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International Socialist Review, Fall 1964


Ralph Levitt

Which Way Africa?


From International Socialist Review, Vol.25 No.4, Fall 1964, p.127.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Which Way Africa? – The Search for a New Society
by Basil Davidson
Penguin, Baltimore, 1964. 199 pp. $1.25.

The newly independent African nations are faced with momentous problems in their quest for the building of a truly free society. Paramount in this regard is the inheritance from the years of colonial oppression. The traditional continental system of peasant communal production was virtually destroyed by the conquering imperialist powers, and replaced, as in Latin America, by the predominance of cash crops, such as cotton and cocoa; the concommittant of this for the Africans was semi-permanent famine and devastation of the agricultural lands. Britain, France, et al. lost no opportunity to exacerbate and, even, to create tribal rivalries, in keeping with the colonialist maxim of “divide and rule.”

Although most of the peoples of Africa now live in new nations that, after years of struggle, have achieved political autonomy, many of their brothers and sisters in South Africa, Mozambique, Southern Rhodesia and Angola are still the victims of overt and brutal subjugation. Freedom from apartheid is high on the agenda. But, after freedom, what? The answer is dictated by African reality; and, articulated by the present battles in the Congo, as well as in the words of the program of the Algerian FLN:

“the Algerian Revolution ... is not and cannot be a simple fight for the conquest of political power. For us ... it is a political, economic, and social Revolution.”

The real solution requires that Africa take the road of Cuba, in line, of course, with her own history, traditions and problems.

Appended to this volume is the Charter of Unity of the African states, adopted at Addis Ababa in 1963. Author Davidson is an informed, sympathetic and honest observer of contemporary Africa. He exposes many of the myths concerning the continent, and sets the record straight before his Western audience. Which Way Africa? is a useful introduction to a part of the world that will play an even larger role in the history of the coming decades.

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