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African socialism is a belief in sharing economic resources in a "traditional" African way, as distinct from classical socialism. Many African politicians of the 1950s and 1960s professed their support for African socialism, although definitions and interpretations of this term varied considerably.

Soviet and Chinese leaders helped African socialism to develop.[1] After the Sino-Soviet split, both pro-Moscow and pro-Beijing socialists emerged in Africa, while others were non-aligned.[1]

After the independence of most African countries during the 1960s, newly formed African regimes assumed they could not easily claim a great victory over the Europeans if they continued to use the same system that those oppressors had designed, namely capitalism, since all imperial regimes had been mainly capitalist, even if their adherence to free markets was not absolute. Socialism was popular among African leaders because it represented a break from the imperial ruling tradition. Socialism seemed, to many, to be all that capitalism was not.

At the same time, however, advocates of African socialism claimed that it was not the opposite of capitalism nor a response to it, but something completely different. Nationalists claimed it was fully African, appealing to an African identity that was even stronger than anti-capitalism. Their socialism, they claimed, was merely a recapturing of the spirit of what it was to be African.

A multitude of reasons were presented in support of African socialism. Many believed that Africa was too far "behind" capitalist states in terms of economic development to compete fairly with them. Others appealed to a sense of unity that would not be provided by the competitive capitalist systems. Still others believed that the development of Africa should be planned in order to avoid wasting scarce resources, and avoid future class conflicts.

African identity and socialism were often intertwined. Some leaders claimed that Africa had always been “socialist,” and appealed to socialism as a unifying cultural element for Africans. This was not by any means the only form of African identity that they appealed to, but the combination of socialism and African identity was doubly effective in ending the era of old imperial regimes. Social revolution usually went hand-in-hand with socialism.

However, most regimes following African socialist programmes did not deliver on the promises of self-sufficiency, prosperity, and equality (partly as a result of the empowerment of the governments at the expense of the people), and as a result many have grown disillusioned with African socialism.

Julius Nyerere's African socialist "ujamaa"-collectives "proved disastrous for Tanzania's economy".[2]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Soviet Perspectives on African Socialism By Arthur Jay Klinghoffer
  2. ^ "OTributes pour in for Nyerere". BBC News. 1999-10-14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/475186.stm. Retrieved 2009-01-11.  

References

  • William H. Crawford and Carl G.Rosberg jr., African Socialism, Stanford University press, California, 1964.
  • Peter Worsley, The Third World,Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1964.
  • Ghita Jonescu and Ernest Gellner, Populism, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1969.
  • Yves Bénot, Idélogies des Indepéndances africaines, F.Maspero, Paris, 1969.
  • Paolo Andreocci, Democrazia, partito unico e populismo nel pensiero politico africano, in Africa, Rome, n. 2-3, 1969.

See also

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