To Madunagu on the Lugano report
As a student at the University of Benin, I read extensively on various fields in the social sciences. I was a political science undergraduate but I read philosophy, sociology, economics and psychology materials to have a broader view of society.
In secondary school, I had read (in History and Government) a little about ideologies like Marxism and capitalism (also equated with liberal democracy in the West). Black History also exposed me to Pan-Africanism, slavery and colonialism.
I was born in Ghana before we were sent away with other Nigerians by self-seeking military chiefs who had upstaged that country’s visionary pan-Africanist president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Naturally and easily, I embraced Pan-Africanism as the ideology of our people on the continent and in the diaspora, when I entered the university. However, I was close to Marxist students who we (the pan-Africanists) regarded highly because of the support of socialist countries such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, China etc for the anti-colonial struggle.
In fact, many students, including some in the student union, could not differentiate us from the Marxists who we never criticized though we privately had reservations about Marxism and Caucasian communists’ racism. I sought but could not find a more inclusive Marxist thought that respected Pan-Africanism instead of dismissing it as a petit-bourgeois ideology. So, for me, it was not a toss-up between Pan-Africanism and communism.
I have always underscored the fact that I am not a racist and Pan-Africanism is not racism but a drive for our rapid development and collective security in a world where the current global powers are sharks or lions with insatiable greed, baying for Africa’s blood. When the West, Russia, China, Japan, Arabs, India and other powers feverishly provide grants to some centrifugal forces in Africa (intellectuals, journalists, politicians, security agencies etc) to write and work against Pan-Africanism and its advocates, it is a form of imperialism at work, with an air of cloak-and-dagger to it. Most of the cold and calculating sponsors have been exposed as seeking and pursuing Africa’s perpetual subjugation to tighten their grip on its land and resources.
Comrade Edwin Madunagu is one of Africa’s intellectuals and Marxist thinkers that I have learnt a lot from his writings as well as from some of my radical university teachers like the Cameroonian, Dr. Wang Metuge and the erudite unwavering communist scholar, Professor Marx Wagbafor.
I was prompted to react to a recent piece in The Guardian by Dr. Madunagu entitled, “Re-introducing ‘The Lugano Report: On preserving capitalism in the 21st century.”
As I noted in my contribution on this issue to the USA Africa Dialogue Series, individual African nations alone, in their present small sizes, cannot survive even if they all become communist/socialist because they will still be susceptible to manipulation by the dominant global powers (Russia, USA, China, EU etc).
I also stressed that all communist/Marxist theories become practically limited when applied to Africa if the continent remains fragmented. All black intellectuals and some enlightened politicians know this truth, though it is bitter to some of the selfish ones and agents of capitalist and communist imperialism.
I equally recalled how one of the fathers of Pan-Africanism and grand old men of Caribbean radicalism, George Padmore, was treated by the Communist International (CI). He was the head of the Negro Bureau of the CI but had to quit when he realised that white communists were also racist. And despite all that he did (risks and sacrifices) for the Algerian revolution/independence, the new nation’s racist so-called socialist pan-Arab leaders refused to honour radical black activist intellectual Frantz Fanon.
That’s why Pan-Africanism can never accept communism “hook, line and sinker.”
I added that if China and Russia were fragmented and not giant entities, they would have been easily dealt with and even overrun by the West as East Germany, Yugoslavia, Poland and others learnt or experienced. Small Ukraine is facing imperialist Russian onslaught and pressure.
On my position, Prof. Biko Agozino wrote: “Your concerns are in order. What you identified is the weakness of national left groups in Africa. Comrade Madunagu is directing his challenge to the Nigerian Left but relatively left out the Pan African Left. Meanwhile, the Lugano Report was pitched at the global level and not at the micro-national level because capitalism is a global mode of production. I agree with you that we need to think of the problem at the level of the United Republic of African States because the colonizers did not think of us as atomized colonies – they still see us as Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone or Arab-speaking Africa whereas we have always been Afrophone.
“The problems you find in any African state can also be found in every other African state to indicate that they are common problems to be tackled together more effectively…Our problem is that the scramble for Africa was designed to divide and weaken us. By re-uniting, we can pool our resources together and stop having 55 ineffective military budgets, 55 embassies in every country with some too poor to pay their rents or phone bills, 55 or more internal borders holding up commerce and the movement of the people, allowing genocidal regimes to pounce on any group of Africans that they fancy without fear of being stopped by the Peoples Republic of Africa United Democratically.
“Pooling our resources will create a sizable budget for education, health, agriculture, infrastructure construction, industrialization, single currency, single passport, federal parliament but still allow states to have their own constitutions and manage local affairs. The African Diaspora will also find it easier to exercise the right to return instead of going to one small country and being boxed in by the ridiculous colonial boundaries that our people defy daily in their millions.”
He added: “Foreign countries that wish to deal with Africa will find it easier because rather than negotiate with 55 inconsequential heads of state, they will be negotiating with a united powerful voice that will command respect. A untied Africa will be able to produce more for export and for internal needs and will also have more resources to import goods, not military weapons, for the benefit of all.”
Eto is the Associate Editor of The Guardian.