Leaders, figures and militants of political parties and social and popular organizations met in the last days of March (25 to 27) in Zambia, in a meeting of great importance due to the quality of the participants and the content of the debates. The attendees came from 21 different countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, India and the US. The three days were full of intense work and debates about the current juncture in Africa and the world, socialism and struggles against capitalism.
The countries that participated were: Zimbabwe, Niger, Mauritius Islands, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Trinidad and Tobago, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Eritrea, all of them are active militants of Pan Africanism. In representation of Latin America and the Caribbean there were delegates from the Landless Workers’ Movement MST parties from Brazil, the Evo Generation from Bolivia, the Settlers’ Movement from Venezuela, from Trinidad and Tobabo a member of the Movement for Social Justice, Ecuador and Jamaica. From the US, there were well-known representatives of African American struggles and from Asia there was a representative of the Republic of India.
The congress was convened by the Press Freedom of Zambia, the Rainbow Party of Zambia, The Post journal of Zambia and NUMSA, The National Union of South Africa.
The first to speak was Ernest Chanda, from the Zambian Committee for Freedom of Expression, who remarked the necessity for freedom of expression in all countries of Africa and the world, so that the struggles can be heard by other peoples and to achieve the conformation of a solidarity network between social movements at a planetary scale.
Wynter Kabimba, Secretary General of the Rainbow Party, remarked that Obama’s visit to Cuba and the present conference were the two most important news of the week. “This desire of going against oppression and in favor of the oppressed ones has to be based on the teachings of Marx, Lenin, Thomas Sankara, Amilcar Cabral and other revolutionaries”, he said. “This continent was left-wing but after the fall of the Berlin wall, also in Africa there was a fall of socialist ideas”. Then he referred to Francis Fukuyama as the installer of neoliberalism. “A consensus that agrees on the liberality of the system has installed and has swept everything in its path”. He ended by saying “we must achieve that, by the end of this congress, we say no to Fukuyama” and his theories about the alleged end of history.
The representative of the Rainbow Party, Cosmas Musumali, explained the goals of the conference: “Pan Africanism is necessary to get to know one another. If we’re isolated, we can’t know about our socialist forces. We have to learn from each other. To bring whatever we can to Pan Africanism so that we can follow through with this program in the next 12 months. We’re here to get to know each other, to know other socialist organizations in the continent and support each other in this process of learning and making a working agenda for the rest of the year”.
According to Musumali, “if we look at the emigration map we are able to see where people came from and where they ended up. All human beings are African, therefore Pan Africanism is not only for Africa, it’s for humanity as a whole. It’s a reaction against oppression, it’s a concept that has helped other people to rebel”.
He also talked about the need to know which organizations are going to guide us in this time. “In this world filled with injustice, which we fight to change, we see youth struggles in Latin America but also reactionary movements that invade us in Africa. We must combat religious fundamentalism”, he said. He defined Pan Africanism as an “African socialism”, a form of struggle from an historical African socialism. “We are trying to make a socialist Pan African conference. To struggle in an African way and find the way to share our solidarity with a socialist and solidary world”.
Fred M’Membe, director of the journal The Post, co-organizer of the meeting, recalled great African struggles and other Pan Africanist conferences that reunited the ones that want to fight against colonialism. “In 1971, Kwame Nkrumah, political leader of the independence of Ghana, said that without socialism there is no Pan Africanism and that socialism has to be for the peoples, non-pragmatic and popular and he created a method of organization based on Lenin and Marx. That part of history is hidden from us, they don’t talk to us about it”, he said and added: “one of the greatest Africanists is Fidel Castro, who sent his people to fight together with African comrades, and the presence of Che in the Congo. A number of Cuban lives lost in Lusaka, in Ethiopia. 350,000 Cubans fought in Angola, Namibia, South Africa; Cuban help was present in every country. So, Pan Africanism refers to the whole world and its great enemy is capitalism. We have to expel the dominant classes. International solidarity is fundamental for our success, socialism has to be global”.
As for the bonds that we must create, he explained “we have to be side by side with students, workers, and women, wherever they carry out their struggles. The objective conditions for that will present themselves. We must build struggle in networks, keep being active in social networks, which are a form of organization that we must not ignore”. He also talked about the need to achieve a critical mass in the continent and how to use our solidarity. About the challenges, he remarked “there is no revolution without socialism, we must build socialism in our countries and work to create socialist people and resist the attempts to divide us, because that is how they defeat us”.
Irvin Jim, Secretary General of the South African National Union NUMSA, took part in the forum “The neoliberal agenda of socialism in Africa”. “Zambia will always be our home. It has a very rich history of resistance against colonialism. Now that we have to fight against poverty and alienation that we suffer, Pan Africanism encompasses all struggles to achieve the liberation of the peoples of Africa. Why is Africa poor? How can we overcome the suffering? The struggle must be in many fronts; political, social, cultural… Struggle for land, for natural resources, for rights, it means to struggle for power. The working class must fight in the whole world for its liberation from imperialism, patriarchy and all forms of oppression to the peoples, which are the bases of capitalism. We must make a global fight for socialism, Africa is today the one continent behind the rights of the peoples of the world.
One of the debate workshops was the one titled “Historic experiences in post-colonial Africa”, with the participation of revolutionary Ernest WambadiaWamba, historian, philosopher and former guerrilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wamba spoke about the current situation in Africa as a “crisis caused by economic and political collapse, where society is losing self-confidence”. For Wanda, governments are abandoning the duty of being with the people, and “this is a problem because it also causes a crisis in social movements that protest and don’t get anything. Anti-colonial struggle was a stage but nothing was done to recover the means of production. Many were left without anything. We’re a continent that has to fight and revert the situation of domination of a few over the rest.
The crisis is eternal, endless, since the Congo was private property of the Belgians’ king until slavery was progressively combated. There was a time when a Belgian official decorated his office with 25 native Congolese skulls. The colony was an embrionary form of what multinationals would do afterwards. Eighty percent of the people are analphabet. The majority doesn’t understand French, which is the official language. In times of Lumumba, the ones who studied were mostly priests and education was forbidden so that Pan African ideas couldn’t get in. Maybe we can respond to the fights and have new policies towards the future”.
In this workshop also participated professor, historian and philosopher EnocentMsindo, who referred to the current juncture in Africa as a crisis of governability, caused by the disastrous economic situation, with genocides, and xenophobia. Enocent also homaged Kwame Nkrumah, one of the main figures of Pan Africanism: “to Nkrumah the end was eliminating the inequalities of all people to achieve socialism throughout the world. But the disciples failed. It’s necessary to know how, after colonialism, potencies began to emerge in Africa, which led to exploitation of workers and pillage of resources. Also, ideas arrived from Europe, which led to many social and cultural problems. European policies overlapped with African policies. There was a colonial dictatorship, where settlers penetrated the manufacturing industries and created possibilities to activate the economies but not for nations to be independent. Colonial education was parallel to massive killings. All this shows that settlers didn’t care for African cultures nor for their systems of knowledge, and therefore, native cultures were destroyed.
According to Prof.Msindo, dependence of the West transformed the local states in parasites that took the earnings of peasants and workers and used them against them. “European products were imported despite being more expensive than African ones. The new models of economy sustained post-colonial governments. The arrival of US corporations since the 1950s was very important, because economic relations began to compromise the African economy. They destroyed their nature. Until in 1973 began the stage of revolutions. But, in time, countries fell under colonial autocracies and became intertwined with post-colonial governments. Afterwards, came national debts, and the peoples were asphyxiated with economic adjustments. Protests were forbidden and neoliberalism arrived”.
Proceedings of a Pan African meeting organised by Pan Africanism Today in Lusaka. First pubished in the Dawn nwews.