Research Note ~ Albania’s African contribution

Albania’s part in the anti-revisionist establishment of a contact network and expanding the assistance to foreign communist groups everywhere was partly explored in a study by Albanian journalist Ylli Molla, of the help given through political and military training by the Albanian authorities. [i]

Marku‘s academic study noted that, with the collaboration of Jacques Grippa in Belgium, strong ties were established with illegal communist groups in Congo Brazzaville, where Grippa had good connections with the revolutionary groups.[ii]

In late 1966 a meeting was organized in Rome, with the help of the Albanian embassy, and was attended by Congolese members of an illegal group. Secretly these members went to Albania for military and political training.

Speculation is that if it not been for the Chinese support, Albania would not have had the power to finance parties and train illegal groups from four continents. We know that the Albanian party passed on financial contributions from a fund set up as Chinese aid to various Marxist-Leninist groups[iii] . Elidor Mehilli, drawing upon Albanian archives for his study “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World” made the observation that in the early 1960s the

“Albania’s party devised a special hard currency solidarity fund to assist Marxist-Leninists groups around the world. Initially it consisted of 700,000 US dollars. China issued half a million, and the rest came from internal funds. Here was the ruling party of a country that still struggled to feed its inhabitants, projecting itself as a source of revolutionary activism in the Third World and in Western Europe. In 1964, the party Secretariat disbursed money to marginalized Polish Marxist-Leninists; the Belgian Communist Party; the Communist Party of Brazil; the Communist Party of Peru; the Italian Marxist-Leninist paper Nuova Unita; and groups in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Columbia. Activists in Australia and Ceylon were hired as foreign correspondents for the party daily. Small sums also went to a coterie of Marxist-Leninist characters in Paris and London (the short lived Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity), as well as in Vienna. The United States-based Hammer and Steel received modest contributions as well. Beyond the funds, Albanian officials established direct links with Iranian Marxist-Leninists (the Revolutionary Organisation of the Tudeh Party held its first congress in Tirana in 1965). Indonesian students enrolled in Tirana’s university, and a few Indonesian Communist officials were treated to paid vacations.” [iv]

Albania provided financial aid, political and military training for other militants, employed overseas Marxists on its propaganda work on radio and in print, provided scholarship for foreigners at the Lenin Party School and lecturers on guerrilla warfare and the Albanian experience.[v]

Albania, in coordination with China, did not train these groups with the exclusive goal of a communist revolution. What was most important was to challenge the imperialist, including Soviet power and influence in Africa. The two Congolese states, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were illustrative of this.

Visitors, according to Ylli Molla, were said to include Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (1945 -), Kabila (1939-2001),  Amazonas (1912-2002),Omar Bongo, Arafat (1929-2004), Khalil – Abu Jihad (1935-1988).

At the 5th Congress in 1966 there had been a delegation address by the Revolutionary Communist party of Sudan. In 1971, at the Party of labour’s 6th Congress there were 41 parties that either sent a delegation or a message addressed to the congress, No African delegates were listed.

Storm centres of the world revolution may have been in Asia, Africa, Latin America, but publically there was little acknowledgement of African-based fraternal parties. Even in press articles on neo-colonialism in Africa[vi] it mentions no fraternal organisations, although it may have been signalling a sub textual criticism of their Chinese allies as the article looks at US policy and expansionismas the main support of the exploiting colonial system in Africa. Albanian main interest lay in Latin America and Europe in terms of fraternal groups as demonstrated in the aftermath of the 1978 split with the Communist Party of China.

RADIO TIRANA

From November 1964 there were regular and sustained foreign language programs broadcasting the Albania’s uncompromising Marxist-Leninist worldview.

The external service Radio Tirana was one of the largest broadcasters in Europe, with a massive megaWatt transmitter operating on 1395 kHz, broadcasting in 20 foreign languages, apart from Albanian targeting Albanians living abroad. These broadcasts were in the following languages: Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Persian, Russian, Greek and Bulgarian.

Radio Tirana would broadcast commentaries such as

– “Success of the liberation struggle of the Sarawak people”
– “Congo Kinshasa – The liberation struggle is expanding”

– “The flames of the armed struggle of the Mozambique patriots are spreading constantly”
– “Guinea-Bissau is resolutely leading the fight against the Portuguese colonialists” (1971)

-” The armed struggle of the patriots of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea -Bissaus records new successes “(1972)
-“The two imperialists Super Powers – Sworn Enemies of the Angolan People “

 – “The people of Angola are constantly expanding their struggle against the Portuguese colonialists” (1974)

A consequence of the Sino-Albanian split was that Albanian relays of Chinese broadcasts were discontinued from July 1978. The relays consisted of half-hour broadcasts in Czech, English, Hausa (to reach Nigeria), Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish and Turkish, totalled 91 hours. There were also New China News Agency transmissions in French and Spanish for 54 hours a week.

After the breach with China, the location of main supporters of the Albanian line were in organisations based in Latin America and Western Europe with a core group of twelve organizations begun to hold regular conferences with the goal of building the unity of Marxist-Leninists.[vii]

An African group who sided with condemnation of Mao Zedong Thought was the clandestine Union des communistes du Dahomey founded in 1976, it was listed as the Communist Party of Dahomey, as fraternal delegation at the 8th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania held in 1981. Renamed Parti Communiste du Bénin, the PCB was associated with the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle). It published En Avant printed in Canada and smuggled into Benin. It was only legally recognized on September 1993.

Probably the most successful of organisations allied with the Hoxhaist wing of the 1980s anti-revisionist movement was the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigrai (MLLT) who were at the core of the TPLF.

“At the beginning of 1980 comrade Enver Hoxha’s latest writings managed to find their way to the TPLF. It was a very important event in the history of the development of the (ML) core. Mao Tse-Tung’s thought which hitherto, had been taken as a development of Marxism-Leninism by the Core was mercilessly exposed in comrade Enver Hoxha’s book, Imperialism and Revolution, and set the whole Core reading and re-reading this book.[viii]

There were claims for elsewhere: Upper Volta, Dahomey, Senegal, Angola and elsewhere in Africa of the Marxist-Leninist movement going from relatively simple propaganda activities to active involvement in the struggle against suppression of workers and their unions. The Canadian newspaper IN STRUGGLE! refered to La Flamme published by the Communist Party of Dahomey; ECH-CHOOLA published by the Tunisian Communist (Marxist-Leninist) Group ECH-CHOOLA; Le Protetaire published by the Union of Communist Struggle of Upper Volta, that vied with a rival Marxist-Leninist group , the Voltaic Revolutionary Communist Party. [ix]


[i] Molla, Ylli, Guerrillas made in Albania: the story of Arafat, Kabila, Lula, Amazonas and fighters from 11 countries, who were prepared politically and militarily by Albanian educators (Tirana: Botolarart, 2016)

[ii] Ylber MARKU (2017)Sino-Albanian relations during the Cold War, 1949-1978 : an Albanian perspective

[iii] Elidoe Mehilli (2017) From Stalin to Mao: Albania and the Socialist World. Cornell University press p218.

[iv] Elidor Mehilli  (2017) “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World” Cornel University Press  p218

[v] Other studies include

Pedrazzi, Nicola, The Italy that Enver dreamed of: partisans, communists, Marxist-Leninists: the Italian friends of popular Albania (1943–1976) (Nardò: Besa, 2017)

Carlos Hugo Studart Corrêa, ‘In some place in the Amazon rainforests: the memories of the two guerrillas of Araguaia (1966–1974)’, PhD dissertation, Universidade de Brasília, 2013.

[vi] Paskal Milo, Neo-colonialism in Africa. Albania Today #1 1973

[vii]  See; State of the Movement (1999) Section 2: The Albanian Intervention pp 47-126. https://emaoism.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/state-of-the-movement.pdf

[viii] . Some Stands of the Marxist-Leninist Core of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, T.P.L.F.

[ix] In  Struggle! #182, November 27, 1979.

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