Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 20, May 30, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Important International Anniversary

Marking Africa Day 2020


All-Africa Peoples Conference, Accra, Ghana 1958

May 25 marks Africa Liberation Day, sometimes known as Africa Freedom Day, or more recently simply Africa Day. It has been celebrated on May 25 since 1963 to mark the date of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), but the day has been observed since its inception in 1958, by the peoples of Africa, the African diaspora and all progressive people to mark the victories achieved, as well as the continuing struggles, for the complete liberation and independence of the African continent.

The African continent and its peoples have made many advances in the struggle for their empowerment and to end foreign interference over the past sixty-two years, including the founding of the OAU itself, as well as the creation of its successor, the African Union. There have also been important struggles to bring to end dictatorial regimes as in Egypt and Sudan.

But the imperialist system of states, headed by the governments of the US, Britain and the other big powers, continue to thwart the aspirations of the peoples of Africa for empowerment and total liberation.

This year Africa Liberation Day was held in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic and highlighted the necessity for the peoples and countries of Africa to rid themselves of all remnants of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Most African countries have fared much better than some commentators predicted when compared to the countries of Europe and North America, for example. In these conditions African governments also took the lead in demanding the easing of debt repayments due to the IMF, World Bank and other financial institutions. However, what is noticeable is the fact that African countries make up over 50% of all the 76 poorer countries eligible for the suspension of debt payments announced by the G20 group of the world's richest countries in April 2020. African countries are also over 70% of 25 of the world's lowest income countries eligible for additional debt relief announced by the IMF at the same time. As well as the indebtedness of African countries such figures also show that Africa remains largely in a state dependency on the wealthiest countries and their financial institutions. This status is also made apparent by figures for foreign direct investment and by the enormous illicit financial flows out of the continent, estimated at $1.3 trillion between 1980 and 2018.

Foreign interference in Africa takes many other forms and one of the major problems today is that it continues, often in the guise of providing humanitarian support, or security. The US military alone, organised under the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), has troops operating in over twenty-five African countries, allegedly for "combating terrorism", and has military bases in at least fifteen African countries.

It appears that the big powers are contending with each other to provide "security training" and offer other forms of military "support" to African countries. Among the most significant recent developments are the China-Africa Defence and Security Forum, first launched in 2018, and the first China-Africa Peace and Security Forum held in 2019. At the present time there are seven different UN peace-keeping missions in Africa. China currently participates in five of these UN peacekeeping missions, including the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and has demonstrated that in this arena too it is willing to compete with the US and its allies.

British, French, US and other foreign troops are also still being deployed across the countries of the Sahel allegedly for peace-keeping operations partly under the auspices of MINUSMA. But the militarisation of the Sahel which has continued throughout the twenty-first century has not brought peace to the region. It was reported recently that violent deaths have increased fivefold in the region since 2016. In 2019 there were more than 4,000 such deaths. In Burkina Faso alone, violent deaths increased from eighty in 2016 to nearly 2,000 last year. It is now anticipated that such violence and instability may also extend to other states in West Africa, including Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo.

Many of the military activities taking place in the Sahel are alleged to be combating circumstances which have been created or exacerbated by the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, in which Britain played a leading role. Britain's armed forces continued to intervene in the country long after 2011, and along with other significant foreign intervention, have continued to fuel a conflict which has been ongoing since the NATO intervention. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar, are now also openly intervening in this conflict, along with the US, France, Italy and other EU countries.

African Liberation Day 2020 demonstrates once again that the peoples of Africa have the support of progressive people through the world in their struggles to remove the yoke of foreign domination and interference. Africa and Africans have continued to demonstrate that they will continue these struggles to realise their aspirations for liberation and empowerment, taking into account their own experience and based on the principle that "we are our own liberators!".


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