“I believe that we have reached a stage in life in the economic development of Africa where moving forward is perilous, moving backwards is cowardice and standing still is suicidal but we must persevere because winners do not quit and quitter never win.”
― Prof. PLO Lumumba
While studying some Pan-African literature of the pre-colonial, colonial and early post-colonial era, I stumbled onto the re-occurring postulation of African socialism as the only solution cum alternative to neo-colonialism.
It is fair to say that the father of African socialism remains Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, but it was in the writings of Woungly Massaga, a distinguished member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Union des Populations du Cameroun that have prompted this piece.
In November 1978, while relating his thoughts on the book by Comrade Elenga M’buyinga titled ‘Neo-colonialism or Pan-Africanism’, Woungly Massaga spoke extensively on the concept of African socialism with the aim of evoking a thought-provoking question in the mind of the reader in answering his fundamental question of “A Union of Socialist Republics of Africa — The Only Alternative?”
Today, I too have decided to relay the arguments and put forward Woungly Massaga’s agreement and question to you; not because I favor the concept of African socialism (not that I am against it either), but because I want us as Africans to consider all our alternatives in the fight against Neo-colonialism.
According to Woungly Massaga, the only hope for the African masses is thus to fight resolutely to establish a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa. The Revolutionary United Front of the African Peoples must be at the heart of the struggle.
The neo-colonial context of the O.A.U. will make the creation of this Revolutionary United Front a vital issue for all patriots who struggle against the African neo-colonial dictatorships. After 15 years of ‘building socialism’ in Africa, the balance sheet makes sad reading; African patriots and the masses of Africa as a whole have no choice but to turn to the creation of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa as their only hope.
There is a fundamental difference between Revolutionary Pan-Africanism and the tendency to undertake commitments to build socialism only in national frameworks. The consequences of this divergence for the future of Africa may be serious indeed. Given the prevailing level of underdevelopment throughout Africa, a multitude of relatively small, even if sometimes fairly rich African countries, heading off one after the other along the road to socialism, would inevitably is condemned to objective dependence on the existing socialist countries in nearly every domain.
Only socialist development within the framework of a large African state organized on a continental or semi-continental scale can ensure an adequate economic equilibrium and forestall all dangers of this kind. As we see it, such a state is also a sine qua non for the real elimination of racial domination and racist crimes against black people.
Only a large state of this sort would not be tempted to invoke fear of ‘Communist domination’ as an excuse for opening itself up to international capital. Indeed, it is quite possible that some socialist countries might encourage such an opening up to international capital, with its investments and markets, even though such a course in an underdeveloped country can mean only a deadlock for socialist construction.
The question of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa confronts the socialist countries with a simple choice: they can either genuinely contribute to building socialism in Africa, or they can try to create a set of more or less socialistic African client states, which would form a new type of neo-colonial zone.
To create such a front and to fight resolutely for the inauguration of a Union of Socialist Republics of Africa is the task to which we should all devote our modest efforts. It is the path by which we can build a genuinely socialist Africa, a people’s Africa in which Africans will be truly free and masters of their own destiny.
Do you agree?
Header Image Credit: Jacobin