BRUSSELS — On June 30, 2010, Congolese nationals based in France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, along with African individuals from Jamaica, Ivory Coast and Martinique, descended on Brussels, the Belgian capital, to demonstrate against the celebration of 50 years of Congo flag independence, the celebration of which was marked by the presence of the current Belgian king, Albert IV, in Kinshasa, Congo.
This demonstration was called by Richard Lumumba, a nephew of the former prime minister Patrice Lumumba, in association with Congolese activists based in Belgium such as Henry Muke and Congolese organizations based in Belgium. The African Socialist International’s (ASI) influence on Richard Lumumba can be seen in the t-shirts he printed for this march that say “ASI, Européen Front de la Révolution Africaine” (ASI, European Front of the African Revolution).
The announcement that King Albert IV of Belgium would participate in the ceremony of the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Congo’s independence in Kinshasa created a fierce debate amongst the Africans from Congo inside and outside the country. This debate is part of the general discussion taking place around the “Cinquantenaire of African independence” or “50 years of African independence” in Africa and around the world.
The rally started modestly with about 100 people gathering around 1:00pm. The crowd swelled gradually over the next hour. By the time we were marching, two hours later, we were at least 1,000 strong. Our numbers made the police nervous. Some people, sensing the power of our numbers, wanted to have a show down with the police.
The ASI was represented by members of APSP-England. We brought four ASI banners to this event: two in French and two others in English. They read: “Belgian colonialism in Congo a crime against humanity,” “Complete the Congolese revolution of the sixties,” “Genocide in Congo, made in U.S. and EU” and the ASI lead banner that said,
"The solution for the Congo must be an African solution
"'If we do not formulate plans for unity and active steps to form political union, we will soon be fighting and warring amongst ourselves with the imperialists and colonialists standing behind the screen and pulling vicious wires to make us cut each other's throats for the sake of their diabolical purposes in Africa'
"Kwame Nkrumah 1961"
We chanted slogans such as “Reparations Now,” “Belgian wealth — Stolen wealth from Congo,” “Africa is not poor, Africa is looted, Congo is not poor, Congo is looted,” “UN out of Congo,” “Lumumba liberator! Leopold II genocidaire!,” ”Kabila must go now!”
Should we celebrate the 50 years of African independence?
At the June 30 march in Brussels, the overwhelming response was that there was nothing to celebrate. How could Kabila dare to invite the king of our historical oppressors on the day that is supposed to be a celebration of our liberation?
Our people in Congo are so poor that spending millions of dollars to celebrate something that is not real did not make sense. Congo is a country under occupation, ruins still in place from the slave trade and colonialism, and the most recent 15 years of proxy wars led by the neocolonial mercenary governments and militaries of Uganda and Rwanda, and financed primarily by the U.S., Britain and other European countries.
Independence has benefited the African petty bourgeoisie. This is what the flag independence was for, to allow them to access political power, which was concentrated in the colonial state apparatus. The colonial state apparatus is a tool to maintain the colonial economic status quo and to repress the people, who are strangled by the colonial economy that continued after the declaration of the flag independence.
Six million people have died in the genocide without end in Congo, in the looting and present proxy wars with no end in sight. The result is a never ending humanitarian disaster throughout the Congo, not just in regions affected by the proxy wars of occupation. To speak of a genuine independence, the people must be in power, Africa must be united and strong on the international scene.
Lessons to be learned from the march; Uhuru Movement slogans part of the march
The first thing that was clear is that it was easy to expose imperialism in white face with slogans, like “Belgian colonialism in Congo is a crime against humanity,” “Leopold II genocidaire, Lumumba liberator,” “Africa is not poor, it is looted, Congo is not poor, it is looted,” “We Demand Reparations now,” etc.
Many of the radical petty bourgeois can unite with the above slogans, but the immediate task of African revolutionaries is to raise the political education of the African working class everywhere, particularly in imperialist centers where an active and dynamic African working class can decisively contribute to the political and ideological defeat of western imperialist governments.
Listening to slogans like “Kabila Rwandan!” or to songs that say we do not know his daddy or his mummy does not elevate the political level of the workers. It promotes sectarianism and reactionary tribalism and support of imperialist defined borders which are designed for the continued exploitation of the resources of beloved Africa.
ASI slogans contribute to the political development of the African working class in Brussels
The slogan “Kabila must go!” does not take into account that for over 30 years we said, “Mobutu must go!” Mobuto did go, but things are worse than before. The issue is that we need slogans that inform the people that the most important immediate task of the African working class everywhere is the end of the neocolonial state. This must be done in alliance with poor peasants and petty bourgeois progressive forces in the society.
It is the State that must be consciously borne out of a struggle against the colonial state of the parasitic class of the African petty bourgeoisie bureaucrats and compradors. We needed slogans that mobilize the class of workers not just against the current president, as is often the case, but against the entire comprador and bureaucrat African petty bourgeoisie and against imperialism.
Many people who came to the march in Brussels did so because they were against the King’s visit to Congo, or against Kabila’s regime, or against the vassal status of Congo’s neocolonial State in relation to Uganda and Rwanda’s neocolonial States. Others may have come because of the ongoing genocide of six million people in the Congo.
Nostalgic supporters of Mobutu came to the march with flags bigger than anything available. They came with their backward slogans and empty chants, which can only delay the development of the revolutionary spirit of the workers and keep them at the tail of the movement led by the petty bourgeois forces.
The attempt to expose Mobutu failed, as most of the people identified Kabila as the main problem. They forgot about Mobutu, whose betrayal laid the ground for the current situation in the Congo. Many believe Kabila is the problem. We must intensify political education that persuades people that if we are tired of dealing with collaborators such Mobutu, Tshombe, Kabila and others, we must be strategic; we must get rid of neocolonialism.
Some forces who came to the march wanted to hold up the Flemish flag! Flemish nationalism is white nationalism as much as Belgian nationalism is white nationalism. The conflict between the Flemish and Walloons about who should run Belgium has nothing to do with white solidarity with oppressed people in Congo. They are in dispute over who should get the lion’s share of the resources coming from Congo and the rest of Africa.
Spontaneity and the struggle against opportunism
There were elements in the march that were inclined to fight the police! I heard some saying that there were only five police in front of us.
I don’t know how they could only see five cops! What about those inside all the police vans and vehicles around the march? What about the undercover police? What about their means of communication for getting more police backup in no time?
What preparations have these protesters done? What are their goals in this march? What are their long term political goals? None!
There were a lot of women with children, and elderly women too, who had no idea about the forces trying to engage the police. We had to engage these anti-police forces to dissuade them from initiating a fight that would allow the police to assault the march. They are an example of people who would sacrifice the goals of the march for their own selfish interests. Spontaneity is the mother of opportunism.
At some point in the march, spontaneous decisions were made. We started up the road that was part of the planned itinerary. But later, the march split when some elements insisted on going to (and were already heading to) the Congolese embassy.
At the end of the demonstration, there was no clear established agenda. It had not been determined who should speak or should not speak. Everyone who could grab one of the megaphones available went to speak, in disregard of the real march organizers.
Who’s visions were to be central? To what end was this demonstration organized?
Participation of a thousand people requires a well structured organization with a clearly established philosophical and organizational discipline accepted by the masses. The organizers must develop slogans and chants to heighten the African working class consciousness and reveal to the people the ultimate tasks of the African workers.
The masses had their own songs, which did not educate the people about the vassal status of Kabila to Kagame. Most of the time those songs were expressions denouncing and exposing Kabila, which showed that the revolutionaries are lagging behind.
We have not studied these songs with the intent to rework them and give them back to the people with a more revolutionary content that articulates the interests of the workers and poor peasants and other progressive forces, at the expense of the African petty bourgeoisie and white imperialism.
The philosophy of African Internationalism draws a line of demarcation that will separate the black workers from the black exploiters, the black collaborators of white imperialism from the pro-independence forces. The radicalization of the Congolese mass movement would be measured by the introduction and development of African Internationalism.
It is not enough to repeat the symbolism, rhetoric and programs of the sixties. I am convinced that African Internationalism offers the only path to the theoretical and strategic development required to complete the Congolese Revolution, which also means to complete the thought and work of Lumumba.
This is true for all the leaders of the unfinished black revolutions of the sixties. They all find their fusion and completion in African Internationalism.
The urgent work that needs to be done today is the work that aims to build the revolutionary party of the workers in alliance with poor peasants right here in Belgium, and in Congo too.
This work includes massive propaganda work that mobilizes the workers. This work must reveal the selfish interest of the workers in opposition to those of the African petty bourgeoisie.
The most important aspect of this work is the struggle to fight against opportunism within our own movement, the pro-independence movement and the anti-colonial movement. This is the task Mulele, Lumumba and others did not complete — the work to defeat opportunism, the cancer that sells out the long term and fundamental interests of the revolution for short term gains.
Today’s work is the development of an international strategy to win freedom in Congo. We went to Belgium in order to win people to that strategy, which is to build the ASI in Europe, a party of the African workers in Europe, of which Belgium would be a section. I am already a part of it in England where I am based.
The ASI is the organization that needs to be built right there in Belgium as part of rebuilding our movement with the clear intent to complete the Congolese Revolution in Congo.
The Party of the ASI in Belgium would be the guardian and custodian of the interests of the whole African Revolution around the world. It would represent Congo, as well as Haiti, Trinidad, Gabon and the whole African revolution in Belgium.
The latter will not go to sleep easily, because it would be made to account for possession on its soil of the wealth stolen from Congo, and the whole African world.
Complete the Congolese Revolution!
Build the African Socialist International!
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