Kantine »Festival«

Anarchism in Africa

Lucien van der Walt

This lecture given by Lucien van der Walt on August 3rd, 2023, provided an overview on the two main phases of anarchism and revolutionary syndicalism in Africa. The focus was on southern Africa, and North Africa, but there were be some mentions of developments in the eastern and western regions. Tracing the African history of the anarchist/ syndicalist current from the 1860s onwards, it payed close attention to how it was shaped by the larger context as well as by specific national and regional dynamics. The first phase, from the 1860s-1930s, developed against the larger backdrop of Western colonial expansion, and an early epoch of globalisation; the second phase, from the 1990s onwards, started in the wave of struggles against authoritarian African regimes, and the onset of neo-liberal globalisation.

The talk outlined some of the major themes in the history of the movement and some of the most significant developments. It payed close attention to its engagements with popular, especially working-class, movements, how it dealt with issues of imperialism, race, and nation – and the different positions taken over time on the issue of whether earlier African cultures had libertarian or anarchistic elements. Countries mentioned included Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland (eSwatini), Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.