On November 16-18, 2009 African revolutionaries and socialists from across the world will be in Sierra Leone to witness a groundbreaking historic event in Africa—the founding conference of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) of Sierra Leone.
The APSP will not only be the first official socialist party to be formed in the history of the country, but it will also be the first advanced effort of African workers and poor peasants in Sierra Leone to introduce a revolutionary workers party to contend with the middle class political elites in Sierra Leone for control of the state.
Of course news of the formation of the APSP in Sierra Leone is already creating shock waves in the brains and minds of the middle class elites who have enjoyed a seemingly unchallenged monopoly over political power for several decades. It is obvious that the APSP will leave a devastating impact on the unfolding contest between the forces of the African liberation movement and the neocolonialist, capitalist minded elites currently in power in Africa.
The truth is that the introduction of a revolutionary workers party in Sierra Leone will not only arm and provide the workers and peasants, the exploited and oppressed majority of Africans in the country, with a political organization capable of leading their struggle but an ideology and a worldview that carries with it a solid message that embodies severe implications for the middle class political elite in the country who have over the years toyed with the welfare of the people and thrived with a political culture anchored on ethnic division, regional balkanization and fragmentation.
Like most African countries battling with the legacy of colonial slavery, oppression and exploitation, Sierra Leone’s development and growth have been horribly ruined by a neocolonial African petty bourgeoisie who inherited a subservient economy and political system bequeathed by British colonizers in the 1960s.
This class of politicians has increased their efforts and developed added strategies and plans, and continuously monopolizes political power for nearly fifty years now while keeping the masses in a horrible state of perpetual poverty and hopelessness. Protected by Britain and its imperialist allies, this group of neocolonialist, capitalist driven middle class has sold out the future of the country to a consortium of imperialist forces.
Sierra Leone is rich in all kinds of mineral and energy resources but the resources are exploited by multinational corporations while the economy is simultaneously controlled by international financial institutions and western capitalist corporations to the detriment of the welfare of the masses. During the last few years, Sierra Leone has been continuously rated as “one of the worst places to be in the world.” The United Nations consistently reports that the country is the “least developed” in the world with the highest infant and maternal mortality rates, a life expectancy that is below 40 years and an economy that is heavily looted by multinational corporate agencies and international financial institutions. Regardless of the fact that the country is home to the world’s finest diamonds, Sierra Leone still retains the unenviable reputation of owning the most horrible statistics on health, education, poor human growth and the near absence of infrastructural development.
This horrible situation, however, is the product of decades of unchallenged middle class monopoly of power, organized neocolonial dictatorship, political oppression and exploitation perpetuated by economically bankrupt political elite who comfortably remain at the service of British imperialism and its corporate allies. For fifty years now since Sierra Leone’s so-called independence, the country is being controlled and governed by this single class of individuals. They have proficiently developed a vicious system that facilitates their permanent recycling from one position of power to another. Politics and power are the license for the upliftment of the conditions and standard of life of these middle class elites who have produced nothing expect misery and poverty for the workers and peasants whose conditions remain insufferable on a daily basis.
Historically speaking, politics and the formation of political parties in Sierra Leone have always had its basis on a notion of exploitation, greed and political banditry. A status quo that developed rapidly and remained ingrained by the unhealthy and insincere struggle for power among the middle class. A situation that created a dichotomy among the people but which in turn shaped the foundation for the further development of the corrupt middle class individuals in the country who control the state.
Consequently, this crude contest for power and greedy accumulation of wealth among the middle class has eventually ruined every prospect and opportunity for development in the country.
The reality is that none of the exiting political groupings truly represent our needs and aspirations for genuine change. And neither of these parties, nor do their various leaders, have political programs that seek to liberate us from neo-colonial and imperialist exploitation and oppression. These parties themselves lack any program that seriously addresses the basis of the poverty and appalling conditions we collectively face as a people. Regardless of the names they call themselves and the acronyms they adopt during election campaigns, the leaders of these parties are themselves members of the same class that creates and propels our miserable existence. They represent the same class and the same imperialist masters and are capable of the same output.
The emergence of these parties in fact is motivated by the increasing power struggle, evident among the primitive African petty bourgeoisie, to loot and exploit our resources.
There is no need for extensive research to reach such a conclusion. The formation of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) in 2005 is a clear example of this political tendency. The PMDC obviously was born as a consequence of the leadership acrimony that wrecked the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in part because of the unwillingness of some party members to continue under the leadership of what they described as the party’s “old-guard.” It will be correct to conclude then that those who formed the PMDC would have remained in the SLPP if the party had yielded to the selfish desires of its dissidents. Consequently, the PMDC is in no way a party that should represent itself to the people as a credible alternative.
This is equally true of other middle class parties existing in Sierra Leone. This is exactly what we have witnessed with the formation and creation of all the political parties in the country. The All Peoples Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), United National Peoples Party (UNPP).
These are the objective political conditions and the social realities from which the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) is emerging in Sierra Leone. The significance of the APSP doesn’t only rest on the timeliness of its intervention, but on the determination of its cadre to contend against the politically blemished and suffocating middle class rogues in Sierra Leone who have divided themselves into these untenable factions. A class whose members sees power as a means to avail themselves of the opportunity to sell-out the country’s future to a consortium of imperialist exploitative agencies.
For the very first time in the history of Sierra Leone, the workers and poor peasants of Sierra Leone will once again have the opportunity to decide between a reactionary, decadent and repugnant social system that has raped the country of its potential development, and a revolutionary national democratic program lead by the most advanced and politically mature sector of the working class designed to overturn the social contradictions which continue to plague every facet of the people’s life. The APSP’s vision is the struggle for a worker-peasants government in Sierra Leone as part of an international struggle for the speedy liberation and unification of Africa and African people into an all-African socialist government. The APSP therefore undoubtedly represents the dividing line between a decadent past and a promising future.
With a revolutionary national democratic program that calls for the nationalization of strategic sectors of the economy, expansion of the public service, increasing minimum wage and better conditions of service, an agrarian program for farmers, youth employment and provision of social services to better the condition of life of the people, the APSP is making a break from the usual narrow ethnic-groupings masquerading as political parties in Sierra Leone. It is introducing issue-oriented programs into the political terrain and equally giving voice to the aspirations and desires of the workers and peasants whose energies and strengths have been used by neocolonialist forces for their own selfish upliftment.
The APSP’s ultimate task is not only limited to arm the masses with an ideology and a worldview that make them understand that this suffocating neocolonialist, capitalist system can not be changed by replacing one group of middle class individuals with another. But that the oppressed masses of our people, the workers and peasants, have to organize themselves into a revolutionary workers party of their own; one that is made up of the oppressed and exploited masses and represents their interests through a revolutionary national democratic program that speaks to their interests.
The future can only belong to the African workers and poor peasants if we build a party for ourselves that has the ability, strength and capacity to lead our struggle for socialist democracy and self-determination, a party that will effectively embody and mirror our collective spirits and aspirations to fight against neo-colonialism and imperialism not only in Sierra Leone but throughout the African world.
This is primarily important because the struggle for socialism in Sierra Leone falls within the general international African effort to overturn a social system consciously imposed on us by imperialism and is consequently the source of all miserable conditions we face as a people. It is only through the building of this revolutionary workers party—the APSP—that we will be able to mobilize our collective energies into a coherent approach designed to end our suffering and regain control of our right to become a self-governing people. In the final analysis, it is only through such a process that the primitive African petty bourgeoisie will be destroyed—a process which equally represent the defeat of imperialist capitalism and the triumph of the African working class allied with the peasantry. That is our collective task as workers and peasants. Forward to a socialist democracy in Sierra Leone and build the party of the workers and peasants.
Editor note: Chernoh Alpha M. Bah is the Interim Leader of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) of Sierra Leone and Director of Organization of the African Socialist International.