The commitment to the struggle of the working class was valorised, as African activists spent time with Brazilian rural farmers in their simple lives, but yet filled with abundant joy, love and humility. Within the walls of their homes, one could see a strong sense of hunger in striving for the burial of the downtrodden and barbaric system of capitalism.
As there goes a Kiswahili saying “Safari moja huanzisha nyengine” meaning “One journey leads to another”, I indeed had my fair share of first-hand experience on the profound richness and intense meaning of the saying.
Sometimes in the early days of 2017, there were voices from the left that echoed within the walls of my mind. The sounds therein and their tone, filled with utmost sense of hope, kept ringing within my mind. Repeatedly I heard the sincerity of their call, urging me to become part of the actual cause of the true revolution and altogether inspire the attainment of total liberation.
How I wish I would have spontaneously given in to the calling. Well, I did! But not entirely, as I then did not bear to let go off my reservations and doubts. I could not just afford to subscribe myself to the left. At the get go, I could not detach myself from the unjust “luxuries” of the neo-liberal policies. I however did not wholeheartedly ignore the calling as I agreed to give it a try and that saw the commencement of my first and foremost (and most significant) journey.
Walking along the corridors of the left and revisiting its various genres of literature, this saw me being gradually lured into the promised land of just, fairness and equitable prosperity. Soon afterwards, this original journey gave birth to another. The latter of which assured my definite subscription to the calling; cemented my commitment to the struggle, and vitally cleared my direction and path to the left.
Weeks and months of theoretical socialist explorations in various genres of literature, although not to an intriguing pace, soon I witnessed venturing into rather practical socialist undertakings in the fields of Brazil. This being my first trip past the borders of our beloved continent, Africa, I could not anyhow hide my excitement. The sheer excitement however was vested on the fact that I was about to gain a first-hand experience on the triumph of the working class. The trip also issued the need of internalising and repositioning my role and responsibility in the struggle as I sought to translate the experiences into the actual cause of the struggle at home and beyond.
And then the journey to the socialist fields in Brazil commenced. Soothingly as we thought the trip would be, it however did not turn out so. The “draconian” system made its attempt in hijacking our revolutionary journey. Just at the mid of the journey, the colour of our skin and so called poor appearances (as we were not equipped and dressed to the fancy attire) called for the authorities harassments. Our passports were seized and what was supposedly to be a check-in session, surprisingly turned out to be an interrogation session. Among other things we had to explain the amount of money we had and how we sought to live in Brazil. However, be it the ill treatment or any other hurdle, nothing would have stopped us, as we were sternly prepared to counter it; and it was the same boldness character of which saw our unapologetic explanation render us “free” to proceed with our trip.
Eventually we arrived to an extremely warm reception amongst the humble comrades at the socialist camps. The ambiance thereabout was splendidly welcoming and refreshing. Memories of my first night are very much lively and fresh. As I was chilling at the cafeteria I just felt myself amongst equals. I could hardly tell the difference between the hosts and guests; teachers (facilitators) and students; or women and men. I could not feel any bit of difference be it of age, colour, nationality or any other you could think of and mention.
Unlike the right wing programmes that preached of “civilisation” (or rather civi-lies-ation) whilst pinpointing and romanticising the tales of a few; this left oriented programme exhibited what genuine “civilisation” looked like, as the entire mass was part of the “civilised world”. The left civilisation therein meant living among equals and what a refreshing experience this posed! More thrilling, however, was the absence of heroic individuals and messiahs, as we were all entailed to become part of the collective in pursuit of the massification and strategic organisation of the working class’s struggles.
Indeed, the learning space felt nothing like an ordinary school but a rather revolutionary ground. Being surrounded by militant comrades, from almost every part of the South and North, I immediately and greatly considered myself part of a genuine cause. A cause sought towards the attainment of the true revolution of the working class. And such cause, for once, was exceptionally intriguing as the learning blended the practical and theoretical aspects; whereas the learning rooms intensively explored the socialist theories and the fields latter came calling for such theories to be laid into practise.
The passion and commitment amongst the comrades towards achieving and living the revolutionary calling was evidently portrayed all over faces and could even be heard over our tone. The pure strength and abundant enthusiasm throughout the seven weeks stay in Brazil could however be significantly traced to the morning mysticas*, of which every one of us participated in.
The lively spirit was carried forward to the classroom sessions. We collectively and tentatively analysed the history and contemporary conditions of the working class and further went through the theories and assessed their practicability with vivid examples. There were unending debates, yet significant to a great deal, through which we shared our thoughts in different themes and topics. We further explored knowledge through movies and presentations of all kinds, all with the intention of sharing and ensuring a detailed understanding amongst us. And despite the language diversity, we were always in a position to counter any sort of barrier posed in our discourse. Ultimately our hearts, at all times, communicated in the revolutionary language understood by all.
Off the chairs of theories we rose, as we were summoned to the fields and tasked to put the class theories in practice. With ample time located in this second session of learning and being of whatever age, gender or level of education, we were all tasked to work. None of us had the luxury to whine, complain or even corrupt his/ her way to no or specific work. And it was these field practical endeavours, defining the untainted humility, which eventually called our day to an end.
Be it within the classroom walls or the open spaces of the fields, the entire process and module of learning debunked the peculiarity within the teacher-student orientation of learning. Subscribing to Freire’s logic of learning, elucidated through his banking concept, the learning sessions at these socialist camps championed for equitable knowledge sharing; and altogether denied any sort of discouragement to anyone’s idea. This thus set a tone to continued discussions in the class and serious reflections and evaluation afterwards, as we felt more than free and entitled to do so.
Our conglomeration having attracted comrades from different backgrounds offered a splendidly unique atmosphere with the richness and diversity of culture therein. Subsequently, we traced the roots of our respective cultures and talked about their similarities and differences. During the weekends we hosted “cultural nights” in celebration of our cultural diversities. At large, we took pride of our culture and made it our mission in dismantling the imperialist cultural hegemony.
Beyond the tales of culture, comrades also shared about the struggles and conditions of the working class as per their respective backgrounds. It was such engagement that decorated our nights and at times walked us through very late nights. We shared and reflected whilst assessing the comparison of the situations elsewhere to those back home. With no boundaries, we sailed across the educational waters and revisited the race to dismantle the grievances in South Africa higher learning institutions through the #FeesMustFall (and other) movements; and later we looked at the relations of such movements to the struggles of students at different universities elsewhere.
We walked across the streets of Senegal and witnessed the precarious conditions of their labourers and this sparked memories of constant harassment of the street vendors in Tanzania’s “big cities”. Over the airways of Kenya we were intrigued by their election rallies as we observed how the barbaric system was working its way in placing its puppets in power with the goal of ensuring continued looting of the natural resources at the expense of the ordinary Kenyan. Into the trenches of Zambia we crawled and came in contact with the civilians subjected to extreme poverty and life hardships.
Our thoughts were directed to the tense and intolerable situations in Kashmir and Congo. Sheer pain and anger was felt as we revisited the memories of the victims of the Marikana massacre and the today’s killings of the Black Americans in the United States of America (USA). We broke away from cages of silences as we spoke of the “untold” tortures inflicted on women and children in Palestine. In solidarity we stood, reflecting on the 40 years of the struggles of the Kurdish against fascism in Northern Syria and the thousands of lives claimed by Daesh. We celebrated the courage and determination of the Kurdish women who became a beacon of hope to their people (and beyond) as they overcame fear and the feeling of being defeated. We learnt of their stories and struggles as they planted the revolutionary seeds, amongst members of their community (and beyond), watered by the innocent blood of Ivana Hofman and other men and women who stood against the imperial antics.
Our tales and thoughts, altogether, were of the collective and so was the pain inflicted upon us felt by the whole. Since we as individuals are a product of the society/ collective, never did we venture in celebrating the sham successes of sole individuals (the messiahs), a neo-liberal tool rather profoundly used for ensuring significant manipulation of the mass in attempt to lure us (the mass) from the core agenda. We integrated our experiences as we sought to generate a unified global solution against the immortal sufferings and globalised dominion of torture felt all over and amongst us all.
So saying, the aspects of Pan Africanism and Internationalism could not be over emphasised; as they (the two aspects) were defined to be our definite tools towards ensuring collective prosperity. Whereas our foes have joined up forces and internationalised oppression and exploitation, we are thus duty bound to unite as the working class and internationalise our struggles. And at the get go we did set the tone of our quest of a united front by sending solidarity messages to the people of Venezuela in support of the Bolivarian Revolution. Together with this, we signed petitions in demand of the release of Ana Belen Coates and condemned the USA’s continued breach of the code of sovereignty with their constant meddling into other nation’s affairs.
Recalling the fond memories I hold dear and close to my heart, this socialist expedition ignited my soul with nothing but absolute hope. Hope for the triumph of the working class. Similar hope was evident on the faces of the peasants at the grassroots who became our source of inspiration. Our commitment to the struggle was valorised as we journeyed into their simple lives but yet filled with abundant joy, love and humility. Within the walls of their homes we were served and fed with a strong sense of hunger in striving for the burial of the downtrodden and barbaric system. The moments we sang and chanted together rekindled the dormant spirits in our quest for revolution.
In the living memory of Ivana Hofmann and all the revolutionary comrades and movements I proclaim my stance in keeping up the fight and breaking from the oppressive chains. I announce to become part of the working class and stand by and with all the working class worldwide in dismantling the exploitative regimes and systems at helm. I declare my commitment to the grassroots, as I put on my boots and join my comrades on the ground.
For the cause of the revolution of the working class I say AMANDLA! ALUTA CONTINUA!
*These are expressions of the day to day struggles portraying the hope and aspirations of the working class against the shackles of the exploitative capitalist and imperialist chains.