By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published May 23, 2010 11:05 PM
The Organization of African Unity was formed on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa. Thus this May 25 is the 47th anniversary of Africa Liberation Day, since the OAU’s founding took place in the framework of the overall struggle for national independence on the continent and in the Caribbean, as well as the African-American freedom movement inside the United States.
In 2010 there are 53 member states on the African continent which reconsolidated in 2002 as the African Union. In the Caribbean there are more than 12 independent states in CARICOM, a regional organization, in addition to revolutionary Cuba, which played a decisive role in the total liberation of southern Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. In the United States, since 1963, the African-American people have won through mass struggle the passage of several civil rights and voting rights laws that led to the election of thousands of political officials.
Nonetheless, world imperialism, led by the U.S. ruling class, still seeks to dominate the domestic affairs and foreign policy of African nations and the lives of peoples of African descent throughout the world. With the deepening of the global economic crisis that began in the U.S. during 2007, the African people are facing monumental challenges in their historical efforts to reverse the impact of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.
A 2009 report by the organization of African Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors that was established to monitor the crisis said that, “Although most African countries are not on track to meet Millennium Development Goals (to lessen poverty), Africa had made steady progress over the last decade, building the foundations for higher growth and poverty reduction. This more optimistic picture is now being undermined by factors outside its control.” (African Perspectives and Recommendations to the G20, March 21, 2009)
This analysis of the way the continent has been affected by the world capitalist crisis continues by saying, “While the initial effects of the financial crisis were slow to materialize in Africa, the impact is now becoming clear. It is sweeping away firms, mines, jobs, revenues, and livelihoods; it is in short a full-blown development crisis.”
In the executive summary of this report it goes as far as stating, “For the first time in a decade there will be zero growth per capita. This note provides evidence of the effects, and suggests action needed. For Africa no less than elsewhere time is of essence; decisive remedial action is needed now.”
In the West Indies, the Caribbean Development Bank issued a report on the “Global Financial Crisis,” which identified key areas where the impact has been felt in this region. The report points to the decline in gross domestic product growth rates, an actual contraction in GDP, increased fiscal pressures, increased pressure on currency reserves, rising levels of protection, rising current account deficits, declining credit and other financial flows as well as declining asset quality. (The Global Financial Crisis and the Caribbean: Impact and Response, CDB Response, March 19, 2009)
In the United States, the African-American people have suffered to the greatest degree from the capitalist economic crisis with the highest level of unemployment, loss of homes, healthcare and pension benefits, in addition to attacks on public education and municipal services. It is important to also note that African Americans have a disproportionately high rate of incarceration and victimization by law enforcement.
Although politicians in the leading capitalist states and other apologists for capitalism have repeated that the world recession is over and a recovery is underway, unemployment and home losses remain high in all the affected countries. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May announced a trillion-euro bailout of the currency system, which was threatened by Greece’s inability to repay sovereign debt. In Greece, millions of workers have taken to the streets to oppose the austerity measures being imposed by the state.
This same bailout of the banks and corporations has continued in the U.S. since 2008, when the capitalist state at the aegis of the financial institutions provided $10 trillion in direct giveaways and injections of liquidity to stave off a total collapse. At present the public education system, K-12 as well as colleges and universities, has imposed huge layoffs, service cuts and school closings.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of the Obama administration recently announced that K-12 institutions across the U.S. need hundreds of billions of dollars in order to avoid the layoffs of another 300,000 teachers and other educational workers. At the same time, bankers and other corporate interests are allowed to bankrupt cities through demanding cutbacks and high debt service payments to shore up a failing system.
This crisis is further impounded by the huge Pentagon budget of the United States, which outstrips all other states throughout the world combined. The U.S. so-called “war on terrorism” has been an unmitigated disaster for not only the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Colombia, Yemen, etc., but is resulting in a precipitous decline in the social wages of working people and the oppressed.
Unity of purpose and action needed
With the worsening crisis in world capitalism, the only real path available to the working and oppressed peoples throughout the world, including Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S., is the development of a broad-based movement to fight the problem at its source. The phenomena of over-production and the unequal distribution of power and resources require the total mobilization of the masses to demand that the rich pay for the crisis that they created.
We have seen demands raised in Greece and the escalation of industrial actions in South Africa that echo the same theme: that the decline in the standard of living of working people and the oppressed is the direct result of the failed policies of the capitalist class worldwide.
Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the Republic of Ghana, and leading theoretician and tactician of the African Revolution, stated at the founding of the OAU in 1963 that the root of the problem of underdevelopment lies with the Western imperialist states. Nkrumah recognized that Africa and the world had to move toward socialism in order to ensure real economic growth and development.
In his book issued at the founding OAU summit in May 1963, Nkrumah wrote, “The fall in world prices of raw materials since the end of the Second World War has deprived the less developed countries of the staggering sum of 574 billion [pound sterling], an amount greater than all the so-called aid which these countries have received from the advanced nations.” (Nkrumah, “Africa Must Unite,” p. 109, 1963)
Nkrumah continues by pointing out that “This in itself represents a denial of tremendous capital for much-wanted development that would not have happened had we newly emergent states been united and strong enough to make our bargaining on the international commodity markets effective.”
In various states throughout Africa there are challenges to imperialism and its devastating impact on national economies. Zimbabwe has over the last decade redistributed land to African people that was stolen in the initial colonial onslaught of the late 19th century.
The country’s ruling ZANU-PF party has created a national unity government with the opposition in an attempt to lessen the efforts of the West to destabilize this independent state. Nevertheless, the imperialist states have refused to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe which is still having a negative impact on the social development of the country.
Sudan in April held internationally supervised national elections where the ruling National Congress Party won overwhelmingly in conjunction with the southern-based SPLM. A national referendum is scheduled for 2011 on the future of the southern region of the country. Despite the holding of these elections, the Western imperialists are still calling for the arrest of the president by the International Criminal Court.
Sudanese President Omar Hussein al-Bashir has negotiated several peace agreements with the rebel groups operating in Darfur, where the imperialists have attempted to utilize a conflict that grew out of the legacy of British colonialism in order to undermine the sovereignty of the oil-producing central African state.
One of the principal areas of interference for U.S. imperialism is the Horn of Africa, where successive administrations have attempted to direct the internal affairs of the region. The flotilla of warships off the coast off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, ostensibly to fight “piracy,” are only there to reinforce the dominance of the industrialized states over the waterways of one of the most lucrative shipping lanes in the world.
In the Caribbean, the efforts of Caricom are being undermined by the role of U.S. imperialism in the region. Nonetheless, the people of Cuba have continued along a socialist path, setting an example for underdeveloped and post-colonial states.
Cuba has not only raised the standard of living of the people on the island but has provided tremendous development and medical assistance to other fraternal nations throughout Latin America, Africa and even people from oppressed communities inside the United States. Throughout Latin America, the movement towards greater independence from U.S. imperialism is gaining strength.
In the U.S. itself the mass sentiment against racism and economic exploitation is intensifying with growing anger being directed toward the banks that have devastated the cities and the African-American and Latino/a communities in particular. Many African-American leaders are demanding the implementation of a jobs program to employ the millions who are unemployed and without housing and healthcare.
Nonetheless, the only real solution available to African people, the oppressed and all working people is the struggle for socialism as an economic and social system that would provide jobs, education, housing, healthcare, equal rights for women, youth and all people within human society. The developments of the last three years show clearly that world capitalism provides no solution for the immense majority of humanity who are suffering from increasing poverty and political repression.
Kwame Nkrumah wrote in 1963 that, “If, therefore, we are to fulfill our pledge to the people and achieve the program set out above [African unity], socialism is our only alternative. For socialism assumes the public ownership of the means of production, the land and its resources, and the use of those means in fulfillment of the people’s needs.”
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