Africa is perhaps the largest continent in the world. It is also one of the continents with the largest natural resource reserves. Perhaps this has caused it to suffer one of the cruelest scourges, like Asia and Latin America, colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism that has covered Africa with a war of extermination, racism like Apartheid, where all the imperial forces of Europe intervened in Africa for centuries.

During World War II, the peoples of Africa and Asia led their parallel wars. It was the fight against colonialism—India’s independence and Vietnam’s struggle. The emergence of a movement for the self-determination and liberation of these peoples also brought with it the need to create their own thinking to support that struggle. The end of World War II was also the end of colonialism, the beginning of the Cold War, the beginning of neo-colonialism, the appearance of the United States as a hegemonic imperialist force, and the creation of the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. The new world order, or world disorder, was beginning.

For many, it became more evident that the principal contradiction at the world level was between the Poor Peoples of the World who were fighting for their liberation against Imperialism and Neocolonialism. The era of imperialism and the struggles of the poor people for self-determination began.

With this, the Pan-Arab movement (or Arab Socialism) and Pan-Africanism (or African Socialism) appeared, both with their contradictions within them and with their reformist and revolutionary currents. El Medhi Ben Barka, Ben Bella, Frantz Fanon, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Muammar Gaddafi and many others were shaping a new way of seeing the social revolution, the overcoming of capitalism from recent colonial and neocolonial history, and now imperialism.

This broad liberation and self-determination movement reached its milestone in the First Tricontinental Conference held in Havana, Cuba, in 1966. With this, the Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL) was born. Revolutionary leaders of the stature of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, and many others would join in it, and the decisive and frontal struggle of the people towards their liberation would be promoted. Even though in 1956, under the revisionist leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, he began the restoration of capitalism and reconciliation with imperialism.

The policies to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union and the same process initiated in China after the death of Mao Tse Tung and the coup carried out by the also Chinese revisionist current and the imposition of «market socialism» undoubtedly brought a setback for the entire international communist movement as well as for the global revolutionary movement.

It was also from the 1960s that Latin America was also plagued by military dictatorships that carried out the National Security Doctrine, state terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity and the forced disappearance of people, all as tools. Political-military aimed at the crushing and liquidation of popular and revolutionary movements. The counterinsurgency made everything possible for the imposition of neoliberalism and the strengthening of imperialist power.

The most significant blow to the people’s movement would come with the collapse of the Soviet Union and first-generation Socialism. The world was left at the mercy of imperialism, which for some was the birth of a «unipolar» world; although this concept was anti-dialectical, they forgot that at the other extreme were the poor peoples of the world, although their parties and liberation movements were weak, it was the polar opposite of almost total imperial power.

The eternal struggle against Apartheid had its victory. The triumph of the revolutionary-liberation forces in Angola in Cuito Cuanavale, the border with South Africa. Where combined forces of Angolan and Cuban revolutionaries managed to defeat the South African imperialist and segregationist forces were the beginning of the end of Apartheid that would bring Nelson Mandela to the government in 1994. Already Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Tanzania, and others, had achieved their independence and power, at least in terms of the exercise of government or political power.

For all these reasons, this interview is extremely important. It is the first interview carried out by América Rebelde in collaboration with RPI that takes place outside the borders of Latin America and begins a fraternal relationship with our African brothers with whom we share a past, a present and a future. Africa, Asia and Latin America have the same enemy and the same future together with the international proletariat.

The Communist Party of Kenya originated in 1997 as the Social Democratic Party because the legislation did not allow a legal communist party. The change of constitution caused the SDP to become the Communist Party of Kenya (2019) (CPK)

The interview. 

The Communist Party of Kenya was created in 2019, starting in 1992 as SDP. In other African countries, the communist movement has older data. Many African communist parties were formed at the beginning of the 20th century. Could you tell us about the communist movement in Kenya? When did it start apart from legal aspects?

The Communist Movement in Kenya can be traced to the early 1980s as an underground movement for revolutionaries who were agitating against the Moi dictatorship. At the time, they had to be underground because there were seditious laws banning communism and communism literature in Kenya, which was under the firm grip of one capitalist party-KANU dictatorship led by dictator Daniel Moi. During this dictatorship, communists were rounded up, jailed, tortured, murdered or exiled, but communism as a movement maintained its vibrancy among the intellectuals and students, nonetheless, covertly. To understand this in detail, it will be essential to read about the history of the December 12 movements and the Mwakenya, which were underground left organizations. This went on until 2002, when KANU was dethroned, on what is popularly known as a ballot revolution.

When it was registered in 1992, the Social Democratic Party, SDP was not a Communist Party but a Social Democratic Party dedicated to fighting for reforms within the capitalist system. Some progressives and communists who were interested in participating in bourgeois elections used it as a political vehicle since it was not possible for communist parties to be registrable under Kenyan laws at that time. In late 2000  university students’ radicals joined the party, intending to take it over and drive it to the left. These university students, including myself, were not Marxists but called themselves an array of names from anarchists to democratic socialists, because of the intense anti-communist propaganda at that time. The new student recruits took over the youth wing of the party, the Young Social Democrats (YSD). The party presented the students with an opportunity to study Marxism led by the hardcore communists already in the party, notably Mwandawiro Mghanga from the underground movement, who was very instrumental in training young cadres. 

Benedict Wachira and I led the student militants. The youth league activities led to an open fight in the party that was completed in 2009 with the total takeover of the party by revolutionaries. The minority reactionaries fought a lost battle that ended at the Political Party’s Dispute Tribunal – in Kenya – that pronounced the Mghanga-led faction as the actual owners of the party. The case was prosecuted by myself; the party had no money to pay any lawyer, and all the preparations were done collectively under Benedict Wachira, my comrade at that time. The Mutahi Kagwe-led faction failed. Mutahi Kagwe was a powerful government bureaucrat and true to form, when his faction failed, they abandoned the party to join mainstream bourgeois political parties. 

Following the 2009 win, the victors declared the party a Marxist-Leninist and filed all the party documents to reflect the party’s character save for the name Social Democratic Party of Kenya. The reason we kept the name was because there were still elements in the party that had nostalgia for the name SDP, which was nationally recognized and a strong brand in the country. With the national and regional elections coming up in 2013, the party retained its name for mainly tactful reasons until after the elections. Unfortunately, the party performed dismally in 2013, only garnering a few seats in the county assemblies. The process of changing the party documents to reflect its essence started almost immediately. Later, it led to a national congress on January 5, 2019, where the Communist Party of Kenya was born. It is important to note that the party is a product of the collective struggle of the majority; many poor Kenyans were martyred in the streets to expand the democratic space that the party enjoys today.

Since 2019, the party has been organizing in form and in kind towing the line between balancing the the huge gap in political education on socialism – because education and books on socialism had been banned by the dictator Moi and other internal weaknesses inherent in any newly formed – public organization, including vetting senior members. The the party has made several mistakes in its organizational line until very recently, in 2022; it was attacked from within. This can be attributed to the composition of the party leadership, which was mainly from the petty bourgeoisie strata of the society. Out of that split, the party has since commenced a rectification program to help the party move profoundly in a Marxist – Leninist line. The deep analysis can be read through this link.,-the-crisis-in-the-communist-party-of-kenya-cpk

As you know, communist parties are created due to the working-class condition, its struggle, and also to class struggle. How do these issues influence the left-wing and working-class movements in Kenya? What role does Marxism-Leninism play in Kenya?

Initially, the Communist Party of Kenya was founded by petit bourgeoisie intellectuals and students. Only through practice and experience has the party penetrated the Kenyan working class. Most Kenyan populations live in rural areas, and many urban youths are jobless. The working-class population is relatively small, with a staggering joblessness of up to 70%. But the party continues to cover more ground.

The political power is under a comprador class; the national bourgeoisie are rather few; in recent years, they have allied with the international bourgeoisie and the comprador political class to preserve their class. The party is still struggling to consolidate the majority of the Kenyan working class, mainly because it took us quite a while to train professional revolutionaries and deploy them. We were also learning on the job that revolutionary fundraising is a daunting task. 

Marxism- Leninism, the immortal science of the proletariat revolution, has a much more significant role in our organizing. Leninism is the light that continues to illuminate our paths; it is the perfect science that helps us penetrate reality. The party remains firmly in the Marxist-Leninist line. In urban areas, revisionism is a big threat because the capitalist forces are rather strong, so we have learnt to conduct a solid social investigation before making any step. 

Talking about revisionism and opportunism in urban areas, you will learn that two senior officials abandoned the party at a critical moment to join the comprador class, leading one of the main capitalist outfits in our country. The two joined a coalition called Kenya Kwanza, which can be translated to mean Kenya first. In its form, messaging and appeal, the coalition seems to have been inspired by Donald Trump and his America first slogan. The coalition, which is led by our current president Mr Ruto is a self-declared evangelical extremist. Just imagine a communist joining such an outfit. But we have to give it to Ruto, who has proved himself a very cunning propagandist. Even as the Deputy President and one who was implicated or alleged to be the mastermind of mass corruption, he coined a sharp class war rhetoric, almost declaring war against the propertied, particularly his boss, former president Uhuru Kenyatta. The rhetoric of the poor versus the rich catapulted him to power, and our party was left naked without leadership only that the Youth League was well established to rescue the party from degenerating further. 

The former party chairperson, Mr Mghanga and the secretary, Mr Wachira, betrayed the Kenyan workers in a very personal way because the duo, who had mastered the revolutionary rhetoric, were able to frame their new alliance as an opportunity for the Kenyan workers. Because of their long-standing presence in the party, the pair and their cultists almost vanquished the party built by the blood of the poor Kenyans. We know the party shall prevail over such attacks in the struggle we learn and relearn. Revisionists have one consistent strategy like Gorbachev, fail, fail and fail. They have failed, and they will fail again.  

If the previous party of the CPK was the SDP, and then in 2019, the SDP was transformed into the CPK, was there also an ideological change? Was it from a Social Democrat Ideology to a Marxist-Leninist one? If so, how does the CPK manage this? I mean, the heritage of the social democratic ideology?

We have a history of fighting for reforms. However, every time such Social Democratic tendencies rear their ugly head, we have to nip them in the bud. As I had said in my previous comments, SDP did not start from a Marxist-Leninist line; it took an internal struggle to defeat the reformist and take over the party and steer it to the correct revolutionary line. We hold that we can stay on course through political education and internal struggle. Now the party’s ideological school is moving from strength to strength, and in that way,  we will combat wrong ideas in our ranks. 

And again, about ideology. How did the Kenyan communist movement deal with the pan-African movement? Do you see the pan-African movement as something positive?

The Communist Party of Kenya is a Pan-Africanist organization, we see pan-Africanism as an objective, but the software that drives us to that goal is scientific Socialism. We firmly believe that the continental unity to liberate all African people within and without the continent is only possible under scientific Socialism. The neoliberal unity of Europe does not inspire us, that ugly Europe-continent built by the proceeds of war and the blood of the innocent. The Communist Party of Kenya cannot be persuaded to that evil path

Does the Communist Party of Kenya have any political relation, or links, with the pan-African movement?

Yes, we do; CPK is one of the founding members of ALNEF; these initials are a derivative from the French language to mean parties and organizations of the left in Africa. This organization is convened by South Africa Communist Party (SACP) and headquartered in Senegal. We also work with  Pan Africanism Today (PAT); you may want to check them out; we collaborate with them in party cadres’ ideological and theoretical development. 

In terms of class and class struggle, how could you describe Kenyan society in terms of wealth inequality? Is there a big difference between the period of colonialism and today?

Class struggle has been part and parcel of Kenyan society; anything that the Kenyan masses have gotten from the ruling class has been a product of the struggle. The poor majority always have to force the rich minority to earn anything. The constitutional review process was the bloodiest of them all, where the poor in their hundreds and progressive intellectuals were murdered by a rogue state. Nairobi is the belly of imperialism, where an insignificant 1% owns 99% of the wealth. 

The white British multinationals like Finley are still sitting on thousands of acres of stolen land. The unholy alliance between the comprador class and the international bourgeoisie suffocates the masses with hunger. The US NGOs and Churches are expanding daily in the shackle dwellers to take the poor out of reality through the free enterprising nonsense and prosperity gospel. Now with the election of the US puppet, Mr Ruto, things are going to be worse for the majority. The party analyses the situation and prepares daily for an all-out offensive; this neocolonial system needs to be broken down to atoms. 

How did the working class and left-wing movement (or communist movement) face the anti-colonialism struggle? What were their strategies?

The anti-colonial struggle was about the land; the peasants who were alienated from their land organized themselves into a land defence force. This force was called Maumau by predatory British forces. Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi, our hero, led the Maumau forces until he was captured and hanged by the neck to death by the colonial British.

Maumau had almost dented the colonial army with many casualties at the time, its leader Dedan Kimathi was captured and hanged. It was becoming unsustainable for the British to continue with their war, so they opted to negotiate with the nationalists; Jomo Kenyatta, who was at that time in prison, ceded a lot of ground to the British gangs and signed a raft of agreements to preserve British land that was stolen from the natives. It is recorded that the queen mama of Britain, Elizabeth, was so pleased with him that she rewarded him with a white British model when he visited England. He later married her. 

In the case of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and others, arm struggle played an essential role in their liberation. What happened in Kenya? Was arm struggle considered?

Maumau was the first armed resistance in the continent, another unique element is that they did not get any help from outside the Kenyan territory. The homemade guns were the starting point for the armed resistance before they learnt the guerilla tactics to carry out ambushes and raids on the colonial establishment and colonial police on the move to seize modern arms. So, yes, Kenya’s freedom came from the gun barrel. 

Kenya shares borders with Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan. Some of these countries have come across civil wars. How did conflicts affect the construction of Kenya’s liberation movement? How did this influence the Communist Party of Kenya? If it did. 

Kenya has been the home of revolutionaries; revolutionaries from neighbouring countries found a home in Nairobi to organize. Even though the Kenyan government was never supportive of such revolutionary movements, the Kenyan masses did. The Sudanese Communist party exiled were always with us in Nairobi, like Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda. It is only in recent years that dictators like Kagame have found their way into Nairobi to kill political refugees; now, most of them are in Kampala. 

We also have to remember Tanzania under Julius Nyerere; most of Tanzania’s resources were used to finance liberation movements in Africa. Now, something absurd is happening; the Kenyan forces are fighting alongside imperialist forces in Somalia and Congo, and it is a business for these corrupt leaders to accept such policies. Kenya is now officially a military outpost of the US degenerating empire with a naval base in Lamu. This worries us a lot as a party; remember, the British have over 40000 men on the ground at their military establishment in Nanyuki, Central Kenya. These are real threats to our sovereignty. 

Who was Jomo Kenyatta? What is your evaluation of his government?

Jomo, a friend of the British, in school, we were forced to learn about him as our founding father. He was not a good man; he was a reactionary nationalist who auctioned our country to the colonial British. He brokered the 1963 sham independence to preserve British interests. He is one of the biggest land grabbers in Kenya; he is a symbol of the comprador class, the running dog of the British empire. Poor Jomo, the jailer of freedom fighters, the jailer of our hero Jaramogi Oginga Odinga , the murderer of Maumau fighters, we now look at his grave sitting next to our parliament with disgust. How is it possible that such an immoral man who stole so much land still managed to be buried in public land? Someday we will try him posthumously and nationalize all wealth he expropriated from the Kenyan people.

In the times of Jomo Kenyatta, there was only one party. It was a one-ruling power system. Today Kenya has a multiparty democracy. Was that a positive change? What happens in terms of the economy? Does Kenya have a capitalist economy? Please tell us about capitalism in Kenya. 

Multiparty System expanded the civic space; this was not given to the Kenyan masses, but they fought for it  and only after so much blood was shed that dictator Moi relented to internal and external pressure. This multiparty democracy was itself a sham because the Communist party remained illegal, so it was multiparty for the capitalist political party. But now, with CPK as an entity, we can talk of multi-partyism. Kenyan is a turbo-capitalist state, just another field for multinationals to play games with the people’s lives. Thanks to the World Bank and IMF, Kenya is now reduced to a raw material exporter, a source of almost free labour through that infamous AGOA program and a dumping ground for substandard and second goods. Kenya’s capitalism is raw in its form; the local political elites are so weak that they have to form alliances with their bosses in the North so that they can continue with their oppression.

Many of the wars in Africa are said to have an ethnic origin. What role does ethnicity play in Kenya’s society? What is more important: class struggle or ethnic conflict? What comes first? Which determines CPK’s project?

CPK is a Marxist party; the class contradiction is the primary, and the rest of the contradictions used by the board of directors of the rich to divide the workers are secondary and even tertiary. CPK has taken a clear class line to organize the Kenyan workers and their allies to overthrow our primary enemy – the comprador class. 

What are the main objectives of the CPK’s project?

Our main aim is to overthrow the comprador class through a socialist revolution; our organization line is guided by Marxism-Leninism ideology. 

Is socialism part of the solution? What does the CPK understand by «socialism» considering both the African and Kenya’s reality?

Now that Socialism is a science, it is universal; there is nothing like African Socialism or the Socialism of the South. The methodology remains the same – dialectical and historical materialism, the immortal science of the proletariat’s revolution; its applications are determined by objective and subjective factors from one society to the other. The Communist Party of Kenya is clear; we have all the objective factors of the revolution, and CPK is building the subjective factors through political education, propaganda and agitation without losing sight of the objective.

Considering what you have answered before, what would be the main contradiction in Kenya’s society? How does the CPK face it or deal with it?

The main contradiction is class; our absolute method in making our revolution is class struggle, our philosophy is dialectical materialism and no other, and our enemy is metaphysics, the philosophy that anchors imperialism and shades of hallucinations like religion. 

Is the CPK part of any communist international organization? What is the main difference between that international organization and the others? Do you think that the communist international movement should unite? Why?

CPK is an internationalist organization; we are the headquarters of solidarity with all the oppressed people of the world; we are always willing to join any anti-imperialist global platforms, and we are now officially members of ICOR. Yes, the unity of Communist International is inevitable, but we must continue building the revolutionary forces at home. We desire to replace neoliberal globalization with socialist globalization based on genuine mutual friendship and solidarity. Capitalism is global, and so is its antithesis, Socialism. 

Is there a continental communist organization that coordinates all communist parties and movements?

Yes, ALNEF is a continental organization of the left political parties and organizations, and CPK is a founding member. 

When talking about human rights, what could you tell us about human rights concerning Kenya? Are there any political prisoners? Is there a human rights movement?

Kenya is a turbo neocolonial state, the Kenyan state talk about human rights in word and not by actions. The extra-judicial killings is a permanent policy of this government despite the progressive bill of rights enshrined in our constitution. CPK has taken this campaign to a higher notch; now we talk about the right to humanity and social justice; the party continue to demand the right to life with dignity for the majority of the Kenyan population, all these are preserved in our constitution, but the government doesn’t care until its very existence is under a real threat. 

Final words. What would be the CPK’s call to all the liberation and revolutionary movements around the world

Our clarion call is let’s unite all that we can unite; if we cannot unite for Socialism, we can unite against imperialism. Our primary enemy is the US empire; a new society must blossom in its ruins. 

Communist Party of Kenya

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