There has been much confusion regarding the character, purpose, and benefit of projects in Africa such as those launched by multimillionaire musical artist Akon in Senegal. This project is described by the New York Post as being “run entirely on renewable energy” and Akon himself is quoted as saying: “With the AKoin we are building cities, the first one being in Senegal…we’re securing the land and closing out all the legislation papers for the city. We want to make it a free zone and cryptocurrency-driven as a test market.” Essentially, this is a capitalist project. This is an old strategy, one of wealthy diasporic Africans (Akon himself is of Senegalese extraction) returning to the motherland, buying up property, and trying to construct little Wakandas. The recolonization movement in the early 1800s (backed by wealthy colonizers in the UK and US) led to the formation of two “independent states” on the West Coast of Africa, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These countries were not independent, they can be seen as the first neocolonial test cases. In the case of Sierra Leone, initially populated by diasporic Africans who self-liberated from slavery during the American “Revolution”, it remained a colony of Britain until 1961. Both countries lacked native control over their natural resources. Liberian rubber was the property of Yankee corporations, diamonds from Sierra Leone remained in the grasping hands of the British. One of the main reasons that the Americans sought to destroy the movement led by Marcus Garvey was that it promoted, encouraged and developed strategies for African economic self-determination in the US, in the Caribbean and Latin America, and in the Continent. The imperialists simply could not allow this, and it is to the eternal demerit of Communists that we failed to develop mass links and a United Front with this movement which captured the energy and support of tens of millions of Africans, instead of working for its destruction because we saw it as an ideological and political rival.
Back to the Akon City project. Akon’s goals, I believe, are not wilfully malicious. I begrudge no African that thinks they are genuinely helping their people. However, this project is a capitalist project and thus is doomed to either fail or set up a wealthy utopia for Europeans and Africans with the means to play around with cryptocurrency and such. In essence, Akon is hamstrung by his class position and class stand. Rich Africans returning to the Continent and seeking to set up what are essentially little Liberias and little Wakandas is a strategy that does not take into account the presence and insidious machinations of neocolonialism and bureaucratic capitalism (compradorism). Africa is poor not because the people there are bad capitalists. Africa is poor because of capitalism and imperialism and its lackeys on the Continent who are installed to ensure the flow of resources to the old colonial metropoles. Akon City is closed to the tens of thousands of Congolese youth who mine the coltan which will fuel Akon’s cryptocurrency. Akon City is closed to the hundreds of thousands in Dakar who live in shipping containers and do not have running water, or electricity. Akon City is as real to the majority of Africans as Wakanda is. For all Africans to enjoy a high standard of living it is essential to replace capitalist pipe dreams with Pan-African socialist reality. Africans, working-class and peasant Africans, must have control of our wealth and our Continent. Neocolonialism and imperialism must be buried with armed force. As long as colonizers continue to loot our continent we will see no peace, millions of us will continue to die no matter how many glass and concrete monstrosities Akon constructs. Look to Liberia and Sierra Leone as negative examples, and study the works of those such as Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, and other Pan-African revolutionaries. Apply them to our day to day reality, analyze and criticize everything, and seize the time. Take class as the key link.