02 Mar Overview of “Class Struggle in Africa”
I had the pleasure of reading “Class Struggle in Africa” by Kwame Nkrumah in the past several weeks. What struck me most about this ideological gigantic 87 page book is that even though it pertains to Africa, it can apply to any country that has been colonized.
Some of the concepts of the book even applies to the western world. Take a look at how the “Occupy” movement organized the masses to protest systems set up and established by a powerful and wealthy minority. This movement just regurgitating some of what Kwame Nkrumah already stated back in 1970. It was most likely unknowingly because of how this movement was propelled mostly by young adults.
This book doesn’t have any borderlines because all the class statuses are defined and can be applied anywhere. Everything presently going on around you becomes clear when you understand the enemies of capitalism, neocolonialism and its predecessor colonialism after reading this book. Not just external forces, but internal enemies of our own people who are only motivated and controlled by the hidden hand of power.
Class struggle in Africa is a war between the oppressed and the oppressor and also capitalism and African scientific socialism. African scientific socialism is defined as land and resources produced for the benefit and livelihood of people of that land. Land belongs to everyone and not the property of the government.
Nkrumah also puts an emphasis on trade unions with other nations to increase the number of resources to supply the needs of the people. If socialism becomes to popular, that marks the beginning of end of the capitalism, therefore the people who benefit the most will try to stop any socialist movement.
Socialism is a European term that originally from African communalism. Just because socialism is a European term doesn’t mean the principles behind it isn’t good for Africa. That’s why African communalism was replaced with capitalism.
Communalism focused on the land and resources enriching the people, while capitalism took it out of the people’s hands and demanded payment and labor for our own resources. That’s also why Socialism is so popular in Europe because they are able to take the traditions of African communalism and construct it in a way that fits the needs of modern society. Black people, Africans, need to implement the same plan, keeping the tradition of Africa alive while addressing the modern needs of the Black Diaspora.
Capitalism has survived this long because of its dominance using a powerful elite minority, to control the majority of worker peasant class using the professional class. It is the spirit of these worker peasants that preserve the lifeline of socialism. As long as there are workers and laborers, there will always be a longing for better conditions and way of life. The smaller battles of this war happens between the different classes and their subdivisions. It’s not as simple as upper, middle and poor, there are more complex levels within each class that cause friction with each other.
First you have the bourgeoisie class, this is the capitalist class that owns most of society’s wealth and influence. You have the elite at the top, like politicians, businessmen and in the west celebrities can be added to this category. In the book, there are many different types of bourgeoisie:
Petty -Small or minor. This can even describe the west’s definition of middle class. This include rural bourgeoisie, land and farm owners of big or small proportion.
Indigenous-Chiefs or tribes being controlled by colonialism or neocolonialism. They are used to take control of land, while giving the chief benefits. Before colonialism, a chief didn’t own land and needed approval from a council in order to use it for personal reasons. Now, indirect rule from colonial or neocolonialism abroad or close by control the land through the chief.
National -Again, this can include the middle class. These are the types of people that want to see capitalism continue in order to increase their own profits. Their only interests are the same interests of colonizers (upper class). They go against any socialist change because they would rather reach a higher status instead of blurring class lines.
Bureaucratic – The politicians who keep international capitalist trade continuing in the interests of their own profits and worldwide neocolonialism capitalist trade machine. They make it hard for their own countries entrepreneurship opportunities because that will mean competition for their foreign overseers.
To make it even simpler, the classes can be broken down in a pyramid structure. You have an elite class powered by colonial or neocolonial powers and resources.
Next is professional class consisting of teachers, doctors, lawyers, police etc, all of whom play some type of role to continue the domination of capitalism and keep the power and influence with the elite.
Last, and at the bottom is the worker peasants, the majority who work the most hours, most difficult labor, and attain the least pay because of the dominance of capitalism. This is the class where the socialist struggle resides with most.
That’s why it’s near impossible for elite and some professionals to act in the interests of the worker peasant class. The elite want to maintain power, so they use wealth and the professional class to stay isolated from, miss-educate and control the worker peasants. Some professionals want to become elite so they continue the flow of status quo to reach a higher social status.
The workers must make ends meet, with no power, little wealth but still have the desire for a better way of life for themselves and future generations. The class struggle is also complicated in the fact that every class or subdivision tries to move up the social ladder.
This is where people forget about looking out for the benefits of the masses and worry about working hard and improving their own status for the benefit of their own offspring, which is natural.
With African scientific socialism, there are no class lines, no labels to define ourselves as because resources are being shared and traded. There is also a sense of sisterhood and brotherhood with each other, building community as opposed to individualism. We can develop much needed POWER from controlling our own land and producing our own resources.
Class struggle in Africa is always closely being watched by capitalist interests. That is why coups were popular in Africa. The majority of coupes are initiated by capitalist, neocolonialist interests.
The formula is simple, bureaucrats and business elite being threatened by a rising socialist movement use military and police force with foreign aid to install a puppet government after overthrowing them. The same armed forces are trained and some, educated by the colonial home state, meaning they have more in common with the elites then they do with their own native worker peasants.
The elites and professionals play a very pivotal relationship like the brains and the brawn. The elite can’t over throw anything, because they haven’t been trained to serve neocolonialism in that way. While the armed forces can’t run a government let alone an entire country. Their professional counterparts went to westernized schools to instill westernized ideology in Africa through education and government and erode African tradition.
Whenever there is military action and the worker peasants are left out, that means everybody but the worker peasants will be getting the future they deserve. Mass worker peasant involvement is crucial or else a small elite will take over and continue exploiting the masses, whether they say they represent change or not.
Outside of military action, is the political arena where promises of change are exposed to late. Nkrumah warns us about politicians who promise the masses a better, more socialist way of living but go right back to capital interests after they tallied the votes.
The leaders have no intention of building a better nation, only building their own profits and benefits. The masses wait for leaders to deliver on promises that will never be kept, only to realize later that it was all a mirage. Terms like “People’s capitalism” “enlightened capitalism” “class harmony” and “class peace” are all fraud concepts used to deceive the masses.
A non-political example like this is Akon, the same man that made the comment that conflict diamonds don’t exist. He is the face of a solar energy plan, but it’s the Chinese disguising their own interests to lay their exploitative hands on Africa. Free solar energy (socialist ideology) is being offered to 600,000 Africans, but the government is still being charged for defective Chinese solar panels.
These are the types of socialist cons Nkrumah wants us to watch out for from politicians. Celebrities garner the same influence and they must be watched just as much. Socialism will work in Africa, it just depends who is offering it to us and what means we have to accomplish it.
Kwame Nkrumah points to many solutions to overcome the class struggle and where to look. One of his solutions is to look to young workers, the youth.
(Nkrumah. Class Struggle in Africa. Pg 68) “Finally, there are the beggars, prostitutes and general layabouts who form the lumpen proletariat; and those – mostly young people – connected with petty bourgeois or workers families, who go to the towns from rural areas, and who usually do no work but live at the expense of their families. These young people may play an important part in the liberation struggle. They are in touch with both town and countryside, and may become effective revolutionary cadre.”
That’s why many Africans are sent to school abroad or sent to westernized school systems, to think like and talk like their oppressors. They will rapidly enforce the status quo so we need to show the youth how things are not working and how only an elite few control the majority of resources.
That is why outreach is important here in the west. This is why the battle for young minds is so important today on our own soil. Many of our young princes are being brainwashed and poorly educated, being set up for the jail process to keep them off track and deteriorate their own future and self-worth. With young students plus troubled youth realizing the pressure, waking up with their vigor and creativity, this force will be unstoppable once they are on board for liberation.
Another solution is that the bourgeoisie classes need to work together in conjunction with the worker peasants and the youth. Bourgeoisie does contain allies within its ranks that still do want to see a better way of life for all and not just for themselves.
People of different professions need to work together with the mass worker peasant class to achieve the goal of socialist Africa, or socialism anywhere. Nkrumah believes this is critical for the solution to work. Bourgeoisie need to be truly revolutionary minded and shut down their capitalist tendencies in order to help the masses and overthrow colonialism and neocolonialism.
The only problem with being allies with professionals is they are more likely to switch sides once alliances are tested and the pressure surmounts. The status, the lifestyle and profits have been ingrained since birth and sometimes these tendencies cause professionals to double back to the colonizers.
On the flip side, working class are not immune to being tempted with access to the elite lifestyle. Anybody can be put to the test and switch sides to serve their own self interest.
These are some of the battles within the classes that are going on and must be made aware of during the war. That is why it is dangerous to praise celebrities and politicians who preach about bringing change. We fall in love with the words and there is not enough analysis of their actions. The application of this book to the people around us is essential.
The final solution is the most intricate and important one. That’s why I’ve left it out so you can discover his final revelation in his conclusion chapter, in his own words. This book is the true definition of revolutionist ideology, one you cannot get in elementary or high schools. If you consider yourself a revolutionary, you need to read this blueprint and truly understand the all the enemies.
Peace and Blessings to All.