This year, 2008, marks fifty years since the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana conveyed the first conference of independent African states in Accra in 1958. At the time much of Africa was still under direct colonial domination and there were very few of the independent states of Africa that were present. But the 1958 Accra conference apart from the fact that it re-invigorated the desperate desires of the colonized people of Africa to free ourselves from colonial domination was also to become one of the greatest efforts and contributions made by Kwame Nkrumah towards the total liberation of Africa and the unification of the continent under an all-African socialist government.
It has been fifty years since that historic conference and several attempts and processes have and are still being undertaken both at national, regional and international levels to unify Africa and liberate our people from the parasitic relationship with imperialism and capitalism. The 1963 Addis Ababa conference, which laid the foundation for the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), whose name has been changed to the African Union, perhaps represented the climax of efforts initiated in the 1950s and 1960s towards the unification of Africa.
I don’t think it is necessary for us to re-emphasize the fact that the process, which actually resulted into the formation of the OAU, the organization that preceded the African Union, was not exactly and truly rooted in the hopes of Nkrumah and the other progressives of his type for continental unity and total liberation of Africa from imperialist domination.
This is why some of us hold the view that current attempts and efforts by some of the heads of states of the current micro states in Africa as reflected in the activities of the African Union cannot possibly result into some kind of arrangement that would unite the continent both politically and economically. It is our view that the total liberation and unification of Africa cannot be actualized without an organization from below; an organization whose responsibility is to mobilize and organize the broader sector of the Africa masses led by the workers in alliance with the peasants in the struggle for the revolutionary transformation of Africa and our unification under an all African socialist government.
This task itself requires a correct theoretical and ideological understanding that is rooted in a scientific analysis of our conditions of existence at all levels of development. A sad thing that has occurred following the defeat of the African liberation movement in Africa and other places by the end of the ‘60s is the notion that the struggle was over. With the murder of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, the overthrow of Nkrumah in Ghana, the assassination of Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau, the shooting of Malcolm X and the defeat of the Black Panther Party in the United States, Africa and African people were robbed of leadership and seemingly left at the mercy of imperialism and the exploitative tendencies of capitalism. This defeat has been reinforced by the notion that Africa is now independent and African people are in charge of our own affairs. It was like history was complete and there was no reason or point to struggle anymore.
Today the so-called postcolonial realities in Africa itself have challenged the ability of the African to independently run our own affairs. It appears that the years of so-called independence have meant absolutely nothing. It is no figurative terms to say that the conditions of Africa and of African people have not changed with the transition to so-called independence. Some of our people are even arguing that we were better off under colonialism than now. If this is the case we have to ask ourselves the following questions: what was wrong with the anti-colonial movement and the struggle of the ‘60s? Why is it that with fifty years of so-called independence, Africa still faces some of the most devastating challenges and problems in the world? What is responsible for the numerous socio-economic and political contradictions that continue to threaten peace, growth and development on the continent? And why has continental unity seemingly become an illusion and almost non-accomplishable task?
These are among the many questions that the first West Africa regional conference of the African Socialist International seeks to answer. Providing answers to these questions, we believe, will give us an understanding of the historical circumstances of our own existence and what is responsible for the innumerable problems confronting us. It will at the same time inform us of our collective responsibility as a people to overcome these conditions and establish a future for our children and generations yet unborn.
It is true that African people are a struggling people and we continue to struggle on every front that we are located to affect meaningful and productive change in the conditions that have been forced upon us by imperialism and neocolonialism. While there exists genuine forces and groups on the continent and beyond committed to the complete liberation of the masses, it is obvious that the absence of an international revolutionary movement of African workers has seriously affected our capacity to organize and handle a holistic revolutionary programme at all levels of struggle. This poses a serious difficulty for most movements and individuals sincerely struggling to enhance the takeover of our resources and ultimately facilitate the unification of Africa.
This limitation has manifested itself in different forms ranging from absence of or limited resources, inadequate political education, limited training, ill-equipped revolutionary ventures and general inexperience and limited exposure to theory and discourse among African revolutionaries.
This is the most significant gap that the African Socialist International, founded by Comrade Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party in the United States, sets to address. The vision of the African Socialist International is rooted in the work of Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Lumumba and many patriots of Africa.
It is significant for us to note that this conference is occurring at a crucial moment in history; a period when the entire capitalist economy is faced with tremendous crisis and great uncertainties about its ability to survive. It is pertinent for us to understand that this ongoing crisis of imperialism, the collapse of the global capitalist economy, is one that has been made obvious by the rising resistance of the oppressed masses of the world who are ever desirous to break free from the parasitic chains of capitalism. All around the world, from Latin America to Asia in the Middle East and the pacific, capitalism is being challenged by the struggles of the oppressed masses. We are faced with a defining moment in history, a moment, which demands from us our collective effort and contribution as a people to further deepen this crisis of imperialism and accelerate the death of capitalism. Africa must not assume a passive role in this world historical process. The struggle for socialism should be understood from the position of a genuine struggle for popular democracy and creation of a new world in the hands of the workers and poor peasants. Africa must move to the position of once again becoming subject of history rather than an object of history. This is the opportunity presented to us by the first West Africa regional conference of the African Socialist International.
Our task today is to unite and consolidate our separate efforts into an international process and organization capable of providing us the tactics and strategies necessary to deepen the current crisis of capitalism and forward the uncompromising liberation and unification of Africa and African people around the world.
The is why we believe that African revolutionaries, progressives and individuals committed to the struggle for African unity and liberation must commence discussions geared towards adopting the international strategy and theory of African internationalism as the guiding philosophy and principle for the actualization of the vision for a free, united socialist Africa.
It is my hope that by the time we come out of this conference we should be able to come up with concrete recommendations to forward the uncompromising liberation and unification of Africa and African people around the world and adopt a comprehensive Plan of Action for building and consolidating the African Socialist International (ASI) in Africa and around the world.
The West Africa conference is part of a series of meetings scheduled between now and next year in all the regions of the continent to pull together forces that will participate in the work to build and consolidate the African Socialist International in Africa and other parts of the world. It is our projection that by December 2009, we should have the ASI in every place that Africa people are located. As I speak, the work to pull together the Southern Africa Regional Conference of the African Socialist International has already commenced. It is our hope that those of you present here today could equally find time to participate in that conference as well.
At this juncture, let me express my profound appreciation to all of you for attending this historically significant event and for being a part of the process to liberate and unite our people and our Africa.
Let me also congratulate the Comrades in the Africanist Movement for taking upon the arduous task of hosting this huge conference. This is surely a victory against our detractors and enemies of the revolution. It is a major step towards the realization of our objective. As Director of the Africanist Movement, my strength and determination to struggle has always been made possible through the unshaken courage, zeal and commitments of all of you to the total liberation and unification of our people. Let us build on these enviable qualities and continue to work assiduously for the future of our people. It is surely a Herculean and difficult task we have set for ourselves but there is nothing more pleasurable to do than the work to create a better future for generations yet unborn. Victory is ours and we will surely win!
Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt of a Speech made at the First West Africa Regional Conference of the African Socialist International held in Freetown October 20-22, 2008.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.