Skip to content

February 21, 1959

Mao Zedong, 'Africa's Task is to Struggle Against Imperialism'

This document was made possible with support from Henry Luce Foundation













(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.

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.


Document Information


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.


The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.

To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].

Original Uploaded Date



Record ID



Henry Luce Foundation