SUMMARY OF PRESENTATIONS AT THE COLLOQUIUM MARKING OF 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF AMILCAR CABRAL IDEOLOGICAL SCHOOL (ACIS), WEDNESDAY 15 JULY, 2015
The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Benin Republic, Professor Philippe Noudjenoume brought greetings from the Communist Party and the Left coalition in Benin Republic. His message was threefold, namely, the present situation in Africa; the transition to socialism and the mobilisation of all African people to free Africa from all forms of oppression. He stated that capitalism was built on the strength of slave labour from Africa. Also, the continent’s tragedy was compounded by colonialism. And imperialism had continued to divide Africans along the neo-colonial interest of former colonial masters.
He said that the French speaking African countries were still being colonised. Their currency was tied to French francs. He said that Africa had all the resources but yet poor. Africa, he noted, suffered the fate of having to use borrowed language for epistemological strivings. He further stressed that if indigenous languages were used in quest for knowledge, the achievement would have been immeasurable. Speaking on the question of liberation struggle, a vanguard party was required for liberation to occur and many examples were given to buttress this point. PAIGC in Guinea Bissau, CPP in Ghana, MPLA in Angola, etc. In the absence of a strong vanguard party, revolution would always flounder. Africa he said needed to unite and that unity was indispensable because no country could do it alone without others across national, sub-regional and regional lines. He suggested the need for the creation of a pan-African people’s union, called for the removal of military bases from Africa, creation of a common monetary policy, ownership of African resources by Africans and elimination of all forms of exploitation.
Imani Na Umoja, a high ranking cadre in the struggle with Amilcar Cabral brought greetings from PAIGC. He reflected a great deal on the legacies of Cabral. He observed that the people desired freedom but a mass party was required to free them. Relating to the thoughts of Cabral, he said that political solution also implied morality while revolutionary consciousness was important for revolutionary mass party as well as the presence of ideology that would define the nature of the organisation of society. He noted that the PAIGC was based in Guinea Conakry for ideological training during its liberation struggle. Party cadres were sent for ideological and military training in Socialist Countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and Cuba in the Caribbean.
Cabral emphasised that the absence of a coherent ideology was the greatest problem facing the African people. He noted that African must have its ideology. He said, while Marxism was relevant to the European working class, Africa must have its ideology that is informed by her socio-economic and cultural realities. He emphasised the point that the most important factor in identity formation was culture. Cabral’s thought and focus was on African revolution and the PAIGC has this orientation. The objective of the national liberation was not flag independence but socio-economic liberation of the continent. He noted that the struggle was yet to be consummated.
Linking culture to the meaning of political party, he said that party was the political manifestation of the people’s culture. He then identified the difference between a front and a party in the revolutionary struggle. For him, a front embodied different understanding of objectives while a party was conscious with clear objectives. He identified three elements as important in the struggle, namely programs, structure, and leadership. He summed up the point that Cabral’s strength was in his character, simplicity, humility, boldness and honesty.
Dr. Dipo Fashina in his key note contribution dwelled on Cabral’s views of national liberation. Cabral’s view emphasised culture as the key to national liberation and in its location in the productive forces.
Culture in Cabral’s thought was seen as the product of history. To him, culture implied class struggle and its transformation was inherent in the transformation of the productive base of society.
Also, he adverted to Cabral’s appreciation of a set of universal laws for revolutionary transformation of society which could be applied taking into cognisance of the specificity of a given case.
Issa Aremu of the Textile Workers Union in his message focused on Cabral’s view of history (The Weapon of History). He noted the bankruptcy of African leaders who celebrated wrong historical landmarks, especially colonial ones. He noted that Africa had strong history of institution building and Cabral demonstrated this and urged all to emulate his legacy.
He emphasised the need for history to be well taught in our educational institutions, from primary through secondary to tertiary levels. He called for leaders who were knowledge-driven in the continent and urged Nigerians to struggle for the downsizing of the cost of governance in the country.
THE PLENARY SESSIONS
Two of the three plenary sessions – 1 & 2 – were moderated by Professor Toye Olorode, while the third was by Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, Vice President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who represented the ASUU National President – Dr. Nassir Isa Faggae.
Both moderators emphasised on the teachings and lessons of Cabral and other great African leaders such as Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Fanon, Nyerere, etc, to underline their contributions on the need to work for the emergence of a party of the working people in Nigeria.
Earlier, in his remarks, Prof Ogunyemi had brought the apologies of the ASUU Preisdent and Dr. Sule Kano, who were scheduled to moderate Plenary 1 & 3 but couldn’t make it due to non-availability of returned flights from Kano-Nigeria.
Panel 1: Essentials of Pan-Africanism and Socialism to the Total Liberation of Africa
The main presentation was by Aboagye Boampong of All Africa People’s Revolutionary Party. He addressed two basic issues, namely, imperialism and religion. He asserted that the essence of imperialism was to capture the minds so as to expropriate the resources of the dominated. While noting how imperialism divided Africans, he said that Africans were already undergoing an evolutionary process of integration before colonialism.
He noted the contradictions of contemporary religion that had continued to negate objective action to the triumph of magical consciousness. He was able to identify the link between African revolutionary thinkers such as Nkrumah, Fanon, Cabral, etc. That link, he said, was pan-Africanism. He concluded his contribution with the point that there was no dignity in oppression but in struggle.
Affiong Affiong, Director Moyo Pan-Afrikan Solidarity Centre started by emphasising the fact that Africans were the first set of people to be globalised dating back to the trans-Saharan trade before European slave trade. To her, Africans transcended Africans in the continent to other spatial locations in the world and with a huge population over a billion people. In specific terms, she sought to amplify her definition of Pan-Africanism.
To her, Pan-Africanism was about African people’s destiny in surviving the onslaught of imperialism which calls for political and economic unification of the continent. She identified three phases of pan-Africanism, namely, national liberation, social revolution and union of People’s Republic.
Gbenga Komolafe who discussed the views of both Boampong and Affiong, emphasised the need to build pan-Africanism. Cultural expressions whether clothing or music he said were valuable instruments of resistance and mobilisation. He raised alarm about the kind of neoliberal virus spreading across the continent, especially Nigeria where extreme consumerism of a few dominant elite was on display.
Panel 2: Socialist Economic Thought and Model: the Cuban Experience
Solidarity of Miriam Morales Palmero, Deputy Head of the Embassy of Cuba
The top Cuban diplomat, who congratulated Amilcar Cabral Ideological School on its 10th founding anniversary, used the opportunity of the message to shed light on some policies of the Cuban government in the area of economy and diplomacy.
On the economy front, the diplomat said that Cuba had taken some measures to improve her currency reserves, diversify its economy and creatively use market mechanisms to grow its economy based on State control and supervision of the private sector participation the Cuban economy.
In the area of diplomacy, she gave the Cuban perspective to the rapprochement between her country and USA after more than 50 years of economic blockade by the latter. She said re-opening of diplomatic missions was just one step and other things were yet to be negotiated. Occupied Cuban territory, the Guantanamo Bay must be vacated as well as the removal of economic and commercial blockade of Cuba.
She submitted with the official statement of 1st July 2015 by the Cuban Government that: “There could be no normal relations between Cuba and the United States as long as the economic, commercial and financial blockade continues to be fully implemented, causing damage and scarcities to the Cuban people. The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of our economy; it is a violation of International Law and affects the interests of all countries, including those of the United States”.
Femi Aborisade contribution, merely a response to the message of the Cuban Embassy posed some rhetoric questions. One, is US-Cuba Cold War over? What is the reason behind the rapprochement between the two countries? He made the point that socialism was impossible to build in isolation, being the reason while Cuba was endangered.
He then went on to re-emphasise and recommend known socialist principles of organisation of the state. They included the nationalisation of the commanding heights and democratic management and control of the economy, conduct of popular election of all public officials who should earn a wage equal to that of the ordinary worker and the abrogation of a standing army in favour of an armed people.
Panel 3: Reviving the Tricontinental [Afro-Asia and Latin America] Solidarity
Owei Lakemfa addressed the tricontinental solidarity question. He used concrete examples to illustrate the essence of tricontinental relations between Africa, Asia and Latin America and traced it to the Non-aligned conference of 1955 in Bandung. To him the struggles of Che Guevara who went to Angola, Congo, etc. to assist liberation struggles were sterling examples of tricontinentalism.
He added that the solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle by comrades from within and outside the continent all illustrated tricontinental solidarity. He then emphasised the importance of education and which he said could be instrumentalised in diverse ways to advance the struggle.
Professor Alofoje Unuigboje focused more or less on self-reliance. Re-emphasising the African origin of knowledge, he said societal development could only be realised through human development and that Africans should focus on it and that it was in such context that a tricontinental solidarity could be meaningful.
Otherwise, he noted, Africa could become subservient to other continents.
Professor Idowu Awopetu emphasised the relationship between practical activity and theory. The building of a tricontinental solidarity lies in the very fact that Africa, Asia and America have common heritage of oppression and to liberate themselves politically and economically cooperation was inevitable. The three continents must share experiences in solving problems that had kept them in the periphery of global development.
Dr. Laja Odukoya, the Chairperson of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos branch noted that the discussion of tricontinental solidarity meant a decline in the state of that solidarity. He drew from the writings of Cabral on issues of consciousness, unity and programme. He averred that consciousness could come from an appreciation of oppression and condition of injustice.
He noted that internationalisation called for a solidarity and unity in combating the condition of oppression. He said a programme of action was as important as unity. He noted that the Left was not as weak as most people thought but the bourgeois state was weaker but admitted there were some weaknesses such as intellectual laziness, indiscipline, etc. He then called for mass organisation and mobilisation to defeat imperialism.
The interventions from the participants at the plenary discussion focused on the imperativeness of the unity of the Left forces in Nigeria around a program of a mass vanguard of the working people to lead the struggle for political power and the building of socialism as an international socio-economic system in Nigeria, Africa and the world.
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