Socialism in Sawaba: The journey of doctrines and ideas in a social movement in Niger

The chapter 'Socialism in Sawaba: The journey of doctrines and ideas in a social movement in Niger' was written by Klaas van Walraven for the book Socialisms in Africa (Socialismes en Afriques).

Socialism in Sawaba' is a study about the different roots of and shifting ideas undergirding the ideology of the principal political and social movement in Niger during the 1950s. Grounded in the Marxian-inspired trade union world of semi-urbanised petit peuple, the movement's socialist ideas were tied to the social activism of the French communist world, although as a nationalist force it attempted to be inclusive of various social strata in Nigérien society. When the movement was pushed underground its doctrines radicalised under the influence of the support it gained from countries in the Eastern bloc, including the USSR, communist China and North-Vietnam. Hence, concepts such as neo-colonialism gained traction, as did Maoist ideas about the supposed revolutionary potential of the peasantry - all interpreted against the specific background of the situation in Niger. In the end, however, the Marxian discourse of Sawabists had a millenarian touch, with alien formulas expected to work miracles.

Author(s) / editor(s)

Klaas van Walraven

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Klaas van Walraven is a historian and political scientist who is currently working on the history of colonialism and decolonisation in French Equatorial Africa.

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