Franz J.T. Lee, April, 2005

Kwame Nkrumah: The dark face of the Bolivarian Revolution

Surely, Latin America and Venezuela have to create their own revolutionary praxis and theory, to realize their own socialism, however, out of ignorance we should not repeat the fatal mistakes, concerning unity and integration, that occurred elsewhere, for example, on the African and Asian continents already nearly half-a-century ago.

Our current Bolivarian relations to Africa should not be only diplomatic, economical or commercial; for the sake of our own emancipatory advancement, they have to be, all in one, historical, social, global and emancipatory.

Only in this way, we need not go North, East or West, but straight forward.

We have to know, to learn from past revolutionary experiences, in order that the Bolivarian Revolution could transcend myopic, parochial vendettas, the current imperialist stumbling-blocks, and henceforth invent new social arms to defend ourselves against the current, fierce Yankee attacks, the unscrupulous, lying Leviathan of the mass media, to surpass global, world fascism, that is, to be invincible, to introduce our own socialism, together with those of others, especially of Africa, on a world scale.

This is what deepening of the revolution ... socialist, permanent revolution ... is all about.

For all these reasons, we have to study conscientiously the totality of the equal, unequal and combined trans-historical relations and events on a world scale. We have to learn and study the past and present African revolutionary lessons of continental integration and solidaric unity, to enrich our own Latin American, emancipatory endeavors.

Here, in a short commentary, we cannot go into much detail concerning the daily actions and thoughts of the various titanic, African revolutionary leaders, for example, of Kwame Nkrumah, of Patrice Lumumba, also not delve profoundly into their numerous scientific and philosophic works.

We can only blaze the trail, to encourage our Bolivarian comrades, by studying other languages, to understand other views, to learn from the African liberatory experience, but, also to avoid the catastrophic results of continental disunity, imperialist collaboration and criminal betrayal of the deepest aspirations, sentiments and wishes of millions of oppressed and exploited peoples. The African parallels ... in unequal historical space and time ... to the current situations in Latin America, to President Chávez, are fascinating, so obvious, thus, only here and there we will directly make some specific references.

Everything said here, directly concerns the Bolivarian Revolution.

Next to Patrice Lumumba, Frantz Omar Fanon, Nelson Mandela and others, Kwame Nkrumah ... one of the greatest African leaders and revolutionaries, in the epoch of "decolonization", of launching European and North American neo-colonization ... was born in Nicroful, in the British-ruled colony, the Gold Coast, on September 21, 1909. Originally he was named Francis Nwia-Kofi, only later in 1945, he changed his identity to Kwame Nkrumah. In 1935, as a trained teacher, he left for the USA; till 1945, there he further pursued university studies.

What concerns us especially here in Venezuela and Latin America, is Nkrumah's radical Pan-African policy ... explained in his work, "Africa Must Unite" ... the formation of the "Organization of African Unity" (OAU) in 1963, and like Fidel Castro, his unconditional support of all revolutionary, anti-colonial movements in Africa and elsewhere.

However, just like our President Hugo Chavez , he experienced the same national and international hateful slandering campaigns, the vicious attacks of the global mass media. Furthermore, while on an official trip to Beijing, China, and to Hanoi, North Vietnam, he was overthrown by a military coup, organized by the British Secret Service and its global, bloodthirsty allies in 1966. He spent the rest of his life in exile, aided by his friend, President Sekou Toure of Guinea; there, in Conakry, he continued writing his books. On April 27, 1972, while receiving medical treatment against cancer, he died in Bucharest, Romania. However, till this day, his revolutionary daydream about a liberated "United States of Africa" still lives on.

Among his most famous political, revolutionary writings, which we will comment below, are the following:

1947: "Towards Colonial Freedom"
1957: "African Socialism Revisited"
1961: "I speak of Freedom"
1963: "Africa Must Unite"
1964: "Consciencism: Philosophy of the African Revolution"
1965: "Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism"
1968: "Handbook for Revolutionary Warfare"
1970: "Class Struggle in Africa"
1973: "Revolutionary Path

Here we will just comment generally about these theoretical works and the serious attempts to convert them into revolution praxis in Africa.

Immediately, when it became clear what he was up to, in the huge national and international mass media, Nkrumah was slandered as a dangerous "dictator", a blood-thirsty "tyrant", suffering from a psychopathological "personality cult", putting up huge statues of himself all over Ghana, and of forming a one-party, communist, undemocratic State.

In a nut-shell, to accomplish Continental Freedom, he emphasized African Unity, described in his work "Africa Must Unite", and with others, in 1963, he founded the "Organization of African Unity", including its Liberation Committee. Against what African integration and class struggle were directed he narrated in detail in his "Neocolonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism".

In this work, he stated that modern neo-colonialism ... nowadays also called "savage neo-liberalism" ... with its fake democracy and political independence, represents late imperialism in its final, and perhaps most dangerous stage. The social essence of neo-colonialism is that ideologically the State ... adorned with all kinds of democratic gems, with national and international sovereignty, supposedly politically independent ... in reality, is completely directed from outside, from the metropolitan countries. He concluded that it is also the worst form of imperialism itself; for those who practice it, it means global power without responsibility, and for those who suffer under it, signifies endless exploitation without any remedy.

(See: Kwame Nkrumah: Neo-colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism, Panaf, London, 1974, p. 9-11.)

To liberate the oppressed Africans masses from their inferiority complexes, master and slave relations, ethical and religious illusions and colonial, racist ideologies, in his work, "Consciencism: The Philosophy of the African Revolution", he developed a specific scientific praxis and philosophic theory for African emancipation.

Especially valid for the whole Bolivarian movement, this is what he understood by dialectical, revolutionary praxis and theory:

"Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought. ... We prefer self-government with danger to servitude in tranquility."

Returning from the Bandung Conference in 1955, Nkrumah was convinced that socialism would liberate Africa from the capitalist vices of the world market, moving Ghana and other "Third World" countries, out of the tentacles of the colonial trade system, hence reducing their dependence on foreign capital and technology. In other ways, like President Chavez, he stated; "Socialism is the Path!"

However, Ghana, already reduced to a colonial, mono-cultural economy of cocoa production, dependent on world market prices, had no real chance of achieving massive industrialization. The various economic, expensive projects that Nkrumah launched, were generally unsuccessful. By dropping the market price of cocoa, this was precisely the economic weapon that world imperialism used to crush this revolutionary paradigm, thus preventing all forms of possible, future, economic independence.

(Also, see: )

Like President Chavez of Venezuela today, more than forty years ago, Nkrumah arrived at the logical conclusion that for a very long time, the capitalist, colonial and neo-colonial effects were going to stay in Africa, unless something very radical happens to drastically change this exploitative, dominating status quo. He saw socialism as the path to follow. However, to preserve African human values, in the spirit of Frantz Omar Fanon, to create an original, authentic African emancipatory identity, he distanced himself from the ideologically infested "African Socialism" of many other "leaders" of the liberation movement.

In this writing, in 1970, already thrown out of power, Nkrumah indicated that the only real road towards total independence in Africa, Asia and Latin America, was via the "class struggle". He analyzed the class structures in the real African historical situation, and, in accordance with Fanon, concluded that the alliance of the peasants and workers of Africa, led by their revolutionary vanguard, should liberate themselves by armed struggle from their colonial, fascist masters. Politically, the urban workers should win over the progressive peasants and take the potential national revolution to the agricultural, rural sectors, to the countryside. These "wretched of the earth", this millionfold popular base, will give the African revolution its true vigor and striking force.

Later, in 1968, in his "Handbook for Revolutionary Warfare", written for the African guerrilleros, concretely he explained armed self-defense, and the future construction of a Pan-African Liberation Army, against global imperialism and fascism.

(See: Kwame Nkrumah; Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, I. P., New York, 1980.)

Already then, in 1968, Nkrumah urgently suggested the establishment of an effective, continental, military organization, to plan the future tactics and strategies for Fanonian self-defense of the African Revolution. He made concrete proposals for the political and military co-ordination of the emancipatory, armed struggle.

In the second part of his "Manual", he summarized the experiences of guerrilla warfare and popular armed resistance in Soviet Russia, China, Vietnam, Algeria and Cuba. He emphasized that the coming global revolutionary struggle against imperialism and neocolonialism is logical and inevitable; we do not have the luxury of an alternative, we are facing a liberatory necessity, the dimension of this armed revolutionary answer to imperialism is as immense as Africa itself. According to him, the armed struggle of the peoples of Africa is the highest form of political action, of social praxis, it could be the continental catalyzer to spark off the global human fire to extinguish neo-colonialism forever. (Handbook of..., p.p. 42-56.)

As early as 1963, in his famous work, "Africa Must Unite", inter alia, he suggested the establishment of the following:

A. A Common Market for Africa;
B. A Common Currency for Africa;
C. A Central Bank for Africa:
D, A Common Monetary Zone for Africa;
E. An African Continental System of Communication;
F. A Continental Armed Force of Africa.

Obviously this was too much for European and North American imperialism in Africa, they had to get rid of Patrice Lumumba, Frantz Omar Fanon and Kwame Nkrumah.

In Ghana, as we related, Nkrumah's government was overthrown in 1966, and was replaced successively by rightist and leftist puppet regimes. His "Organization of African Unity" degenerated into a Talk Shop of Neo-Colonial Quislings, not even Khadafi of Libya could save it anymore. Its Liberation Committee supported reformist, neocolonial "liberation movements" and "freedom fighters".

The African version of the North American ALCA came in the form of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) "as vision and strategic framework for Africa's Renaissance", that Thabo Mbeki of post-Apartheid South Africa so eloquently glorified. The neo-colonial NEPAD was honorably baptized by the OAU ... originally founded by Nkrumah, ... at its 37th summit meeting in July 2001. Earlier, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa were given the mandate to produce "a socio-economic development framework for Africa".

On their face value, the principles, priorities and programs of NEPAD, like in the case of the ALCA, seem plausible, sustainable and adequate, however, seen at a closer look, they have nothing to do with African integration, independence, socialism and emancipation.

On the contrary, the NEPAD wants to "build the competitiveness of African countries and the continent"; to "ensure that all Partnerships with NEPAD are linked to the Millennium Development Goals"; etc. Its program of action "is a holistic, comprehensive and integrated sustainable development initiative for the revival of Africa."

Well, no sign of Chavez' ALBA anywhere. Patrice Lumumba, Frantz Omar Fanon and Kwame Nkrumah, including Jose Marti and Simon Bolivar, would turn in their graves, if they could see what our current African "great leaders" understand by unity, integration and emancipation.

The lion's share of our current, immediate Latin American emancipatory tasks is composed of that what Kwame Nkrumah forty years ago was already daydreaming about, On the basis of past, global, revolutionary experiences, we have to construct our ALBA, our "Organization for American Unity", our Socialism.

Finally, Kwame Nkrumah taught us: " The best way of learning to be an independent sovereign state is to be an independent sovereign state."