Interviewer: For those of us who haven’t read your book African Anarchism recently, can you just recap a couple of things about what anarchism means to you and how is it connected to some of the intrinsic aspects of African culture?

Sam: OK, I pointed out in the book right away that anarchism as an ideology, as a corpus of ideology, and as a social movement, is removed to Africa. That was a point I made very explicitly at the outset of the book. But anarchism as a form of social organization, as a basis of organizing societies – that is not remote to us. It is an integral part of our existence as a people. I referred to the communal system of social organization that existed and still exists in different parts of Africa, where people live their lives within communities and saw themselves as integral parts of communities, and which contributed immensely to the survival of their communities as a unit. I pointed to aspects of solidarity, aspects of social cohesion and harmony that existed in so many communal societies in Africa and tried to draw linkages with the precepts of anarchism, including mutual aid, including autonomous development of small units, and a system that is not based on a monetization of the means and forces of production in society.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: In the last few years we’ve definitely seen an increase in authoritarian rule in many parts of the world, and austerity measures, in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the States and the global financial crisis, more recently. How do you see those issues, and how have they affected Africa, and the struggle here?

Sam: When I wrote African Anarchism with my friend, we wrote against the backdrop of three decades of military rule, nearly four decades of military rule, in Nigeria. Military rule was a form of government that believed in over-centralization of powers, and dictatorship, as it were, and it was a strand that evolved from capitalism. So while the Nigerian society and much of Africa was under the grip of military rule and military authoritarianism, today we have a nominal civilian administration, a nominal civilian democracy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: Sam, climate change is a major threat to Nigerians, as it is to everyone else on the planet. What are some of the specific environmental issues here, and what sort of consciousness is there of climate justice, and sustainable development?

Sam: I’ll answer your question from two perspectives. Let me answer it with the general perspective and then I’ll come to the more personal perspective. The threat of climate change is real. We, in this part of the world, are not immune from the threats of climate change. If we take a look around us, the humidity levels are rising. In recent times, where I live (I live in a small bungalow of three rooms), if there is no light [no electricity, no fan], I can hardly sleep.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: Sam, you played a very important role in the ‘Awareness League’, which was a Nigerian anarchist organization that flourished in the 1990s. Can you tell us a bit about how it grew and how it declined?

Sam: It’s a little nostalgic for me these days, talking about the Awareness League, because the Awareness League was a romantic idea. When we entered the universities in the early 80s, what we encountered was socialist groups, socialist teaching, Marxist teaching especially. And we became attracted to Marxism, in the sense that it preached the coming of a new dawn in society, and by extension, the African continent.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: What about working-class organizations in Nigeria, trade unions, to what extent can they be reclaimed as vehicles for working-class struggle?

Sam: The trade unions in Nigeria were particularly very active in the early anti-colonial struggle. I told you some time ago about the struggles of the coal miners here in Enugu, Enugu was the coal mining capital of Nigeria. During the anti-colonial struggle for independence, the colonial masters killed about 49 coal miners here in this city, who were struggling against the exploitative tendencies of the managers of the mines.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: Sam, how do you conceptualize global solidarity? I mean, how best can activists in so-called ‘developed’ countries support activists in the majority world, and vice versa?

Sam: Yeah, the activism in the developed world can do a lot really to stir up the consciousness of people here. But I guess that at the end of the day, the people here must take responsibility for our lives, must take responsibility for resisting autocratic governments, must take responsibility for seeking to hold them accountable as well.

People in the metropolitan world can assist us by trying to help us build capacity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: Nigeria is quite a religious society. Religion is very deeply ingrained here. And often it takes quite conservative, sometimes violent forms. What are your thoughts on religion in Nigeria and what it means for anarchism and organising more broadly?

Sam: I’ll say that religion and religious practices have entered a new phase in Nigeria. Before the advent of colonialism, our people were mostly African religionists, who worship our small gods – gods of thunder, gods of river, and such other gods. With the coming of colonialism, the two main global religions – Islam and Christianity – became a predominant force in the lives of Nigerians.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interviewer: What about gender? Is there a change in the struggle for women’s liberation?

Sam: The struggle for women’s liberation in Nigeria and the rest of Africa has come a long way.

Read the rest of this entry »

[This is a full transcript of an interview with Sam, recorded in March 2012 in Enugu Nigeria. Excerpts by subject area are also published in this blog. You can also listen to or download the audio files in the Audio section of this blog. The interviewer, Jeremy, is a member of the Jura Books Collective - an anarchist collective based in Sydney Australia.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.