‘Mwakenya: The Unfinished Revolution’ – A Reflection

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Prologue.

This reflection of ‘Mwakenya: The Unfinished Revolution’[i] follows a thorough discussion on the same in our Ukombozi Library – Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) cell meeting. A book review on the same was the subject of our discussion when we met to specifically discuss this material, and it was thence generally agreed that further reflections be produced and subsequently be discussed in two weeks as a continuation of our study session.

This reflection seeks to mention and analyse certain key aspects of organizing mentioned in the book, taking into consideration the conditions for organizing during the time of the formation of the Mwakenya – December Twelve Movement (MKDTM) and contrasting them to the present conditions.

Naturally, it is expected that this analysis of theory and tactics of organizing will offer a reinforcement of our own methods as revolutionary organizers, and will serve as motivation to revolutionary groups and organizations working under the heel of bourgeois rule at this period, such as the RSL.

Introduction.

It cannot be denied that the people of the world in general and Kenya in particular are seriously suffering under the yoke of the present exploitative and oppressive system. Unemployment and inequality, the two grim monsters created by the present mode of production, are at the highest they’ve ever been. It would be accurate to say that, in the war against ignorance, poverty and disease, as declared at the dawn of Kenya’s ‘independence’ in 1963, we are losing, and don’t look like we’ll win at all.

The principal reason for the formation of the Workers’ Party of Kenya (WPK), the underground party behind the Mwakenya – December Twelve Movement (MKDTM), was precisely what the heading of the book under review mentions; ‘the unfinished revolution’. Indeed; to carry on the struggle for the complete emancipation of the people, and to carry through the revolution as begun by the Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau).

But why revolution?

It is only through revolution that the toiling masses of the country, and the world at large, can successfully rid themselves of all remnants of the obsolete society, and in the process usher in a fresh society anew. Revolutionary force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.[ii]

Looking at the Kenyan context, it had become clear right after ‘independence’ that the hopes and aspirations of the Kenyan people, expressed through our freedom struggle, were not to be fulfilled. The revolution had been betrayed! The home guards and collaborators, rather than the freedom fighters, had taken the means of ruling the state. The petty bourgeois elements, emergent during the later stages of Kenya’s colonial history, were never interested in genuine freedom and emancipation for the people. Rather, they aspired to carve themselves a share at the top of the exploitative pyramid. The Kenyan liberation movement (Mau Mau), on the other hand, representing the most revolutionary elements of the trade union movement and their intimate connection with layers of the peasantry, reflected the resolve of the toiling masses to effect genuine change in the system, and abolish exploitation once and for all. The guerrilla is the masses in arms.[iii]

Sadly for the masses, the home guards were granted ‘independence’ as soon as the British imperialists saw the impossibility of defeating the liberation movement, and that saw the continuation of the same oppressive system up to date. It was thus clear that only through the forceful overthrow of the system can the Kenyan people be genuinely free and independent.

Looking at the state of affairs now, the situation is hardly different. Our economy is a hub of international monopoly capital. Our state serves as a client state of global imperialism. Our government loyally serves the imperialist masters of the North. Poverty and inequality are on the increase on a daily basis. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Our people are oppressed, repressed, suppressed and depressed.

The revolution, clearly, is unfinished, and it this therefore our responsibility to carry it through to its logical conclusion.

Reflections.

The formation of the Workers’ Party of Kenya (WPK) was, as highlighted in the book, the most significant political event in Kenya since the 1950s. It represented the establishment of a vanguard organization ready to carry through the National Democratic Revolution, as required at that time.

Mention is made of six ideological documents approved and adopted during the First Congress of Kenyan Marxist-Leninist delegates, held in Nairobi on December 22-23, 1974, alongside the Constitution of the Party. These provided the necessary ideological clarity needed to distinguish the party as a proletarian revolutionary one, and provide us as revolutionaries today a good blueprint upon which proletarian organizations can be organized.

The use of pseudonyms during the First Congress was extremely tactical and commendable, as it shielded the revolutionaries in the Central Committee from the Special Branch.

As part of the immediate tasks of the party, mention is made of the National Democratic Revolution, which was ideologically and practically correct as far as the general tasks of the Kenyan people were concerned. The country was under the heel of far right oppressive rule, and it was therefore imperative that the people free themselves from this yoke then carry through the tasks of overthrowing the bourgeoisie. The party correctly understood that the working class was the only class capable of carrying through the tasks of the National-Democratic Revolution, given the weakness of the national bourgeoisie.

At the moment, however, can our revolution be termed National-Democratic?

A vivid analysis of the state of affairs today reveals a perfect picture of a ‘free bourgeoisie’. The state is not as repressive as it was in the 70s and 80s. The bourgeoisie has ample freedom to properly assert its dominance. ‘Democracy’, in the bourgeois sense of the word, exists in Kenya today, or at least has a bigger space today than before. For we the Communists today, therefore, the immediate task would be the completion of the Socialist Revolution, carried through by the proletariat through their vanguard, on course towards the attainment of a classless society throughout the world.

The categorization of the four levels of membership into the party; supporters; friends; candidate members and full members, is commendable and worth emulating. It enabled the organization to maintain strict discipline given the levels of repression then. Part of the problems of organizing today, incidentally, stems from a deterioration of said discipline, partly due to cadres being less careful of the state and counter-revolutionary infiltrators.

The organization of the party was basically through study units, or cells, which served as the basic organ of the party. Akin to how we are organizing now, this enables the organization to have effective coordination strategies and solid tactical malleability, pretty much similar to how a military formation works.

The WPK made a concrete analysis of the classes in Kenya and their relationship to one another, in order to work out a general strategy as well as map out tactics for organizing. It was observed that the bourgeoisie was weakest and most vulnerable among the workers in their working areas, the majority of whom were in the coffee, tea, horticultural, sisal and other plantations. We must strike the enemy where they are weakest; similar organizing today must also take this to account.

Strategy is a matter of science, whereas tactics is an art. We must as revolutionaries be scientists and artists at the same time.

The general line adopted by the WPK, through its Constitution, was completely correct and scientific. The proclamation of proletarian internationalism, and the identification of global imperialism, led by the United States, as the principal enemy of all oppressed people of the world, was on point. The situation is hardly different at the present moment. Further, the identification of the then Soviet Union as a propagator of modern revisionism, with a renegade revisionist clique at its centre, shed light on the insight of the party regarding the goings-on internationally. The Soviet Union had ceased being a bastion of workers democracy, and had instead become a degenerated bureaucratic state.

The general principles mentioned in forming a proletarian party clearly reflect what was, and is, to be done. The unity of theory and practice is, particularly, fundamental in the building of proletarian parties and something every revolutionary must bear in mind.

The party must always remain true to its theoretical basis and never compromise. The masses should always see the vanguard organization as one which takes a stand and never tweaks it whenever convenient. Members of the party must always subordinate their personal interests to those of the revolution. The party, fundamentally, must be ready to seize power when the chance arises. We must bear in mind that, principally, the aim of a party is to seize state power, and the aim of the proletarian party is therefore to carry this through on behalf of the working masses.

A key obstacle to revolutionary consciousness in Kenya, and by extension Africa, has been identified as colonial education. Higher education in particular has been used to brainwash and subjugate the people, bringing confusion to Kenyans seeking answers to;

  • How did we get to this?
  • How shall we get out of this?

Mention is made of reactionary intellectuals, such as Taban Lo Liyong, Charles Mangua, David Maillu, William Robert Ochieng’, Atieno-Odhiambo and Godfrey Muriuki, whose role it is to cleverly promote imperialist agenda in Kenya and Africa. In our universities, the situation prevails, and the ‘intellectuals’ present are merely servants of capital.

There is no culture or education independent of the economic and political situation in a country.[iv] We must always bear in mind that there is never neutrality in any aspect of societal life. Everything that exists in the society does so in order to serve the economic base.

As a continuation of the concrete analysis of the Kenyan situation, the WPK brilliantly exposed the hypocrisy of the ruling party, KANU, and its betrayal of the promises it initially made to the people. Wanting to appear pro-people and revolutionary, KANU promised to be dynamic; to work for the good of the majority, not the few; to end undemocratic, unjust practices; to do away with the provincial administration and have people’s self-government; and to ensure a welfare state. This was, of course, not to be. The petty bourgeoisie and the compradors prevailed in the party, doing away with the leftist elements, and worked for their own interests. The significance of exposing this situation is that it provides an outlook on the origin and nature our puppet regime; a lying group of sell outs right from the start. ‘Hakuna cha bure’, they said!

An equally important point to consider at the present would be military preparations to combat to the forces of reaction. Having been a matter of conversation among members of Mwakenya (MK) during the 90s, it would be critical to have a glimpse of the scale of military preparation carried out, and its formidability thereof. Factually, at the present moment, it would be correct to state that the situation does not necessarily require an armed wing of the movement, but any eventuality, as mentioned in the book, must be prepared for.

Seize the moment, seize the time, comrades! The future of our country is bright.[v]


[i] By Maina wa Kinyatti; published in 2014.

[ii] Marx, Capital (Volume 1)

[iii] From ‘Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare’, Kwame Nkrumah.

[iv] Page 115.

[v] Page 290.

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