African Liberation Day Remarks from Niger

I’m Alassane Aboubakar, member of the Organisation Révolutionnaire pour une Démocratie Nouvelle (ORDN) Tarmamouwa (Star in Hausa, a language commonly spoken in Niger and Nigeria). The ORDN is a political party in Niger, created in 1991 after the opening of the multiparty system, by a group of progressive comrades who led the student union movements of the 70s and 80s in Niger, in the sub-region and internationally, such as Comrade General Secretary Mamane Sani Adamou, Comrade Shérif and Comrade Ganbo, to name but a few.

ORDN Tarmamowa is a member of WAPO (West Africans Peoples Organisation), an umbrella organization of progressive West African political parties, organizations and trade union associations for the total liberation and unification of Africa, so dear to Comrade Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah.

I quote: “The total liberation and unification of Africa under a pan-African socialist government must be the main objective of all black revolutionaries throughout the world. It is a goal which, once achieved, will realize the aspirations of Africans and people of Af rican descent everywhere. At the same time, it will enable the triumph of international socialist revolution and progress towards world communism, under which every society is ordered according to the principle -from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”.

Commitment: I was active in the Union des Scolaires Nigériens (USN) Maradi section, where I held several positions in the Lycée Technique Dan Kassawa sub-section and the Maradi section, where I was in charge of the ideological and political training of comrades in 1994.

Lulled into the progressive movement, I joined ORDN in 2021 for the 2021 general elections, where I put together a list for the municipal and legislative elections.

Professionally: I’ve worked in the infrastructure sector, as a site manager or project manager. I’m currently the promoter of Compagnie Sahélienne d’Etudes et de Réalisation d’Infrastructures et Environnement (CSERIE), an SME.

Academically: I have a DUT in hydraulics and rural development.

Today, May 24, 2024, I owe you a presentation on the theme: Unity as a weapon in the fight against imperialism.

As part of the commemoration of African Liberation Day, dedicated to the Centenary of Comrade Amilcar Cabral, renowned theorist and practitioner of the struggle for pan-Africanism and leader of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

Before I begin, I’d like to apologize to the organizing team for not having been able to send them the presentation as planned.

That said

I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce my remarks than with the introductory words of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah on that memorable day of May 24 1963, and I quote: “I am happy to be here in Addis Ababa on this highly historic occasion. I bring with me the hopes and fraternal congratulations addressed by the government and people of Ghana to His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie and to all the African Heads of State gathered in this ancient capital, on this epoch-making day in our history. Our goal is African unity, starting now. There is no time to lose. We must now unite or perish. I am certain that, through concerted efforts and our firm resolve, we will lay the foundations here for a continental union of African states.

Unity, union, unification, the word is pronounced in all its declensions in one swift stroke. This is a clear indication of its historical and circumstantial importance in the construction and future of Africa and the struggles to come.

Unity as synchronization, as cohesion and coherence, as the pooling of means and self for a cause, has always been the primary preoccupation and tipping point of all action. Then as now, the quest for unity of action takes longer than the action itself – 2/3 of the time. In fact, all the so-called preparation that surrounds even the most elementary action stems from this quest for buy-in and unity. Unity in the conduct of the action and in perception before and/or after the event. The history of mankind is made up of concerted efforts, isolated or extended from the savage or man in the state of nature described by Jean Jacques Rousseaux. Unity is the key to all action, and has been so in all the struggles: identity-based, religious, progressive and/or revolutionary that humanity has known, whether they succeeded or failed. It will be the same in the future, which humanity will undoubtedly experience.

Today, more than ever, everything is a balance of power; what was possible for isolated forces yesterday is no longer possible today.

Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Reactionary and imperialist forces have increased their strength a hundredfold, and no longer hide behind their desire to crush all opposition to their interests and designs. In the process, particularly difficult balances of power have emerged at international level.

To counter them, there’s no better way than to unite in that old recipe and invention of socialist movements: internationalism: INTERNATIONALISM. But which one?

The internationalism of the past, expressed in support for the Algerian, Vietnamese, Chilean, Nicaraguan, Polish, Angolan and other peoples.

Twenty years ago, the powerful wave of the alter globalization movement, which at the time was embodied in the demonstrations against the war in Iraq, in the Porto Allègre World Social Forum in Brazil, and in the Saint Denis Social Forum in November 2003, and which structured the internationalism of the turn of the century against financial globalization, neoliberalism and the repressive imperialist, colonialist and warlike policies of governments at the behest of the ruling classes, was no longer enough.

Over the last twenty years, the multi-dimensional ecological, social and democratic crisis, capitalist exploitation, patriarchal oppression, racism, misery, militarism and wars have been crushing peoples more and more acutely, with no moral or legal limits. The imperialist West has destroyed its own world order by trampling international law and imposing double standards. The masks have come off, and the hypocritical, hyper-caring paternalism has given way to an assumed gangsterism under the flag of the international community, with the UN as before. The beginnings of the catastrophe have been revealed since the mechanical demonization of Iraq following the events of September 11, 2001, and the destruction of the Iraqi state by a coalition of the folly of several abused or alienated states. The end of scruples, the triumph of crude lies in the respected and respectable figure of the first black descendant of a slave, Colin Powell, US Secretary of State; crime in the land of psychopaths of law and justice. So, what’s left once you’ve crossed the insurmountable threshold: the RULE of lies and force? Nothing! Force and lies have but one goal: violence. The violence of words and deeds in which the devil takes body and soul and feeds on the silence of righteous men.

After Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya are being demolished for no other reason than to gain access to wealth and natural resources by any means necessary, including war, massacre and/or the deportation of peoples. Like what’s happening in Palestine

Today, the whole world is trembling and holding its breath at the extent of the capitalist West’s folly. War; the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, the unspeakable massacre of populations in Palestine, terrorism in the Sahel, the crisis in Congo DRC, Sudan, Haiti, New Caledonia etc. etc. are all daring attacks by imperialism. Daring because it believes that there is nothing and nothing to fear from the other side. Not even nuclear escalation, let alone that of opposing anti-capitalist and imperialist movements like ours.

The world is at a crossroads, they say.

Just as at the beginning of the 20th century, we find ourselves in the chiaroscuro evoked by Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying, the new world is slow to appear, and in this chiaroscuro monsters are rising”.

This quotation can help us to understand the antagonisms at work at the start of the 21st century, the direct consequences of the disillusionment and fears that have followed one another as the neoliberal and authoritarian offensive continues, while the extreme right and retrograde forces occupy ever more space.

Fear must change sides, and today more than ever, anti-imperialist forces are called upon to unite. Unite to frighten, to make imperialism tremble, as it did in the 80s in Angola, following the internationalism embodied by Cuba in solidarity with the Angolan, South African and Namibian peoples.

The first condition for the success of a movement is that it becomes aware of its strength in union.

This year, at least for the last three years, major upheavals are taking place in Africa, similar to those that took place in the 1960s under the banner of sovereignty and total independence.

The security crisis triggered by NATO’s assassination of Mohamed Kaddaafi and the destruction of the Libyan state has reached a happy conclusion. The awakening of the collective conscience to the underhand manoeuvres of a neo-colonialist West under the banner of the UN and military peacekeeping or counter-terrorism operations. For the first time since the balkanization of Africa and the confiscation of its independence, three countries – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – have joined forces in an AES (Alliance des Etats du Sahel) defense alliance to resist the imperialist vises of France and America. The impact of such an action, widely supported by the masses of people in all walks of life, was a wake-up call for the multitude, and is gradually spreading across the continent, as evidenced by the blossoming of pan-African movements, even in the diaspora.

The unprecedented victory by KO in Senegal of Pastef with the election of Bassirou Djomaye Faye and Ousmane Sonko is the tipping point awaited by all. Its originality, tactics, strategy and resilience must inspire and serve all of us in our drive to oust all regimes under the orders of neo-colonialism and achieve African unity under socialism, as envisaged by Kwamé Nkruma on May 24, 1963 in Addis, and all his companions, including Amil Car Cabral, whose centenary we are also celebrating.

For my part, one of the lessons I’ve drawn from these events in the Sahel and Senegal is that, in the face of neo-colonialism and imperialism, unity is the only weapon worth fighting with. More than seven thousand heavily armed French and American troops were stationed in the Sahel, in a ratio of 50 to 100 Sahelian soldiers to one French or American soldier in terms of equipment, logistical and information support, and we made them leave without firing a shot.

It’s worth pointing out that, among other things, what happened in the Sahel, the denunciation of defense agreements, the dismissal of foreign forces, the denunciation of immigration agreements with the EU, the dismissal of French ambassadors, etc., etc., were all made possible peacefully by the international balance of power imposed by Russia and the BRICS. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t be able to avoid a war lasting several years, with all the desolation that implies, as in Vietnam and Korea.

The convergence of internal and external forces, and the synergy of ideological exchange and action, is the key to defeating imperialism. You have to be perfectly aware of your own limits, especially if you want to extend them. Said Cabral

“Theory is a weapon,” he said.

Today, UNITED, we recognize just how much we scare them.

By a paradox quite ironic in the past, we who set out with the watchword to frighten them, never took our own program seriously, we did not believe ourselves in what we could in union; let’s not make the same mistake again, let’s grow our strength starting with solidarity. We have to if we are to overcome capitalism and achieve socialism.

Isolated, we hear the argument of agitated minorities and silent majorities, but in reality it’s something else that needs to be said. We need to say that, logically, history belongs to those who make it, who have rarely been the most numerous in history, but who had a quality that the others didn’t. They were united and took action. They were united and active.

Only one thing can stop imperialism. A power comparable to and opposed to its own. The power of numbers, provided it carries the desire to turn history on its head. It is by building this power that we will achieve success. You are a part of it by joining the struggle, and in reality much more broadly by becoming a linking force on all fronts of the struggle. Binding us together is what we need most urgently. There is no more important political issue in the current period than to link what is separate, to bring together what is dispersed. So we’ll say, you can’t link just anything, just anyone, just any way! And that’s true! But it’s precisely the times that are constantly making the common condition more visible, the very condition that creates the possibility of this connection. Today, this common condition is the one reigned by neo-liberal capitalism, the dehumanization of everything, the worst kind of institutional violence, the double standard, the radiant obscenity of the owners. There’s not a single person left with any conscience who isn’t shocked by it, so I firmly believe that the only way to succeed in the battle we’re waging is to give it the widest possible scope and the broadest possible meaning, through an overall movement in which it fits in some sense, and which can only be this: Bind us together to stand in the way of history gone mad, and replace it with our own.

Today’s anti-imperialist struggle is perilous. It is so, because of the disunity, ideological and material unpreparedness of the anti-imperialist forces, on the one hand, and the absence or weakness of the internationalism that was its strength in the cold war years, on the other. Perilous as it is, it is no different from the Marcus Garvey, Du Bois or Nkrumah years. “The ideological defect within national liberation movements constitutes one of the greatest or the greatest weakness in our struggle against imperialism”: denounced Amilcar Cabral.

The monkey’s grimaces haven’t changed; the basis is the same, or has changed little if you read the literature on the subject. The market necessity that drove them 500 years ago to subject us to slavery, then to colonize us when it had grown, is even more apparent today with new, more subtle and tougher competitors (China, Turkey, India, Russia, etc.). As far back as 1885, France’s Prime Minister Jules Ferry defended his government’s colonial policy before the Chamber of Deputies in the following terms: “Isn’t it obvious that the great states of modern Europe, once they have industrialized, must face up to an enormous and difficult problem, the foundation of their industrial life and the condition of their very existence: that of the market? Haven’t you seen that, one after the other, the great industrial nations are adopting a colonial policy? And can we say that this policy is a luxury for a modern nation? No, gentlemen, this policy is as much a necessity for all of us as the market itself.

Albert Sarraut, Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1923, was even clearer: “What’s the point of embellishing the truth? Initially, colonization was not an act of civilization, nor did it stem from a desire to civilize; it was an act of force motivated by self-interest. It was an episode in a vital competition that has continued to fester between individuals and groups.

Even today, it’s the same line taken by Zakozy in Dakar, when he said that Africa was not part of history; by Donald Trump, when he said that “these countries are full of shit”; and by Macron, when he used ECOWAS and certain West African countries against others.

Retired General François Lecointre makes no secret of his desire to recolonize Africa, and I quote: “We’ve been working to highlight common European interests. What is our destiny as Europeans is the Mediterranean and Africa, where our destiny is at stake, and we, the French, have constantly tried to involve Europeans in this awareness of the need to act collectively in Africa and the Mediterranean. And I’m absolutely sorry to see the failure of our commitments in the Sahel, and I think we’re going to have to ask ourselves the same question again, because we can’t imagine having an entire continent on our doorstep, sinking into the destruction of government and state apparatus, sinking into a form of chaos and civil war in many countries, and more and more countries in difficulties linked to climate change, which are even more dramatic for vulnerable populations such as those in Africa, a continent that’s about to experience a demographic explosion the likes of which no continent has ever seen before. So just imagine, it’s going to happen here, in the next 10, 20 years, and it won’t have any impact on us, because we’re living in a kind of bubble, protected by I don’t know what else.  It’s simply unconscious. I think that this common interest should one day make Europe decide to act as a political entity and to defend its own interests, including by committing its armies. I’m convinced that in a few years’ time – I don’t know if it’s 10 years or less – we’ll be obliged to go back to helping these African countries. It’s not China, Russia and Wagner who are going to provide lasting solutions to the enormous difficulties facing these African countries and their populations.” end of quote.

Despite our recent successes in the Sahel, as someone once said, imperialism is stubborn.

The challenge is on.

How can we mobilize the masses today to build their security, to use their freedom, how can we convince them to build that democratic concord which is a victory over the forces of discord, over the laws that erode social protection, over the practices of subjugation to European and transatlantic marching fundamentalism? We urgently need to restore to their rightful place our training, care, research, information, justice, teaching and cultural and social action systems, which are indispensable to the construction of social bonds and which have been demolished by capitalist management logic.

It’s not enough to march together to demonstrate the language of humanity. To build social and international peace, we need more justice, care and education. SOCIALISM. The human community must be built on the solidarity of ideals, not on the basis of race, religion or rejection of others.

To defend a country, to mobilize an army, technology is not enough, weapons are not enough, you need human and symbolic sustenance. As Jean Jaurès wrote, national defense is only possible if the nation participates with its heart and soul. It is the neglect of our own values, our humanist culture, our revolutionary culture, our republican culture, that leads to defeat. He asserts that neither equipment nor strategy are enough, and that a country’s defense and security depend closely on its social and cultural substance, i.e., on a strong desire to defend its values.

The new army rests on a social democratic foundation: socialism, without which it is no more than a colossus with feet of clay.

Thank you very much

More from this Writer

“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth