Drawing lessons of similarities and parallels of goals and survival strategies.
By Elias Mhegera – Analyzing 95 years of survival of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a complex phenomenon; however, I will be part of this process to the level of my understanding.
Coming from Tanzania I would say understanding of the CPC to me was a matter of necessity whether I liked or not due to the prevailing circumstances in Tanzania of the time.
It was in 1969 while I was six years old that I saw a Chinese for the first time in my country, although I was far away from the Dar es Salaam capitol.
The Chinese national in my area had a special task; it was after Julius Nyerere a founding father of Tanzania then at the helm of power set in motion the construction of socialism ideology which he saw as the only ideal model of the economy for Tanzania.
Two years earlier in 1967 Nyerere had propagated his Ujamaa na Kujitegemea (socialism and self-reliance) ideology through the Arusha Declaration, he claimed that this was the most ideal model for a poor country like Tanzania.
This did not pass smoothly though, as there were resistances from various circles particularly by those who detested Nyerere’s ‘anti-elitism’ stances. The series of purges and nationalization of some private properties did not appease all, some even fled the country.
Prior to that Nyerere had introduced some form of military training and voluntary work called National Service which involved a dual system of recruitment and participation.
All men and women who had completed secondary education were liable for National Service. For them, National Service used to be compulsory. It has been argued in some circles that these parallel military structures were created to prevent a possible dominance of the armed forces over the civilian authorities.
In 1974 Nyerere introduced the Musoma Resolution; this was a way of transforming the rural society through education and agriculture. In this programme secondary school graduates had to work for not less than two years for both the public sector and the private sector preferably in the rural setting.
The similarity of this is the fact that the incumbent President of China, Xi Jinping worked in a village setting at Liang-jia-he for seven years from 1969 to 75 when he joined the Tsinghua University in Beijing, for further studies. In this village he was acculturated to the rural lifestyle, he even became the village chairman, given the fact that he was originating from an elitist family.
Coming back to Tanzania, at least Nyerere did set in motion an economic direction, and the situation remained like that up to the time of Nyerere’s voluntary retirement in 1985, although there was an interruption through a war with Uganda when Iddi Amin Dada was in power, the war took two years of 1978 and 79 until when Amin ran away from his country.
Since 1985 socialism as a country’s ideology in Tanzania has remained as a lip service than action although it is the same party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) which introduced it and is retaining power for over 50 years now. There are more efforts to run away from its former commitment than to restore them.
Parallels: Lessons from the CPC
As a student of history and political science at the University of Dar es Salaam in late 80s, I learnt how the China’s Revolution of October 1949 drew lessons from the Russian October Revolution drawing the philosophies of Marxism –Leninism but modifying this in order to suit the country’s political modicum of the day.
The charismatic leader of the revolution Mao Zedong had argued that while classical Marxism stated that the most revolutionary class is that of workers the Chinese situation had shown the class of peasant farmers is the most conscious ones due to the fact that they are the most sufferers in a society characterized by exploitation.
It was at that particular moment that I also learnt of the Mao Zedong’s philosophy “On Contradiction” which according to our lecturers it was considered as his most important philosophical essay.
It has been notified that this philosophical article was written in August 1937, as an interpretation of the philosophy of dialectical materialism, while Mao was at his guerrilla base in Yan’ an.
It is believed that this is what has been put in practice all along as this great country is now celebrating 95 of the CPC. It is with practice that this philosophy forms the political ideology that was termed as Maoism, borrowing the now popular language, “He Walked the Talk!”
As once remarked by an Argentine revolutionary who was instrumental in the Cuban Revolution, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guavara, “the duty of a historian is not only to read or write history, but also to make history”. Mao Zedon alongside with his colleagues, Zhou En Lai, Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu, they walked the talk, they read and wrote history but they also ‘made it’.
Now if one was to talk about the modern China, this would entail knowing the projections by a historical figure in Deng Xiaoping, he took power in 1978 in a situation where the political modicum in China was still startling no one had a clear vision really of what was to come in the long-term future.
Immediately he drew attention to scientific development outlook borrowing the goods of capitalism through market-economy reforms, and modifying them to suit the demands of China.
Openness meant a lot to the development of this great country, but also the population at large was supportive, things moved on.
In international politics the stance was to shun away from any kind of aggression and confrontational politics, domestically it was maximum utility of the available immense labour force and cataleptically industrial base which needed stimulation through modern scientific management.
The overall results must be cherished as now China enjoys a modern life style to its large population, infrastructure is far advanced than many other places of the modern world, and the level of satisfaction if one was to judge at least from external appearances is very appealing.
Having stayed in China for more than four months now this reporter has seen groups of African students, from various fields of life, but also of employees in various professions from the police force, soldiers’ doctors, academicians etc.
But even more interesting is the fact that China and Africa co-operation has not been biased because even Somalia’s students can be seen here after their country has been affected by a catastrophic anarchy for quite some time now.
Through the Forum on China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) there was a commitment to the tune of US$5bn. But also by hosting The 5th Meeting of the China-Africa Think-tank Forum in Yiwu in May this year to the most recent Forum on Global Production Capacity and Business Cooperation in Wuhan-Hubei are clear indications that the CPC party has a big stake in delivery which must be recognized by all progressive minds.
In agriculture China has established 23 agricultural technology demonstration centres in Africa under its foreign aid program; it has dispatched 1,700 agricultural experts and 10,000 technicians to Africa and invited 3,000 Africans to China for training.
The modern road infrastructures, railways, to airlines in this country all attest that great efforts have been made in ensuring that the Chinese population enjoys a deserving life, but now friends from Africa and indeed elsewhere take China as a learning model of gradual transformation process from a traditional society to modernity.
The pillars of serving the people have been retained throughout, although a difference of thoughts is an inescapable humanistic necessity. It is through differences that human beings come out with much more articulated solutions.
Conclusively, one is led to believe that the choice of communism and the retaining of the power fabric has enshrined continuity no wonder that this country is now the second largest world economy. The system it chose and retained is befitting its people. After all, what is more important, at the end of the day, is delivery!
Elias Mhegera is a corresponding editor, director of research and investigations with the Tanzania based Journalists for Human Rights (Journorights). Currently he is in Bejing with the China Africa Press Centre.
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