HANDBOOK OF REVOLUTIONARY WARFARE
A Guide to the Armed Phase of the African Revolution
“Taking up arms for the freedom and the political unification of Africa is the final crystallisation of serious study of the oppressed and oppressor.”
To the African guerrilla
This book has been written during my stay in Conakry. Previous notes I made for a manual of guerrilla warfare for African freedom fighters were left behind in Ghana when I departed for Hanoi on 21st February 1966. The manuscript was handed over to imperialist and neo-colonialist intelligence organisations by the military and police traitors.
This HANDBOOK, presenting a completely new approach will, I hope, help to make possible the successful completion of the armed phase of the African revolutionary struggle for total emancipation and an All-African Union Government.
The Black Power movement in the U.S.A., and the struggles of peoples of African descent in the Caribbean, South America and elsewhere, form an integral part of the African politico-military revolutionary struggle. Our victory will be their victory also, and the victory of all the revolutionary, oppressed and exploited masses of the world who are challenging the capitalist, imperialist and neo-colonialist power structure of reaction and counter-revolution.
Conakry, Guinea. 30th July 1968.
RULES OF DISCIPLINE
1. Obey orders in all your actions.
2. Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses.
3. Turn in everything captured.
4. Speak politely.
5. Pay fairly for what you buy.
6. Return everything you borrow.
7. Pay for everything you damage.
8. Do not hit or swear at people.
9. Do not damage crops.
10. Do not take liberties with women.
11. Do not ill-treat captives.
12. Keep your eyes and ears open.
13. Know the enemy within.
14. Always guide and protect children.
15. Always be the servant of the people.
BOOK ONE – KNOW THE ENEMY
THE WORLD STRATEGY OF IMPERIALISM
Know the enemy; Collective Imperialism; Sham independence; Neo-colonialism; The struggle against neo-colonialism; Propaganda and psychological warfare; Foreign military preparedness; The need for Pan-African organisation.
Nationalism; Pan-Africanism; Socialism; The present stage of the liberation struggle; Accumulated experience of the African people’s unity movement; Sham independence and the unity movement; Sham independence and the unity movement; African people’s wars and imperialist escalation; The Organisation of African Unity; Some essential features of the enemy’s offensive; The need for self-critical objective diagnosis.
BOOK TWO – STRATEGY, TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES
A. THE MILITARY BALANCE – Liberated areas; Zones under enemy control; Contested zones; Retarding factors; High command; The need for a coordinated revolutionary action.
B. POLITICO-MILITARY ORGANISATION – The All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) and the All-African Committee for Political Co-ordination (AACPC); The All-African People’s Revolutionary Army (AAPRA); AAPRA headquarters; The AACPC and our revolutionary strategy; The army cops; AAPRA’s structure and strategy; Equipment and composition of the armed forces; Recruitment; General principles of training; Physical training; Technical training; Political education; Leadership.
C. OUR HUMAN FORCES – The peasants; The rural proletariat; Neo-colonialist control over the advanced sectors of production; Workers in the mines, industries and trade; Neo-colonialist attempts at integration; The truth behind the salaries; The failure of imperialist tactics; The workers’ movement and revolutionary strategy; The role of students; The nationalist bourgeoisie; Revolutionary outsiders; The role of women; Women in enemy-held zones; Women in the bases and liberated areas; The training of women.
D. PROPAGANDA – Propaganda to subvert the enemy; Propaganda addressed to the people; Suggestions for propaganda items.
CHAPTER TWO – BASIC PRINCIPLES AND TECHNIQUES OF GUERRILLA WARFARE
A. ORGANISATION OF A GUERRILLA ARMY – Recruitment; Information; Operations; Sabotage; Instruction; Armament; Provisions; Health; Propaganda; Volunteers; Communications; Guerrilla units; Guerrilla unit and group leaders; Training; Equipment.
B. STRATEGY AND TACTICS – Mobility; Concentration and dispersal of forces; Bases; Choice of objectives for attack; Combat in favourable terrain; Villages; Towns; Discipline; Reconnaissance; Prisoners; Camouflage; Acquisition of arms; Storage of arms; Espionage; Enemy spies and infiltration; Enemy attack; Sabotage; Attacking a village; Dead and wounded; Defence of an occupied village; Relations between guerrillas and civilians; Political work; Civilian organisations.
C – MATERIALS FOR DESTRUCTION
The guerrilla is the masses in arms.
KNOW THE ENEMY.
The new phase of the armed revolutionary struggle in Africa embraces the entire continent. It is essential that we know what we fight, and why we fight. Imperialism and neo-colonialism must be broken down into their component parts so that we can clearly see them. We must know their world strategy.
In this book I have attempted to show the nature and extent of imperialist and neo-colonialist aggression, and our objectives in the struggle for the freedom and the political unification of Africa.
THE WORLD STRATEGY OF IMPERIALISM
Know the enemy
A number of external factors affect the African situation and if our liberation struggle is to be placed in correct perspective and we are to KNOW THE ENEMY, the impact of these factors must be fully grasped. First among them is imperialism, for it is mainly against exploitation and poverty that our people’s revolt. It is therefore of paramount importance to set out the strategy of imperialism in clear terms:
1. The means used by the enemy to ensure the continued economic exploitation of our territories.
2. The nature of the attempts made to destroy the liberation movement.
Once the components of the enemy’s strategy are determined, we will be in a position to outline the correct strategy for our own struggle in terms of actual situation and accordance with our objectives.
Before the Second World War, the world (excluding the USSR, China, etc) was divided into:
(a) Capitalist states practising orthodox imperialism under the generally known form of imperialism.
(b) Colonial territories which fed the economies of the capitalist imperialist states. (The Latin American territories had already passed from the status of “Spanish” and “Portuguese” colonies to that of neo-colonies.)
However, after the Second World War, serious economic, social and political tensions arose in both spheres.
(a) Inside the capitalist-imperialist states, workers’ organisations had become comparatively strong and experienced, and the claims of the working class for a more substantial share of the wealth produced by the capitalist economy could no longer be ignored. The necessity to concede had become all the more imperative since the English capitalist system had been seriously shaken up by the near-holocaust which marked the experience of imperialist wars.
(b) While the capitalist system of exploitation was coming to grips with the internal crises, the world’s colonised areas were astir with the upsurge of strong liberation movements. Here again, demands could no longer be cast aside or ignored especially when they were channelled through irresistible mass movements, like the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA), the Parti Democratique de Guinee (PDG) and the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) in Ghana. In certain areas, for example in Vietnam, Kenya and Algeria, direct confrontation demonstrated the readiness of the oppressed peoples to implement their claims with blood and fire.
Both in the colonial territories and in the metropolitan states, the struggle was being waged against the same enemy; international finance capital under its external and internal forms of exploitation, imperialism and capitalism.
Threatened by the disintegration by the double-fisted attack of the working class movement and the liberation movement, capitalism had t launch a series of reforms in order to build a protective armour around the inner workings of its system.
To avoid an internal break down of the system under the pressure of the workers’ protest movement, the governments of capitalist countries granted their workers certain concessions which did not endanger the basic nature of the capitalist system of exploitation. They gave them social security, higher wages, better working conditions, professional training facilities, and other improvements.
These reforms helped to blur fundamental contradictions and to remove some of the more glaring injustices while at the same time ensuring the continued exploitation of the workers. The myth was established of an affluent capitalist society promising abundance and a better life for all. The basic aim, however, was the establishment of a “welfare state” as the only safeguard against the threat of fascism or communism.
However, the problem was to find a way to avoid sacrificing the all-important principle of ever-increasing profits for the owning minority, and also to find the money needed to finance the welfare state.
By way of a solution, capitalism proceeded to introduce not only internal reforms, but external reforms designed to raise the extra money needed for the establishment and the maintenance of the welfare state at home. In other words, modern capitalism had come to depend more heavily than before on the exploitation of the material and human resources of colonial territories. On the external front, therefore, it became necessary for international finance capital to carry out reforms in order to eliminate the deadly threat to its supremacy of the liberation movement.
The urgent need for such reforms was made clear by the powerful growth and expansion of the liberation forces in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where revolutionary movements had not only seized power but were actually consolidating their gains. Developments in the USSR, China, Cuba, North Vietnam, North Korea, and in Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Algeria and other parts of Africa, showed that not only was the world balance of forces shifting, but that the capitalist-imperialist states were confronted with a real danger of encirclement.
The modification introduced by imperialism in its strategy were impressed:
(a) Through the disappearance of the numerous old-fashioned “colonies” owing exclusive allegiance to a single metropolitan country.
(b) Through the replacement of “national” imperialisms by a “collective” imperialism in which the USA occupies a leading position.
The roots of this process may be traced back to the period of the Second World War, when the socialist camp was still too small and weak to give decisive assistance to the European working class movement. The workers were therefore all the more easily deflected from the objectives of their struggle, and allowed themselves to be dragged into a bloody war of imperialism.
The Second World War seriously strained the political and economic strength of Europe, although capitalism as a system emerged relatively intact. However, the true winner of the whole contest turned out to be the United States of America. Having helped the allies to win the war, the USA was from then on able to retain its pre-eminent position, and to acquire increasing influence in the economic life of the exhausted European states.
This “internationalisation” or “syndicalisation” enabled US imperialism to forestall temporarily an incipient crisis by fulfilling two sin qua non conditions:
1. The need to expand : The US-European post-war alliance not only enabled the USA to benefit from the advantages of European market, which had hitherto been largely closed to its penetration; but also opened up new horizons in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where the USA had already superceded European supremacy and established neo-colonialist domination.
2. The need to militarise : The militarisation of the US economy, based on the political pretext of the threatening rise of the USSR and later of the People’s Republic of China as socialist powers, enabled the USA to postpone its internal crises, first during the “hot” war (1939 – 1945) and then during the “cold” war (since 1945).
Militarisation served two main purposes:
1. It absorbed and continues to absorb an excess of unorganised energy into the intense armaments drive which supports imperialist aggression and many blocs and alliances formed by imperialist powers over the last twenty years.
2. It made possible an expensive policy of paternalist corruption of the poor and oppressed people of the world.
The principle of mutual inter-imperialist assistance whereby American, British, French and West German monopoly capital extends joint control over the wealth of the non-liberated zones of Africa, Latin America and Asia, finds concrete expression in the formation of interlocked international financial institutions and bodies of credit:
International Monetary Fund (IMF), USA 25% of the votes
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), USA 34% of the votes
International Development Association (IDA), USA 41% of the votes
On a lesser scale, Europe as a whole, and West Germany in particular, find profitable outlets for big business in Africa through the agencies of such organisations as the European Common Market (EEC).
The imperialists even make use of the United Nations Organisation in order to camouflage their neo-colonialist objectives. This can be seen, for example in US policy in South Korea and the Congo.
But as far as the imperialists are concerned the real solution to the problem of continued exploitation through concessions and reform lies in the concept of “sham independence”. A state can be said to be a neo-colonialist or a client state if it is independent de jure and dependent de facto. It is a state where political power lies in the conservative forces of the colony and where economic power remains under the control of international finance capital.
In other words, the country continues to be economically exploited by interests which are alien to the majority of the ex-colonised population but are intrinsic to the world capitalist sector. Such a state is in the grip of neo-colonialism. It has become a client state.
The pre-requisite of a correct and global strategy to defeat neo-colonialism is the ability to discover and expose the way in which a state becomes neo-colonialist. For although a neo-colonialist state enjoys only sham independence it is to all outward appearances independent, and therefore the very roots of neo-colonialism must be traced back to the struggle for independence in a colonial territory.
If the liberation movement is firmly established, the colonial power invariably resorts to a “containment” policy in order to stop any further progress, and to deaden its impact. To achieve this objective, the colonial power uses its arsenal of alliances, its network of military bases, economic devices such as corruption, sabotage and blackmail, and equally insidious, the psychological weapon of propaganda with a view to impressing on the masses a number of imperialist dogmas:
1. That western democracy and the parliamentary system are the only valid ways of governing; that they constitute the only worth-while model for the training of an indigenous elite by the colonial power.
2. That capitalism, free enterprise, free competition, etc., are the only economic systems capable of promoting development; that the western powers have mastered the liberal-capitalist technique perfectly; that the colonial territory should become an economic satellite in its own interest; that there is no reason to put an end to the policy of “co-operation” pursued during the colonial regime; and that an any attempt to break away would be dangerous, since the colonial power is always ready to “aid”.
3. That the slightest “lapse” on the part of the leaders of the liberation movement could push the country into the grip of “communism” and of “totalitarian dictatorship”.
4. That the carve-up agreed upon by the imperialists during the colonial period is fair and sacred; that it would be unthinkable even to attempt to liberate areas in terms of their common cultural and historical links; that the only acceptable version of “liberation” must apply to the artificial units designed by the imperialists, and hurriedly labelled “nations” in spite of the fact that they are neither culturally unified, nor economically self-sufficient.
As a further justification of its policy, imperialism usually resorts to all types of propaganda in order to highlight and exploit differences of religion, culture, race, outlook, and of political ideology among the oppressed masses, or between regions which share a long history of mutual commercial and cultural exchange.
Such methods aim to orientate the leaders of the liberation movements towards a brand of nationalism based on petty-minded and aggressive chauvinism, as well as to steer the liberation movement along a reformist path. The problem of “liberation” is therefore usually raised in terms of a participation of “good” indigenous elements to the administration of the colonised territory, for instance through a policy of “Africanisation” devoid of any fundamental changes in the political, economic and administrative structure of the territory.
The transition to neo-colonialism is marked by a succession of more or less important measures which culminate into a ritual of so-called free elections, mostly organised through methods of intimidation. Local agents, selected by the colonial power as “worthy representatives” are then presented to the people as the champions of national independence, and are immediately given all the superficial attributes of power: a puppet government has been formed.
By the very nature of its essential objective, which is exploitation, neo-colonialism can only flourish in a client state.
When the farce of sham elections to form a puppet government proves too difficult to enact, the colonial power tries to divide the liberation movement into a “moderate” wing with which it seeks accommodation, and a militant wing which it endeavours to isolate and to suppress by force.
In the last resort, neo-colonialists can even set up a bogus “progressive” party or organisation using local agents and maintain an artificial liberation movement which serves both as a worthy partner for negotiations and as an intelligence and/or repression agency against the genuine liberation movement supported by the oppressed masses. Such is the role played by FLING in regard to Guinea-Bissau, and UPA in regard to Angola. And so once more the stage is set for negotiations, autonomy and formation of a puppet government.
However, the machinations of the colonial power will fail wherever the leaders of the struggle for independence maintain a clear spirit of vigilance, and cultivate genuinely revolutionary qualities.
Then, and only then, does a truly independent government emerge, dedicated to national reconstruction in the liberated territory, and determined to assist all those engaged in anti-imperialist struggle.
Such a government is an obstacle barring the advance of neo-colonialism, and such obstacles must be increased because the example of genuine independence is contagious and will help to fortify extensive zones against imperialist aggression.
Faced with genuine independence, imperialism is increasingly compelled to resort to encirclement and subversion in order to overthrow these popular governments, using such weapons as coups d’état, assassination, mutiny within the party, tribal revolt, palace revolutions, and so on, while at the same time strengthening neighbouring puppet regimes to form a political safety belt, a cordon sanitaire.
Therefore, the main sphere in which we must strive to defeat neo-colonialist intrigues is within the movement for true independence; that is, within the progressive political party which forms the government. This is particularly true in one party state which can only function successfully under socialism. Usually, this ruling party is made up of several groups each with its distinct economic and political interests. The relative importance of each group in the party and state machinery will determine the course of development. Imperialist strategy is therefore directed towards bringing into a position of pre-eminence that group which most nearly shares its economic and political views.
If a member of a group which is absolutely opposed to imperialism is in control of the state and party, attempts are made to organise:
1. Assassination or a coup d’état or “palace revolution” which will permit political power to fall into the lap of the rival but pro-imperialist group. OR
2. A decentralisation of political power within the ruling party, one group being strong in the state machinery, the other strong in the party machine. Even in the state machine, the vital organs are artfully put into the hands of the forces ready to parley with imperialists. The nursing of discontent and confusion within the conflicting ideologies, rumours of economic run-down, maladministration and corruption, will permit the creation of an atmosphere of dissatisfaction favourable to a change in the personnel of government. Ostensibly the same party is in power. In truth, a qualitative change in the nature of political power has taken place.
Since the conglomerate nature of the ruling party is the basic fact on which neo-colonialist strategy depends, the main remedial measures must be directed to this sphere, and this problem must be borne in mind even before the achievement of independence. It is essential that positive action should in its dialectical evolution anticipate the seminal disintegration and discover a way of containing the future schismatic tendencies.
Neo-colonialism constitutes the necessary condition for the establishment of welfare states by the imperialist nations. Just as the welfare state is the internal condition, neo-colonialism is the external condition, for the continued hegemony of international finance capital.
It is precisely the increasing dependence of the imperialist system on neo-colonialist exploitation on an international scale which renders its existence so precarious, and its future uncertain.
Significantly, the neo-colonialist system costs the capitalist powers comparatively little, whereby enormous and increasing profits are made. This is shown by the ever-rising graphs representing the turn-over figures of big capitalist business concerns implanted in the neo-colonialist areas of the world, and by the ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the poor peoples of the world.
In the final analysis, the neo-colonialist system of exploitation, which is the external condition for the maintenance of the capitalist welfare state, remains essentially dependent on the production of the neo-colonised workers, who must not only continue to produce under stagnant and continually worsening living conditions, but must produce substantially more than they did in the colonial days. They must do more than satisfy the needs of the metropolitan state. They must cater for the insatiable demands of the client government.
The explosive character of the situation cannot be denied. The neo-colonialist government is virtually in a state of permanent conflict with its own masses, whilst the gap between the puppet administration and neo-colonial workers widens every day.
It is therefore clear that a puppet regime cannot draw its strength from the support of the broad masses. It can only stay in power as long as it manages to subsist in the teeth of the popular opposition and revolt. Hence, the imperative need to depend on a foreign power for military assistance merely to keep the neo-colonised government physically in power.
Thus, the three essential components of neo-colonialism are:
1. Economic exploitation
2. Puppet government and client states
3. Military assistance
4. Economic “aid”
The vital necessity of “military aid” is fulfilled through various channels; foreign technical assistance to the armed forces, control of armed forces by officers and western military cadres, secret military agreements, the formation of special units for the repression of popular insurrections, and so on. The important thing is to know how to recognise this type of “aid”, in whatever guise it appears, for it is the most blatant proof of the anti-popular, aggressive and basically violent character of all neo-colonialist regimes. Its escalation and impact increase proportionately to the widening gap between the puppets and the oppressed masses, and it is directly related to the development of organised, popular resistance.
It is also to be noted that US policy found its most complete expression, after the murder of President Kennedy, in the Johnson doctrine whereby military aggression, under the name of “preventive measures”, became an integral part of neo-colonialist practice.
The struggle against neo-colonialism
Military strategy presupposes political aims. All military problems are political, and all political problems are economic.
Both the basic nature of neo-colonialism and accumulated experience of liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America indicate clearly that the only way for the broad masses to eradicate neo-colonialism is through a revolutionary movement springing from a direct confrontation with the imperialists, and drawing its strength from exploited and disinherited masses. The struggle against puppet governments, and against all forms of exploitation, is the basic condition for the survival and development of a genuine liberation movement in Africa. We must accept the challenge and fight to destroy this threat to our future as a free and united continent.
Independence must never be considered as an end in itself but as a stage, the very first stage of the people’s revolutionary struggle.
Propaganda and psychological warfare
Throughout the struggle we must recognise and combat enemy attempts to demoralise us. For, in the face of the failure to achieve military solutions against well-organised, broadly-based guerrilla forces, as for example in Vietnam, the enemy has stepped up its efforts in the propaganda war.
The aim is:
1. To prevent a liberation movement from getting under way, by destroying it at its source, i.e. by undermining the will to fight.
2. Where revolutionary warfare has actually begun, to conquer it by political means, i.e. by granting just sufficient political, economic and social “reform” to encourage all but the so-called “extremists” to abandon the struggle.
Psychological attacks are made through the agency of broadcasting stations like the BBC, Voice of Germany, and above all, Voice of America, which pursues its brainwashing mission through newsreels, interviews and other “informative” programmes at all hours of the day and night, on all wavelengths and in many languages, including “special English”. The war of words is supplemented by written propaganda using a wide range of political devices such as embassy bulletins, pseudo “revolutionary” publications, studies on “nationalism” and on “African socialism”, the literature spread by the so-called independent and liberal publishers, “cultural” and “civic education” centres, and other imperialist subversive organisations.
The paper war penetrates into every town and village, and into the remotest parts of the “bush”. It spreads in the form of free distributions of propaganda films praising the qualities of western civilisation and culture. These are some of the ways in which the psychological terrain is prepared.
When the target, a certain country or continent, is sufficiently “softened”, then the invasion of evangelist brigades begins, thus perpetuating the centuries old tactic whereby missionaries prepare the way for guns. Peace Corps divisions stream in, and Moral Rearmament units, Jehovah witnesses, information agencies and international financial “aid” organisations.
In this way, a territory or even an entire continent is besieged without a single marine in sight. A sprinkling of political and little-publicised murders, like that of Pio Pinto in Kenya, and Moumie in Geneva, are used to assist the process.
A recent development in the psychological war is the campaign to convince us that we cannot govern ourselves, that we are unworthy of genuine independence, and that foreign tutelage is the only remedy for our wild, warlike and primitive ways.
Imperialism has done its utmost to brainwash Africans into thinking that they need the strait-jackets of colonialism and neo-colonialism if they are to be saved from their retrogressive instincts. Such is the age-old racialist justification for the economic exploitation of our continent. And now, the recent military coups engineered throughout Africa by foreign reactionaries are also being used to corroborate imperialism’s pet theory that the Africans shamelessly squandered the “golden opportunities” of independence, and that they have plunged their political kingdoms into blood and barbarism.
Therefore, the imperialist mission: we must save them anew; and they hail western-trained and western-bought army puppets as saviours. The press, films and radio are fast spreading the myth of post-independence violence and chaos. Everywhere, the more or less covert implication is: Africa needs to be recolonised.
The fact that Africa has advanced politically more quickly than any other continent in the world is ignored. In 1957 when Ghana became independent and the political renaissance began in Africa, there were only eight independent states. Now, in just over ten years, there are over forty and the final liberation of the continent is in sight.
Imperialists are not content with trying to convince us that we are politically immature. They are telling us, now that we are realising that armed revolution is the only way to defeat neo-colonialism, that we are inherently incapable of fighting a successful revolutionary war.
This new psychological propaganda campaign is being waged in various subtle ways. First, there is what may be called the “moral” argument: Africans are constantly being reminded that they are a peace-loving, tolerant and communalist-minded people. The African is projected as an individual who has always been loath to shed blood. The corollary of this argument is that it would be immoral and against our nature to engage in revolutionary warfare.
The moral argument is easily destroyed. Centuries of liberation wars, wars of conquest, revolution and counter-revolution in the west were not considered to be moral or immoral. They were simply part of western historical development. Our armed struggle for freedom is neither moral nor immoral, it is a scientific historically-determined necessity.
The second argument used to deflect us from inevitability of armed struggle is the so-called “economy” argument. It runs something like this: modern neo-colonialism does not constitute a danger to young, revolutionary African states, and therefore the military training and arming of the broad masses is an expensive and frivolous enterprise. The corollary of this reactionary argument is: since you cannot, in the present under-developed state of your economy, afford the “luxury” of your own defence let us take care of it for you. And the trap is set.
Last but not the least, is a third series of racialist and defeatist arguments designed to spread the myth that no African revolutionary is capable of carrying an armed struggle through to the end. It condemns a priori all African revolutionary activities to failure. It wraps revolutionary warfare on our continent in an aura of disparagement, and tries to cripple us with a sense of inadequacy as freedom fighters.
By means of press and radio, accounts are given of the capture of “terrorists” by “security forces”, (note the choice of words), “terrorists” being usually described as poorly-trained, ill-equipped, demoralised and uncertain of the cause for which they are fighting. Where arms and military equipment are seized, it is always labelled “Russian” or “Chinese”, to suggest that the freedom fighters who use them are not African nationalists, but the dupes and tools of foreign governments.
When freedom fighters are captured and tried in courts of law, they are treated as criminals, not as prisoners of war, are imprisoned, shot or hanged, usually after so-called confessions have been extorted. This refusal to recognise freedom fighters as soldiers is again part of imperialist strategy designed to pour scorn on the armed revolutionary movement and at the same time to discourage further recruits.
The campaign is based on the counter-insurgency law whereby “it is necessary to attack the revolution during the initial stages of the movement when it is still weak, when it has not yet fulfilled that which should be its main aspiration, – a total integration with the people”. (Che Guevara.) This is why we are being told that Africans are incapable of sustaining revolutionary warfare:-
(b) because of our historical background
(c) for lack of cadres, ideology and leadership
In our breath, we are accused of being too primitive to govern ourselves, and in the next we are accused of not being primitive enough to wage guerrilla warfare!
The problem is not whether one is born or is not born a natural revolutionary fighter. The problem is not whether revolutionaries are naturally suited to Africa, or Africa to revolutionary warfare. Predestination of this sort never exists. The fact is that revolutionary warfare is the key to African freedom and is the only way in which the total liberation and unity of the African continent can be achieved.
Foreign military preparedness
In pursuing their aggressive aims and fulfilling the requirements of military strategy, the imperialists have built up a system of military blocs and alliances which provide the framework for a pattern of military bases in strategically important positions all over the world. The African freedom fighters, while mainly concerned with enemy strength in Africa, must nevertheless study this world pattern if they are to assess correctly the true dimensions of their struggle. The anti-imperialist and anti-neo-colonialist struggle will, in fact, be world-wide, since revolutionary warfare will occur wherever the enemy operates.
A substantial part of the military and anti-revolutionary effort is channelled into four organisations:
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (1949)
USA, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Since October 1951 Greece and Turkey, and since 1954 West Germany.
SEATO –South East Asia Treaty Organisation (1954)
USA, Britain, France, New Zealand, Australia, Phillippines, Thailand and Pakistan.
ANZUS – Australia, New Zealand, United States Treaty (1951). The Pacific Pact.
CENTO – Central Treaty Organisation (1959)
Britain, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran Emerged from the 1955 Baghdad Pact USA in 1959 entered into bilateral defence agreements with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
In effect, this system of military blocs and alliances enables US imperialism to exert de facto leadership not only over the entire “western” world, but over extensive zones in Latin America and Asia. This is achieved through an external network of some 2,200 bases and installations manned by approximately a million troops in readiness for war.
The US external forces of intervention may be grouped as follows:
Group One: Against the USSR with bases in Western Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Group Two: Against China with bases in Pakistan, South East Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
Group Three: Against revolutionary movements in Latin America – the Organisation of American States (OAS) group with bases in Panama, the Bermudas and Porto Rico.
In Africa, there are at present seventeen air bases owned and operated by members of NATO. There are nine foreign naval bases. Foreign military missions exist for example in Kenya, Morocco, Liberia, Libya, South Africa, Senegal, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon and Ivory Coast. In addition, there are three rocket sites and an atomic testing range in North Africa.
The armed forces of foreign powers in various strategically-important parts of our continent present a serious threat but not an insurmountable obstacle in the African revolutionary struggle. For they must be assessed in conjunction with the forces of settler, minority governments in Rhodesia and South Africa, and with imperialist forces in the few remaining colonial territories.
The formation of NATO led to the signing of the Warsaw Treaty in 1954, by which the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, German Democratic Republic, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Albania made arrangements to protect themselves against imperialist aggression. An attack on any one member would be regarded as an attack on all. Provision was made for:
1. A political consultative body to take political decisions and to exchange information.
2. A united military command with headquarters in Warsaw.
The need for Pan-African organisation
In comparison, the Independent States of Africa are at present militarily weak. Unlike the imperialists and neo-colonialists they have no mutual defence system and no unified command to plan and direct joint action. But this will be remedied with the formation of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Army and setting up of organisations to extend and plan effective revolutionary warfare on a continental scale.
We possess the vital ingredient necessary to win, – the full and enthusiastic support of the broad masses of the African people who are determined once and for all to end all forms of foreign exploitation, to manage their own affairs, and to determine their own future. Against such overwhelming strength organised on a Pan-African basis, no amount of enemy forces can hope to succeed.
Our objectives are defined by the three political components of our liberation movement:
The three objectives of our struggle stem from our position as peoples in revolt against exploitation in Africa. These objectives are closely inter-related and one cannot be achieved fully without the other. If one of the three components is missing, no territory on our continent can secure genuine freedom or maintain a stable government.
Nationalism is the ideological channel of the anti-colonialist struggle and represents the demand for national independence of colonised peoples. It is a concept most easily grasped by the population of territories where the low level of development of productive forces (and therefore of capitalist implantation), and the absence of indigenous elements in the spheres of political power, are factors that facilitate the formation of a united militant front, one of the primary conditions for a successful liberation movement.
Colonised peoples are not highly differentiated from a social point of view, and are exploited practically without discrimination by the colonial power. Hence the slogan: “the nation must be freed from colonialism” is a universally accepted rallying cry whose influence is heightened by the fact that the agents of colonialism, exploiting the territory from within, are there for everybody to see. It is therefore the people as a whole who revolt and struggle as a “nation-class” against colonial oppression, and who win independence.
The nationalist phase is a necessary step in the liberation struggle, but must never be regarded as the final solution to the problem raised by the economic and political exploitation of our peoples. For nationalism is narrow in its application. It works within the geopolitical framework produced by the colonial powers which culminated in the carve-up agreed upon in 1884 at the Berlin Conference, where today’s political maps of Africa were drawn.
The various peoples of Africa cannot be, and historically never have been, confined behind rigid frontiers sealing off territories labelled “Nigeria”, “Togo”, “Senegal”, and so on. The natural movements of the African peoples and of their societies have from the Nile to the Congo, from Senegal to the Niger, and from the Congo to the Zambezi.
The African “nations” of today, created artificially by foreigners for their own purposes, neither originate from ancient African civilisation, nor do they fit in with our African way of life or habits of exchange. They are not even, for the most part, economically viable. Yet they continue to struggle on, each one separately, in a pathetic and hopeless attempt to make progress, while the real obstacle to their development, imperialism, mainly in its neo-colonialist stage, is operating on a Pan-African scale. Already, huge zones of Africa have been integrated economically in the exclusive interest of international finance capital. A study of the organization and workings of most of the large trading firms, mining trusts and industrial cartels operating in Africa shows that they all function directly or indirectly on a continental scale. Many of them form part of a general network spreading over several continents.
This monopolistic system of exploitation is the direct outcome of prolonged capitalist practice, the experience being that extended and unified industrial, commercial or mining units are less costly to maintain, are more efficient, and produce higher profits.
It is time that we also planned our economic and political development on a continental scale. The concept of African unity embraces the fundamental needs and characteristics of African civilisation and ideology, and at the same time satisfies all the conditions necessary for an accelerated economic and technological advance. Such maximum development would ensure a rational utilisation of material resources and human potential of our continent along the lines of an integrated economy, and within complementary sectors of production, eliminating all unnecessary forms of competition, economic alienation and duplication. The idea is not to destroy or dismantle the network of foreign mining complexes and industrial companies throughout Africa, but to take them over and operate them in the sole interest of the African peoples.
Finally, the limitations of “nationalism” may be seen in the experience of countries which have succeeded in casting off one imperialism only to be oppressed by another, or by a syndicate of imperialisms, as in Latin America. Merely to change masters is no solution to colonial poverty or neo-colonialist strangulation, even if exploitation is subsequently practised in a more subtle way.
African unity gives an indispensable continental dimension to the concept of the African nation.
The limitations of nationalism have already been acknowledged by the most mature leaders of the liberation movement; but wherever the conditions for the transition to a higher ideological level and a wider form of struggle were lacking, the necessary leap could not be made, and nationalism was never transcended.
The true dimensions of our struggle were outlined at the Fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, England in 1945, when resolutions were passed specifying that the supreme objective of the national liberation movement was to pave the way to national reconstruction and to promote democracy and prosperity for the broad masses through an All-African struggle against colonialism and all the new manifestations of imperialism. No reference was made to neo-colonialism as such, because this only developed on a massive scale in Africa after 1957. But the Pan-Africanism which found expression at the Manchester Congress (1945), and the All-African People’s Conference (1958) was based on the age-old aspiration towards unity of all peoples of African origin exploited as workers and as a race.
African unity therefore implies:
1. That imperialism and foreign oppression should be eradicated in all their forms.
2. That neo-colonialism should be recognised and eliminated.
3. That the new African nation must develop within a continental framework.
However, the specific content of the new social order within the developing African nation remains to be defined.
At the core of the concept of African unity lies socialism and the socialist definition of the new African society. Socialism and African unity are organically complementary.
1. Common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Production is for use, and not for profit.
2. Planned methods of production by the state, based on modern industry and agriculture.
3. Political power in the hands of the people, with the entire body of workers possessing the necessary governmental machinery through which to express their needs and aspirations. It is a concept in keeping with the humanist and egalitarian spirit which characterised traditional African society, though it must be applied in a modern context. All are workers; and no person exploits another.
4. Application of scientific methods in all spheres of thought and production.
Socialism must provide a new social synthesis in which the advanced technical society is achieved without the appalling evils and deep cleavages of capitalist industrial society. Socialism has become a necessity in the platform diction of African political leaders, though not all pursue really socialist policies. We must therefore be on our guard against measures which are declared to be “socialist” but which do not in fact promote economic and social development. An example of muddled thinking about socialism is the attempt made in recent years to suggest the existence of an “African Socialism” peculiar to our continent.
There is only one true socialism and that is scientific socialism, the principle of which is abiding and universal. The only way to achieve it is to devise policies aimed at general socialist goals, which take their form from the concrete, specific circumstances and conditions of a particular country at a definite historical period.
The socialist countries of Africa may differ in the details of their policies. There are different paths to socialism, and adjustments have to be made to suit particular circumstances. But they should not be arbitrarily decided, or subject to the vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained.
Only under socialism can we reliably accumulate the capital we need for our development, ensure that the gains of the of investment are applied to the general welfare, and achieve our goal of a free and united continent.
The present stage of the liberation struggle
An objective appraisal of the degree of success so far attained in our struggle leads to the consideration of three theses of major importance:
1. The achievement of genuine independence by an African state is but a part of the over-all process of continental decolonisation.
2. No independent state is immune to imperialist intrigue, pressure and subversion as long as imperialism under any guise is left free to operate on the African continent.
3. The degree of completeness of our victory over imperialism has a determining influence on how far post-independence reconstruction can go. In other words, the people will have no equitable share in national reconstruction and its benefits unless the victory over imperialism in its colonialist and neo-colonialist stages is complete.
It therefore follows that the unity of the African people expressed in a Union Government is necessary:
(a) to accelerate the liberation struggle in territories still under colonial domination.
(b) for the security of already independent states, and particularly for those which have chosen to follow a line of total opposition to imperialism.
(c) to protect the flanks of our drive towards socialist, domestic reconstruction.
The considerations should be able to serve as:
1. A basic formula to link up with all aspects of the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa.
2. A blue-print for the people’s action.
3. A yardstick for the evaluation of political development and phases in the history of Africa.
Accumulated experience of the African People’s unity movement
Equipped with a clear knowledge of our objectives, we are in a position to undertake a critical appraisal of recent developments in African history. This is necessary if we are to draw positive lessons from past experience, to determine both the area of deviation and the need for correction, and to devise a more effective strategy for the future.
Shortly after Ghana achieved independence in 1957 there began a rapid succession of events caused by a great upsurge of interest in the African people’s movement towards emancipation and unity. The three most significant events which sparked off the process were:
1. The first Conference of Independent African States held in Accra in April 1958. At that time there were only eight independent states: Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt.
The purpose was to:
(a) discuss questions of mutual interest.
(b) explore ways and means of consolidating and safeguarding independence.
(c) strengthen the economic and cultural ties between the independent states
(d) find ways of helping Africans still oppressed under colonial rule.
The African leaders in attendance were resolutely and unanimously anti-imperialist, and agreed to co-ordinate diplomacy, mainly at UN level. Pan-African conferences had hitherto been held overseas. In 1958, Pan-Africanism had moved to the African continent, where it really belonged.
2. The All-African Peoples’ Conference held in Accra in December 1958. Representatives and sixty-two African nationalist organisations attended and discussed the various aspects of the liberation movement. The organisation of unitary action between African political movements was then launched.
3. The third All-African Peoples’ Conference held in Cairo in March 1961, when the whole question of neo-colonialism was brought to the forefront in discussions on the African revolutionary struggle. The development of unitary, anti-imperialist action between struggling peoples, and at the level of the governments of independent states, constituted a two-pronged attack against imperialism.
The imperialists acted accordingly:
(a) through diplomatic pressure
(b) by granting sham independence to a number of states
The trick worked well. However, a clear prefiguration of later events was to be enacted at the Sanniqueville Conference held in Liberia in July 1959. Two views were expressed on the question of African unity. The first advocated the tightest “binding together of our forces in political unity”, while the second was in favour of a “formula flexible” enough to enable each state to safeguard its national sovereignty and personal identity”.
The latter view fitted in only too well with the objectives of the imperialists who had already recognised the need to adapt their policies to the changing colonial situation. Hard pressed by the armed struggle of the FLN in Algeria and to avoid any further crystallisation of revolutionary awareness amongst “extremist” African leaders, they decided to play their own version of nationalism.
Accordingly, between 1959 and 1960, thirteen independent states emerged: eleven former French colonies, and Congo-Leopoldville and Nigeria. A close analysis of the specific conditions under which each one of the thirteen states became independent reveals that neo-colonialism was incipient during the movement for independence, and emerged fully once independence was acquired.
Sham independence and the unity movement.
Few were deceived by such deliberate and obvious stratagem. Imperialism was merely using the device of sham independence to prepare the African terrain to suit its own convenience, and to avoid a direct and costly confrontation with liberation movements.
It was therefore not surprising that the divisions of opinion on the question of unity expressed at Sanniqueville were much more in evidence during the Second Conference of Independent African States held in Addis Ababa in 1960.
At this conference:
1. The pivot of African unity was seen no longer as a firm political union, but merely as a loose policy of co-operation between African states was endorsed.
2. The principle of a collective foreign policy as agreed upon in Accra in 1958 gave way to the principle of a separate foreign policy for each state. In this way, imperialists gained more room for manoeuvre, for infiltration and for stirring up difficulties between African states.
3. It was agreed that assistance to the Algerian liberation struggle was to take the form of diplomatic pressure on France, but was to by-pass official recognition of the GPRA. In plain words, diplomatic shilly-shallying was to take the place of a genuine anti-imperialist confrontation.
Therefore, as early as 1960, a wide gulf developed between those independent states which favoured co-operation with imperialism, and those which proclaimed an unflinching offensive against it.
The emergence of conflicting trends was not fortuitous but a logical consequence of the state of tension between qualitatively different situations:
1. Genuine independence, the product of a mass political movement or an armed liberation struggle.
2. Sham independence, established by imperialists in an attempt to arrest the progress of the people’s movement through a betrayal of its essential objectives.
It is important to note that it was not the moderate policy of co-operation with imperialism which created the “moderate” African states. On the contrary, it was the deliberate creation of such states by imperialism which gave rise to moderation and co-operation. The will to compromise is but a reflection, at diplomatic level of the neo-colonialist character of certain African states; it is the external manifestation of the inner characteristics of neo-colonial regimes.
African people’s wars and imperialist escalation
However, far from weakening the anti-imperialist struggle and the vanguard revolutionary states, such measures can only strengthen their vigilance and revolutionary determination.
Since 1960, the struggle of the African people and the more or less latent state of crisis inside many African territories have reached maturity. To counter-balance the growing revolutionary character of the African situation, the enemy’s reaction has become more open and direct. Both the Algerian and the Congolese wars were born of the people’s determination to free themselves at whatever cost, the only difference being that the Algerian revolt developed in an essentially colonial context, whereas the Congolese struggle is being waged in a neo-colonialist setting, marked by major imperialist aggression throughout the African continent.
From a practical point of view, the differences between the various segments of the liberation struggle in time and space are minimal. The only factors which render the Congolese, Angolan or Rhodesian struggles (to take these examples only) more violent than others are, first, the escalation of imperialist action; and secondly, the more advanced nature of people’s organisation, though the actual level of readiness to revolt may be just as high elsewhere.
Significantly, it was the frenzy of imperialist repression against the Algerian and Congolese liberation struggles which led to the calling of the Casablanca Conference in 1961, to which the GPRA [Algerian Provisional Government] was invited. The “Casablanca” states, as they were subsequently named, (i.e. Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Libya, Egypt, Morocco), and the Algerian FLN called for decisive action on the part of the independent states to support the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa. Further, a strong appeal for unity was made. For “in unity lies strength, African states must unite or sell themselves out to imperialist and colonialist exploiters for a mess of pottage, or disintegrate individually”.
Meantime, two new groupings, alike in content and with similar policies, were being formed:
1. The Monrovia group which met in Monrovia in May 1961 consisting mainly of English-speaking states whose loyalties were basically Anglo-American.
2. The Brazzaville group made up of French-speaking states mostly aligned to France.
Both these groups adopted a “go slow” attitude towards African emancipation and unity, and pursued a policy of conciliation with imperialism. Their views were expressed at the Lagos Conference (January 1962) when twenty of Africa’s twenty-eight independent states met to discuss ways in which co-operation could be achieved. They agreed that:
(a) The absolute sovereignty and legality of each African state must be respected.
(b) The union of one state with another should be effected on a voluntary basis.
(c) There should be non-interference in each other’s affairs.
(d) Political refugees from one state should not be given asylum in another state.
North Africa was unrepresented at the Lagos Conference because the Algerian Provisional Government was not invited. The Casablanca powers and the Sudan also declined to go for the same reason.
Imperialist diplomacy appeared to have achieved its purpose admirably, in splitting up the independent states of Africa into separate and conflicting groups. The efforts of the militant Casablanca group were checked by a pro-imperialist bloc, which was in its turn sub-divided into pro-French and pro-English branches.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU)
The militant African forces did achieve a certain amount of success when all blocs and groups joined together to form the OAU at Addis Ababa in 1963. However, appearances are sometimes deceptive: the dissolution of pro-imperialist groups did not mean that the interests they represented had also vanished.
On the contrary, an examination of recent events exposes serious weaknesses within the OAU. The Organisation failed to solve the crises in the Congo and Rhodesia; both of them test cases – the former involving a direct challenge to neo-colonialism, and the latter open confrontation with a minority, settler government. In fact, the OAU is in danger of developing into a useful cover for the continued, sterile action of conflicting interests, the only difference being that in the context of one big “brotherly” organisation reactionary tactics are camouflaged and applied through the subtleties of negotiation.
The change of tactics works as strongly as ever against the fundamental interests of progressive forces in Africa, since it hides concessions to imperialism. Negotiations are conducted behind closed doors and surrounded by a mysterious cloak of diplomatic protocol, making knowledge of the proceedings inaccessible to the general public.
However, four explosive issues discussed at the OAU Conference in Accra in 1965, alerted progressive opinion to the dangers of continued compromise:
1. The crisis in Rhodesia.
2. The struggle in the Congo.
3. The treatment of African political refugees.
4. The problem of South West Africa.
In the first case, the African heads of state failed to agree on a practical way of checking Ian Smith’s rebellion, and instead fell back on the futile policy of negotiations with Britain combined with diplomatic pressure at the international and UN level.
Similarly, in the Congo, the fundamental issue of the crisis was avoided in spite of the tense situation resulting from the gallant stand of the freedom fighters carrying on the struggle in the spirit of Lumumba.
On the question of the status and treatment of African political refugees the OAU again failed to find a solution and heads of state continued to regard them merely as out-laws or barter-goods.
The radical African states in the OAU were confronted with the difficulty of finding effective expression for the aspirations of the broad masses of the people. The struggle seemed to unfold in two different spheres: the one in the streets, villages, workshops and factories; and the other in the hushed and closed atmosphere of air-conditioned houses and offices. In this situation the genuine threat of imperialism and its neo-colonialist agents tended to be underestimated, and the progressive states placed too much reliance on the OAU.
In the meantime, the pro-imperialist states, although pretending to rally to the revolutionary elements within the OAU in order to avoid a direct confrontation, had been creating and expanding an organisation after their own heart: the Organisation Commune Africaine et Malgache (OCAM), into a larger unit to include all French-speaking African states under the name “Francophone”. As a result, the progressive states, failing to close their ranks, were left to fight inadequately and alone against the massive escalation of imperialism, and the active consolidation of its position through plots and a series of coups d’état.
Some essential features of the enemy’s offensive
Mounting imperialist aggression in Africa foreshadows a decline in the strength of imperialism since the use of violence to maintain imperialist rule invariably sparks off a stronger explosion of revolutionary activity among oppressed peoples, and experience has shown that such movements can be neither destroyed nor contained. The American fiascos in Vietnam, Santo Domingo and Cuba illustrate the point. So, also do the resolution condemning US imperialism passed by representatives from three continents (Africa, Asia and Latin America) when they met in conference at Havana in 1966. Taken aback by the compelling reality of tri-continental solidarity, the US imperialists hastened to condemn the Havana resolutions as “subversive” and resolved to take “appropriate preventive measures, including military action” against any popular movement considered to be a danger to the “free world” under US leadership. At the same time, they predicted other coups in Africa during the ensuing year, and immediately set to work, with or without the collaboration of European accomplices, to help this prediction to come true.
It was evidently felt that the resort to quick action was necessary because of the uncompromising stand against imperialist action in the “hot” zones of the world, taken by progressive governments. The latter were succeeding in arousing world opinion against imperialist atrocities in Vietnam, and in drawing attention to the worsening crises in Rhodesia and the Congo, the South African military build up, NATO’s assistance to Portugal in her colonial wars, and “interventions” in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The capitalist imperialist states face serious economic and social difficulties. Rising prices, balance of payments problems, widespread and repeated strikes are only a few symptoms of general malaise. In the United States, the grave domestic situation is aggravated by the massive counter-attacks of the African-American revolutionaries.
Almost everywhere, behind the smoke screens, the social and economic situation is unhealthy, and particularly in the second class capitalist states. And these mounting economic crises mean heavier and heavier dependence on the exploitation of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The need for self-critical objective diagnosis
If imperialists are faced with so many external and domestic difficulties, how then can they afford to step up their aggression in Africa? To answer this question, it is necessary to examine the internal factors which make our continent so vulnerable to attack, and particularly to look closely at the whole question of African unity. For, this lies at the core of our problem.
There are three conflicting conceptions of African unity which explain to a large extent, the present critical situation in Africa:
1. The mutual protection theory: that the OAU serves as a kind of insurance against any change in the status quo, membership providing a protection for heads of state and government against all forms of political action aimed at their overthrow. Since most of the leaders who adhere to this idea owe their position to imperialists and their agents, it is not surprising that this is the viewpoint which really serves the interests of imperialism. For the puppet states are being used both for short-term purposes of exploitation and as spring-boards of subversion against progressive African states.
2. The functional conception: that African unity should be purely a matter of economic co-operation. Those who hold this view overlook the vital fact that African regional economic organisations will remain weak and subject to the same neo-colonialist pressures and domination, as long as they lack overall political cohesion. Without political unity, African states can never commit themselves to full economic integration, which is the only productive form of integration able to develop our great resources fully for the well-being of the African people as a whole.
Furthermore, the lack of political unity places inter-African economic institutions at the mercy of powerful, foreign commercial interests, and sooner or later these will use such institutions as funnels through which to pour money for the continued exploitation of Africa.
3. The political union conception: that a union government should be in charge of economic development, defence and foreign policy, while other government functions would continue to be discharged by the existing states grouped, in federal fashion, within a gigantic central political organisation.
However, any sincere critical appraisal of past activities and achievements of the OAU would tend to show that, as it is now constituted, the OAU is not likely to be able to achieve the political unification of Africa.
This is obviously why imperialists, although against the idea of political union, will do nothing to break the OAU. It serves their purpose in slowing down revolutionary progress in Africa. This state of affairs is mirrored both in the discouragement of freedom fighters in the remaining colonial territories and South Africa, and in the growing perplexity amongst freedom fighters from neo-colonised territories.
The struggle for African continental union and socialism may be hampered by the enemy within, – those who declare their support for the revolution and at the same time, by devious means, serve and promote the interests of imperialists and neo-colonialists.
Examination of recent events in our history, and of our present condition, reveals the urgent need for a new strategy to combat imperialist aggression, and this must be devised on a continental scale. Either we concentrate our forces for a decisive armed struggle to achieve our objectives, or we will each fall one by one to the blows of imperialism in its present stage of open and desperate offensive.
STRATEGY, TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES
Revolutionary warfare is the logical, inevitable answer to the political, economic and social situation in Africa today. We do not have the luxury of an alternative. We are faced with a necessity.
Throughout the world, the escalation of imperialist aggression is making the issues clear, and exploitation can no longer be disguised. In Africa, a point of explosion against imperialism has been reached. But only a massive and organised will to fight can spark it off.
Time is running out. We must act now. The freedom fighters already operating in many parts of Africa must no longer be allowed to bear the full brunt of a continental struggle against a continental enemy. The collective and continental nature of our will and our space, the urgency of conquering the initiative and the protracted nature of a revolutionary war calls for a united All-Africa organisation of all freedom fighters on the African continent.
We must co-ordinate strategy and tactics, and combine experience. Co-ordination requires organisation, and organisation can only be effective if each fighting unit is a disciplined part of the whole. Attack must be planned with diversion, retreat with consolidation, losses in one zone compensated for by the gains in another, until the liberation movement is finally victorious, and the whole of Africa is free and united.
ORGANISATION FOR REVOLUTIONARY WARFARE
A. THE MILITARY BALANCE
The dimension of our struggle is equal to the size of the African continent itself. It is in no way confined within any of the absurd limits of the micro-states created by the colonial powers, and jealously guarded by imperialist puppets during the neo-colonialist period.
For although the African nation is at present split up among many separate states, it is in reality simply divided into two: our enemy and ourselves. The strategy of our struggle must be accordingly, and our continental territory considered as consisting of three categories of territories which correspond to the varying levels of popular organisation and to the precise measure of victory attained by the people’s forces over the enemy:
1. Liberated areas
2. Zones under enemy control
3. Contested zones (i.e. hot points)
These areas may present minimal differences due to the varying ways in which independence was obtained. However, they can be collectively defined as territories where:
(a) Independence was secured through an armed struggle, or through a positive action movement representing the majority of the population under the leadership of an anti-imperialist and well-organised mass party.
(b) A puppet regime was overthrown by a people’s movement (Zanzibar, Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt).
(c) A social revolution is taking place to consolidate political independence by:
1. promoting accelerated economic development.
2. improving working conditions.
3. establishing complete freedom from dependence on foreign economic interests.
It therefore follows that a liberated zone can only be organised:
(a) to decolonise and
(b) to teach the theory and practice of socialism as applied to the African social milieu, and adapted to local circumstances.
The people’s socialist parties take the necessary steps to transform the united but heterogeneous front which fought for independence into an ideologically monolithic party of cadres.
Thus, in a truly liberated territory, one can observe:
1. Political growth achieved as a result of discussions and agreements concluded within this party.
2. Steady progress to transform theory into practice along ideological lines drawn by the party.
3. Constant improvement, checking and re-checking of the development plans to be carried out by the party and state level.
4. Political maturity among party members, who are no longer content to follow a vague and general line of action. Revolutionary political maturity is the prelude to the re-organisation of the party structure along more radical lines.
However, no territory may be said to be truly liberated if the party leadership, apart from consolidating the gains of national independence does not also undertake:
(a) Support actively the detachments of revolutionary liberation movements in the contested zones of Africa.
(b) Contribute to the organisation and revolutionary practice of the people’s forces in neo-colonialist states i.e. in zones under enemy control or in its contested areas.
(c) Effect an organic liaison of its political and economic life with the other liberated zones of the African nation.
This implies a system of mutual servicing and aid between the various detachments of liberation movements and liberated zones, so that a continuous exchange of experience, advice and ideas will link the progressive parties in power with the parties struggling in the contested zones.
Each liberated zone should be ready to offer the use of its territory to detachments of the liberation movements so that the latter may establish their rear bases on friendly soil, and benefit from the provision of communications, hospitals, schools, factories, workshops, etc.
It is important to bear in mind that a liberated area is constantly exposed to the many forms of enemy action and attack. It is the duty of both the liberation movements and the liberated zones:
1. To make objective and up-to-date analyses of the enemy’s aggression.
2. To take action to recapture any base lost to the enemy, and to help correct the mistakes which enabled the enemy to gain temporary victory.
In fact, the liberated areas of Africa do not yet come fully up to all the standards required of them. For example, in certain liberated zones, the level of economic liberation is clearly inferior to the high level of revolutionary awareness. But the main criterion for judging them to be liberated is the actual direction in which they are moving, since our assessment is of changing, not static phenomena.
Zones under enemy control
The imperialists control such zones:
(a) through an administration manned by foreigners. The territory is then externally subjected.
(b) through a puppet government made up of local elements. The territory is then both internally and externally subjected.
(c) through a settler, minority government. In this territory, settlers have established the rule of a majority and a minority. There is no logic except the right of might that can accept such a situation. The predominant racial group must, and will, provide the government of a country. Settlers, provided the government of a country. Settlers, provided they accept the principle of one man one vote, and majority rule, may be tolerated; but settler minority governments, never. They are a dangerous anachronism, and must be swept away completely and for ever.
A territory under enemy control therefore is governed against the interests of the majority. Such zones are economically, militarily and politically alienated. It is precisely in these territories that the enemy has its military camps, aerodromes, naval establishments and broadcasting stations, and where foreign banks, insurance firms, mining, industrial and trading companies have their headquarters. In other words, these zones are enemy nerve centres.
Clear proof of the neo-colonialist and neo-liberated character of these states is seen in the refusal of their governments to allow liberation movements to open offices, establish bases or enjoy freedom of transit for troops and equipment on their way to the front.
The strength of a territory under enemy control may be assessed by taking into account the following factors:
(i) the level of organisation attained by the reactionary forces in control there.
(ii) the type and degree of repression exerted against the people’s liberation movement.
(iii) the degree and modes of exploitation exerted upon the toiling masses.
(iv) the military means available to the reactionaries in power.
(v) the nature of the economic interests imperialism is out to promote in that territory and in neighbouring areas, (for example, strategic materials, important commercial and industrial complexes etc.)
(vi) the over-all strategic advantages which imperialism hopes to gain from the subjugation of the territory.
Such gains may be exclusively political.
As far as our struggle is concerned, our most vital asset is the degree of revolutionary awareness attained by the workers and the masses in the zone under enemy control.
The political maturity or immaturity of the masses constitutes the main difference between an enemy-held zone and a contested zone.
The revolutionary awareness of the broad masses in an enemy-held zone, must express itself in national boycotts, strikes, sabotage and insurrection.
It would be a mistake to maintain that the total of areas under enemy control is exactly equal to the sum of neo-colonialist and colonialist governments. Socio-political phenomena are less mechanical than that. In each case it is the level of the people’s awareness and participation that counts.
A zone under enemy control can at any time become a contested area if the revolutionary forces in activity there are either on the verge of armed struggle or have reached an advanced stage of revolutionary organisation. In some cases, a spark is enough to determine the turning point from the preparation to action. In other circumstances, the embers can smoulder underground for a much longer period.
“Sham independence” zones, where the awakened masses have placed the enemy in such a precious position that a “single spark can start a prairie fire”, can no longer be said to be “under enemy control”. In such a situation, the enemy is only superficially in command, and relies exclusively on support in the police, civil service and the army, where it retains control only as long as the force of habit remains unchallenged. It is to be noted that the army and police are never homogeneous forces in Africa, and that this factor is of obvious tactical interest in a revolutionary struggle primarily based on the workers and peasants, but also aiming to obtain the support of all other possible elements.
In these zones of revolutionary translation, the population feels deeply in sympathy with the revolutionary forces in neighbouring areas, and often gives them inevitable assistance.
These transitional zones may:
1. Either be used to organise the liberation of another neighbouring territory which is economically more important and politically more mature. (for instance, where a party of revolutionary opposition is already operating against the government).
2. Or, in case of strategic necessity, be directly seized from the enemy through the organisation and armed action of the dissatisfied masses.
A careful study should be made of the range of possibilities offered by a territory under puppet, neo-colonialist control. Full investigation will disclose that the puppet government is not homogeneous, and that the people are often virtually liberated but they are not aware of it because no one has organised them to act purposefully to seize what is their due (i.e. political control and the control of economic wealth).
Between a zone under enemy control where the masses are awakening and a hotly contested zone, there is only one missing link: a handful of genuine revolutionaries prepared to organise and act.
There are many more contested zones than liberated ones. In fact, the total area of contested zones covers most of the African continent. All the more reason why we should take vigilant care of our liberated territories.
A contested zone is not only a zone of revolutionary activity, but it is also an area in which a people’s party works underground or semi-clandestinely to organise the overthrow of a puppet government. For there is no fundamental difference between armed struggle as such and organised revolutionary action of a civil type. The various methods of our struggle, and the changing from one method to another should be determined mainly by the circumstances and the set of conditions prevailing in a given territory.
The forces struggling in the contested zones are the front line of the revolutionary liberation movement. They must receive material support from the liberated zones in order to carry their mission through a successful end. This involves a development of the struggle until a people’s insurrectionally movement is able to assume power.
A political party operating in a contested zone may be said to be truly revolutionary if:
1. It is actively organising the people, training cadres, etc.
2. Its essential objective is the total destruction of the puppet government or the colonial power, in order to build in its place the organs of the people’s political power based on mass organisation and mass education.
The latter objective can only be achieved through a policy of direct confrontation with the enemy, and not through devious negotiations and compromise. This is the only correct approach to the African situation if the problem of the revolution is to be studied in depth and from the people’s point of view.
However, certain factors have retarded the final unleashing of anti-imperialist action and the unfolding of a people’s revolution throughout the African nation:
1. The readiness of imperialists to exploit any cracks in our armour.
2. The undue emphasis placed on diplomatic procedure and negotiations to provide solutions.
3. The varying degrees of isolationism practised by the cadres of ruling parties in spite of their recognition, on a theoretical level, of the necessity for a continental, anti-imperialist struggle and reconstruction.
4. The tendency manifested by certain ruling parties in the liberated zones to indulge in a slack, wait-and-see policy, merely toying with progressive ideas, and neglecting to analyse, handle and resolve national problems in a positive way. This has created a dangerous climate of uneasiness, confusion and discouragement for African revolutionaries, and fertile ground for neo-colonialist intrigue and attacks.
5. The existence of a more or less conscious opportunism amongst some leaders of the liberation movement both in the liberated and contested territories, which is symptomatic of a low level of ideological conviction.
Africa will be liberated sooner or later against all odds. But if it to be soon, by an accelerated revolution of the people, and a total war against imperialism, then we must establish a unified continental high command here and now, to plan revolutionary war, and to initiate action.
If we fail to do this, and to lead the people’s revolution, we are likely to be swept away one by one by imperialism and neo-colonialism. It is no longer feasible to take a middle course. The time for reform, however progressive, is past. For reforms cannot hold the enemy at bay, nor can they convince the silent, internal agents of neo-colonialism, eliminate the puppets, or even destroy the capitalist structure and mentality inherited from colonialism. The cancerous growths are proliferating at the very heart of our parties and territories whether they emerge under the cloak of constitutionalism, parliamentarianism, bureaucratic etiquette, an imposing civil service, officers trained in western “apolitical” tradition to maintain the bourgeois-capitalist status quo by means of military coups, or if they appear in the more obvious guise of corruption and nepotism.
The people’s armed struggle, the highest form of political action, is a revolutionary catalyst in the neo-colonialist situation.
Peaceful political action to achieve liberation has been proved ineffective
(a) with the accession of the majority of African states to independence and the advent of neo-colonialism on a massive scale
(b) with the increasingly continental dimension of our struggle.
Pacific political action was, in general, potent during the national phase of the liberation movement, and mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, where independence often developed in a chain reaction. However, even then there were significant exceptions. In Kenya for example, where recourse to peaceful political action was denied to the masses, the people’s movement resorted to more direct and concentrated action in the form of the Mau Mau. In Algeria, a seven year armed liberation struggle was needed. Elsewhere, the independence movement pushed beyond the fringe of pacifism, as in Ghana and Guinea where “pacific action” was employed.
The crystallisation of a more concentrated form of political action is in fact to be found in the development of almost all African independence movements. The reason for this was the need to establish a new social order after nominal independence has been achieved, and the escalation of imperialist action. The latter appeared in:
(i) the corruption of independence through neo-colonialism and puppet regimes.
(ii) direct imperialist aggression against liberation forces, for example in the Congo.
(iii) increased multilateral and bilateral imperialist support to:
(a) remaining colonial powers (Portugal, Spain)
(b) fascist-racist regimes (Rhodesia, South Africa)
(c) puppet regimes and local reactionaries to assist their infiltration and attempts to suppress progressive and revolutionary forces throughout the continent.
In less than three years, from 1960, the armed form of struggle became a necessity of the African anti-colonial liberation movement, and the same process may be observed in most neo-colonialist situations.
From 1961 onwards, the armed form of political action reached another turning point with the creation of a united front co-ordinating the struggle of freedom fighters in all “Portuguese” colonies. This organisation (CONCP) links up the politico-military struggle of 12,400,000 inhabitants over an area of some 2 million square kilometres.
In effect, then, anti-imperialist pacifism is dying, and on continental scale, because:
1. The political action which led to independence deviated to become the sole monopoly and privilege of a reactionary “elite” which deprives the masses of the right to political action, even in its pacific and constitutional form.
2. Neo-colonialism has created a situation whereby the masses are exploited beyond the “safe” limits of exploitation. The ensuing massive explosion of pent-up discontent ca be nothing but violent. The masses seize back their right to political action and make the maximum use of it.
3. Imperialist action is escalating (a) to consolidate its positions (military coups d’etat in neo-colonial states) (b) to gain ground and recapture lost initiative (reactionary coups d’etat in progressive states)
4. Imperialism constantly infiltrates revolutionary opposition groups with agents, “special police”, and others, compelling such groups to arm even before they have attained the organisational stage of armed struggle.
5. Whenever the pseudo-democratic institutions inherited from colonial rule are not used by its inherited from colonial rule are not used by its inheritors to build capitalism but are gradually remodelled or suddenly re-structured towards a socialist line of development, imperialists intervene violently.
6. Violence clears the “neo-colonialist fog” and reveals the visible enemy and the subtle methods of camouflage employed by neo-colonialists. The issues are made clear.
As soon as the initial revolutionary units emerge, the puppet regime is doomed. A chain reaction begins. The puppets are compelled to break the promises they have made. They had survived in the teeth of opposition only because they uneasily preserved an outward appearance of progressive action. Now, they have to suppress and kill openly in order to survive. Once the first drop of patriotic blood is shed in the fight the puppet regime is irrevocably condemned. Guerrilla points spread like oil stains. Not only have the internal contradictions of neo-colonialism fully ripened but the African masses have attained such a degree of political awareness that they literally force the struggle to break out into the open.
The Need for Co-ordinated Revolutionary Action.
The international balance of forces, and more particularly the existence of powerful socialist states, gave rise to the theory that in certain territories dominated by imperialism on our continent it was possible to take a pacific road to socialism. But such reasoning is based on the false premise that the question of co-ordinating revolutionary action in Africa and the world has already been solved and that therefore imperialism is no longer able to concentrate its forces to act decisively against the most threatening parts of the popular liberation front.
In reality, the situation is quite different:
1. Imperialists are waging an all-out struggle against the socialist states, and the revolutionary liberation movements through military means, and through insidious but powerful methods of psychological warfare (propaganda).
2. Imperialists have formed an international syndicate of military and economic forces to achieve its aggressive aims.
3. Imperialists have, in recent years, assisted in the establishment of numerous puppet governments in Africa.
The historical experience of people of Asia, Latin America and of Africa has shown that imperialism has often forcefully intervened to prevent the peaceful achievement of socialism. In the case of Ghana a coup occurred at the very time a decisive turning point in socialist development was about to be reached.
The continental scope now attained by popular insurrection in Africa is a reality. It remains for us to devise effective co-ordinating machinery.
Our accumulated experience has shown that only practical and planned co-ordination on a continental scale will prevent the enemy from concentrating on its forces on isolated and therefore more vulnerable targets. In our war, isolation is one of the greatest dangers.
We have already been able to outpace the enemy i certain ways by:
(i) Increasing our means of production
(ii) Bringing a higher level of organisation to the people
(iii) Spreading the essential features of the African people’s revolution
(iv) Unmasking neo-colonialism and its puppets
We have succeeded in accumulating energy and will power. But it is also true that we have not yet defeated either the external, or the internal enemy. For victory, a politico-military organisation must be established to provide the machinery for a qualitative conversion of revolutionary action in Africa.
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Equipment and composition of the armed forces
AAPRA will be a force ready to operate in any part of Africa. It must therefore be equipped with the most modern aircraft, vehicles and weapons, emphasis being placed on firing power, speed, mobility and lightness.
AAPRA will also include specialised, technical units. For example:
(a) Mass psychology teams and units spreading audio-visual and written propaganda by means of radio, films, news-sheets etc.
(b) Social service specialists trained to conduct literacy campaigns, to promote child care, public hygiene and other social welfare services.
(c) technicians specialising in agriculture and in rural processing industries
(d) cattle raising and fishery specialists
(e) medical officers
(f) cultural experts.
Members of AAPRA are not to be considered primarily as professional soldiers, but as civilians trained in arms, highly qualified fighters who are at the same time efficient workers. They will act to serve, not to subjugate, the broad masses.
Our war is not a war of conquest, it is a war of revolutionary liberation. We fight not only in self-defence but to free, unite and reconstruct.
It is from the broad masses of the people that the revolutionary liberation movement is born, and its is therefore from among the peasants, workers, members of co-operatives and youth that AAPRA will draw its main strength. In recruiting volunteers, preference will initially be given to members of organisations of an All-African character:
(i) peasants’ organisations
(ii) trade unions
(iii) progressive students’ organisations
(iv) youth organisations
(v) women’s organisations
(vi) co-operative movements.
These forces will be supplemented by volunteers allocated to AAPRA by progressive and militant African parties and governments. (Chart 7).
Before enrolling a volunteer, the Commission of Control and Recruitment will investigate:
(a) his social origin
(b) his qualities as a worker and as a man
(c) his ideological orientation.
He will undergo tests to assess his character, intellectual capacity, moral fibre and physical fitness.
Enemy agents and adventurers of all kinds will attempt to join AAPRA. We must be constantly on the alert to recognise them and prevent them from infiltrating our revolutionary armed forces. For this reason, particular attention will be paid to tests designed to discover if the volunteer is ideologically sound, and if he has given a true account of his origin and previous place of employment.
As the armed liberation struggle develops and expands whole units of African troops at present being used by the enemy (on their principle of “let African fight African”), will be welcomed and given every encouragement. But as soon as possible they will be “screened” individually in accordance with regular AAPRA procedure, and will receive ideological instruction.
General principles of training
Since members of the revolutionary armed forces have social, political and military responsibilities, recruits will go through various levels of training in these three spheres. The aim of our training is not to turn our men into killing machines or mercenaries, but into mature and progressive men intellectually and materially equipped for their revolutionary tasks.
The quality and training of recruits for revolutionary units is of particular importance:
(a) because our effective strength will, at the start, be much lower than the enemy’s numerical strength, (often as low as ten to one).
(b) Because by the very nature of his performance, and because our initial effective force is comparatively small, the African revolutionary fighter must be specialised soldier.
Thus, the initial military imbalance between ourselves and the enemy will be compensated for by our technical and moral superiority.
All recruits will receive the same basic training, and will then proceed to specialist courses to prepare them for the specialised units of AAPRA.
Commanders of revolutionary armed units will constantly bear in mind the need to carry out frequent checks on all members of AAPRA:
(i) make sure that the highest standard of work and performance of duty is maintained
(ii) to test morale (the will to fight)
They will also see that organisational machinery is tightly consolidated, and that ideological training is thoroughly and regularly pursued.
It is not the object of our education and training to turn out men who are servilely obedient, but men who respect discipline and are efficient and active because they are fully committed to the revolutionary struggle.
Instead of promoting hierarchic, coercive and follow like sheep relationships, our training will seek to develop an intelligent, egalitarian, critical and self-critical outlook within the armed forces. Our fighters will be self-disciplined, revolutionary men and women.
Training courses (social-political-military) will be given in training centres located in a base area in an already consolidated, liberated zone. It is necessary to have several centres operating in different territories or regions. Such centres must remain secret.
Before the volunteers are sent to the centres they will be put under observation in schools where they will receive basic education and political instruction, and pursue courses designed to develop their facilities observation and deduction. During this stage, and final process of screening and recruiting will be applied and unsuitable volunteers rejected.
At the end of the basic course, the successful recruits will be directed to primary training centres.
The body and its physical endurance must be weathered, strengthened and developed by exercise and by exposure to many varied conditions.
(i) marching under conditions of duress
(ii) camping in difficult terrain
(iii) subsisting on short rations for limited periods
(iv) enduring periods of isolation in small groups cut off from base
(v) carrying out rigorous individual initiative and endurance tests.
Daily exercises will help to promote both physical and moral stamina.
Our troops must be trained to operate equally effectively face to face with the enemy, and in various guises, behind the enemy lines. They should be taught the art of impersonation, and how to conduct themselves if captured and interrogated.
The development of speed and skill is of the greatest importance in practising:
(vi) close combat
(vii) commando-type manoeuvres
The aim of the primary training centres is not to form a military elite, but to help our men to establish contact with concrete realities of the struggle, and to maintain this contact.
The centres will therefore be self-sufficient, and the men will engage in farming, plantation work and cattle-raising on adjacent plots of land as part of their daily tasks. They will be taught to set up small handicraft and processing industries to manufacture uniforms and equipment, (shoes, cartridge belts, ammunition, light arms, etc. ) This will enable the AAPRA budget to concentrate on the purchase of military and transport equipment which cannot be manufactured locally, while leaving the major part of provisioning and clothing to the men themselves.
The practice of shooting will be given special emphasis, for “marksmanship is the core of apprenticeship.” In this field, the guerrilla-fighter must be very skilled for it is necessary to use a minimum of ammunition.
Recruits will be taught to use a varied range of arms, and to shoot with deadly accuracy at fixed and moving targets.
The use of explosives will also be taught. Apart from acquiring a thorough knowledge of all kinds of AAPRA arms and equipment, pupils of the training centres must:
(a) study and be familiar with equipment used by the enemy
(b) recognise the different types of aircraft the enemy uses or is likely to use in the various regions of our national territory
(c) learn to make full use of any supplies captured from the enemy.
Every fighter must know:
1. Against whom he is fighting
2. Why he is fighting.
Political education should centre on the key motive for the war – the will to be free. Our essential objective is to build a socialist society promoting better living and working conditions for all – a socialist society under a Union Government of Africa.
Each recruit will, during the course of his training, attend classes in which the ideological aspects of our struggle will be explained and discussed. He will study such subjects as, for example:
(i) African history
(iii) Socialism (in Africa and in the world context)
(iv) Imperialism and neo-colonialism.
Teachers will encourage recruits to express their own views, and to discuss any current political, social, economic, or religious problems which may interest them. Discussions between recruits from different parts of Africa will be particularly valuable in stimulating mutual understanding and dedication to the common ideal of continental liberation and unity.
The egalitarian nature of the AAPRA forces should eliminate or reduce to a minimum the hierarchic partitioning of ranks. Instead, our forces will be characterised by a well-planned division of revolutionary labour between intelligent and purposeful men. Intimidation and bossing must be relentlessly fought against because it is based on a hierarchic, pyramid-like conception of authority which is merely a useful screen for the rise to power of ambitious and petty-minded men.
However, it is vital that certain men should assume command, and in this connection useful reference may be made to the solution provided by the Cuban revolution where ranks are only introduced from lieutenancy upwards, and revolutionary fighters pass directly from the rank of ordinary soldier to that of lieutenant, but only as a result of acts of initiative and courage shown in the course of the struggle.
Our revolutionary fighters must be so highly-trained and self-reliant that each one of them is capable of assuming responsibility if the need arises.
Authority and subordination are required in the organisation of any collective effort, and this applies particularly in military affairs where discipline is essential. But the idealisation of leaders must be guarded against. The general must be seen not in isolation from the masses, but as inseparable from them.
No general, however skilled, can be successful without the loyal support of inspired, disciplined men who have a thorough knowledge of the issues at stake in the war, are prepared to make any sacrifice required of them, and have confidence in his leadership.
The people are the makers of history and it is they who, in the final analysis, win or lose wars.
Thus, the leaders of our armed forces will be representatives of the political leadership of our great liberation struggle, and will express the basic interest of the entire African nation.
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