Africa Series Part VI: Rich Become Billionaires, Workers Rebel for Food

In the 19th century, Karl Marx said, “The rich get richer and the poor poorer.” Capitalism sure proves it.

Forbes Magazine just announced its latest list of billionaires. This year’s worldwide crop of 1,215 is worth $4.4 trillion, up 26% from last year.

Meanwhile, food rebellions erupted in several African countries (Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Mauritania, Mozambique, Guinea) as well as in Yemen and Indonesia. Hundreds were killed in Mauritania.
In Cameroon, a cabbies’ strike on February 25 protesting high fuel prices sparked the rebellion. It spread across the country. Over 100 were killed and over 1,600 arrested. The government was forced to grant some wage hikes and other reforms. But Simon Nkwenti of the Teachers’ Union Federation said, “For us, these are just cosmetic measures and a non-event. What we want is the restoration of salaries to their pre-1993 levels.” (Reuters, 3/8)

Cameroon was once one of sub-Sahara Africa’s most successful capitalist countries, but the collapse of its export prices destroyed the economy. In 1993, an International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity package slashed wages 70%. A year later, the CFA (French backed currency) was devalued 50%.

Ironically, today’s food crisis is caused by the rising prices of many commodities, including corn used for biofuel. The amount of crops for human or animal consumption has increased up to 7% since 2000, but for biofuel it’s 25%. (El País, Madrid, 3/8) The price of wheat, milk and butter has tripled since 2000, chicken, rice and corn cost twice as much.

A system like capitalism and imperialism which cannot feed the hungry while a few live in obscene luxury must be destroyed and replaced with a society based on production for need: communism. J
(A future CHALLENGE article will examine biofuel and rise of world hunger.)