WSF 1995: “Nigerian Anarchists Resist The Dictatorship”

WSF 1995: “Nigerian Anarchists Resist The Dictatorship”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 1, number 1, May-June 1995. Complete PDF is here

In the Last Issue of UNREST [once-off magazine of the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement, which was incorporated into Workers Solidarity in 1995, with the article in question being here] which we reported on the situation in Nigeria shortly after the termination of the results of the first civilian election since 1985 by the military dictatorship of General Babangida.

Much of this update comes directly from our comrades in Nigeria, the Anarcho Syndicalist Awareness League (AL).

After the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election, waves of strikes and violence erupted in Nigeria’s principal cities. The military stepped up the repression, with mass arrests and the banning of publications.

Babangida promised to hand over power to a civilian government on August 27th and then appointed a wealthy businessman and friend, Ernest Shonekan.

Babangida also arrested the winner of the June elections, Social Democratic Party leader Chief Abiola. This was because Abiola had dared to declare himself President.

After the price of petrol was raised by 700%, the central labour union, the Nigerian Labour Congress, called out its members on indefinite strike to protest . The country literally ground to a halt.

In response the military, led by General Sani Abacha,Babangiada’s long standing associate, sacked Shonekan’s team and re-seized power on November 17th, 1993. A virtual State of Emergency has followed.

The Awareness League has stated its opposition to the new military dictatorship. While recognising all the inherent problems associated with elections, the AL has joined with others to call for the return of Abiola to the presidency ” … despite our own reservations … we are convinced that the worst civilian government is infinitely better than the best military regime. And for us a civilian government offers a minimum condition for the struggle to establish arevolutionary society”

In conclusion, “the Awareness League rejects the return to the military, in all its ramifications and shall do all it can in collaboration with other activists and labour to resist General Abacha’s regime and force it to abdicate like Babangida and Shonekan’s government before it… We can only ask for continued support and solidarity of all comrades and revolutionaries around the world for the struggle promises to be difficult and long drawn.”

WHAT IS THE AWARENESS LEAGUE?

The AL is a membership organisation of about 1000, spread across different parts of Nigeria. The AL was organised on July 6th, 1989. The charter of the Awareness League states that the organisation is inspired by and committed to the ideals, principles, objectives, goals, ends and purposes of … anarcho-syndicalism .”

At its fifth national conference, celebrated on July 6th, 1993, the AL committed itself- to a national membership drive, the creation of a, well-organised and functioning secretariat and office, as well as a national education campaign. The delegated to the conference “agreed … that, unlike in the countries of Europe, America, and Latin America, Africa does not possess an anarchist tradition or experience to point at in concrete terms … The League therefore shoulders a historical responsibility in the international anarchist movement.”

(Annual Report 1993)

In an effort to help educate Nigerians, and others, about African anarchism, the AL is in the process of writing a book on the subject, Africa and the Anarchist struggle

The Awareness League asks comrades the world over for financial help in their publishing efforts. Please send Intentional Money orders or UK Bank cheques directly to: AL, PO Box 1920,- Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria. Take care to seal your envelope to beat mail thieves.

[ The following note was added when this article was first posted online: “I belive the AL has been banned so although this address is still functioning you should not mention the AL on the envelope”]

 

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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' and 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014).