I feel Prof. Babu's death deeply.
Tanzania's Veteran Politician Dies in London
DAR ES SALAAM, August 5 (Xinhua)
Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu,72, died this morning at the London
Chest Hospital after a short illness.
The Tanzanian government said it would foot all expenses to
bring Babu's body home.
The director of Information in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
International Co-operation, Cyprian Majengo, told reporters here
that the government has communicated with the high
Commission office in Londo for more details.
Babu, who had been staying in London for years as a scholar,
served as a cabinet minister in various Tanzanian ministries.
returned to Tanzania last year from exile in London since 1978
when he was freed in an amnesty after being sentenced to death
in 1973 for Treason.
He was picked NCCR-Mageuzi presidential
However, the charges against and consequent conviction of the
late Prof Babu led to the Electoral Commission to reject his bid
to run for the Vice-Presidency.
The late Prof had been sentenced to death along with 34 other
people, 23 others were acquitted for their alleged role in the
1972 assassination of the then Zanzibar President, Sheikh
Abeid Amani Karume.
Babu and 12 other prisoners who were held on the Mainland were
freed by the then President Julius Nyerere in an amnesty to
mark the 14th anniversary of the Union of Tanzanyika and
Zanzibar in april 1978.
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa sent a condolence message
following the Babu's death.
Tanzania's Veteran Politician Laid to Rest
DAR ES SALAAM (Aug. 9) XINHUA
A famous Zanzibari veteran
politician and economist Professor Abdulrahman Mohammed
Babu was laid to rest this evening at his home plot at Ukutani in
the heart of Zanzibar Stone Town.
Babu's family thanked the union government for footing the
expenses of bringing the body home from London where he died
at 72 at London Chest Hospital last monday after a short illness.
Babu had held several ministerial posts in the union government
of Tanzania before moving to London.
He had been in London since 1978 after he was released in an
amnesty following the assassination of the first Zanzibar
president, Sehikh Abeid Amani Karume.
Babu and other prisoners who were held on the Mainland were
freed by the then President Julius Nyerere in an amnesty to
mark the 14th anniversary of the union of Tanzaniaka and
Zanzibar in April in 1978
WHY KEN SARO-WIWA HAD TO HANG
LONDON -- Ken Saro-Wiwa had to die because he committed what is now
commonly known in the Third World as an "economic crime" -- challenging the
collusion between multinational corporations and corrupt Third World political
The members of Nigeria's military junta are notorious for allocating a large
proportion of oil revenue for their own personal wealth. Anybody who
challenges this well-established practice must be eliminated by fair means or
Most of the oil that fuels these murderous activities comes from Ken
Saro-Wiwa's Ogoniland. Shell Oil company owns 30 percent of the state oil
company. Oil is the source of the massive corruption that dominates Nigerian
Saro-Wiwa never attempted to mobilize support on a nationwide level. He
limited his struggle to the Ogoni campaign, to which most of the rest of the
country was indifferent. Nigeria has not yet produced a leader of the caliber of
Museveni of Uganda, Zenawi of Ethiopia or Issayis of Eritrea, with the vision and
charisma to arouse millions of Nigerians to overthrow the junta. Thus the
military will continue to rule and multinational oil companies will continue to
maximize their profits.
Only two days after the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and fellow Ogoni activists,
Shell Oil signed a $2.5 billion gas deal with the junta.
Pacific News Service [450MissionStreet, #204, San Francisco, CA 94105]
To summarise ,although the Umma Party did not fire the first shot of the uprising ,it nevertheless rose to the occasion with revolutionary zeal and skill . It helped to transform a wholly lumpen--in many ways apolitical --uprising into a popular ,anti-imperialist revolution , which ,left to its own momentum ,and without the external intervention that followed ,would undoubtedly have opened up a new path --the road to socialism.
However ,from the short-term perspective ,the lumpen uprising ,which was inevitable at the time given the objective social conditions, aggravated as they were by an inept and vindictive administration , nevertheless did bring about an atmosphere of revolt in which the revolutionary potential of the Zanzibar youth revealed itself with a dramatic impact and showed far-reaching future potential to which the imperialists reacted not only with alarm but also with active preparation to combat it militarily . In that respect ,this lumpen uprising was positive.
Although it had occurred at a historically disadvantageous moment when the upsurge of nationalism was still ascending and had not yet reached its peak , the intervention of the socialist forces did create more favourable conditions for revolutionary and indeed socialist prospects throughout the region.
From the long-term perspective ,on the other hand , the revolution had the potential of a 'grand-reheasal' for future revolutionary development in the region. The many useful lessons , both positive and negative ,that were gained from that experience and most of which have yet to be investigated ,analysed and studied more thoroughly ,will certainly help to illuminated the path of future revolution . As new revolutionary experiences continue to unfold in Africa , as the youth of Africa are everywhere increasingly spearheading the current revolutionary struggle against neocolonialism and imperialism with all its agents , the lesson of the Zanzibar revolution ,its ups and downs ,its betrayals and heroism,will no doubt contribute enormously towards enriching and strengthening the struggle.
At this crucial historical juncture ,anti-colonial nationalism has already exhausted its potential and run out of steam. Its limited objectives have led perilously to the bleak realm of graft ,corruption and economic decline . Its former usefulness has actually turned into a negation of all that Africa has stood for and indeed fought for. Only through socialism ,whose direction has already been pointed out by the Zanzibar revolution , it can re-emerge from the shackles of neocolonialism and imperialists domination with their legacy of poverty ,starvation and disease. Only socialism can put Africa once again on the road to rejuvenation and rekindle that post-independence mass enthusiasm which has now everywhere been replaced by cynicism. Only socialism can open the way towards turning the entire continent into a unified,progressive Africa,utilising its almost unlimited natural and human resources for the benefit of its people . Only socialism can turn Africa into a giant among giants today . That is the meaning and legacy of the Zanzibar revolution.
A.M.Babu "The 1964 Revolution:Lumpen or Vanguard?"
in Chapter 8,"Zanzibar Under Colonial Rule",
edited by Abdul Sheriff&Ed Ferguson,
The Historical Association of Tanzania&Ohio University Press,1991
The bulk of this book was written in prison as a result of discussions among detainees and some prisoners who took an active interest in what was going on in Africa. Most of the discussions took place in the early seventies and before the collapse of the Portuguese empire which led to the independence of Angola, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique. But the main theme of the book, which is the political and economic dilemma of independent African states, is very relevant indeed today, and will remain so for a very long time to come. Our main concern was in finding the answer to the constant question 'Whither Africa?' especially when evidence was daily accumulating which indicated that leaders in various African countries had not the slightest idea of what they were able to do and cared even less.
The clouds of a worsening situation were gathering furiously then, and we felt the question was too urgent and important to be ignored by the general public. We therefore decided to try and bring out our summary in a written form. We began our analysis of the situation by contrasting Africa's experience with that of Asia in the immediate aftermath of independence. Asia's experience was very useful because it seemed to us that Africa was adopting all the negative aspects of that experience without paying attention to its positive aspect, which was being put into practice in those Asian countries which had taken a socialist path.
In 1947, India and Pakistan won their independence,and thereafter most of Asia followed suit: Burma, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Indonesia. In Malaysia the British were engaged in a repressive war against patriots and revolutionaries, and so were the French in Indo-China. In 1954 the French were routed at Dien Bien Phu by the Vietnamese people, resulting in the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The Chinese people had already won their victory in 1949 after a bitter and protracted revolutionary struggle, and they established the People's Republic of China.
The Chinese and Vietnamese turned down all offers of 'aid' from the Western world and opted, instead, for a fraternal alliance with the socialist camp. When the Americans launched their aggression against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, under the flag of the United Nations, in 1950, the Chinese people immediately went to war in support of the Korean people a war which ended in the latter's victory in 1954. Korea too rejected all 'aid' from the West and allied itself with the socialist camp.
In less than two decades, all these three ex-colonial basically agricultural and semi-feudal countries made unprecedented economic and social progress which fundamentally changed the entire basis of their economies from colonial to nationally integrated, independent economies. This was made possible by enormous industrial and technical assistance from the socialist countries, especially the Soviet Union. They set up basic industries, e.g. iron and steel mills, metallurgical industries,engineering plants, machine-tool industries,petro-chemical plants, etc. Side by side with these heavy industries they also developed light industries, or consumer goods industries. They transformed their agriculture from a backward, small-scale, individual-peasant-based form to large-scale state farms and collective farms.
These developments not only transformed national economies but significantly, they transformed the people, both in their outlook and in their mastery of technological skills. The peasants were liberated from backwardness and superstition; they broke loose from the constrictive 'traditional' practices inherited from the medieval and feudal past, which had their basis in peasant agriculture. As a result of this transformation, a new revolutionary class emerged as a powerful and creative force in the social system of these countries. This was the proletariat, the industrial working class,on whose shoulders rested the task of national economic construction. They transformed their backward agriculture through the development of modern industrial techniques. This ensured the abundance of food for the people and cheap raw materials for industry.
Although these countries received enormous development aid from the European socialist countries, they nevertheless developed independent economies, not tied in any way to the rest of the socialist camp. This was because socialist aid was designed to develop, in as short a period as possible, independent national economies on the basis of the socialist principle of 'objective economic complementarity'. This principle is distinct from the strategy of central co-ordination as advocated by the World Bank and other imperialist multilateral organizations whose policies are designed to subordinate the economies of the recipient countries to the world-wide economic and political interests of capitalism.
Objective complementarity means that two or more countries coordinate their economies in a planned strategy, so that specific products of one country go to fill in 'gaps' in another. An industrial economy will help to fill the industrial gaps of the non-industrialized partner, not by supplying it with finished manufactured products, but by building the industrial capacity of the receiving country to enable it to produce those finished products itself. And the non-industrialized country for its part will supply the industrial economy with agricultural products, so that the latter will not be obliged to divert resources to produce them un-economically, or to spend its foreign exchange reserves on importing them.
With this rational, mutually beneficial arrangement the Asian socialist countries have been able to build very viable, independent and self-sustaining national economies in the shortest span of time ever recorded. For instance, a small, backward country like North Korea has rapidly developed into an independent and self-reliant industrial economy matched by no other country of its size anywhere in the world. And this economic 'miracle' was achieved in less than twenty years, four of which were destructive war years. As a measure of its economic strength, North Korea in 1973 abolished all forms of taxation, direct or indirect. This was at a time when the entire capitalist world and neo-colonies were embroiled in the most serious economic and monetary crises since the depression of the 1930s, resulting in everybody being taxed out of existence. The same success story has been repeated in Vietnam, in spite of U.S. aggression against it ever since independence. China is the only country in modern history which has managed to repay all of its external and internal debts in less than twenty years of independence. It is now the only country free from any financial obligations.
In non-socialist Asia, however, the story is vastly different. Here the situation has in every case been going from bad to worse. Famine,riots,repression, industrial unrest constant financial crises, political instability all these are common features, and no one seems to know where these countries are heading to. It is a depressing story.
And yet this is the area about whose development strategy thousands of books have been written by some of the most brilliant minds of the Western world. In fact. ever since Asia became independent a new branch of studies, economic planning and development, has become an important discipline in economics. Various theories of 'development strategy' have been propounded; the Rostows, the Galbraiths, the Nurske. the Myints, all the 'giants' of development strategy, concentrated their attention on this area. They put forward brilliant theoretical works, but as soon as they were put in practice they came unstuck, and non-socialist Asia remains underdeveloped.
The reason for this sorry state of affairs is quite obvious. Historically, the social and economic systems that have proved the most dynamic are capitalism and scientific socialism. As we shall see, capitalism can no longer work in the developing countries in this epoch of the proletarian socialist revolution. The only alternative is scientific socialism, and this, for reasons which we shall also discuss, has been avoided by the Asian leaders. The result is a mish-mash of unworkable social theories, amateurism and universal incompetence, and above all, mass cynicism and corruption.
As capitalism had not fully penetrated these countries at the time of attaining independence, large areas, especially the rural areas, were left completely untouched by the twentieth century, and the forms of production were basically medieval and feudalistic, with a very backward agriculture. Where capitalism,in its heyday,was allowed to take its historical course unimpeded,as was the case in the West, it succeeded in breaking up all the backward forms of social and economic organization which put man in bondage; it introduced a new world-outlook which was historically more progressive than the pre-capitalist outlooks; it liberated man from superstition and ignorance, it introduced new forms of organization in agriculture, and man for the first time in his history succeeded in raising agricultural productivity to undreamt-of levels, which in turn led to enormous increases in population. It developed means of production which ensured once and for all man's liberation from dependence on natural necessity, the natural environment, and through these means of production it succeeded to a large extent in harnessing the forces of nature-rivers, winds, seas- to put them in the service of man.
This is the positive side of capitalism,and mankind benefited from it a great deal. However, as all these developments were spontaneous, unplanned, they inevitably brought in their train a lot of negative and even harmful side-effects. In essence, what distorted capitalist advance and prevented it from taking a rational course of development was the nature of property relations on which the whole system was founded. Capitalism transformed production from individual activity to social activity more and more people participated in the production of a single product through the division of labour-but the manner of appropriating the surplus so produced remained private and individual. Whoever owned the means of production appropriated the surplus which was socially produced. Thus, apart from spontaneity in production, the system contained within itself this contradiction-private appropriation of socially produced wealth which resulted in the development of the harmful social and economic side-effects so common under capitalism.
Scientific socialism,on the other hand, while appreciating the historically progressive nature of capitalism, sought to correct the latter's negative aspects by altering property relations-socially produced surplus must be socially appropriated. But it did not seek to go back to pre-capitalist social formations to find the way for a non-capitalist system. That would have been ahistorical and thoroughly reactionary. Rather, it sought to 'supersede' capitalism,to push it beyond the constraints brought about by the above contradiction. Private appropriation of socially produced wealth effectively blocked man's development to his historically ordained destination-freedom from natural fetters, freedom from humanly imposed restrictions and freedom to exercise his productive capacity to the maximum; that is to say, to a non-exploitative, classless society.
Obviously, with this approach scientific socialism revealed its superiority to capitalism. The short history of the Soviet Union confirmed in concrete terms the superiority of this social system. In less than sixty years the Soviet Union, starting from a most primitive agricultural and industrial base, caught up with and in many respects overtook the highly advanced capitalist countries which enjoyed a background of two centuries of industrial development and advanced technology. In the most advanced modern science, aerospace technology, the Soviet Union has already surpassed the most advanced capitalist country, the United States.
This path of development, the scientific socialist path, was open to Asian countries at the advent of their independence. In many ways India, for instance, started its post-colonial era with a more advanced industrial base than the Soviet Union had in 1917, yet India is more or less stagnant, with intractable social and economic problems, nearly forty years after independence. China, on the other hand, which won its independence two years after India, is rapidly catching up with the most advanced industrial countries.
India and some other Asian countries defined their policies as 'socialistic' but strenuously dissociated themselves from scientific socialism. They claimed that the latter was 'unsuited' to the peculiar conditions of Asia, with its different cultural and traditional background. But this kind of talk was also familiar in pre-revolutionary Russia. There too some powerful forces claimed that scientific socialism was 'alien' to Russia; that it was unsuited to the backward Russian conditions; that scientific socialism was a 'Western' ideology and would be harmful if applied to Russia, and so on. Lenin and his comrades, the Social Democrats, as the Marxists were then called. had to fight tooth and nail against the advocates of this erroneous and backward-looking doctrine, who were known in Russia as the Narodniks. These were romantic and utopian socialists, influenced by the French utopian socialists of the early nineteenth century, who imagined that the path to socialism was through the semi-feudal peasant community. The Narodniks idealized the 'village community' (the obshchina or the mir * as they called it), and they longed to take society back to the innocence of early communal life, unspoiled by the penetration of capitalism. [* Incidentally, mir in Russian also means 'the world'. which shows the limits of peasant world-outlook. The village community for them constitutes the world. It is their world! ] Lenin wrote extensively opposing their views and showing how reactionary those views were. He showed that the break-up of the past which the capitalist mode of production was forcing on the rural community, and which was bitterly opposed by the Narodniks. was actually good for society. and recalled the historically progressive nature of capitalism.
The scientific socialist view is that agriculture which is unaffected by capitalism, as was the case in Russia then, tends to perpetuate the old processes of production, repeating them on the previous scale and technical basis. Economic units of the natural economy of peasants exist for centuries without changing in size or character, each isolated from the other. This traditional isolation and seclusion has resulted in the notorious narrowness of the intellectual and political life of peasants. The progressive historical nature of capitalism has been to destroy all these backward forms of organization, and it has set man on the historical path to limitless achievements.
It is true that, under capitalist commodity production, the small-scale producing peasantry rapidly split into two classes, the dispossessed and the new owners of capital. Even so,capitalism freed the economic system from its medieval constrictions and made it easier for the dispossessed workers to fight the system itself. As long as the peasants remain part of the old system, as long as they have a stake in it and in its social relations of production, they will remain incapable of changing that system. Lenin asked: 'How can our labouring peasant change this relation if he himself is half-rooted in what has to be changed' How can he understand that isolation and the commodity economy are no good to him if he himself is isolated and works at his own risk and responsibility for the market?'
In the same vein, Lenin criticized the Narodniks who advocated 'common cultivation', which they called the ' socialization of agriculture'. He remarked: 'This is merely funny, of course, because socialism requires the organization of production on a wider scale than the limits of a single village....' He showed that the doctrine of Narodism was based 'on the purely mythical idea of the peasant economy being a special (communal) system: the myth dissolved when it came into contact with reality, and peasant socialism turned into radical-democratic representation of the petty-bourgeois peasantry.'
Thanks to Lenin's and his comrades' efforts, the Narodniks gradually lost their influence on the people and their reactionary doctrine never saw the light of day. Thanks to this effort also, today the Soviet Union has emerged as a mighty global power. The 'Narodniks' of Asia, however, captured the reins of state power soon after colonialism ended, which spelt disaster to the rest of non-socialist Asia. Nehru's 'socialistic' approach was nothing but an Asiatic variety of Narodism. Pakistan, in contrast, opted for capitalism without realizing that it was in the wrong epoch for that. As a result, its economy never got off the groun, which ultimately led to the disintegration of the country as a unified state. Ceylon, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia they all face more or less the same problem of economic stagnation.
Even in China attempts were made before the Revolution to proscribe scientific socialism, as represented by the Chinese Communist Party, by declaring it an alien ideology unfitted to the Chinese situation. In January 1939, the Kuomintang Central Executive, at the instigation of local feudalists and British and American imperialism, adopted secret policies known as 'Measures for Restricting the Activities of Alien Parties'. However, the 'alien' ideology was by then too much a part of the Chinese struggle to be affected by such futile and silly measures. No wonder China today is making giant strides towards freedom, while the 'non-alien' or 'authentic' countries of Asia stagnate.
It is thus clear that the tragedy of Asia is primarily due to the adoption of a course of development which is neither indigenous capitalism nor scientific socialism. The chosen doctrine is a hybrid animal, like the mule, a mixture of two social systems conceived by the subjective fantasies of those in power. Like the mule, this Asiatic hybrid has no historical role; it has neither a past nor a future of its own. The poor masses of Asia are paying a heavy toll for maintaining this illegitimate, ahistorical beast.
African leaders, as their Asian counterparts have done before them, are busy experimenting with their own versions of hybrid social system,also at the expense of the people. What animal will emerge we have no means of guessing, but the distant rumblings sound like the approach of a monster. Here too, there is talk of scientific socialism as being 'unsuited' to African culture and traditions. The more inspired leaders go as far as to say that an African is 'socialist by nature', and cannot therefore be taught a socialism which is influenced by 'alien' ideologies. We will have our own brand of socialism,suitable to our communal life which is now being threatened by the intervention of European values, etc., etc.
This attitude is obviously the result of a profound misunderstanding, to say the least, of what socialism is about. And this misunderstanding is already costing us a lot in terms of the time we are wasting in the pursuit of social will-o'-the-wisps; in terms of hardships inflicted on the people through chronic poverty, mass unemployment, famine and all sorts of cruel affliction. A glaring example is that of Tanzanian President Nyerere's Ujamaa experiment. While it is true that his ideas were motivated by the highest moral convictions on his part, theoretically and in practice they have proved to be limited and unworkable. His conception of development is very close to that of the Narodniks, and Lenin's critique of the latter is applicable in this instance. Ujamaa's declared target is to improve the material conditions of the peasant, 'at his own risk and responsibility for the market', by methods firmly rooted in the old system, at the same time resuscitating social values corresponding to a pre-feudal mode of production. The policy does not in the least envisage the need to transform him into a new person belonging to a new class-a need created by the development of the productive forces and new relations of production-with corresponding new social values.
Another very sad example of this stubborn refusal to accept new realities is the tragic experience of the Sahel. A few years ago in the Sahel and elsewhere, Africa witnessed the most terrible famine in its recorded history. Millions of poor peasants starved, and hundreds of thousands of them perished, simply because the people in power chose to stick to medieval forms of economic organization long discarded by history. In their refusal to look reality in the face, in their effort to cover up their limited class vision by inventing fantastic and unworkable social doctrines, in their damaging preoccupation with irrelevant issues which have nothing to do with the real needs of the people. in their futile but persistent efforts to reverse the march of history, such leaders, like their counterparts in Asia, are plunging Africa into the deep blue sea of economic and social despair. This is a horrible prospect, considering the cruel past from which Africa emerged only yesterday.
The task of this book will be to focus the reader's attention on some of these problems; to view them from the angle of scientific socialism; to show the futility of most of our social and economic experiments; and to investigate the possibility of applying the development strategy of scientific socialism to concrete African conditions. This is not an attempt at high-level abstract analysis. It is a protagonist's statement and a down-to-earth political manifesto intended to arouse the interest of the emerging workers and youth in the real problems which face them in their daily lives. If it succeeds in provoking discussion among them, and especially among young workers, the effort will be well rewarded.
A.M.Babu "African Socialism or Socialist Africa"
Tanzania Publishing House,1981
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