|Volume 53 Number 15, May 21, 2023
May 25 of this year is the 60th anniversary of African Liberation Day. It marks a historic convergence of the peoples of Africa to have their sovereign nation-building projects and exercise decision-making based on their own experience and thought material, and to rid themselves once and for all of the enslavement, colonialism and imperialism of foreign powers.
African Liberation Day was born out of the consciousness of the peoples of Africa that their liberation was their own act and part of the worldwide struggle against imperialism and of the united front of the working class and peoples to end the exploitation of persons by persons. It was initiated at the first Conference of Independent African States held in Accra, Ghana, on April 15, 1958, and attended by eight independent African heads of states . That day was declared "Africa Freedom Day" to mark the ongoing progress of the liberation movement.
This conference was significant in that it represented the first Pan-African Conference held on African soil. It was also significant in that it represented the collective expression of African People's disgust with the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so much suffering to African People. Further, it represented the collective will to see the system of colonialism permanently done away with. The Talking Drum states about this conference:
"After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and the subsequent slave trade, which cost Africa in excess of 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African People singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said, 'enough'! But in 1958, at the Accra Conference, it was being said in ways that emphasised joint, co-ordinated and unified action.
"This conference gave sharp clarity and definition to Pan-Africanism for the total liberation and unification of Africa. It also laid the foundation and the strategy for the further intensification and coordination of the next stage of the African Revolution, for the liberation of the rest of Africa, and eventual and complete unification."
In 1960, seventeen African states gained their sovereignty marking it as the "Year of Africa".
On May 25, 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with more than 1,100 people representing 31 African states, 21 African liberation movements and hundreds of supporters and observers in attendance . The OAU (today known as the African Union) proclaimed that May 25 would from then on be celebrated annually as "African Liberation Day". Up to the present, African Liberation Day is an occasion to highlight and carry forward the aspirations of the peoples of Africa for freedom, sovereignty and a new society.
Today, while nearly every country in Africa has nominally achieved its independence, the peoples' fight to block imperialist dictate and ongoing exploitation of their countries' human and natural resources continues. Not a year goes by without the revanchism of the imperialist powers and powers of old Europe rearing its ugly head. Britain, France and the US are increasing their aggressive military operations throughout the continent, particularly in north, east, west and central Africa.
As of November 2021, the U.S. Defence Department says it has 6,000 troops, Defence Department civilians and contractors in nearly 30 bases across Africa. The British Army states that its largest deployments are currently training or on operations in Africa, without giving a figure. British troops are based in Djibouti, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Somalia. There are five bases in Kenya. The British Army is conducting "training" in 22 African countries. France had 4,500 troops in West Africa, in Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania until recently. The current government of Mali rejected the presence of French troops, which withdrew in February 2022, reducing French troops in Africa by half. Other non-African governments have troop operations in African states such as Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, and the Republic of South Sudan.
A heinous example is that of the destruction of Libya, whose government was overthrown by the US-led aggressive military alliance NATO and its proxy forces in 2011. This was the most cynical revenge by the imperialists against the Libyan people and their leadership which fought to defend Libya's interests and would not kowtow to imperialism. One particular consequence of the NATO bombing campaign was the racist terror inflicted on Libyans of Sub-Saharan African origin, many of whom were killed brutally and whole towns such as Tawergha were emptied. The NATO powers and their monopoly media went to great efforts to spread lies of "African mercenaries" specifically targeting Black Libyans for attack.
The aftermath of "regime change" in Libya widened instability, lawlessness and terrorism not only in that country but throughout north Africa and West Asia. The countries responsible include all the old colonial powers and others. These countries must be held to account and reparations made for this crime and all the historical crimes and those of the present against African peoples. The US and NATO are planning more such tragedies which must not be permitted to pass.
In the countries of southern Africa, many of which waged glorious and heroic Liberation struggles throughout the 1960s to 1980s against the colonial powers and racist apartheid rule, the people are displaying the same heroism as they confront the problems of nation-building today. A major problem they are confronting is the continued control of important sectors of the economy by racist monopoly capital, whether foreign or coming from the legacy of racist minority rule. The peoples of countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola which delivered strong blows against imperialism have worked staunchly to ensure that this legacy does not have the upper hand.
The question of the land and its historic theft from the peoples remains of utmost importance and land reforms and redistribution have been an historic step to ensure the people have an economic base which can guarantee their livelihood and development.
The British working class and people must oppose and condemn the British government for its participation in imperialist aggression against African countries, and demand that foreign relations be based on mutual respect and benefit with the countries of Africa. They must stand as one with the peoples of Africa and support their struggles, rejecting all attempts to justify Britain's colonialist legacy and its Commonwealth and Empire. A completely new chapter is required, which is favourable not only to the peoples of Africa and their projects in building their future free of imperialist intervention, but favours also the working class and people of Britain. The day will come when those today who continue the colonialist and imperialist legacy, and continue to commit crimes against the peoples of Africa are charged and punished for these crimes. Let us further inform ourselves and others regarding the developments taking place throughout Africa today. The exploitative relations and intervention in the affairs of Africa and its peoples must be ended.
On the occasion of African Liberation Day, Workers' Weekly sends militant revolutionary greetings to all the peoples of Africa fighting to exercise control over their lives, countries and economies so as to guarantee a bright future for themselves and their children. We salute their achievements and contributions to the worldwide movement for national liberation which are second to none and that have uplifted all of humanity.
Long Live African Liberation Day!
1. It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian Peoples
2. By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule.