Pan-Africanism and the Trade Unions in the Post-Colonial Era, The quest for a continental effectual workers alliance

Western imperialism was built off of the exploitation of African land and labor from the mid-to-late 15th century through the conclusion of the Atlantic Slave Trade and the consolidation of classical colonialism at the end of the 1800s.

Leading African historical scholars have documented the link between the tremendous profits accrued through the plantation system in the Caribbean, South America, Central America and North America and the rise of industrial capitalism. (See this)

The capitalist modes of production as exemplified in shipping, commerce, banking, commodities production and services all grew into formidable sectors during the period of the 18th and 19th centuries. By the dawn of the 20th century and the eventual advent of the First World War, heavy industry had become the engine for the competition between various imperialist states seeking domination of global markets.

Of course the resistance of African workers, including agricultural, domestic and extractive-manufacturing, developed rapidly as an inevitable response to the horrendous conditions under which people labored. Peasant societies were often turned into a rural proletariat when the character of their labor production was exclusively designed to enrich the colonial powers.

As African farmers were driven from their traditional lands to work in the mines, large-scale agricultural production businesses, docks, mining facilities and factories, the conditions were conducive to the creation of labor organizations. In the Union of South Africa, formed in 1910 as result of the compromise over the conflict between the Boer and British settler populations aimed at the consolidation of white-minority rule, African miners began to demand better pay and working conditions through work stoppages at Dutoitspan, Voorspoed and Village Deep mines in January 1911. Nonetheless, they were forced back into the mines by the repressive tactics of the bosses supported by their European worker counterparts. (See this)

When the white miners went out on strike in 1913, they were committed to raising the standard of living for the European workers only, leaving African workers isolated for the purpose of super-exploitation. After WWI, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) was formed under the leadership of Clements Kadalie of Nyasaland (Malawi)….

African Women’s War participants in Nigeria during 1929-1930.

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