The debates of this historical and unprecedented event took place in a central Nairobi hotel from August 28 to 31. It was convened and organized by our Kenyan section, the Revolutionary Socialist League. The conclusions of its rich debates are reflected in a Manifesto and various resolutions.
Delegations from diverse regions of Africa participated. In addition to the hosts, comrades from Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Nigeria, Western Sahara, Senegal, Eswuatini, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated. The comrades from South Africa were unable to secure a visa. A powerful greeting was received from Haiti and two comrades from Brazil participated. The event was presided by Ezra Otieno of Kenya, Imran Kamyana of Pakistan and Alejandro Bodart of Argentina, members of the leadership of the ISL.
The first day was dedicated to discussing the international situation, marked by the worsening crisis of the capitalist system and the dispute for imperialist hegemony between the US and China. In relation to the debates that have appeared on the left after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the need to combine support for the right to self-determination of the Ukrainian people with the condemnation of NATO and Russia’s imperialist role was reaffirmed. Many comrades highlighted the need to advance in the construction of an international organization like the one the ISL proposes as the only way to face the challenges posed by an increasingly polarized world, in which the class struggle tends to sharpen, as shown by the anti-imperialist rise that is gaining strength throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
The following day, comrades discussed the need to promote Revolutionary Pan-Africanism, based on the scientific teachings of Marxism as opposed to reformist Pan-Africanism, without class delimitation, which is promoted from different petty-bourgeois directions. Our strategy is a free, united and socialist Africa.
In the afternoon, comrades analyzed the revolutionary significance of the processes against French imperialism that are shaking all of Africa and have their highest expression in the overthrow of the puppet government of imperialism in Niger. This poses the necessity of strongly supporting the masses, who are the true architects of the changes that are taking place, committing our support against any type of imperialist intervention, and at the same time making it clear that the new military junta is not our government, nor does it have a program to break with capitalism. The following day, the overthrow of the government in Gabon confirmed the continental character of this ongoing process, which had previously seen coups of similar characteristics in Mali and Burkina Faso.
On the third day, comrades discussed the importance of promoting and extending to the rest of Africa the campaign against hunger that the Kenyan comrades have been promoting, linking it to the struggle for land and against socio-environmental depredation, which is destroying the populations’ subsistence economies.
Before moving on to the resolutions, comrades engaged in an in depth discussion about the problems of African women and the need to add comrades from the different African countries present to the ISL International Women and LGBT Commission, to carry out awareness campaigns and fight for their rights.
The Congress unanimously approved a Manifesto, which we copy below, and a series of resolutions that we will be publishing on the ISL website. The event concluded in a climate of joy and fraternization, singing songs of the continent’s revolutionary left and the international anthem of the working class, The International.
A new and very important step in the regroupment of the revolutionaries has taken place. The challenge of consolidating this progress and extending it to more countries on the continent remains.
Manifesto of the First
Pan-African Congress of the ISL
Africa is one of the richest continents, yet concentrates the extreme levels of poverty and inequality in the world. The plundering of our lands and the genocide of our peoples perpetrated by colonial and imperialist capitalism did not end with the formal independence achieved in the last century. Multinational corporations and a handful of local capitalists (the “comprador bourgeoisie”) own our best lands, extract our resources, exploit our working masses and plunge our people into poverty and hunger. African governments are accomplices in the plunder, they are associates of the imperialists in the theft of our resources and labor power, they implement the policies that facilitate that theft and plunder, and they repress our peoples to keep them oppressed and exploited.
Imperialist states and their multinational organizations manage our economies, promote coups d’état and civil wars, and even invade and massacre us directly, to ensure their looting. When many Africans, pushed by the result of these policies, seek a way out by migrating, they receive us with discrimination, repression and violence. Thousands of lives are lost simply attempting to seek a better future for our children.
Despite winning formal independence from colonial powers in the mid-twentieth century, many African countries have faced substantial hurdles in establishing full sovereignty and self-determination. Most gained their “independence” a few decades ago and are still tight in the jaws of their former colonial masters. Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and others waged an armed struggle with little or no success. Most African states negotiated their independence, thus all the plunder.
Neocolonialism is frequently exhibited through economic exploitation, political involvement, and cultural hegemony. Multinational firms, many of which are based in former colonial countries, have tremendous sway over African economies, exploiting natural resources, markets and labor power, and creating economic reliance. Furthermore, foreign countries maintain political clout through supporting, controlling or influencing domestic leaders and policies, so determining the course of national development.
There is no possibility of putting an end to this neocolonial misery without standing up to all imperialists, be they old Western powers like France, UK or the US, or new powers like Russia and China, from Africa. We must fight to put an end to all imperialist masters, not to exchange one for another.
This anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle necessarily implies standing with our Saharawi comrades in the struggle for the liberation of our continent’s last colony, Western Sahara, from an associate of European imperialism, the Kingdom of Morocco.
Likewise, we stand in solidarity with the heroic Haitian people against the complicit attitude of some African governments that join the game of Western imperialism to the point of offering to intervene militarily in its service.
We stand with our brothers and sisters in Niger against French imperialism and will defend them with every method at our disposal if the threats of invasion by the colonialists materialize. At the same time, we clearly affirm that the new government is not our government. In Niger, in all of Africa and around world, we are not only fighting against imperialism, but also to defeat capitalism and for workers to rule through democratically elected councils.
The only path towards the liberation of Africa is the unity of the African peoples, who have been artificially divided by capitalist imperialism |and its local associates in the bourgeoisie and complicit governments. For this reason, we are not united by our ethnic or national identities, but by the social class. The workers and peasants, the exploited and oppressed of Africa, have no common interest with the rich African associates of imperialism. We have more in common with the workers of the rest of the world than with them. The liberation of Africa will not be achieved with the local associates of imperialism. It will be achieved with the unity on class lines of the African peoples and the support of the workers of the entire world. That is why we are building an anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movement, in the perspective of revolutionary pan-Africanism, for a united socialist Africa in the framework of a socialist world.
Our movement is class based because workers produce all the wealth in the world and thus hold the social power and the ability to stop production and reorganize it under their democratic control. We strive to build the subjective factor of the revolution, the social force capable of leading all the oppressed of the world to change everything for good.
Our movement is internationalist because workers around the world have the same interests and face the same enemies that exploit and oppress us. The bourgeoisie has institutions that defend its interests throughout the world, like different imperialist blocs, and the UN, the IMF and the World Bank. Only a united movement of the workers of the whole world can successfully confront the imperialist bourgeoisie.
Our movement is anti-capitalist because this decadent, crisis-ridden capitalism in crisis has nothing left to offer humanity but more exploitation, oppression, hunger, war and environmental destruction. This system, trying in vain to overcome its crisis and stagnation, attacks labor, social and democratic rights, imposes bloody dictatorships, stirs up ethnic and religious massacres and armed interventions, and advances in the destruction of the planet to ensure its profits. There is no real democracy under this system. The only possible democracy will arise from the working class and its own institutions. That is why we fight for the destruction of this system and the construction of world socialism.
Our movement is revolutionary because capitalism cannot be reformed. Only the mobilized masses with the workers in the lead and a revolutionary leadership can overthrow it. All across the world, the masses time and again take the path of rebellion and revolution. But every time they find themselves blocked by reformist leaders and bureaucracies. For this reason, the historical crisis of humanity has been reduced to the crisis of its revolutionary leadership.
Today the central task of revolutionary socialists is to build revolutionary parties and an international with mass influence to promote permanent mobilization to defeat capitalist governments, fight for the overthrow of bourgeois order, and the establishment of workers’ governments and socialism around the world.
We stand for the expropriation of all big capital, whether foreign or local. We stand for the distribution of the land among the ones who till it and promotion of collective agriculture with the modern techniques. We stand for the right of self-determination for all the oppressed nationalities. We stand for democratic control of workers on production and commerce. We stand for the planned allocation of resources for the needs and benefit of all rather than the profits for the few. We stand for decent employment, food, healthcare, education and housing as a right of every member of the society. We stand for an end to all imperialist military bases in Africa and other parts of the world. We stand for equal rights for women and against all kinds of violence and discrimination. All foreign investment must be conditioned with total transparency and permission and supervision of a democratic workers’ government. We stand for the abolition of all visa regimes and travel restrictions for the working masses. We stand for a world without class and national exploitation, oppression, unemployment and misery.
These are our historic objectives and strategic tasks. Contrary to past experiences marked by bureaucratism and imposition, we unite on the basis the aforementioned political, ideological and action principles, with absolute political independence from all bourgeois forces. But with tactical flexibility to connect with the real processes of the class struggle and in an environment of fraternal debate and joint action. We build an international organization for concrete intervention in the global class struggle, internationalist campaigns and mutual collaboration in the construction of instruments of struggle. We do so with the method of a healthy democratic centralism to discuss and resolve among all and act as a single fist in the class struggle.
This is the project that the International Socialist League is building, bringing together dozens of organizations and thousands of militants on five continents, to unite the world’s revolutionaries across national, ethnic or identity divisions with the aim of leading the working class in its struggle for world socialism. The Revolutionary Socialist League embodies these principles and has hosted this event.
This is the project that this congress seeks to expand in Africa. We call on organizations and individuals who wish to join this new revolutionary building in Africa to take up this challenge together and fight for a socialist future. This is a significant opportunity to build and extend the ISL throughout the African continent
Class brothers and sisters in all Africa, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a continent and a world to win!
Africa moja, Africa huru, Africa ya Kisosialisti!
One Africa, Free Africa, Socialist Africa
Nairobi, 30 August 2023