West Africa has been characterized as the most volatile and vulnerable region of Africa. Throughout the last 10 to 15 years, African people in West Africa, like in most parts of the continent, have witnessed and are still witnessing an intensified military assault waged by vicious rebel movements, armies and groups supported by the United States, Britain and their various multinational corporations for control of the vast resources in the region.
A few weeks ago, a coup in Mauritania, supported by France and the United States, overthrew a puppet civilian government that was heavily linked to the Chinese and other countries of the Arab East. This is the latest of several coups and military activities in the region that continue to pose as threats to genuine development and progress in the region.
West Africa is generally known for its immense amount of natural resources that include diamonds, gold, bauxite, aluminum, iron ore, rutile, petroleum and other related resources. But the enormity of natural wealth in this region has created an ever growing scramble among the various multinational corporations for monopoly and control of these strategic resources, often resulting in proxy wars and rebellions spurred by the greed and exploitative tendency of western capitalist corporations and their home governments.
African masses bear brunt of imperialist-imposed conflicts
In all instances, however, the masses of African people have remained the direct victims of these naked struggles among these vicious capitalist corporations and the imperialist nations.
In Sierra Leone, for example, the struggle for diamonds resulted in the deaths of over two hundred thousand of our people and the brutal amputation of several hundred.
In Liberia, the contest for control of rubber and other strategic resources claimed the lives of over a million of our people, while contest for control of aluminum resources in Guinea recently claimed the lives of over five hundred of our people and several others were left with casualties and no medical care.
The levels of genocide and degrading and appalling conditions that we suffer from the activities of these corporations and their imperialist, capitalist governments have become inexplicable.
The reality of the poor and exploited African masses, just as it is for most oppressed people in the world, is that we now appear powerless and at the mercy of the various capitalist corporations and their governments whose right to exploit is being legalized and made necessary by military assault against the most vulnerable resource rich areas of the world.
Mercenary armies carry out imperialist economic agenda
In the case of West Africa, mercenary armies under the services of the United States, Britain, France and other European nations have and are still being used to facilitate and protect the exploitative activities of these corporations. In Kono, eastern Sierra Leone — which is the richest diamond mining region in West Africa — corporations like Branch Energy, Mile Stone, Sierra Leone Diamond Company, Petrograd Mines Ltd, Koidu Holdings and Africa Gold and Diamonds Ltd are among some 90 multinational corporations that are direct beneficiaries of the military operations of British mercenary firms, Sandline International and Executive Outcomes.
In some parts of the region like in the U.S.-controlled rutile mines in Mokanji in southern Sierra Leone, the U.S.-controlled bauxite mines in Boke and Kamsar in Guinea or the U.S.-Firestone controlled rubber plantations in Liberia, special armed mercenary groups are currently being maintained by corporations as protective army units to provide security and sanctuary for their activities.
In most instances these mercenary armies are notorious for inflicting horrendous crimes and abuses on the masses of the areas where these corporations are located. In December last year, police fired on a peaceful demonstration of youths in Kono protesting against the exploitative activities of Koidu Holdings killing two people and injuring several others.
A commission of enquiry that was established to look into the conflict ruled that it could establish the “actual ownership of the land” since most of the agreements signed between the government and the corporations give a 100-year lease to the corporation.
Very recently, the collapse of a mining dredge at the Sierra Rutile mines in Mokanji resulted in the deaths of scores of people. More often than not, the various neocolonial governments, whose accession of political power is roguely facilitated by these corporations’ sponsorship and in some cases direct military aggression — as was witnessed in Sierra Leone in 1998 — are completely unconcerned over the deplorable conditions of the people and the impacts of the activities of these corporations.
African masses robbed of benefit of massive resources
Today in West Africa, like in any part of Africa, our people face miserable conditions and live in abject poverty regardless of the enormity of resources. Microstates within the West African region have the highest infant mortality rates in the world, the lowest life expectancy, unstable national economies, the most vulnerable and powerless masses and the most vicious of deplorable conditions.
While corporations make billions of dollars regularly from extraction of the resources, the people are left with no access to or availability of social services like proper health care delivery, safe drinking water, electricity, good roads, quality education, or any semblance of economic development.
Consequently, the corporations are robbing the vast majority of our people of our future. Apart from having been conscripted and abusively used as soldiers to enhance the traitorous activities of these corporations, our children are now being forced into the alluvial diamond mines, by the circumstances created by this vicious cycle of exploitation, to again unconsciously work for these corporations who continue to make huge resources regularly out of this systemic exploitation.
Quite disturbingly, this uneven status quo continues to flourish regardless of incessant protests and struggles from the masses of our people against these deadly conditions. In most cases, the struggles of our people are never completely victorious, partly due to the intrigues of opportunist forces, developed as agents of exploitation and given the full-blown capacity by these corporations and neocolonial regimes to often kidnap and transform our genuine struggles into positions of advantage for themselves and our oppressors.
Missing is international African revolutionary workers’ party
This situation often cripples the ability of the masses to affect any meaningful and productive change in the conditions that have been forced upon us by these contradictions.
While there exists genuine forces in the region committed to the complete liberation of the masses, it is obvious that the absence of an international revolutionary movement of African workers has seriously affected our capacity to organize and handle a holistic revolutionary program. This poses a serious difficulty for most movements and individuals sincerely struggling to enhance the takeover of our resources.
This somewhat organizational incapacity has manifested itself in different forms ranging from limited or absence of resources, inadequate political education, limited training, ill-equipped revolutionary ventures, general inexperience and limited exposure.
In most instances, these in turn result in loss of potential and useful forces and opportunities, demoralization, self-defeat and a sense of helplessness, political isolation and vulnerability of the revolutionary movement, weighed down pressure on the revolutionary leadership and the overall collapse of the movement — vis-à-vis the rise and fall membership syndrome within the mass based movement.
These are contradictions that confront us, and which we have to deal with if our struggle to concretely build and consolidate a solid revolutionary movement must succeed.
This is because our efforts to strategically build and consolidate has been riddled and affected significantly by the difficult challenges inherent in developing this required organizational capacity needed to boost our strength and ability to effectively overcome the limitations inhibiting our determination to make a real, significant struggle against neocolonialism and imperialism.
It is worth mentioning that the establishment of an FBI outpost in Freetown, the role of the British International Military Advisory Training Team (IMATT) in Sierra Leone and the strategy of the British Department for International Development (DfID) — like the operations of the CIA in Liberia or the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — are all targeted at dissuading loyalty of the oppressed masses to the revolutionary movement and developing the reactionary and counter-revolutionary forces simultaneously.
Establishing the ASI: the only solution
Realizing this current organizational incapacity, the Africanist Movement hereby hosts the First West Africa Regional Conference of the African Socialist International (ASI).
The First West Africa Regional Conference of the ASI, scheduled for October 20-22, 2008, aims to unite and consolidate our separate efforts into an international process and organization capable of providing us the tactics and strategies necessary to surmount these challenges and forward the uncompromising liberation and unification of Africa and African people around the world.
The conference will bring together African revolutionaries, progressives and individuals committed to the struggle for African unity and liberation to discuss and adopt the international strategy and theory of African Internationalism.
It will also examine the question of multinational corporate exploitation in Africa, the challenges of the colonial borders, African identity, the growing Chinese influence in Africa and its implications, the ongoing crisis of imperialism, the dangers of neocolonialism, reparations and the right of return for Africans dispersed around the world due to slavery, colonialism and other accompanying assaults, and other questions related to the struggle for African unity and liberation.
The conference will advance concrete recommendations to forward the uncompromising liberation and unification of Africa and African people around the world and adopt a comprehensive plan of action for building and consolidating the African Socialist International (ASI) in Africa and around the world.
It will mark the official launch of the African Socialist International in West Africa and the establishment of a formidable regional structure or bureau to carry out the administrative and organizing work and activities of the ASI in the region and formalize its operations in West Africa.
Our collective task is to identify revolutionaries, progressives, individuals and groups to participate in this historically significant, groundbreaking conference and equally take an active part in the work to build the ASI in their areas of operation.
This is our collective responsibility.
One Africa! One Nation!