Saturday, May 28, 2011

African Liberation and the Quest for a United, Democratic Africa: The Inspiration of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

On May 29, four days after African Liberation Day celebration, Nigeria will swear in its third democratically elected president since its return to civilian rule in 1999 after decades of military dictatorship. As Nigeria makes strides towards achieving the aspirations of the people for a better society, many challenges stand on its way. Throughout the recent election season, political careerists who are gung-ho about the old politics of exploiting ethnic, regional, and religious differences continued to use languages such as zoning, Christian south vs Muslim north, southern candidate vs northern candidate, etc, in attempts to clog the wheel of Nigeria’s democracy and unity. As they risk being swept aside by the new wind of change in Africa, these old style politicians still lurk in the dark after the elections, seeking to sharpen their tools of divisiveness and chauvinism.

The freedom, unity and genuine independence of Nigeria are linked to the unity and freedom of all of the peoples of Africa. Africans in all parts of the world understand that the international struggles to end racism and exploitation is linked to the current struggles for emancipation in Nigeria and in Africa. Africa is now in a revolutionary moment and the forces of plunder and economic rape are seeking to maintain the old relations of exploitation and division. To confront the old style politics, we want young Africans to draw inspiration from the life of an illustrious Pan Nigerian democrat and towering Pan Africanist and humanist, the late Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, who passed away on African liberation Day (May 25, 2009) in the course of organizing for better society. As we pay tribute to Dr. Tajudeen on this 2011 African Liberation Day celebration, we want to remind younger Nigerians that a better Nigeria and a stronger and united Africa is realizable


Tajudeen was born in Funtua, Katsina, in Northern Nigeria to a Yoruba father from Ogbomosho in South-West Nigeria. He would have been fifty in January 2011. While cherishing his Yoruba/Ogbomosho heritage, Tajudeen was culturally Hausa, energetically Nigerian and politically African and Pan African. He identified with other Nigerians in a national context so that it was difficult to box him into any particular ethnic category. He lived above the fault lines of religion and ethnicity. Tajudeen was at home in Kampala, Nairobi, Abuja, Funtua, London , Barbados or any part of the Pan African world. He connected with democrats from across Nigeria, Africa, and the Diaspora. He spoke Hausa fluently and identified with all oppressed people across ethnic and religious lines. He practiced his Islamic religion while advocating that Christians and followers of other religions (including non-believers) have equal religious freedom as did he. He reviled the religious hypocrisy and ethnic chauvinism of leaders and politicians who exploit diversity for political ends. He worked to defend the rights of women and constantly humanized the actual conditions of women who were dehumanized by sexism and male chauvinism. He wrote about his sister who died in child birth and properly remarked that women should not die while trying to bring new life into being. Read more

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beyond the Privatization of Liberation

South Africa is a society where the actions of political leaders in the state machinery are threatening to reverse of the popular struggles for liberation. Seventeen years ago, the formal shackles of apartheid were rattled. But the structural basis of apartheid was never dismantled. When Nelson Mandela became the head of state in 1994 there had been euphoria all over Africa, indeed all over the world, that a new road toward a non-racial democracy was being taken. The majority of the people wanted a better life: an end to racism, access to health, life, peace and a decent environment. However, very soon after the integration of the ANC (African National Congress) into the structures of apartheid, the political leadership of the African National Congress turned their backs on the ideas of transforming the society and embraced the ideas of liberalisation and the privatisation of the economy. The ANC embraced unbridled capitalism. Using the cover of reconciliation, the former powerful transnationals supported a class of blacks to enter banking, insurance and retailing as long as they accepted the standards of racist hierarchy and sent their children into the schools that taught Eurocentism.

The ANC was a party that was based on a tripartite alliance: the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Of these three partners the most forthright in calling for fundamental change was COSATU. The South African Communist Party aspired to be the intellectual and ideological standard bearer for the alliance. At one level the path toward liberalisation should have been opposed by the SACP, but the South African Communist Party found a convenient formulation to support the capitalist road. Their understanding of the stages theory of Marxism meant that South Africa had to pass through a period of capitalist development before the working class could be ready for an alternative to capitalism. This theoretical understanding of Marxism that twisted the revolutionary ideas of class struggles justified the support for the privatisation of large sections of the economy. In a very short time, international capital understood that the faces at the top may have changed but the conditions of exploitation and plunder would not fundamentally change. Read more

Friday, May 20, 2011

Haiti: Reparations and Reconstruction

For two hundred years the peoples of Haiti have been struggling to reconstruct their society. Before the Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 could be consolidated, the French and other imperial powers worked to isolate the revolution for fear that the ideas of freedom would be contagious and spread. But they could not turn the tide of freedom. Failing to stem the idea that the African enslaved wanted freedom, the government and political leaders of France demanded reparations from Haiti, thus distorting the essence and meaning of reparative justice for 100 years. Despite this, the fears of the imperial west that the Haitian Revolution would inspire other slaves in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States came to fruition. Haiti played its role of supporting freedom and independence throughout the region. Simon Bolivar and other revolutionaries from Latin America flocked to seek assistance from Haiti. Every act of freedom by Haiti scared the imperial powers; these powers slowly consolidated the ideas of capitalist exploitation and white supremacy so that these racist ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries began to take root in Europe and North America.

United States revolutionaries, such as Thomas Jefferson, who internalised chauvinistic ideas about European and male superiority opposed the reconstruction of Haiti and refused to recognise the independence of Haiti. It was only after the bloody US Civil War (1861-1865), when the enslaved in the United States won their freedom that the US government recognised Haiti. This diplomatic recognition was followed by the destruction of the capacity for the Haitians to reconstruct their society. Western bankers, financiers and merchants and Jim Crow architects worked with a small clique inside of Haiti to frustrate efforts for reconstruction. To guarantee that reconstruction did not take place the bankers, financiers and the militarists organised a military occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). This occupation by the US, supported by France and Canada, laid the foundations for brutal militarism to contain the spirit of the people of Haiti. In the book, ‘Haiti: The Breached Citadel’, author Patrick Bellgrade Smith brings to life the epic struggles of the Haitians to be independent and how the forms of peasant agriculture gave them social solidarity outside of the urban centres where the √©volu√© aped France. Read More

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bob Marley and Emancipation From Mental Slavery

On 11 May 2011 it was 30 years since Bob Marley joined the ancestors. Bob Marley was a cultural artist who became internationally known as a defender of love, freedom and emancipation. This week we remember him, his songs and his contributions to both revolutionary consciousness and his call for us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.


It is usually from the most rural areas where the cognitive skills and the history of community solidarity continue to prevent total mental breakdown. Robert Nesta Marley was born in the rural areas in the island of Jamaica in February 1945. Jamaica was one of the slave-holding territories of British imperialism. The history of rebellions among the enslaved informed the consciousness of the peoples of this island to the point where its name has grown beyond its size as a small island with less than 3 million persons. British cultural imperialists worked hard to inculcate Anglo-Saxon eugenic values of individualism and selfishness but cultural resistance from the countryside provided an antidote to oppression. The assertiveness of the people meant that even among the imperialists, some from among the British fell in love with the island and with its people.

Bob Marley was the product of an interracial relationship between an English military person (Norman Marley, a captain in the colonial army and overseer) and an African woman, Cedilla Booker, from Jamaica. Marley identified with Africa and broke the long tradition of mixed-race persons who denied their African heritage. Bob Marley spent his early years in the lush countryside of St Ann, but moved with his mother to Kingston while still in his early teens. He grew up in Trench Town among the most oppressed sections of the working-class districts of Kingston and was influenced by the Rastafari movement. His formal education came from the Rastafari who developed independent bases for educating the people so that they could escape ‘brainwash education.’ The Rastafari movement has been one of the most profound attempts to transform the consciousness of the Caribbean people so that they recognised their African roots and celebrated Africa’s contributions to humanity. From the Caribbean, this movement has spread to all parts of the world. Bob Marley was one of the most articulate spokesperson for this movement. Read more

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Posada Carriles: "The Bin Laden of the Americas"

The news regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden by United States military forces hit the airwaves on Sunday, 1 May 2011, prompting jubilation among many people in the United States and other places around the world. This triumphalism of US citizens, who were directly or indirectly affected by the military activities of bin Laden’s al Qaeda group, emanated from the belief that bin Laden’s death served justice to the victims for the 11 September 2001 attack on the US. It is, however, important to note that as dreadful as bin Laden was, modern international terrorism did not begin with him. As quiet as it is kept, international terrorism did not begin on 11 September 2001. Before Osama bin Laden, there was Luis Clemente Faustino Posada Carriles, also known as Posada Carriles or ‘Bambi’, according to a de-classified CIA file. Read more