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Revolutionary Movements in Africa

Revolutionary Movements in Africa

An Untold Story

Edited by Pascal Bianchini, Ndongo Samba Sylla and Leo Zeilig

Series: Black Critique

African activists and scholars remember a tumultuous period of radical political history

While the revolutionary leftist movements of the 1960s and '70s in Europe, the United States and Latin America have been the subject of abundant literature, similar movements that emerged in Africa have received comparatively very little attention. This book sheds new light on these political movements.

Africa's left were extremely active in these years. With pro-Soviet movements, Maoism, Trotskyism, Guevarism, Pan-Africanism and the Black Panthers, the rumble of revolution was felt across the continent. From feminist student rebels in Nigeria to pro-democracy moments in Liberia, the exciting and complex interplay between these many actors changed Africa forever.

Can we see echoes of these movements in African politics today? What can we learn from the people who lived through these decades? This unique collection will open the eyes of leftists across the world who will find new and important insights into an important chapter in global history.

Pascal Bianchini is a sociologist and independent researcher based in Senegal. He has written extensively on social movements, protest, class and education in Africa including École et Politique en Afrique Noire.

Ndongo Samba Sylla is a Senegalese development economist. He has previously worked as a technical advisor at the Presidency of the Republic of Senegal, and is Programme manager at the West Africa office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. He is the co-author of Africa’s Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story and author of The Fair Trade Scandal.

Leo Zeilig is a writer and researcher. He has written extensively on African politics and history, including books on working-class struggle and the development of revolutionary movements. He is an editor of the Review of African Political Economy and is the author many books, including A Revolutionary for Our Time: The Walter Rodney Story.

'This collection covers over a dozen french and english speaking countries from all parts of Africa [enabling] readers to grasp the true revolutionary moment of the african anti-colonial and anti-neocolonial political and social movements. A majority of the authors are african academics with activist credentials [who] present genuine new information gained from original historical research. Twenty-first century radicals should find new inspiration for action in this untold history.'

- Jean Copans, african anthropologist and sociologist

'From the Tubu nomads of northern Chad to peasants, workers and students throughout the African continent, we see how the leaders of these social strata can use old and new ideas to mobilize emancipatory struggles for change. The editors of this volume are to be congratulated for making it possible. We hope to read more studies of great revolutionary movements leaders like Amilcar Cabral, Chris Hani, Ibrahima Abatcha, Thomas Sankara, Ruben Um Nyobe, and Pierre Mulele.'

- Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Professor of African and Global Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

'An incredible book ... Activists whose voices have long been silenced, many of them Africans with first-hand knowledge of political struggle, here recall their demands and their actions to confront oppression, and how they organised workers, students, and other collectivities of the repressed. Thought-provoking and powerful.'

- Janet Bujra, 'Review of African Political Economy'

'A remarkable volume on the vicissitudes of the revolutionary left in post-independence Africa. The volume bravely attempts to tell an untold story which continues to unfold in the more repressive milieu of neo-liberalism in the midst of the beating of new 'cold war' drums. A pioneer work which hopefully will inspire a couple more to complete what is essentially a 'work in progress'.'

- Issa Shivji, Professor Emeritus at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Introduction: Remembering a Forgotten History


1. Political Struggle in Senegal in the 1960s and 1970s: The Artistic and Literary Front by Ibrahima Wane
2. The Revolutionary Left in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Mali by Issa Ndiaye
3. The history of the Upper Volta revolutionary left: From ideological struggles within the student movement to the creation of the PCRV and the ULC by Moussa Diallo
4. Student and 'post' student activism in Niger through 1970s-1980s by Tatiana Smirnova
5. The Labour Movement, Marxism, Northern Leftist, Feminist Socialism and Student Rebels in Nigeria: 1963-1978 by Baba Aye and Adam Mayer
6. The Movement for Justice in Africa and Democratization in Liberia by George Klay Kieh, Jr.
7. The Frolinat and the Saharan Footprint On an African Revolution. The Case of the Chadian North by Tilman Musch, Moussa Bicharra Ahmed and Djiddi Allahi Mahamat
8. Brazzaville: Crossroads of the Revolutionary Left in Central Africa in the 1960s & 1970s by Héloïse Kiriakou & Matt Swagler
9. May 1972 in Madagascar: a student movement causing the fall of the 'Father of independence' by Irène Rabenoro
10. Southern Sudanese radical projects, c.1963-1983 by Nicki Kindersley
11. Pan-African Marxism and the Ugandan People’s Congress, c.1960-c.1964 by Adrian Browne
12. Challenging African Socialism through Marxism-Leninism: The University Students African Revolutionary Front in Tanzania by Patrick Noberg
13. Questions from the Dar es Salaam Debates by Zeya del Nabolsy
14. The Road to Durban: Workers' struggles, student movements, and the resurgence of resistance politics in Namibia and South Africa by Heike Becker
15. Dimitri Tsafendas: An African Revolutionary by Harris Dousemetzis


Conclusion: A tribute to two 'great witnesses' invited to the Dakar conference in 2019 by Moctar Fofana Niang and Eugénie Rokhaya Aw

Published by Pluto Press in Dec 2023
Paperback ISBN: 9780745347868
eBook ISBN: 9780745347882

140mm x 216mm