Caribbean Journal of Philosophy, Vol 12, No 1 (2020)

Unholy Alliance: Africa and Marxism

John Ayotunde Isola Bewaji


There have been many ways in which progressive, liberal, populist or socially sensitive ideologies have been described, to link these ideologies with a humanist and humane approaches to socio-economic organization of society. Some of these tortuously fangled nomenclatures are communism, socialism, Marxism, welfarism, secularism, communalism, democracy, communitarianism or leftism. But what I have found is that many of these labels are misnomers and incongruous appellations clouding transparency of understanding, cloaking hubris, purveying carefully disguised oppression and transferring ideas from disparate socio-cultural historiographic circumstances to confound proper annotation of understanding in Global African (Africana) traditions of governance and social engineering.
In this essay, I suggest that the search by “leftist” Africana intellectuals for levers for founding discourses that will be sensitive to the welfare of the masses of the African peoples and societies have floundered on the altar of intellectual laziness reminiscent of intellectual smuggling which was engaged by African theologian scholars in the search for equivalences for Abrahamic disoriented and emotionally unstable desert deities. The laziness has engendered the unholy alliance between Africa and Marxism, such that the historicity of human struggles which led Marx to Das Kapital (1867) and The Communist Manifesto (1848) have been uniformized, homogenized, pasteurized, universalized and transfixed on Africana societies without sensitivity to the incommensurabilities of European and Africana traditions that the scholars have sought to understand. To show these weaknesses in the theory and practice of leftism in global Africa, I examine two critical elements of any socio-economic and cultural analysis of the ontologies of being in indigenous Africa before the misadventure of Europe on the continent in the modern times: land and labour. I conclude that the unholy alliance between Africa and Marxism has been responsible for the inevitable failure of communist/socialist/Marxist ideologies, orientations, and intellectualisms in Africana societies. I suggest that the path to progress in Africa will have to be forged from endogenous tools, using indigenous cultural traditions and values.

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