10 September 2010

George Padmore

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 2

George Padmore, 1903 - 1959

George Padmore was born in Trinidad, in the West Indies. After studying in the USA he spent four or five years, from 1929, based in the Soviet Union, heading the Negro Bureau of the Communist International of Labour Unions (Profintern, or RILU). This organisation held a First International Conference of Negro Workers in Hamburg, Germany on July 7-8, 1930. South Africans W Thibedi and Moses Kotane were elected to the Executive Committee of the organisation at this conference.

In London from 1934, Padmore teamed up with his contemporary and fellow-Trinidadian C L R James, forming the International African Services Bureau.

Padmore organised the 5th Pan-African Congress, in Manchester, England, in 1945. This famous Congress was also attended by Kwame Nkrumah, W E B Du Bois, and Jomo Kenyatta, among others, including a young Norman Atkinson, who later became a Labour member of the British Parliament.

After Ghanaian independence in 1957, Padmore moved there to serve under Nkrumah, but died in 1959.

There is a web site dedicated to Padmore, here, and there is a section within the Marxists Internet Archive for Padmore, here.

Apart from the texts that we have of Padmore’s - see the download linked below - for the purposes of this course Padmore’s story can serve to show that the many National Democratic Revolutions that subsequently took place in Africa had common, inter-twining roots, and those roots were not far from the Great October Revolution in Russia in 1917, the founding of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919 and the founding of the Communist Party of South Africa in 1921.

As usual, the best remedy for the varying and contradictory interpretations that can be found of the life of a revolutionary like Padmore is to read the person’s own work. The downloadable selection given here contains work written in Padmore’s Profintern days, and also during the Anti-Fascist War when he was in Britain, anticipating the “dollar imperialism” that would follow that conflict.

Padmore brings us from the time of Sol Plaatje through the 1920s and 1930s to the war years and into the great post-war season of national liberation of colonies all over the world, beginning with China and India, but also including Egypt’s disentanglement from it’s own monarchy and from the influence of the British Empire. To gauge something of the character of Egypt’s great anti-Imperialist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, one can read Nasser’s Memoirs of the First Palestine War (838 KB PDF download).

To complete this part, in due course, the CU will try to find suitable examples of Paul Robeson’s and W E B Du Bois’ post-war political writings, which we believe will help us considerably to understand the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist feeling that coincided with Ethiopia’s Libya’s, Sudan’s and Ghana’s independence in the 1950s and that of many more African countries from 1960 onwards.

But for now, our purposes will have to be served by the works of Padmore, and in the next post, Chief Albert Luthuli, late former President of the African National Congress of South Africa.

Please download and read this text:

Further reading:


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