25 February 2017

Lecture on anti-colonial network ends


Prof Holger Weiss, addressing some political science students during the lecture. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

A lecture that gave a critical reflection of the failed attempt by the communists to establish a radical anti-colonial network in West Africa has been presented to students at the University of Ghana.

Dubbed: “West African Radicals and Communist Anti-Imperialist networks in the African Atlantic during the 1920s and 1930s”, the lecture highlighted the key roles some anti-imperialist elements such as Kobina Sekyi, J.E. Casely Hayford and George Padmore played in the liberation struggle.


The event, which was the sixth Kobina Sekyi Memorial Lecture,was attended by students of the Political Science Department at the university.

A professor of General History at the Abo Akademi University in Finland, Dr Holger Weiss,  gave the lecture at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana last Wednesday. He spoke about Kobina Sekyi, a lawyer in the then Gold Coast and political activist who in 1926 received an invitation to Brussels to attend a congress by the League Against Colonial Oppression.

The ultimate goal of the congress, he explained, was to establish an international anti-colonial body to make a case for the abolishment of colonialism and for the independence of colonial states.

He said similar invitations were extended to other political activists such as J.E. Casely Hayford who responded positively to the invitation but could not make the trip due to travel restrictions imposed by the British colonial state.

“None of the West African activists ever made it to Brussels and thus did not witness the establishment of the League Against Imperialism (LAI) in February 1927,” Dr Weiss said.

He stated that at that point communist agitation was more or less non-existent in West Africa and the only West African at the time, Bankole Awoonor Renner, who at that point resided in Moscow, returned to the Gold Coast in 1928 but lost contacts with Moscow.

George Padmore

According to the university professor, two years later, George Padmore was on a tour of West Africa and returned to Europe with some politicians and trade union activists including E.F. Small from The Gambia and Frank Macaulay from Nigeria, who were to participate in the First World Congress of Negro Workers that took place in July 1930 in Hamburg, Germany.

The outcome of that congress, Dr Weiss indicated, was the establishment of the International Trade Union of Negro Workers (ITUCNW) that was a mouthpiece of the Red International of Labour Unions.

On that score, he said, the ITUCNW made several efforts to establish close links with the West African trade union activists including journalists and politicians, whose main objective was to establish a network in West Africa.

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