Pambazuka News 868: The “Anglophone Crisis” and elite politics   

The rise of Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia and the revival of Africa’s short memory of hate are inseparably linked.

Although participation in “bourgeois politics”—as we used to call electoral politics—has never been absent from the Nigerian Left’s general programme, it has also not been made a “categorical imperative”. I am, however, now persuaded that it has become generally accepted in the ranks of contemporary Nigerian Leftists that intervention and participation in the country’s electoral struggle—for office or for power, as an organised political force and in alliance or acting separately—have become both categorical and urgent. 

The author examines the current socio-economic and political situation of Mozambique after 43 years of the country's independence from Portugal. 

President Paul Biya of Cameroon has been silent for long in relation to the on-going unrest in the country's English speaking region. His silence has made matters worse and it is time he took decisive measure to resolve that crisis if he wants history to remember him after his nearly 40 years in power. 

The on-going state-building efforts in Somalia require a leader who is genuinely patriotic, competent in post-conflict statecraft, and conscious of the social ills stoking conflict, violence, and divisions in the country and who is willing to cooperate with other actors in those state-building efforts. 

Pambazuka News 867: The BRICS summit returns to South Africa 

Ethiopia is a rising star among anti-gay countries in Africa as it continues to push for new legislation to further crackdown on the LGBTQ community. The country is a place where homophobia thrives and discrimination against sexual minorities is state-sponsored.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will meet in Johannesburg from 25-27 July 2018 for the 10th BRICS Summit. Prior to the Summit a number of other BRICS dialogues are taking place, including the Business Council, Academic Forum, Civil BRICS and BRICS Youth. BRICS Youth was set up in 2013 to put youth voices on the BRICS agenda and to promote and popularise BRICS amongst young people ages 15-34 in each country. 

It was with deep sorrow that I was rudely confronted on 25th April 2018 by the news of the demise of my mentor, Professor Adebayo Adedeji, the quintessential development expert who held sway at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) from 1975 to 1991.

Ideas we have been told, rule the world. Some ideas could start as being ridiculous or laughable, and then they become global success stories. Like electricity, like rail travel, like air travel, and Facebook, and Twitter, they all started as abstract ideas in the heads of some folks with unusual thoughts. Sometimes, I would marvel at the 21st century leaps of technology and would wonder how we had been able to fare for so long without them. Ideas come as answers to questions raised with the intention of solving problems. 

On 8 June 2018, Julius Malema of South Africa and Jefferson Koijee of Liberia were pictured on social media in a meeting the details of which are not yet public. However, social media reactions from young political enthusiasts across the continent have suggested that the two firebrand politicians discussed issues common to their struggles and potential opportunities for exchange of experiences, practices, and strategies in revolutionary engagements. 

With ever-rising interest on loans in South Africa, there are growing calls to create community banks that use the "profits" to the benefit of community members, and not to continue enriching billionaire bank executives. 

Antigua and Barbuda is an eastern Caribbean nation, which is a federation of two islands that were former British colonies that became independent in 1981. Barbuda following Hurricane Irma in 2017 had most of its infrastructure destroyed. Most Barbudans now live as refugees on the island of Antigua. 

The author offers a personal assessment of the state of politics in South Africa, just a few months leading to the 2019 national and provincial elections

There are renewed calls for an independent state of Igbo people, but what form would Biafra of 2018 look like? The author shares his thinking. 

The rapper Ewok captured the spirit of progressive social forces in South Africa with his condemnation of [BRICS] elite politics at a March 2013 protest outside the Durban International Convention Centre, South Africa: “You dropping BRICS from above? We’re throwing bricks from below!”

On 14 June 2018, the South African police fired rubber bullets at protestors, injuring five and arresting nine in Limpopo province. Another day and another protest is no longer newsworthy, especially if no one is killed and those arrested can be easily forgotten, as the wheels of the overburdened court system turn ever so slowly.  

Last month’s approval of a New Development Bank loan of US $200 million to expand the Durban container port occurred without the Sandton-based bankers doing adequate consultation or analysis. This is not only unacceptable in a democratic society, especially for such an important and controversial project. It also makes mockery of claims the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc acts differently than arrogant Washington bankers.

As the heat picks up around BRICS 2018, chaired by South Africa, debate from the BRICS Think Tank and from the left is coming to the boil as to the value of BRICS participatory processes. Patrick Bond’s critique of the BRICS Think Tank and Academic Forum meetings held at the Sandton Convention Centre between the 28th and 31st of May is that the lack of critical commentary on BRICS state corruption, amongst many other factors, “reflect(s) servility to local power” (Pambazuka, 31 May). 

Pambazuka News 866: Remembering Rodney and decolonising the academy 

Life is more than big houses, luxury cars and individual liberties. All these things have their place in life, but our being on this planet is for humanity. Life without love, compassion and humanity is not worth living even if one had all the riches that the so-called modern countries can offer. 

The hard-core warmongers aren’t happy with the just completed Kim-Trump Singapore summit. The warmongers love warmongering and war as these increase their amount and rate of profit. Reactions to the latest diplomatic development in the Korea region speak this love. The warmongers feel pain as they find Kim, the North Korean leader, in a favourable position. Hence, to this group, the summit is a failure.

The election, on 1 June 2018, of a Woman Representative of the Rukungiri District, South Western Uganda from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change was a big blow to the ruling National Resistance Movement. Was this just an ordinary by-election that went wrong for the ruling party or there is more to worry about? In any case, President Museveni's party needs to do some soul-searching. 

The summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and his US counterpart Donald Trump in Singapore has drawn the attention of the international community given DPRK’s long tradition of struggle against imperialist military intervention.

Hillary Clinton, former Democratic presidential candidate, former senator and former first lady of the country, claimed that, “The US democracy is facing threat”. Thence, there’s no scope to consider the cautionary signal in a casual way.

The rising gap between the top rich including chief executive officers of private banks whose salaries are beyond imagination and the majority who are very poor in South Africa is worrying. The culture of greed capitalism has to stop to avoid a national catastrophe. 

The political terrain in Nigeria, today has two colossal parties—PDP and APC—vying for power at the national level. However, it appears to be merely déjà vu as the binary trend has had similar appearances in Nigeria’s chequered history and experiment with democratic politics. Indeed, they have all been alignments and realignments of Nigeria’s ruling elite classes.

Mozambique, a country with a long history of military and political instability, faces on-going economic and political uncertainty. Economically, it continues to be profoundly impacted by the negative consequences of the so-called “hidden loans”. Politically, the sudden death of Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Resistência Nacional de Moçambique (RENAMO), and the emergence of what is being called “Islamic radicalism” in the northern part of the country cast doubt upon Mozambique’s prospects to live under full peace and stability. 

The severed head lay on the side of its face, and Jide was looking into a sinewy aperture with goo. He couldn’t see the eyes: he saw just bloodied vessels, ribbon muscles and things a biology major would have been thrilled to identify. Gooey sinews, veins and stringy things flamed out perpendicular to a protruding greyish white, and waxy-looking lifeless tongue. Because the head was so close, he could not tell if the congealing deep red-brown blood streaks on the earthen floor, on which they lay were his. He knew he had been hit hard on the skull and could feel a gash in his head. Then there was the overpowering stench that dazed him. It woke him up.

The American Conservative Organisations and Religious Establishments sent a open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed about the World Bank's case of racism against Dr. Yonas Biru and Black employees in the Bank. 

People want more than what is on offer with the now decayed, mostly elitist and self-constructed “choice” between models, writes Dale T McKinley.

Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, which is currently running, was born on 29 May 1999—with Olusegun Obasanjo as inaugural executive president. A year later, on 29 May 2000, the president proclaimed 29 May of every year Nigeria’s “Democracy Day”. The day was also added to the list of the country’s national public holidays. It was a unilateral executive decision—by which I mean that neither the proclamation of “Democracy Day” nor the declaration of public holiday was endorsed, before the acts, by the constitution or any legislative body or any other institution of the Nigerian state or any organised public opinion.

This article is a critical-theoretical reflection on a graduate programme at Makerere University – the Interdisciplinary PhD in Social Studies at Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR).  

Thirty-eight years have passed since Walter Rodney was assassinated in Guyana on 13 June 1980 in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city, but his legacy lives on beyond his home-country. 

Pambazuka News 865: Working people’s demands 

South African academics and think tanks met on 28-31 May 2018 for deliberations leading to the July 2018 BRICS heads of state summit to be hosted by South Africa. Most of these scholars believe that the BRICS countries offer an alternative to Western imperialism, but the author argues that they are seriously wrong. 

I would like to preface this piece with the following four declarations: One: My dominant interest in Election 2019 is the strengthening of the Nigerian Left in the country’s electoral and non-electoral politics. That is the only real change that can take place and that Nigerian masses deserve. Two: By the Left I mean the aggregate of socialism and popular democracy. This historical-ideological-political tendency is both anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist in orientation and logic. Three: Nigerian Leftism in the present historical epoch goes beyond being a “weapon of criticism”. It is also a programme of liberation. Four: The effectiveness of Left political interventions depends, to a large extent, on Leftists’ understanding of what is actually happening. This is an elementary service the Left owes itself. None of these declarations is new. They are only being pulled together for this piece.

Leaving wage and expropriation of farms where workers are abused should be an answer to farm workers plight.

There are many international legal instruments that outlaw child labour. However, there are more than 250 million children in the world who are involved in child labour because of various reasons including poverty in families that force children to work to help their families and weak labour laws that do not punish sectors benefiting from child labour among other reasons. The author discusses about other reasons, consequences of child labour and offers a number of recommendations to end that cruel practice. 

The Africa Liberation Day is held amid on-going struggles against imperialist militarism and economic exploitation. 

With claims that the South African Federation of Trade Unions is planning to embark on a two-day strike to intensify the struggle against the recent proposed amendments to Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the National Minimum Wage Bill, it is a good time to examine the social conditions and the factors on which a mass strike can be born in the new phase of the struggle. 

The Nelson Mandela Centenary will be making headlines around the world on 18 July. But 50 years ago, Mandela was in prison and the African National Congress was virtually defunct within South Africa. Instead, it was a students’ organisation that reignited the struggle against apartheid. 

As the world commemorates the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx, the author reminds us of how this great German political philosopher was and still is a divisive figure on all sides of the political divide. 

African farmers are facing serious challenges because of increased engineering of seeds and the determination of leading global agro-chemical corporations to dominate the African agricultural sector. 

The article tells us how on-going debates about stolen African artefacts, in particular those from Ethiopia, and held in Western museums, have divided opinions of policy-makers in Europe. 

Pambazuka News 864: Decolonising African minds

In my other article, titled “Achebe versus Obasanjo, Danjuma and Agbese”, I argued that bad political leadership is primarily responsible for the failed state of Nigeria, not corruption as many would like us believe. The duty of this article is to present some of the generally approved qualities of good political leadership and apply them on Nigeria’s past and present presidents and heads of state to see if the findings corroborate this position. It may also assist us to understand why Nigeria has remained underdeveloped since 1960 despite the huge resources available for its development.

This paper deals with the misrecognition of the Black student in institutions of higher education and their experiences. It will argue that the misrecognition of Black students in higher education and Black people in general, is not a mistake, but a deliberate consequence of the historically-evolved-globalised project of white supremacy, which has its basis in anti-Blackness. And that the Black student activists of today ought to continue the centuries-old fight of extricating Afrika from the talons of foreign domination. 

The author offers a detailed analysis on how to decolonise African minds and to fight against neo-colonialism, not only in South Africa, but also across Africa. 

Using the case of South Africa, the author argues that Black people cannot be racists, as racism is system that employs various means of production for domination, many of which Black people do not possess. 

Pan-African News Wire Editor Abayomi Azikiwe interviews Brazilian woman artist Marcela Florido on a range of issues including race, gender and identity as well as on her recent work on Lamu Island, Kenya. 

In this article, the author believes that South Africa's current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is serving the interests of the British Empire and its capitalist allies and not those of his people, especially Black people who overwhelmingly support the ruling African National Congress. 

The piece relates that, at times, Africans are not invited to debates, conferences and other key platforms on Africa-China relations even though the topic is about Africa’s and Africans’ relations with China and Chinese.

Great Lakes Journal of Strategic African Studies (GLJSAS) is an interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary journal that addresses crosscutting issues of strategic significance for Africa, with special focus on (but not limited to) the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa.  These two regions are of great geopolitical significance, much as they are also home to some of the most complex political and ethnic conflicts the world has experienced.  

The author offers his views on how to solve the current socio-economic and political problems currently preventing Zambia from achieving its potential. 

The authors use the example of the working class in Argentina to demonstrate how social movements and working people can create alternative models of production that serve the interests of people and not of those of capitalism. 

The debate on fulfilling the National Democratic Revolution continues in preparation for the 2019 elections in South Africa. 

Nigeria has many problems, but the root cause of all of them is poor leadership and not corruption, as some commentators including a former head of state would like us believe.  

The article uses the Eco Marxist perspective to look at deforestation and the impact it has on Earth in terms of soil erosion, air pollution and the threat it places on plant and animal life.

An opportunity for women leaders in South Sudan, Africa and the world to celebrate, May 25th by coming together and co-creating solutions for lasting peace in South Sudan. PDF

Pambazuka News 863: People power and on-going struggles

This paper offers an aspirational and prescriptive analysis to the the current political trajectory that Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the new prime minister of Ethiopia, has embarked on, as a young, dynamic, forwarding looking, and Pan-African, peace and security analyst. However, it is too early to tell what his political and economic performance will be in the years to come, as Ethiopia remains an enigmatic polity that defies clear-cut categorisation and conceptualisation. 

I never thought that getting my new book reviewed would prove as hard as it has turned out to be.  Don’t get me wrong; I was not expecting the ranks of the corporate media to descend en masse chez moi, begging for review copies and interviews with yours truly.

Social media has been abuzz of late with responses to comments that rapper Kanye West made during a radio interview in which he opined that slavery was a “choice” for slaves. The vast majority of social media users, who weighed in on this topic, including a host of celebrities, came out strongly against West and either sought to dismiss these comments by attributing them to his allegedly unbalanced mental state or to educate him on how horrible the system of slavery was. Ergo, it was not a choice.

This piece is a memo to the Nigerian Left. In an ideal situation, on account of the importance I attach to the subject, the document would have appeared, first, as an internal memo to an appropriate organ of the movement. For the same reason of importance, it would not have stopped at the organ or leadership level. The memo would have passed to the movement as a whole and, thereafter, to the public. 

Fake news, propaganda, public relations, advertising — it goes by many names, but at the core of all these terms, is the idea that powerful institutions, primarily governments and corporations, strive to manipulate our understanding of world affairs. The most effective such shaping of opinion is invisible and therefore unquestioned.

Kwame Nkrumah’s loyal and long-standing literary executive, June Milne passed away on 9 May 2018 at the age of 98. Of Australian origin, June was a staunch Pan-Africanist and committed to Nkrumah and ensuring his prolific writings were published. As Nkrumah grew ill in Guinea-Conakry where he lived following the coup of 24 February 1966 that ousted him from power, he wrote his will entrusting June Milne with the publication of all his writings. She took up this task with utmost quiet and steely diligence for almost 50 years.

19-year-old Noura Hussein was sentenced to death on 10 Thursday by a court in Sudan. The court found her guilty of murder after she killed her “husband” in self-defence. She had been forced to marry him by her father and when she refused to consummate the marriage, the man came with a group of relatives who held her down while he violently raped her. He returned the next day to rape Noura again and in the struggle he was fatally stabbed.

On 11 May 2018, more than two hundred people occupied unused land in Germiston, on the East Rand in Gauteng, South Africa. We laid out our design for the occupation in the afternoon, built throughout the night and slept on the occupied land. Around 350 stands have been marked out via a democratic and carefully planned process. The new occupation has been named the Zikode Extension in honour of S’bu Zikode.

In March 2018, Awaaz carried an article by Ramnik Shah titled “Jayaben Desai: A Legend”. I don’t know how many people in East Africa and beyond read this excellent homage to Jayaben.  I take the occasion of the celebration of the May Day this year to write a small piece to remember the struggle of the migrant workers – mostly Asian women from East Africa – in a small factory in England, a struggle that eventually encompassed the whole country. I try, also, to learn from that experience to reflect on the situation with the struggle of the working classes in East Africa today.

Friday 4 May 2018 was not just another normal day in Namibia and Angola. Upon invitation by Namibian President Hage Geingob, the President of Angola, João Lourenço paid a state visit to Namibia to participate in the commemorations of the Cassinga Massacre. The two heads of state later announced plans to build two historical monuments to honour those who lost their lives during the massacre. 

Most regular folks of Western nations are ignorant of the true state of Africa, and the role their respective countries play in the du jour underdevelopment of Africa, which forces African migrants to risk their lives to make it to the West, only to generate increasing acrimony among their hosts.

Five human rights organisations working on advancing the rights of women and girls in Sierra Leone, are urgently calling on the leadership of Sierra Leone, and all political actors to take immediate action to address the increase in incidents of sexual and gender based violence across the West African country. 

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has intensified his brutal campaign to stay in power by stifling international news reporting of his government’s repressive actions, events ahead of his controversial referendum to extend presidential term limits.

The authors argue that the on-going negotiations around the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) should solely focus on: 1) economic benefits for EAC member states and 2) sustainability of the region’s commitment to the agreement’s provisions. 

An insightful analysis on the current debates in South Africa to have a national minimum wage and its implication to the wider working class. 

Pambazuka News 862: Renewed struggle to defeat austerity

The recent vote of no confidence against former Speaker of the People's House of Somalia, Mohamed Osman Jawari, in very troublesome circumstances, is a clear indication of the gangsterism nature of the country's politics.  To exit from being a failed state, there is need for strict adherence to the constitution, democratic values, and rule of law by all citizens. 

On this May Day 2018, mass demonstrations across the United States of America and the world focus on the current economic crisis and workers’ struggle to defeat austerity. 

On 17 November 2017, the Minister of Labour of South Africa announced the state intends to carry out a new round of attacks on workers and their rights. The attacks come in the form of three labour bills currently being considered by parliament: the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill, the National Minimum Wage Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill. If passed, the changes to the labour laws these bills propose will be a major attack on workers’ rights, won through decades of struggle, and will further deepen and entrench inequality and roll back important democratic gains.

Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has shown some signs of wanting to change the political landscape in the country. Can he resist pressure from "deep-state" forces and bring about needed change in the country? Or will he just be like old wine in a new bottle? The article attempts to address these questions. 

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