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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 21, 1959

MAO ZEDONG, 'AFRICA'S TASK IS TO STRUGGLE AGAINST IMPERIALISM'

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    On February 21, 1959, in a meeting with representatives of the Union of the Populations of Cameroon and of the youths of Guinea, Kenya and Madagascar, Mao Zedong argued that Africa's task is to struggle against imperialism and that the people of various countries should assist and support African people in the struggle for liberation.
    "Mao Zedong, 'Africa's Task is to Struggle Against Imperialism'," February 21, 1959, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Translation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China and the Party Literature Research Center, eds., Mao Zedong on Diplomacy (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1998), 286-7. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/118423
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AFRICA’S TASK IS TO STRUGGLE AGAINST IMPERIALISM[1]

(February 21, 1959)

The task for all of Africa is to struggle against imperialism, against those who follow imperialism, rather than to struggle against capitalism or establish socialism. Anyone proposing to establish socialism in Africa would be making a mistake. The fact is that imperialism, relying on its running dogs, has allied with some Africans to oppress Africa. The nature of the revolution there is a bourgeois democratic revolution, not a proletarian socialist revolution. On the whole, the struggle of all Africa is a protracted one. First, please do not think of immediate victory or an overnight triumph; be prepared for a prolonged struggle. If one is not ideologically prepared for prolonged struggle when imperialism is so powerful, one may be disappointed. Second, please rely mainly on your own efforts, seeking foreign assistance only as a subsidiary. I have these two suggestions for you to consider. I am not familiar with the situation in Africa, nor am I an African. I shall just air my own views for your reference.

The present revolution in Africa is a struggle against imperialism and a national liberation movement. It is a question of national liberation rather than communism; on that we all agree. There are two other points: one is the question of a quick or slow victory. There are only these two possibilities, quick or slow victory. If you are prepared for both, you will not feel disappointed. The other is the question of what force to rely on. Is Africa to be liberated by relying on foreign countries or by relying on the African people themselves? To liberate Africa, it is essential to rely on the African people. African affairs should be run by the Africans themselves by relying on the forces of African people; in the meantime they should make friends throughout the world, including China. China certainly supports you. Whether these two points are right or not is for you to ponder over.

It seems that present Africa is quite different from past Africa. After the Second World War the anti-imperialist movement in Africa developed greatly in 1958. It is expected that the anti-imperialist movement will develop faster in the future. There is no doubt that various countries will help you. The people of various countries, particularly socialist countries and countries that have won independence, will certainly assist and support you. You need support as much as we and all the socialist countries need it. Who is to support us? The national liberation movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America is the main force supporting us. The working class in western Europe supports us too. Support is therefore a mutual matter. Your anti-imperialist movement is a support to us. It is a support to you when the Soviet Union and China have done well. You may think of China as your friend. We are checking imperialism to divert its forces, so it will not be able to concentrate its forces on oppressing Africa.

(From the verbatim record)

[1] This is the main part of Mao Zedong's talk to representatives of the Union of the Populations of Cameroon and of the youths of Guinea, Kenya and Madagascar.

CHINESE (TRANSCRIPTION) HTML

非洲当前的任务是反对帝国主义,不是反对资本主义[1]

毛泽东

(一九五九年二月二十一日)

整个非洲的任务是反对帝国主义,反对跟着帝国主义走的人,而不是反对资本主义,不是建立社会主义。在非洲提出建立社会主义社会,要犯错误。事实是帝国主义依靠它的走狗,联合非洲的一部分人压迫非洲。目前非洲这种革命的性质,是资产阶级民主革命,不是无产阶级社会主义革命。一般说来,整个非洲的斗争还是长期的。一不要以为马上可以胜利,明天早上就胜利,要准备长期斗争。如不作长期斗争的思想准备,而帝国主义那么强大,就要失望。二要以依靠自己力量为主,争取外国援助为辅。我有这两个建议,请你们考虑。我不熟悉非洲的情形,我又不是非洲人。我讲我的意见,供你们参考。

  

非洲当前的革命是反对帝国主义,搞民族解放运动,不是共产主义问题,而是民族解放问题。这点我们的意见都是一致的。另外两点:一是胜利的快、慢问题。可能胜利快,也可能胜利慢,无非这两种。两头都准备,就不至于失望。二是依靠什么力量的问题。是依靠外国来解放非洲,还是依靠非洲人自己解放非洲?要依靠非洲人自己解放非洲。非洲的事情非洲人自己去办,依靠非洲人自己的力量。同时也要在世界上找朋友,包括中国在内。至于中国,一定支持你们。这两点是否对,请你们考虑。

  

看来,现在的非洲与过去的非洲有所不同。第二次世界大战以后,一九五八年非洲反帝运动有很大的发展。可以料到,今后非洲的反帝运动会比过去发展得更快。至于各国要帮助你们,那毫无问题。各国人民,特别是社会主义国家,已经独立了的国家,一定要帮助、支持你们。你们需要支持,我们也需要支持,而且所有的社会主义国家都需要支持。谁来支持我们?还不是亚洲、非洲、拉丁美洲的民族解放运动,这是支持我们的最主要的力量。支持我们的还有西欧的工人阶级。所以是相互的支持。你们那里的反帝运动就是支持我们。苏联、中国把工作做好一点,也就是支持你们。你们可以考虑,中国可以当作你们的一个朋友。我们能牵制帝国主义,使它力量分散,不能集中力量去压迫非洲。

[1] 这是毛泽东同喀麦隆人民联盟代表和几内亚、肯尼亚、马达加斯加青年代表谈话的节录。