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ROAPE Blog

ROAPE’s blog hosts short articles to highlight developments on the continent and comment on the dynamics of protest, shifting patterns of political economy and issues of historical concern for the journal. We welcome submissions for short articles between 800 and 1,800 words.

Dear Semira

On 22 September 1998 Semira Adamu was murdered in Belgium as she was being deported. Semira was a 20-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker who was suffocated to death by two Belgian policemen to keep her silent while the Belgian Sabena airline flight was about to take-off for Togo. Twenty-four years later her cousin, Benjamin Maiangwa, investigates the truth of her murder.

More than a moment – The achievements of Black Lives Matter

Nadia Sayed assesses the Black Lives Matter movement two years after mass protests erupted following the assassination of George Floyd. We share a talk she gave at Marxism festival in London in July 2022, which is based on her article for the International Socialism Journal (click the link at the bottom of the page to access the full article). Defending the movement’s achievements while considering its weaknesses, Sayed argues that mobilising the power of the working class is crucial to ensuring that Black Lives Matter is not merely a moment but the beginning of a movement that delivers fundamental change.

ROAPE’s Ruth First Prize: Japhace Poncian on resource nationalism in Tanzania

The winner of ROAPE's Ruth First Prize is Japhace Poncian for his article on resource nationalism in Tanzania. Poncian argues that 'while presenting itself as pro-participatory governance, resource nationalism reproduces structural constraints ... in extractive resource governance." The full journal article is free to access (see link at the bottom of post). 

Colonial conservationism: wildlife, tourism and land expropriation in Africa

Across Africa projects of capitalist extraction still ensure evictions, mass expropriations of land and misery. Today the government of Tanzania wants to expand the space for luxury tourists to enjoy picturesque views of nature – a fantasy of nature supposedly untouched by humans. Laibor Kalanga Moko and Jonas Bens argue that justification for the dispossession of indigenous communities has shifted from “economic development” to “wildlife conservation”.

Whites and democracy in South Africa

Before 1994 there was enormous speculation that white intransigence in South Africa would lead to a racial war. In his new book, Roger Southall finds that by the mid-1980s most whites saw the writing on the wall. Even so, he argues, the economic system which had maintained white dominance was left more or less intact.

Walter Rodney – the prophet of self-emancipation

On 13 June 1980, the Guyanese revolutionary Walter Rodney was assasinated in Georgetown. In the final part of Chinedu Chukwudinma’s biography A Rebel Guide to Walter Rodney he celebrates Rodney’s revolutionary organising and focus on worker’s power. Rodney remains an exemplar to revolutionaries fighting to change the world today.

Alienation in three parts: mental health in Kenyan women activists

In the first of a three-part series on mental health and activism in Kenya, Noosim Naimasiah writes about the pandemic of mental health breakdown in Kenya. She notes how activists respond increasingly to distress calls, extrajudicial executions, sexual abuse, fatal domestic violence, and suicides are interspersed by the chronic conditions of violence in the informal settlements of Nairobi. Naimasiah writes how communities once connected by values of respect, dignity and love have been left to the cold machinations of a brutal system registering only exchange value.

Extractivism and dispossession in Mozambique

Gediminas Lesutis discusses his new book, The Politics of Precarity, on the experiences of extractivism, dispossession, and resettlement in Mozambique.  Lesutis shows how what might be conceived as “marginal African experiences” can help us understand the core questions of global politics and capital and the contemporary impossibilities of living within global capitalism.

The birth of the Working People’s Alliance in Guyana

In 1974 the Working People’s Alliance emerged as an anti-racist and anti-imperialist formation that fought for socialism from below. To start with it was not an electoral party, but a pressure group that united Pan-Africanist and Indian socialist organisations. Chinedu Chukwudinma describes how Walter Rodney’s uncompromising use of Marxist theory and practice transformed him into the foremost organiser of the Guyanese working people.

A difficult return – race, class, and politics in Rodney’s Guyana

In 1974 Walter Rodney and his family returned to Guyana. Rodney immediately faced a country divided between the Indian and African working class, and the brutal and divisive regime of Forbes Burnham. Rodney produced an impressive body of historical work which provided a Marxist explanation for the divide of the country’s working people. Chinedu Chukwudinma continues the story of Rodney’s revolutionary life.

Kenya’s struggle heroes today – the social justice movement

Gathanga Ndung’u commemorates activists whose lives were snatched away by Kenya’s brutal capitalism. Activists who launched a war against a system of impunity, a world one hundred times larger, mightier, and older than them, but, Ndung’u explains, that each of them mounted a defence to protect and defend their comrades and communities.

The horrors of the global gulag archipelago

ROAPE’s Graham Harrison examines Britain's deal with Rwanda which he argues shows Western states are constructing a vast international network of refugee prisons in post-colonial countries – offshoring the wretched of the earth to a dystopian universe devoid of rights, justice, and humanity.

Socialism from above or below – Rodney’s politics and activism

Chinedu Chukwudinma describes Walter Rodney’s initial enthusiasm for Tanzanian socialism, and how he participated in projects to build an alternative to capitalism in the country. Gradually, Rodney became critical of these top-down efforts at socialist transformation and turned to the struggle of the working class from below. Chukwudinma examines the development of Rodney’s politics, and his views on Pan-Africanism.

The Mecca of African Liberation: Walter Rodney in Tanzania

Walter Rodney moved to Tanzania in 1969. As a lecturer in history at the university, he threw himself into radical, political debates in the country, as attempts were made to break from a crippling colonial past. Chinedu Chukwudinma writes how Rodney immersed himself in the politics of the country and university, and went on to write his 1972 masterpiece, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. 

Transitioning nowhere: Burkina Faso’s coup d’état

ROAPE’s Bettina Engels argues that the coup in January 2022 in Burkina Faso was not a surprise. Frustration and anger within the state security forces, among activists and the population in general have steadily increased since the elections in 2020. Engels argues that it remains urgent to think about how radical political-economic transformation can be truly realised.