Burning Spear News
Africa at war with Parasitic Capitalism
African workers being exploited by the largest sugar factory in the Central African Republic in Ngakobo
Since the assault on Africa began in 1415 by marauders from Christendom, which would later become known as Europe, the continent has never known a single day of genuine peace on our own terms.
From a land of free people, from a cradle of humanity and civilisation, Africa has been turned into an enslaved continent with the primary task of producing life and wealth for the European invaders, kidnappers and looters.
This feudal European attack is different from the attacks by ancient Romans, Greeks, Western Asians and all other groups who attacked Africa before 1415, because they did not result in the creation of a global capitalist parasitic system as we know it.
The Europe that attacked us was not a capitalist Europe; it was a feudal Europe, where the main contradiction in society was between the nobility or aristocratic class and the serf class. Although the latter was not owned by the former, most of what the serfs produced was owned by the nobility. In feudal society, the king claimed that his rule came from God.
Europeans did not come to Africa to export capitalism and democracy, which did not exist. Nor did they come to impart benevolent Christian morality, which also did not exist.
Europe was characterised by generalised despotism, where women were routinely burned on allegations of being witches or similar backward stuff. Democratic values were alien to feudal Europe when they assaulted Africa.
Europe came to Africa seeking wealth through wars of conquest and looting
Several decades before the ‘discovery’ and assault of the Americas by looters and thieves from Europe disguised as explorers, Africa was already bleeding under European attacks. By 1452, as Hugh Thomas explains, Africans were being kidnapped and brought to Madeira, Portugal, for sugar production:
“Portuguese sugar plantations had ever fulfilled their promise. Now Madeira seemed the best alternative. Well-watered terraces were therefore built, some by guanche slaves, from Tenerife; and Africans slaves were introduced there at much the same time in this Atlantic island. As would happen in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean 200 years later, the earlier established farmers of others crops were driven into bankruptcy”.[i]
This attack on Africa 600 years ago announced the birth of European imperialism, a process which would develop fully into what is commonly referred to as capitalism; or as Marx noted: “… the discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins…”[ii]
Chairman Omali Yeshitela and the African People’s Socialist Party have been arguing for decades that capitalism did not develop to later on become imperialist––it is the other way round.
We are clear that ours is a struggle to end the parasitic relationship that has been imposed on us some 600 years ago:
“Would capitalism and the resultant European wealth and African impoverishment have occurred without the European attack, its division, African slavery and dispersal, colonialism and neo-colonialism? No! No! No! A thousand times no!”[iii]
Europe imposed a new but deadly relationship with Africa, where nothing comes out of Africa peacefully. Up to this very moment, every natural resource that comes out of our black workers’ hands or that comes out of Africa is a bloodletting process; it is an antagonistic process to our right to life.
The violence that dominates African people’s lives everywhere on the planet is a direct continuation of the assault on Africa that started some 600 years ago. This is the origin of the relationship between today’s white oppressor nation and the oppressed African nation.
European imperialism captured, distorted and fragmented our African identity
The identities we carry today in most parts of the world are part of the historical assault on Africa and African people. Imperialism’s assault captured, colonised, distorted and fragmented our African identity in every way possible.
Look at the different despicable names we have been called by our oppressors: nigger, mulatto, coon, macaque, kaffir, etc. Or look at the different false nationalities imposed on us: Afro-American, Brazilian, South African, Black British, Afro-Swedish, Creole, Nigerian, Cameroonian, Caribbean, mixed-race, instead of one African people.
All these nationalities are falsifications of our history and of the truth. They hide the relation of oppressor and oppressed that exists between African people and imperialist oppressors.
We are African people wherever we are located; we suffer the same way, and the masses of African people will never know freedom again unless we recognise that one essential condition for black people to retrieve our freedom is to achieve self-determination as a united people in a united Africa.
Struggles for civil rights have shown their limitations in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. Neo-colonialism everywhere in Africa is an embarrassment of titanic scale.
When we speak of being Africans, we are not solely referring to biology––though we all are connected to Africa. We are speaking about a shared historical, political and social reality; just as ‘European’ is a political definition that represents the historical, social and political privileges of a certain group of people that has access to and benefits from dominant structures and institutions of society.
Chairman Omali defines the African nation as:
“… a community of people with core identity based on historical ties to the equatorial continent of black Africa, creating a common culture, history, physiognomy (physical features of an ethnic group). All Africans on the continent of Africa, all African people everywhere who have been forcibly dispersed through slavery and colonialism, all with a sense of sameness with Africa, who because of skin color face poverty and oppression, Dalit in India, Indigenous of Australia, Asia-Pacific Islanders and Europeans, Arabs, Indians and others living in Africa who commit national suicide, unite with the African working class and abandon allegiance to predatory, colonial relationship to African people”.[iv]
In the words of Chairman Omali:
“Our revolutionary struggle for liberation, unification and socialism in Africa, throughout the colonies and other areas of the world to which we have been forcibly dispersed in the construction of capitalism, will prove to be as significant in the defeat of the capitalist social system as the slave trade was in its advent”.[v]
A worldwide African revolution is necessary to end worldwide parasitic capitalism
It will take a revolution to change our relationship with all the imperialist States which dominate our lives. There is no exception in that. Imperialism was born at the expense of the lives and the right to life of African people everywhere.
The primary role of every imperialist State is to maintain the foundation of the imperialist system itself, which means the relation of oppressor and oppressed nations across the planet.
The current U.S.-funded occupation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Haiti, the split of Sudan, the war in Darfur, the military aggression against Libya and overthrow of Kaddafi, and the AfriCom military occupation are all part of the same desperate imperialist effort trying to sustain itself at the expense of Africa.[vi]
Africom is a U.S. imperialist military plan to achieve hegemonic control over African natural resources. This means conducting regimes change, overthrowing governments that are in favour of China or willing to fight for genuine independence etc.
The AfriCom website is explicit that it encompasses the whole of Africa––North, South, East, West and Central regions.[vii]
It is worth reminding readers that Africom played a key role in the co-ordination of the war and aggression that overthrew Mouammar Kaddafi in 2011.
The wealth enjoyed by corporations dealing in electronics, in the tradition of parasitic capitalism, come at the expense of the African people of the Democratic Republic of Congo where at least 6,000,000 (six million) people have died because of wars and neocolonial conditions imposed on us by the U.S. and its allies of oppressor nations––and the bourgeois press and society do not care about that.[viii]
These wars are looting enterprises to facilitate the cheap extraction of strategic minerals like coltan needed by Apple, Microsoft and other companies to make smart phones, Xboxes and other modern electronic gadgets etc. This extraction is nothing but modern-day slavery, where people work in appalling conditions, including dire health hazards, and are paid almost nothing. Furthermore, many of these exploited labourers are women and children.
Following a visit to coltan mines in the Congo, on 22 October 2015 The Mail Online filed a report which shows how the DRC is looted by foreign multinationals:
“After their haul is weighed and classified, miners are paid $5 (£3.35) a day for the back-breaking work to dig out the precious mineral that powers our $500 (£335) smartphones.
But with a minimum wage set at $3 (£2.00) a day in the DRC, the 1,400-strong work force at Luwow are prepared to endure the gruelling and sometimes dangerous conditions.
“Manufacturers Apple, who make iPhones, and Samsung Electronics, who make the Galaxy, admit they use coltan mined in the DRC to make the smartphones that fuel our 24-7 lifestyle.
“And Apple says it will continue to do so.
‘Apple remains committed to driving economic development and creating opportunities to source conflict-free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjoining countries,’ Apple told the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in February this year (2015).
“Apple says its suppliers must adhere to its code that: “every worker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect”.
“Samsung says it “recognises the seriousness of human rights violations and environmental pollution problems of mineral mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.[ix]
Black revolution is also against the African petty bourgeoisie, the enemy within
From Barack Obama in the U.S., to Paul Kagame in Rwanda or Jacob Zuma in South Africa, there are many representatives of the African petty bourgeoisie. These are the individuals (with their close cronies) that lead the collusion of the African petty bourgeoisie with parasitical capitalism to secure their own material comfort and political power at the expense of African working classes and poor peasants everywhere.
The African petty bourgeoisie emerged as a significant player after World War II weakened European imperialism. They are the ones who organised and led the struggles against direct colonialism everywhere in Africa. They were conscious that independence meant emancipation of the African petty bourgeoisie class and status quo for African working class and peasantry class.
In the Congo, the leadership of Lumumba was demanding that independence must transform the conditions of the people. Status quo was not an option. He said, “Between slavery and freedom, there is no compromise.”[x] That is why it became necessary for the imperialists to attack Lumumba and his government.
Mobutu, a former member of Lumumba’s Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), and after being promoted from sergeant to colonel in the army by Lumumba, turned against him and carried out the 14 September 1960 neocolonial coup that brought down Lumumba’s government.
Later, at the end of the Cold War following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, Mobutu was no longer needed. So the U.S. intervened to remove the man who had served them so well for 32 years. The following quote provides clarity on the motives for regime change in the Congo in 1997:
“The geopolitical stakes of the international mining companies in the DRC, therefore, constituted the critical basis for the overthrow of Mobutu. So as the regional quest to remove Mobutu ripened, based on security concerns and ambitions for a Tutsi empire, mining conglomerates found the appropriate alliance with Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda to lead a military campaign to oust the Congolese despot. The alliance also, very critically, entailed the involvement of multinational companies that were directly linked to high ranking politicians from western countries. The two main new Anglo-American mining conglomerates that stood at the heart of this alliance were American Mineral Fields Inc. (AMFI) and Barrick Gold Corporation…AMFI is based in Hope, Arkansas, and chaired by Mike McMurrough, said to be a personal friend of former U.S. president Bill Clinton...AMFI directly financed the (Alliance of Democratic Forces of Liberation) AFDL’s military campaign to remove Mobutu by, for example, putting at the disposal of Kabila its hired corporate jet. In return AMFI secured the copper-zinc mine at Kipushi in Katanga (Shaba) province…an Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) report which revealed that Barrick Gold Corporation, headed by former US president George H.W. Bush and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, was also formed just before the outbreak of the AFDL rebellion. Nabudere argues that the invasion of eastern Congo by the combined forces of Rwanda and Uganda behind the AFDL rebels ... prepared for a take-over of Congo’s gold rich eastern territory by Barrick Gold Corporation.[xi]
The African petty bourgeoisie today relies on the same structures born out of our enslavement and colonisation; they depend on the same colonial State apparatus and colonial systems––particularly ‘divide and conquer’––to repress the people.
The advent of China in Africa has given the African petty bourgeoisie an alternative to white imperialist bourgeoisie, but it has not created an alternative for the people whose conditions of living continue to deteriorate without any let up.
Seduced and personally rewarded by the colonising governments and corporations, the corrupted African elites unite with Sarkozy to attack Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire; they unite with Obama and Cameron to destroy Kaddafi; they would join the BRICS, China, Francophonie, Commonwealth or Africom, anything except building our own power.
They are opposed to the vision of Lumumba, Nkrumah and Garvey to unite the African nation. And to confuse our people, in 1963 these elites created the useless Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later changed to the African Union (AU) in 2002.[xii] The OAU or the AU, none of them has ever done anything for the people. It was born a neocolonial organisation despite the drive and integrity of Kwame Nkrumah, whose vision of one independent and unified Africa was fought against by the likes of Nyerere, Houphouet-Boigny, Senghor and other African petty bourgeois comprador and bureaucratic leaders.
A call to unite
African workers in every country and the black community must organise under the banner of African Internationalism and the African Socialist International (ASI) in order to wrest power away from the African petty bourgeoisie and usher in a phase of revolutionary struggle to, once and for all, defeat parasitic capitalism.
We lost our freedom as a people, we would regain our freedom as a people.
All power to the people.
Black power to African workers!
Luwezi Kinshasa, born in the Congo, is the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party-UK. He is also the Secretary General of the African Socialist International. Kinshasa is based in London and has spoken throughout Europe, the U.S., Europe and Africa for the liberation and reunification of Africa and African people worldwide
[i] Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade (London: Picador, 1997) p. 70.
[ii] Karl Marx, Capital (London: J.M Dent & Sons, 1934).
[iii] Omali Yeshitela, An Uneasy Equilibrium (St. Petersburg, FL: Burning Spear Publications, 2015) p. 63.
[iv] Yeshitela, op.cit., pp. 145-146.
[v] ibid., Yeshitela, p. 127.
[vi] The US itself is, of course, a pirate nation – an ongoing European and settler occupation of indigenous lands.
[vii] “A full-spectrum combatant command, U.S. AFRICOM is responsible for all U.S. Department of Defence operations, exercises, and security cooperation on the African continent, its island nations, and surrounding waters. AFRICOM began initial operations on Oct. 1, 2007, and officially became an independent command on Oct. 1, 2008.” http://www.africom.mil/.
[viii] Owen Jones, ‘Let’s be honest. We ignore Congo’s atrocities because it’s in Africa’, The Guardian, 6 March 2105, London.
[ix] Nick Fagge, ‘Picks, pans and bare hands: How miners in the heart of Africa toil in terrible conditions to extract the rare minerals that power your iPhone’, MailOnline, 22 October 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3280872/iPhone-mineral-miners-Africa-use-bare-hands-coltan.html.
[x] Jean Van Lierde (ed.), Lumumba Speaks: The Speeches and Writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972). See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/1959-patrice-lumumba-african-unity-and-national-independence#sthash.9aoi7yeR.dpuf.
[xi] Sagaren Naidoo (ed.), ‘The War Economy in the Democratic Republic of Congo’, Institute for Global Dialogue, Occasional Paper no. 37, 2003, p. 6. http://www.igd.org.za/jdownloads/Occasional%20Papers/op_37_chapter_1.pdf.
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