those who claim allegiance to scientific socialism cannot be content with ‘political games’, or with a simple reiteration of this or that socialist country’s position on Africa and the African revolution.

Since a debate is called for, every African revolutionary organization owes it to the revolution to set out its point of view clearly and explicitly. As Marx and Engels said in the Communist Manifesto, ‘Communists do not stoop to hiding their opinions and their projects’.

Like many other African patriots, we in the U.P.C. are certain that Africa will be free. She will be freed with the help of all the progressive forces in the world, and especially of those who are the most reliable the moment it is a question of solidarity with the peoples’ struggle against imperialism, namely the socialist countries, the Communist Parties and the other Marxist-Leninist forces everywhere. But Africa will be liberated, above all, by the African revolutionaries themselves. The latter have a duty to work out their own ideas, in an internationalist perspective of course, but also as people who are responsible for their own destiny and for the socialist revolution in Africa. The development of these ideas demands an open, frank and healthy debate on the problems our revolution faces, with an eye to that which will promote the common struggle of all African workers.

Our party, the U.P.C. has long been committed to this approach. It is to this end that we have published this book.

Elenga M’buyinga

29 December 1978


See Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, Part I.

German social democracy remained shamefully silent in August 1914, when the German imperialists assassinated the great Cameroonian patriots, Duala Manga, Martin Samba and Ngosso Din. More recently, Willy Brandt, that champion of ‘human rights’, was Chancellor when the Bonn government handed the Cameroonian patriot Louis Metangmo over to Ahidjo. His opinions were his only crime; he was eventually murdered.

See Claude Gerard, Les Pionniers de (‘Independence, 1975, p. 33.

M.R.P.: Mouvement du Rassemblement Populaire, a French bourgeois party. S.F.I.O.: French section of the Worker’s International, now part of the French Socialist Party.

Claude Gerard, op. cit., p. 33.

Quoted in ibid.

Ibid, pp. 37-8.

Ibid, p. 38.

Le Monde, 13 June 1978, p. 6.

Ibid, 13 August 1978, p. 18.

The document in question is entitled Pour la liberte, la renaissance nationale et le progres social des peuples d’Afrique tropicale et australe, The version published inBadolo Bi was signed by the Senegalese African Independence Party and by the Communist Parties of Sudan and South Africa. It was published in late 1978.


“The U.P.C. believes that African revolutionaries have no right to demand that those revolutionary militants active within the OAU should pull out of that organization’. See TOUA et I’Afrique australe’ in Cahiers Upecistes, No. 10, April 1977, p.34.



Pan-Africanism is generally taken to mean that set of political ideas asserting that Africa is a single entity which must unite. All the peoples of the continent are fundamentally similar. They all bore the yoke of colonialism, not to mention slavery, just as today they all suffer the exactions of neo-colonialism. The peoples of Africa have a common struggle against a common enemy which dominates and exploits them all: imperialism. Also, there is in Africa a profound cultural unity, which, thanks to Pan-Africanism, proves that the African peoples share a common destiny.

However, the fact that the first theoreticians of Pan-Africanism were North American blacks, labouring under a system of exploitation of black workers, gives the concept a particular historical and social dimension which such a sketchy definition cannot convey.

We must place the whole question in its socio-historic context, examine the evolution of Pan-Africanism over time and see how its meaning has changed during different historical periods. Only then will we be able to determine what it means today. Even so, the history of Pan-Africanism is not our main concern in this book. Our real aim is to describe where Pan-Africanism stands right now.

Pan-African ideas overseas before 1945: The Initial Idea — Solidarity Among People of African Descent

In his book, Pan-Africanism or Communism?, published in 1955, George Padmore,1 one of the main historians of Pan-Africanism, explains that:

The idea of Pan-Africanism first arose as a manifestation of fraternal solidarity among Africans and peoples of African descent. It was originally conceived by a West Indian barrister, Mr. Henry Sylvester-. Williams of Trinidad, who practised at the English bar at the end of the 19th Century, and beginning of the present. It appears that during his undergraduate days and after, Mr. Sylvester-Williams established relations with West Africans in Britain and later acted as legal adviser to several African chiefs who visited the United Kingdom on political missions to the Colonial Office….

To combat the aggressive policies of British imperialists, Mr. Sylvester-Williams took the initiative in convening a Pan-African Con­ference in London in 1900…. This meeting attracted attention, putting the word Tan-Africanism’ in the dictionaries for the first time….

Today, Pan-Africanism is becoming part and parcel of emergent African nationalism, serving as a beacon light in the struggle for self-determination, the pre-requisite to regional federations of self-governing African communities which may one day evolve into a Pan-African Federation of United States.2

It is thus quite clear that Pan-Africanism emerged from the African peoples’ struggle against imperialism. Explicitly or not, it was, in practice and right from the start, a set of ideas geared to ‘combat the aggressive policies of imperialists’ in Africa.

However, the ‘Black problem’, the fact that populations of African origin were scattered all over the world by the Slave Trade, which was itself linked to the development of capitalism, as has been amply documented elsewhere,3 combined with the double exploitation of Blacks in America, both as workers and as Black workers, gave the original Pan-Africanism a definite ‘racial’ dimension.

Garvey and the Back to Africa Movement

Certain historians of Pan-Africanism have spoken, rather inaccurately, of a Black Zionism. The movement they refer to, which called for a mass return of emigrant Blacks to Africa, was founded by the Black Jamaican, Marcus Garvey. His ideas are summed up in the questions he asks in his book, Philosophy and Opinions:

I asked: Where is the black man’s government? Where is his King and his kingdom? Where is his President, his country, and his ambassador, his army, his navy, his men of big affairs? I could not find them and then I declared: I will help make them.4

Garvey’s ideology was manifestly racist, which no doubt contributed considerably to the failure of his endeavours. He first founded a Universal Association for the Progress of Black People, then an Imperial League of African Communities, which was supposed to organize the emigrants’ return to Africa. Then, in 1920, he founded a Black Empire in New York, and on 1 August 1920 assembled his first Parliament. This international gathering of Blacks enthusiastically approved his call to ‘work for a single but glorious goal: A free and powerful nation. Let Africa become a brilliant star in the constellation of the nations.’ Garvey, 33 years old at the time, was unanimously elected Provisional President of Africa.

One historically important point is that, although Garvey was a fierce opponent of imperialist domination over Africa, he detested it especially inasmuch as it was domination by whites. He asked:

Why should not Africa give to the world its black Rockefeller, Rothschild and Henry Ford? Now is the opportunity. Now is the chance for every Negro to make every effort towards a commercial, industrial standard that will make us comparable with the successful businessmen of other races.

Further on, he added that capitalism was necessary to progress and that those who opposed it opposed progress. To be fair to Garvey, one must point out that he intended to prevent any individual from investing more than one million dollars, or any company from controlling more than five million, beyond which sum the state would take over the business concerned. Clearly, Garvey had no precise ideas of the fundamental laws of capitalism. None the less, it is worth stressing that he was very much aware of the need for active and militant solidarity amongst all oppressed and dominated peoples. For instance, he sent messages of solidarity to Abd-el-Krim, the leader of the rebellion in ‘Spanish’ Morocco, who was President of the Rif Republic for some years in the 1920s. He also called for a union of all ‘coloured’ peoples in the Caribbean, in Africa, in India, in China and in Japan.

The questions Garvey posed have, by now, generally received affirmative answers. But the problem of liberating the African peoples from foreign domination remains practically unchanged. In fact, a new aspect of the problem has emerged, namely the domination and exploitation of the majority of Africans by a tiny minority of fellow Africans allied to foreign imperialists.

Du Bois: Pan-Africanism as Anti-Colonialism

Pan-Africanist ideas obviously change with historical circumstance. Not surprisingly, Garvey’s Pan-Africanism was eventually superseded by a more adequate conception. The first careful systematization of Pan-Africanist ideas, notably involving the exclusion of the racist aspects of Garvey’s theory, is due to Dr. William E. B. Du Bois, who is usually cast as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. Padmore knew Du Bois right from the early Pan-African Congresses held in Europe between the two World Wars, and met him again in Ghana, under Nkrumah, where Du Bois finally died in 1964. He gives the following account of Du Bois, conception.

During the period when Marcus Aurelius Garvey was at the zenith of his power, his chief antagonist, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, was expounding ideas of Pan-Africanism which were to have a more permanent effect on African political awakening.

Pan-Africanism differed from Garveyism in that it was never conceived as a Back to Africa Movement, but rather as a dynamic political philosophy and guide to action for Africans in Africa who were laying the foundations of national liberation organizations…. Pan-Africanism was intended as a stimulant to anti-colonialism….

Dr. Du Bois was not only firmly against transporting American Negroes to Africa but was a staunch advocate of complete self-govern­ment for Africans in Africa organized on a basis of socialism and co-operative economy which would leave no room for millionaires, black or white. National self-determination, individual liberty and democratic socialism constituted the essential elements of Pan-Africanism as expounded by Dubois…. 6

Du Bois naturally opposed Garvey’s utopianism. He, like most American Negroes, considered America to be their true native land. But… he was equally interested in helping forward the emancipation of Africa. Where Du Bois differed from Garvey was in his conception of the Pan-African movement as an aid to the promotion of national self-determination among Africans under African leadership, for the benefit of Africans themselves.

To the extent that Negritude means the exaltation of some kind of Black specificity (whether in general or in purely cultural terms), it is clearly not to be confused with Pan-Africanism. Furthermore, it was only when Pan-Africanism managed to do away with Negritude that it asserted itself clearly as a theory of revolution in Africa, designed to serve Africans — or at least so it claimed. The African revolution was then understood as the struggle of the African people for national independence and African unity, all of which was supposedly in the best interest of the Africans themselves. African unity itself came to mean the constitution of a political grouping of African states, who would gradually form themselves into a United States of Africa.

The Early Pan-African Congresses

In the pursuit of these aims, Dr. Du Bois called four Pan-African Congresses between the two World Wars. Pan-Africanism was slowly becoming a much clearer conception. The First Pan-African Congress met in Paris in 1919, thanks to the support given to Du Bois by Blaise Diagne, a Senegalese representative in the French Parliament. Most of the delegates came from the Antilles colonies and the United States. The French Prime Minister, Clemenceau, had authorized Diagne to organize the conference in Paris in recognition of Diagne’s distinguished services to France during the war, notably organizing the recruitment of 80,000 African soldiers from Senegal, most of who participated in the decisive Battle of the Marne in July 1918, which permitted the French to defeat the Germans.

The First Congress’s resolutions embraced a variety of themes, but one emerged particularly clearly. The delegates insisted, above all. on the right of the colonized peoples of Africa to self-determination, their right to own their own lands, their right not to be exploited by investment capital. The Congress demanded that the German ex-colonies in Africa be placed under international control, a demand which was later distorted by the League of Nations when it imposed its system of mandates on countries such as Cameroon, Namibia, Tanganyika and Togo.

The Second Pan-African Congress opened in London on 28 August 1921. This time, 41 out of the 130 delegates were from Africa. Most of them came as individuals rather than as representatives of an organization. The Congress adopted a World Declaration, drawn up by Du Bois, which reiterated the contents of the resolutions passed at the First Congress. At the time, as Du Bois himself pointed out in 1923, Pan-Africanism was (still) more of an idea than a fact’. Therefore:

After the Second Pan-African Congress, Dr. Du Bois conceived the idea of establishing a permanent secretariat in order to maintain regular contact between the representatives who had attended the various conferences. He hoped that, in so doing, the Pan-African idea would be kept alive until such time as political parties emerged and nationalism took deeper roots in African soil.8

At the Third Pan-African Congress, which met in London during the summer of 1923, the political content of the Pan-Africanist demands emerged with still greater clarity. The Congress notably demanded that Africans be granted:

A voice in their own governments.

The development of Africa for the benefit of Africans and not merely for the profit of Europeans.

World disarmament and the abolition of war; but failing this, and as long as white folk bear arms against black folk, the right of blacks to bear arms in their own defence.

The Congress adopted a Manifesto denouncing apartheid in South Africa. Forced labour and slavery were still rife in the colonies, especially in the Portuguese ones, notably Angola. At the same time, a group of African intellectuals had emerged in Lisbon and were agitating for reforms. These intellectuals organized themselves into a group called the Liga Africana. To encourage them, Du Bois decided to hold the second session of the Congress in Lisbon. This Liga Africana was, so to speak, the political ancestor of what was later to become the Committee of Nationalist Organizations in the Portuguese Colonies (C.O.N.C.P.), of which the PAJ.G.C. of Guinea Bissau, the Angolan M.P.L.A. and Mozambique’s FRELIMO were all members.10

Between the Third and Fourth Congresses Garvey’s movement dis­appeared from the scene; and, with the birth of two new Pan-African organisations, Africans from Africa began to play a part, almost for the first time. The first of these, the International African Friends of Abyssinia (I.A.F.A.), was founded when the Italian fascists, led by Mussolini, launched their criminal aggression against Ethiopia. Its members included J. B. Danquah (Ghana), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) and Mohammed Said (Somalia).

The second organization, the International African Service Bureau, soon counted Wallace Johnson, the West African trade unionist, Chris Jones from Barbados, Jomo Kenyatta (at the time the official representative of the Kikuyu Central Association) and George Padmore of Trinidad amongst its principal officers. The entente between Du Bois and the Bureau was to be historically significant, in that it promoted the implantation of Pan-Africanist ideas in Africa itself.

The Fourth Pan-African Congress met in New York in 1927. It confirmed the decisions and orientations adopted at previous congresses.

Then, in 1944, representatives of various black peoples’ organizations in England got together in Manchester, to set up a United Pan-African Front. The result was the Pan-African Federation, which from then on functioned as the British section of the Pan-African Congress Movement. The Federation adopted a programme which extended the principles of the first four Congresses and stated them even more precisely. Its declared aims were:

 To promote the well-being and unity of African peoples and peoples of African descent throughout the world.

To demand self-determination and independence for African peoples and other subject races from the domination of powers claiming sovereignty and trusteeship over them.

To secure equality of civil rights for African peoples and the total abolition of all forms of racial discrimination.

To strive to co-operate between African peoples and others who share our aspirations.11

The Federation tackled a wide range of issues, notably ‘theoretical problems such as the methods and forms of organization to be adopted by colonial peoples; the tactics and strategy of the national freedom struggle; the applicability of Gandhi an non-violent, non co-operative techniques to the African situation’, which were ‘all openly discussed and debated in the columns of the Federation’s journal, International African Opinion’.12

The 1945 Congress and the Adoption of Marxist Socialism

The Pan-African Federation marked the end of Pan-Africanism’s infancy. The Fifth Pan-African Congress, held in Manchester during March and October 1945, put the finishing touches, to Pan-Africanism’s evolution into a set of theoretical and practical political conceptions elaborate enough to meet the needs of the contemporary anti-colonialist struggle.

Some idea of die Fifth Pan-African Congress can be obtained from the account of one of its organizers, Kwame Nkrumah, to this day still the greatest African advocate and theoretician of Pan-Africanism:

Although this conference was the fifth of its kind that had taken place, it was quite distinct and different in tone, outlook and ideology from the four that hadpreceded it. While the four previous conferences were both promoted and supported mainly by middle-class intellectuals and bourgeois Negro reformists, this Fifth Pan-African Congress was attended by workers, trade unionists, farmers, co-operative societies and by African and other coloured students. As the preponderance of members attending the Congress were African, its ideology became African nationalism — a revolt by African nationalism against colonialism, racialism and imperialism in Africa — and it adopted Marxist socialism as its philosophy….

Garvey’s ideology was concerned with black nationalism as opposed to African nationalism. And it was this Fifth Pan-African Congress that provided an outlet for African nationalism and brought about the awakening of African political consciousness. It became, in fact, a mass movement of Africa for the Africans.13

The Fifth Congress was thus a turning-point for Pan-Africanism. Class struggle was recognized, in principle at least, as the driving force of history, including African history (albeit from 1945 onwards); in other words, ‘Marxist socialism was adopted as a philosophy’. The Fifth Congress was equally explicit on the question of African unity. One resolution in particular stressed that ‘the artificial divisions and territorial boundaries created by the imperialist powers are deliberate steps to obstruct the political unity of the West African peoples’.14

It was only after the Fifth Congress that Pan-Africanist ideas began to find widespread roots in Africa itself, usually in close association with the struggle for independence. The link between Africa’s independence and its unity was thus made clearly apparent.

To sum up, it is fair to say that, right from the start, Pan-Africanism was in no way to be confused with a ‘racial’ alignment. It was certainly not concerned with Negritude. Rather, it set out to provide a set of political and philosophical ideas for the guidance of African peoples in their struggle for liberation, independence and unity, a struggle for independence within the unity of Africa. If by African revolution one means the struggle for national and social liberation of African peoples dominated by imperialism and its allies, then early Pan-Africanism emerges as ‘the ideology of the African revolution. African unity, conceived of as a political unity, is clearly an integral part of the African revolution’s programme. Compared to the Pan-Africanism of 1945, the contemporary inconsistent notions of ‘economic unity’ amount to a vast step backwards.

Pan-Africanism in Africa, 1945-62: The Two Currents

Shortly after the Fifth Pan-African Congress, just as African nationalism was beginning to emerge as quite distinct from a politically vague Pan-Negro movement, and soon after Pan-Africanism had recognized Marxism as the theory and conception of the world which would enable Pan-Africanist ideas to be realized, the historical conditions of the anti-colonialist struggle forced the Pan-Africanist movement to adopt tactics based on the quest for common action, on rather confused political grounds, with people such as Senghor, Apithy and Houphouet-Boigny.

Houphouet-Boigny Exposed: His Opposition to Independence and African Unity

Nkrumah, who had been nominated to run the National Secretariat of West Africa, founded a journal, the New African, which eventually failed for lack of funds. But:

Before the paper folded, we were able to use it in order to call the first West African Conference in London. It was in this connection, in an effort to include in the conference Africans from the French territories of West Africa that I paid a visit to Paris. I went to meet the African members of the French National Assembly, Sourous Apithy, Leopold Senghor, Lamine Gueye, Houphouet-Boigny and others. We had long discussions and planned, among other things, a movement for the Union of West African Socialist Republics.15

The Conference in question was held in London from 30 August to 1 September 1946. As the Fifth Pan-African Congress took place between March and October 1945, it seems likely that Nkrumah’s trip to Paris took place between these two dates. One would therefore expect some correspondence between the ideas outlined by Nkrumah and the projects sponsored by Houphouet-Boigny and friends in 1946, when they set up the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (R.DA.), whose first conference was held that very year, in Bamako. But it is quite obvious that Houphouet-Boigny must have been indulging in pure demagogy during his talks with Nkrumah; Houphouet himself described ten years later how:

At the Bamako Conference in 1946, the case for autonomy, for independence in other words, had prevailed against my own views. But I was being asked to become the Movement’s President. As I could not bring myself to assume functions which would have forced me to apply decisions I did not agree with, the debate was reopened, my motion was carried by a very narrow margin [! J and I was able to • assume the Presidency            And so it was that we opted for membership of the French Communaute rather than for the struggle for indepen­dence. It is a great source of satisfaction to me today that, not only has this viewpoint remained that of the entire R.D.A., it is now also shared by all the other African parties. I!!?]

In the introduction to the latest edition of his book, Les fondements economiques et culturels dtm etat federal dAfriqueNoire, the Senegalese African historian Cheikh Anta Diop, indirectly but emphatically, confirms that these were Houphouet’s opinions concerning African independence in the early 1950s. Diop says:

It was in February 1952, when I was Secretary-General of the R.D.A. Students, that we posed ourselves the problem of the Black Continent’s political independence and the possibility of eventually creating a federal state. (‘Vers une ideologie politique en Afrique Noire’, published in La Voix de VAfrique Noire, organ of the R.D.A. Students, Paris, February 1952).

It is undisputable that at the time, apart from the Malagasy delegates and the Cameroonian leader Ruben Um Nyobe, no franco­phone African politician dared to talk about African independence, African nations or even African culture. Current declarations on the subject verge on imposture and are usually outright lies.17

On the basis of these quotes, we can conclude that, from 1946 to 1957, Houphouet-Boigny was already against African independence. This does not prevent him proclaiming himself a Pan-Africanist and an advocate of African unity. After all, he is President of the R.D.A., a body which even Um Nyobe’s U.P.C. recognizes, and designates itself the Cameroonian Branch.

Meanwhile, in May 1955, the situation in Cameroon was evolving rapidly. Faced with the U.P.C.’s demand for independence and immediate re-unification, the French colonialists chose to resort to violence. Houphouet and his associates, who had conducted their famous ‘tactical retreat* as early as 1950, called a special session of the RJ) A. Co-ordination Committee in Conakry. The aim of the meeting was clear: to suppress the ‘hate-filled slogans’ demanding independence launched by the UP.C. The meeting was held from 8 to 11 July 1955. And, as if by chance, on 13 July in Paris, the French Government (Edgar Fame was then President of the Council) decided to ban the U.P.C. in Cameroon.

During the Conakry meeting, Houphouet declared, among other things, that: ‘There is no deep antagonism separating the Africans and the [European] settlers: there is only a barrier of futile prejudice and unfounded fears, which must be overcome for the common good.’18 He went on to add that Africa could not but embrace ‘the creation of a new and prosperous Africa within the bosom of a strong and fraternal French Union’.19 On 28 April 1956, in Abidjan, Houphouet declared that, contrary to certain claims, ‘there is no national problem in Black Africa’.20 [!! fj And on 11 November 1957, probably to celebrate the 1918 armistice which confirmed *his country’s’ victory over Germany, he specified that, from his point of view, the struggle for independence was no more than ‘that spirit of vengeance against the one­time colonizers which was expressed at Bandung’.21 The previous year, on 9 November 1956, he had already made the following outrageous statement about independence: ‘To be quite frank, I have always thought that we would be betraying our own masses if we tried to lead them along what I can only describe as a hopeless road.

Not that any of this prevented Houphouet-Boigny from declaring, in a message to the nation on 31 December 1960, that the present independence of the Ivory Coast was, in fact, ‘the result of 15 years of struggle and effort we have all participated in and which has led us, stage by stage, towards taking command of our own country’s destiny’.23 He even had the cheek to salute ‘all those who have suffered pain, grief, humiliation or death along the way, so that we should live through these glorious days of our recovered independence’.24

The ‘hopeless road’ had suddenly become ‘these glorious days of our recovered independence’. What a farce! Especially when one recalls that the Fifth Pan-African Congress in 1945 had already dearly indicated that: The Congress unanimously supported the members of the West African delegation in declaring that complete and absolute independence for the peoples of West Africa is the only solution to the existing problem.’25

Houphouet-Boigny and friends have indubitably distinguished them­selves in the struggle against the independence of Africa. They have been truly consistent opponents. Referring to the *vast fraternal whole’ which Africa and France together should form, here is what Houphouet had to say about African integration and unity:

We wish to stress that, as far as we are concerned, the most effective methods of attaining this end are, firstly, the elimination, as quickly as possible, of all intermediary bodies between the central federal authorities and the territories, and secondly, constantly reinforced affirmation of the territories’ personality and autonomy.26

The ‘intermediary bodies’ referred to were the so-called Federal Governments of French Equatorial Africa and French West Africa; as for ‘the central federal authorities’, Houphouet was talking about Paris. He made the point even more explicitly on 15 March 1958, when De Gaulle sought to ‘grant’ independence to all the French-dominated African colonial territories. Houphouet peremptorily declared that: “The Ivory Coast has made its own choice. Whatever happens, we will remain full members of the Franco-African Communaute. A federal executive is all very well, but in Paris, not in Dakar.’27

Shortly after, having fought his last battle against independence (at an R.D.A. Congress in September 1959), Houphouet learnt that De Gaulle had ‘offered independence to anybody who wanted it’ without even consulting him. Like a disillusioned lover, Houphouet turned away from the still-born Communaute renovee which had thus come into the world. ‘I waited on the threshold with my wilted flowers …. The Communaute renovee has been elaborated without our participation, and against our wishes; what we wanted was federal linkage [with France]‘.28

Houphouet-Boigny, the present ‘Apostle of Independence’ and ‘Father of the Nation’ was, like his friend Ahidjo in Cameroon, so opposed to independence that even his masters in Paris arranged for the transition to neo-colonial independence without telling him; he would have been quite capable of opposing even this kind of independence’, so it had to be forced on him instead. If we have quoted Houphouet-Boigny at length, it is only as the leader of a certain political tendency which first carried the day at the Constituent Congress of the RD.A. in Bamako in 1946. The historians of Pan-Africanism are, on the whole, still wondering what was the exact position taken by Sékou Touré during the famous July 1955 meeting of the RD.A. Co-ordination Committee in Conakry, which illegally decided to expel the U.P.C. from the R.D.A. (an expulsion our Party has never recognized), thereby giving French colonialism a free hand to ban the U.P.C. in Cameroon itself. What is quite clear is that the La be section of the Guinean Democratic Patty was severely reprimanded for having expressed its disagreement over the expulsion of the U.P.C.

The Tactical Alliance Between Nkrumah and Reformists

Now that we have seen what Houphouet’s position on independence and African unity amounted to, we can measure the gulf which separated him from Nkrumah’s conception of African liberation. As early as 20 September 1956, Nkrumah had written that: ‘African nationalism was not confined to the Gold Coast — the new Ghana. From now on it must be Pan-African nationalism, and the ideology of African political consciousness and African political emancipation must spread throughout the whole continent.’29

One can only conclude that it was simply the specific historical condi­tions of the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa between 1940 and 1950 which made an alliance such as the R.D.A. possible, an alliance between truly anti-imperialist militants like Nkrumah, on the one hand, and people like Senghor and Houphouet, on the other. These conditions can be summed up as a still embryonic class differentiation and the absence of a working class with a clear consciousness of its own interests. The first consequence of these conditions was the possibility of bringing all the social strata together in a vast anti-colonialist United Front, the bigger the better. Such a front seemed not only possible but indispensable.

If one does not take all this into account (as some astonishingly naive European political groups do not), then the alliance between Nkrumah, Senghor and Houphouet does indeed seem absurd. When Nkrumah returned from the U.S., he had already learnt to understand the social dialectic, and, as he says in the Preface to his Consciencism, he was already one of those African students who sought to approach Western culture as a free man. He was already an African intellectual who desired the independence and unification of Africa and who recognized historical materialism as the philosophy of struggle appropriate to this noble cause. Senghor, on the other hand, was an intellectual half-breed. On finishing his studies he taught at the Ecole Culuniult, where he helped the French imperialist bourgeoisie train its Governors and other colonial administrators. As for Houphouet-Boigny, he was simply a big Ivory Coast plantation owner. Short of some radical change, such an alliance could only lead to a dead end, just as the alliance within the R.D_A. between revolutionary militants and reformist representatives of Ivory Coast plantation owners and local Senegalese businessmen was bound to fail. Its failure was sealed in 1955 by the decisions taken in Cameroon in May and in Conakry in July. Similarly, the failure of the alliance within the C.P.P. (Convention People’s Party) between Nkrumahist Pan-African revolutionaries, bourgeois bureaucrats, landowners and micro-nationalist Ashanti chiefs was sealed by the February 1966 coup which overthrew Nkrumah.

Nkrumah, on his return from the U.S. at the end of the Second World War and especially when he came to Paris to debate with Houphouet and his cronies, was thus already far more than just an anti-imperialist intellectual. His interlocutors, on the other hand, were well integrated into the French imperialist system, as deputies in the French National Assembly. The tactical meanderings of the African anti-imperialist movement of the period show clearly that, to paraphrase Engels, the anti-imperialist militants of 1940-50, like their predecessors, could not transcend the boundaries fixed by their epoch.30

The 1958-61 Conferences: Compromise Takes Hold

 From 1957-58, after independence had been achieved in Ghana, the Pan-African struggle entered a new phase, marked by the Conferences of Indepen­dent African States and, from 1958 onwards, the Conferences of African Peoples, in which representatives of peoples who had not as yet gained independence also participated. The Conferences of Independent States were always very different from the African Peoples Conferences. This point is fairly fundamental, as any close examination of the decisions taken at the one and the other will show.

When the first Conference of Independent States met in Accra, in April 1958, wars of liberation were raging in Cameroon and Algeria, yet it was only after strenuous debate and several formal amendments that a resolution of support, stemming from the original Egyptian-sponsored motion, was passed.

A few months later, from 25 to 28 July 1958, the Constituent Congress of theParti du Regroupement Africain (P.R.A.) met in Conakry. The participants were organizations (and not particularly revolutionary ones at that) rather than independent states, yet even the French bourgeoisie was forced to recognize that the Conference delegates laid much greater stress on the question of purely African Communaute than on that of the Franco-African Communaute; the two main watch­words unanimously endorsed by the Congress were ‘immediate independence’ and ‘a United States of Africa’. Indeed the P.R.A. delegates demanded the abolition of all frontiers established following the 1885 Berlin Conference so that the Peoples of Africa might unite along ‘complimentary’ lines. During the closing session … Mr. Djibo Bakary, head of the Niger delegation and General Secretary of the P.R.A., was greeted with wild applause when he declared ‘we want a united Africa, from Cairo to Johannesburg’.31

The first Conference of African Peoples (Accra, 5-13 December 1958) was attended by all the popular anti-colonialist African organizations. Not only were the Algerian delegates warmly applauded, but Algeria and Cameroon were the subject of special resolutions.32 All the delegates were obviously very conscious of the anti-colonialist armed struggle being waged in those countries. It was only three months since French colonial troops had murdered the founder and General Secretary of the U.P.C, Ruben Um Nyobe (with the full agreement of their puppet, Ahidjo, whom France had installed as Prime Minister in February of that year). The Conference took several practical decisions, notably to set up a permanent Secretariat in Accra.33 It is thus quite clear that, in keeping with the line of the pre-1946 Pan-African Congresses, the people of Africa understood that African unity could only be realized as a political unity.

When the Second Conference of Independent States met in Monrovia, from 4 to 8 August 1959, the spirit of compromise at any price was abroad once again. Even on the question of Algeria, which was perfectly straight­forward and had already been correctly analysed nine months before by the People’s Conference, ‘moderate’ Liberia found reasons to oppose the Guinean resolution. As a result, the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GP.R.A.), which was then leading the Algerian people’s anti-colonialist struggle under the aegis of the National Liberation Front, was not recognized, and an ‘appeal for a political truce in Cameroon’ was considered sufficient response to the situation there.

In January 1960, the Second African People’s Conference met in Tunis. Among the participants was a large delegation from Cameroon, led by the President of the UJP.C, Comrade Felix-Roland Moumie. The Leadership Committee elected by the Conference included Ahmed Boumendjel (Algeria), Felix Moumie (Cameroon) and Patrice Lumumba (Congo), names which amply testify to the resolutely anti-imperialist spirit of the Conference. A political resolution explicitly condemned the Franco-African Communaute, so dear to Houphouet-Boigny, as a new form of imperialism. A special resolu­tion on Algeria called for ‘the recognition of the GJ.RA. by all African states, the creation of a volunteer brigade, regular contributions from the budgets of African states and the withdrawal of all black troops committed to the Algerian conflict by the French Republic’.34

None of this prevented the Third Conference of Independent States, which met in June 1960 at Addis Ababa and to which our Party submitted a voluminous, detailed, precise and well-substantiated memorandum,35 from accepting the presence in its ranks of a puppet delegation led by Charles Okala, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French lackey, Ahidjo.

In Cairo, in March 1961, at the Third Conference of African Peoples, the delegates approved ‘the use of force to eliminate imperialism’.36 They carried a series of militant resolutions on Algeria, Cameroon, South Africa, the Congo-Kinshasa37 and the Portuguese colonies. ‘Support for the GP.R.A. was unanimous’ and demands were made for ‘the withdrawal of all French and British troops stationed in Cameroon.

The delegates gave their support, and that of the African peoples, to the Stanleyville-based Lumumbist Government of Antoine Gizenga and denounced the U.N. machinations in the Congo. They also called for the independence of the Portuguese colonies.

Several points emerge clearly from this brief summary of the situation in Africa by 1961. The peoples of Africa were struggling against colonialism, seeking to recover their national independence and build the political unity of the continent. In the course of several continental conferences, they repeatedly stated that what they needed was the complete abolition of all the frontiers arbitrarily imposed by imperialism. Some independent states did already exist, but they were riven by pronounced divisions, much to the joy of the imperialists. A few of these states continued to struggle in one way or another against imperialism, both in its colonial form and in its newly emerging neo-colonialist aspect. But others, like those led by Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivory Coast and by Ahidjo in Cameroon, were simply imperialist puppets. Under such conditions, there was no fundamental basis of co-operation for Nkrumah’s Ghana and a Cameroon on which imperialism had forcibly imposed Ahidjo. They manifestly did not share the same con­ceptions, either of the anti-imperialist struggle in general or of Pan-Africanism in particular, and it was clear that, as far as African unity was concerned, serious collaboration between them was quite out of the question. In fact, nobody even envisaged discussing such a project. The essentials of the situation were clear and the African states aligned themselves by political affinity.

Casablanca versus Monrovia: Revolutionary versus Demagogic Pan-Africanism

 A conference attended by Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Tunisia and the GP.R.A. was held in Casablanca from 3 to 7 January 1961. The participants endowed themselves with a Charter and emerged as the so-called Casablanca Group, which proved consistent in its support for African revolutionary anti-imperialist movements, especially in Algeria and Cameroon.

Five months later, from 8 to 12 May 1961, in Monrovia, Liberia, another conference was held. It was attended by 21 countries, including Ahidjo’s puppet regime. The participants in the Casablanca Conference did not go to Monrovia. So what was decided at this new conference, called almost as a riposte to the one in Casablanca? The delegates adopted one fundamental resolution, insisting on ‘non-interference in the internal affairs of other states’, and expressed ‘unreserved condemnation of any subversive action conducted from outside by adjoining states’, finally concluding that: ‘The unity we must achieve at the moment is not the political integration of sovereign African states, but [hold on tight! E.M.] a unity of aspiration and action, to promote African social solidarity [??] and political identity [??] . [My emphasis, E.M.]’38

One only has to compare this verbiage with the decisions of the Fifth Pan-African Congress in 1945 to see just how big a step backwards it repre­sents for Pan-African thought. It is worth noting that the Monrovia Conference was attended by all those ex-French colonies of Black Africa (excepting Guinea) aligned together in the African and Malagasy Union (U.A.M) since the neo-colonial Brazzaville Conference (15-19 December 1960) who eventually became members of the supposedly renovated French Communaute.39 Nigeria, at the time led by Nnamdi Azikiwe and Abubakar Tafewa Balewa, was also represented at Monrovia.40

The fundamental resolution adopted at Monrovia was crucially important. Two years later, the O.A. U. charter reasserted the same basic theses.

It should already be clear that, throughout the period from 1945 to 1960-61, there were two distinct currents within Pan-Africanism, the one demagogic and the other revolutionary.

Revolutionary Pan-Africanism’s strength during these years was its just and popular cause, the independence and unification of Africa. This Pan-Africanism enjoyed the backing of progressive forces throughout the world and the support of the African masses, who were to a greater or lesser extent aware that independence would only come through unification. Its great weakness, however, was a lack of clarity and acuity, the absence of any coherent overall conception of African unity. The first major attempt to fill this lacuna, Nkrumah’s book, Africa Must Unite, was only published in 1963. But the real cause of revolutionary Pan Africanism’s downfall was that, instead of trying to achieve this unity through the efforts of those who had most to gain, the African workers and peasants, it put its hopes in heads of state. In other words, it tried to bring about African unity ‘from above’, despite the fact that many, indeed most, of these heads of state were notorious reformists, not to say outright reactionaries, linked in a thousand and one ways to international imperialism.

As for the merely demagogic current in Pan-Africanism, its main strength at the time was the international imperialist bourgeoisie, and the presence of that bourgeoisie’s agents in the fairly confused ranks of Africa’s progressive militants. Reformism and opportunism were by no means the exclusive prerogatives of heads of state.

How far could the struggle between these two tendencies go? Probably as far as the imperialist bourgeoisie was prepared to take the defence of its economic interests in Africa — in other words, all the way. It was not long before the two tendencies showed what they really stood for. The Congo provided the arena, and the events there laid bare the fundamental and irreducible contradiction between a revolutionary Pan-African wing expressing the interests of African workers and peasants and a Pan-Africanist demagogy expressing the interests of African and world reaction. The African revolution was left to fend for itself and had ‘to count essentially on its own forces’. When Patrice Lumumba was murdered, the battle was already irretrievably lost.

Early Practical Attempts at Unification by Independent African States

From 1958 to 1962, there were numerous theoretical debates as to the best way of achieving the unification of Africa, but there were also some practical attempts to unite by independent African states. The importance of all these attempts, and of the lessons Pan-African revolutionaries can draw from their failure, should not be underestimated.

On 23 November 1958, Ghana and Guinea decided to unite and form the core of a future United States of Africa. Such a decision, taken less than two months after Guinea achieved independence (28 September), was of considerable importance for Africa as a whole. Yet it must be admitted that the decision was never put into practice, a fact which neither Nkrumah’s stay in Conakry from1966 on following the reactionary coup in Ghana nor the rigmarole of the co-presidency he was offered by the ‘Great Strategist of the African Democratic Revolution’ can ever obviate, (especially as Nkrumah was practically under house arrest during his stay in Guinea). The reality seems to be that no detailed study of the precise political content of unifi­cation was carried out before thedecision was taken, even though there were very real historical and social difficulties, rooted in different patterns of colonization in the two countries concerned.

We have already seen how Houphouet-Boigny and the French imperialists torpedoed the old French West African and French Equatorial African Federations. Houphouet, the ‘wise man of Africa’, if one is to believe the infamous propaganda of the French, had decided that these federations were harmful, since, as he put it: “The continued existence of the A.O.F. and A.E.F. federations might well have encouraged secession in African territories. [!!!] The establishment of a federal executive in Dakar would certainly have been contrary to the economic interests of the Ivory Coast.’41 In short, Houphouet had the same programme as Moise Tshombe in Katanga.

Sometime after the formal Ghana-Guinea Union, representatives of Senegal, Dahomey, Sudan and Upper Volta met in Dakar and, on 17 January 1959, decided to unite these four countries in a Federation of Mali. French imperialism and Houphouet-Boigny immediately went into action, setting up their own project for a Conseil de I’Entente. The very close economic ties between the Ivory Coast and Upper Volta represented a particularly effective means by which Houphouet and his masters in Paris could blackmail the latter country. And indeed, it was not long before Dahomey and Upper Volta dropped out of the Mali Federation project, leaving only Senegal and French-dominated Sudan. But the Senegalese and Sudanese leaders — Senghor and Modibo Keita — could not reach agreement as to the precise political content of unity. As thepreviously quoted reactionary journalist says: ‘Right from 18 June 1960, the day independence was achieved, the partisans of a flexible federal system clashed with the Bamako leaders, who upheld the principles of a unitary state.’42

As usual, Decraene gives a quite superficial explanation of these events.

In the light of what has been said above, it is quite clear that French imperial­ism could not possibly have approved a project which might well have set the ball of African unification rolling. Senghor’s group, therefore, engineered a split on 20 August 1960, and all that remained of the Mali Federation was the territory of the ex-French Sudan. As for the Consett del’Entente it has done nothing whatsoever to promote integration in the region and is heard of less and less. All this only confirms what we already knew: the Consett de I’Entente was launched with the sole purpose of sinking the Mali Federation as originally envisaged. Houphouet-Boigny’s constant efforts to undermine African unity had paid off once again.

The Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union was another project which never really got much further than one or two meetings between those countries’ heads of state. There was also the East African Common Market (E.A.C.M.), which served essentially as a free-trade zone. Lacking any political impetus, it failed to integrate the three countries concerned (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), as was amply confirmed by the noisy break-up of the association in 1977. As if the collapse of the E.A.C.M. was not enough, the highly dubious theory that African unity can be achieved through common markets and other economic agreements took another rude blow in 1978, when Idi Amin Dada attempted to ‘adjust’ Uganda’s frontier with Tanzania. The people of Africa could not help noticing the crashing silence with which these events were greeted by nearly all the members of the OA.U., the so-called guarantor of peace on the continent.

There remains the Union Douaniere des Etats de L ‘Afrique Centrale (U.D.E.A.C., or Central African States’ Customs Union), which also functions purely as a free-trade zone involving Gabon, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African ‘Empire’ (now Republic).

The Lessons to be Drawn

From all these attempts and others less significant,43 we can plainly see that the concrete political content of unity is the touchstone of African unity. It should also be clear that the so-called divergences ‘as to the ways and means to achieve African unity, the end to which we all aspire’ (sic\) are anything but mere divergences about the best method to use.

In fact, just as there are two theoretical tendencies within Pan-Africanism, so there are two kinds of strategy and tactics within the Pan-African political struggle. That which corresponds to revolutionary Pan-Africanism is the truly unitary strategy which consists in striving for the political unity of existing countries, in order to win genuine social and economic freedom for the African peoples. And that which corresponds to Pan-Africanist demagogy is the pseudo-unitary strategy which relies on slogans such as ‘sovereign states’, ‘non-interference in internal affairs’ and the ‘spirit of mutual tolerance’. In other words, those who want nothing to do with African unity simply put forward methods of unification which lead nowhere.

In 1962, Algeria won its independence after a bitter struggle which was supported by all the progressive forces in Africa. Revolutionary Pan-African militants throughout Africa waited expectantly to see whether they had gained a new and-important ally.


During 1962 and 1963, a broad movement aimed at bringing all African states into a single continental organization began to emerge. Naturally enough, this new tendency had opponents as well as supporters. The latter maintained that there was no point in preserving several different groups of independent states, since ‘everybody is basically in agreement with the principle of African unity; the differences that do exist are essentially over questions of method, and can be overcome through discussion.’ The opponents of this view on the other hand, asserted and demonstrated that ‘caution is essential, since an emerging neo-colonialism threatens to spread throughout the Continent, especially if the Casablanca group accepts to play along with the current proposals’.

If we are to establish the truth of die matter and illustrate the genesis of the present O.A.U. and the general counter-revolutionary gangrene which prevails in Africa today, we must examine the ruling neo-colonial African bourgeoisies’ close historical links with the interests of imperialism. The illusions of petty-bourgeois Pan-Africanism which led it into its bankruptcy have still not been dispelled and exposed; we shall try to do so.

Imperialism’s View of African Unity

On 23 November 1958, when Ghana and Guinea jointly announced that they had decided to form the core of a United States of Africa, the British Embassy in Paris issued a communiqué, part of which read:

British opinion, despite express reservations, has no desire to condemn a priori the first attempt at an indigenous African organization, even if French opinion, for equally good reasons of its own, receives the news of such an initiative with a measure of anxiety. British opinion is far more perturbed that Mr. Sékou Touré should see fit to sign a trade agreement with East Germany than that he should seek closer links with another African state which entertains the best possible relations with the West.44

The communiqué contains a mass of indications. Clearly ‘the West’ is very interested in any moves towards unity in Africa, and is indignant that the ‘natives’ should seek to reorganize Africa along lines different from those decided in 1885 in Berlin. But, at a pinch, such ‘native’ reorganization can be accepted, as long as it involves only African states — today the phrase would be ‘without Soviet-Cuban interference’ — preferably the more docile and pro-Western amongst them.45 In other words, the imperialists are pre­pared to recognize, if only in the hypocritical verbiage of diplomacy, that the trend towards unification in Africa is as irresistible as the preceding trend towards independence. They, therefore, accept that their best option is not to oppose openly this tendency towards unity, but rather to ensure that any such unity should involve pro-imperialist African states. It is fair to say that, with their usual flair for imperialist pillage, the British actually created the OA.U. as we know it today.

Sékou Touré Changes Tune

When the Monrovia Conference met in 1961, the Casablanca Group states were invited but refused to come. We have already outlined what was going on in Africa at the time: Patrice Lumumba had just been assassinated, and many of those present in Monrovia had manifestly been accomplices in that murder, as everybody in Africa well knew.46 Sékou Touré, who had not yet promoted himself ‘Great Strategist of the African Democratic Revolution’ commented: Today Africa can quite unequivocally tell those who have worked for genuine decolonization from those who have deliberately compro­mised the historical process.*47 Such a declaration implied, at the very least, that there were some heads of state who were genuinely working for African independence and unity, and others who were doing the opposite. Yet exactly a year later, the same orator could coolly declare:

Just as there has never been a Trans-Saharan Africa and a Sub-Saharan Africa, so there are not today two antagonistic African blocs, for all the international press’s parrotings about Casablanca Africa and Mon­rovia Africa. For us, as for all men of conscience throughout the world [sic], there is only one Africa, recently and only partially liberated from colonial domination, whose efforts are entirely bent towards the reconquest of its total liberty, the protection of its dignity and originality, the development of its personality and culture, the creation and consolidation of the material, social and moral bases of its peoples’ wellbeing.48

It might seem incredible that such a speech could be made in the Africa of 1961-62, yet it indubitably was. One does not really have to look very far for the explanation. On 8 June 1961, after Sékou’s first declaration, Houphouet-Boigny gave a press conference in Paris, where he was on an official visit to his masters. There he asserted that ‘he too’ was in favour of African unity, but wanted this unity to be ‘realistic’, ‘based on reality’. Houphouet went on to elaborate: ‘This reality amounts to a unity of con­structive aspirations [??] within an affirmation of each state’s personality.’ [My emphasis, E.M.]

Senghor’s Mystifications

In other words, Houphouet was still busily opposing any attempt at a political unification of Africa. His fundamental position had not changed one jot since the days when he had helped dismantle the A.O.F. and A.E.F. federations. None the less, Sékou Touré was sufficiently impressed by these words to make the second speech, quoted above, on 1 May 1962. Houphouet’s position was endorsed by his colleague Senghor in July 1963, shortly after Senghor had returned from the Addis Ababa Conference which had supposedly brought African heads of state together to plan the unification of Africa. Also in Paris, naturally, Senghor declared: ‘My conception of African unity is similar to General de Gaulle’s conception of Europe [but of course! E.M.]. We must build an Africa of nations. We are too different from each other, as much in terms of race [!!] as of culture [!] and language [!]‘. [My emphasis, E.M.]49

On 16 February 1967, in Cairo, Senghor, the champion of Negritude and Arabicity, the Poet-President who had past been made Doctor honoris causa of Cairo University, had this to say about ‘our future’:

It can rest firmly only on values which are shared by all Africans, and which are permanent. It is precisely this set of values I call Africanicity.

My aim in this conference is to try to define these values. Essentially they are cultural values which, as everybody knows, are always conditioned by geography, history and ethnic, if not racial, factors. [N.B., E.M.] I have often defined Africanicity as a symbiosis between the values of Arabism and of Negritude. But I have come to prefer the term Arabicity.50

Let us be clear: Senghor is talking about ‘Africanicity’. Now, either there are no (or almost no) permanent values common to all Africans, since ‘we are too different from each other’, in which case the concept of Africanicity, as defined by Senghor, is completely hollow and good for nothing better than impressing naive students grateful for the opportunity to applaud a head of state in an auditorium. And, if so, then Senghor, as usual, is speaking simply for the pleasure of hearing his own voice. Or else, the concept is not hollow, which implies that the common, important and permanent values shared by all Africans cannot be dismissed as merely secondary. In that case, to use Senghor’s own words, those values are ‘cultural values’, ‘conditioned by … history and ethnic, if not racial, factors’. How can we at the same time be ‘too different from each other, as much in terms of race as of culture’, yet share permanent important values conditioned by race, history and geography? The only possible conclusion is mat Senghor is a specialist in meaningless waffle, a political demagogue on a par with his friend Houphouet-Boigny.

Having seen what their ‘theses’ amount to, we can now turn to the positions taken by other African leaders, who are not known as outright vassals of imperialism; leaders who, on the contrary, enjoy a certain reputation as progressive men of good faith.

Nyerere Goes Along

In the January 1963 issue of the Journal of Modem African Studies, some five months before the Addis Ababa Conference which set up the O.A.U., Julius Nyerere published a text which was subsequently translated into French and issued as a pamphlet entitled Des Etats Unis d ‘Afrique.51 In it he says:

For the sake of all African states, large or small, African unity must come and it must be real unity. Our goal must be a United States of Africa — only this can really give Africa the future her people deserve after centuries of economic uncertainty and social oppression. This goal must be achieved, and it does not matter whether this is done by one step or by many, or through economic, political or social develop­ment. 52

If the Tanzanian President had stopped short of the last sentence quoted above, we would have been entitled to understand him as saying that Houphouet, Senghor and their fellow puppets in the Monrovia Group had absolutely nothing to contribute to those who believed in African unity. But that last sentence effectively cancels out what came previously. Of course, it is good to hear a President enunciating the principle that African unity is essential. It is even better when he says that this unity, in order to be a genuine unity, must mean the setting up of a United States of Africa. But if detailed and practical methods to achieve all this are not specified, the principles remain mere word-play. Julius Nyerere cannot possibly be unaware that the choice of a path towards one’s goal is crucial, especially in the case of a goal such as the one he is discussing. He knows full well that merely formal proposals will lead strictly nowhere. It is not enough to say that, after all, there is no a priori reason why this or that method cannot lead to the creation of a United States of Africa. One must be quite sure that the method effectively will lead to the result envisaged. Yet this essential point is simply ignored by the Tanzanian leader, even though it is clear that there is no substitute for a painstaking examination of each proposed method’s suitability. Putting one’s trust’ in a ‘feeling of unity’ is blatantly inadequate. ; Nyerere himself points out that: ‘The boundaries which divide African states are so nonsensical, that without our sense of unity they would be a cause of friction.’53

But he is surely aware that such a feeling cannot really provide us with the means to resist the divisive manoeuvres of the imperialists and reactionaries. Idi Amin’s 1978 incursions on the Uganda-Tanzania border have merely reinforced the point. As long as Africa remains balkanized, no sensible person can dismiss the possibility of such frictions. Indeed, there have been so many confrontations of that sort since 1963 that the O.A.U. is tired of acting as a conciliator. Nyerere recognizes the problem when he says:

As long as there remain separate African nations, there will also remain a danger that other states will exploit our differences for their own purposes. Only with unity can we ensure that Africa really governs Africa. Only with unity can we be sure that African resources will be used for the benefit of Africa.54

Having read the above quotes from Nyerere, the attentive reader might well conclude that, had the Tanzanian leader been consistent, given the clearly expressed positions outlined from 1946 onwards by Houphouet-Boigny, and Senghor, he could never have come to any agreement with them over the question of African unity, and the O.A.U. would never have been born. However, when Nyerere finally tackles the practical issue of whether or not the Monrovia and Casablanca groups should fuse, we find him writing:

The fact is that none of the conferences to which these names refer have abandoned the final aim; the differences between them he in the ways of expressing the aim and the description of the path which must be followed to reach it. This can clearly be seen by a careful reading of the different communiqués, which reveal much more common ground than differences…. This would obviate the danger of unnecessary suspicion being engendered.

There is really only one way for us to deal with this transitional problem. That is for us all to act now as if we already had unity. In any one country, members of the government do not always like each other or approve of each other’s public phraseology. But this is not allowed to become public, the arguments are conducted in the Cabinet or the offices, not blazoned to the opposition. So it must be between African states now. And similarly, just as a Minister does not interfere with the political support of a colleague, African states must accept the decisions of the people in the different national units, as regards their own leaders.

This is very important. It means that any differences we have must be sorted out privately between ourselves. It means that we must avoid judging each other’s internal policies, recognizing that each country has special problems which are its own concernas well as problems which have inter-African repercussions….

When we are genuinely concerned about the policies of another African state, the right people to address are the leaders of that state — and then in a brotherly spirit.55

This deliberately long quote is such a good summary of the philosophy which inspired the creators of the O.A.U. that commentary almost seems superfluous. So what if unity has not yet been achieved, provided we continue, to desire it? We can just carry on as if it had already been won! This is more or less Nyerere’s starting point. And then, since we are already united, we must not cause too much trouble for each other. Above all, we must not judge each other. The African peoples of the various small states have already ‘freely chosen’ their leaders, so there can be no justification for disobliging remarks about any of them. Has Nyerere forgotten the history of the African people’s anti-colonialist struggle from 1945 to 1960? Unlikely. Is he then deliberately ignoring this history? He tells us that we must not pass judgement on the domestic politics of another state, yet he himself openly disregarded this principle over Biafra, and was indeed one of the few African heads of state to recognize Colonel Ojukwu’s regime. Nyerere’s whole position is characteristic of politicians who are prepared to seek accommodation with any established authority whatsoever, and whose judgements on this or that individual or social group are usually based entirely on the public pronounce­ments they make. What is lacking is any consideration of what the individuals or social groups concerned are actually doing. Reading pronouncements is not going to tell us who is and who is not genuinely committed to the creation of a United States of Africa. The only real way to find out is by examining the policies and political practice of each group over the years.

Nkrumah and Revolutionary Pan-Africanism in the 1960s

President Kwame Nkrumah is still the only African head of state to have elaborated a coherent theory of African unity based on the practical realities of African society rather than on feelings and communiqués. His theory asserts that African unity must necessarily take the form of a continent-wide political unification. There will have to be a Continental Government charged with the management of all essential functions, notably the economy, defence and foreign affairs. The thesis is outlined in his book Africa Must Unite, first published just before the May 1963 Addis Ababa Conference which set up the O.A.U. On 11 November 1963, he spelled out his position to the Pan-African Conference of Journalists:

If Africa does not set forth on the path to socialism, it will fall back instead of advancing. With any other system we will at best make only very slow progress. Our people may then become impatient. They want to see progress in action, and socialism is the only means to achieve it quickly.

In which case, one is entitled to ask why such a Pan-African programme needed to secure the participation of patently neo-colonialist African governments. In other words, why was this programme proposed to African heads of state rather than to the African people themselves, who could then have put it into practice? After all, leaders like Houphouet-Boigny had openly exposed themselves as demagogues ever since 1946, and continued to do so in 1960-61. The question is an important one, in that it allows us to pinpoint at least some of the causes underlying the failure of Kwame Nkrumah’s political strategy, notably in Pan-African affairs, and the more general failure of revolutionary Pan-Africanism throughout the 1960s.

First, let us consider the positions adopted at the time by the various revolutionary groups when faced with this problem. Even today, some , Cameroonian opportunists find a variety of equally fallacious pretexts for carrying on as if the U.P.C. had never said anything about the O.A.U., even before it was set up.

In May 1962, a Conference of African Nationalist Organizations was held in Accra, Ghana. The U.P.C. delegation presented a declaration which the Party subsequently published as a 16-page pamphlet entitled Unite Africaine ou Neo-Colonialisme (and dated 30 May 1962, exactly one year before the O A.U. was set up in Addis Ababa). The pamphlet notably points out that:

In Africa, the imperialists now intend to bring about a union between the Africa of the Casablanca Charter and the reformist Africa comprising the U.A.M. and the Monrovia Group states. Their hope is that their lackeys within such a body will enable them to orient the whole union towards acceptance of subordination and neo-colonialist oppression…. Imperialism’s lackeys will enter the Union with the aim of turning it into a counter-revolutionary organization, (p. 10)

The road to genuine African unity does not pass through a fusion of the Brazzaville, Monrovia, Lagos and Casablanca groups of states. Such a fusion would only lead to a confusion from which neo­-colonialism and imperialism would be the sole beneficiaries. African leaders would find themselves being pushed into relegating the funda­mental problem, the struggle against neo-colonialism, into the background, (p. 11)

The sincerely anti-imperialist independent African states must resolutely undertake actions which keep the Casablanca Charter alive and bring the realization of its aims closer … by giving concrete assistance to nationalist movements struggling against colonialism and neo-colonialism [and] … by avoiding the trap set by neo-­colonialism, the trap of unity with the counter-revolutionary camp as embodied in the Afro-Malagasy Union, the Monrovia Group and the Lagos Group, (p. 16)

This was the position of the U.P.C. before the birth of the 0 A.U. In this period, two fundamentally divergent conceptions met in open conflict. One of these was clearly reactionary and firmly opposed to any political unification of Africa along the lines which had been put forward even before independence by the Pan-African Conferences.56 The supporters of this conception stood for an ‘Africa of Nations’, but, as good demagogues, declared themselves ‘willing to co-operate’ provided their conditions were met. In practice, they were demanding that African revolutionaries renege on any commitment to revolutionary Pan-Africanism. The 1958 British communiqué issued in Paris had suggested something very similar.

The second conception based itself on the need for revolution and for a political unification of the African continent. Only such a unification would enable Africa to overcome its many pressing problems and prepare the ground for rapid economic development. But even among the advocates of this thesis, there were those who thought unification could be achieved diplomatically through the offices of a Continental Union of Heads of Independent States; others, including our Party, believed that only the revolutionary action of the African masses could lead to a solution. The U.P.C. argued at the time that any form of unity with the local reactionaries who had taken power in countries still dominated by the imperialists would be disastrous, since these reactionaries were actually opposed to any genuine form of African unity, (political unity). Any such fake unity would directly benefit imperialism and neo-colonialism by forcing all African governments, including the progressive ones, to give up the struggle against neo-colonialism. Although the contrast between the two positions could not have been starker, some people managed to procrastinate right up to the real moment of choice, when they opted decisively for reaction.

Divergent Views Papered Over at the 1963 Conference

On 24 May 1963, just one day before the Addis Ababa Conference came to a close, the Spark, an Accra paper, published an article by the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Action Group, Samuel G. Ikoku, writing under the pseudonym of Julius Sago. The author outlined the three main divergent theses being put forward at the Conference. The first, advanced by a group of Anglo-American puppets led by Haile Sellasie, Tubman of Liberia and Tafewa Balewa of Nigeria, claimed that what Africa needed was a limited body of inter-African institutions. The second thesis, based on the idea of regional groupings, was defended by agents of French imperialism, including Houphouet-Boigny, Fulbert Youlou (who was to be ousted from power in Brazzaville a few months later), Senghor, Yameogo of Upper Volta and, naturally, Ahmadou Ahidjo. After keeping silent on the subject for the next ten years, Houphouet and Ahidjo trotted out the same nonsense in 1973. And the role played by the O A.IJ. during the latest French interventions in Africa, in 1977 and 1978, seems very much in keeping with what they had in mind. Finally, there was a third group, which called for the political unification of the continent. It included Nasser, Nkrumah, Modibo Keita of Mali, Nyerere and others. Bcoku called it the ‘radical nationalist’ group.57

French imperialism, having successfully set up the puppet African and Malagasy Union, clearly had nothing to gain from allowing it to fuse with a new continental organization which could easily fall under the control of its more powerful rival, Anglo-American imperialism. The fact that the projected charter for the new organization was based mainly on the Charter of the U.S. dominated Organization of American States and on the decisions of the May 1961 Monrovia Conference did nothing to reassure the French. Such inter-imperialist rivalries explain the divergences which emerged among those who opposed political unification; each group of puppets was firmly committed to the specific interests of its masters.

Of all the puppets of French neo-colonialism who attended the conference. Ahidjo was probably the most outspoken. As one of the advocates of the Monrovia Charter he must have been constantly aware of the precariousness of his own position in Cameroon at that time as he constantly insisted that: ‘Present African realities force us to accept one another as we are and demand that we make efforts to understand one another.’58 And again, in the same speech:

If all this is to be feasible, we must agree on certain fundamental principles. We must accept each other as we are. We must accept that • each and every one of our states, whatever its size or population, is equal to the others. We have to recognize each state’s sovereignty, its absolute right to exist as a sovereign state in keeping with the aspirations of its inhabitants. This implies complete respect for our neighbours, abstention from any intervention in their domestic affairs and a commitment not to provide open or covert support for subversion.59

But the real surprise of the conference was Sékou Touré’s support for the American and Ethiopian sponsored Charter. In plenary session, he practically defined African unity as a policy by which African states could simply ‘co-ordinate their activities in the pursuit of freely chosen goals expressing our common desire for democratic progress and social justice’.60 He even asserted that the African states had already made identical choices’:

To a greater or lesser extent, all the African states have opted for the complete emancipation of the African people. Since the purpose of their actions is the same and all seek to give their development the same character, it is quite understandable that the mission we have set ourselves has found such widespread response in all our states. [Obvious lies and verbiage, E.M.]

The creation of an African Common Market [N.B., E.M.], the industrialization of Africa, the sharing of its resources, the harmoniza­tion and rationalization of our actions in order to avoid contradiction and unnecessary duplication of tasks are all direct consequences of the identical choices our states have made, choices which call for an honest and realistic attitude on the part of our government.

As the experience of the last I5 years has shown, Sékou’s Guinea, Houphouet’s Ivory Coast and Senghor’s Senegal do indeed make, unmake and remake ‘identical choices’ of the sort the Guinean President has in mind.62

Nkrumah had spoken just before Sékou Touré. In his speech, he asked the Conference:

What are we trying to achieve? Are we trying to draw up a Charter rather like that of the United Nations, whose resolutions, as we have seen for ourselves, are sometimes ignored by certain member states? ….

Or do we intend to turn Africa into some sort of Organization of American States? … Is that the kind of association we want for the United Africa we have all been talking about so vehemently and emotionally?63

African unity is, above all, a political realm which can only be won by political means. Africa’s economic and social development will grow out of its political achievements, but the formula is not reversible.1

Unless we achieve African unity now, we who sit here today will become the victims and martyrs of neo-colonialism.65

Only a United Africa, with a Union Government, can seriously mobilize the material and moral resources of our individual states and apply them with the efficacy and energy which is indispensable if we are to improve the living conditions of our peoples quickly..

Without necessarily sacrificing sovereignty, great and small alike can here and now forge a political union based on common defence policies, common diplomacy and diplomatic representation, common citizenship, an African currency, an African monetary zone and an African central bank. We must unite to bring about the complete liberation of our Continent. We need a common system of defence, with an African High Command. 66

To which Sékou Touré replied:

The goal of emancipation our states have committed themselves to is just, legitimate and achievable. The firm, loyal and faithful attitude with which our governments will apply the decisions this Conference has enabled us to take, combined with the quality of the new structure we must set up if we are to promote direct co-operation between our sister nations, will be the basis for our success in accomplishing the common task we have undertaken in the name and interests of our peoples.

This Conference must draw up and adopt a Charter, specify its fundamental principles and aims, and create an Executive Secretariat charged with co-ordinating the activities of our states.67

As for Houphouet-Boigny, secure in the knowledge that his friends and masters were manoeuvring in the wings, he was able to blackmail the Conference with the threat of failure, thereby forcing everybody to compro­mise. Throughout, he was exultantly confident that the American-Ethiopian sponsored Charter would be adopted. At one stage, he declared:

History already has its 4th of August.68 Let us now give it the 22nd of May, a new flower in Addis Ababa’s month of flowers, the birthday of a new Africa, a fraternally United Africa.

How? By unanimously acclaiming the Charter project our Ministers are working on so competently … a simple, supple Charter which will consecrate the union of all our groups on the altar of African Unity, providing us with a framework we can fill in gradually…. And once we have adopted this project, let us, above all, strive to apply it honestly.69

Of course, after so many speeches, a decision had to be taken. When the time came, history records that Nkrumah found himself alone in defending the thesis of continental political unification to the very end. Nyerere remained a prisoner of the logic exemplified by the passage quoted previously. He turned his back on radical political unification and, as if to reproach Nkrumah for intransigence, declared: ‘History will not record that the Addis Ababa Conference would have been a success had it not been for Tanganyika’s stubbornness and lack of co-operation.’70

Barely a few months later, Africa’s revolutionary militants had the nauseating pleasure of hearing Sékou Touré declare:

Nothing prevents us creating a Continental State of Africa apart from personal selfishness, political disloyalty and the insufficiently high level of African consciousness. If we were really determined to turn Africa into a Continental State, we could do so immediately.71

If it was the ‘insufficiently high level of African consciousness’ which held back the creation of a Continental African State — the most developed, not to say the only real form of African unity — how could Sékou Touré go on to say:

African Unity, which some people confuse with the O.A.U., does exist; it exists amongst the peoples of Africa and is, at that level, more real, more profound and more historically rooted than the present O.A.U., which is after all only the organic and structural extension of that consciousness.72

But the question is precisely whether the O.A.U. has ever been, or will ever be ‘the organic and structural extension’ of that African unity which the African peoples of the entire continent dream about.

Africa Under the O.A.U

Now that we know under what conditions the O.A.U. was born, the question of its record can be dealt with. In later chapters we will try to bring out what the facts suggest about its present and future capacities.

The Nature of the O.A.U

As far as its record to date is concerned, we have just seen that, from the very start, the O.A.U. was nothing more than the practical expression of the desires of neo-colonialist imperialism and the African bourgeoisie, who sought to prevent the development of a revolutionary wing of independent African states opposed to neo-colonialism. The aim was to sap the ideological and practical unity of the independent African states and revolutionary organizations who were struggling against classical colonialism or neo­-colonialism. The reactionaries’ tactical objective was to bring about a compromise between the anti-imperialist Casablanca Group states and the reactionary African puppets of international imperialism. Their overall strategy, the effects of which we can still see today, was to eliminate any African revolution which corresponded to the interests of African workers. The political unification of Africa, the genuine liberation of our continent and a commitment to socialist economic and social development policies, were essential to those interests then, and are even more so today.73

Houphouet-Boigny and the Right Take Hold

At the second O.A.U. Summit Conference (Cairo, 1964), Philippe Yace, then Houphouet’s mouthpiece and deputy, outlined the O.A.U. credo on solidarity between African states:

It is obvious that this solidarity can only work if it is practised within a general atmosphere of peace and trust, by states which have confidence in themselves and in their neighbours. African solidarity and unity cannot be produced simply by adding together a set of national units [the man probably does not even know what his deceitful nonsense means, E.M.] since our young states provide a framework and a body of values which it would be foolish to ignore and wasteful not to use. We, therefore, conclude that any interference by one country in the internal affairs of another should be formally condemned and treated as an affront to our ideal of African unity.74

Three years later, Nigeria, one of those ‘young states’ referred to by Yace, was in the midst of civil war. Biafra had seceded with the encourage­ment of French imperialists drawn by the smell of oil. At the request of his masters in Paris, Houphouet-Boigny completely forgot what Yace had said on his behalf in 1964: he was one of the few African heads of state to recognize Biafra as an independent state, thereby grossly infringing the principle of the inviolability of frontiers inherited from the colonialists, a principle which is one of the pillars of the O.A.U. Reactionaries are invariably willing to make a nonsense of their own words whenever it suits them.

The Third O.A.U. Summit Conference had been set for 1965 in Accra, Ghana. Shortly before the meeting, Houphouet-Boigny and his fellow French puppets in U.A.M./O.C.A.M. arrogantly made it a condition of their attendance that Nkrumah expel all African political refugees in Ghana — in the name of the principle of ‘non-interference in internal affairs’ enshrined in the O.A.U. Charter. The President of Upper Volta, Yameogo, hysterically declared that: ‘As far as we are concerned, all those who support Mr. Nkrumah’s policies are enemies of Africa. We will do everything in our power to neutralize him.’ And on 8 May, Houphouet added bluntly, ‘Nkrumah is finished.’

The O.A.U. was set up partly as a result of imperialism’s desire to stabilize its still shaky neo-colonial system. Any moderately progressive African state had to be duped into thinking that an organization of independent states along with major political compromises was the best way of moving towards African unity, never mind achieving it. Right from May 1962 the U.P.C. and others warned that this was an enormous con-trick and that the best watchword for revolutionaries was ‘Form Popular Associa­tions to provide dynamic support for the Casablanca Charter’.75 The major compromise involved was acceptance of the principle of ‘non-interference in internal affairs’, which broke the unity of revolutionary Pan-Africanism and prevented it pursuing its struggle against neo-colonialism. Imperialism and its African puppets thereby succeeded in forcing the progressive states to accept the de facto balkanization of Africa. The emerging but already reactionary African bourgeoisie found its own interests and those of imperialism were in this respect well matched.

Nonetheless, it is also true that the O.A.U. was born out of the political illusions of the African petty bourgeoisie, the class which was leading the progressive states at the time. One cannot avoid the fact that Nkrumah was the only head of state to oppose what was happening.76 These illusions are still rampant and find periodic expression in, for example, Sékou Touré’s recurrent vacillations. We find him embracing Houphouet and Senghor one day, cursing them the next, only to embrace them again a little later. It is illusions like these which explain why, although  Houphouet and all the other puppets had shown themselves for what they were long before 1960, and blatantly continued to be faithful servants of imperialism thereafter, the progressive regimes still believed that it was possible to build African unity through an organization of heads of state.

The struggle of the African peoples has thus only confirmed the historical truth which tells us that the petty bourgeoisie’s commitment to revolutionary principles is never lasting.

Revolutionary Pan-Africanism in Retreat

How has Africa evolved politically since the O.A.U. was set up? We will examine this crucial question in detail, in subsequent chapters, but it seems useful to give a brief outline right away.

Even after 1963, some African countries such as Algeria and Ghana (till Nkrumah fell) continued to provide considerable support to revolutionary anti-colonialist organizations and African militants struggling against neo-­colonialism. Since 1975, Mozambique, Angola and countries like Tanzania have given a great deal of assistance to the anti-colonialist guerrillas in Southern Africa. But one cannot avoid the fact that, after 1963, the Pan-Africanist revolutionary current of the period 1958-62 was forced on to the defensive. The African countries which had once been part of that current seemed to have lost their way completely. Revolutionary Pan-Africanism was beating a retreat throughout the continent, in Egypt, in Guinea, even in Algeria. Then, in 1966, neo-colonialism won what was probably its greatest victory in Africa for 13 years: a coup d’état in Ghana overthrew Nkrumah. By comparison, the fall of the already seriously discredited Sudanese Union-R.D.A. regime in Mali was secondary (for Africa as a whole, of course, not in terms of the specific situation of the people of Mali). The retreat of Pan-Africanism in African official circles reached appalling proportions during the 1970s, to the point where there is not a single African head of state who still refers explicitly to the political unity of Africa.

At the moment, organizations struggling against neo-colonialism receive almost no militant support from any African state; the few exceptions are mainly motivated by self-interest and a desire to control the revolution in question. Worse still, within the O.A.U. itself, there are ever more pronounced and co-ordinated attempts to reduce such revolutionary organizations to silence. One concrete example of this tendency is the notorious O.A.U. Charter on political refugees, which lumps them together with bandits and mercenaries. This Charter defines mercenaries as ‘any persons with no national ties to the African country in which they exercise their activities’. The definition is so badly phrased and vague as to encompass the external activities of parties such as our own. The O.A.U. seeks to build an integrated Africa on the basis of a Charter which begins by recognizing the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and goes on to insist that the frontiers inherited from colonialism must never be altered. Many of these frontiers are ridiculously arbitrary, and there are good reasons to believe that it is their preservation rather than their elimination which will eventually be seen as a fanciful Utopia. As for the so-called principle of non-interference, it has turned out to be a piece of reactionary hypocrisy which serves to unite the reactionaries in the battle against revolutionaries. And, of course, the reactionaries do not themselves hesitate to interfere openly or covertly in the internal affairs of any even slightly progressive state.

We now find ourselves faced with the question of what the events of the last 15 years mean. What does revolutionary Pan-Africanism mean today and what does it rest on? What has demagogic Pan-Africanism become, and why? Only an opportunist would seek to avoid these questions, which must be answered if we are not to deceive ourselves and others.

With all that we know about Ahidjo, we can safely say that, when he starts declaring that O.C.A.M. (Organisation Commune Africaine et Mauricienne) is now useless and applauding the U.D.E.A.C. {Central African Customs Union), his actions are not to be explained in terms of some ‘philosophy’ of non-alignment but rather by reference to changes in the African economy. Even Houphouet-Boigny’s peers in the ‘moderate’ O.A.U. condemn his more or less secret friendly discussions with the South African racists. So when this gentleman suddenly announced that what we in Africa need are large independent economic zones’ (sic!) based on regional and sub-regional groupings, the most likely explanation is that in the Ivory Coast, or even in the whole of Africa, ‘either the system of production or the mechanisms of exchange [perhaps both] have been secretly modified.’

Since the 19th Century, historical materialism has been teaching revolutionaries that in the last instance this is always the right way to explain social facts and modifications which underlie sudden changes of heart on the part of statesmen.


Padmore was born in Trinidad in 1903. His book first appeared in English, in London, in 1955.

G. Padmore, Pan Africanism or Communism, (London, Dobson, 1955), pp. 117-18. The reader will note that in this formulation, Pan-Africanism, self-determination and African unity are already inseparable.

The role of the Slave Trade in the primitive accumulation of capital in Europe and America from the 16th Century onwards is highlighted by several authors, notably Eric Williams in his Capitalism and Slavery (London, Deutsch, 1964). Marx brings out this decisive role in the chapters of Capital dealing with primitive accumulation and in his famous Letter to Annenkov, in which he attacks Proudhon’s nonsense.

Quoted in Padmore, op. cit., p. 88.

Ibid., p. 105.

Ibid., pp. 105-6.

Ibid., p. 128.

Ibid., p. 137.

Ibid., p. 140.

10.       C.O.N.C.P. naturally ceased to exist once the Portuguese colonies had won their independence, Padmore, op. cit., p. 149.

Ibid., p. 150.

Nkrumah, Ghana (London, Nelson, 1956), p. 53. This is the real origin of the watchword ‘Africa for the Africans’. The plagiarism of various contemporary ‘experts’ is all the more shameful in that they usually change the precise content of what they are plagiarizing.

Padmore, op. cit., p. 164.

Nkrumah, op. cit., p. 57.

Interview with Houphouet-Boigny by Andre Blanchet published in Le Monde, 4 October 1957. Since 1960, Houphouet has naturally become one of the original ‘Apostles of Independence’.

Shaikh Anta Diop, Les fondements economiques et culturels d’un etat federal d’Afrique Noire (Paris, Editions Presence Africaine, 1974), p. 6. Contrary to general opinion, the youth of Africa is very ill informed in these matters, and needs to be reminded uftcn. For instance, in Camera oon, from 1952 to 1955, Ahidjo and his gang were so opposed to the idea of independence that they sent telegrams to the U.N.O., calling

on it not to listen to Um Nyobe who had come to demand independence for our country. Nowadays, all this is covered up.

Quoted by J. Ndong-Obiang in I’O. U.A. et la lutte pour Vindependance, (Paris, D.E.S., Political Science, 1972), p. 39. See also F. Wodie in Le P.D.C.L, for contemporary versions of this approach to apartheid.

Ndong-Obiang, op. cit., p. 39.

Ibid., p. 40.

Interview with Houphouet-Boigny by Andre Blanchet, Le Monde, 11 November 1957.

J. Ndong-Obiang, op. cit., p. 41.

See Ivory Coast Government paper, Fraternite Matin, 6 January 1961.


Padmore, op. cit., p. 165.

Houphouet-Boigny, Rapport moral au Congres de Bamako.

See Afrique Nouvelle, 18 April 1958.

See Paris Normandie, 13 August 1960. These two declarations were widely noted; indeed when the Malagasy, Tsiranana, heard that Ivory Coast was about to become independent, he said: ‘If even my friend Houphouet-Boigny is taking it, I will take it too.’

Nkrumah, op. cit., p. 290.

F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, (various editions).

Philippe Decraene, Le Panafricanisme, Que Sais-Je? (Paris, PUF), pp. 47-8.

Ibid., pp. 50-52.

‘The aims of this body (were to] accelerate the liberation of Africa and the development of “a feeling of Pan-African solidarity”, to “pave the way for the eventual creation of the United States of Africa”.’ P. Decraene, op. cit., p. 52.

Ibid., pp. 53-4.

See L ‘U.P.C.ala Conference d ‘Addis-A beba (U.P.C., June-August 1960).

Quoted in P. Decraene, op. cit., p. 55.

Patrice Lumumba had just been assassinated by the Mobutu-Tshombe-Kasavubu clique, at the order of their imperialist masters. Since Mobutu’ became Sese Seko Kuku, etc., this agent of the C.I.A. and Belgian Secret Service has tried to pose as a progressive. He thus sits alongside Ahidjo in the non-aligned movement and enjoys the support of the People’s Republic of China, in keeping with China’s new political line in Africa.

Quoted in Yves Benot, Ideologies des Independances Africains, (Paris, Maspero, 1972), p. 154.

U.A.M. became OCAM and then OCAMM, when Mauritius joined; finally, it reverted to calling itself OCAM, when Madagascar pulled out after 1975.

Azikiwe’s affection for his pompous title ‘Governor-General of Nigeria’, seems to have pushed aside the relatively Pan-African and patriotic conceptions he once held. See his 1943 Memorandum,’ The Atlantic Charter and British West Africa’.

P. Decraene, op. cit., p. 70.

Ibid., p. 73.

In one of his fits of delirium, Mobutu launched a project for a Union of Central African States, made up of the Congo and Chad. The project was still-born, despite Ngarta Tombalbaye’s adoption of a variant on Mobutu’s ‘authenticity’ theme.

Translated from Yves Benot, op. cit., p. 143.

The authors of the communique would, of course, have had their own views on Ghana’s relations with ‘the West’.

Notably Ahidjo’s great friends in Brazzaville led by the French puppet, Fulbert Youlou.

See Horoya (Conakry), 9 May 1961.

Ibid., 1 May 1962.

See the Bulletin de VAssociation pour I’etude des problemes d’Outre-Mer, No. 183, July 1963. No wonder Senghor feels he has more in common with his masters than with the African people…. If only stupidity was a fatal ailment….

Leopold S. Senghor, Les fondements de I’Africanite ouNegritude et Arabite, (Paris, Presence Africaine), p. 10. Is Senghor simply unaware of Cheikh Anta Diop’s work on the Cultural Unity of Black Africa”7.

J. K. Nyerere, ‘A United States of Africa’, Journal of Modern African Studies, January 1963.

Ibid., p. 1.

Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid., p. 4.

The O.A.U.’s very name is misleading. Originally, it was due to be called the Organization of African States. However, Algeria would have nothing to do with an organization which bore the same acronym (O.A.S.) as the Organization de I’Armee Secrete, the ultra-colonialist terrorist organization which had opposed Algerian independence so fiercely. ‘Unity’ was the second choice.

57.       In the light of the above quotes, it would seem that Ikoku’s characterization of Nyerere as a radical is open to some doubt.

58.       See Addis Abeba, Mai 1963: Conference au Sommet des Pays Inde-
pendents Africains, (Paris, Presence Africaine, 1964), p. 46.

59.       Ibid., p. 48.

Ibid., p. 116:

Ibid., pp. 117-18.

In August 1973, Sékou in a letter to Houphouet spoke of the ‘friendly and open ties between our two countries’. In September, he was accusing Senghor and Houphouet of treason, of being puppets of imperialism, and of having planned to co-operate with those who had sought to assassinate him and seize power. In 1978, the three brothers’ were once again congratulating themselves on having made ‘identical choices’.

Addis-Ababa, Mai 1963.. ., op. cit., p. 106.

Ibid., p. 94.

Ibid., p. 96, Nkrumah was sadly prophetic.

Ibid., p. 101.

Ibid., pp. 118-19.

A reference to the events on 4 August 1789, during the French Revolution.

Addis-Ababa, Mai 1963…, op. cit., p. 82.

Ibid., p. 225.

Sékou Touré, L ‘Afrique et la Revolution, (Paris, Presence Africaine), pp. 280-81.

Ibid, p. 284.

In July 1965, Ahidjo had the gall to announce: ‘We are moving towards socialism, but Cameroonian socialism, not African socialism/ Demagogy knows no bounds.

See Yves Benot, op. cit., p. 183.

Unite Africaine ou Neo-Colonialisme, p. 16.

Nkrumah cannot be judged purely, or even mainly, in terms of how we see the problem today. As Lenin says: ‘Historical services are not judged by the contributions historical personalities did not make in respect of modern requirements, but by the new contributions they did make, as compared with their predecessors.’ (V.I. Lenin, A Characterization of Economic Romanticism, Collected Works, Vol II, (Moscow, Progress, 1963), p. 185.



 How To Analyse The Problem

As we have just seen, the fundamental problem facing any revolutionary who seeks to understand the evolution of the African states over the last 20 years is to identify the socio-economic factors which can, in the last instance, explain the political evolution discussed in the latter part of the last chapter. What are these factors and how have they operated?

In order to determine these factors, we must turn to the best contem­porary economic studies and draw on any data which promise to shed some light on the essential lines of force within Africa’s economic evolution over the last two decades, and for the years to come.

The most cursory examination reveals that the world is not simply divided into two juxtaposed and self-contained economic blocs, with the so-called developed countries, on the one hand, and the so-called developing or underdeveloped countries, on the other. The reality is rather that all countries are enmeshed in a web of economic and political relations which form a world system.

But this world system is by no means a homogenous whole. The industrialized and technologically highly developed capitalist countries such as the U.S., Japan and Western Europe determine its overall evolution. These countries form what is often referred to as the centre of the world system. As for the other countries, their real influence on the course of events and on the economic evolution of the system remains quite marginal. They form the system’s periphery.

To the extent that the system’s overall evolution is determined by the industrialized capitalist and imperialist countries, one can say that this world system is simply the world capitalist system. In other words, it is the system of the world capitalist economy.1 The study of this global economy is essentially the study of the relations between the various elements of the world capitalist system. And the study of underdevelopment, particularly the underdeveloped African economy, is — above all — the study of relations between the centre of the system and its periphery, although this does not mean that one can neglect the specific and intrinsic traits of given dominated economies.2

The first fundamental thesis in this approach is that one cannot study underdevelopment seriously without examining its genesis. And this genesis is to be found in the relations between the centre of the world capitalist system and its periphery. The development of relations between these two poles, inasmuch as it is a development of capitalism, consists essentially of the accumulation of capital. What is true of underdevelopment, in general, is naturally also true of underdevelopment in Africa.

The second, complementary, thesis suggests that, within this world capitalist system, relations between centre and periphery are not at all relations between equal partners. These relations are characterized by the economically developed centre’s domination over the economically underdeveloped periphery. This domination is based on the economy but influences every other domain; the centre organizes the system as a whole in the light of its own needs and moulds the periphery accordingly. In other words, the evolution of capitalism in Africa (and in the periphery generally) is profoundly conditioned, one might even say determined, by its evolution at the centre of the system.

One of the congenital failings of bourgeois studies and theories on underdevelopment is that they never even begin to examine the genesis of underdevelopment. They deliberately ignore the question of where under­development comes from, and it is hard to believe that the desire to hide the fact of international imperialism’s responsibility for the situation does not play a major part in this wilful blindness.

The two theses outlined above, backed as they are by the most elementary common sense, indicate that any would-be serious and comprehensive analysis of Africa’s specific economic evolution must bear in mind the broad tendencies of the capitalist economy at the centre of the world capitalist system.

We will therefore begin by recalling, as briefly as possible, those tendencies within the evolution of the central capitalist economy which have decisively influenced the evolution of Africa’s economy. As we shall see, these tendencies are closely interlinked, forming a network which is both coherent and contradictory.

Capitalism’s Tendencies at the Centre Influencing Africa’s Economies

Tendency to Expand the Foreign Market

As Marx and Lenin have already shown, this tendency is an inherent feature of the capitalist mode. During the imperialist phase, it manifests itself as the need to dominate new economic territories.3 And today, this tendency finds its expression in the monopolistic character of the imperialist stage of capitalism. The contemporary form taken by these monopolies is the multi­national corporation, and the tendency itself is nowadays realized through export of capital and the internationalization of commodities.

In the present neo-colonialist phase, the need to dominate new economic territories takes a new form. It is no longer necessary physically to occupy such territories, as it was during the classical period of direct colonialism. Domination is now disguised as ‘capital investment’ within a framework of ‘aid’ and ‘co-operation’. The form of domination may have changed but the basis remains the same. It is quite clear that such domination is no less efficacious, for all that it is less visible; this is apparent from the history of U.S. control over Latin America during 150 long years.

To the extent that it now manifests itself as capital exports geared to secure exorbitant profits (a point to which we shall return), it is clear that this tendency to expand the foreign market is closely linked with world trade and the need for international exchange. To show that world trade has played a decisive role in the development of capitalism right from its earliest days is to expose the giant con-trick inherent in theories which seek to convince the dominated countries that they obtain any genuine benefit whatsoever from this trade. Many economic studies have established beyond doubt that the role of world trade is to confer a constant and definite advantage on one of the countries involved in the exchange, in this case on the more economically developed capitalist countries of the centre.4 It has long been clear that: Two nations may exchange according to the law of profit in such a way that both gain but one is always defrauded.’5

Two nations can indeed both gain from an exchange, in the sense that it is, in some ways, in the interest of countries such as Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville to sell their oil, in exchange for other products. But under what conditions does French imperialism obtain this oil? The reality is that, given the present relations between these two countries and France, out and out pillage is the rule, as the leaders of the two African countries have confirmed, and as the French imperialists themselves admit, with disarming cynicism, in the newspaper Le Monde (13 February 1979). Consequently, we may conclude that the benefits an African country can draw from world trade depend essentially on the precise conditions of exchange.6

One of the reasons why the imperialists and their ideologues refuse to recognize this obvious fact is that they will not admit the difference-between the concepts of use value and exchange value. In the type of exchange which takes place between an African country and ‘its’ imperialist metropole, one of the key aspects Of the process is that the African country increases its consumption of use values by importing a great deal of merchandise it does not produce itself. This is one of the ways in which it allegedly benefits from the exchange (we will deal with the point more extensively when we cover the whole question of unequal exchange). But in terms of exchange values, as will be amply demonstrated later, the African country concerned is forced to export far more labour than it imports, and is thus clearly the loser in the exchange. This has been well established ever since the 19th Century, yet the bourgeois economists, the whole apparatus of imperialist propaganda and those who have swallowed that propaganda hook, line and sinker all endlessly regurgitate variations on David Ricardo’s supposed law of comparative and absolute costs in an attempt to convince the people of Africa that they should stay within the world capitalist market. As we shall see, the export of capital has become a vital necessity for imperialist capitalism. The extension of world trade is as necessary to it as air and water are to a human being. It is thus easy to understand why it does everything it can to encourage trade and promote a trade-oriented approach which seems to be gaining new converts throughout the world at the moment.7

This tendency to export capital is also linked, on a fundamental level at least, with developed capitalism’s need to overcome another of its inherent tendencies, which we now turn to.

Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall at the Centre

The law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is an essential aspect of the capitalist mode of production.8 It provides the fundamental explanation for developed capitalism’s efforts at the centre to export capital and develop international trade. We have long known that: ‘Since foreign trade partly cheapens the elements of constant capital, and partly the necessities of life for which the variable capital is exchanged, it tends to raise the rate of profit, by increasing the rate of surplus value and lowering the value of constant capital.’10

So it is clear that, when the developed imperialist countries export then capital — and they cannot do otherwise — notably in the form of ‘aid’, it is essentially in order to fight against the tendency of the rate of profit to fall at the centre of the world capitalist system.11

We can go on to ask whether the general rate of profit is raised by the higher rate of profit realized by capital invested in foreign trade and especially in colonial trade. Marx answers that:

Capitals invested in foreign trade can yield a higher rate of profit because, in the first place, there is competition with commodities produced in other countries with inferior production facilities, so that the more advanced country sells its goods above their value even though cheaper than the competing countries, hi so far as the labour of the more advanced countries is here realized as labour of a higher specific weight, the rate of profit rises…. As concerns capitals invested in colonies, etc., they may yield higher rates of profit for the simple reason that the rate of profit is higher there due to backward development, and likewise the exploitation of labour, because of the use of slaves, coolies, etc. 12 Why should not these higher rates of profit, realized by capitals invested in certain lines and sent home by them, enter into the equalization of the general rate of profit and thus tend, pro tan to [proportionally] to raise it, unless it is the monopolies that stand in the way? There is so much less reason for it, since these spheres of investment of capital are subject to the laws of free competition.”

To the extent that it serves to compensate for the tendency for the rate of profit to fall in the centre of the world capitalist system, the export of capital is one of the basic features of this system today.

The super profits realized in the dominated, or ‘developing’ countries, to use the hypocritical terminology of the dominant ideology, are so enormous as to defy belief. However, they are unfortunately all too real. To give only one example:

Mr. Morton, an American Senator, has revealed that between 1950 and 1960 the U.S. invested some $8 billion in the underdeveloped countries…. This $8 billion investment provided the U.S. with a return of $25 billion in profits.

These figures are less astonishing when one considers that the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company alone, and in a single year, made some 350 million in profits from Liberian rubber, three times the complete budgetary resources of the whole country. [My emphasis, E.M.]14

The following table illustrates the growth of private investment abroad, that is to say the increasing amounts of capital exported with the aim of realizing capitalist super profits by the U.S., France and Britain from the beginning of the century up to the 1950s.15

Amounts of Private Capital Abroad ($ million)

Year    France Britain U.S.

1900    600      1,200   500

1930    7,000   19,000 17,000

1949    2,000   12,000 19,000*

* This figure does not include the $ 14 billion invested by the U.S. Government.

The period immediately before and after the First World War (1914-18) was characterized by a bitter struggle between the various imperialisms to invest abroad; in other words, to export capital in order to make exorbitant profits. The economies of the three main imperialist countries boomed, but competition also became more and more frenetic, eventually culminating in the 1914 War.16

Following the Second World War (1939-45), French imperialism was back-broken, the British were on the defensive, and the U.S. emerged as the clear leaders of world capitalism. By 1964, the U.S. Trade Secretary could proudly announce that U.S. ‘assets and private investments’ abroad amounted to some $60 billion, and had increased by more than $3 billion during the first six months of the previous year. Between 1938 and 1948, U.S. trade with Africa increased from $150 million to $ 1,200 million, annually. Furthermore:

Direct private investment in Africa increased between 1945 and 19S8 from $ 110 million to $ 789 million, most of it drawn from profits. Of the increase of $679 million, United States profits from these investments, including reinvestment of surplus, being estimated at $704 million. As a result, African countries sustained losses of S555 million. If allowance is made for grants for ‘non-military purposes’, estimated then by the U.S. Congress at $136 million, Africa’s net total losses still reached $419 million. American official statistics evaluate the gross profits realized in Africa by the American monopolies from 1955 to 1959 at $1,234 million, although other estimates put the figure as high as $ 1,500 million. Whichever way you look at it, you do not need to be a mathematical genius to see that U.S. investments in Africa bring in profits of about 100%.17

As for West Germany, its private investments in Africa reached DM1,473.3 million on 31 December 1971 and DM1,767.7 million on 31 December 1972, an increase of 20% over a single year.18

Anybody who cares to look at this evidence and draw the obvious conclusion will immediately understand that imperialism will carry on imposing the present system of international trade, be it ‘aid’ (whatever the ‘beneficiaries’ may say on the subject) or ‘mutually advantageous trade’. The only real solution for the dominated countries is to launch revolutionary liberation struggles which force the imperialists to put an end to their bare-faced pillage. The crucial underlying question is whether Africa can attain genuine liberation while remaining within the present world capitalist market, as we shall see later.

Contradiction between Capacity to Produce and Capacity to Consume

 This contradiction can also be expressed as the problem of how to absorb surplus economic production. Marx has indicated that the capitalist mode of production cannot overcome this inherent contradiction. The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of die masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit.’19

Various Marxist authors, notably Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, have shown how this contradiction operates within specifically monopolistic capitalism, under which it becomes even more important. The problem of absorbing the economic surplus is, in fact, linked to two key problems in capitalist society, namely economic and social waste and the whole question of capital and commodity exports. Before we can approach the question seriously, we must have a correct analysis of the notion of economic surplus itself. Baran gives the following useful definition:

Actual economic surplus is the difference between society’s actual current output and its actual current consumption. Potential economic surplus is the difference between the output that could be produced in a given natural and technological environment with the help of employable productive resources, and what might be regarded as essential consumption.20

Developed capitalism may seize upon the export of capital as a solution to this contradiction between an ever increasing level of production and the working people’s ability to consume, which is still deliberately blocked, despite all the talk about ‘abundance’ in the liberal democracies. This blocking of mass consumption inevitably leads to various forms of economic wasteful­ness in these countries. But the ‘solution’ only apparently resolves the problem; the reality is that society remains stuck in a permanent contradiction. The mechanisms by which the dominated countries are pillaged, the massive transfer of profits out of those countries where they are realized, and the lop-sided structure of international trade automatically produce a reflux of the exported capital, which then becomes part of the same vicious circle. This is one reason why imperialism has been described as a vain attempt to resolve the contradictions of monopoly capitalism by ‘exporting its problems’.

The export of capital serves is a means of maintaining the present system of international economic exchange, in other words, world trade as we know it. This export of capital, therefore, serves to maintain the imperialist capitalist countries’ domination over African and other peripheral countries. In the present neo-colonialist stage, this domination, unlike classical colonialism which required direct political means of domination, is essentially economic in both form and appearance.21 The export of capital, with its corollary, the impossibility of any significant accumulation of local capital in African countries, is then presented by both the imperialist and African bourgeoisies as the one and only road towards the development of Africa. It may be true that the ideologues and economists of African bourgeois neo-colonial regimes are genuinely ignorant of the real nature and role of the hidden mechanisms behind the export of imperialist capital to Africa. But for the African bourgeoisie itself, this ideological viewpoint is simply an expression of the fact that their interests coincide with those of the imperialism they are almost completely dependent upon. We are thus presented with the spectacle of African bourgeoisies pontificating about their resolve to fight against ‘foreign economic domination’, whilst simultaneously whining for foreign imperialist investors to import yet more capital into our countries.

The African bourgeoisie, faced with the impossibility of any significant accumulation of local capital, falls back on rhetoric about the struggle for so-called ‘economic independence’, and tries to convince its audience that Africa can be effectively liberated by ‘economic ways and means’ and by an ‘economic struggle’. The complete futility and indeed hypocrisy of this so-called struggle should by now be apparent. We will come back to this point when we examine whether the African bourgeoisie is in any way capable of liberating the continent from the yoke of imperialism. Suffice it to say here that, if the neo-colonial bourgeoisie really could make some sort of genuine contribution to the overthrow of neo-colonialism, they would by now surely have given some indication of the fact, seeing as 20 years have passed since they came to power.

Contradiction between Growth of MNCs and Organization along National Lines

Capitalism, in its monopolistic stage, exports capital massively, extends itself throughout the world and subjugates the entire planet. The internationaliza­tion of capital, in the form of ^ant multinational corporations, has already attained a prodigious level of development.

But despite this internationalization of capital, the bourgeois states survive and to some extent constitute a brake on the tendency which pushes capital to cross frontiers in the quest for die highest possible profits. The example of the European Common Market is particularly eloquent. It is now quite clear that the struggles within that body between the supporters and opponents of greater integration (within Europe) and expansion (incorporation of new countries) are the political manifestation of a silent battle being waged by monopoly capital in its pursuit of the greatest possible integration of Western Europe as a whole under American leadership — that is to say under the leadership of the giant multinational corporations. The present political struggle between two fractions of the French bourgeoisie is, in fact, the struggle for the relatively autonomous survival of that section of French capital which finds itself threatened by the encroachment of giant U.S. and West German corporations. Naturally, this threatened fraction of the French bourgeoisie finds it easy to present itself as the flag-bearer of ‘French national interests in Europe’, despite incessant vacillations which express its real motivations all too clearly. Anybody who is capable of discerning the class interests at work behind political proclamations will realize that the motives of this fraction of the French bourgeoisie have nothing whatsoever to do with the interests of the French workers. The defence of these interests is left practically entirely to the Communist Party and a few relatively marginal groups.

As Bukharin noted:

The great stimulus to the formation of an international capitalist trust is given by the internationalization of capitalist interests as described in the first section of our work (participation in and financing of international enterprises, international cartels, trusts, etc.). Significant as this process may be in itself, it is, however, counteracted by a still stronger tendency of capital towards nationalization and towards remaining secluded within state boundaries.22

Even if 60 years later the tendency to remain secluded within state boundaries is no longer ‘stronger’, the contradiction is manifestly still with us.

 As far as the African countries are concerned, this contradiction operates as follows. On the one hand, there is a tendency for the various imperialisms to band together in consortiums and multinational corporations in order to exploit the African countries jointly. But, on the other hand, each imperialism seeks to seize the lion’s share of the spoils resulting from any such ventures. For example, it seems that many European countries, including West Germany, objected to me high cost to them of an ‘association’ between African countries and the E.E.C. involving mostly ex-French colonies, from which France drew most of the benefit. But, following the Lomé Convention, most of the other African states also aligned themselves with this policy of association. So there is reason to believe that the situation has -evolved somewhat, although inter imperialist conflicts do persist. However, the emergence of a socialist camp — with the threat that poses to the capitalist system as a whole — has meant that these inter-imperialist conflicts never go beyond a certain point, that point being defined in terms of the community of interests of international monopoly capital as an entity and by the requirements of the world struggle between capitalism and socialism.23

Tendency to Develop Trade within the Centre and Marginalize Trade with Dominated Countries of the Periphery

The present crucial phase of the crisis of international capitalism, which began in the early 1970s, seems to favour the imperialist countries’ tendency to seek out foreign markets, including those in the ‘underdeveloped’ countries. But even though this tendency may be growing, the statistics on world trade put the matter very much in perspective. It is still true that:

Whereas the advanced countries do about 80% of their trade amongst themselves and only 20% with the underdeveloped countries, the proposition is inverse for the countries of the periphery, which do 80% of their trade with the advanced countries.24

The proportion of internal exchanges within the developed group of countries, which was around 46% of world trade in 1928, had increased to 62% in 1965 while, correspondingly, the proportion represented by exchanges between the centre and the periphery decreased from 22% to 17%.25

Furthermore, the volume of exchange between the underdeveloped countries themselves is ridiculously low, less main 3% of total world trade. As for inter-African trade, it represented only 7.5% of total African trade in 1967, 60% of which was with Europe alone. Inter-African trade was actually diminishing as a proportion of the world total at the time, from 0.5% in 1958 to 0.4% in 1964, for example.26

Consequently, it is fair to say that, although in absolute terms the pillage of Africa by the imperialist countries is important, trade with Africa is more or less marginal as a proportion of world trade as a whole. The imperialist countries ‘do not trade enough’ with Africa. In other words, the markets of these countries are more closed to African products than to the products of one another. In fact, the earnings derived from this trade by the African countries are actually quite limited. This situation, nevertheless, contributes to economistic illusions about searching out capitalist markets in the centre, breaking into new markets and the possibility of resolving the great problems of African liberation by economic means. The African nationalist petty bourgeoisie has fallen hook, line and sinker for these theses, much to the delight of the neo-colonialists and African reactionaries who ‘ask for nothing better than to trade and do business’.

Tendency to Transfer Certain Industries from Centre to Periphery

Having pretended for decades that specialization in agriculture was the African countries’ ‘best pathway to development’, the imperialists are now noisily bubbling about the industrialization of Africa. An entire fashionable body of literature has grown up around the theme of the ‘transfer of technology’. The underlying reality is that the extraordinary development of science and technology over the last 50 years has now culminated in a genuine technical and scientific revolution, as a result of which many 18th, 19th and even early 20th Century industries have ceased to be profitable for the European imperialists. As everybody knows — though some occasionally wish to forget — the quest for the highest possible profit is the driving force of capitalism.27Unprofitable activity, as determined by the capitalists, must be eliminated. Developed capitalism is therefore casting off old industries which are not proving profitable enough, and the imperialists find themselves faced with two options. They can either transfer these outdated industries to African and other dominated countries, thereby fuelling the present process of (distorted) industrialization in Africa; or they can simply ship in more cheap labour from the African countries to man these antiquated industries. (Cheap because these workers are forced to accept the lowest salaries and are denied access to trade unions.) This imported workforce makes it possible for capitalism to continue operating, at a lower cost, those sectors of industry which do not require a high level of scientific and technical training. The training of this labour force, thus, does not cost the imperialists a penny; it is the African countries which have paid to make it possible for the workers involved, even if they are unskilled, to produce in the first place.

Certain imperialists have even suggested that the imperialist countries should sell the African countries factory plant that is over 60 years old and hence unprofitable in the imperialist centre. They argue that, given Africa’s technological backwardness, such equipment would be most suitable. This manoeuvre is clearly an attempt to kill two birds with one stone: imperialism would make profits out of outdated European factories and also prevent Africa from gaining access to more advanced highly productive technology. Leopold Senghor, France’s puppet in Senegal, rather gave the game away in an interview with a reactionary journalist. The neo-colonialist press gave the following account of the President’s views:

As a supporter of greater economic integration between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, President Senghor suggests that ‘a possible aspect of this conjoined economic development’ [of Africa and the Middle East] would be the transfer to the underdeveloped countries of the so-called ‘polluting’ industries, which an overcrowded Europe now finds unacceptable.

The Poet-President’s reflections on the subject can be found in the French neo-colonial weekly, Matches Tropicaux et Mediteranneens, 11 January 1974, where Senghor’s interview with Le Point, also a paper of the French neo-colonial lobby, is quoted at length.28

Even when the need to maximise profits forces imperialist capitalism to allow industries to be set up in Africa, it still tries to ensure that, as much as possible, those industries will only produce consumer goods. Alternatively, industries are set up, such as those by Pechiney-Ugine-Kuhlmann in Edea (Cameroon) and Fria (Guinea), which do nothing at all to help the country industrialize, in that they have no knock-on effect on the economy of the countries concerned.29These factories are the very prototype of ‘non-industrializing industry’, confirming the view that ‘the Alucam factory was not a Cameroonian problem solved by Pechiney but rather a Pechiney problem solved by Cameroon’. Pechiney’s problem in this case was to find the cheapest electricity in the world — and Edea could provide it.

Unequal Exchange — Basic Mechanism by which Capitalist Countries at Centre Exploit Dominated Countries

The present growing awareness of the phenomenon of unequal exchange 30 is probably due to the increasing seriousness of its effect, the deterioration in the terms of trade, as the phenomenon operates ever more favourably for the industrialized countries and massively disadvantageous for the least developed, least industrialized countries. It is now almost unanimously recognized that, for example:

A Senegalese peasant gets barely a seventh of what he used to get less than a century ago, in terms of the value contained in the products exchanged. Were it not for this growing inequality in exchange, which amounts to a constant devaluation of Senegalese labour, the terms of trade for goods would have shifted considerably in Senegal’s favour and groundnut producers would be paid a price six times higher in real terms — that is to say in terms of purchasing power — than that which they now get for their produce. Unshelled groundnuts would be purchased from the producer at 100 francs rather that 17 francs, delivered to the. oil manufacturers for 105 francs (since transport and marketing costs 4.25 francs) rather than 32 francs, and the price of groundnut oil would be 2.5 times higher; groundnuts would account for 65% of the price of the oil, and the other costs (assuming no changes in wages, gross profits, etc.) for 35%. This readjustment would simply bring the price of groundnut oil into line with that of olive oil and palm oil.

Can differences in the use values of these three cooking oils explain the present enormous difference in their price? We are told that such must indeed be the case; if consumers are willing to pay these different prices, then obviously the value of the products is different…. This tautological argument ignores the fact that in the 19th Century, for instance, French consumers used palm oil; they only became ‘used to’ groundnut oil because it could be obtained more cheaply, from Africa, where the peasants could be made to work for less. The consumers were told that there was nothing to match groundnut oil, just as today they are being persuaded that olive oil is much better! The only real reason that the latter is more expensive is because the work of European producers has to be paid for at a higher rate than that of the African peasants.

The transfer of revenue from Senegalese peasants to France, which this deterioration implies, is on such a scale that the moment one makes an attempt, however crude, to quantify it, one realizes to what extent the ‘mechanism of the world market’ is a synonym for pillage. Given that the current production of groundnuts represents a gross income of about 15 billion CFA francs for the producers, then over the last 80 years Senegal will have lost about 1,800 billion CFA francs at current values, the difference between what it did receive and what it would have received had the terms of exchange been modified to compensate for the evolution of disparities in the productivity of labour.31

Given that this deterioration in the terms of trade could only occur in the process of international trade, the expression ‘unequal exchange’ is particularly apt. It implies that in international economic exchange there is an imbalance in the values exchanged between the dominated countries and the dominant countries. Consequently, this kind of exchange eventually translates into a cumulative transfer of value to the centre of the world capitalist system. The question which immediately springs to mind is how this phenomenon comes about.

It has long been clear that:

If we want to examine the situation of two countries at different stages of capitalist development which none the less exchange their products … the Marxist theory of prices is a useful tool. The mass of surplus value produced in the two countries is determined by the surplus value supplied by the workers of the countries concerned. But the question is how this surplus value is shared out amongst each country’s respective capitalists.

The capital of the more developed country will have a higher organic composition, 32 so a given quantity of the labour fund (variable capital) will correspond to a higher quantity of fixed capital than inthe less developed country…. Because of the tendency towards equalization of the general rate of profit, instead of the workers of each of the two countries producing surplus value for their own capitalists, the sum of the surplus value produced by the workers in both countries will be shared amongst the capitalists of both countries, and it will be shared in proportion to the quantity of capital invested by each group of capitalists, not in terms of the quantity of labour each country has put into producing the goods. Since in the more developed country a greater quantity of capital corresponds to a given quantity of labour, that country will appropriate a greater share of the surplus value than the one which corresponds to the quantity of labour it has supplied. Everything happens as if the surplus value produced in the two countries was first piled up in a heap and then shared between the capitalists according to the size of their capital. So the capitalists of the developed countries not only exploit their own workers, they also appropriate part of the surplus value produced in the less developed countries.33

Although the above analysis was based on a comparison between the (developed) German regions of Austria and the (underdeveloped) Czech regions of Bohemia, it can unquestionably also be applied to, say, France today on the one hand, Cameroon and Gabon on the other. In our opinionthe main defect of Bauer’s argument is rather the following. It leads one to believe that differences in the productivity of labour are the decisive, not to say the only, cause of unequal exchange, since the countries where the productivity of labour is low are precisely those in which the organic compo­sition of capital is relatively low, while the industrialized, imperialist countries, where the level of productivity is high, are those in which the organic composition of capital is the highest. The point is particularly important as it seems that other, more recent, Marxist economists are nowadays presenting a point of view very much in line with Bauer’s. For instance Christian Palloix asserts that:

If, on the international level, three days of work in the underdeveloped country are exchanged for one day of work in the developed country, it is because the productivity of labour in the first country is very low. International differences in the productivity of labour seem to be intimately linked to the dominant economies’ extraction of surplus from the dominated economies.34

If we turn to Marx, however, we find him arguing thus:

First, if the English 10-hour working day is, on account of its higher intensity, equal to an Austrian working day of 14 hours, then, dividing the working day equally in both instances, 5 hours of English surplus labour may represent a greater value than 7 hours of Austrian surplus labour. Second, a larger portion of the English working day than of the Austrian working day may represent surplus labour.35

Marx is saying that, in exchanges between two countries with an uneven level of capitalist development, it is not only differences in the productivity of labour which come into play, but also differences in salaries; mat is to say the different ways the working day is broken down into its component fractions (necessary labour time and surplus labour time).

The various purely ideological arguments put forward today by some theoreticians, including even a few Marxists, are simply an attempt to camouflage an all too obvious truth. Such arguments express mainly the political chauvinism of their authors. If we compare the productivity of labour in the oil fields of the North Sea with that in similar fields offshore from Gabon, Nigeria or Cameroon, nobody can possibly claim that they differ substantially, given that the techniques used are practically identical. Furthermore, it is well known that, in value terms, such extractive industries provide a substantial proportion of the income of the dominated countries. Given that the productivity of workers in this sector is roughly the same worldwide it really requires considerable stubbornness to avoid the conclusion that the enormous differences in wages which exist between the workers in these countries (dominant and dominated) do in fact play a considerable part in making exchanges between the countries unequal. One does not have to be a “Third Worldist’ to see the obvious, whatever certain European far-left so-called revolutionary Marxists may think.36Without seeking to close the debate, it seems fair to say that unequal exchange appears when ‘the difference between the productivity of the labour involved in producing two products which are exchanged is less than the difference between the wages paid for their production’.37 As A. Emmanuel puts it:

While one may be able to find reasons, whether good or bad, to explain the difference between the wages of an American metal worker who controls a power press worth a million dollars and those of a worker on a Brazilian coffee plantation who uses only a simple machete, it is much harder to explain why a building worker who puts up a bungalow in the suburbs of New York has to be paid 30 times as much as his counterpart in the Lebanon, though both use the same tools and perform exactly the same movements as their Assyrian fellow worker of 4,000 years ago.38

The above is obviously not just true of building workers. We could equally well compare the wages of iron miners in, say, Mauritania and the Ruhr or those of the workers employed by Pechiney-Ugine-Kuhlmann in Cameroon, on the one hand, and in the U.S., Canada and Southern France, on the other. Generally, given the same tools, the productivity of a worker in the dominated countries is said to be about 40-50% lower man that of a worker in the developed countries. These estimates are provided by the big capitalist firms themselves and are then taken up by the U.N.; there is, thus, nothing to suggest that they are particularly biased in favour of African workers, to say the least. Nonetheless, they will do as a starting hypothesis. Anybody who has bothered to investigate the living conditions of African workers knows perfectly well that their average wage is considerably less than £20 a month. Let us now compare this with the wages of their European or North American counterparts. No one will deny that in the developed West a wage of £250 a month is considered well below average.39 The wages ratio between African and West European workers is thus about 12.5 to I; but that is not the end of the story. We have so far only considered nominal salaries and have left out the by no means insignificant ‘social wage’ characteristic of the developed countries.40 True, this particular relative advantage was only won through bitter struggle against the bourgeoisies of the developed countries, but the fact remains that, unlike their Western fellows, African workers enjoy no such benefits. It would therefore seem that there is little exaggeration in Arghiri Emmanuel’s claim that the real ratio between wages paid in the developed and underdeveloped worlds is of the order of 15 to 1. Authors such as Christian Palloix may even come closer to the truth when they assert that we should be talking about ’20 to 1 or more’.41Yet, as we have seen, even according to the imperialists’ own calculations, the corresponding ratio between productivities is only about 2 to 1. Under such conditions, it is clear that, when the goods produced by these workers are exchanged, one country is robbing the other.42 This does not mean that the problem of the exploitation of the dominated countries can simply be resolved by a sudden general increase in wages. But the facts are undeniable.

Let us reconsider for a moment the theory which suggests that unequal exchange and international economic relations simply express differences in productivity and other ‘mutual advantages’. Marx, criticizing the views of the British economist, Ricardo, had this to say: ‘Even according to Ricardo’s theory … three days of work in one country may be exchanged for a single day hi another. In this case, the rich country exploits the poor country, even if the latter gains from the exchange, as Mill demonstrated in “Some Unsettled Questions”.’43

In an effort to explain away the facts, the imperialists and those who objectively act as their allies in this matter 44 advance a whole range of inconsistent theories, including the suggestion that It is none the less in the interests of the underdeveloped countries to trade with the developed countries’; it is thus worth dwelling on Marx’s phrase ‘even if the latter gains from the exchange.’

The imperialists and their mercantilist allies all claim that if, hypothetically, they no longer (generously!?) accepted to exchange products which Africa is short of for the products we supply, then we Africans would be hard put to find a use for our ‘exotic produce’. They conclude that it is obviously in the interest of the African countries to trade with them. But it is one thing to recognize that in some cases there is indeed a relative advantage in exchanging, say, bananas, coffee, copper, crude oil, copper or uranium for tractors, factories and inevitably the odd tank or fighter aircraft with which to terrorize the peasants, workers and young people of Africa. But it is quite another to accept that, even given this supposed relative advantage, the African countries are not being robbed in this process of exchange. On the contrary, we believe that, even granting the hypothesis most favourable to imperialism, the African countries are demonstrably being cheated. Let us illustrate this with two examples, one from Africa, the other from Latin America.

It is well known that African states like Chad and those in the Central African Customs Union supply the imperialist countries, notably France, with a wide range of products and raw materials. Let us assume that these African countries decided to stockpile then products and stopped exchanging them for goods manufactured in the imperialist countries. The mercantilists and their allies would immediately raise a hullaballoo and denounce this ‘insanity’. Colombia, for example, is one of Latin America’s biggest coffee producers, and exchanges most of its output for U.S.-made manufactured products. Colombia cannot decide not to sell its coffee to North America without arousing the condescending laughter of the international business community. The imperialists present the matter as an open and shut case, but let us none the less examine some of the details more closely.

Although the countries in question (Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad) are lamentably poor, as French bourgeois journalists never tire of pointing out, the fact remains that: “The loss corresponding to the worsening in the terms of trade between 1955 and 1967 represented 174 billion CFA francs or 20% of the value of their current exports during that period.’45 In other words, they have lost about 14.5 billion CFA francs a year!

In 1963, Colombia received a ‘generous’ $ 150 million in ‘aid’ under the provisions of the Alliance for Progress launched by the then U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. During the very same year, Colombia lost some $450 million due to the fall in the price of coffee sold to the United States. No mathematical wizardry is necessary to conclude that, in a single year, U.S. ‘aid’ to Colombia consisted of the theft of some $300 million from this little country, some two times what the UJS. had paid out in ‘aid’.46

Even Senghor, France’s puppet in Senegal, was forced to observe that:

French investments in Africa are becoming relatively smaller and the profits repatriated are growing larger and larger. In a study of Senegal’s economic situation, Professor Samir Amin mentions 20 billion CFA francs in yearly investments and a corresponding 20 billion CFA francs in visible transfers; naturally Senegal also ends up paying for all invisible transfers.47

What Senghor forgets to say is that it was he who signed the unequal treaties under which this pillage is carried out quite legally.

It should be clear by now that unequal exchange, as a permanent mechanism for the transfer of values from the countries of the periphery (including the African countries) towards the countries at the centre of world capitalism, is one of the fundamental means whereby the presently underdeveloped countries are kept in their underdeveloped state. In fact, capitalist relations of production — and hence the mode of production itself — can only be reproduced and extended on a world scale thanks to the subdivision of this mode of production in this way. In other words, thanks to the inequalities in the development of the productive forces and the accumulation of capital, the transfer of surplus value from the periphery to the centre, and an international division of labour between industry and agriculture as well as between manual and intellectual labour; there has to be a network of unequal metropoles and satellites if capitalist relations are to be reproduced and survive 49.

Brief Summary

For more than three-quarters of a century, the world capitalist economy has been in an imperialist monopoly stage. The most modern manifestation is the giant multinational corporation, which expresses the prodigious degree to which capital has become internationalized. Imperialism, in its struggle against the tendency of the rate of profit in the developed countries (the centre) to fall, exports capital with the aim of realizing exorbitant profits in the colonies and neo-colonies where the workers are exploited like beasts of burden and paid appallingly low wages. Imperialism has thereby enormously broadened the capitalist countries’ foreign market, creating a genuine world market which is absolutely essential to contemporary capitalism. Imperialism would cease to be itself if it ceased to impose the present world market! Because of the unequal development it forces on colonies and neo-colonies which are kept in a state of technological backwardness, because of the ensuing differences in productivity between the industrialized countries and the dominated ones, because of the relations of domination thanks to which the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries can impose pitiful salaries on the workers in the dominated countries, relations within the world market engender a constant transfer of wealth from the dominated countries to the imperialist countries, a transfer which benefits mainly the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries and, to a lesser extent, their class allies. This unequal exchange is the very essence of the present world trade system between the dominant imperialist countries and the dominated colonies or neo-colonies. Such trade also provides monopoly capital with a palliative to its most flagrant contradictions, notably the contradiction between the capacity to produce and the capacity to consume, which is expressed in blatant waste at every level.

In their efforts to dominate the so-called underdeveloped countries, the various imperialist bourgeoisies both collaborate and compete amongst themselves. The resulting inter-imperialist contradictions are permanently manifest in the periphery, notably in Africa. Science and technology have permitted an unprecedented development of the forces of production which has consigned a variety of industries to the museum. These outdated industries are deemed too unprofitable by the imperialist bourgeoisie, although it is still true that key discoveries are sometimes kept locked away until profits from previous technical investments have been fully realized. It is, therefore, not surprising that the imperialist bourgeoisie, in its quest for maximum profits, should ship such outdated ‘classical’ industries out to the dominated regions, notably to Africa. Of course, this in no way modifies the relations of domination and exploitation which have existed for so long between this bourgeoisie and the peoples of Africa.

Finally, the imperialist countries’ inability to absorb the economic surplus ‘profitably’ creates serious problems for them. They are, therefore, unable to absorb the present and, a fortiori, potential export capacity of the dominated countries. The result is a tendency to marginalize trade with the dominated countries. In early March 1975 in Lomé, Togo, a Convention “associating nearly all the countries of Africa with the capitalist West European Common Market was signed. Like its predecessor signed five years previously in Yaoundé (Cameroon), this Convention, which was presented as a model of perfect harmony, was in fact an attempt by European imperialists to create the impression that they were struggling against this tendency towards the marginalization of economic trade relations with Africa. It was also obviously a moment in the internecine struggle between European, U.S. and Japanese imperialisms over who will appropriate Africa’s wealth.

We have examined the essential tendencies of capitalism at the centre which fundamentally determine the development of Africa’s economic base. We can now turn to the essential tendencies within the African economy itself.

Evolution of the African Economy Since Independence

Tendency Towards Expansion of the Market

It is only normal that this tendency, which is inherent in the capitalist mode of production in general, should emerge as part of the development of capitalism in Africa.

The fierce competition which African products, especially manufactured ones, have to face in the capitalist markets of the developed world leads a young and weak African capitalism to do everything in its power to find markets of its own, especially in Africa itself. The same is true for agricultural products, which are also subject to the onslaught of monopoly capital.

There has recently developed a still embryonic tendency towards the export of African capital within Africa itself, a sort of Pan-Africanization of capital’. Typical examples are the MIFERGUI consortium, which jointly exploits Guinea-Conakry’s iron ore, 50 and the important role of Libyan capital in Mauritania, Niger and elsewhere. In many cases, however, the primary concern is more strategic man economic.

It might be objected that, unlike the export of imperialist capital ever since the beginning of the 20th Century, what we are dealing with here is essentially ‘fraternal’ or even ‘socialist’ co-operation between Africans to exploit African resources. The conclusion would be that the relations stemming from this kind of project could not possibly have anything to do with capitalism and its characteristics. But one only has to illustrate the real economic meaning of contemporary ‘socialism’ in Africa to refute this objection.

It is important to remember that this tendency to try and expand the African economy’s market is closely conditioned by tendencies within the developed capitalism of the imperialist countries. (For the moment we are only concerned with the African domestic market. We shall look at the foreign market for African goods a little further on.)

We have already mentioned the tendency for the developed capitalist countries to trade mainly amongst themselves. This makes it more and more difficult to market the products of the African countries. Furthermore, these African countries have a very weak, almost non-existent, commercial infrastructure of their own; this is partly due to the relations of domination between imperialist and African countries.51 If, on top of all this, inter-African trade is inadequate — in other words, if the African economy cannot find sufficient outlets in Africa itself — it is as a direct consequence of imperialist colonial policy, a policy which oriented the trade of each colony towards its imperialist metropole. The African bourgeoisie is beginning to complain openly about this situation and is increasingly trying to overcome it by developing trade relations between African countries, which gives rise to the second tendency described below.

Tendency Towards Unification of Markets, Notably the Labour Market

 A number of recent policy decisions show that the ruling African bourgeoisies have launched a process which is geared to enable the African labour force to move from any given country to any other in Africa whenever the need arises. Notable amongst such measures are the following.

On 22 December 1972, in Brazzaville, the Council of Heads of State of the Central African Economic and Customs Union adopted a Common Convention on the free circulation of individuals and the right to settle within U.D.E.A.C.

The Convention lays down that the citizens of the member states can come and go freely between all the member states and settle in any of these states at will.

The free circulation of workers implies the abolition of all discrimination as to employment, pay or other working conditions between the workers of the different member states. These arrangements do not apply to employment in the public sector — either local or national.

The Secretariat of the Union is particularly concerned to examine as quickly as possible those activities in which the freedom to settle will constitute an especially useful contribution to the develop­ment of production and trade.52

Not surprisingly, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie is careful to protect its own job opportunities. There is no question of, say, a Gabonese bureaucrat being allowed to come to Cameroon to compete with his local counterpart for employment as a public official. By contrast, the potential private sector competition for jobs between workers of the entire Union is an excellent basis on which to increase capitalist profits. For instance, should the workers of Gabon start expressing their discontent, their bosses can always call in the ‘reserve’ of unemployed workers from Douala, Bangui or Pointe-Nohe.

Mr. Gerard Kango Ouedraogo, Prime Minister of Upper Volta, left Libreville on 17 March, having completed a 7-day official visit to Gabon. The joint communiqué published on the occasion of this visit confirmed that the representative of Upper Volta had shown great interest in the Gabonese proposals concerning co-operation between the two countries in employment matters. It is well known that sparsely populated Gabon is ready to welcome a number of workers from Upper Volta. The communiqué goes on to say that, given the importance and complexity of the question, the two parties have decided to establish a Working Party to study the whole problem of drawing up a Convention on labour.53


Many Senegalese already work in this country — Gabon (a thousand of them work in the building industry in Port-Gentil). President Bongo has once again called for skilled Senegalese workers. His latest appeal, for the construction of a Transgabonese railway, involves some 3,000 people.54

One could cite many other examples. It is worth noting that Omar Bongo’s neo-colonial regime, which issued the above mentioned appeal for thousands of African workers, organized full-scale micro-nationalist demonstrations of chauvinism against the citizens of Benin residing in Gabon in 1978. While Bongo himself was President of the 0 AM. (which claims to be achieving African unity), he and his Government did not hesitate to issue hate-filled demagogic slogans directed against workers from Benin, nor to imitate outright reactionaries like Houphouet-Boigny and develop relations with the Nazis of Pretoria and Salisbury. In Cameroon, to take another example, many Nigerian citizens are employed as agricultural workers and in various other branches of production, especially in the south-west of the country. Similarly, many proletarianized peasants from Upper Volta are employed in the Ivory Coast.

As noted in the aforementioned journal, many African countries are ‘short or manpower (which does not prevent them from keeping hundreds of thousands of people unemployed, most of whom are less than 30 years old), while others have an ‘excess’ of it. Without going into the causes of this situation immediately, we can highlight what these Conventions imply. They are clearly socially analogous to legislation passed in Europe from the 16th Century onwards, when capitalism was emerging and laws were required to legalize the primitive accumulation of capital. The mechanisms and specially designed laws which make it possible to move an excess of manpower from certain regions of Africa to others, according to the requirements of capital’s quest for maximum realization of surplus value, are fundamentally similar to the processes described by Marx in his studies of 16th-19th Century Europe.55

In Africa’s present situation, it is all too clear just how contradictory this process is. In one sense, it promotes Pan-African integration, since the workers of one area of Africa can go to work in another. But in a second sense, the process constitutes the basis for Inter-African oppositions’, since this integration takes place in the context of what could be called ‘unequal underdevelopment’,56allowing for the emergence of two types of ‘developing underdevelopment’.57In the case of Gabon and Upper Volta, for instance, the latter is gradually being relegated to the status of a mere reservoir of labour, a position which it already holds vis-a-vis the Ivory Coast. A similar relationship prevailed between Mobutu’s Zaire and Angola under the Portuguese. Indeed, the contribution of Angolan emigrants displaced during the war of national liberation (notably by the dubiously ‘nationalist’ manoeuvres of the anti-MPLA UNIT A and FNLA movements) played a considerable and perhaps even decisive role in the accumulation of capital in Zaire from 1960 to 1975.58

Accelerated and Intensified Proletarianization

The phenomenon of proletarianization in Africa is recognized as such by all serious observers. What concerns us here is to investigate its causes, and especially the mechanisms which organize it, deepen it and thereby provide the African bourgeoisies and their masters in Europe and America with a labour force whose lives they can sign away in the various Conventions which African states agree amongst themselves or with non-African countries.

Any attentive observer can see that the present abundance of available labour in Africa stems fundamentally from the fact that the African societies of today are made up of giant disintegrating rural human reserves. Everybody has noted the mass movement of rural populations towards the urban centres, the so-called rural exodus. The neo-colonial regimes claim to find this move­ment surprising and most of them blame it on the people’s ‘mentality’. They would have us believe that people flock to the towns simply because they no longer wish to work the fields. Yet it is not difficult to understand that this disintegration of rural society is due to mechanisms which are clearly linked to the primitive accumulation of capital. Such mechanisms have been and still are set up by capital in order to provide itself with an abundant supply of cheap labour. Three-quarters of a century ago, Lenin stressed that: ‘It is the law of all developing commodity economy, and the more so for capitalist economy, that the industrial (Le. non-agricultural) population grows faster than the agricultural and diverts an ever growing part of the population from agriculture to manufacturing industry.’59 He went on to say:

Can there be a capitalism under which the development of commerce and industry does not outpace agriculture? For the growth of capitalism is the growth of commodity economy, that is to say of a social division of labour which separates from agriculture one branch of the processing of raw materials after another, breaking up the single natural economy in which the production, processing and consumption of these raw materials were combined. That is why capitalism always and everywhere signifies a more rapid development of commerce and industry than of agriculture, a more rapid growth of the commercial and industrial population, a greater weight and importance of commerce and industry in the social economic system as a whole. Nor can it be otherwise.60

This phenomenon has been observed in every country, without exception, wherever capitalism has had to develop out of pre-capitalist systems. Lenin is right to say it cannot be otherwise; the facts confirm his observations with a law-like regularity. Indeed, the peasant populations of Africa are perfectly aware that sooner or later, if things cany on as they are now (in other words, if capitalism continues to develop in Africa), the broad masses will be forced to quit agriculture and become proletarians. The African masses are far more cognizant of all this than they are usually given credit for by intellectuals and ‘experts’; real life is the best possible school. Some Cameroonian peasants recently pressed the point home to one of Ahidjo’s bureaucrats:

The local population expressed their anxieties and grievances to the Prefect of Mungo who was staying in Dibombari for a few days (21-24 February 1974). They were concerned, above all, with the problem of the rural exodus. All the young people were emigrating to Douala and there were practically no able-bodied men left to work in the fields and keep the village going. The people of Dibombari naturally wanted  SOCAPALM to recruit most of its workers from the neighbourhood.

The Prefect reassured the population about the indemnities due to them as a result of the installation of the SOCAPALM agro-industrial complex. The matter is being investigated.61

Under such conditions, if the African bourgeoisies and their masters want to develop capitalism in Africa, they will not be able to avoid a rural exodus, short of forcibly keeping the peasant masses in the countryside. This solution would, of course, provide the bourgeoisie with a reserve labour force, which could then be used to back up threats of mass sackings in the towns, thereby keeping salaries low, but it does seem an extremely unlikely possibility. If the bourgeoisie genuinely wishes to prevent the rural exodus, the only two real choices open to it are both absurd from a capitalist point of view: either it decides not to develop capitalism in Africa or it starts moving directly towards socialism.

The introduction of money was the decisive step in the disintegration of the pre-capitalist African economies. Monetarization enabled colonialism to ruin the local artisans, who could not compete with the products imported by the colonial trading houses. The ruined artisans had no option but to sell their labour power in the towns, to become proletarians. One should also not forget that many peasants have been expropriated outright, either by brutal direct coercion or by a systematic pauperization of the countryside, so that people end up by saying ‘it can’t be any worse elsewhere’, leave the village and thereby become proletarians.

It has long been quite obvious that, to stop the rural exodus, what is required is not moralizing speeches but a harmonization of the living and working conditions in the town and the countryside, a task which the present African bourgeois regimes cannot possibly undertake. The only basis on which such a harmonization could be achieved is a gigantic development of the productive forces, an enormous increase in production and industrializa­tion which, as we shall show later, these bourgeois regimes are quite incapable of promoting. No capitalist country has ever developed without its rural population gradually moving away from the countryside, or more exactly, moving from agriculture to industry. Given that industry is to the towns what agriculture is to the countryside, it really is deliberate stupidity to reduce the problem of the rural exodus to a subject for moralizing sermons. Karl Marx pointed out long ago that:

It is in the nature of capitalist production continually to reduce the agricultural population as compared to the non-agricultural, because in industry (in the strict sense) the increase of constant capital in relation to variable capital goes hand in hand with an absolute increase, though relative decrease, in variable capital; on the other hand, in agriculture, the variable capital required for the exploitation of a certain plot of land decreases absolutely, it can thus only increase to the extent that new land is taken into cultivation, but this again requires as a prerequisite a still greater growth of the non-agricultural population.62

While Lenin, following in this many lucid bourgeois authors, noted in his observations on the development of capitalism in 19th Century Russia that: ‘The formation of industrial centres, their numerical growth and the attraction of the population by them cannot but exert a most profound influence on the whole rural system.63 Who could deny that this applies just as much to present-day Africa, where the expropriation of the peasantry, a process initiated in various ways by the colonialists, is becoming more and more extensive before our very eyes?64

In Cameroon, a law requiring that all citizens between 15 and 55 years of age serve two years in a National Civic Participation in Development Service was passed on 9 July 1973. In practice, it applies mainly to young people. This National Service is supposedly geared to promote ‘the develop­ment of the country’; it is, however, worth noting that, according to Article 8:

Under the provisions of the present law, the Government is empowered to incorporate into the private domain of the state [sic!] any land, agricultural enterprise, farm or plantation which has been formally declared abandoned property. The state can also avail itself of any land of which it is decided, after due process, that it is not being put to productive use.

In certain regions of Cameroon, the bureaucratic or business bureaucracy has at its disposal a thousand and one ways of ensuring that any lands or plantations it chooses will be ‘formally declared abandoned property’. Similarly, it is easy enough to categorize land as unproductive. All that is necessary is to arrange things so that the National Rural Development Fund (FONADER, the so-called peasant bank) issues most of its credits to the bourgeoisie, thereby making sure that the impoverished peasants will not have the means to put then land to productive ways. This is exactly what happens, and it is, therefore, hardly surprising that every objective commenta­tor has declared FONADER and Ahidjo’s Green Revolution a failure.65 As far as abandoned lands are concerned, everybody who visited the Mungo area during the 1960s knows full well that most of the peasants found it impossible to work their plantations properly. The reason was that Ahidjo’s armed forces, for once not busy fighting the A.L.N.K. (the National Liberation Army of Kamerun led by the UP.C), frequently massacred the innocent peasants in then fields. These crimes were always officially blamed on the A.L.N.K., that is whenever the civilian victims were not themselves presented as guerrillas. On such occasions, the official communiqués would triumphantly announce that ‘today, near Lai a, three terrorisms [sic J were eliminated’. Under such conditions, many peasants chose not to go to their fields, for fear of being eliminated. So, gradually, more and more land fell into disuse, especially the relatively small plantations far from the urban centres. It was then no problem ‘legally’ to appropriate these lands, and this has indeed been the practice over the last five years. Naturally, those who benefit from these appropriations and Incorporations into the private domain of the state’ are the dignitaries of Ahidjo’s fascist party, the U.N.C. Mr. Jean Keutcha, Ahidjo’s 1973 Minister of Agriculture, accidentally let the cat out of the bag during a press conference in September of that year, when he said:

Traditional agricultural plots still account for most of the cultivated land in Cameroon. These plots, 916,000 in all, are very small, ranging from a little less than one hectare to two and a half hectares. Only 5% of cultivated land is given over to modern farming. Given this situation, the creation of modern production sectors is the only way to ensure the success of the revolution in Cameroonian agriculture. These sectors must gradually replace the traditional sectors, although the latter will continue to be afforded assistance geared to increasing both the quantity and quality of production, through technical advice and the popularization of new ideas.

Having stressed the importance of training farmers and re-training cadres, the Minister went on to say that the law instituting the National Civic Participation in Development Service and the ordinances empowering the Government to intervene in matters of land usage would ensure that land will be available for dynamic rural producers.66

So, ‘should the need arise’, the lands legally confiscated by the state Will be made available to ‘dynamic rural producers’. But how to determine who is and who is not a dynamic rural producer? It is quite obvious that only those with access to considerable sums of money will qualify as sufficiently ‘dynamic’ to administer a large, modern, that is to say, capitalist, agricultural enterprise. In practice, these people will almost certainly be the business and administrative bourgeoisie or rich landowners. The whole subterfuge is gross. Assuming that some of the confiscated land will be administered under the auspices of the state, there will be a steady flow of public funds through the management structure and directly into the pockets of the bourgeoisie. Surplus value will accumulate particularly fast since the people who actually do the work on the lands in question will be providing ‘National Civic Participation in Development Service’.

One only has to listen to declarations made by Ahidjo’s Government to realize the extent to which this ‘National Service’ is a response to proletarianization in Cameroon. According to official (1975) statistics, there are between 1 and 1.2 million unemployed young people under 25 in the towns.67 Despite this figure, enormous as it is for a country with a registered population of less than 8 million, Ahidjo’s Third Five-Year Plan (1971-76) only envisaged the creation of70,000 new jobs ‘at best’. Since the Fourth Plan (1976-81) did no better, two million is probably a reasonable estimate of the number of people who are unemployed in Cameroon today. And this figure only relates to young people of working age under 25.68 The legislation itself implies quite clearly that unemployment is by no means restricted to this age group — which would have been surprising, not to say miraculous, in any case, indeed, the purpose of the law, if we are to believe Tonye Mbog, Minister for Youth and Sport, was to find work for unemployed young men and women ‘from 16 to 55 years old’! 69

Furthermore, the drought in the Sahel, which has now lasted for over ten years, also affects Northern Cameroon, a fact which the international press has conspicuously failed to mention, in keeping with their usual practice wherever Cameroon is concerned.70 This drought has its advantages, of course; the peasants who leave for the city, as a result, can easily be categorized as having ‘abandoned’ their lands.

Finally, the information campaign launched by Tonye Mbog’s Ministry at Ahidjo’s request stressed that ‘National Civic Service is not forced labour’. One could not ask for a clearer indication that the programme was meeting resistance, to say the least. Indeed it is well known that even in the top echelons of the ruling U.N.C. caste, reservations were expressed.

Other forms of expropriation have been and still are used against the peasantry in Southern and Eastern Africa, notably the Bantustan system. This involves forcibly removing the peasants from the lands that belong to them and resettling them on arid land. Since the peasants cannot make a living from the land they have been dumped on, they are forced to seek work elsewhere, usually in the mines. Capital gains on both counts. The Republic of South Africa’s policy of systematic apartheid is merely the most striking example.

The massive endemic unemployment in towns all over Africa is, in fact, a by-product of such policies.

Anybody who talks of proletarianization must also approach the issue quantitatively; in other words, it must be dealt with in terms of the quantitative distribution of the socially generated income of each country. The fact is that, in Africa today, the poor, the bulk of the population, are steadily getting poorer as more and more of them become proletarianized. A parallel process is the increasingly blatant and frenetic enrichment of a small handful of arrivistes, the new dominant African bourgeois classes. The falling living standard of the people is inseparably linked to imperialist domination and exploitation, operating through the mechanisms of unequal exchange characteristic of the world capitalist market. The power of foreign monopoly may prevent the African bourgeoisies from getting rich as quickly as they would like; it certainly does nothing to slow the pauperization of the African workers. Since local capital is very weak, it tends to be invested only in the sectors left aside by imperialist capital. Given these conditions, the two types of capital tend to complement rather than compete against one another. This complementarity outweighs any rivalry; their common exploitation of the African workers is reinforced.

Although the African bourgeoisie is itself dominated by the imperialist bourgeoisie which creams off the largest portion of the surplus value extorted from the African workers (surplus value is appropriated according to capital invested), this neo-colonial African bourgeoisie is not inclined to revolt; on the contrary, it prefers to make the impoverished peasant masses of Africa pay for the pillage imposed by the imperialists. One could almost say the African bourgeoisie takes out its frustration on the working class and peasantry of Africa.

The changes in wages paid to the African workers, contrasted with the changes in prices those workers have to pay for staple products, is as good a way as any of illustrating the living conditions of the African peoples, even if we take only the most recent period (1973 to 1978). Look, for example, at Cameroon.

On 28 August 1973, the Ahidjo regime sonorously announced ‘a sub­stantial rise’ in wages, which were to be increased by 3%, supposedly both in the private and the public sectors. In practice, the imperialist monopolies, who employ most of the private sector workers in Cameroon, were free to ignore the decision if they so chose. In any case, it very rapidly emerged that, even if the decision had been enforced, the workers would not have felt better off for long. Soaring prices would have seen to that. The 26 September issue of the Cameroonian Catholic journal, Effort Camerounais, provides some painstakingly established figures on the subject. The journal took as its example a worker in the tertiary sector, ranking just above foreman; in other words, somebody whose position on the wage scale was relatively good. The results were as follows. Following the rise decreed by Ahidjo, the worker’s monthly wage would have risen to 33,600 CFA francs (about £67); family allowances would add another 2,500 francs (£5).71 In Cameroon this is an average salary for the urban petty bourgeoisie. Assuming an average family, with five children, the journal went on to say that, providing the worker’s family restricted itself to a one-course meal (never mind what growing children need!), spent nothing on health care or looking after parents, in-laws and other relatives (we are talking about African families, remember) and never bought new clothes, its monthly expenditure would be 35,800 CFA francs (£71).72 The journal concluded that such a salary would ensure ‘bare survival’. And even then, only in a manner of speaking, since nothing is set aside in case of illness. Health care is by no means free in Cameroon, so any moderately serious illness would be disastrous. It should be remembered that the wage in question is well above that of the average worker, let alone that of an unskilled labourer. Agricultural workers employed by the Organisation Camerounaise de la Banane (O.C.B.) work eight hours a day in all weathers for a monthly wage of only 5,000 CFA francs (about £10). Hardly surprising, then, that the workers of Douala, Yaoundé and elsewhere greeted the wage rise with derision; it was hardly worth waiting ten years on frozen wages for that kind of joke.73 Nothing will convince Cameroonian workers of the opposite, especially as prices have continued to rise ever since.74

The Guaranteed Minimum Industrial and Professional Wage (SMIG) at the time for workers on a 40-hour week in all parts of the country varied from 5,500 CFA francs to 8,000 francs a month. The Guaranteed Minimum Agricultural Wage (SMAG) for employees working on the 2,400-hours a year system (operative in agricultural and associated enterprises) was even lower — varying between 4,400 and 6,500 CFA francs a month. Such salaries are worse than ridiculous, especially if one bears in mind the Catholic journal’s figures for minimum family expenditure. In July 1974, Ahidjo announced a further wage increase. Wages were to rise 14-18% according to area. As was shown quite conclusively in the September and November 1974 issues of the U.P.C. bulletin Resistance, these increases did not even compensate for the way prices had soared in the interim. The reality was that the working people had effectively lost part of their buying power.

One should bear in mind that these measures, ridiculous as they are, affect only wage-earners, who represent only a minute portion of the population. 78% of the people live in the countryside, and about 70% of them are not wage-earners at all and are thus left out of the reckoning. Victor Ayissi Mvodo, Minister of State, then National Political Secretary of the U.N.C. and specialist in ‘prison reform’, had this to say about this large popular sector: ‘Given the economic situation in our country, the peasant populations cannot be granted any family allowances. The main reasons are the ever-growing number of children and the fact that small employers do not declare their employees to the tax authorities.’75 But it is perfectly alright for Mr. Ayissi Mvodo to build himself a complete castle in Douala!

Despite these enormous disparities in wealth, Ahidjo and friends con­tinue to churn out the same old cynical demagogy, especially when it comes to discussing the fate of the peasantry. The Government is very conscious of the preponderant role agriculture plays in the economy and has always laid great stress on the development of this vital sector. For instance, 1963 was made the “Year of the Peasant” and our Second Five-Year Han was called the “Peasant’s Han”.’76

At the time when Ahidjo was boasting of having ‘substantially increased wages’ in Cameroon, his colleague Houphouet-Boigny was playing the same tune in Ivory Coast. The increase in question brought the average monthly wage for agricultural workers up to between 4,500 CFA francs (£9) and 7,000 CFA francs (£14). The salaries of Ivory Coast’s 24,000 state employees rose by 5%. The minimum urban wage rose by 25%, which does indeed seem impressive. The underlying reality, however, was that urban workers’ wages were pegged at ten different hourly rates, ranging from 73 to 165 CFA francs an hour; in other words, working 40 hours a week, they would earn between 12,000 francs (£24) and 26,400 francs (£53) a month.77 Since the cost of living in Abidjan and other Ivory Coast towns is as high if not higher than in Camer­oon or any other major town in Europe or America, and given our observations above about the budget of a Cameroonian family with a higher income than the ones we are considering here, it is hardly surprising that workers of Ivory Coast were not overcome with gratitude. Indeed, a mere six months later, it was announced that:

In order to improve the purchasing power of wage-earners, the Government has decided to revise all public and private sector salaries as from 1 February 1974. The SMIG will be raised by 20%. The most recent previous SMIG increase in Ivory Coast was granted on our I national holiday, 7 August, last year. At the time it rose by 25% for all sectors, even the agricultural sector. The minimum hourly wage went up to 73 CFA francs.

That increase was the first since 1 January 1970, despite the rise in prices on the basis of which the SMIG was originally calculated. This new increase, only six months after the previous one, testifies to the seriousness of the problem.78

From February 1974 onwards the SMIG in Ivory Coast was thus set at 90 CFA francs per hour. This did not apply to the agricultural sector, which employs about 80% of the population, as elsewhere in Africa. In the sectors affected by the new SMIG monthly salaries now varied between 14,400 CFA francs (£29) and 31,680 CFA francs (£63). But as we saw earlier, when we considered the position of a foreman in Cameroon, a salary of 36,100 francs (£72) a month is only enough for bare survival. Houphouet-Boigny and his crew may be able to fool the people of Ivory Coast for a while longer, but eventually the facts themselves will condemn mem.79

In Senegal, also in 1974, Senghor’s neo-colonial regime announced with a great fanfare a new policy supposedly geared to benefit the workers. Its provisions included a revaluation of the SMIG which was to be increased by 32%, backdated to August 1973; an increase in the price of groundnuts, from 25.50 to 35 CFA francs a kilo plus a bonus of 4 francs a kilo back-dated to 1973; and finally, an increase in the price of cotton to 40 CFA francs, plus a promise of another backdated bonus.80 The price of groundnuts had thus increased by slightly less than 40%, excluding the bonus. But when all this is compared to the increase in prices for the staple items consumed by the Senegalese working people, a different picture again emerges:

In his speech to the Economic and Social Council… President Senghor was at pains to illustrate the problems increased prices have caused in the country….

From January 1973 to January 1974, pre-tax prices for various products unloaded at Port Dakar increased considerably: powdered sugar went up by 105%, sugar in lumps by 75.7%, sugar in loaves by 63.3%, wheat by 63.3%, rice by 327%.81

The Government authorized corresponding price increases on the Senegalese market as follows: +60% for powdered sugar, +66% for sugar in lumps, +47.3% for sugar in loaves, +37.7% for flour and +50% for rice.

The figures speak for themselves. One day the Senegalese workers will call Senghor and friends to account.

French neo-colonialism generally presents the three countries we have been looking at as models of stability and growth, for all that U.N. reports have placed Cameroon amongst the 24 poorest countries in the world. Imperialist propaganda never misses a chance to stress that these countries are among the few in Africa not to have undergone a series of those unpredictable coup d’états which African countries are so prone to. It would, therefore, be fair to say that the facts we have examined above amount to an overwhelming indictment of the neo-colonial system imposed by France in countries she colonized 100 years ago or more. Nor should one assume that less prominent French neo-colonies have a better time. Take Upper Volta, for example:

On 7 March [1974] the Council of Ministers decided to increase the wages and benefits of state employees and to raise the SMIG and the SMAG. State employees index linking will be geared up by 2% and .the index will be raised by 10 points. Bus and lorry drivers will get rises ranging from 17.7% to 21%. Temporary staffs monthly salary will be raised by 3% + 2,000 CFA francs. Manual workers will get rises ranging from 11 % to 38.2%. Office staff will get rises ranging from 10.7% to 36.8%. The SMIG will be raised by 38.2% and the SMAG by 42.08%.82

On the other hand, the prices of the staple foodstuffs consumed by the people of Upper Volta have moved as follows: ‘Sugar goes up from 110 to 150 CFA francs a kilo. Flour (produced in Upper Volta) goes up from 60 to 85 CFA francs a kilo.’83 In other words, the price of sugar rose by 36%, far more than the actual increase in the SMIG, an increase which on average was less than the 38.2% mentioned. The rise in the price of flour was of similar proportions.

So the President of Upper Volta decided to address the business community and on 19 March 1974 he called a press conference, at which he had this to say:

Profit for profit’s sake, at any price, whatever the cost, should not be your only reference point….   I firmly believe that Upper Volta done and continues to do a great deal for the business community, enough for that community to trust our country and be prepared to make a few sacrifices for it.

The Head of State thundered on, ‘assuring the business community that it would continue to enjoy the utmost consideration from the state of Upper Volta’ since, as he put it, ‘the formula has not proved too disappointing’.

Given such a situation, the African workers of Upper Volta, like their counterparts in other African countries, have little except further poverty to look forward to, unless they manage to bring down the dictatorship exercised at present by the neo-colonial African bourgeoisies.

Turning from the ‘Francophone’ countries to Kenya, we find the press full of news about price rises:

From December 1976 to December 1977 the retail price index relevant to middle and low income groups rose by 13.5% and 21% respectively. The rise continued during the first quarter of 1978 at a rate of 3.7% and 5.2%.

The increased cost of foodstuffs was particularly burdensome for the low income group: foodstuffs rose in price by 17.2% in 1977 and have already gone up by a further 6.6% in the first three months of this year.86 As for the African peasant, who is even poorer and finds himself inserted ‘ into a market economy practically without any monetary income of his own, commentary seems superfluous.

Alongside all this poverty, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie and its allies lead lla dolce vita, grant themselves the salaries of big industrialists and bureaucrats in Europe or America, and generally display the extremes of cynical greed.

To cap it all, the tendency towards a growing inequality in the distribu­tion of national income in Africa is also increasing. Indeed studies have shown that:

The evolution of the system in no way suggests that, by gradual expansion, the privileged stratum will extend to embrace the whole population. Even while the rate of growth of overall income is very high (between 7% and 10% per annum, for instance), the numerical growth of the privileged stratum remains small (increasing by 3-4% a year at most). In other words, the privileged stratum reaches a ceiling at some 20-25% of the population, irrespective of the time prospect, even if this be a century.87

For instance, in late 1974, public sector wage increases were announced in Nigeria. When many private firms refused to institute a parallel increase, there was a wave of strikes throughout the country. But what did these increases amount to?

A great many workers at the bottom of the scale did not even earn 1 naira a day 11 naira is about £0.75 ]. This was especially true of unskilled factory hands, whose basic minimum salary was only 312 naira a year. Their annual wage was raised to 720 naira:…. The corresponding new salary for a Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service, an Inspector-General in the police force, a High Court Judge, a University Vice-Chancellor or a Commissioner was set at 15,000 naira a year. A Nigerian engineer could expect to earn a similar amount in the oil industry, once he had proved himself. Most university graduates could hope to earn about 10,000 naira a year after about four years in private business.88

If people still have any illusions about the possibility of reforming the system and reducing the total incompatibility between the class interests of the workers and the bourgeoisie, they only have to look at the way the -African bourgeoisie is developing, in Zaire for instance, to dispel their misconceptions. Because of the particular form of Belgian colonization, there was practically no local bureaucratic or business class ready to take over the reins when Zaire regained its independence in 1960. A doctoral thesis, published in Kinshasa in 1969 by B. Ryelandt, shows how the U.S. used its instrument, the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.), deliberately to promote eight years of inflation in the Congo.89 This inflation was followed by a more stable period, but now ‘marked by very considerable changes in relative prices and real incomes in Congo-Kinshasa as compared with the situation in 1960, reflecting a transfer of income from the peasants and lower-paid wage-earners [the real wages of the working class had been cut by half] to the new ruling class’?90

As can be seen in most African countries, the real consequence of such a policy is an increase in the importation of the consumer goods purchased by the new ruling class; the country’s economy in no way benefits. In 1968, for instance, the new dominant class in Zaire had no qualms about pushing the income of small wage-earners down to the level it had been at eight years previously, in 1960. The interests and survival of Zairean businessmen were all that counted.91

Throughout present-day neo-colonial Africa the same picture emerges: destitution and unemployment prevails.92

The appallingly low salaries paid to African workers disprove the bourgeoisie’s claim that the worker’s standard of living cannot but rise as capitalism develops. The present wage levels of African workers expose the ineptitude of the leaders of the neo-colonial bourgeoisie, notably in Cameroon. Ahidjo’s concept of a ‘planned liberal economy’ is simply nonsense Not only does it ignore the appalling poverty which befell European workers as capitalism emerged in Europe, from the 17th to the 19th Century;93] it also seeks to hide the fact that, since African economies are all oriented to the capitalist countries at the centre and most of the export income they produce is also accumulated abroad, the freezing of African workers’ salaries at a low level need not have any detrimental effect on the operation of the existing neo-colonial system. No amount of speechifying by the African bourgeoisie and its petty-bourgeois agents about how the country is ‘moving forward and getting richer’ will change the simple truth, outlined long ago by Karl Marx, that in a capitalist regime the wealth of the nation and the poverty of the people are, by the very nature of things, inseparable’.94 Lenin was right to add:

The impoverishment of the mass of the people not only does not hinder the development of capitalism, but, on the contrary, is the expression of that development, is a condition of capitalism and strengthens it. Capitalism needs ‘free labour and impoverishment consists in the petty producers being converted into wage workers. The impoverishment of the masses is accompanied by the enrichment of a few exploiters.

There is no reason to suppose that economic mechanisms alone will change — let alone destroy — the system. Only workers’ action can do away with the present disastrous system. The fact that wages could be almost frozen for ten years, as in Cameroon (1960-70), proves the point. Even in Ivory Coast, that ‘model country’, that ‘showcase for capitalism in West Africa’, the present level of wages shows just how little change ‘economic destiny’ produces. The fact that it was only in 1979, after 20 years of independence and ‘phenomenal growth’ that the Minimum Wage (SMIG) rose to 30,000 CFA francs (£60) a month is particularly telling.96

As for Ahidjo, shamed as he was by his inability to raise the SMIG in Cameroon and resenting the possibility of unfavourable comparisons with other countries, he found a simple enough solution: he just abolished the SMIG, by decree. Meanwhile, even officially admitted minimum wages remain below £20 a month.

To sum up: for about many years there has been a very definite tendency towards the proletarianization of the popular masses in Africa, notably the peasantry. This tendency manifests itself both qualitatively and quantitatively. Furthermore, objective factors have developed which, as we noted, favour a Pan-Africanization of the African proletariat: the workers are increasingly inserted into the same economic space, the same labour market they may eventually be able to go from one part of the continent to another in the quest for work. This proletarianization develops along lines which are fundamentally analogous to the process of primitive accumulation of capital in Europe during the phase of emergent capitalism. This basic feature of present-day African evolution has, as its inevitable corollary, the increasingly acute class contradiction between the African proletariat and the dominant neo-colonial bourgeoisie.

Tendency Towards Industrialization and Commercial Takeovers: Some Contradictions

Nobody denies that Africa is now industrializing. The point to grasp is the orientation and real content of this tendency, to see what it actually means.

Industrialization in Africa Still Linked to the Export of Raw Materials

The first major aspect of the present process of industrialization in Africa is still the fact that this process remains linked to the export of raw materials. This tendency has an objective basis. Because local capital has never had any serious opportunity to engage in primitive accumulation, it is weak and cannot compete with foreign monopoly capital; thus, this monopoly capital determines the rules of the game. As we saw earlier, the main reason behind monopoly capital’s drive to expand abroad, is the need to counterbalance the falling rate of profit in the imperialist countries. In other words, foreign capital is after maximum profits within the shortest possible intervals. This is quite feasible in Africa, for two simple reasons. First, labour is cheap, as we have just seen. Second, imperialism has established specific relations of domination over its colonies and neo-colonies in Africa. The monopolies who invest in Africa and supposedly aim to Industrialize the continent’ are the very ones who export manufactured products from the imperialist countries to Africa at prices geared to maximize profits. Consequently, it is not surprising that in order to maximise the profitability of their overall activities, these companies prefer to limit their operations in Africa to extracting raw materials and exporting them to Europe. The recent tendency — already noted — of transferring certain industries, even heavy industries, to African countries is only an adaptation, albeit a contradictory one, to the new international situation. The dominant aspect is still the one outlined above.

And as for local capital, it can only insert itself into those sectors not occupied by the monopolies. Consequently, the exports of African countries are forced to follow a rhythm dictated by the needs of the capitalist economies. As the income from these exports falls, the African bourgeoisies are constantly led to demand a larger slice of the cake, in the form of increased exports (both in terms of prices and volume), notably through guaranteed markets in the imperialist countries. The result is what Samir Amin describes as a contradiction between national development (in Africa) and the requirements of foreign capital’s domination. For nearly 20 years the West European imperialists and the African neo-colonial bourgeoisies have been trying to resolve this particular contradiction, hence the periodic signing of yet another ‘Convention of Association between the African States and the E.E.C. These conventions (two at Yaoundé, one at Lomé and the latest, Lomé II) are, in practice, nooses around the necks of the African countries.

The main sectors into which local capital flows, in order to avoid unequal competition with foreign monopoly capital, are trade (mainly local but also some foreign trade), other tertiary activities, transport and speculation in buildings and land. Even in these restricted sectors, the tendency towards the concentration of capital (an inevitable feature of capitalism) cannot be avoided. Local capital thus tends to accumulate in fewer and fewer hands. A demand for new, broader areas of investment emerges, sharpening the contradiction between this local capital and imperialist high finance. But the forces are too unequal.

Objectively, as we have seen, imperialist capital can transfer certain industries which are relatively unprofitable in Europe or North America to the periphery, thereby overcoming this contradiction to some extent, at least for a while. By broadening out the areas of industry open to the African bourgeoisie, which thereby becomes more fully integrated into the network of world bourgeois relations (at the tail end, naturally), imperialist capital may win a breathing space. It can not only avoid any eventual revolt by its allies and puppets, but also, in some cases, even hope to defuse the deep popular discontent of the African peoples, a discontent which would otherwise cause enormous difficulties for imperialism’s African lackeys. This kind of transfer could pave the way for a new international division of labour, a different but necessarily still unequal form of international speciali­zation. Under this new unequal international specialization, the highly productive lead’ industrioa would be kept in the imperialist countries, while other less productive industries would be set up in the dominated countries, notably in Africa. The overall operation of the world capitalist system would remain fundamentally unchanged. Africa would gain some extra industry, even heavy industry, but the pillage would continue since the mechanisms of unequal exchange, which are at the root of the pillage, would still be intact. Perhaps the African neo-colonial bourgeoisie will, to quote Senghor, ‘win its second war of independence’ (without ever having fought in the first), but it is clear that the third would break out immediately.

If the present relations of domination remain unchanged, the industrialization of Africa could even accentuate the pillage and exploitation of the African workers. It would steadily reduce the differences in productivity between the African and imperialist countries; if the discrepancies in wages between the two groups of countries nonetheless continued to grow (for instance, relative increases in Europe and North America while wages stagnate in Africa), unequal exchange would actually be strengthened.

The beginnings of such a process are already visible in the textile and. clothing industry. The implantation of the clothing industry in the dominated countries provides international finance capital with scandalously high profits, thanks to the derisory wages paid by the monopolies in those countries, while the clothes made at this derisory cost are sold in Europe at prices equivalent to those which would be charged were they made within a high wage economy. The imperialist who whines that it is Third World competition which is ruining the textile industry in Europe’ is indulging in a revolting falsehood, a racist attempt to fan conflict between the workers in Europe and the dominated countries, while the capitalists amass huge fortunes.

None of this means that Africa should not be industrialized for fear that we shall be robbed even more than before. But it does mean that, without an effort to break the mechanisms of domination at every level, the industrialization of Africa cannot resolve the problem.

African Industrialization Not Autocentric

A second important characteristic of the present process of industrialization in Africa is that it is not ‘autocentred’. The various manufacturing facilities do not form a coherent and integrated whole.97 Because the big industries are geared to exports, they do not and cannot fit into an integrated national or, a fortiori, Pan-African economic system. This leads to a whole range of contradictions, both in terms of the prospects for integrating the various African economies and in terms of the economy of any single country. We will return to the point later and draw the relevant political conclusions. For the moment, let us simply note that it follows from the above that:

In this sense, one ought not speak of ‘underdeveloped national economies’ but to reserve the adjective ‘national’ for the autocentric developed economies which alone constitute a true, structured national economic space, within which progress is diffused from industries that deserve to be regarded as poles of development. The underdeveloped economy is made up of sectors, of firms, which are juxtaposed and not highly integrated among themselves, but which are, each on its own, strongly integrated into entities whose centre of gravity lies in the centres of the capitalist world. What we have here is not a nation in the economic sense of the word.98

Naturally, simple class instinct is enough to drive the African bourgeoisie to seek some solution to this dilemma. But even if it does try, it will be out of pure self-interest rather than out of some concern for the ‘interests of the people’, ‘of the nation’ or any other such notions, all of which leave the African neo-colonial bourgeoisie quite unmoved.

However, it is clear that the African bourgeoisie is trying to do something about the situation. The programme for an integrated Pan-African infrastructure envisaged under the auspices of the O A.U. includes projects such as the creation of a Road Development Fund (which has already been set in motion) geared to finance inter-African road links; the setting up of a Union of African Railways; the creation of an African Shipping Consortium; studies examining the reorganization and eventual fusion of African airline companies; a projected African Telecommunications Union, etc.

At the O.A.U. Ministerial Conference held in Accra from 19-23 February 1973, an expert report presented to the Ministers stressed the advantages of such a common African policy and effectively declared that:

The sovereignty which the African states will be able to exercise over their own resources will be a key element in the pursuit of the aims set out for the Second Decade of Development. They will have to take concrete steps concerning methodical prospecting and evaluation H||| of their resources, so as to draw up a common African policy for the exploitation of mineral and energy resources on a regional scale. Given the importance of electrical energy for large-scale industry, the African states will need to reach agreements concerning common exploitation of these resources.99

In the context of industrialization policy, the aim should be not just the extraction of minerals but also their refining and processing, to the greatest possible extent, prior to exportation. Similarly, the implantation of industries using these minerals should be a priority. African national and multinational firms will have a specific role to play here.

On paper, the programme looks attractive. But, since we have now come to the end of this much vaunted Second (?!) Decade of Development, it seems legitimate to examine what has actually been achieved. Let us take the example of bauxite in Cameroon, for instance, where it is mined in Adamoua, near N’gaoundere. Instead of promoting ‘concerted inter-African policies’ right from the prospecting stage, Ahidjo’s Government has opted for a deal with the monopolies:

The project, proposed by the Societe des Bauxites du Cameroun (a subsidiary of S.N.I.) holding 40% of shares, in association with a French company, B.R.G.M., Pechiney Ugine-Kuhlman, holding 50%, and the Bonn-based Vereignigte Aluminium Werke, holding 10%, will figure as part of the Third Plan (1971-76) and production will not begin until the Fourth Plan is under way.100

The S.N.I (Societe Nationale d’Investissements) is, therefore, the only Cameroonian participant in a venture which is clearly dominated by the monopolies. As for the infrastructure associated with the bauxite mines, it is clear that the Trans-Cameroonian Railway, which could have been extended towards Bangui to further greater economic integration throughout the Lake Chad — Gulf of Guinea basin is still only a means of getting bauxite to Edea-Douala and thence to Europe.101 This policy is all the more incomprehensible in that, even before independence, the Pechiney Group had already managed to co-ordinate Guinean bauxite and the Edea aluminium industry. When one thinks that Guinea has committed itself to a vast programme geared to develop the aluminium industry, a programme which has caused the country to drift steadily to the right in order to secure the necessary foreign finance (as will be shown in the Epilogue to this volume), one cannot but ask oneself what are the real reasons preventing some co-ordination of Guinean and Cameroonian aluminium policies. The matter is particularly worrying since, as we shall show later, in 1970 Sékou Touré Ahmed was already proclaiming to all and sundry that Ahidjo Birawandu Ahmed was nothing less than his companion in arms in the world anti-imperialist struggle, a veritable ‘Giant of African Unity’. Comedy apart, the facts are that two African countries which are rich in bauxite and could easily co-ordinate their production of aluminium prefer to deliver themselves into the hands of the monopolies, despite the recommendations of O.A.U. experts and notwithstanding the proclaimed ‘anti-imperialist’ orientation of the two presidents. Perhaps these two ‘companions in arms’ find it easier to co-operate over such issues as the liquidation of the Union of Cameroonian Peoples — the real subject-matter of the communiqué jointly signed by Sékou and Ahidjo, not only in 1971 but more recently in February 1981 during Sekou’s official visit to Yaoundé.

There is, however, no reason to think that the servility of the Cameroonian buffoon or the absurdity of the pseudo-revolutionary jargon used in the country of the one-party state is in any way exceptional. For instance, look at Niger. Its uranium resources, which provide over half the country’s exports, are evaluated at about 40,000 metric tons of concentrated uranium ore. They are, therefore, larger than France’s, if one excludes what France unashamedly steals from the African countries. The Atomic Energy Commission (the French organization C.E.A.) discovered Niger’s uranium as far back as 1959. Then:

On 1 February 1968, following a series of agreements on Franco-Niger co-operation signed by ex-President Diori Hamani in Paris on 7 July 1967, the SOMAIR [Societe des Mines de I’Air), a mining company backed by private and public capital, was launched. In February 1970, two companies, one German and the other Italian, bought holdings in SOMAIR. Today, 35% of stock is held by the C.E.A., 18.24% by the Societe Miniere Pechiney-Mokta, 16.75% by the Republic of Niger, 14.66% by the Compagnie Francaise des Minerais d’Uranium, 8.152%  by Urangesellschaft (West Germany) and 8.125% by AigNucleare (Italy).102

Following the coup d’état which overthrew yet another of French imperialism’s puppets, Diori Hamani, many observers wondered whether Niger would take steps to protect its national interests on the question of uranium. It was not long before Lieutenant-Colonel Seyni Kountche, the leader of the Niger military who overthrew Diori, was at pains to calm any fears that might have troubled Niger’s ‘partners’:

Our movement is not a revolutionary movement, whatever people may have been led to believe, both here and abroad . . . Negotiations have already been initiated. We only ask that, when these negotiations are reopened, our partners will try to understand our position. But there is no question of us turning our backs on our partners and jeopardizing the whole policy. We have no intention of changing or modifying the participation arrangements.103

Domination by monopolies is almost standard practice in Africa. We shall return to the point later, but it should already be clear that, despite its occasional desperate efforts, the African bourgeoisie on its own is incapable of emulating the European bourgeoisie of a century ago and creating a modern industry. This is mainly due to the historical conditions under which tins African bourgeoisie is emerging and developing. It lacks the necessary financial and technical means, especially as it has shown itself quite unsuited to make any judicious use of the relevant technical and scientific cadres. Even in ‘purely economic’ terms, the neo-colonial bourgeoisie cannot industrialize Africa without accepting the imperialist diktat. In other words, unless Africa is politically united by socialism, under the leadership of a worker-peasant I alliance, there can be no genuine liberation of the continent. The African bourgeoisie has no choice but to make do with a few crumbs of secondary industry and submit to the requirements of international finance capital.

The Absence of Forward and Backward Linkages

 A third aspect of the present industrialization process in Africa is the industrial sterility of the factories which have been implanted in most countries on the continent over the last few years. This industrial sterility characterizes any industry which has no ‘offspring’, which does not lead to the emergence of further industries; in other words, it is a characteristic of an industry which is essentially oriented either to direct consumption or to markets abroad.

Using the examples of Fria in Guinea and Alucam in Cameroon, Gerard de Bernis, a French economist, has shown very simply that some industries intrinsically advance industrialization while others do not. For instance, the Pechiney complex at Edea in Cameroon has made a disappointingly small contribution to the industrialization of the country, especially when compared to, say, Renault in France, which has given a big boost to other sectors of industry such as machine tools. The Pechiney complex at Edea is surrounded by an industrial desert. The Edea factory was truly ‘a Cameroonian solution to a Pechiney problem, not a Pechiney solution to a Cameroonian problem’. From his concrete analysis, de Bemis draws out the idea of ‘industrializing industry’, a happy phrase which pinpoints the only kind of industry which can genuinely lead to accelerated and coherent industrialization in Third World countries.104

Are the industries which are presently being developed in Africa industrializing industries? Do they provide grounds for hoping that the industrial sector will grow increasingly autocentric and coherent? Are they leading to a serious restructuring of the pattern of industrial activity in Africa? Do they make it possible for new industrial plant to be set up, with a view to increasing the productivity of labour in the various sectors of industrial activity? Do they increase people’s control over the process of production?

One does not need to be an economist to see that the answer to all these questions is a resounding No. The example of Pechiney in Cameroon is striking. Apart from a timid effort by Alucam-Pechiney’s SOCATRAL subsidiary to manufacture saucepans and corrugated metal sheets, there has been no significant initiative from the big French monopoly, and no real effect on the industrial structure of Cameroon.105

The supply of new machinery to industry as a whole has been completely neglected in the present process of industrialization in Africa. Instead of producing capital goods such as machine tools, this process has been essentially concerned with the supply of consumer goods to satisfy the debauched requirements of the ruling neo-colonial African bourgeoisie.

Apart from in the extractive industries (mines and oil), which we shall deal with below, it is clearly difficult to increase productivity substantially without machines. Yet the fallacious theses of the bourgeois economists of the imperialist countries are accepted wholesale by the African neo-colonial bourgeoisie, who are willing to believe, amongst other things, that the development of agriculture is the priority in the solution of Africa’s problems. For example, the model of growth proposed in the Second Five-Year Plan for Cameroon, as drawn up by the Ahidjo Government in late 1964 following the grotesque failure of their first plan, was worked out by a French ‘expert’ from the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. One of this model’s basic hypotheses is that ‘growth in productivity is slow, which means that technical progress can be left out as a parameter of the model’.106 Yet this same model was re-adopted for the Third Plan, covering the period 1971-76. As WC have seen previously, the difference in the productivity of labour between the developed and the dominated countries is one of the main aspects of the inequality of international exchange, along with all the ways imperialism dominates African countries, blocks the development of their productive forces and further accentuates inequalities in development. In the light of all this, the choice made by Ahidjo’s Government in Cameroon is a clear example of the hypocrisy of the African bourgeoisies’ complaints about ‘deteriorating terms of trade’.

In the extractive industries, productivity is high, on a par with that of the same sectors in the imperialist countries. But these industries have little or no industrializing effect on the rest of the economy of the countries in which they exist. The main reason is that they are geared towards the export market rather than towards the domestic economy. Hence the idea that ‘oil may be in the Middle East geographically speaking, but, in economic terms, it is in the West’.107 The same applies to the oil reserves of Gabon, Nigeria and Cameroon. Ahidjo has already decided to give the French neo-colonialists a free hand in the matter, for all his demagogic declarations.

As for the worker’s level of control over his product, it is obvious that, if there is one area in which it is strictly nil, that area is the mining and petroleum sector.

The industries which could genuinely promote Africa’s industrialization include the manufacture of steel, machine tools and transport equipment, the energy industry and the chemical industry, especially the production of fertilizers. These industries would have a direct effect upon agriculture, through modernization and raised productivity.

It has often been argued that the steel industry could not be implanted and developed in Africa, due to the lack of iron, coal, energy, and so on. The argument was far more current at the time of direct colonialism than it is today, since by 1957 Africa was already supplying Britain with 29%, France with 36% and West Germany with 10% of their respective iron ore requirements. In 1963, Nkrumah, in his book on neo-colonialism, pointed out that:

[Africa’s) iron reserves are put at twice the size of America’s and two-thirds those of the Soviet Union’s, on the basis of an estimated two billion metric tons. Africa’s calculated coal reserves are considered to be enough to last for three hundred years.

Furthermore, in 1974 it was announced that Eastern Senegal’s iron reserves were of the order of a thousand million tons, all ‘high grade ore’.109 In other words, Africa’s total iron reserves are at least equivalent to the Soviet Union’s and two and a half times larger than America’s. All of which, of course, just goes to show how appallingly poor in natural resources the continent of Africa really is….

Monopoly capital is now doing everything in its power to accelerate the extraction of these important minerals. Soon, there may be little left of them. Mauritania’s reserves are estimated at 115 million tons of 63% iron ore. The Anglo-French consortium, which extracts 5 million tons of this ore annually, will have gone through the lot in 23 years, Mauritania’s nationaliza­tion of its reserves notwithstanding. In Senegal, where very rich phosphate deposits have been handed over to a Franco-Belgian finance and mining combine by Senghor’s crew, the country’s 40 million tons of raw phosphates will be exhausted within 20 years if the present rate of pillage continues.

If we now consider the possibility of Africa manufacturing its own fertilizers, it is worth noting that, by 1957, all of France’s phosphates and 71% of West Germany’s phosphorites came from Africa.110 The existence of substantial oil reserves further confirms that an African fertilizer industry is eminently possible. For example, in 1974 (before the liberation of the country by Frelimo), it was announced that:

Soekor, a South African company which aims to develop the exploitation of Mozambique’s Pande natural gas fields (estimated reserves of two billion cubic feet), will be able to transport the product to South Africa by means of a 900-k.m. pipeline linking Pande and Johannesburg. Should this prove impracticable, major petro-chemical complexes would be set up at Pande itself, with a view to the manufacture of chemical fertilizers and oil.

During the last three years, the Petrangol Group has discovered oil reserves larger than all those the Group had previously discovered in 18 years of prospecting in Angola. Since 1972, new fields have been discovered at N’zombo in the north and at Bento, near Luanda, bringing the number of fields discovered in one short year up to four.111

Since more than 40% of the world’s hydro-electric potential is also in Africa, it is quite absurd to claim that our continent lacks the natural resources required for industrialization. Few Cameroonians, for instance, are aware that: ‘Engineers have calculated that the Sanaga River, which has its source at an altitude of 1,400 metres and a through flow three times that of the Rhone at Genissiat, can provide more energy than all the Alpine rivers put together.‘112 There is no question. The materials for setting up the industries mentioned earlier are amply available in Africa.

Another argument is that, as the population of the African countries is 90% rural, the development of agriculture and agricultural production in one form or another should be given maximum priority. Occasionally a rider is added, stressing that agricultural exports are Africa’s main source of the foreign currency needed to pay for factory plant and other industrial equipment. According to this line of reasoning, a country like France should never have industrialized in competition with Britain. On the contrary, it should have done everything to develop agricultural production, so as to buy British machinery throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Let us turn to more serious matters. Given the steady fall in the prices of agricultural products exported by African countries, it is quite useless to wear oneself out trying to increase the volume of agricultural exports. To take only one example amongst many, Ghana’s production of cocoa in 1954-55 reached 210,000 tons, which brought in £85.5 million when sold. In 1964-65, some 590,000 tons of cocoa were harvested, almost three times as much, yet it fetched only £77 million. In 1954-55, Nigeria harvested 89,000 tons of cocoa which was sold for £39.25 million. The 1965 harvest in Nigeria was an estimated 310,000 tons, almost four times the 1954 harvest. And what did this bumper crop earn the country? £40 million. Nkrumah’s book on neo-colonialism is full of such revealing details.

The truth is that it would be extremely difficult for anybody to prove that African countries stand to gain any advantage whatsoever by specializing in a particular product, especially an agricultural product. Despite the efforts of mercantilists and confusionists to hide it, the fact remains that:

Whatever product or industry a dependent economy specializes in, it will still suffer the effects of unequal exchange when it integrates into the world economy. In other words, the countries with dependent economies are invariably exploited by the countries of the centre. The international division of labour is based on capitalist relations of production, favours the central or developed economies, and blocks the development of the productive forces in the periphery.113

Nonetheless, it is true that since 80-90% of the African population is still rural, any major economic progress in Africa will necessarily involve an increase in agricultural productivity. But this progress is only possible on the basis of an industrialization of the continent, an industrialization which is emphatically oriented towards the production of capital goods rather than consumer goods, yet does not neglect the basic needs of the masses for certain consumer items.

This kind of industrialization cannot be carried out unless there is at least a measure of integrated regional planning. The scale of industry required is far beyond the potential of the present African micro-countries.114 Consequently, it seems indubitable that real industrialization of Africa, which is a necessary precondition to the continent’s economic liberation and hence to its liberation in every other sense, is intimately linked to African unity. The scale of the industrial projects described earlier makes a common policy based on the application of a coherent overall plan absolutely essential.

Inequalities in Economic Potential and Degree of Underdevelopment: Effects on Economic Integration

If one considers Zaire, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon and Togo, for instance, it is immediately apparent that the human and material resources of these countries are not all of the same order of magni­tude. On top of these inequalities in economic potential, there are inequalities of development — or, more accurately, of underdevelopment — in that this or that African country may be more industrialized than its neighbours. The consequences of these two features can easily be observed in the daily practice of the African bourgeoisies’ efforts to industrialize the continent.

On 20 April 1973, when Nixon announced the elimination of U.S. import quotas for both crude and refined oil, on the understanding that taxes would be imposed on these products to promote refining within the U.S. itself, it was obvious that the price of oil was going to rise in keeping with the expected increase in U.S. for imported oil. Shortly afterwards, the price of oil did indeed rise, dramatically. A host of reasons were advanced to explain ­the phenomenon, but it is the increase itself which concerns us here.

One result was an apparent divergence of interest between various African countries. The oil-producing countries, such as Algeria, Nigeria, Libya and Gabon, benefited, but the majority of African countries who were not exporters of energy in the form of oil and its derivatives saw the cost of their imports shoot up and their foreign currency reserves fall correspondingly. The interests of the various African bourgeoisies were objectively contradic­tory and this contradiction stemmed purely and simply from inequalities in economic potential.115

If — to take another case — we examine a question such as the association of African countries with the E.E.C. (capitalist Europe’s Common Market), the first divergence that emerges is that between ‘Francophone’ and ‘Anglophone’ nations. But even between ‘Anglophone’ countries, there were divisions, in that: Hie smaller countries were in agreement. The more powerful ones, however, were essentially concerned about whether wider access to the European market would compensate for the loss of the advantages they enjoyed under the Commonwealth.‘116

The ‘more powerful’ nations in Africa were thus primarily concerned to trade under the most favourable conditions, with guaranteed markets for their products. In fact, the more powerful countries referred to in the text were not all ‘Anglophone’. True, they did include Nigeria, which originally declared its aversion for the E.E.C, before bowing to imperialist pressures and the interests of Nigeria’s business bourgeoisie.117 But the term also referred to Zaire. These two countries’ economic potential, relatively high level of ‘development’ (especially Nigeria) and consequent need for markets initially led them to affect hostility towards any association with the E.E.C. They announced that they preferred the development of inter-African co­operation’ in economic matters to any such association. Zaire’s position, for instance, was expressed by Bo-Botiko Lokonga, then President of Mobutu’s rump Parliament. With all the presumptuous arrogance characteristic of those who are not even aware of the extent to which their countries are under the neo-colonialist thumb, this gentleman proclaimed:

It is our profound belief that co-operation, as we conceive it, cannot be simply limited to relations between a part of Europe and a part of Africa. This is why Zaire defends and will continue to defend its open door policy. In the context of this openness to the outside world, we have only one concern: to choose our commercial partners freely and to increase their number, for the good of our economy.118

Boliko is simply expressing the class position of Zaire’s bourgeoisie. A form of co-operation limited to exchange between Europe and various African countries leaves even fewer crumbs for the African bourgeoisie. Their class interests demand something more, notably the growth of Inter-African’ exchanges, as Kamanda wa Kamanda puts it. The bourgeoisies of Nigeria and Zaire have much to gain from such Inter-African’ exchanges.

Kamanda’s repeated attacks on the association between the African countries and (he E.E.C. when he was Deputy Secretary-General of the O.A.U., were straightforward expressions of Zaire’s position. At that time, Kawanda wa Kawanda, who seems to have lost his tongue since Zaire’s signing of the Lomé Convention in February 1973, could be heard to say: ‘Africa must not allow those who are organizing themselves on the basis of regional economic and monetary integration to divide our continent up into zones of influence, to block inter-African co-operation or to hinder our socio-economic integration.‘119

Experts from the countries most inclined to re-associate with the metropoles (mainly the French neo-colonies) and from the imperialist capitalist countries agreed in 1973 that the Associated African and Malagasy States do not all have the same problems in terms of marketing then products’. Unsurprisingly, these experts suggested the creation of National Foreign Trade Promotion Centres, in three associated states — namely, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Zaire! Of all the associated states (with the possible exception of Madagascar), these three are potentially the strongest, in that their level of development (or — to be more precise – underdevelopment) is the highest; they are thus the three countries which would be likely to experience the most problems in marketing their products.

The present system produces; it is clear, undeniable contradictions between African countries, contradictions which are due both to inequalities in economic potential and to differing levels of development. These economic contradictions make it extremely unlikely mat ‘concerted action ‘by African states, as promised by the African bourgeoisies and their imperialist accomplices, will ever produce much in the way of tangible results.

It is important to realize to what extent monopoly capital is the root cause of these contradictions. The inequalities in potential may have a ‘natural’ origin, but the inequalities in level of development/underdevelopment certainly do not. Generally speaking, the latter are the expression of neo-colonialist intentions, in that industries are installed in Africa according to the strategic or economic needs of imperialist capital, not in accordance with the needs and aspirations of the African countries concerned. In many cases, an African country may have real potential in a particular area, but until the neo-colonialists are convinced that the operation will be profitable in their terms, nothing can be done. To take just one example:

In its meeting of 20 March (1974), Upper Volta’s Council of Ministers, led by the President, Genera] Lamizana, adopted a motion to set up a General Projects Office at Tambao. The Tambao site, 300 km. north­west of Ouagadougou, is particularly ripe in manganese. Reserves are estimated at over 15 million tons. No investor has yet expressed any practical interest in these deposits, partly because moving of the mineral to the port of Abidjan would involve building 300 km. of railway from Ouagadougou to Tambao.120

Compare this with the fact that international finance capital built up an ‘economic miracle’ from scratch in Ivory Coast, in order to provide a counterweight to Kwame Nkrumah’s anti-imperialist Ghana. Compare it to the ease with which the Trans-Gabonese railway was got underway, despite the complications which the corruption of Bongo and his clique were likely to cause. Compare it to the fact that the project of a Trans-Cameroonian railway was shelved for 20 years and only re-emerged when it became apparent that the Amadoua bauxite deposits were extremely interesting’.

Regional Association: African Bourgeoisies’ View of Their Significance for African Unity

A few years ago, when Barbatoura El Hadj Ahmadou Ahidjo, President of the ‘United Republic of the Cameroons’, announced that he was pulling out of OCAM (the puppet organization originally known as l ‘Organisation Commune Africaine et Maigache, then as l ‘Organisation Commune Africaine et Mauricienne, so as not to change the acronym), he implied that Africa had lapsed into micro-nationalism. Therefore, apart from the O.A.U., only regional organizations on the lines of UDEAC could claim any usefulness or significance. The reader may care to refer back to pp. 53, and particularly to the quote from Ahidjo’s Biravandu’s apologia for micro-nationalism, as delivered in Addis Ababa in May 1963, some ten years before Cameroon’s withdrawal from OCAM in 1973. Micro-nationalism is not quite such a new phenomenon as Ahidjo would have us think. He can hardly expect us to believe that he has suddenly been converted to some form of genuine African unity, even a regional one, in accordance with the interests and aspirations of the patriotic workers and youth of Africa!

So why do Ahidjo and friends proclaim that UDEAC — and, of course, the O.A.U. — are the only possible interesting organizations in Africa?

It is well known that Cameroon occupies a privileged position within UDEAC, to say the least. For instance, the UDEAC General Secretary is automatically a Cameroonian. This position rests on the inequalities in economic potential between the member countries (inequalities in capitalist terms, where might is right) and also on disparities in their respective level of underdevelopment/development. Cameroon and Gabon are seen as the two ‘richest’ countries in UDEAC, but Cameroon has the advantage of a larger population and, at the moment, a greater pool of skilled manpower. Above all, UDEAC constitutes a crucial market for the Cameroonian economy, an outlet it could not do without under present circumstances. Recent figures show just how important this market is for Cameroon. In 1972, Cameroon’s exports to UDEAC-Chad increased by 25.2% and amounted to some 3,590 million CFA francs in value, a remarkable figure. In chemicals, plastics and cement, the increase represented 753% of the total trade figure. Also in 1973, Cameroon’s exports of light engineering manufactures increased by 43.7%, compared to the previous year. In the same year, out of total industrial exports worth 16,884million CFA francs, trade with UDEAC-Chad represented almost 27%, amounting to 4,531 million. During the first nine months of 1974, exports to UDEAC-Chad were again up by 25%, compared to the same period in 1973. The steady rise in exports to UDEAC-Chad corresponds to a definite increase in Cameroon’s industrial production and has enabled the country to reduce its enormous trade deficit with France, relatively speaking of course.121

Given all this, it is easy to see why business circles in Cameroon are enthusiastic about UDEAC, and why Ahidjo is constantly praising and toasting this beneficial Union.

Turning to another case of sudden enthusiasm f oi regional economic groupings in Africa, the Ivory Coast, we saw in the first chapter that Houphouet-Boigny did more than anybody to disrupt the old colonial A.O.F. and A.E.F. federations. That was in 1958 and 1961, when he believed that a federal executive should only be set up in Paris, certainly not in Dakar. But now that the gentleman in question feels the need to defend the interests of the new African bourgeoisie in the Ivory Coast, he is more inclined to make declarations like this one, delivered at the Tenth Summit of the O.A.U. in May 1973 at Addis Ababa: ‘Now is the time for large African economic groupings, articulated on the basis of existing regional or sub-regional economic communities. From now on, these groupings should be our main concern.’122

It is well known that the Ivory Coast bourgeoisie, notably the plantation owners, are keenly interested in the Conseil de I “Entente, whose members are Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger and Upper Volta. This Interest centres on the essential role played by the members of the poor peasantry, especially those from Upper Volta, who have been transformed into an agricultural proletariat for the Ivory Coast plantations. It is, therefore, not at all surprising to hear Houphouet-Boigny (who is himself probably the biggest Ivory Coast land­owner, despite his supposed ‘gift’ of his estates to the state in 1977) praising ‘existing regional and sub-regional economic communities’ — provided they are on the lines of the Conseil de I’Entente.

The countries whose industrial production is growing are constantly searching for markets. Given the unequal competition they face from the imperialist monopolies in finding stable and penetrable markets outside Africa, these African countries increasingly concentrate their efforts on Africa itself. The recent trend towards expanding economic and trading relations between African countries is, above all, a necessity imposed by capitalist economics. Thus it is also apparent that those African countries who can hope to find specific African markets for their products have no interest in promoting the involvement of their major African competitors. Houphouet’s insistence on the value of existing regional and sub-regional economic communities is one way of saying that, from the point of view of the Ivory Coast bourgeoisie, the future West African Economic Community must not in any way threaten the positions and interests already acquired by the Ivory Coast in the region, namely the interests of the Ivory Coast bourgeoisie. To take another example, Zaire’s sudden withdrawal from the pseudo-Community of Central African States, which Mobutu himself had set up, came hard on the realization that the project would boil down to a head-on clash with Chad and therefore had no economic or commercial interest for Mobutu’s bourgeois clique.

Another case which attracted a great deal of attention, especially from 1972-73 onwards, was the Nigerian bourgeoisie’s efforts to gain access to the important West African market. These efforts took the form of a full-scale offensive aiming to set up a 15-member West African Economic Community stretching all the way from Senegal to Cameroon. Another association, the Communaute Economique de I’Afrique de I’Ouest (C.E.A.O.), had already been set up, under the aegis of French neo-colonialism and its two main agents, Houphouet and Senghor; it had only six members, all French neo-colonies. Senegal, whose President seems to delight in quixotic attitudes, threw itself presumptuously and unthinkingly into the battle against the Nigerian project. Official declarations were issued in quantity, notably this one:

Senegal is not in favour of participating in the present project for a 15-member West African Community, in which a single state (Nigeria) would clearly dominate the other 14. This was the gist of the statement issued by Mr. Daouda Sow, the Senegalese Minister of Information, at a press conference on 2 January 11974] ,123

It is indeed true, on the surface at least, that the Nigerian project represented a threat to the C.E.A.O. But an African cannot fail to notice the remarkable intellectual and political consistency of men like Senghor and Houphouet who are prepared to let their countries remain under the very pronounced domination of European imperialists, but become extremely ‘vigilant’ the moment there is any question that they might come under the more or less real ‘domination’ of another African country. This kind of ploy has a long history. Ever since the colonial era, the imperialists have used it very adeptly to block any real move towards African unification.

The Nigerian bourgeoisie’s attempt to draw Cameroon into its projected 15-member community also threatened to break up the membership of UDEAC, namely Cameroon, Gabon, the Congo and the Central African Republic. Senghor and Ahidjo immediately recognized their common interest and soon afterwards, in January 1974, during an official visit to Cameroon by Abdou Diouf, then Prime Minister of Senegal, the two governments issued a joint communiqué, part of which read: ‘As for African problems, the two parties expressed their conviction that the advance towards African unity should be based on existing sub-regional bodies such as the C.E.A.O. and UDEAC.’124

Less than two months later, in February, Senghor himself was in Bangui On an official visit. The joint declaration he signed with Bokassa — then Field Marshal for life and later Emperor — stated: The two heads of state laid particular stress on the need to develop regional groupings in Africa, such as the C.E.A.O. and UDEAC, which are the very foundations of political organizations such as the O.A.U.’125

In the end, however, the Nigerian project was carried through: the Economic Community of West African States (ECWAS or CEDEAO) now co-exists with the C.E.A.O. Although this outcome may seem contra­dictory, one need only remember the enormous influence exercised by the Western European imperialists over nearly all the 16-member states of ECWAS to see that, once the African bourgeoisies had bowed down to the E.E.C. at Lomé in 197S, Senghor’s campaign was doomed, in that his masters and allies were no longer interested in his little battles.

Clearly, if ‘reason has become foolishness and good deeds a curse’ (Engels) – in other words, if the great, wise and glorious U.A.M./OCAM as a huge umbrella organization has become useless, while the economically based regional organizations like UDEAC and C.E.A.O. are increasingly of great interest and other similar regional or sub-regional economic communities are all the rage — there must be some very powerful factors at work. The fact is that certain countries are impelled by an ‘economic force’ which dwarfs them, a sort of capitalist economic determinism: they have to find outlets for then goods. They are thus compelled to do everything in their power to set up a regional division of labour, an unequal regional sub-specialization. This is the real and fundamental economic content of all the supposedly new theories, and the withdrawal of countries such as Cameroon from organizations like OCAM.

Some progressive forces treat these withdrawals from OCAM as ‘progressive acts’, while recognizing that the motives involved have very little to do with the real interests of the African people. But this way of looking at things is both analytically and factually incorrect. On 25 November 1973, before a National Council of cadres from his fascist U.N.C. Party assembled at Yaoundé, Ahidjo had this to say concerning OCAM: ‘In the present context of Africa’s search for unity, its aims are not only anachronistic but in contradiction to our own national aims.’126 This from the man who fought so fiercely against our U.P.C. when we denounced the newly founded OCAM as a neo-colonialist body whose aims were fundamentally opposed to the interests and aspirations of the African people as a whole and of Cameroonians in particular.

The tendency for capitalism at the centre to marginalize trade with the periphery, as already noted, makes the African bourgeoisie’s new policy both necessary and feasible. Necessary, in that if the developed capitalist countries do not import sufficient quantities of the goods African economies have for sale, then those goods have to be sold somewhere. Feasible, because the tendency for the capitalist centres to trade increasingly only amongst themselves means that markets on the periphery become more easily accessible. But this accessibility is only relative since, while it is true that the developed countries’ trade with Africa is marginal, it is only marginal compared to the volume of world trade as a whole. These developed countries’ exports to Africa remain very substantial when compared to the level of inter-African trade, both in terms of quantity and in terms of the competition they impose on African products within Africa itself. The new strategy has a clearly limited scope.

In order to overcome these difficulties, the African bourgeoisies have also begun to modify their fiercely anti-Communist stance and to establish trading relations with Eastern Europe and the progressive countries of Asia. Although the alacrity with which they have embraced this new policy has surprised some observers, it is clear that they have done so with the full approval of their neo-colonialist masters and allies. The whole point of this move is to find new markets. It has nothing whatsoever to do with progressive ideas or non-alignment, as has been suggested, even in some anti-imperialist circles. On the contrary, the African bourgeoisies hope thereby to isolate the revolutionary African forces who are struggling against neo-colonialism.

Once these withdrawals from OCAM and other puppet bodies are put in their correct perspective, it becomes obvious that they are by no means necessarily a manifestation of some anti-imperialist change of heart, as those opportunists who seek the slightest pretext to claim that Ahidjo’s regime is evolving towards a progressive stance would have us believe. The demagogues of Pan-Africanism are always eager to find some way of justifying their association with the assassins of Um Nyobe, Moumie, Lumumba, Ben Barka, Ouandie, etc., whether it be by a cynical appeal to some hypothetical raison d’état or by claiming that they themselves are in fact the ‘Great Strategists of the African Democratic Revolution7, etc. The tragedy is that the more naive and ill-informed of our compatriots may believe them.

Imperialist Domination and Inter-Imperialist Conflicts’ Impact on Pan-African Integration

Imperialist domination is the decisive element which, in the context of international integration and specialization, is blocking any genuine Pan-African integration. It has long been apparent that the economic structure of Africa has been shaped to suit the interests of the imperialists. Twenty years after the achievement of formal independence, the situation is fundamentally unchanged. The imperialists do everything in their power to reinforce their position and adapt the form their domination takes to the new conditions under which it is exercised.

If one wishes to know how the French imperialists, for instance, hoped the situation would evolve five years ago — and still hope it will today — one only has to listen to Senghor:

Europe? — a fascinating adventure. Eurafrica is the great opportunity facing the two continents. An association of all the states of the continent with the E.E.C. would be ideal [! ]. That is why it is so important that economic communities should evolve which embrace both Anglophones and Francophones, in order that we should all have the same position vis-a-vis the E.E.C. 127

In other words, Senghor’s ideal was achieved at Lomé in February 1975, when nearly all the African states signed the Convention of Association with the E.E.C.

The journal from which the above quote is drawn goes on to say that President Senghor has adopted a very clear line on the association of Anglophone Africa with ‘the biggest market in the world’. According to the journal, in 1973, before Lomé I, Senghor was apparently to be heard deploring the fact that the Anglophones ‘do not see the trap into which some Americans and some Asians seek to push us’. The poet of Dakar goes on triumphantly: ‘As for the Americans, they oppose our privileged relations with Europe. I have this to say to them: you have your arrangements with South America; well, then, we are Europe’s South America.’128 Senghor has rarely revealed himself to quite this extent as a servile agent of the imperialist bourgeoisie and true mouthpiece of the privileged classes of Senegal, who are quite content with the crumbs left them by the West European neo-colonialists.129

In this particular show, there was, of course, a U.S. puppet as well as a French puppet.130 Mobutu’s Kamanda wa Kamanda declared:

Africa is not Europe’s private hunting ground. Africa’s unity does not and shall not depend upon Europe. Africa is not an extension of Europe or of Europe’s problems….

The Africans themselves are the best architects of African development. When it comes to working out our development strategy, we Africans should remain amongst ourselves, just as the Europeans do when defining their own strategy.131

Kamanda may be contradicting Senghor and presenting himself as a true anti-imperialist African patriot. But what does he really mean when he speaks of Africans remaining ‘amongst themselves’? Perhaps he had in mind something on the lines of the 1973 Kinshasa International Fair, which took place a few months later:

With its 8,000 square metres and exhibitors from 30 countries, the fair is certainly impressive. One may be tempted to ask, however, whether these remarkable efforts have not been too heavy a drain on Zaire’s public purse. ‘Not at all’, replies the project supervisor, Mr. Kiwana, ‘it is far from being a mere prestige operation. Obviously, we had to put a great deal of money into it, but the fees for the stands, the number of exhibitors and the dialogue which has been established between local and foreign businessmen are ample compensation for our investment.’ The figures certainly back up these assertions: since 1969, when a very liberal investment climate was instituted, about 5,000 million French francs have poured into what used to be the sole empire of the Union Miniere du Hout Katanga (now known as Gecamines), notably from Belgium, the U.S., Japan and most of the European countries.132

If that was the situation in 1973, the reader may well imagine what it must be like now that the I.M.F. experts have been granted full control over the Zaire economy, in response to the imperialists’ realization that Mobutu and friends had brought this amazingly well-endowed country to the brink of total ruin.

£500 million in five years! Such generosity! This massive new influx of international finance capital, coming on top of an already remarkable level of foreign investment, shows Kamanda’s speeches for what they really are: verbiage! Imperialist capital never ceases in its efforts to set up new structures through which to dominate Africa. For instance:

After two days of particularly animated and fruitful discussions, the delegations of the African, Malagasy and French Consular Companies decided to set up a research and co-ordination office, the Permanent Conference of African, Malagasy and French Consular Companies. The purpose of this body is to encourage and organize multilateral co-operation in such matters as professional and technical training, information, economic linkages and the promotion of trade generally, amongst all French-speaking countries.133

Faced with French initiatives of this kind, and given that the Lomé Agreement, which brought nearly all the African countries under a single banner, had not yet been signed, it is hardly surprising that the ‘Anglophone’ countries should think there was some connection between the preferential terms granted, to the E.E.C. by the ex-French colonies and the continued monopoly over those countries’ imports exercised by French companies. From such a conclusion, it is only a short step to the idea that the Yaoundé Convention [which preceded Lomé I, E.M.] is merely an instrument of French ‘neo-colonialist’ interests in Africa, a step which some people have taken all too eagerly.134

The various forms of domination exercised by this or that imperialism over this or that group of African countries and the unequal levels of development/underdevelopment create cleavages amongst the countries of Africa, dividing them up into ‘more advanced’ and less advanced1, with ‘the latter ready to make any concessions demanded of them, provided that FED support is guaranteed, and the former more concerned with their future economic independence’, as the neo-colonial journal quoted above puts it so frankly. Does this mean that, even in the future, the less advanced’ countries will have no economic independence in view? If so, Cameroon will certainly be one of them, given the present policy of Ahidjo’s U.N.C. To put it more bluntly, the weaker African bourgeoisies are only after one thing: regular annual payment of a few million dollars from the coffers of the FED or U.S.A.I.D. However, the stronger local bourgeoisies on the continent already have other ambitions, which are unfortunately cramped by the power of imperialist capital.

It seems obvious that ample economic interest ought to bring the African bourgeoisies together in a single bloc which could stand up to imperialist capital, if only because:

Competition among the products of the underdeveloped countries in the markets of the rich countries always seems stronger than that among manufactured goods in the markets of the underdeveloped countries…. This competition is even less when political domination is superimposed on relations of economic domination.

In practice, nearly all the African bourgeoisies are too weak even to realize what their true interests are.

The domination exercised by the various imperialisms over Africa and the internal struggles these imperialisms wage against one another have a decisive influence on the course of events in the continent. They continue to have a very negative effect on the possibilities for genuine African integration, precisely to the extent that this domination continues to keep each African country tied to a particular neo-colonial metropole )or to the imperialist camp as a whole). This is, of course, precisely what is at stake in the inter-imperialist struggles, as each imperialism tries to gain the upper hand over its fellow competitors.

Faced with this situation, the African bourgeoisies can, at best, merely rail against those imperialisms which do not dominate them directly, while remaining tactfully silent about their own masters. The petty-bourgeoisie especially has a tendency to indulge in pseudo-revolutionary phraseology, denouncing ‘all imperialisms in general’ so as not to have to tackle the concrete imperialism which dominates their country ‘in particular’. This is often the case when the masses in a particular country are fairly aware politically, following specific socio-historical developments. For instance, everybody knows that, despite the revolutionary phraseology which is de rigueur in Conakry, large sectors of the Guinean economy are still dominated by American trusts and the French giant Pechiney-Ugine-Kuhlmann, some 20 years after independence. As we shall show later, this domination will probably increase in the coming years and may involve various other multinationals, hi the meantime, of course, the country has ostensibly become a ‘Democratic Revolutionary Republic’, led by The(!) Great Strategist of the Democratic and Popular African Revolution’, etc. Similarly, the ‘People’s Republic of the Congo’ has been ruled by a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ party, the Congolese Labour Party, for many years now, yet in 1973 the following (typical) report appeared:

President Marien Ngouabi has yet again denounced international capitalism ‘especially French capitalism which controls everything in the Congo’ during a speech to trade unionists in Brazzaville. The President stressed that: ‘We do not have to buy everything in France. [Bach year] 10,000 million of ours flows into France and only 2,000 million of theirs comes here. All your money goes to France. You must grasp this point. All the money goes to France.’ ‘What really matters,’ the President added, ‘is the health of our nationalized industries.

So we can conclude that, although French capitalism controls everything in this ‘Marxist-Leninist’ Congo, the most important thing is for the Congolese workers to ensure the smooth operation of the state enterprises! There can, of course, be no question of touching anything controlled by French capitalism — which controls everything. What Marien Ngouabi is really saying, either consciously or unconsciously, is that the Congolese bureaucratic bourgeoisie is fully aware that imperialism, especially French imperialism, dominates everything in the Congo; at the same time, this bourgeoisie dares not wage any effective radical struggle against this domination, since the Congolese working class and poor peasants might eventually take over such a struggle and overthrow both imperialist capital and the Congolese bureaucratic bourgeoisie. Consequently, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie’s own interest dictates that it is ‘after all’ better to maintain the present situation under which 10,000 million francs produced by Congolese workers is stolen by the French neo-colonialists, who then send back 2,000 million to the Congolese bureaucratic bourgeoisie through the state enterprise system. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the President lays such stress on the smooth operation of these state enterprises.

Any serious analysis of the overall policies adopted by many African regimes who claim to be revolutionary will reveal contradictions so substantial that one can only conclude that the greatest caution is required before any of these regimes is deemed entitled to call itself ‘anti-imperialist’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘socialist’, as they apparently wish to do.

Nationalizations: Implications for Socialism

Up to the present time, in nearly all the known cases of nationalization in Africa, the nationalized wealth has been transferred to the neo-colonial state, promoting the development of a form of state capitalism. The regimes which have carried out such nationalizations are then categorized as ‘anti-imperialist’, as opposed to the ‘out-and-out puppets’ who have not. Indeed, these ‘anti-imperialist’ regimes are often even characterized as ‘socialist’, albeit a rather peculiar kind of socialist. Some examination of the objective basis for this nationalization policy (or policies, since there are several varieties) and of the exact content of ‘socialism’ in certain African countries, therefore, seems called for so that we may assess its true scope and importance.

We have already shown how imperialist domination leads to a marked inequality in any eventual struggle between the monopolies and local capital. Inequalities in the level of underdevelopment of various African countries have also been pinpointed as a factor affecting choice of policy. If we now consider a country which is relatively developed in its underdevelopment, a country where local capital has reached the stage when it can no longer develop within the confines imposed upon it by imperialist capital, it is quite clear that the neo-colonial bourgeoisie of such a country has no other choice but to challenge the positions secured by foreign capital. When, on the contrary, local capital can still develop within the confines imposed by imperialism, the local bourgeoisie will allow foreign capital a free hand and concentrate unprotestingly on its own little affairs. Can one really say that the eventual differences in choice of policy in two such countries are necessarily differences in the degree of their orientation towards socialism? Obviously not. What differences do emerge will simply be the expression of the banal fact that bourgeoisies use different methods to solve the different problems arising out of different material conditions, as part of their overall effort to ensure their own capitalist development. Socialism has nothing to do with it. The interest of the African workers is the last thing the African bourgeoisies in question are concerned with. When it carried no obvious disadvantages, the African bourgeoisies have not been in the least reluctant to carry out the kind of nationalization we are talking about here. These nationalizations have indeed — in certain cases — been anti-imperialist in that imperialist interests have, to varying extents, suffered thereby, but this does not imply that ‘socialism’ was a factor. There are many examples: Egypt under Nasser; in the Maghreb, settler lands and even industries were nationalized; in Zaire, the Union Miniere du Haut Katanga was forcibly transformed into Gecamines and in 1971-73 there was a wave of nationaliza­tions known as Zairianization, most of which, as it happens, were later rescinded when the World Bank and the I.M.F. started putting pressure on Mobutu and his mafia in 1976-77; in part of East Africa, trade was nationalized, etc. In each case the neo-colonial bourgeoisie confiscated the nationalized wealth and appropriated it for themselves.

Usually this process of nationalization involves ‘buying back’ assets which imperialist capital had originally appropriated for itself by force and theft during the colonial period. But a problem arises in that local capital rarely possesses the means required by capitalist norms to make these purchases. Only the state has the financial capacity to do so. In other words, state control is a solution imposed on the African bourgeoisies by their own weaknesses, not by any desire for a socialist party.

The nationalization strategy of the neo-colonial African bourgeoisie is based on a variety of tactics, two of which have been particularly fashionable in recent years: namely, the Africanization of management staff and the demand that African individuals or institutions should hold shares in the foreign companies operating in Africa.

The African bourgeoisie’s call for the Africanization of company management functions is a direct response to the fact that fewer and fewer places are available in the already over-expanded state bureaucracy. Twenty years ago, nearly all the imperialist puppets, notably in the French neo-colonies, vehemently rejected the idea put forward by anti-imperialist militants that ‘cadres at all levels should be Africanized’. The state bureaucracy had not yet developed to the point where it was causing bottle­necks in the neo-colonial machine. Now that their previous course is no longer tenable, the puppets affect a new militancy. Even Albert Omar Bongo, the French lackey in Gabon, recently called on private firms in the country to employ more and more Gabonese managers. School-leavers, including those who are not particularly careerist, need jobs. In a country like Cameroon, the state hierarchy displays a remarkable propensity to subdivide itself endlessly, from the Governors, Prefects, Sub-Prefects, District Officers, etc., down to their assistants, secretaries and the great host of technical advisers’ who never advise anybody. The administrative units which official propaganda used to praise as the epitome of efficiency are increasingly broken down to allow for bureaucratic expansion. All this temporarily solves the problem of absorbing the mass of people who have set their sights on a place within the bureaucracy. An ultra-selective education policy in the schools, from the primary level up to university, also helps cut down the overflow in the short term. In Nigeria, too, the Federal Military Government deemed it necessary to launch an Africanization policy affecting private industry. Not long ago, Dr. Adetoro, the Federal Commissioner for Industry, reproached Pioneer Metal Products Ltd., a company for whom he was inaugurating an extension at Ikeja, for a lack of interest in the Africanization programme’ and for neglecting to employ Nigerians in key posts. The problem manifests itself in almost identical form in practically every African country today.

Naturally, no African revolutionary would dream of opposing the complete Africanization of all management positions. The U.P.C., for instance, stated as early as 1960 that Africanization was an absolutely essential element of any Minimum Programme aiming to achieve true national independence, in marked contrast to the traitors of the present U.N.C. who vainly sought to prove the opposite.137 Nonetheless, a distinction must be made between, on the one hand, an Africanization which genuinely advances the liberation of Africa, in keeping with the interests and aspirations of the working masses, and, on the other, a technocratic Africanization geared to the interests of the various strata of the bourgeoisie. Under the present conditions, the latter course cannot amount to more than a form of co-option of the intellectual petty bourgeoisie, either by the bureaucratic bourgeoisie who control the state apparatus or by private capital, which offers opportunist African intellectuals the illusion of penetrating the antechambers of international finance.

Laws stipulating that there should be a significant national shareholding in all foreign companies are also entirely in keeping with the interests of the neo-colonial bourgeoisie. As Samir Amin points out, wholesale nationalization has its problems, notably the ‘compensation’ owed to foreign capital. In Africa, even the state has fairly limited financial resources. National share­holdings not only reduce this kind of difficulty but also increase the flow of royalties directly into the pockets of the neo-colonial bourgeoisie. For instance:

Although the Nigerian Government’s 35% stake in Shell-B.P. will bring considerable advantages to Nigeria in the long term, it poses an immediate financial problem. Shell-B.P. estimates that, over the last 35 years, they have invested about 1,000 million naira (about £800 million) in Nigeria. The Government’s shareholding will therefore involve Nigeria in payment of compensation amounting to several hundred million naira. Lagos estimates that this compensation can be paid off out of oil resources within two years, after which the Government will begin to register a substantial profit in taxes and divi­dends as a result of the new agreement.138

Shell-B.P. may well have invested £800 million in Nigeria over 35 years. What is left out of the equation, however, is the sum that Shell-B.P. has taken out of Nigeria over the same period. It is worth remembering that imperialist firms generally reinvest part of the profits provided by then original invest­ment. It would be quite wrong to assume that this £800 million all came in to Nigeria from abroad. But, clearly, the Nigerian bourgeoisie has no time for such quibbles. They wDl pay — or more exactly, they will get the working people of Nigeria to pay — the compensation demanded by Shell-BP., for which they will be rewarded with an increased flow of dividends, the better to live their dolce vita.139

The various African political leaders who claim that they exercise real control over their country’s oil resources are thus clearly exaggerating, to put it kindly. Nor does it make much sense to describe Nigeria as ‘anti-imperialist’, whatever various Cameroonian opportunists may say on the subject.

The real point of these observations is that they present the African revolution with two major problems. First, we must ask whether anti-imperialism in the last quarter of the 20th Century can really be reduced to developing the embryo of a more or less stunted form of state capitalism. Although under certain conditions the appropriation of assets ‘belonging’ to an imperialist company can effectively figure as an anti-imperialist action on the part of an African state, the fact remains that, inasmuch as such actions remain on the juridical level, they do practically nothing to eliminate the exploitation exercised by international finance capital (sometimes the changes amount to no more man a change in which is the dominant imperialism). Their anti-imperialist content is thus extremely limited. The unequal exchange relations which characterize the world market imply that, as long as a country remains integrated into the world capitalist market, the development of state capitalism in that country is by no means a sufficient criterion of an anti-imperialist policy. It would thus be bizarre to consider such countries as socialist, unless, of course, one was referring to some kind of ‘underdevelop­ment socialism’ which imposes less demanding criteria than the ‘other’ variety.

The second problem the African revolution faces is this: Is socialism really reducible to the appropriation of the means of production (in toto or, a fortiori, in part) by a state bourgeoisie in the context of the class societies which prevail in Africa today? African revolutionaries must ask themselves this question as clearly as possible, and work out an equally clear answer. Since forces outside Africa constantly do their best to convince Africans that any regime which goes in for nationalization must necessarily be ‘engaged in the construction of socialism’, it is crucial that we should consider the question in some detail.

We are, of course, not the first to face this question. False and inconsistent theories aiming to characterize various forms of statist nationalization had already emerged by the 19th Century. Friedrich Engels showed very simply in his Anti-Dühring that state take-overs could easily represent no more than ordinary economic necessities:

In one way or another, with trusts or without, the state, the official representative of capitalist society, is finally constrained to take over the direction of production.

I say is constrained to, for it is only when the means of production and communication have actually outgrown direction by joint-stock companies and therefore their nationalization has become economically inevitable — it is only then that this nationalization, even when carried out by the state of today, represents an economic advance, the attainment of another preliminary step towards the seizure of all the productive forces by society itself. But since Bismarck became keen on nationalizing, a certain spurious socialism has recently made its appearance — here and there even degenerating into a kind of flunkey ism — which, without more ado, declares all nationalization, even the Bismarckian kind, to be socialistic. To be sure, if the nationalization of the tobacco trade were socialistic, Napoleon and Metternich would rank among the founders of socialism. If the Belgian state, for quite ordinary financial and political reasons, constructed its own main railway lines; if Bismarck, without any economic compulsion, nationalized the main Prussian railway lines simply in order to be better able to organize them and use them in face of war, in order to train the railway officials as the government’s voting cattle, and especially in order to secure a new source of revenue independent of parliamentary votes, such actions were in no sense socialistic measures, whether direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious. Otherwise the Royal Maritime Company, the Royal Porcelain Manufacture and even the regimental tailors in the army would be socialist institutions (or even, as was seriously proposed by a sly dog in the 1830s during the reign of Frederick William III, the nationalization of the brothels).140

In certain West European capitalist states, entire branches of industry have been nationalized, notably the railways, posts and telecommunications, steelmaking and air travel. Nobody has sought to say that this means that those countries are socialist or ‘in the process of building socialism’. One can then only be surprised at the ease with which various regimes in Africa have been labelled as socialist simply because they have nationalized an industry here and there.

The appropriation by society as a whole of the means of production and exchange — in other words, the abolition of private ownership of those means of production — is a necessary condition of socialism but not a sufficient one. If even this condition is not realized, the society is certainly not socialist, whatever else it may be. Socialism is not a matter of proclamations, however sincere.

The embryonic state capitalism which has cropped up here and there in the majority of African countries today is in no way a challenge to private ownership of the means of production or to capitalism, which is based on that ownership.141 From this point of view, African state capitalism does not differ fundamentally from the state monopoly capitalism which prevails in certain industrially developed European capitalist countries. Apart from Angola and Mozambique, there is nowhere in Africa where the principle of eliminating private ownership of the means of production is upheld or put into practice as such. The embryonic state capitalism in certain African countries (including nearly all those who loudly proclaim themselves socialist or are dubbed so with alarming facility by many friends of Africa) amounts to little more than statist rather than social appropriation. Nationalization serves as a means for the ruling neo-colonial bourgeoisie to confiscate certain assets ‘belonging’ to the imperialists. The strictly limited character of such actions illustrates that, under the present international circumstances, it is quite illusory to expect any attack on the capitalist imperialist system to succeed unless it is based on a radical political revolution, a complete over­throw of the existing political and social superstructure and a complete political break with imperialism.

Consequently, all the fine economistic phrases about economic liberation and so-called economic independence (yet to be obtained) are simply empty words. What is this ‘socialism’ which does nothing to secure the necessary basis for socialism, namely the abolition of bourgeois private property? Perhaps one could describe it as ‘social-verbalism’ and leave it at that. Of course, some people will claim that in this or that country the abolition of private property is well under way, and that the socialization of the means of production and exchange necessarily involves statism as a first stage, the implication being that, wherever statism is at its most advanced in Africa, socialism is, in practice, being built. Unfortunately, even statism is not particularly ‘advanced’ in Africa, as is generally known by everybody who follows African affairs closely rather than simply taking an interest whenever there is another of the usual ‘surprisecoups amongst warring tribes’ (sic).

But even if statism were a more real force, it would be necessary to remember that, while state ownership of the means of production and exchange — in other words, expropriation of the ‘private’ as opposed to ‘state bourgeoisie — is a necessary condition for socialism, it is far from being sufficient. Capitalism is not reducible to private ownership of the means of production and exchange. One also needs to know which social forces and which classes control the nationalized assets and hold power. As Engels puts it:

But neither conversion into joint-stock companies (and trusts), nor conversion into state property deprives the productive forces of their character as capital. This is obvious in the case of joint-stock companies (and trusts). But the modern state, too, is only the organization with which bourgeois society provides itself in order to maintain the general external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against encroachments either by the workers or by individual capitalists. The modern state, whatever its form, is an essentially capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal aggregate capitalist. [This qualifica­tion shows that by ‘modern state’ Engels means the 19th Century capitalist state, not the worker’s state during the transition to socialism he goes on to describe a few pages later. E.M.] The more productive forces it takes into its possession, the more it becomes a real aggregate capital, the more citizens it exploits. The workers remain wage workers, proletarians. The capitalist relation is not abolished, rather it is pushed to the limit. But at this limit, it changes into its opposite. State owner­ship of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but it contains within itself the formal means, the handle to the solution.142

The experience of African ‘Socialism’ is a clear case in point. In African societies dominated by bourgeois state capitalism, state ownership of the means of production and exchange allows the ruling neo-colonial bourgeoisie to create and dominate a whole political, ideological, philosophical, legal and religious apparatus. This superstructure enables a thoroughly rotten neo-colonial bourgeoisie to trick the working masses into accepting as universally valid various purely bourgeois ideas. Because of its need to dominate politically, this neo-colonial bourgeoisie is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society, that is, expressed in ideal form: it has to give its ideas the form of universality and represent them as the only rational universally valid one.143

Nationalizations are a typical example, as is the notion of the importance of economically healthy state enterprises, when in fact these enterprises benefit only the ruling African state bourgeoisie. The ‘need’ for a ‘national’, ‘united’, ‘one-party’ state is also a typical manifestation. The one-party state is merely a tool with which to domesticate the working classes and impoverished peasantry according to the requirements of the ruling neo-colonial bureaucratic bourgeoisie. With a few rare exceptions, the one-party state, which is the rule, throughout Africa, is an instrument of this bourgeois class dictatorship. This does not prevent this one-party state being presented as a necessary instrument of development, as Ahidjo Birawandu had the gall to describe it during the second Congress of his fascist U.N.C. party in February 1975. It has long been clear that:

The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. 144

Throughout Africa, the ideas spread by the one-party state are the ideas of the class which controls that party, the ideas which help that class rule and make it the dominant class — in short ‘the ideas of its dominance’. In nearly all African countries, that class is the corrupt neo-colonial bourgeoisie. There are practically no countries in Africa where the ideas of the working class are really in command.

If state control has merely transferred economic power (and hence political power) from the hands of the imperialist to the hands of a bureaucratic state bourgeoisie — as is the case in nearly all the ‘anti-imperialist, revolutionary and socialist’ countries of Africa — then it has done nothing to resolve the problem of the transition to socialism.

But we must further realize that even when the working class, under its own organization, has led a socialist revolution and abolished the economic basis of capitalism through a properly conducted systematic expropriation of the bourgeoisie, the question is still far from settled.

As Vladimir Lenin says:

Expropriation alone, as a legal or political act, does not settle the matter by a long chalk. There can be no equality between the exploiters — who for many generations have been better off because of their education, conditions of wealthy life and habits — and the exploited, the majority of whom, even in the most advanced and most democratic bourgeois republics, are downtrodden, backward, ignorant, intimidated and disunited.145

This is, of course, even more relevant when we are talking of the so-called ‘socialist countries’ of Africa, where even expropriation has not been fully effected and no real state capitalism has developed, in the sense of major state intervention in the economic life of the country. In Africa, the nationalization of a few businesses for the benefit of the ruling bureaucratic bourgeoisie has had little effect on the economy of the countries concerned. According to these criteria, even Ahidjo might qualify as a socialist, since his system of so-called ‘planned liberalism’ is characterized by the fact that: The state participates increasingly in the important companies which are being created in partnership with investors, and reserves the right to buy back any shares and allocate them to private citizens who lack sufficient capital at the moment.’146

Here we have a typical case of quasi-state capitalism, in which the nationali­zations effected, thanks to the resources of the Cameroonian workers (state shareholding), will later be used to finance private business — and this is openly proclaimed!

The journal Marches Tropicaux et Mediterraneens (the old Marches Coloniaux), which specializes in colonial and neo-colonial affairs and lucidly expresses the opinions of the imperialists, especially the French imperialists, published an article in early 1974 under the title Vongo: un bilan economique del’annee 1973′.

Finally, and above all, 1973 was the year in which the new Franco-Congolese Agreements were negotiated. They were eventually signed on 1 January 1974: the Congo remained in the Franc Zone and agreed to recognize the ‘fundamental rights’ pertaining to French nationals and their property.

The private sector was not really thrown into question, despite the country’s socialist orientation; instead, ‘honest collaboration’ was demanded. Nonetheless, the private sector was held responsible for the general rise in prices, which was especially manifest in October when the price of bread doubled, rising from 10 to 20 SFA francs for 130 grammes.147

The journal, to which our readers must by now be getting quite used, can at least be trusted as an accurate judge of whether the interests and ‘fundamental rights’ of French imperialism are being respected or not. Commander Ngouabi, then head of state in Congo Brazzaville, confirmed the journal’s report in the speech we have previously mentioned, when he publicly recognized that Trench imperialism controls everything in the Congo’, despite the ‘socialist orientation’ of the country, naturally.

It is thus sadly amusing to read that:

After a four-day official visit to Gabon, President Senghor arrived in the Congo, where his host, President Ngouabi, showed him round various achievements of the socialist regime, notably the Kinsoundi textile complex. The Senegalese head of state expressed a keen interest in the Congolese experiments and in return was complimented by his host who told him-’ ‘We have learnt a great deal from you and, once again, you have convinced the militants of the Parti Congolais du Travail that you are fully familiar with the principles of Marxism-Leninism.148

The situation is not without its humorous side: the most senior officials of the “Maoist-Leninist’ Congolese Workers Party and French neo-colonialist high finance are in complete agreement on two points. They both recognize that French imperialism controls everything in the Congo and that the Congolese Government of Marien Ngouabi does not really challenge this domination exercised by an implanted private sector which is under no threat whatsoever, ‘despite the country’s socialist orientation’. The result is that, through Senghor, the ex-slave trading imperialist French bourgeoisie can treat itself to the luxury of giving Marxist-Leninist militants lessons in socialism and Marxism-Leninism! The conclusion seems inescapable: socialism in Africa is in danger of collapsing into demagogic putrefaction.

The plain fact is that the socialism in question in most states in Africa is merely vociferous verbiage. The neo-colonial African bourgeoisie uses it as a slogan to mystify the working and peasant masses, in a deceitful effort to convince them that their problems are being solved. Nationalization in Africa has very little to do with socialism. It should now be clear that current fashionable thought amongst certain progressive circles in Europe, according to whom one should ‘not be too demanding concerning the socialist regimes in Africa’ as mis would be ultra-leftist, is essentially paternalistic and does nothing to promote healthy relations between African and European revolutionaries.


Ever since formal independence was achieved in the 1960s, the African economy has undergone an evolution, the main lines of which have remained fundamentally determined by the economies of the centres of world capitalism. These central economies have shaped the evolution of the African economy as follows.

First, the quest for the highest possible profit and the scientific and technical revolution in industry have thrown developed capitalism into a headlong race. In the industrially developed countries, certain industries have proved insufficiently profitable for the imperialists who insist on high productivity in the West. It is, therefore, becoming possible to transfer some of these less profitable industries to Africa (and, of course, elsewhere in the periphery). At the same time, imperialism ensures that this transfer does not trigger off a process which might evade its control. For instance, the imperialists are very careful as to where and how they set up industries which might have a ‘knock-on’ effect, promote autarchic development and break with the present pattern of disparate, uncoordinated economic activity geared to European and American needs. Not surprisingly, the present industrialization of Africa is far less oriented towards the production of capital goods than towards the production of consumer goods, an orientation which suits the frivolous and wasteful African bourgeoisies perfectly.

Second, a variety of factors are resulting in real contradictions between the various African countries. These include the tendency towards a relative diminution of the overall importance of inter-African trade and trade with Africa; the need for imperialism to maintain its domination over Africa as a reservoir of raw materials; the extensive use of classical ‘divide and rule’ tactics; inter-imperialist contradictions reflecting the increasingly inter­nationalized character of capital as opposed to the still prevalently national character of the centres of decision; and inequalities in economic potential between African countries leading to unequal levels of underdevelopment. All this severely limits the scope of the various economistic attempts at Pan-African integration and push African countries to seek out markets by any means available.

Third, the relations of unequal exchange which constitute the very essence of world trade, based as they are both on inequalities in the develop­ment of the productive forces and the productivity of labour and on relations of economic and political domination between the imperialist countries and African countries, provide the ground for a deterioration in the terms of trade. These relations are also the root economic cause of the steady and inexorable impoverishment of the African workers. The outcome is inevitably an ever-increasing awareness on the part of the African workers and poorer peasantry that irreducible contradictions put their interests in opposition to those of both imperialism and the African neo-colonial bourgeoisie. The latter may be equally dominated by the foreign imperialist bourgeoisie, but they can always take their troubles out on the African workers. Within the limits imposed by imperialism, the neo-colonial African bourgeoisies strive to organize an African market, notably a labour market structured so as to enable them to move labour from point to point as they see fit. This, of course, suits imperialism as well.

Fourth, the inherent tendency of the capitalist system to broaden the market and the demagogic use of nationalization as a means for the neo-colonial African bourgeoisies to present themselves as ‘nationalist’ constitute two tendencies which enable these bourgeoisies to mystify the public. An inherent feature of developing capitalism, namely the possibility of developing inter-African trade, is used by the African bourgeoisies as proof that they are in the process of bringing about a measure of genuine Pan-African, integration. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

At the moment, the relations of domination between imperialist monopoly capital and African countries remain the most important feature determining the evolution of the African economy, despite all he fine phrases to the contrary. Even if certain advances have indeed taken place, the main issues in the whole question of the liberation of Africa have remained fundamentally unchanged, despite the formal independence achieved in 1960. In other words: The change in the economic relationship between the new sovereign states and the erstwhile masters is only one of form. Colonialism has achieved a new guise. It has become neo-colonialism, the last stage of imperialism; its final bid for existence, as monopoly capitalism or imperialism is the last stage of capitalism. And neo-colonialism is fast entrenching itself within the body of Africa today through the consortia and monopoly combinations that are the carpet-baggers of the African revolt against conditions and the urge for continental unity.149

In the medium term there is every reason to believe that these general tendencies will continue to dominate the evolution of Africa, as they have done for the last 20 years.


Useful works on this and other concepts sketched in this chapter include: N. Bukharin, The Imperialism and World Economy, (1915; republished New York, Fertig, 1966), Preface by Lenin; V. I. Lenin Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism (various editions); K warn e Nkrumah, Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, (London, Nelson, 1965); Sarnir Amin, Accumulation on a World Scale, (New York, Monthly Review, 1974); Christian Palloix, L ‘Economie Mondiale Capitaliste and Problemes de la Croissance en Economie Ouverte, (Paris, Maspero); Pierre Salama, Le Proces du Sous-Developpement, (Paris, Maspero).

‘Thus, when we study the working of a particular national economy in which a certain mode of production seems to be dominant — for example, the economy of some country in Latin America in which large-scale private land ownership is dominant — we ought not, if we want to arrive at meaningful conclusions, consider this economy otherwise than in its mode of relations with the modes of production which are dominant on a world scale; because we cannot understand this national economy if we do not grasp that it is a part of world production relations. It is thus as an integrated structure, for example as a structure dominated by the [North] American economy, that the specificity of development of this economy can be understood.

‘Similarly, the transformations of structure and different stages of transition that a national economy can undergo cannot be analysed in a valid way except by putting these transformations back into the world structural totality.’ C. Bettelheim, The Transition to Socialist Economy, (Hassocks, Harvester, 1975).

‘Hence, the process of the formation of a market for capitalism has two aspects, namely the development of capitalism in depth, i.e. the further growth of capitalist industry and agriculture in a given, definite and enclosed territory; and the development of capitalism in breadth, i.e. the extension of the sphere of capitalist domination to new territories. In accordance with the plan of the present work, we have confined ourselves almost exclusively to the first aspect of the process, and for this reason we consider it particularly necessary to stress that its other aspect is of exceptionally great importance. V. I. Lenin, The Develop­ment of Capitalism in Russia.

See O. C. Cox, Capitalism as a System, (New York, Monthly Review, 1964), quoted in S. Amin, Unequal Development, (New York, Monthly Review, 1976), p. 174.

K. Marx, Grundrisse, (London, Penguin, 1973), p.872. Marx goes on to add that: ‘One of the nations may continually appropriate for itself a part of the surplus labour of the other, giving back nothing for it in the exchange.’

This was already true in antiquity, when ‘the towns of Asia Minor thus paid a yearly money tribute to Ancient Rome. With this money Rome purchased from them commodities and purchased them too dear. The provincials cheated the Romans, and thus got back from their conquerors, in the course of trade, a portion of the tribute.’ K. Marx, Capital, (London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1954), Vol.1, p. 160, Nowadays, not only do Africans pay tribute in a thousand and one different ways, but the imperialist conquerors proffer ‘aid’ which enables them to keep Africans (and dominated peoples generally) in perpetual debt. The dominated countries are then forced to pay very dearly for goods from the imperialist countries, and are thus rooked twice over; the imperialists extort via trade far more than the value of the loans and aid they extend. Yet the neo-colonial bourgeoisies are still full of praise for these aid programmes.

Adam Smith expressed his law of comparative advantage as follows: ‘If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it off them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage. The general industry of the country, being always in proportion to the capital which employs it, will not thereby be diminished, no more than that of the above mentioned artificers; but only left to find out the way in which it can be employed with the greatest advantage. It is certainly not employed to the greatest advantage when it is thus directed towards an object which it can buy cheaper than it can make.’ Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Vol. IV, (various editions). According to this theory, the presently dominated countries should not bother to develop any industries at all, since they could buy just about anything that can be bought ‘cheaper than we ourselves can make it’.

8.   Cf. Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.III, Book 1, Chapters 13 and 14. The law can be summarized as follows: The total capital ‘advanced’ by a capitalist in any industrial enterprise is, according to Marx, of two kinds. On the one hand, there is constant capital, that portion of the capital which exists in material form as means of production such as machinery, raw materials, etc. This capital is constant in the sense that it does not directly produce any extra value. On the other hand, there is variable capital, that portion of the capital which is ‘advanced’ to the workers and which does produce extra value, as we shall see.

The working day can be broken down into two parts. During the first part, the worker merely ‘pays back’ the capitalist for the wages the latter has paid him. But there is also always a second part to the day, during which the value produced by the worker’s labour goes straight into the capitalist’s pocket, for free. The work done by the worker during this second part is thus quite simply stolen from him by the capitalist, since the worker is not paid for it. Marx calls the value produced by this unpaid labour surplus value, and the extra and unpaid labour of the workers is known as surplus labour. The accumulation of values created by the surplus labour of the workers is, in fact, the basis of the capitalist mode of production.

For example, in an eight-hour working day, the salary paid to the worker will be the equivalent of, say, five hours, in which case the remaining three hours supplied by the worker will be surplus labour, and the value produced during those three hours will be the surplus value pocketed by the bourgeois. The relationship between necessary labour (which reproduces the worker’s salary) and surplus labour is, naturally, not fixed. It varies according to the balance of forces in the permanent class struggle waged between the capitalist class (the bourgeoisie) and the workers.

Let S stand for surplus value, V for variable capital and C for constant capital. Marx defines the rate of surplus value R, as the ratio of S over F,’ in the formula R=S/V. Marx goes on to define the rate of profit as the ratio of surplus value over the whole capital. This can be expressed as the rate of profit, P=S/C+V. Naturally, C+V represents the total sum of capital involved. The rate of surplus value is the amount of surplus value divided by the sum of the variable capital, whereas the rate of profit is the amount of surplus value divided by the sum total of all the capital. The rate of surplus value is thus always greater than the rate of profit. But it is the rate of surplus value which expresses the exact degree of exploitation suffered by the worker, since it expresses the ratio between what has been stolen from the worker (surplus value, S) and what the capitalist has given him, his salary, V.

Given the definition of R, the rate of surplus value, it follows that 5, the surplus value, equals R, the rate of surplus value, multiplied by V, the variable capital paid to the worker. P=S/C+V: R=S/V : S=R. V. If we replace S by R. V in the formula which defines P, the rate of profit; we get the relation P= (RxV)/C+V which can also be expressed as P=RxV/C+V, or P=R. (l/l+(C/V)).

Assuming a constant rate of surplus value, R; if C increases compared to V, then the ratio C over V increases. The denominator in the expression P above increases and the fraction diminishes, since its numerator, 1, remains constant. Since we have assumed that R, the rate of surplus value, is constant, then P as a whole also diminishes. However, this fall is only tangential. Marx has pinpointed many countervailing tendencies to this falling rate of profit. Indeed, we can express his observations in the following law: for a given level of exploitation of constant labour (that is to say with a fixed rate of surplus value), the rate of profit has a tendency to fall as constant capital, C, increases relative to variable capital, V. Marx has also shown that, as the capitalist mode of production develops, constant capital increases relative to variable capital (as Marx puts it, the organic composition of capital increases). The law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is thus an inherent feature of the capitalist mode of production.

What does it mean to say that constant capital increases relative to variable capital? Quite simply that the portion of capital which takes the material form of machinery, etc., increases relative to the portion which is set aside for the worker’s wages. It is a way of saying that the productivity of labour increases. Marx concluded that the tendency for the rate of profit to fall was simply the way progress in the social productivity of labour was expressed under the capitalist mode of production. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that this tendency for the rate of profit to fall should be so much more marked in the more industrialized capitalist countries, and that the imperialists should try to find a way around it by exporting capital to countries where, because of the shortage of machinery, the productivity of labour is still low and increases more slowly than in the economically developed capitalist countries.

9. A simple example: from 1957 to 1964 the U.S. invested about S 14,000 million abroad. Over the same period, they withdrew about S 27,000 million, in net profits, from the countries which they invested in. They therefore took back twice what they had put in. The average rate of profit was thus about 200%! But let us suppose that, instead of considering all the foreign countries in which the U.S. invested, we consider only the underdeveloped countries. We then see that, in 1966, the U.S. invested some S 500 million in the countries concerned. During that same year, the U.S. withdrew S 2,500 million in profits, five times what they invested. The average rate of profit was thus 500%. See Ahmed Akkache, Capitaux Strangers et Liberation Economique, (Paris, Maspero, 1971), pp.22-3.

K. Marx, Capital, Vol.ni (London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1974), p.237.

K. Marx, Capital, Vol.III, op.cit., p.256. ‘If capital is sent abroad, this is not done because it absolutely could not be applied at home, but because it can be applied at a higher rate of profit in a foreign country.’

The rate of surplus value is in fact very high in these parts of the world. Salaries are very low. In a country like Gabon, to which the misleading estimates of U.S. exports attribute a yearly per capita income of £3,000 (a sum which no Gabonese worker or peasant ever sees), the minimum guaranteed industrial wage is $ 120, and this in one of the French industrialists’ supposedly wealthy ‘oil provinces’.

Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.III, op.cit., p.238.

See the Adrian paper, El Moudjahid, No. 723, 16 October 1967.

The figures are from Nkrumah’s Neo-colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism, op.cit., p.58, quoting V. Perlo, American Imperialism, p.28.

Lenin’s masterful work, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, published in 1916, explains the contradictions which led to the 1914-18 War.

Kwame Nkrumah, op.cit., p.61.

See Marches Tropicaux et Mediterraneens, 23 November 1973, p.3,408.

Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.ffl. op.cit.. p.484.

Paul A. Baran, The Political Economy of Growth, (New York, Monthly Review, 1957). See also P. A. Baran and P. M. Sweezy, Monopoly Capital, (New York, Monthly Review), and Charles Bettelheim, Planification et Croissance Acceleree, (Paris, Maspero, 1973), Chapter 5.

‘The old imperialism levied tribute: the new imperialism lends money at interest, as H. N. Braisford put it in his The War of Steel and Gold, published over 60 years ago.

22.  ”N. Bukharin, Imperialism and World Economy, op.cit., p.138.

23.  Having originally actively supported Angolan puppets such as UNITA, lie FNLA and FLEC, the French bourgeoisie suddenly decided to recognize the People’s Republic of Angola, against the advice of their E.E.C. allies. A little while later, this same bourgeoisie co-operated with the U.S. to save Mobutu.

24.  S. Amin, Unequal Development, op.cit., p. 160.

25.  Ibid.,p.l59.

26.  See Christian Palloix, L ‘Economic Mondiale Capitaliste, op.cit., Vol.II,      pp.l 93 -4.

 27. In Capital Marx quotes F. J. Dunning to point out that capital may ear disorder but will      venture into criminal discord if the profits to be von are high enough.

 28. Yet, in April 1974, Senghor was promising that ‘conditions will be laid lown to regulate      polluting industries’, Marches Tropicaux et Mediterraneens, 19 April 1974, p. 1,069.

29.  See Gerard Destannes de Bernis, ‘Industries Industrialisantes et contenu ‘une politique      d’Integration Regionale’ in Economie Appliquee, ‘Vol.XIX, 1966, p.415-73.

30.  See Arghiri Emmanuel, Unequal Exchange, (New York, Monthly Review 1972).

31.  Samir Amin, Neo-colonialism in West Africa, (Harmonds worth, enguin, 1973)

32.  See Note 8 above.

33.  Otto Baurer, Die Nationalitatenfrage und die Sozialdmokratie, (Vienna, 1924). Bauer’s subsequent opportunism does not invalidate this point.

34.  Christian Palloix, Problems de la Croissance en Economie Ouverte, op.cit., p.84.

35.  Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.III, op .cit., p.215.

36.  See P. Florian, ‘Emmanuel chez les philistins’, Critique de l’Economie Plolitique      (a Trotskyite journal published in Paris), No. 3, 1971.

37.  Samir Amin, Unequal Exchange, op.cit .

38.  A. Emmanuel, Unequal Exchange, (London, New Left Books, 1972), p.264.

39.  The minimum industrial wage in Holland was £340 a month in 1977. In West Germany, a road sweeper earns more than £500 a month.

40.  Only Japan lags behind in this respect.

41.  See Christian Palloix, L’Economie Mondiale Capitaliste, op.cit., Vol.I, p.131.

42.  The fact that the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries appropriates for its exclusive use the bulk of the values stolen in this way does not really come into it. Naturally, internationalist militants in the dominated countries are fully aware that pillage by unequal exchange benefits mainly and primarily the bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries. Were we to forget this truth, we would end up with an absurd strategy based on a clash of interests between the workers of the dominated countries and the workers of the imperialist countries, to the delight of our common enemies.

But it is also worth remembering that: ‘The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economi­cally possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers and, for a time, a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others …. And so there is created that bond between imperialism and opportunism, which revealed itself first and most clearly in Great Britain, owing to the fact that certain features of imperialist develop­ment were observable there much earlier than in other countries.’ V. I. Lenin, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Selected Works, (Moscow, Progress, 1963), p.765.

Although we should never confuse the imperialist bourgeoisie with the workers of the dominant countries, no one can prevent us observing that the following is still as relevant today as when Engels wrote it, in a letter to Marx on 7 October 1878: ‘The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is, of course, to a certain extent justifiable.’

On 12 September 1882, Engels wrote to Karl Kautsky, who had asked ‘what the English workers think about colonial policy’, ‘The workers gaily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the world market and the colonies.’

43.       Karl Marx, Hist aire des Doctrines Economiques (Costes), Vol.7,. p.93. The reader will thus not be surprised to learn that: ‘The profits realized abroad by American multinationals rose from 5500 million in 1950 to $3,700 million in 1973 and to an estimated $ 10,000 million in 1974.’ See A. Faire in Y. Fitt, A. Faire, and J. P. Vigier, The World Economic Crisis, (London, Zed Press, 1980).

For instance, the Trotskyite journal mentioned in Note 36.

Samir Am in, Accumulation on a World Scale, op.cit., p.72.

See A. Akkache, op.cit., p.44.

Marches Tropicaux …, 10 May 1974, p.l ,237.

Senghor also helped France set up its notorious Inter-African Strike Force.

Christian Palloix, L ‘Economie Mondiale Capitaliste, op.cit., Vol.1, p.41.

MIFERGUI-NIMBA is made up of various European and Japanese companies, in association with Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, Nigeria and Algeria. Its purpose is to mine the iron ore deposits in Guinea’s Nimba Mountains. Expected production, starting in 1977, is expected to reach 15 million tons of high grade ore a year. More recently, Guinea has been actively inviting capital from the most reactionary Arab countries.

Cameroon, for instance, has only just managed to create a National Maritime Transport Company after 15 years of independence. And even now, most of the senior staff is still German. Cameroon withdrew from the neo-colonial airline, Air Afrique, controlled by France’s U.T.A., only to put itself into the hands of Air France. Although CAM AIR is to some extent Cameroonized, it is mainly used for the frivolous pleasures of the bourgeoisie.

Marches Tropicaux . . ., 23 March 1973, p.856.


Ibid., 15 March 1974, p.656.

Karl Marx, Capital, op.cit., Vol.1, chapters 26 to 31. The chapters of Capital dealing with primitive accumulation are a brilliant expose of the mechanisms of theft and pillage instituted by the bourgeoisie.

Cf. Samir Amin, Unequal Development, op.cit.

Cf. Andre Gunder-Frank, The Development of Underdevelopment, (New York, Monthly Review).

Mobutu sided with Nazi South Africa and supported the puppet FNLA and UNITA movements.

V. I. Lenin, The Development of Capitalism in Russia, op.cit., Vol.3, p.67.

V. I. Lenin, A Characterization of Economic Romanticism, Collected j Works, Vol.2, Moscow, Progress, 1963, p.209.

Marches Tropicaux …,15 March 1974, p .666.

Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. HI, op.cit, p.637.

V. I. Lenin, The Development of Capitalism in Russia, op.cit., p.40.

The history of German expropriation of the people of Cameroon culminated in the murder of Chief Duala Manga in August 1914. Chief Duala Manga led the struggle of the Duala people against expropriation. In Germany only Rosa Luxemburg and her group condemned the silence of the German socialists over this affair. See also V. I. Lenin’s article On the Junius Pamphlet.

See B. Etahoben, “Cameroon: “Green Revolution” fails to develop farming’, New African Development, September 1977, p.915.

See Marches Tropicaux. .., 5 October 1973, p.2,952.

See I’Effort Camerounais, No. 879, September 1973 and No. 880, October 1973, for extracts from Tonye Mbog’s press conference. The latter was at the time Ahidjo’s Minister of Youth.

While the young people of Cameroon rot in unemployment, Ahidjo’s CONAJEPCA (National Youth and Popular Education Committee), set up by presidential decree in 1967, contents itself with singing the praises of its creator, ‘His Excellency, El Hadj’. Perhaps the regime needs to give itself the illusion that it is not backed only by a handful of self-seeking opportunists.

Mbog had the face to announce that in the face of this chronic unemployment ‘the Government has bravely decided to do something for these young people, so that their unemployed capacities should be put to use to promote their own material well-being.

Even Amnesty International’s report on political prisoners in Cameroon was reported only in Le Monde.

The C.F.A. franc is linked to the French franc by a fixed parity.

1 French franc = 50 CF A francs. The parity has not changed since 1959. A pseudo revolt launched by some neo-colonial African regimes against this situation fizzled out back in 1974-75.

A striking contrast with the nonsense put out by Wife, the journal of Ahidjo’s puppet women’s organization, OFUNC. See Wife, June 1973, p.12.

 The joke gains in the telling: In April 1974, a colloquium on education, attended by 73 representatives of the Protestant Churches, in Cameroon, concluded that: ‘The cost of keeping one pupil in secondary education in Cameroon is at present eight times the average income of a farmworker.’ The peasantry represents some 80% of the total population. Yet the Baptist pastors of Douala present Ahidjo as God’s gift to Cameroon. For details of this alliance between the Protestant and Catholic clergy (notably the reactionary Archbishop of Yaoundé) with the regime, see Resistance, No. 16-17, U.P.C., January 1975.

See ‘A travers le Kameruri’, Cahiers Upecistes, April 1974, and Resistance, Nos. 14 and 15, 1974.

Declaration made by Ayissi Mvodo to the assembled Administrative Council of the Social Welfare Fund, of which he was President, February 1974.

El Hadj Birawandu Ahmadou Ahidjo, Pour la Revolution Verte, (Imprimerie Nationale, 1973).

Figures based on Marches Tropicaux…, August 1973, pp.2,519-20.

Ibid., February 1974, p.443.

While Houphouet forces Ivory Coast diamond miners to work solid eight-hour shifts in the Korogho mines for £40 a month, the European volunteers he invites are paid £600 a month. And Houphouet has no qualms about building himself palaces of imported European marble.

Marches Tropicaux . .., 12 April 1974, p.1,011.

Ibid., 5 April 1974,p.951.

Ibid., pp.954-5.


Ahidjo, on the other hand, believes in ‘planned liberalism’ in which the use of productive resources for profit is seen as a progressive element. See Third Plan, 1971-76, Planning Ministry, (Yaoundé, 1973), p.40.

Marches Tropicaux. .., 5 April 1974, p.954.

Ibid., 10 November 1978, p.2,977. Corruption in Kenya is legendary.

Samir Amin, Unequal Development, op.cit., p.352.

Marches Tropicaux. . ., 17 January 1975, p.352

B. Ryelandt, L ‘inflation en Pays Sous-developpe.

Samir Amin, Accumulation on a World Scale, op.cit., Vol.II, p.464. There can be no doubt that, in a country such as Cameroon, the real buying power of the population has steadily declined since 1960. In real terms the price paid to a peasant for a kilo of ‘Robusta superieur’ coffee has fallen by about 50% in five years. See Marches Tropicaux . . ., 29 October 1976, p.2,900.

The Zairean bourgeoisie was not being particularly innovative: ‘The traditional policy of ruthless direct exactions from the peasants was supplemented by a number of other devices calculated to maximize the aggregate economic surplus. Wages of workers employed in non-agricultural activities were rigorously held down to rock bottom — a principle that was easy to enforce in a labour market glutted with agricultural surplus population. Even more important was the systematic inflationary policy initiated by the Meiji administration, which resulted not merely in further redistribution of income in favour of capitalaccumulation but also in expansion of the economic surplus through the utilization of previously unemployed resources.’ Paul A. Baran, The Political Economy of Growth, op.cit., p.l 55. All this took place in Japan around 1870-90, when the Emperor initiated the changes which were to lead to the development of capitalism in Japan. Same aim, same methods.

In Mauritius, which is a full member of OCAM, ‘The number of unemployed is increasing by 10,000 each year (total employed 200,000, total population 800,000, of whom 54% are under 18). Salaries are very low. An unskilled worker gets a 100 francs (£10) a month, a semi­skilled worker receives 300 francs (£30). Employers have no social security contributions to pay.’ See Usine Nouvelle, the journal of the French bosses, No. 39, 24 September 1970, ‘L’ile Maurice sera-t-elle un nouveau Hong Kong?’ Under Sir Sewoosagur Ramgoolam, Mauritius sold the island of Diego Garcia to the U.K. which in turn rents it to the U.S. as a military base. Mauritius has also become a playground for white South African tourists.

See Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, and Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.1, Chapters 10, 15, 25 to 31 for striking descriptions of the appalling poverty which prevailed in Europe at the time.

Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.1.

V. I. Lenin, On the So-Called Market Question, Collected Works, Vol.1, op.cit., p.102.

See Marches Tropicaux. .., 23 February 1979, p.512.

Ahidjo and his ilk may call for ‘auto-centric development’, but in their mouths the slogan becomes meaningless verbiage. See his ‘Report’ to the 2nd U.N.C. Congress, February 1975.

Samir Amin, Accumulation on a World Scale, op.cit., p.289.

Marches Tropicaux . . ., 4 May 1973, p. 1,241.

Afrique Industries Informations, No. 43, November 1973, p.46.

At the end of a no doubt most enjoyable safari in the forests of the Central Africa ‘Empire’, the French President once promised Bokassa a railway. The people are still waiting.

Marches Tropicaux. . ., 26 April 1974, p. 1,135.

Ibid., p.l,136.

Gerard Destannes de Bernis, ‘Industries Industrialisantes et contenu d’une politique ‘integration regionale’, Economie Appliquee, Paris, Vol.XIX, pp.415-73, 1966. De Bernis says: ‘I refer to these industries or groups of industries whose fundamental economic function is to transform the inter-industrial matrix around them, transforming the functions of production by making new machines available to industry as a whole and thereby increasing productivity and man’s mastery over his production and his products. These transformations in turn lead to a social and economic restructuring, to a transformation of what can be done in the given context and to a renewal of social structures; they thereby constitute both a pre-condition and a consequence of the industrialization process.’

Anybody who goes to Edea cannot but be struck by the isolation of the Pechiney complex. The staff live in a sort of encampment and management strives to limit all contact between officials (including the Cameroonian ones) and workers. After 20 years, the Cameroonian state still has a disgracefully small stake in Alucam-Pechiney’s capital.

The authors of the second and third plan are Mile Etienne and M. G. Winter, respectively: Ahidjo obviously has more confidence in French ‘experts’ than his French masters do.

£. Teilhac, ‘Le petrole dans l’Economie du Moyen Orient’, Economie Appliquee, No. 4,1954, pp.399-489. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, this observation still holds good today.

Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, op.cit.,P.l.

Marches Tropicaux …. 15 March 1974,p.657.

Nkrumah, op.cit., p.2.

Marches Tropicaux . .., 8 March 1974, p.618.

Cheikh Anta Diop, Les Fondements Economiques et Culturels d’un Etat Federal d’Afrique Noire, (Paris, Presence Africaine, 1974), p.57.

Jagdish C. Saigal, ‘Reflexions sur la theorie de l’echange inegal’, in S. Amin, Unequal Development, op.cit., N.B. Saigal refers to ‘capitalist relations of production and trade’.

See Cheikh Anta Diop, op.cit.

At first, the imperialists shed gallons of crocodile tears over the millions of pounds African countries would thus have to pay the Arabs. It was only later that they realized that perhaps setting Arabs and Africans against one another was not such a good idea, since Arab reaction was fully prepared to ally itself with neo-colonialism against Black Africa.

Marches Tropicaux . . ., 30 March 1973, p.915.

In the end, the Lagos authorities preferred to drop their initial position in exchange for the flattering role of sole spokesman for the African nations at the Second Yaoundé Convention. The West European neo-colonialists thus managed to enrol nearly all the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, now conveniently known as the A.C.P. countries.

Marches Tropicaux . . .,6 April 1973, p.977.

Ibid., 2 March 1973, p.661.

Ibid., 5 April 1974, p.955.

Ibid., 17 January 1975, p.l 59.

Ibid., 1 June 1973, p. 1,485. What marvellous demagogy!

Ibid., 11 January 1974, p.84.

See Unite, the official journal of Ahidjo’s fascist U.N.C., 2 February 1974, p.4.

Marches Tropicaux …, 8 March 1974, p.598.

OCAM has in fact never been anything more than a head of state’s trade union, camouflaging the exploitation of African workers by African bourgeoisies and French neo-colonial ism. One of its main roles has always been to sink any moves towards genuine African unity, a role now played to the full by the O.A.U. OCAM is now useless to its masters, precisely because the O.A.U. has taken over its functions as an active brake on African unification, notably by neutralizing those who struggle against established regimes.

Marches Tropicaux …, 11 May 1973, p.1,295.


In 1958-59, he and Houphouet even defended the French position on Algeria at the    U.N., right in the middle of the Algerian people’s war of liberation. These things get forgotten too easily.

It has long been common knowledge that Mobutu is a C.I.A. agent. His vaunted       ‘anti-hegemonism’ and ‘non-alignment’ art simply examples of just how far cynicism and hypocrisy can be pushed today in the international arena.

Marches Tropicaux.. .,2 March 1973, pp.661-2.

See Le Monde, 22-23 July 1973, p.20.

Marches Tropicaux …,25 May 1973, p.l,436.

Ibid., 9 March 1973, p.737.

Samir Amin, Accumulation …, op.cit., p.128.

Marches Tropicaux …, 23 March 1973, p.884.

See the Minimum Programme for a United Front in Proclamation Commune, 16 December 1960. Quoted inLe Courant du Manidem, I, U.P.C.,(1974), p. 11.

Marches Tropicaux …, 20 July 1973, p.2,282. A new agreement later gave Nigeria a 55% stake (Cf. Ibid., 26 April 1974, p.1,137).

Thus, in Nigeria, there has been ‘extensive liberalization affecting a wide range of articles, notably foodstuffs, meat, fresh fruit, beer, whisky, rum and other alcoholic drinks which had been tightly controlled if not banned outright’. (.Marches Tropicaux…, 19 April 1974, p.1,076). Any comparison between the list of freely imported products and the prevailing average salaries in the country makes it clear who this measure was intended to serve.

Friedrich Engels, Anti-Dühring, (Peking, Foreign Languages Press, 1976), pp.358-59.

‘Socialist’ Algeria’s Agrarian Reform Charter states that: ‘Although the agrarian revolution does not abolish private ownership of the means of production, it does abolish man’s exploitation of his fellow man.’

Engels, Anti-Dühring, op.cit., pp.358-9.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, (New York, International Publishers, 1970), p.66.


V. I. Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, op.cit., Vol.28, p.252.

See the Third 5-year Economic and Social Development Plan, Ministry of Planning, (Yaoundé), p.40.

Marches Tropicaux…, 15 February 1974, p.373.

Ibid., 8 March 1974, p.518.

Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism, op.cit., p.31