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By Walter Ogillo Nyaluogo, a Cadre with the Communist Party of Kenya

 

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been sent by my party, the Communist Party of Kenya, to the Amilcar Cabral School in Accra, Ghana, from May 19 to June 11, 2023. As the first Kenyan participant, I felt deeply honoured to be part of this revolutionary gathering. The Amilcar Cabral School serves as a political theory hub, bringing together passionate working-class activists from progressive social movements and political parties worldwide.

The school's mission is to connect with individual activists and organizations, fostering greater international solidarity and broadening perspectives through understanding their struggles. In this transformative experience, I joined 32 activists from 16 countries, including the Saharawi Arab Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Nepal, Nigeria, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Liberia, the People's Republic of China, Tanzania, and Kenya.

When recalling my time at the school, the first thing that comes to mind is the introductory lesson, where we discussed our collective responsibilities and the code of conduct during our stay. We emphasized the value of collective work, mutual support, and utmost respect for each individual. A quote that resonates with me to this day is, "The only thing the enemy cannot take away from us is our discipline." This sentiment set the stage for the high discipline and unwavering morale that pervaded the entire course.

Throughout the program, every comrade demonstrated responsibility in meetings and showed utmost respect for each other's perspectives. I must admit, I have never been part of such a comradely team in my entire life. It was, without a doubt, the most enriching living and learning experience I have had thus far. The school further deepened our understanding of democratic centralism by dividing us into collectives of 5 to 6 comrades. Each collective took names inspired by important dates in working-class history or the names of revolutionaries.

I belonged to the "Titina Silá" collective, named after Bissau-Guinean revolutionary Titina Silá. Her memory lives on through Guinea-Bissau's celebration of National Women's Day on January 30. The collectives provided an excellent platform for reflecting on and discussing the daily lessons, while also serving as channels of communication between participants and organizers. Moreover, we engaged in physical labor activities, like cleaning and serving meals during communal meal times, aiming to challenge backward attitudes that disdain physical labor among some revolutionaries.

 

Mistica:

Participating in misticas has always held a special place in my heart, but it was at the Amilcar Cabral School that I truly grasped their essence. Our first mistica during class revealed how these rituals foster collective unity and strengthen our ideological commitment. The sense of belonging I felt while singing and chanting reinforced my dedication to the struggle and the collective. During a captivating session, we discussed the diverse forms of mistica from our regions, broadening our understanding of its significance.

For instance, I discovered that in Kenya, motorcycle taxis (boda boda/Nduthi) protesters express themselves by honking their horns and decorating their motorcycles with plants, embodying a unique form of mistica. Similarly, in China, bells ring, and the entire city falls silent to commemorate the lives lost during the harrowing Nanjing Massacre.

 

The Internationale and the Paris Commune:

With pride, I can now sing the first three stanzas of the Internationale, truly comprehending its significance and historical context. This powerful anthem, composed by Eugene Pottier after the fall of the Paris Commune in 1872, symbolizes a crucial milestone for socialists. The Paris Commune stands as the first worker-led revolutionary government, leaving a lasting impact on our world, such as the establishment of the 8-hour workday, which the Commune courageously experimented with.

 

The Life and Works of Amilcar Cabral:

During an enlightening class led by Comrade Blaise, we delved deep into the life and works of Amilcar Cabral, an often-overlooked revolutionary figure. By the end of my stay at the school, I vowed to walk in his footsteps. Amilcar Cabral, a devoted Guinea-Bissau agronomist, dedicated his life to liberating his people from Portuguese colonialism. A staunch Marxist, he applied socialist principles tailored to his nation's conditions, leading them to independence, even though he was tragically assassinated just seven months before witnessing his people's liberation. His internationalist approach fostered connections with other Marxists worldwide, from Fidel Castro in Cuba to Agostinho Neto in Angola. His invaluable contributions to Marxist theoretical work hold immense relevance in the current era of capitalist contradictions and struggles.

 

Materialist Philosophy:

One of the highlights from my time at the school was gaining a deeper understanding of historical and dialectical materialism. The class, guided by Comrade Vashna Jagarnath from South Africa, began by reflecting on Mao Zedong's document, "Where do Correct Ideas Come From?" The core lesson was that knowledge originates from the real world, not from our minds or higher beings. It starts as perceptual knowledge, perceived through our senses (touch, sight, taste, hearing, and smell). 

Through the accumulation of perceptual knowledge, cognition develops—conceptual knowledge. At this stage, we realize that knowledge comes from tangible, perceivable objects, and we reflect upon it. However, we can't determine if our concepts or ideas are correct without testing them against reality. Thus, the final stage is practical knowledge, which materializes after we apply our concepts to reality. This progression from perceptual to conceptual to practical knowledge resonated profoundly with us.

 

Capitalist Imperialism and African Underdevelopment:

Comrades Diagne, Nasser Adam, and Mamane Sani Adamou facilitated powerful discussions on imperialism, neo-colonialism, and African underdevelopment. Engaging in these interactive sessions encouraged us to share our experiences from different regions, which shaped our understanding of Africa's history. We learned that slavery and colonialism were mere interruptions to Africa's history, but they undeniably influenced the continent's current state. Slavery significantly depleted Africa's young, strong, and agile population, while colonialism served as a vehicle for capitalist expansion and resource exploitation.

Furthermore, the emergence of neo-colonialism and the debt burden imposed on African states, aided by institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, was thoroughly dissected. We recognized how these capitalist forces perpetuate the exploitation, oppression, and underdevelopment of Africa, with local African elites playing a complicit role.

 

The Digital Age of Imperialism and Surveillance Capitalism:

Comrade Khambale Masavuli's lecture on the Digital Age of Imperialism and Surveillance Capitalism left us on the edge of our seats. I was especially struck by the realization of the pervasive surveillance by the ruling class over the global population, using the internet as a tool. The internet, an institution of the superstructure, is far from neutral or objective—it serves the interests of the capitalist ruling class. Comrade Khambale highlighted that technological advancements have exponentially increased control and militarization, particularly in Africa. The existence of AFRICOM, established in 2007 by the United States to protect its interests and contain China, epitomizes modern colonialism.

We acknowledged that technology itself is not inherently bad but can be used as a tool for liberation. Our responsibility is to democratize technology and harness it to advance our cause while equipping the masses to navigate the digital realm.

 

The Elmina Slave Dungeons:

A profound emotional impact was experienced during our visit to the Elmina Slave Dungeon in Cape Coast, Ghana. As we explored the tragic history of this fortress, the extent of the inhumane slave trade's brutality became all too real. Countless Africans lost their lives at this location and during the harrowing journey to the Americas. The role of religion in perpetuating slavery was also evident, as the Portuguese built a chapel to bless ships carrying "cargo" back to Europe. This visit intensified our understanding of the horrors of slavery and reinforced our determination to fight against oppression and exploitation.

 

Internationalism and Pan-Africanism:

In discussions led by Comrades Kyeretwie Opoku and Kwesi Pratt Jr., we comprehended the significance of internationalism in the socialist struggle. Since capitalism is global, so must socialism be. Workers worldwide have more in common with each other than with their own ruling classes. We emphasized the importance of pan-Africanism, a scientific ideology that seeks the unification of Africa under socialism while advocating for liberation from exploitation and oppression.

 

Paths to Power, Theory, and Revolutionary Practice:

Comrade Shanti Singham and Comrade Adamou Sani Mamane skilfully traced the history of revolutionary struggles, from bourgeois revolutions to national liberation movements and socialist revolutions. We grasped the crucial factors that determine the success or failure of revolutions and the significance of grassroots work in defending and consolidating socialist gains. A successful revolution can only be tailored to fit the specific conditions of each region, and a strong connection to the masses is vital for defending and advancing revolutionary goals.

 

Revolutionary Arts and Culture:

Art and culture, under capitalism, serve to produce entertainment and reinforce capitalist ideology. However, we learned the power of revolutionary arts and culture, which criticize and educate, inspiring collective effort and dismantling capitalist values. Grounding revolutionary art in Marxist analysis is essential to challenging the capitalist superstructure.

 

Conjunctural Analysis and Geopolitics:

Comrades Angelo Garcia and Blaise led discussions on conjunctural analysis, which involve making Marxist analyses of specific situations and events. We focused on understanding the present and past events to actively shape the future toward socialism. Additionally, geopolitics and the emergence of a multipolar world, challenging Western dominance, offered a window for socialists to intervene and bring about revolutionary change.

 

Strategy and Tactics, and Popular Grassroots Work:

Our discussions on strategy and tactics, led by Comrade Oboe Baiden, emphasized the importance of grounding socialist work in practical approaches. Engaging in popular grassroots work, which targets unorganized individuals and groups, is essential for mobilizing and educating the masses. The aim is to create a revolutionary moment and strengthen the subjective conditions for socialism.

 

Imagining Socialism (Again):

In our final class with Comrade Angelo, we imagined a socialist future that challenges the commodification of life and advocates for the socialization of means of production. Socialism aims to satisfy human needs, promotes democracy, and offers collective solutions to common problems. The course at the Amilcar Cabral School reaffirmed our commitment to socialism and fortified our resolve to build a better world.

 

Conclusion:

My time at the Amilcar Cabral School has left an indelible mark on my consciousness and ignited an unwavering fire within my heart. Through collective effort, I am committed to contributing to the struggle for socialism, guided by the revolutionary principles instilled in us during our stay in Accra. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow comrades from diverse backgrounds, united in our quest for a liberated world. As I return to Kenya, I carry with me the invaluable lessons and experiences that have further solidified my dedication to the socialist cause.

 

The fight for socialism continues, and together, we shall prevail against capitalism's oppression, exploitation, and subjugation. Workers of the world, unite! For we have nothing to lose but our chains. As we say in Kenya, "Tuko Pamoja!" (We are together).

 

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