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Africans and the African Union Face Turbulent Headwinds

Introduction: Three crossing points

In all countries of Africa, from Egypt to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and beyond there are stirrings of the people who want to assert themselves politically in the context of the global capitalist depression.  These stirrings have created massive political tensions and are nowhere more evident than at the seat of the African Union where the poor and oppressed of Ethiopia have demanded a new democratic dispensation that provides real resources to the majority of the people.  Despite the glowing figures of economic growth, averaging 10.8% per year in 2003/04 – 2014/15, exploited Ethiopians have taken to the streets and internationalized their protests at the recent Olympics in Rio. When marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line at the Rio Olympics, he crossed his arms above his head in an “X”, a sign of protest against the Ethiopian government’s treatment of his people, the Oromo. At state of emergency in Ethiopia confronts the African Union (AU) about its future in a society of contested politics.

The peoples of Africa are responding every day to the global capitalist crisis by stating that the goals of Agenda 2063 cannot be achieved with the crop of current leaders. Genocidal economic relations in the South Sudan, dictators for life, idle threats to withdraw en masse from the International Criminal Court (ICC), war as a business in the so called war against terror and the illicit capital flight from Africa preserved the interests of a class in Africa that opposed real African Unity. This is one of the top contradictions facing Africa at the crossroad between self-financing and illicit financial flows out of Africa. Leaders such as Jacob Zuma of South Africa have demonstrated 20 years after the end of apartheid that the structures of capitalism is beyond color. Hence the shooting of workers at the Marikana mine exposed the top leader of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, who had functioned as a trade unionists during the anti-apartheid struggles. It is in South Africa where the scandals expose the levels of retrogression and stagnation of the political class in Africa.

In response to critical opposition to the stagnation at the AU Commission, the current leaders promised to ‘reform’ the African Union and to work harder to realize the aspirations of Agenda 2063. The goal of the ‘reform process’ is to transform the AU into a more effective and self-reliant institution. It will be the argument of this short intervention that the African Union is now facing turbulent headwinds.  The current efforts to appoint a new AU Commissioner has been caught in the cross winds of the impact of illicit capital outflows, the question of the reseating of Morocco in the AU and the challenges that Africa will face during a period of the ascendancy of the ideas of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen. The conclusion will suggest that the Pan African movement will rise to the challenges posed by the current moment and the real push for reconstruction and transformation in Africa will accelerate in this period.

African Union and capital flight

Most of the countries of Africa are now deeply integrated into the international illicit economy that is embedded in looted minerals, bunkering of hydrocarbons, money laundering, illicit funds from fraudulent activities and nonpayment of taxes. Of any major country, Nigeria has probably had the highest percentage of its gross domestic product stolen— largely by corrupt officials—and deposited externally. Since the 1960s, up to $400 billion has been lost because of primitive accumulation, with $100 billion shifted out of the country. In October 2016, the government filed 15 separate suits against 15 oil companies at the Federal High Court in Lagos to recover billions of dollars that have been illegally siphoned from the country. As reported by Sahara News, “the Nigerian government used the consortium of experts for the intelligence-based tracking of the global movements of the country’s hydrocarbons, including crude oil and gas, with the main purpose of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that had led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.”

Future researchers on the state visit of President Buhari to Washington in July 2015 will be able to analyze the call from Buhari for assistance in identifying the more than US$150 billion that has been illegally taken from Nigeria and what Obama informed Buhari of where to look for the money. Such researchers will then be able to connect the travels of President Buhari to Kenya, London and Dubai in search of these funds and how these centers of money laundering rebuffed the Nigerian effort to recover stolen assets. The legal action that has now been taken in Nigeria followed the earlier fine against that of telecommunication firm MTN for nonpayment of taxes is one indication that at the highest political levels in Nigeria there is a commitment to curtail money laundering.  A study by UNCTAD found out that between 1996 and 2014, “under invoicing of oil exports from Nigeria to the United States was worth $69.8 billion, or 24.9% of all oil exports to the US.”

With the release of the Panama Papers in 2016 there is now more evidence of the volume of ‘illicit financial flows’ and the amount of wealth funneled out of Africa every year by capitalists. Reports in the media that the world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy – were circulated in early 2016. In these reports, Nigeria, Cote D Ivorie and Angola were at the top of the list of African states with high net worth individuals holding hundreds of billions outside their country.

One major area of future research by progressive intellectuals will be to assess the linkages between political leaders and the opaque world of finance capital to unearth the infrastructures that have been put in place to ensure illicit financial flows from Africa. A good place to start will be to understand the role of finance in the current global struggles as outlined in the book by Michael Hudson, Finance as Warfare. Discussions on the nonpayment of dues to the AU by member states have been another example of the failure of intellectual and political leadership by progressive intellectuals inside and outside of Africa.

The fact that over 70% of the AU Commission is funded by imperialist states (called  donors ) is itself one indication of the infrastructure of capital flight. These ‘donors’ actually have the intelligence on how much money is being shipped abroad by African leaders, hence they seek to keep up the fiction of providing ‘aid’ to Africa. One good example of this duplicity was the case of the stolen funds from Zimbabwe. A few weeks after stepping down as Chair of the AU in January 2016, in an interview on March 3, 2016, President Mugabe made the announcement that US$15, billion had been stolen from Zimbabwe over the past 7 years under his watch. Yet, there has been very little exposure of how the Mugabe regime destroyed the economy while his cronies robbed the diamond mines and exported billions. In order to facilitate their export of capital they resorted to using the US dollar as the currency of the society while printing worthless bonds for the people to use as a medium of exchange in Zimbabwe.

Why didn’t Madame Zuma act on the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial flows out of Africa?

British corporations are the most experienced in the business of stealing and looting minerals from Africa. A recent report by the non-governmental organization, War on Want, documents how 101 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) — most of them British — have mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries. They collectively control over $1 trillion worth of Africa’s most valuable resources.

The details that are presented in this report are the kind of facts that should be studied in every major university and policy think tank  that supports the need for change in Africa. While this author takes issue with their designation of Sub Saharan Africa, we have witnessed the downgrading of African universities so that NGO’s can produce facts on ‘conflict gold’ and ‘conflict diamonds’ but there is no serious research being carried out because the same ‘donors’ starve African researchers of real resources.

The recent information by UNCTAD on the misinvoicing of minerals in Africa has exposed the fact that the question of gold exports from South Africa involved the pure smuggling of gold,

“The most striking feature of the gold sector in South Africa is the huge discrepancy between the amounts recorded in that country’s official trade statistics and those reported in its trading partners’ records. According to South Africa’s data, the country’s cumulative gold exports were $34.5 billion from 2000 to 2014, whereas according to trading partner data for that period they were more than three times higher, at $116.2 billion. This is indicative of massive export underinvoicing.” In fact, the study reports, the physical volume of exports (using the data from SA’s partners) and export underinvoicing are in “perfect correlation”. “This suggests that export underinvoicing is not due to underreporting of the true value of gold exports, but rather to pure smuggling of gold out of the country. Total misinvoicing of gold exports to South Africa’s leading trading partners was $113.6 billion over the 15-year period.” At an average exchange rate of R9 per dollar, this corresponds to over R1 trillion.”

What is true of misinvoicining in South Africa is true for every conceivable commodity exported from Africa. One of the failures of Madame Zuma in her role as Chairperson was to fail to aggressively place the resources of the AU in the area of combatting illicit financial flows and following the recommendations of the Thabo Mbeki high level panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. ”

Was it an accident that the press conference announcing the findings of this high level panel took place in Abuja where former President Mbeki announced that said African countries lose between $50 billion and $60 billion annually through illicit financial flow, IFF? “Monies for infrastructure and social amenities for the poor African population are being transferred to other countries via illicit financial flows,” said Mbeki at his report on the findings of the panel. This report by the High Level Panel reinforced the research that has been done over the years and reproduced by the UNECA to bring home the reality that Africa lose between $50billion and $60 billion annually through illicit financial flows. [1]

Capital flight and insecurity in Africa

There is competition between Britain, France, and the United States to decide on which country can produce the most corrupt officials in suborning African bureaucrats into the world of primitive accumulation of capital. The United States uses the institutions of the Washington Consensus (IMF and World Bank) and the US Africa Command for their corruption, the British seek to be sophisticated using their vast reservoir of ex colonial ideological apparatuses and hide behind  the mineral houses and London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) while the French are the most obscene in their corrupt and manipulative politics in Africa. Eva Joly has exposed the role of the French intelligence services and oil companies in those countries that are still dominated by France.

The scandalous relations between France and the puppets in many former colonies are well known and it is these puppets who compete to protect France in the corridors of the African Union. Before its name was changed, the French Elf state oil company, then, France’s largest enterprise with a turnover of 232.6 billion francs in 1996, had been robbed of over 2 billion francs—305 million euros—by its top executives, largely during the second seven-year term of ‘socialist’ president François Mitterrand (1988-1995).  Serious law schools need to get a hold of the judgement relating to the criminal activities of Elf. In their 1,045-page indictment and a further 44,000 pages of documents, the investigating magistrates described in detail “a large number of operations carried out on the margins of normal functioning of the group’s structures, and destined… to collect assets off the books”.

France has been able to establish the crudest criminal infrastructure in Africa. Up to today, even after the exposure of ELF the state deploy an extraordinary mixture of secret accounts, bribes, personal favors and political influence-buying that was not just tolerated, but officially sanctioned by successive French governments. During the trial of the most crude operators ten years ago, the company’s “Mr Africa”, André Tarallo, was jailed for four years and fined €2 informed the court in Paris that,

“annual cash transfers totalling about £10m were made to Omar Bongo, Gabon’s president, while other huge sums were paid to leaders in Angola, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville. The multi-million dollar payments were partly aimed at guaranteeing that it was Elf and not US or British firms that pumped the oil, but also to ensure the African leaders’ continued allegiance to France. In Gabon, Elf was a veritable state within a state. France accounts for three-quarters of foreign investment in Gabon, and Gabon sometimes provided 75% of Elf’s profits. In return for protection and sweeteners from Elf’s coffers, France used the state as a base for military and espionage activities in west Africa.”[2]

As reported at the time of the trial, ELF had been set up as a  state enterprise by General de Gaulle in 1963 “to ensure France’s independence in oil and which lived, grew and prospered in a special and incestuous relationship with Africa” (Le Monde, November 12, 2003). As Loïk Le Floch-Prigent put it: “In 1962, [Pierre Guillaumat] convinced [General de Gaulle] to set up a parallel structure of real oil technicians. [By creating Elf alongside Total] the Gaullists wanted a real secular arm of the state in Africa…a sort of permanent ministry of oil…a sort of intelligence office in the oil-producing countries.”

Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, CEO of Elf from 1989 to 1993, received a jail sentence of five years and a fine of 375,000 euros. Alfred Sirven, former general affairs executive, also got five years and a 1 million euro fine. André Tarallo, 76, former number-two in the hierarchy and known as “Mr. Africa,” was given four years and a 2 million euro fine. Alain Gillon, former refinery executive, received a three-year jail sentence and a 2 million pound fine. However, their counterparts and underlings have intensified their work in Africa and France has been the most active within the ranks of her colonies and within the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

The name of the company Elf Aquitaine International may have changed (now Total) but the continuity in practices of theft and bribery are so clear that these elements from France and the EU cannot afford real democratic change in African societies such as Gabon. Recent stolen elections in Gabon (that ensured the Bongo dynasty in power) brought out differences between different branches of the French intelligence and military. There was a clash between those who wanted Ali Bongo to go and those who wanted to reward Jean Ping for preventing the AU from acting in Libya in 2011.The corruption of the French capitalists has been well documented by Eva Joly and more needs to be done in relation to the role of France in financing and supporting insurgents in places such as Mali and Central African Republic and then turning around to the Security Council of the UN to lead the fight against terror in Mali and Central African Republic. The Peace and Security Council of the AU has permitted the European Union to set the agenda of what defines ‘terror’ and ‘terrorism’ in Africa. Both China and Russia as members of the Security Council of the United Nations have bene complicit in giving a pass to France for her activities in Africa. In the case of former President Sarkozy, he particularly worked hard to get the Chinese to be allies in their corrupt practices.

When the funds and minerals are fraudulently taken from African economies, then the foreign banks establish special desks to ensure that the illicit funds flow to offshore bank accounts. None of the reports on illicit flows out of Africa made the connections to the questions of militarism, insecurity, the so called war on terror and the role of international military operators, especially private military contractors. Cameroonian intellectuals who are researching on the expansion of Boko Haram beyond Nigeria are slowly documenting the duplicitous role of France in the enlargement of terror in Central and West Africa. Of course, these researchers cannot come out in the open because of the role of France in the Cameroons.

There has been talk of the reform of the African Union and the leadership of this reform process has been placed in the hands of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. A visit to the largest gold refinery in the Gulf of Arabia will widen the discussion of reform in the AU to implicate the looting of resources from the DRC and to place the mandate of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union in the elaboration of real peace.  One of my former students was told by the head of the gold refinery that over 70 per cent of the gold for the refinery came out of the DRC through Rwanda and Uganda. None of the reports on illicit flows out of Africa made the connections to the questions of militarism, insecurity, the so called war on terror and the role of international military operators, especially private military contractors. How can Kagame lead a ‘reform process’ in the AU when his regime violates the basic human rights of members of the opposition to the point of killings on foreign soil?

Europe is afraid of the full unification of Africa

The question of the AU budget as discussed in the discussions about ‘reform’ had steered clear of the questions of capital flight and definitive benchmarks of the African Monetary Co-operation Programme (AMCP) of the Association of African Central Banks. [3] Patriotic Pan African bankers who understood the full impact of external currency domination of Africa had been keen to develop the African Currency Unit as far back as 2002. At the 1963 meeting of the OAU, Kwame Nkrumah had admonished the African leaders that ‘Africa must unite or perish.’  For fifty years the Pan African project was pushed forward by the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty of 1991 establishing the African Economic Community. The former President of Libya had gone ahead with precise plans for the gold reserves of Libya to be used to anchor the African currency. After the NATO intervention in Libya it emerged that the primary motivation for the launch of the war was to halt the process of realizing the Pan African project of a common currency in Africa. Revelations from the correspondence between the Secretary of State of the United States, Hilary Clinton and Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France in March 2011 revealed that the plans for the NATO intervention were dictated by the following issues:

+ A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

+ Increase French influence in North Africa,

+ Improve his internal political situation in France,

+ Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,

+ Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.

Many of the leaders who had retreated from supporting the African Monetary Cooperation Programme are being made aware of the real role of international finance as the more literate follow the rulings of the British court in relation to the resources of the Libyan Investment Authority that had been stolen by Goldman Sachs. The ruling of the High Court in London in favor of Goldman Sachs against the Libyan Investment Authority is only serving to increase the literacy of Africans on the workings of the international financial oligarchy.

What is now needed is to study this judgement and to discern how the outbreak of the warfare in Tripoli in 2014 was related directly to efforts by Goldman Sachs to destroy the Libyan Investment Authority.

Recently President Museveni gave notice that the African Union will be working more aggressively to end foreign domination in Libya. Museveni stated that,

“We recently had a meeting in Addis Ababa and told all and sundry that AU intends to rescue Libya and we also made it clear that future attacks on African soil without coordinating with AU are not acceptable, to put it mildly. Can Africa defend African soil?  Very much so.”

This kind of bravado statement of Yoweri Museveni after the AU High Level committee meeting on 8 November 2016 belied the reality that at least three members of the AU committee, Chad, Egypt and the Sudan are partners of NATO in the current destruction of Libya.


In the book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, this author brought out the graphic historical lessons from the destruction of Libya and what lessons that will be learnt when comparing the invasion of Libya to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. The Pan African movement of that period  worked with the anti-fascist forces and accelerated the end of colonial domination in Africa.

The election of a new Chairperson and the question of Morocco

Between 1935 and 1946 the global mobilization against fascism built new alliances internationally and quickened the pace of decolonization in all parts of the world. That anti-fascist internationalism deepened with mass resistance inside of Africa and linked the pan African movement to the Bandung process to cement the South Project. From that moment until now, the Pan African movement has been a central anchor of the South Project, that is the project of creating a new international economic order. Africans are being called upon to rebuild and strengthen this project with calls from the belly of empire to defend black lives.

The Black lives movement in the USA is now in the vanguard of a worldwide movement to validate black lives as leaders in all parts of the world devalue life and place emphasis on accumulation of wealth. The present generation of youths is being mobilized through new means of communication to realize the goals of real Pan African solidarity from Burkina Faso in West Africa to Bahia in Brazil.

European project shatters in the face of solidarity in the South

The question of the rejoining of the AU by the present Moroccan leadership forms the next major challenge for the future of the African Union.  Since 1984, the political leadership of Morocco had placed its aspirations on the future of the European project, but with the implosion of the European ideal as manifest with Brexit, the Moroccan leadership has decided to rejoin the African Union. In the process, the Moroccan leadership seeks to strengthen the neo-liberal pressures of global capital inside the AU to challenge the anti-colonial stance of the African Union on Western Sahara and all outstanding colonial territories (Puerto Rico, Cayenne, Martinique, Guadeloupe Mayotte, etc). In fact, while the AU has been explicit in its opposition to all forms of colonial rule, the United States has been adamant that African leaders and intellectuals should not support the discussion of Puerto Rico as a colony in the decolonization committee of the United Nations. France has also refused to accept the designation of colonial oppression for its so called ‘overseas departments.’ In the United Kingdom, from time to time NGO’s call for public disclosure on the role of British Overseas Territories in the world of global illicit capital flows, but the amounts are so staggering that the ruling elements provide support for NGO’s to ensure that the question of British colonialism is not in the public consciousness. Colonies such as Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos vie for supremacy in money laundering while some of the illicit funds go to London to bloat prices in the property market.

Progressive Africans have been tracking the economic diplomacy of Morocco in the rest of Africa. As one commentator outlined,

“Morocco is currently courting a number of African countries relentlessly, including Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda, and others. Morocco has signed 19 economic agreements with Rwanda and 22 with Tanzania—two countries that traditionally backed the Western Sahara’s quest for decolonization. Nigeria Morocco have signed a total of 21 bilateral agreements, a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe. It is easily transparent that the economic agreements with these countries imply ulterior motives for increasing Morocco’s leverage in its campaign to return to the AU and deal a blow to Western Sahara’s aspirations for self-determination. Morocco is waging a similar campaign internationally and in the halls of the U.S. congress by hiring expensive lobbyists and sleazy public relations firms.”[4]

It is in the push by Morocco to play a leading role in the AU that is helping to define the future of the AU in world politics. The Moroccan bourgeoisie acts in concert with the most conservative Emirs in the Gulf of Arabia, Saudi Arabia, France and Israel. This push by the Moroccans is also caught up in the struggles for a new chairperson of the AU Commission.

It is the contention of this intervention that at this historical moment the ideas of the Moroccan leadership confront the aspirations of the Moroccan working peoples and thus the question to be posed is not whether Morocco will be part of the AU, but what kind of politics will emerge in Morocco out of the present stirrings of the oppressed citizens of Morocco. All across North Africa the political class remain terrified of new uprisings similar to that which toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The structural conditions that precipitated these rebellions are even worse today than they were in 2011. The death of a fishmonger in the northern town of Al-Hoceima who was crushed to death (inside a garbage truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police) exposed another reality of thousands of outraged Moroccans.  The present leadership of Morocco have a shortsighted understanding of world politics and have not yet grasped the seismic shift that has taken place since the imperial interventions in Libya and the war in Syria.

The turbulence in the revolutionary politics that had been initiated in the streets of Cairo and Tunis may seem to have subsided, but the youths of Africa are assessing the new forms of organizing for the next round so that the decisive blow against neo-liberalism in the next round of revolutionary struggles will sweep away militarists who seek to reverse the gains of popular rebellions. Western foundations understand the potential for revolution, hence the incessant conferences and studies on ‘good governance’ and ‘human rights; in Africa. The Left in Africa have a major task of defining the paths forward so that when the people move, they do not fall under the leadership of populists such as Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters of South Africa. The fact that this so called radical organization (the EFF) would throw in their lot with the Democratic Alliance (DA) is only one indication of how the soft liberals are waiting to benefit from the wave of current dissatisfaction. As in South Africa, so in Ethiopia where the opposition to the current regime has not articulated a clearly defined project to benefit the millions of workers and poor peasants in Ethiopia. The idea of self-determination for oppressed nationalities such as the struggles in Oromo or the Ogaden needs to be rescued from Stalinist concepts to link these struggles to the wider Pan African struggles within an integrated Africa beyond the Berlinist states.  Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin had espoused self-determination as an anti-imperialist measure necessary for world peace, but Stalin had distorted the concepts of the nation to reduce the appearance of the nation to the advent of capitalism. The African nations existed for hundreds of years before the nation appeared in Europe. Imperialism reduced proud African nations such as the Yoruba, Mossi, Baganda or Zulu to the category of ‘tribe’ and the left need new concepts rooted in Pan African internationalism to rise beyond the distortions of Stalin.

It is here where the concept of Agenda 2063 links up to the views of C. L. R James on the central role of black revolutionaries to world evolution. “Black peoples are at the center of world events and that [5] the revolutionaries of the world need the Africans as much as Africans need them.”  In 1939 James had written that, the only place where Negroes did not revolt is in the pages of capitalist historians.” So it is today when the African Revolution is not understood by the left and cede the political space to the humanitarian imperialists and NGO do-gooders.

Reparations and African Descendants.

The third major contradiction for the AU will be how it confronts the growing threat of fascism. The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the rise of the ideas of Marie Le Pen in Europe has brought back the questions of racism and xenophobia to the center of world politics. Donald Trump campaigned on the slogan ‘Make America great again,’ and there was no doubt about the message to harness the residue of white supremacists’ views in the USA. Since the election, this faction of US capitalism is now reorganizing to ensure the super exploitation of all and to support the killers of black and brown youths. The liberal left has failed to grasp the depth of racism and it was their inability to work among the white working classes that elevated the likes of Stephen Bannon and Rush Limbaugh. Yet, there are sections of the peace movement that recognizes that reparations must be central to the recovery of the United States and the world. The recent apology by veterans at Standing Rock for centuries of crimes against Native Americans is an important step in deepening the kind of apology that is needed to African descendants and to the peoples of the South West and to all those who were harmed by the criminal expansion of capitalism. This wave of apology will deepen divisions in the US military as black and brown soldiers demand a military that no longer commits crimes overseas.

Repairing humanity from the scourge of racist and genocidal violence has been at the center of Pan African political activity since the days of enslavement. In the last years of the OAU the Reparations question had been high of the agenda with positive interactions between the Global African family in all parts of the planet. The present leaders of the AU who have been silent on the question of the black lives at home and abroad are now faced with a vibrant #Black lives matter social movement that is spreading in all parts of the globe. When Haiti attempted to join the AU in 2016, this African society was rebuffed by a leadership that does not understand the history of Pan Africanism and the centrality of Haiti in the History of Pan African Revolts. Leaders who understand the so called ‘diaspora’ only in terms of remittances are being exposed for their silence on what is happening to Africans on a day to day basis in the face of police killings. The demands for reparations and for respecting Black Lives in the era of Donald Trump will sharpen the contradictions between the EU brand of Pan African partnership and that which comes from ordinary Africans.

There is little reference at the official level of how Agenda 2063 would affect the more than two hundred and fifty million Africans of the Global African Family living outside the geographical boundaries of Africa. The resurgence of the crudest forms of racism has taken place in Brazil when the majority of the population now identify as African descendants. In Venezuela, the left has failed to provide a vigorous anti-racist program so that the white racists and the imperialists have filled this void with an intensified program to reverse the social democratic gains of the past fifteen years.

At the bidding of their ‘global partners’ that seek to set the tone for research and the agenda in Africa there is emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals instead of deepening the understanding of reparations and reparative justice. Slowly, the EU-Pan African partnership is downplaying the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and in its place organizing meetings all over Africa on ‘good governance’ and ‘security sector reform ‘instead on the role of financial houses in money laundering.

On the whole, the present leaders had a different project from the producing classes who believed that the idea of Africa for the Africans at home and abroad should not be a slogan. African intellectuals are torn between these two visions of social and economic change, with a small minority carrying forward the Nkrumahist vision that had inspired the call for full unity. The political upheavals of the current currency wars and the wars on terror will have impacts on the entire process of African unity and one of the challenges for the progressive forces will be how to engage with the popular producing forces to seize on moments to push harder for a common currency and to make legal the idea of the free movement of the people of Africa.

When the AU Constitutive Act was being drafted, it was the conscious effort of the progressive Pan Africanists that the AU would be qualitatively different from the OAU. The Secretary General of the OAU had worked from a Secretariat. The AU has a Commissioner whose powers to intervene are clearly stated in the Constitutive Act. Current leaders such as Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame may grandstand on reforms and the capabilities of the African Union but the seriousness with which they will be taken will be determined by the levels of transparency and democratic participation in their societies.  Nonpayment of dues by member states of the AU is itself a statement about where their loyalties are. They have kept foreign banks alive while their people go without basic necessities. It is in Nigeria where there is the largest section of the African working class where one will have to grasp the joint struggles against capital flight and Boko Haram. Organized working class leaders in Nigeria face an uphill battle to define the contours against Nigerian capitalism when both Christian and Islamic fundamentalists seek to wreak havoc among the youths. Two Nigerian leaders were killed when they took assertive action against imperialism. The psychological warfare against Nigeria is most intense in order to detract from the calls to bring to justice the fraudulent leaders. Both Murtala Mohammed and Chief M.K.O Abiola were eliminated when they decided to stand up for Africa. The late Tajudeen Abdul Raheem had worked hard for the building of Pan African Unity and he had admonished the youth to organize.


This call for organizing is now clearer as the liberal ideas of the West has been shattered with the coming to power of the alt right in Europe and North America. In every part of Africa there are uprisings and rebellions.  Whether it is in the streets of the Sudan or Chad, the DRC or Zimbabwe, a new movement for change is sweeping Africa. The Wahabists and conservatives in the Gulf are harnessing this discontent and in places such as Somalia and Mali are financing alienated youth to create a new Jihadist criminal structure that hires youth in the name of fighting imperialism. The African left have their work cut out for them and the more farsighted understand that the present struggles must have a plan beyond elections. In places such as Kenya and Nigeria the creative energies of the youths are on display in creating new communication platforms but the organized political parties seek power without an awareness of the rise of neo-fascist forces internationally.

These neo fascist forces have made it clear that there will be no grey areas on the question of racism. It is this same racism that entreats the leadership of Europe and North America to seek the recovery of capitalism on the backs and bodies of the African at home and abroad. The current rebellions in Ethiopia and South Africa demand new engagement with new ideas about transcending neo-liberal capitalism. The same foundations that have supported the leaders in the DRC, Ethiopia, South Africa and the Sudan are busy organizing research meetings to ensure that the rebellions now underway does not really disrupt the looting of African resources.

Kenya remain the model for western foundations  of spending peanuts on studies on ‘democratic reforms’ while international capital support a Kenyan ruling class that divides the working peoples on the basis of religion and “tribe”. The corruption of the Kenyan military led to their catastrophic defeat in Somalia in January at the el Ade (comfort base). Somali insurgents fighting against external military presence in Somalia killed 180 Kenyans in January at a camp in el Ade in January 2016. Eleven months after the killings, the Kenyan military refuse to provide figures as to the numbers killed. Instead, the Kenyan military is promoting their book, Operation Linda Nchi: Kenya’s military experience in Somalia.[6]

Faced with the fact that Kenyans want real information on the deaths in Somalia, the government of Kenya has refused to provide information as to how many were killed. Given the revolutionary potential of the Ethiopian and Kenyan workers and small farmers, the President of the USA has used his authority to enlarge the operations of the US Africa Command in Somalia. On November 27, President Obama acted to give the legal authority for the expanding war in Somalia using the U.S. Special Ops, AFRICOM, private contractors, and the CIA with the 9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq.  US military personnel in Somalia can easily be redeployed to Ethiopia when the current revolutionary upheaval matures.

Member states of the African Union have been silent on this expansion of the war Somalia when for two decades it was stated in the corridors of power in Washington that it was the presence of US military personnel in Africa that acts as a magnet for misguided youths who are financed by the Wahabists.

At the time of submitting this article, the peoples of Africa were confronted with the clowning refusal of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to accept the results of the elections of December 1, 2016 when he lost  to the leader of the combined opposition led by Adama Barrow. While the diplomatic dance of the AU and ECOWAS is underway, serious Africans need to engage with the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative that had been launched in 2007 by the United Nations Office on Drugs. Such engagement will shift the discussions on the question of where to get the resources to fund the work of the African Union. This will help to create a register of the illicit movement of funds. It is here where the progressive hackers need to provide the Left with the movement of monies in the illicit global economy.

The renewed confidence of Africans is emerging in the midst of an economic depression in Europe and at a moment when Africans are stating clearly that there must be new values for African unity, for healing ourselves and the world (Maathai 2010). Wangaari Maathai as a feminist and environmentalist in the Pan African Movement had brought the questions of environmental repair to the forefront of the discussions on Pan Africanism. This new brand of Pan Africanism that respects life, health, peace and environmental reconstruction is slowly asserting itself in all parts of the Pan African world. The AU will survive the turbulent headwinds. It is not clear whether most of the current leadership will survive. The three crosscurrents promise to blow many away.



[1][1] . Ajayi and L. Ndikumana (eds.), Capital Flight from Africa: Causes, Effects and Policy Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015

[2] Jon Henley, “Gigantic sleaze scandal winds up as former Elf oil chiefs are jailed,”


[3] The idea of an Association of African Central Banks is as old as the OAU. It was first introduced on May 25, 1963, at the Summit Conference of African Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Then, African Heads of State and Government unanimously agreed to set up a preparatory Economic Committee to study a large range of monetary and financial issues, in collaboration with Governments and in consultation with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The first meeting of Governors of African Central Banks was held in Addis Ababa, in February 15-22, 1965. The meeting also agreed to set up sub-regional Committees (as defined by ECA) which would be composed of members of the Association or their representatives. The Association has an Assembly of Governors (the governing body of which are members all African Central Banks Governors), a Bureau (composed of the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson of the Association and Chairpersons of sub-regional Committees), sub-regional Committees (composed of Governors of Central Banks of the five (5) sub-regions as defined by the African Union).

[4] Yohannes Woldemariam, Behind Morocco’s New Tango with the African Union, https://www.ghanastar.com/africa-news/behind-moroccos-new-tango-with-the-african-union/

[5] C.L.R. James, History of Pan African Revolt, with an introduction by Robin D G Kelley, PM Press 2012

[6] Official KDF Account, Operation Linda Nchi: Kenya’s Military Experience in Somalia,  Ministry of Defence, Kenya 2014

More articles by:

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013.  Notes.

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