Kyeretwie Opoku of the Socialist Movement of Ghana gives the inaugural address of the West African People's Conference in Winneba, Ghana. (Photo: Prasanth R.)
Anti-imperialist unity has long been sought by African people but has been thwarted by outside forces. The people still struggle to reach this goal, and the West African Peoples Organization is the latest formation in this effort.
As you would be aware, West Africa is endowed with abundant extractive wealth in the form of water, forest, energy, minerals and bio-resources. It has an enormous arable lands and a youthful, energetic and creative population. But, up to 90% of this wealth is owned and controlled by capitalist foreign interests from France, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Japan. Only 2.6% of our arable lands are under direct cultivation while our various neocolonial states continue to turn out 75% of its future human labour resources as brawn or non-mental workers. Over 50 years of political independence have left West Africa with no industrialized State. Traditional industry is still crude or rudimentary and characterized by low productivity and output. As we become more dependent, peripheral, neocolonial states run on behalf of imperialism by our political elites and the comprador bourgeoisie, the peoples of West Africa continue to face regional insecurity, insufficiency of healthcare, unemployment, inequality, abuses, exploitation and corruption.
These devastating conditions in which the peoples of West Africa find themselves are the impact and vestiges of colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. Today, these imperialists and their local elites continue to brutally exploit the region in the form of neo-colonialism through transnational and multinational corporations. The West African Sahel has become one of the unstable regions of Africa with recurring armed conflicts, low intensity civil wars, piracy, political and communal violence. Similarly, the presence of large reserves of crude oil and minerals such as uranium are leading to intense geopolitical rivalry and competition. Slowly the imperialists are perniciously surrounding us through the location of military bases and concentration of their troops. At the last count, there are over 20 of such military bases.
Considering this situation, 100 delegates and observers met in the historic town of Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana at a Conference themed "West Africa People for a New World" between 8th to 11th December, 2022.
Participants were drawn from organized labour, farmers, women's movements, youth and cultural organizations, PanAfricanist formations, political parties and the broad anti-imperialist and progressive movements across West Africa. Our number included observers from Africa's eastern, southern and northern regions and from Asia and Latin America. Over three days we engaged in intense historical discussion of the situation of West Africa today. We considered our independent history prior to the arrival of European capitalism on our shores. We considered the main frameworks of exploitation of the region - slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism - that an increasingly globalised capitalism has imposed on our development and the lasting political, socio-economic, and cultural problems this has generated for our society.
At the end of three days of intense deliberations, the conference resolved to establish a region-wide organization to be known as West Africa Peoples Organization (or Organisation des Peuples d' Afrique de l'Ouest in French or Organizaqao do Povo da Africa Ocidental in Portuguese). The West Africa Peoples Organisation (WAPO) is foremost an anti-imperialist network that promotes regional unity across West Africa. It seeks to build a new West Africa with the people and for the people; where the well-being and equality of its citizens are assured within a peaceful development framework based on democratic planning. The ultimate aim of WAPO is to mobilize the working peoples of West Africa to end poverty, inequality, corruption, discrimination, backwardness and violence inflicted on the region by five centuries of colonialist and imperialist domination. Other objectives include uniting our struggles across borders, providing unalloyed solidarity to the working class and confronting imperialists and colonial forces as one.
To achieve this WAPO will promote anti-imperialism and Pan-Africanism across West Africa. It will work alongside other organisations in a multi-faceted African and global struggle against imperialism. Finally, it will also strive to end wasteful competition and profit accumulation by foreign and local capitalist elites.
WAPO elected a seven-member Coordinating Council to lead its efforts over the next four years. The councilors comprise:
The West African Peoples Organization (WAPO) can be reached at [email protected].