Anarchism in Africa

Anarchism in Africa

Anarchism in Africa refers both to purported anarchic political organization of some traditional African societies and to modern anarchist movements in Africa.


Anarchism and traditional cultures

Sam Mbah and I. E. Igariwey in African Anarchism: The History of a Movement make the claim that:

To a greater or lesser extent, all of [...] traditional African societies manifested “anarchic elements” which, upon close examination, lend credence to the historical truism that governments have not always existed. They are but a recent phenomenon and are, therefore, not inevitable in human society. While some “anarchic” features of traditional African societies existed largely in past stages of development, some of them persist and remain pronounced to this day.

The reason why traditional African societies are characterized as "anarchies" is because of their horizontal political structure and absence of classes. In addition to that leadership of elders normally did not transcend into the authoritative structure, which characterizes the modern state (see also Pierre Clastres' thesis expounded in Society Against the State).

A strong value was however placed on traditional and "natural" values. So for example, although there were no laws against rape, homicide, and adultery, a person committing those acts would be persecuted together with his or her kin. The principle of collective responsibility was sometimes upheld.

Starting in the 15th century the class system began to form in the last empires of Africa, although it had already existed in some African civilizations (such as Nubia, Egypt, Axum and Hausa) for millennia. However, many societies have until this day remained as what is called “tribes without rulers”, a form of “ordered anarchy”.

Anarchist Organizations in Africa

African anarchism in literature

  • "Anarchism and Revolutionary Syndicalism in South Africa, 1904-1921" by Lucien van der Walt
  • "Military Dictatorship and the State in Africa" by Samuel Mbah and I.E. Igariwey, an anarchist critique of the African military dictatorships.
  • "Toward The African Revolution" by Frantz Fanon ISBN 0-8021-3090-9
  • "African Anarchism: The History of a Movement" by Sam Mbah and I. E. Igariwey [1]


See also

External links

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