Video: Biko Mutsaurwa on the anarchist struggle

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Analysis: Biko Mutsaurwa, 2013, “The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan: Building a Revolutionary Counterculture”

Biko Mutsaurwa, 2013, “The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan: Building a Revolutionary Counterculture,” The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, volume 1, number 2, pp. 226-231.

pdflogosmall Get the PDF here

EXTRACT S BELOW

Biko Mutsaurwa is a leading Shona poet, Hip Hop artist and community activist. He is the founder of UHURU Network, an educational trust that uses cultural activism and popular education to advance the struggle for freedom of expression and social justice in Zimbabwe. He is also one of the initiators of the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan. In this article, he provides a brief outline of the lessons to be learned from a decade of Hip Hop activism on the African continent. In addition to providing a short historical overview of the roots of the Afrikan Hiphop Caravan, he outlines the vision of the project: the creation of a
coherent Afrikan Hiphop Movement based upon a strategic orientation towards social movements of the working class and the oppressed.

… In 2004, an affinity group of student activists, Hip Hop activists and socialists established Uhuru Network, based in Harare, as a decentralised platform where members of the Toyitoyi Arts Collective, Imani Media Collective, Impilo Permaculture Collective and Ruzivo Study Circle met and forged theoretical and tactical unity. As a social movement, emerging from the concrete struggles of working people in Zimbabwe against the Economic Structural Adjustment Programs (ESAPs) of the ZANU-PF dictatorship, the Network was from the start decidedly anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarianist. Continue reading

Video: MC Biko: “Anti-capitalistic, anarchistic /Activist gone ballistic”

Lyrics below the video

It’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activist gone ballistic

He didn’t battle emcees he fought with the government
Kidnapped the MPs and burnt down the parliament
His punchlines overthrew the president
He was a bulldozer going through impediments
Transferred the power from the state to the residents
Bombed cop stations and destroyed all the evidence
To him bourgeois democracy was just another pestilence
These were not just his views, but the working class sentiment
He expressed himself in spite of the censorship
He was a war veteran fighting the dictatorship
His thoughts were anarchy, his words were hardcore
Disturbing the peace, waging war on the status quo

He’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activist gone ballistic

A Bhobho lion, babylon wont give me a visa
Coz I’m a Toyitoyi teacher and I’m pro-Zapatista
Anti-capitalista, I’m the counter-culture
Rooted in the spirit like a Shona sculpture
refuse to lose, used, fused to propaganda
X on the ballot so we struggle no longer
The !@#$%^&*-stem keeps on coming on stronger
Uncle Bee, Uncle Sam or another Uncle Tom
We remain the same; poor and unemployed
A black president or a female head of state
Another window dresser seals the working class fate
The democratic right to chose a new slavemaster
Cosmetic changes make the slave faster
So until the power is in the hands of the people
I’ll be in the streets chanting change, still a rebel

I’m the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activist gone ballistic

Source: “Uhuru Vibes Community Newsletter,” April/ May 2010, H

South Africa, and South African anarchism, through West African eyes [1997]

South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and unions (both strengths and limitations), and South African anarchism and syndicalism, were mentioned several times in Sam Mbah and IE. Igariwey’s 1997 classic text, African Anarchism: the history of a movement (See Sharp, Tucson, USA). The authors, Nigerian militants, highlighted the South African movement as one of the oldest and most important in Africa (not much was known of the time, at least amongst English-speakers, of the very important currents that had existed in North Africa, or impacts elsewhere in the continent). The 1990s South African movement, in turn, was deeply impressed by the then-1,000 member anarcho-syndicalist Awareness League in Nigeria, of which Mbah and Igariwey were leading lights; the League joined an anarcho-syndicalist international, the International Workers Association, in 1996, a body claiming direct descent from the 1922 “Berlin” international set up after anarchists and syndicalists broke ties with the Communist International / Comintern. Mbah, sadly, passed away from heart problems in late 2014.

From African Anarchism:

Chapter 1: What Is Anarchism?

“Anarchism as a social philosophy, theory of social organization, and social movement is remote to Africa — indeed, almost unknown. It is underdeveloped in Africa as a systematic body of thought, and largely unknown as a revolutionary movement. Be that as it may, anarchism as a way of life is not at all new to Africa, as we shall see. The continent’s earliest contact with European anarchist thought probably did not take place before the second half of the 20th century, with the single exception of South Africa. It is, therefore, to Western thinkers that we must turn for an elucidation of anarchism.

Anarchism derives not so much from abstract reflections of intellectuals or philosophers as from the objective conditions in which workers and producers find themselves. Though one can find traces of it earlier, anarchism as a revolutionary philosophy arose as part of the worldwide socialist movement in the 19th century….”

Chapter 3: Anarchistic Precedents in Africa

“As for outright anarchist movements, there have existed and still exist anarchist groups in South Africa — notably the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement in Johannesburg, and the Durban-based Angry Brigade [this was apparently one of the incarnations of the Durban anarchist movement that later ended up in the Workers Solidarity Federation and in Zabalaza Books — SAAHSA]. South Africa’s pioneer anarcho-syndicalist organization, however — known as the Industrial Workers of Africa — Continue reading

“Unrest” (ARM) 1994: “Chimurenga! The Lessons of the Zimbabwe Liberation War”

“Chimurenga! The Lessons of the Zimbabwe Liberation War”

From Unrest no. 1, Anarchist Revolutionary Movement, February 1994

THE VICTORY OF a seemingly militant ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) in Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence elections, following a long guerrilla war (the “Chimurenga“) against White colonialism, was greeted with jubilation. Today [i.e. 1994], the hopes raised have dissipated; modern Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) is marked by continuity with colonial social and economic structures. This article examines, from a radical perspective, why the national liberation struggle failed to achieve its basic goals, and the lessons this holds for struggle today.

FAILURE OF THE GUERRILLA WAR

Land, central to the war, remains in the hands of White commercial farmers and a Black elite, whilst most Zimbabweans are condemned to a life of poverty.

Independence has brought them few benefits; wage levels are in fact those of twenty years ago; unemployment is growing; and the living standards of the urban poor, 30% of the population, are declining. An International Monetary Fund /World Bank imposed Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) aggravates and intensifies these hardships, bringing rising prices, reduced buying power, and cuts in social services like education.

Meanwhile the politicians and State bosses award themselves pay hikes, encourage investment by the exploitative multi national corporations, and strengthen diplomatic ties with the imperialist West. The ruling class (White farmers and Black elite) sustains its power and privilege by repression. Only recently was the 25 year long State of Emergency lifted, whilst police permission is necessary for large political gatherings, strikes can be banned, the press is suppressed, and the Central Intelligence Organisation harasses dissidents.

SOME EXPLANATIONS CRITIQUED

The failure of the ZANU government to deliver is sometimes lamed on “external” factors. For example, the independence constitution, agreed upon by guerrilla leaders and the colonialists, placed strong restrictions on land reform [1].

But this explanation assumes the new regime really did want to change Zimbabwe in the interests of the masses. In fact, we will show below, nothing could be further from the truth. Others, mainly Marxists, say that the outcome results from he fact that the war was fought by peasants. Actually there is nothing inherently conservative about peasants, as peasants have played a leading role in fighting for radical aims e.g. Mexico 1911.

OUTLINE OF THE WAR

For a proper explanation let us look at what actually happened the Zimbabwe war.

Rhodesia was a White settler colony set up in 1896, which featured the rapid, State directed development of a racial capitalist system in which Whites had a monopoly of economic and political power [2] [3]. Just as all White classes were racially privileged, workers included, all Black classes ere discriminated against.

The 1950s saw struggles by Black trade unions, peasant communities, and nationalist groups for national liberation. A nationalist perspective (cross class alliance to achieve a “national” State and economy) predominated in this national liberation movement.

The response of the White State was mainly repression. ZANU, and ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union), the two main nationalist parties, were banned, after which they turned to armed struggle, with incursions from 1966 on. Inflexible, conspicuous, and isolated from the peasants, these early campaigns were failures [2] [4].

Change came when, in 1972, operating from a FRELIMO (Front for Liberation of Mozambique) liberated zone, ZANU’s army, ZANLA (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army) began to mobilise and politicise the Black peasantry in eastern

Zimbabwe as part of its war effort. This strategy of “peoples war” created what was effectively a peasant insurrection and turned the tide against the colonial regime [2][5]. War intensified through the 1970s. From 1976, ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army), the ZAPU army, also recommenced operations, mainly in the southwest. ZIPRA did not however try mobilising the peasants [2] [6].

Under pressure from the guerrilla war, and an international isolation campaign, the regime tried on a number of occasions to negotiate an end to the war. Finally, in the 1979 Lancaster House agreement, it made its terms with ZANU and ZAPU, and a new constitution was written, and date for independence elections set.

PEOPLES POWER AND STRUGGLE IDEOLOGY

By this time, some very important developments had taken place in ZANLA zones.

Here the guerrillas had set up a sophisticated system of non State grassroots decision making bodies. These “people’s committees” (hurundwende), at village, ward, and district level, provided support for the guerrillas, political mobilisation of the peasants, and civil administration [2] [5] [6]. Health, education, and other self help schemes were also sometimes initiated by the hurundwende [5]. At a separate level of mobilisation, the guerrillas used young men (mujhibas) and women (chimbwidos) secure the area, collect peasant contributions, carry messages, and (in the case of the chimbwidos) cook and clean [5].

Mujhibas and chimbwidos also organised regular, nighttime village meetings (pungwes) at which the guerrillas explained why they were fighting, and taught nationalist slogans and songs [5], thus building a culture of resistance.

THE ROAD TO LANCASTER HOUSE

The war therefore involved the creation of grassroots structures and beliefs independent of, and in opposition to, the White State. These events could have laid the basis of a new, revolutionary society of direct democracy, production for use, and distribution for need.

Why did this not occur?

The activity and further development of the hurundwende was limited by the fact that Black peasant lands were scattered amongst White areas, and thus not only quite vulnerable to attack, but unable to generate and maintain a fully operating alternative infrastructure. Furthermore, hurundwende were absent from many areas, and had no city counterparts [5][2].

Even where they did exist, no attempt was made to restructure production in a non-capitalist direction [5]. And hurundwende were also usually dominated by “respectable” local community members: rich peasants, Black businessmen, professionals [5][6]. The middle class also dominated leadership positions in ZANU, ZAPU, ZANLA and ZIPRA. Its class power was reinforced by the authoritarian structures of the guerrilla armies, which were directed by central councils situated outside Zimbabwe.

As for the ideology propagated by the guerrillas and the parties, it fell far short of a radical social critique. The nationalists aimed not to overthrow, but to establish capitalism with a Black face, an ambition reflecting the frustrations of the Black middle class leadership [1] [7].

Armed struggle was adopted as a last resort to achieve this.

Even ZANU, which in the latter stages of the war claimed to be socialist, believed that a “national democratic” stage had to take place first [1].

CONTRADICTIONS IN NATIONALISM

By 1976, a substantial opposition to this programme emerged in a number of cases amongst guerrillas, women of all ages, landless young men, and poor peasants [2] [6].

They seized empty farms, rustled White owned cattle, and vigorously participated in the hurundwende. Women challenged lobola (bride wealth), polygamy, demanded male involvement in child rearing and State provided nurseries, leadership training, better education, and guerrilla training. Guerrillas and poor peasants evicted 100s of rich peasants, occasionally attacked wealthy homesteads, and expressed increasing hostility to Black businessmen.

However, these class conscious, anti-patriarchal [i.e. anti the domination older men, over women and youth] tendencies never came to predominate in the national liberation struggle. For one thing, no alternative political programme to that of the nationalists emerged. Secondly, the Black middle class was able to contain these contradictions: they used their influence in the hurundwende to bolster patriarchy, and businessmen also set up working arrangements with the guerrillas.[6]

LANCASTER HOUSE AND BEYOND

The settlement reached at Lancaster House was not the betrayal but the climax of the nationalist programme, as it gave the Black middle class opportunities in the State, State corporations, and private sector.

Subsequently, this group moved rapidly to consolidate its position. First it incorporated the hurundwende, guerrilla forces, trade unions and women’s groups into the State and ZANU. Second repression was freely used against dissent.

Thirdly, the Black bourgeoisie “reconciled” itself with its White counterparts, buying commercial farms, assuming senior positions in private corporations, and giving the White upper class prominent positions and a large say in the running of the State.

FOR REVOLUTION: LESSONS OF STRUGGLE

At present urban workers and students, spurred by disillusionment, hardship, and SAP[neo-liberal Structural Adjustment], are at the forefront of struggle with the regime. At the same time the growing frustration of the land-hungry peasantry alarms the boss class.

The regime has sought to deal with the unrest by repression, for example, closure of the University [of Zimbabwe], and breaking up protest meetings. It has also promised to speed up the pace of land reform, a small victory, although major change is unlikely given the crisis in the ruling class this could cause.

Unfortunately, the ongoing struggle is presently tending to reformism, and many believe the solution is to simply vote ZANU out of office. This strategy is flawed. The lessons of the Zimbabwe war, for South Africa as much as for Zimbabwe, are that: struggle must aim to overthrow of capitalism and State; that national liberation needs a class perspective; that struggle needs revolutionary ideology and independent nonheirachical grassroot bodies.


REFERENCES

[1] A. Astrow, 1983, Zimbabwe: a revolution that lost its way? Chapter 6

[2] L. Cliffe, 1981, “Zimbabwe’s Political Inheritance” in C. Stoneman (ed.), Zimbabwe’s Inheritance

[3] M. Loney, Rhodesia, Chapter 3

[4] J. Saul, 1979, “Transforming the Struggle in Zimbabwe” in his State and Revolution in Eastern Africa.

[5] Cliffe, L., Mpofu, J. and B. Munslow, 1980, “Nationalist Politics in Zimbabwe” in Review of African Political Economy, no. 18

[6] D. Phimister, 1988, “The Combined and Contradictory Inheritance of the Struggle in Zimbabwe,” in C. Stoneman (ed.) Zimbabwe’s Prospects

For current developments, see Virginia Knight, May 1992, “Zimbabwe: the politics of economic reform” in Current History; as well as magazines like Southern African Political and Economic Monthly, Africa Today, and Africa Confidential.

2009: Interview with Zimbabwean Anarchist Communist

Interview with Zimbabwean Anarchist Communist

A member of the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front caught up with Biko, an anarchist communist militant from the Uhuru Network in Zimbabwe, on August 10th 2009 when he was in Johannesburg to attend the annual Khanya College Winter School.

In this interview Biko talks about the changes in the social, political and economic landscape since the Government of National Unity came into being; the state of the unions and students’ movement; the suppression of gays and lesbians; the constitutional reform process and expected Zanu-PF campaigns of violence ahead of the next elections.

The audio is rather poor quality, but can be found here (off-site, seems to be down)

The transcript of the interview is, however, available below. Also seeToyi Toyi Artz Kollektive website

 Could you please tell us how the political, social and economic landscape has changed since the Government of National Unity came into being?

The first thing is that there has been a bit of an opening up of democratic space in terms of people articulating, but in terms of the socio-economic situation things have worsened, particularly with the dollarisation of the economy. This has had much more of a negative impact on the rural communities and, with particular regard to the urban communities and given the fact that 85 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed, Continue reading

Zimbabwe: Two radical poems published by anarchist-influenced Toyi Toyi Artz Kollektive

Two radical poems published April 2009 by the Toyi Toyi Artz Kollektive, Zimbabwe.

Source: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/12654

 

Raise Your Fist

If you are warrior Raise Your Fist High!
Are you a warrior Raise Your Fist!

A Bobo lion Babylon won’t give me a visa
Coz I’m a toyitoyi teacher, pro-zapatista
Anti-capitalista, I’m the counter-culture
I’m rooted in the spirit like a Shona sculpture
Refuse to lose, used, fused to propaganda
X on the ballot so we struggle no longer
The shit-stem keeps on coming on stronger
Uncle bob, uncle sam
Or another uncle tom,
We remain the same
Poor and we’re unemployed
A black president, a woman head of state
Another window dresser seals the working-class fate
The democratic right to choose a new slave-master
Cosmetic changes make the slave work faster
So until the power is in the hands of the people
I’ll be in the streets chanting change still a rebel
I’ll be in the streets chanting change still a rebel

If you are warrior Raise Your Fist High!
Are you a warrior Raise Your Fist High!

Ballistic

It’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activists gone ballistic
It’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activists gone ballistic

We represent the seven principles of kwanza
Toyitoyi is back it’s the lyrical bonanza
Babylon is searching me looking for the ganja
We are down on the wheels working on a tyre puncture
She Govanwa G.O.D.obori n’ Fati Kwako
Watching ghetto people scatter-fear of the po-po
Domain of the pharaohs is Fio-it’s the ghetto
Salads can’t come thru the section-it’s a no go
We have anarchist flags flying on the logo
In a land ready-made for bhinghi n’ the bobo
The tyre on the wheel plunges into the pot-hole
Watch me deal with the snitch – smack him with a bottle
We are writing on the wall, so I’m pressing on the nozzle
It’s letters that I’m good at- working in the dojo
But nowadays is hard coz the paints will cost you more dough
So they shoplift, liberate them from your top store

It’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activists gone ballistic
It’s the anti-capitalistic, anarchistic
Activists gone ballistic

Related Link: http://www.toyitoyi.blogspot.com/