The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 3           January 23, 2006  
UK, Sweden events take up Africa,
anti-imperialist struggle
(feature article)
LONDON—It was standing room only at Pathfinder Books in London’s Brick Lane for a December 3 Militant Labor Forum entitled, “We start with the world and how to transform it.” The two speakers, Brian Taylor and Jonathan Silberman, had recently returned from Equatorial Guinea where they had helped staff the Pathfinder stand in the first-ever book fair in that country.

The forum drew participants from Edinburgh, Scotland, and also Paris and Athens. It was a highpoint of a series of speaking engagements that included stops in Scotland and Stockholm, Sweden.

“What is the image the rulers try to give us of Africa and Africans?” Taylor asked. “Monkeys, lions, and elephants; a suffering people stuck in endless tribal strife; or starving people that need pity and charity. This couldn’t be further from reality.” On the contrary, “We witnessed the birth of a working class, the only social force that can and will overcome the conditions of exploitation, underdevelopment and national oppression imposed by imperialism.”

Discussions at the bookfair covered themes like the struggle for national development, against women’s oppression, and for trade union rights. “Such discussions,” said Silberman, “reveal the explosive contradictions resulting from the development of a 21st century capitalist oil industry at breakneck speed, grafted onto underdevelopment and backwardness,” a legacy created by colonial domination and kept alive by imperialism. “Many of the conflicts that dominate the world today find their expression in Central Africa, as can be seen in the imperialist militarization of the Gulf of Guinea,” he added. Washington is organizing military bases of a new type there, which the Pentagon refers to as “forward operating sites,” in nearby São Tomé and Príncipe, to secure lucrative oil concerns.

From the floor, Yula Okutu, a native of the Congo living in London who is chair of the Humanitarian Action Group, appealed to people to learn more about the Congo and the role of British imperialism and other powers in the exploitation of the people of that country.

Gretchen Miller, who attended a number of the presentations, decided at the London forum to join the Young Socialists. “The real hunger of the young people in Equatorial Guinea for the knowledge contained in Pathfinder books reinforced for me the need to play a bigger role in building the international communist movement,” she said. Ten young people came to a “Meet the Young Socialists” gathering at the end of the forum.

Speakers visited classes hosted by lecturers at centers for African studies at Edinburgh and Leeds universities; at the Institute for Development and Policy Management at Manchester University; and at the International College and Kärrtorp High School, two secondary schools in Stockholm. Dozens left their names for further contact with the YS.

Simon Dahlberg, 19, a third-year student at Kärrtorp school in Stockholm, said, “I appreciated the class presentations because they allowed me to see an Africa that doesn’t get presented in school books.”

Taylor and Silberman were interviewed by Hector Abarca for Radio Nueva América, a Spanish-language station in Stockholm. They also attended a house meeting of six meat workers from Hygrade Foods in south London. Collections to help defray trip costs to Equatorial Guinea yielded $1,500.

Björn Tirsén in Stockholm contributed to this article.
Related articles:
U.S. gov’t boosts oil exploitation, military presence in West Africa  
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