Monday, 19 December 2011

Walter Rodney, The Dar es Salaam School and the Current Situation

by Dani Wadada Nabudere, 2006

Walter Rodney made a significant contribution to the African academy, the Pan-African revolution, and human emancipation. This was fully demonstrated in his activist commitment to the cause of the liberation of the people of Africa and those of African descent in the Diaspora and it is this achievement that has brought us here together to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his cowardly assassination in 1980. It is also this commitment that gives us an opportunity to revisit these important historical events on our continent, the African Diaspora and the world at large.

Walter Rodney was here at the University of Dar es Salaam when an attempt was made to build institutions of higher learning in East Africa occasioned by the need to create new cardreship for the struggles for African liberation that lay ahead of us as well as the pressures to provide qualified people to serve the new governments that were struggling to consolidate themselves as independent African nation-states. When Rodney arrived here in Tanzania, a revolution had already taken place in Zanzibar and East Africa was awash with new ferments of revolutionary ideas, which were conjoined with the revolutionary ideas of the African liberation movement and the revolutions in Cuba and the then on-going Indochina wars against imperialism.

These developments introduced Marxism and Marxist-Leninist ideology on the Campus as part of this liberation process. While many of us were caught up in revolutionary Marxist-Leninist ideology as a form of intellectual emancipation, Rodney remained focused on the conditions of the African people and how these conditions could be improved by a better understanding of their history at different stages of their struggles. In his Grounding with My Brothers he made an attempt to come to terms with these identities that came to inform his spiritual and ideological orientation. His democratic approach and involvement contributed to the beginnings and deepening of the debates in ideological classes at the University on Sunday mornings that were organised by the Tanzania African National Union-TANU Youth League. Indeed, it was these discussions that led to the production of his canonical work: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, which we shall have an opportunity to review in this chapter. In many ways therefore, the Sunday ideological classes and discussion groups contributed to the now famous “Dar es Salaam Debate” of the late sixties and early seventies, a debate that had considerable impact on African and non-African scholars at the time.

For Walter Rodney personally, these developments and debates had fateful consequences in that they very much influenced his activism. He was a committed African revolutionary scholar and intellectual and so his role in these widening debates was not relegated to the academic arena as such but to practical politics and involvement as well. He moved beyond the debates and embarked on the practical politics of organizing the workers and other social strata of Guyana in their struggles. His impact in this respect was immediate and significant as to lead to the unsettling of the powers that were. His assassination therefore came as a shock to many who knew him and his commitment to the cause of the exploited workers and the oppressed in Guyana in general.
This 25th anniversary commemoration is therefore fitting as an occasion on which we all can reflect on Rodney’s inspirations, contributions and activities to the understanding of the African condition both on the Mother Continent, in the African Diaspora and the rest of the world. He has gone down in history as a great scholar, a great Africanist, a great patriot and a great organiser of the oppressed not only of Guyana but of the African world. This opportunity also gives us an opportunity reflect on our own involvements in this period both at the Hill and outside in our individual involvements in the affairs of our own countries, always with the view to the future.

Rodney-the Revolutionary Intellectual

Rodney’s role as an African revolutionary intellectual and political activist can be seen in his participation in the organization of the Sixth Pan-African Congress that was held in Dar es Salaam in 1974. In his contribution to that conference entitled: “Towards the Sixth Pan African Congress: Aspects of the International Class Struggle in Africa, the Caribbean and America,” Rodney brought out the contradictions of the African revolution as reflected in the ideology of Pan-Africanism and how he thought that political ideology could be developed to address these contradictions so that the African revolution could be effectively pursued.Being sick at the time the Congress was held, the paper was nevertheless circulated before and during the Congress in his absence.

In the paper, Rodney dealt with the concept “Pan” in the “Pan-Africanism” and in the context in which it was used and noted that the concept was an exercise “in self-definition by a people, aimed at establishing a broader redefinition of themselves than that which had so far been permitted by those in power” [Rodney, 1976:21]. He went on to add that the exercise of self-definition was undertaken by “a specific social group or class which speaks on behalf of the population as a whole” [Ibid.]. Consequently, he pointed out that “certain questions must be placed on the agenda” at the Congress and these questions were:

  • Which class leads the national movement?
  • How capable is this class of carrying out the historical tasks of national liberation?
  • Which are the silent classes on whose behalf ‘national’ claims are being articulated?

    Rodney drew a leaf from the Pan Slavic nationalism of Central Europe to come to some conclusions, which he wanted Africa to learn from in galvanizing their unity and in that context analysed how Pan-Africanism had emerged as an ideology of emancipation and decolonisation of the enslaved Africans in the Diaspora and the colonised Africans on the Mother Continent.

    In his closing remarks, Rodney suggested that at the end of the Congress, it would be necessary “that a group of participants should be identified with a platform” which recognised that: (a) the principal enemies of the African people are the capitalist class in the USA, Western Europe and Japan; (b) African liberation and unity will be realised only through struggle against an African allies of international capital; (c) African freedom and development require disengagement from international monopoly capital; (d) exploitation of Africans can be terminated only through the construction of a socialist society, and technology must be related to this goal; (e) contemporary African state boundaries must be removed to make way for genuine politico-economic unity of the continent; (f) the Liberation Movements of Southern Africa are revolutionary and anti-imperialist and must therefore be defended against petty bourgeois state hegemony; (g) the unity of Africa requires the unity of the progressive groups, organisations and institutions rather than merely being the preserve of states; (and finally) (h) Pan Africanism must be an internationalist, and anti-imperialist and socialist weapon.

    These positions of Rodney were in many respects adopted in the resolutions of the Congress, with exception of a few, reflecting the broad anti-imperialist front that prevailed in Tanzania at the time.Tanzania was at this time a vibrant front of all African anti-colonial and anti-apartheid liberation movements, which were fully represented at the Congress. The above sentiments and political positions articulated by Rodney were therefore representative of the dominant groups represented at the Congress with the exception of a few African reactionary and ‘moderate’ post-colonial leaders. Hence the call by Rodney that Pan Africanism must be anti-imperialist and promote a socialistic ideology and front of the people and not of states was directed at such reactionary leaders and states and hence his call for unity of the ‘progressive groups’ rather than ‘merely being a preserve of states.’ The message was clear: It is the African masses that must be at the forefront of the African revolution and not post-colonial, neo-colonial states.
    Walter Rodney and the Dar es Salaam School

    Rodney’s contribution to the Dar es salaam School came out of his role as a historian. Already, a rewriting of African history had begun with a group of African historians at the University of Dar es Salaam led by Professors Arnold Temu and Asaria Kimambo, later to become the Chief Academic Officer of the University. These young Tanzanian scholars had written a history of Tanzania that was inspired by the African revolution in general and in Tanzania in particular [Kimambo, [1971].

    In this rewriting of Tanzanian and African history, a certain methodology and interpretation developed based on oral material. This was an attempt at interpreting African history from the African eye and episteme and not from that of the colonisers. This approach led their European peer reviewers of this history as ‘nationalistic’ and hence not ‘scientific’ and ‘universal.’ Rodney in his book: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, referred to above, commented on this history and listed Prof. Kimambo’s book as recommended reading and in so doing also referred to the work of the Belgian scholar, Jan Vansina and the Jacob Egharevba’s short history of Benin, especially in their use of oral material, as “good examples of scholarship by Africans concerning historical development starting before contact with Europe.” He added that: “they are characterised by the use of African oral traditions as a basis for interpretation.” In the same footnote, he regarded Vansina’s work as a “pioneering work which drew heavily on oral tradition in reconstructing Central African history” [Rodney, 1974]. It is this orientation in the writing of African history that was dubbed “the Dar es Salaam School” by the European peer reviewers of the Dar es Salaam history texts.

    Rodney’s own attempt to implant his contribution to this debate about African history was represented in the book he published at this time by the title: West Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade, published by the Historical Association of Tanzania in collaboration with the East African Publishing House, Nairobi in 1969, the very year he arrived in Tanzania to take up a teaching job at the University. The debate that continued produced his most significant book: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa in 1974, the year he left Tanzania to return to the Caribbean. Here we shall review some of the significant contributions in this book that in our opinion gave the book a particular significance in the evolution of African scholarly thinking within the context of the evolving revolutionary consciousness of the intellectuals of the countries oppressed by Europe and its contribution to the evolution of the Dar es Salaam School.

    Rodney began his contribution in his book by examining what ‘development’ implied. This was intended to lay the ground for his main thesis of the book, which was to the effect that it was not only the development of Europe and the underdevelopment of Africa that were the issue, but “how those two combined in a single system-that of capitalist imperialism [Rodney, 1974:135]. Rodney in this sense regarded ‘development’ as encompassing not only the individual. At the level of the individual, he pointed out: ‘development’ implied increased skills and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility, and material well-being. But he pointed out that while these attributes of development were important because they touched on the moral to evaluate them, nevertheless, the individual achievement were “very much tied with the state of society as a whole.” Freedom, responsibility, skill, all “have real meanings only in terms of relations of men in society” [Ibid: 3].

    This role of the individual in society is emphasised right throughout the book as when he examines the problems of the development of the productive forces and the concomitant social relations that lead to revolutions, indicating how it was that Europe developed the capacity to enslave and underdevelop Africa, during a stage when Africa was weakened and easily divided for Europe to ‘divide and conquer.’ Walter Rodney nevertheless stuck to his main argument to show how Africa was actually in advance of Europe before Europe developed the capacity to enslave Africans and colonise the continent. He demonstrated that Africans in ancient Egypt, being the centre of human development, had for twenty-five centuries before Europe woke out of their slumber, already the capacity to generate wealth in abundance “because of mastery of many scientific natural laws and their invention of technology to irrigate, grow food, and extract minerals from the subsoil [Ibid: 11].

    In this way he demonstrated that “underdevelopment’ meant not the absence of development, but that it only made sense “as a means of comparing (different) levels of development,” emphasising that it was very much “tied to the fact that human social development has been uneven and from strictly economic view point, some human groups have advanced further by producing more and becoming more wealth.” For this reason, he hypothesised that one had at least to recognise the full human, historical, and social dimensions of development, before it is feasible to consider ‘underdevelopment’ or strategies for escaping from underdevelopment” [Ibid: 13]. Hence for Rodney, it was important to develop awareness of the implications of underdevelopment for Africa and dealing with these effects of European domination over Africa, including dealing with the colonial mentalities created by this domination through ‘self-definition.’

    Thus when Rodney raised the question at the Sixth Pan-African Congress as to “what class could lead the African revolution,” he was looking at how Africa could get rid of these conditions that continued to keep Africa under Western neo-colonialism. In his paper to the Congress, he inserted a section that appeared in his book in which he noted the “presence of African sell-outs” who “danced in Abidjan, Accra, and Kinshasa when the music (was) played in Paris, London, and New York” [Ibid: 27]. These were, in the same sense in which Franz Fanon dealt with the issue, the “minority in Africa, which served as a transmission line between the metropolitan capitalists and the dependencies in Africa.” In the paper to the Congress, he sought to identify groups that could recognise that the principal enemies of the African people were the capitalist class in the USA, Western Europe and Japan; and that African liberation and unity could only be realised through struggle against an African allies of international capital. He also saw this as the only conditions under which African freedom and development would require disengagement from international monopoly capital and the construction of a socialist society, where technology must be related to this goal of African emancipation.

    Rodney again and again returned to the issue of this “comprador” class, which he saw as having its origins in the pre-colonial emergence of agents of European trade with Africa and how this class had widened its influence through colonial education. He quoted an African ruler in Sierra Leone who equated European education as “learning book to be rogue (in order to be) as good as white man” [Ibid: 142] and also quoted a famous West Indian calypsonian who in satirising his colonial school days “remarked that if he had been a bright student (in the colonial school system) he would have learned more and turned out to be a fool” [Ibid: 248]. He himself characterised an African brought out in this system as “battered by and succumbed to the values of the white capitalist system-that of capitalist individualism [Ibid: 248, 254].

    What Rodney was characterising here still continues to be true today in that the modern compradors are trained to be “rogue” to the interests of the African people and protection of those of their masters and therefore turned out to be ‘fools’ instead of being educated to serve Africa. This distinction again became important in understanding the class question so that the enemy of the people of Africa had to be understood in their class interests and orientation rather than from the colour of their skins and this factor was at the base of his organisation of the Guyanese working class beyond racial categories. The same issues occupied the so-called Dar es Salaam Debate.

    The Dar es Salaam Debate

    Although a lot of attempts have been made to under-rate this debate in many ways, there is no doubt that the Dar es Salaam Debate, as it came to be known, had a great impact on the teaching and the raising of political consciousness at the Hill. It is not my intention to delve into the full detail of this debate for the debate was full recorded and edited by Prof. Tandon under the title: University of Dar es Salaam Debate in Class, State and Imperialism, and published by the Tanzania Publishing House, Dar es Salaam in 1979 with an introduction by A. M. Babu, former leader of the Zanzibar Umma Party and a minister in the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar after the Okello ouster of the then government of Zanzibar. He still later became minister in the Union Government on the Tanzania Mainland. Our purpose here will be to highlight those issues that the debate brought out, which had been dealt with by Rodney in his book referred to above and played out in a Marxist framework.

    The first important issue raised in the debate was what imperialism was at how this system (described by Rodney in his book) still continued to exploit the African people through the mechanisms of the state and through an international system of economic, social and cultural relationships involving the African people as agents of imperialism in the manner described by Rodney of the comprador. The political economy of imperialism was raised in its depth which formed the basis for the publication of books coming out of the debate. Imperialism was identified in the Leninist understanding of the system as a system of monopoly capitalism, which in the current period had transformed capitalism into a system of monopoly based on finance capital controlled by the financial oligarchy as a financial aristocracy controlling banks. The second most important issues raised in the debate were how to understand the African post-colonial and neo-colonial states in Africa and what could be said to be the ‘ruling class’ in an African neo-colonial setting.

    Rodney in his book had drawn attention to how imperialism had perfected the art of monopoly capitalism in Africa. He pointed out that during the inter-war years, “Africa’s foremost contribution to the evolution of organisational techniques in Europe was the strengthening of monopoly capital.” He adds that before the war of 1914, the Pan-Africanists Duse Mohamed Ali and W. E. B. Du Bois had already “recognised that monopoly capital was the leading element in imperialist expansion.” He notes that Lenin, “was virtually prophetic, because as the colonial age advanced, it became more and more and more obvious that those who stood to benefit most were the monopoly concerns, and especially those involved in finance” [Rodney, op. cit. 176]. Rodney demonstrated how it was in Africa, Asia and Latin America that the elaboration of the strategies by which competition among small companies had given way to “domination by a small handful of firms in various economic activities and it was especially on the Indian trade routes that the practice of “Shipping Lines” had been implemented in 1875. From the field of the Indian trade routes that Southern Africa and Unilever in West Africa and the Congo there had emerged “the most carefully planned structures of interlocking directorates,” that Lenin explained in his book: Imperialism-The Highest Stage of Capitalism.

    One group of scholars argued that the ruling class in Tanzania was the ‘bureaucratic bourgeoisie’ or in the case of Uganda, the ‘bureaucratic petty-bourgeoisie.’ The other side argued that under imperialism and under the rule of finance capital, the main enemy (and hence the ruling class) in neo-colonial states was the imperialist bourgeoisies or what Lenin had called the ‘financial oligarchy.’ As we have seen Rodney’s analysis in his book seemed to support this view and in his paper to the Sixth Pan-African Congress, he defined the principal enemies of the African people as the “capitalist class in theUSA, Western Europe and Japan.” He further identified the African compradors who represented imperialism, not as rulers, but as ‘transmission line’ for imperialist interests as the target to be fought by the African liberation, arguing that unity could only be realised only through struggle against these African allies of international capital. It is for this reason that he also argued that African freedom and African development could only come about through disengagement from international monopoly capital.

    Thus for us the debate was important in that it clearly defined who the principal enemy of the African people was and in that way to indicate the proper way forward in the organization of the exploited and oppressed classes. Those who argued that imperialism was the main enemy and that the imperialist bourgeoisie was the ruling class in Africa accused the other side that identified the ‘bureaucratic bourgeoisie’ as the ruling class in Tanzania or Uganda as using racial categories because they identified some forms of ‘capital’ as well as social classes on racial or territorial basis. Such concepts as ‘Indian merchant capital’ and ‘African’ or ‘Indian commercial bourgeoisie’ or petty bourgeoisie were bandied around in what were claimed to be Marxist-Leninist analyses. Given this kind of analysis and given the Guyanese situation, it would have been difficult for Rodney to organize both the African and Indian workers who were exploited by a common enemy and supervised in such exploitation by the Guyanese petty-bourgeoisie, whether Indian or African if he used racial class categories.

    One of the beneficial side effect of adopting a radical Marxist-Leninist approach to the teaching of law and a problematisation of the social sciences was that it resulted in a vibrant discussions amongst the students and lecturers at the University of Dar es Salaam and society at larger as reflected in the Daily News, Tanzania’s official daily newspaper. The main ideological and theoretical lines between the two sides clearly demarked the contested areas in of ideology. Since these areas also covered the theoretical issues which were touched on in the political economy approach in the classes, many students found they had to take political sides as well in the debate. In my opinion, the debate raised the level of ideological education, which previously was taken to be an extra-mural activity outside the class rooms. Now it became part of the discourse in the class rooms as students challenged their lecturers on some of their lessons that adopted a bourgeois approach. An external examiner at the Faculty of law in this period observed: “What was striking was the fact that even the weakest students showed some acquaintance with the concepts of political economy, though except for the top papers, there was certainly in their application the concrete situation of East Africa. This was particularly the case with jurisprudence.” This was the subject I taught at the Faculty.

    Moreover, as pointed out above, the debate also went beyond the confines of the University into the public domain. The public at large in Dar es Salaam also took part in the debates through the pages of the Daily News, the main government newspaper. The appearance of my book on the political economy of imperialism drew a lot of debate in the Daily News, which necessitated the editor of the paper in an editorial to call a halt to it. The editor argued that the main thing was not to talk about the world but to change it! What was being quoted here was Marx’s thesis on Fuerbach. This demonstrated that the debate had achieved its purpose because even a “petty bourgeois” newspaper such as the Daily News (a representative of the ‘bureaucratic bourgeoisies’ was calling for action beyond debate!

    The debate had achieved its purpose of raising awareness about the need for a revolutionary transformation of East African society. Some members of the public came to the Campus to attend these debates which were continued in public meetings and Seminars at the University. It would have been interesting what side Rodney would have taken in this Great Debate, but my hunch is that given his orientation as an anti-imperialist activist, he would have taken the position which he took in his book and the paper he submitted to the Sixth Pan-African Congress.

    The Impact of the Collapse of the Socialist Camp

    The collapse of the Soviet Union and the countries of the Socialist Camp in 1989-1990 had a major impact on the way we begun to see the world. I happened to be in Frankfurt in November, 1989 when the Berlin Wall collapsed and the final separation of the Western capitalist world and the then Eastern Socialist world came to an end. The decline of the socialist camp had been gradual and the disintegration could be said to have already manifested itself in the ideological divisions that emerged within the USSR with the death of Stalin and his immediate descendants and the eventual appearance of Nikita Khrushchev. These ideological differences developed into full scale polemics between Communist Parties in the USSR and China-spelling a great split in the countries of the Socialist world.

    The polemics between these two Socialist superpowers were especially fierce and they also intensified the divisions in the smaller Socialist Countries in Eastern Europe with the parties in other countries such as the party in Albania, which took a more “ultra-left” posture even against “leftist” China vis-à-vis the USSR. These political and ideological divisions came to affect the African liberation movements as many of them took either the pro-Chinese or the pro-Soviet positions. This later came to affect the possibilities of more fundamental changes in the African countries engaged in armed struggle. In the end it was the change-over in the USSR and the adoption of perestroika and glasnost under Mikhail Gorbachev that led to the immediate release of Nelson Mandela and the negotiations that took place between the apartheid regime and the African National Congress-creating a situation in which many people felt “the revolution had been lost.” All these proceedings affected not only countries, parties but also individuals in which we all found ourselves and the debate that were raging at the Campus also reflected these debates at large.

    On my return from Europe immediately after these gigantic changes in the East, I gave a public lecture organised by the Southern African Political Economy Series-SAPES in Harare in which I made the following assessment of the changes:

    “The changes that are currently under way in the USSR and Eastern Europe are of such dimensions that they undermine our view of the world as we have known it since the end of the last World War. One British Conservative Member of Parliament has equated these changes to those that took place in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. As we know, those developments led to the disintegration of the then ‘civilised world’ around Rome, the appearance of the ‘dark age’, and the emergence of a highly decentralised political order in Europe [Nabudere:1].

    I added that although these major events had led to a great jubilation in the Western world (later highlighted by Fukuyama’s thesis about the “End of History” [Fukuyama, 1992]), the changes also manifested an ‘over-ripennes’ of both the Socialist and Capitalist systems indicating a need to move beyond them to a new situation that was to become apparent as the situation developed further.:

    “All this suggests that these (newly emerging social) forces (out of the collapse and the ‘over-ripennes’ of both systems would be) pressuring for (further) change (and seek) to try out alternative solutions to the ‘socialist’ system and such pressures will join those pressures such as the ‘green forces’ in the West which too seek alternative, sustainable models of society. Such forces are emerging with a sense of urgency in the Third World where people’s own organisations are mushrooming as a reaction against structural adjustment policies of the Western capitalist system. In short, society is pressuring to move to something new and not to the Western ‘free market’ systems” [Ibid:2].

    I still hold to these assessments and what has happened in the last twenty-five years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall are developments that go to undermine the solidity of the world capitalist system such as the emergence of the South as the centre of the challenge to the US hegemonic world order that emerged in the wake of the collapse of the Socialist Camp. These new movements emerged against both systems in the year 1979 in which the Iranian Revolution blew up in the face of US hegemony and the Afghanis Taliban movement led by the US against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. These self-cancelling challenges spelt out a new world in which the Taliban forces that had been created by both the US and Pakistan became the major challenges to US hegemony resulting in the 9/11 events, which are still continuing and given more fuel by the Us aggression in Iraq.

    Other challenges emerging are in Latin America where there has emerged a more focused challenge from New Leftist democratically elected regimes in Venezuela and recently in Bolivia. A new anti-capitalist ideology called “Twenty-first” Socialism expounded by the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has added to the Cuban revolution to challenge the US on their door steps. New challenges to UShegemony are also manifesting themselves in the emergent South East Asia and the recent explosion of the Chinese economy since Mao Zedong died under a system called “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is seen as a challenge to the US hegemony on world scale in the 21st Century. All these developments have gone a long way in defining a new still emergent agenda for the people of the world.

    Imperialism and Globalisation

    The collapse of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe created space for the expansion of capitalism on an enlarged scale without challenge. It created a new situation in which while capitalism claimed to have gained new ground, there were new challenges that were to become manifest later. The globalization of the world economic system had in fact been under way for centuries through various phases. The phases range from mercantilist imperialism to the present day financial-dominated multilateral imperialism. What was in fact happening was not globalisation in general, but economic globalisation in particular.

    This economic globalisation process was having both a positive and negative impact on communities and societies in all parts of the world. Despite the introduction of new technologies, especially in the area of electronic technology that has led to an information revolution, the suffering of the vast majority of impoverished people throughout the world has not lessened. On the contrary, growing evidence indicates that the process has merely intensified the gap between those who control the world’s resources and those who have been dispossessed of those resources. These have been increasingly marginalized with the globalization process.

    Although the definition of globalization has been declared “problematic,” the late Claude Ake attempted to define it as:

    “Among other things, globalization is the march of capital all over the world in search of profit, a process reflected in the reach and power of multinational corporations. It is about growing structural differentiation and functional integration in the world economy, it is about growing interdependence across the globe, it is about the nation state coming under pressure from the surge of transnational phenomenon, about the emergence of a global mass culture driven by mass advertising and technical advances in mass communication. Globalization is a very complex process. It is by no means unidirectional and it is quite contradictory. It uniformises and diversifies, concentrates and decentres: it universalizes but also engenders particularities: it complexifies and simplifies. Always, it is mediated and differentiated in form and content by historical specificities.” [Ake in Holm; Sorensen, 1995: 22]

    Holm and Sorensen emphasize that globalization proceeds unevenly both in intensity and geographical scope, in both the international and domestic dimension. Distinct national economies are subsumed and re-articulated into the system by international processes and transactions. Domestic politics, whether of private corporations or public regulators, now have routinely to take account of the international determinants of their sphere of operations. The national level is permeated and transformed by the international. They add:

    “Whereas intensified economic interdependence involves more of the same in the sense that economic intercourse between national economies increases, true economic globalization invokes a qualitative shift toward a global economic system that is no longer based on autonomous national economies but on a consolidated global market place for production, distribution, and consumption. Here the ‘global’ economy dominates the national economies existing within it” [Holm & Sorensen, 1995: p.5].

    In 1990, I wrote a book: The Rise and Fall of Money Capital in 1990 as a reflection on these developments that were dominating the world scene and which were referred to generally as globalisation process. In the book I examined the dominant role, which financial markets had come to play in the evolving world capitalist system. I noted that money capital which had hitherto been looked upon as a secondary factor in production, had now come to the fore demanding the biggest share of the total product than ever before. I predicted that this dominance of finance capital in its speculative aspect was bound to lead to a collapse of the financial markets, which in turn would lead to the collapse of the entire capitalist system.

    I also agreed with the observations, then current of the increasing weakening of the nation-state. I argued that this weakening of the post-colonial state was raising the social and political responsibility of the individual to society. I called this individual, a societal individual, who should enjoy sovereign freedom. I pointed out that there was emerging a new world order, not as Bush would like it to be, but one which is leading to the emergence of both localised and world institutions based on the principles of universal equality of all peoples. These developments pointing to a new world order are calling for revolutionary transformations in each nation and countries leading to a re-arrangement of social, economic and political relations in the territorial units so reorganised.

    There were therefore pressures and demands for revolutionary change in the world economy and political order, which was dominated by a few super-powers to a world in which there was equality for all. Therefore, I argued, the emergence of this new order will lead uninterruptedly to the recognition of the universal equality of peoples and the diverse cultures of peoples. The continued existence of the nation-state is, therefore, a necessary evil, which must give way to a new order of peoples’ movements and local powers as forms of self-determination and the right of people over their land and resources.

    The demand for this new order has intensified within the womb of imperialism. There has emerged a new social force in the ant-globalisation groups throughout the capitalist world since the World Trade Organisation-WTO came into existence. A large number of peoples organisations have emerged, which are challenging the powerful capitalist countries of the Group of Eight-G8 industrial and financial powers. Although many of these groups have contradictory agendas yet the represent a real challenge to imperialist interests within their backyard. These ant-capitalist groups are increasing merging with the organisations of the South as well as the organisation of the indigenous peoples. A new internationalism is emerging, which is based on the recognition of the hitherto voiceless peoples.

    In another publication which came out of the same material which I used to write the Rise and Fall entitled: The Crash of International Finance Capital and Its Impact on the Third World, I tried to relate these developments in the global economy to the Third World Countries. This analysis also confirmed the increasing negation of the mechanisms, which were used by the nation-state for `national development’. Globalisation had come to take the form of structural adjustment programmes which were imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions on Third World as `national policy’, but which in fact worked against the nation-state in these countries. This showed that the political elite in these countries were incapable of defending their national gains against international finance capital and this demonstrated that globalisation was in fact the Highest State of Capitalism that Lenin had predicted and Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism as Kwame Nkrumah had also observed.

    The Current Situation-Another World Is Possible.

    In his call to the Sixth Pan-African Congress, Rodney as we saw above identified who the real enemy of the people of Africa was. This enemy in his view was the imperialist bourgeoisie who were assisted on the African continent by the comprador class as a “transmission line” for their interests in Africa. He pointed out that for the liberation Movements of Southern Africa are revolutionary and anti-imperialist and must therefore be defended against petty bourgeois state hegemony; the unity of Africa requires the unity of the progressive groups, organisations and institutions rather than merely being the preserve of states; (and finally) that Pan Africanism must be an internationalist, and anti-imperialist and socialist weapon. He also added that contemporary African state boundaries must be removed to make way for genuine politico-economic unity of the continent. He also called for the contemporary African state boundaries to be removed to make way for genuine politico-economic unity of the continent.

    The current situation is therefore characterised by instability and volatility. The US Bush Doctrine of “Pre-emptive Intervention” is based on the feeling of instability surrounding it as the sole superpower. There is no longer any possibility of any power policing the entire world. People of the South demand a global system based on the concept of multiple centres of power that can be supported by local powers and local communities. It is no longer possible or feasible for one country to boss over others. In a situation where big powers can no longer hold the ground and nation-states are weakening, there is not to redefine global relations to take into account the needs and aspirations of local communities and ‘indigenous peoples.’

    The new slogan introduced by the World Social Summit: “Another World is Possible” characters the demands of the current situation. It also fits in well with our roles as activists in our communities. This role has changed since the days of the Dar es Salaam Debate, which Rodney in many ways initiated. His demand in the paper submitted to the Sixth Pan African Congress that contemporary African state boundaries be removed to make way for genuine politico-economic unity of the continent, carries with it the recognition that these boundaries were artificial and their removal will give the people of Africa an opportunity to exercise their rights to self-determination by forming their own states which will be become pillars of a United States of Africa.

    His other demand that the unity of Africa required the unity of the progressive groups, organisations and institutions rather than those of states also recognised the right of popular forces to determine the future of the continent. It also recognised the limitations of the post-colonial states. So also the demand that Pan Africanism be an internationalist, anti-imperialist and socialist weapon of struggle has been demonstrated that only those Pan African leaders who identified themselves with the African masses both on the Mother Continent and in the Diaspora such as Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah have left their mark on the consciousness of the African people and people of African descent. Marcus Garvey demonstrated this progressive and internationalist Pan African tendency when his Movement Universal Negro Improvement Association-UNIA established its branches in places like Cape Town in South Africa and Luderitz in South West Africa in today’s Namibia. These Pan-African progressive forces are now joining with other progressive forces in the world to forge a New World.

    The current situation in Africa is also characterised by the weakening of the post-colonial state in Africa, which has turned more and more militaristic and repressive because of this incapacity to solve both the social and national questions which the anti-colonial nationalist leadership had indicated to be their political main agenda. Despite the few achievements of the national liberation movements of freeing their territories from colonial occupation, many of these movements turned their liberation agendas on their heads and accepted the demands of the United States and the other capitalist powers to denationalise the properties they had captured from the monopolies of the capitalist powers under the structural adjustment programmes and pressures of globalisation so that under policies of liberalisation and privatisation, most of African resources have fallen once more into the hands of these monopolists.

    As a consequence there has developed a heightened ethnicisation of politics which has led to total collapse of states such as in Somalia and the dismemberment of many of them such as Sierra Leone,Liberia, Ivory Coast and the former Zaire. The rising cultural-linguistic identities have developed ‘identity politics’ demanding equality at times separation from collapsing states. At the same time, it cannot be under-estimated that these new movements have embarked on struggles against the capitalist monopolies such as the struggles in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, fuelling new kinds of wars over natural resources. All these struggles by people over their lands and natural resources is creating anew situation for the need for new democratic states inspired from below rather than top-down imposed states. In this new era the scholar must define a new role.

    Within these new situations our role is to increase the struggles of the people of East Africa so they can join the new global movement to free the world from the shackles of imperialism and the empowerment of marginalised communities and peoples. Our views and ideological positions have greatly changed but the commitment to the struggles of the African not changed. Our activism has taken a different turn, but still oriented towards the freeing of the African people from the oppressive regimes of the post-colonial states that are propelled by international monopoly capitalism that Rodney correctly called the enemies of the people of Africa and the world as a whole. In our current positions reflected in our recent publications [Nabudere, 2006], emphasis is placed on working at community levels aimed at strengthening these social forms of organisation to become learning centres and centres of political activism.

    I find that my current responsibilities within our cross-border multi-ethnic clan of Kapsomin (across Uganda and Kenya) fit very well within the work of the Marcus Garvey Pan Afrikan Institute, which runs side by side. No longer can we separate the institutions of learning from the concretisations of the masses about their rights. The idea of the Institute is to create an institution of research and learning based on two pillars. These pillars are the African Sites of Knowledge and Wisdom located in the communities and the second pillar is the Institute Campus that promotes research in the communities aimed at rediscovering their knowledge and wisdom that imperialism tried to colonise. The ‘organicity’ of the scholar or intellectual to the community must not be not just imagined, it must be organic. Now our role must be refocused to strengthen communities to create accountable states within the context of a Pan-African union.

    By building institutions of collaboration of communities from the Clan to cross border cultural and linguistic unities, attempts are made to create greater political states in the face of weakening and collapsing post-colonial states and to combat the ideology of tribalism and neo-tribalism that the political elites have used to divide and marginalise the masses within the neo-colonial (post-colonial) states. But these new structures must be built side by side with community-based learning institutions in which the scholars work closely with the people in their communities-new and old. If this is done, we shall be discovering new strengths, inspirations, energies and focuses that the post-colonial and neo-colonial states of Africa have not been able to tap and enhance. It is only on this basis that a Pan African (United States of Africa) government will only emerge out of the peoples own initiatives to complete the ‘national question’ as the neo-colonial states also disappear.


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