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Adam Rodgers Johns explores the commercialisation of football in Africa. He argues that at the professional level the continent’s most popular sport provides us with fertile grounds for the analysis of capitalism in Africa. By Adam Rodgers Johns The trend towards the commercialisation of football is not limited to the most powerful and competitive leagues in Western Europe but affects all regions of the world, including Africa. In recent years, the commercialisation of elite level professional football has affected the world’s most popular sport at unprecedented levels - from ownership, sponsorship, ticket sales to TV licensing. There are numerous ways in which Africa is linked to the global business of football. For example, the huge popularity of European, specifically English football, has significant commercial implications in terms of broadcasting revenue, merchandise and gambling. There are a number of examples from the African continent where there has...

Mpumelelo Tshabalala discusses a symposium that marked the 60th anniversary of the All Africa People’s Conference which was hosted at the University of London last month. The symposium created the space for reflection on the historical significance of the 1958 AAPC and on how it can be used to understand and shape where Africa is today. Tshabalala also raises some important questions about race and politics at the event. By Mpumelelo Tshabalala On Thursday, 6 December 2018 the All Africa People’s Conference’s (AAPC) 60-year commemorative event took place in one of Senate House Library’s grand, parliamentary styled rooms.  The symposium was incredibly rich, evident in the effort made to set and comprehend the context of the original conference in 1958. Further to the presented content, accompanying the programme was a list of the AAPC’s delegates, fraternal delegates and observers, a 1958 map of the continent and information...

Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a masterpiece. In this review of the new edition of the book by Verso, Andy Higginbottom celebrates a classic that has lost none of its power. The book brings together in a broad narrative the history of the African continent from a perspective that is at one and the same time Pan-Africanist and Marxist. For all of those interested in Africa’s history and future, the book must be studied once more....

Marking the 60th anniversary of the All African People’s Conference in Accra in 1958 December 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the All African People’s Conference (AAPC), which was held in Accra, Ghana, between 5 and 13 December 1958. Under the slogan ‘Hands off Africa!!’, the AAPC was a watershed moment in the history of Africa’s liberation from colonial rule and white supremacy. To mark its significance, a major one day conference was held on 6 December 2018 at the University of London by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICWS), School of Advanced Study, and Westminster United Nations Association, under the title of ‘Hands Off Africa!!’ The 1958 All African People’s Conference: Its Impact Then and Now’. By Mandy Banton, David Wardrop and Susan Williams The AAPC was inspired by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister of newly-independent Ghana, and George Padmore, Nkrumah’s Adviser on African Affairs, to advance...

Nick Bernards argues that placing African labour in capitalism requires that we think seriously and in historical perspective about the politics of irregular forms of work. In his contribution to ROAPE’s debate on capitalism in Africa, Bernards points out that the kinds of work performed by African workers have often been key reference points in global debates about governing irregular forms of work. These debates are often shaped in powerful ways by the unfolding and contingent relationships between the state and various segments of working classes on the continent. By Nick Bernards The exploitation of ‘free’ wage labour – in Marx’s double sense of those workers ‘free’ to sell their labour to whom they choose and ‘free’ of any other means of reproducing themselves – is a core characteristic of capitalist relations of production. On more than a few readings, it is the defining trait of...

Walter Rodney’s posthumous book The Russian Revolution: A View from the Third World  sought to understand the significance of the Revolution in order to the strengthen liberation movements that Rodney was directly involved in. As Martin Empson explains in this review, these movements took place in the context of historical colonial exploitation or in underdeveloped economies, economies that Rodney argues had been depleted of their wealth, resources and population by Western capitalism....

Exposing the illusion of the green economy, Simone Claar argues that while the idea of greening capitalism might provide a clear conscience to regions in the North for addressing the ecological crisis, it perpetuates the exploitative relationship between the North and South. Through the green economy framework capitalism, development, and imperialism are ‘green-washed’ as capital invests in new environmental fields like renewable energy or clean cooking. Such a strategy will only ‘greenwash’ capitalism in Africa, leaving its exploitative and destructive nature unchanged. ...

In a powerful defence of Marxist political economy John Saul argues that ‘facing down the hulk of capital that presently bestrides the world was never going to be easy.’ Though as ‘powerful and ill-intentioned as capitalists’ might be ‘as they destroy the world, environmentally and morally’, everything, in Africa and elsewhere, continues to depend on the struggle of the oppressed. In this contribution he blends his on-going work on Africa with a more general analytical and theoretical consideration on progressive political economy. The fruitfulness of this approach is exemplified in his forthcoming book, Revolutionary Hope vs Free-Market Fantasies: Towards the Revival of Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa (to appear in 2019). There readers can see a more elaborated model of the method of both learning and communicating – in exploring the juxtaposition between theory on the one hand and ‘practice’, in the chapters 'southern Africa...

Recently the World Bank published a paper on poverty in Rwanda. The aim of the paper was to deal with the debate started in 2015 by Filip Reyntjens, and which continues on roape.net, on the reliability of Rwandan poverty statistics. Despite the objectives, when properly calculated, the evidence presented by the World Bank actually strongly supports the claim that poverty has increased in Rwanda. Yet the selective and even misleading presentation of supporting empirical evidence by the World Bank is, to say the least, disturbing. Our Rwanda experts ask if the World Bank is guilty of a worrying level of leniency and incompetence, or outright complicity in the manipulation of Rwanda’s official statistics. In September 2018, the World Bank published a paper entitled ‘Revisiting the Poverty Trend in Rwanda 2010/11-2013/14’, the stated aim of which was to resolve [i.e. shut down?] the debate initiated three years...