Lectures by Walter Rodney Presents an African Perspective on the Russian Revolution

After being in the vaults for many decades the martyred scholar’s lectures in Tanzania provide a glimpse into his thinking on socialist transformation – African American History Month Series Number 4 Book Review


By Abayomi Azikiwe

Title: The Russian Revolution: A View From The Third World

Author: Dr. Walter Rodney

Publisher: Verso Books, 2018

During the late 1960s and the 1970s, the University of Dar es Salaam in the East African state of Tanzania was a center of Marxist thought on the continent. After the overthrow of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) of Ghana on February 24, 1966 which was founded and led by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the ideological thrust of the African Revolution shifted to other geo-political regions. Nkrumah’s emphasis on African unification and socialism had drawn the ire of United States imperialism and its allies.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was able to coordinate and facilitate a military and police led coup against the CPP installing a pro-western regime which brought Ghana back into the sphere of world capitalist system both ideologically as well as politically. During that same year, Dr. Walter Rodney, having completed a Ph.D. in historical studies at London University, took a teaching position at University of Dar es Salaam where he researched and wrote his most famous work, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, published in Tanzania in 1972.

With so much interest in Socialism and Pan-Africanism, the origins of the world movements against capitalism and imperialism would be an important topic pursued by young scholars and their students. Consequently, a coterie of intellectuals and students in Tanzania debated fiercely the character of the struggle for socialism during this period and the character of the Ujamaa system inside the country itself.

President Julius Nyerere was given the Kiswahili name of “Mwalimu”, meaning “teacher.” This had been his occupation prior to leading the independence movement in Tanzania to independence in 1961. Nyerere realized that it was not enough to just become an independent state that the society had to be liberated from the economic and political legacies of colonialism. In 1967, the Arusha Declaration was issued by the ruling Tanzania African National Union (TANU) which outlined the need to build socialism in the largely agricultural country. (https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/nyerere/1967/arusha-declaration.htm)

The Arusha Declaration was widely read and analyzed in this era. Its very existence was bolstered by the presence of organizing and educational structures established in Tanzania by the leading national liberation movements on the continent such as the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), African National Congress (ANC), among others.

Rodney, who was born in the South American nation of Guyana in 1942, had grown up in a progressive working class family which was committed to educational achievement. He would attend the University of the West Indies and later travel to London to research and write his dissertation on the impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade in West Africa’s Guinea coast.

Lectures Series Addressed Broad Scope of Russian Revolutionary Historical Questions….


Walter Rodney delivers lecture

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