Letter from the late Sam Mbah, of the now-defunct Nigerian anarcho-syndicalist formation, the Awareness League, to the South African-based Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF). Dated 12 April 1999, the letter arrived in South Africa around the time the WSF was heading for dissolution. In the letter, the WSF was granted the right to republish Sam Mbah and IE. Igariwey’s classic text, the 1997 African Anarchism: the … Continue reading Letter from Sam Mbah to WSF, 1999
The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa (the ICU) was the largest black union and protest movement in 1920s South Africa, also spreading into neighbouring Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South West Africa (now Namibia). It was influenced by IWW syndicalism, even adopting a version of the IWW constitution in 1925, and pushed for a general strike the next year. … Continue reading Kadalie and the ICU – graphic from South African radical journal “Africa Perspective” in 1981 (no. 19)
The Kalomo land saga is a good example of what peasants can achieve when they decide to work together. Without use of arms, the peasants of Kalomo, a small town in the southern province of Zambia took over the two huge state ranches which almost circle the small town.
Kalomo is famous in Zambia because it is the first capital of Zambia in 1908. Being the first capital helped it to be among the first Zambian urban settlements which attracted the European settlers and British administrators. Kalomo had also another attraction, the railway line passes through the town. This enabled the area to be accessible to the copper mines on the north and the ever growing tourist town of Livingston. As a result the outlaying area round Kalomo town was quickly taken up by farmers and ranchers. Today, Kalomo still remains among the Zambian town that continues to have the largest commercial farming community. Continue reading “The Kalomo Land Saga – Zambian Anarchists, 1998”
This article was published by Lucien van der Walt in Direct Action (Australia, Summer 2001) as “Many Races, One Union! The IWW, revolutionary syndicalism and working class struggle in South Africa, 1910-21.” It was reprinted in Bread and Roses (Britain, Autumn 2001) as “A History of the IWW in South Africa.”
Note: An incomplete version has also appeared on the internet under the title “1816-1939: Syndicalism in South Africa,” described as “a short history of radical trade unionism, class struggle and race in Southern Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries.” The dates are wrong (there was no syndicalism anywhere in 1816, and while the IWW-influenced ICU would last in Zimbabwe into the 1950s, there was no syndicalism in South Africa in 1939) and several paragraphs are missing, in that version.
For PDF of scanned Direct Action version: click here
For PDF of scanned Bread and Roses version: click here
Lucien van der Walt, Autumn 2001, “A History of the IWW in South Africa,” Bread and Roses
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and the ideas, goals and organisational practices for which it stood, had an important influence on the early labour movement and radical press in South Africa. It also had an impact on neighbouring Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, at least five unions were founded on the IWW model in this period. Four of these unions pioneered the organisation of workers of colour, most notably the Industrial Workers of Africa, the first union for African workers in South African history Continue reading ““A History of the IWW in South Africa” – Lucien van der Walt, 2001”
THE international anarchist movement will be saddened at the belated news of the death of Wilstar Choongo, founder of the Anarchist & Workers’ Solidarity Movement (AWSM) of Zambia.A self-taught anarchist activist, Wilstar first came to the attention of the movement in 1996 through his lone battle to improve the salaries of employees at the University of Zambia (UNZA)where he worked as a librarian — and where he built up a formidable collection of anarchist works for the use of students.
Zambia, a former British colony, gained its independence without much of a struggle in 1964. The 30-year African socialist regime of Kenneth Kaunda proved disastrous. The economy remained essentially extractive, agriculture shrivelled as farmers flooded into the cities because of urban food subsidies. Then the collapse of the copper price in the mid-1970s put paid to any hoped-for recovery. Continue reading ““Obituary: Hamba Kahle Wilstar Choongo!” – Michael Schmidt, AInfos, 2002″
Whereas the interest of the workers and those of the employers are opposed to each other, the former living by selling their labour, receiving for its labour only part of the wealth they produce; and the latter living by exploiting the labour of the workers; depriving the workers of a part of the product of their labour in the form of profit, no peace can … Continue reading “Revised Constitution of the ICU” – Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Africa, 1925
I would like to thank the Socialist Caucus for extending an invitation to a speaker from the Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF) in South Africa. I would also like to thank the University of Zambia for hosting me this evening.
I am a member of the Workers Solidarity Federation. Let me start by saying what the WSF is not. We are not a political party that runs in elections. Nor are we a trade union. We are a libertarian socialist (anarcho-syndicalist) political organization. We believe that socialism must come from below through the direct action of workers and peasants. We support all forms of struggle against privilege and oppression. However our main focus is on the trade unions, which we see as a crucial mechanism for bringing about radical, and necessary – social change. Our membership base is predominantly amongst Black students and Black workers. Continue reading “Class struggle without Borders: The Recolonisation of Africa and the Future of the Left – WSF, August 1998”