Saturday, February 29, 2020

Africa in Review 2019, Part III: Assessing the Challenges of Imperialism Today
From the sub-continent to the Horn of Africa and the Diaspora, Africans must return to the revolutionary source for victory and renewal

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Political Analysis
Tuesday December 31, 2019

Once again the Republic of South Africa was the center of electoral politics which reinforced the legacy of the national liberation movement while contradictorily the country faced during the same year retrograde undercurrents of division and counter-revolution.

The African National Congress (ANC) has been the ruling party and dominant social force within politics since the country was transformed from settler-colonialism to a democratic state operating within the broader capitalist and imperialist social framework.

There had been much speculation and even longing on the part of many detractors yearning for an ANC defeat at the polls during the elections of 2019. After all votes were cast, the ANC maintained its commanding lead in the National Assembly, provincial governments and local structures guaranteeing another five years as leaders of the executive branch of the state.

Just weeks after the multi-party elections, reports emerged from inside the country saying that Africans born in other parts of the continent were being attacked by mobs in South African urban areas and townships. The degree to which these news stories were circulated internationally fueled the sentiments of Africans in various regions of the continent including the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Zambia.

In apparent retaliation for attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, Nigerians in their own country held demonstrations outside South African-owned retail outlets shutting some of them down. Hostile diplomatic maneuvers were taken by Nigeria in protest against the treatment of their nationals in South Africa.

Yet after the calming of the unrest during early September in South Africa, a sober evaluation of the incidents took place. The most striking fact in the investigations by the law-enforcement authorities and journalists was that no Nigerians were killed in the attacks.

Of the twelve people who died during the days of violence against small-scale private businesses operated by Africans from other states, ten of them were South African nationals and the other two originated from neighboring Zimbabwe. Nonetheless, these objective statistics did not receive the degree of publicity as the initial reports of unbridled targeting of Nigerians in the Republic of South Africa.

An article published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on September 17 says: “No Nigerians were killed in the violence in South Africa, but Nigerian-owned shops and businesses are believed to have been targeted by the mobs. Of the 12 people who were killed, 10 are reported to have been South African nationals and two were from Zimbabwe. Nigeria has been outspoken in its condemnation of the violence. A fortnight ago, it withdrew a delegation from a major international conference taking place in South Africa. Tensions were inflamed after videos and images were shared on social media purporting to show Nigerians being attacked and killed. The Nigerian government said there was no evidence that this had taken place. But it did say that Nigerian-owned businesses had been targeted.” (

Unemployment in South Africa has been officially cited as 29%. There has been a general disinvestment from the country by many transnational corporations since the ANC came to power in 1994. After the ascendancy of the ANC government over a quarter-of-a-century ago, Africans from neighboring states and other regions migrated to South Africa in their hundreds of thousands seeking economic opportunity and the newly-won constitutional freedoms guaranteed by the political dispensation.

Surprisingly as well, only a few hundred Nigerians chose to be repatriated back to their countries of birth. An occupation at a United Nations office in Pretoria by African migrants has been covered by the media in order to highlight the ongoing problems.

The South African government roundly condemned the violence while leaders of both Nigeria and South Africa have held meetings designed to resolve misunderstandings which could lead to future diplomatic problems. Nigeria and South Africa, two of the largest economies on the continent, must work together in harmony to develop strategies for the much championed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) project which aims to bolster inter-state trade and peacekeeping missions.

Meanwhile in the neighboring Republic of Zimbabwe, the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is responding to the continuing economic crisis which has plagued the country since the beginning of the 21st century. The Zimbabwe African National Union, Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) government in 2000 initiated a radical land redistribution program which evicted thousands of European settler farmers from agribusinesses established under the colonial system led by Britain beginning in the late 19th century.

Nonetheless, the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) has rallied to the defense of Zimbabwe in coordinated political actions across the sub-continent in October and at a parliamentary assembly held in Namibia during December. The two decades of draconian sanctions against Zimbabwe by Britain, the United States and the European Union (EU) has laid bare the neo-colonial character of imperialism in the present epoch.

Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan Remain Centers of Struggle over Western Influence and Domination

The nation of Somalia has been a focal point of imperialist intervention over the last four decades resulting in the deaths of untold numbers of its citizens and the direct military invasions and occupations by western countries and their allies in the region. At present a federal government in Mogadishu is largely propped-up by the presence of thousands of African Union Mission Troops to Somalia (AMISOM) which are trained and funded by imperialist states.

Pentagon advisors and commando units maintain an active presence in Somalia on the ground while periodic airstrikes are carried out by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The casualties from these AFRICOM bombing operations are routinely declared by the corporate media to be members of Al-Shabaab, an Islamic resistance group which currently has ties with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. However, there is no verification of the political status of those injured and killed. Such aerial bombings and commando raids only serve to further the anger and alienation by Somalians towards Washington and its surrogates inside the country.

Although the federal government in Somalia has been praised for the stability it has maintained in several cities in the central and southern regions of the country, Al-Shabaab often engages in guerilla truck bomb attacks which kill dozens of civilians and security personnel. A report by Reuters on December 30 capsulizes the regular scenario of events in Somalia: “- Four al Shabaab militants were killed on Sunday in three U.S. air strikes in two locations in Somalia, the U.S. military said on Monday. The air strikes came a day after at least 90 people were killed in a truck bombing at a busy checkpoint in the Somali capital Mogadishu, the deadliest attack in more than two years.”

Somalia as a base for oil exploration and strategic military positioning in the Horn of Africa, the country will remain a focal point for western intrigue. Until a political settlement is reached or an outright military victory against the Islamist guerillas is achieved, Somalia will remain vulnerable to the machinations of imperialist interests.

Also in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in resolving a territorial dispute with neighboring Eritrea. The state visits by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and his Ethiopian counterpart have been of historic proportions since 2018.

However, there are other internal problems inside Ethiopia which could create instability. The need for a delicate political balance between the Tigray, Oromo and Amharic ethnic groups is manifested in the eruption of sporadic violence and the reconfiguration of the ruling political party. Earlier in the year, an ethnic group in the South of the country, the Sidama, voted in a referendum for greater autonomy. A series of attacks on mosques and churches are a reflection of continuing social tensions that warrant the close attention of the federal government in Addis Ababa.

The Republic of Sudan has undergone a political upheaval since December 2018 when demonstrations erupted over the rising price of bread and other consumer goods. Within a matter of weeks, the demands shifted to calls for the removal of the National Congress Party (NCP) government of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir. As the unrest intensified, the military overthrew Bashir announcing the formation of a Transitional Military Council (TMC).

This did not satisfy the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) led primarily by the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA). The broad based coalition continued their sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum until it was violently broken up in early June by the security forces where approximately 100 people were killed.

The political involvement of the Ethiopian government and the AU was instrumental in talks which created an interim Sovereignty Council led by a technocratic Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Even though the uprising in Sudan is labelled as a “Revolution”, it remains to be seen what fundamental changes will occur in relationship to domestic and foreign policy.

One major contradiction is the continuing participation by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in the U.S.-engineered genocidal war in Yemen. There has been an announcement about a reduction of troops from Sudan operating in the Yemeni war. However, the Sovereign Council appears to be committed to its alliance with Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). These Gulf monarchies have pledged several billion dollars in assistance to the administration in Khartoum which is composed of the interim political leadership and the military.

Former President al-Bashir has been held in detention since his removal from office during April when differences with other military officers became irreconcilable. The ousted leader was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing foreign currency. Questions remain over whether al-Bashir will be turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands where outstanding warrants remain related to alleged crimes committed in Darfur during the previous decade. The ICC is a highly controversial institution since its primary focus has been on prosecuting African rebel and governmental leaders. Efforts to conduct an investigation into U.S. activities in Afghanistan were rejected by the institution during 2019 amid threats from Washington that any legal action taken by the ICC would not be honored by the U.S. government.

Internal armed factions based in the Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and other provinces are currently engaged in negotiations with the Sovereign Council. The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) seems to be serious about ending its long-running war with Khartoum in exchange for a possible political role in the future constitutional arrangement.

The political conjuncture in the Republic of Sudan portends much for the future of the Horn of Africa and other contiguous regions. If a genuine political settlement can be reached it will represent a milestone in modern African history. Nonetheless, the social character of an elected Sudanese administration can only be considered revolutionary if it breaks with the legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism. The government would have to reject attempts by the U.S. to bring Sudan even further into the strategic orbit of Washington and Wall Street.

Prospects for Societal Transformation and Anti-Imperialism in Africa

If there are any lessons to be learned from the political unrest in North Africa and other regions of the continent during the previous decade, it is the realization that imperialism has not retreated from its mission to dominant the land, waterways, resources and human capital of the African continent and other geo-political areas globally. In order for poverty to be eradicated and genuine development to occur, the political leadership of the AU member-states must be geared towards the building of a social existence independent of western capitalist influence.

These questions related to which philosophical approach is required for a real revolutionary movement to take root are political, economic and ideological. 2019 represented an historical marker related to the origins of the colonial underdevelopment of Africa and its people.

2019 was designated as the “Year of Return” for Africans removed from the continent through the Atlantic Slave Trade. In the U.S., the first 20 enslaved Africans under British colonialism arrived on the shores of Virginia during August of 1619. The U.S. government is the ideological and political heir of British monarchical rule.

Although Africans were enslaved prior to 1619 by the Spanish colonialists in Florida during the 1500s, the war of independence from Britain in the late 18th century, signaled the eventual dominance by the European Americans of the geographic territory now known as the U.S. The struggle of the African people in North America, the Caribbean, Central America and South America has been integral part of the overall African revolutionary struggle throughout the globe.

Thousands of people of African descent born in North America and the Caribbean traveled to Ghana during 2019 at the invitation of the government in Accra. Several hundred of these Africans have been granted dual citizenship by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a highly publicized ceremony.

Ironically enough, Akufo-Addo comes out of a political tradition in Ghana which staunchly opposed the revolutionary Pan-Africanism of the founder of the modern state in Africa, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Under President Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP) administration, extending in its various forms from 1951 to 1966, the major foreign policy objective of the state was the realization of a United States of Africa under socialism. In fact, Nkrumah was removed from office at the aegis of the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) due to his administration’s anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and socialist orientation.

The unification of Africa still remains the only viable hope for revolutionary transformation on the continent and among those living in the Diaspora. Creating and building organizations and institutions which champion this objective provides the correct Line of March for those seeking a better world for the whole of humanity.  

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