Class Struggle (A Case Study Of Festus Iyayi’s Violence And Animata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ Strike)

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Class Struggle (A Case Study Of Festus Iyayi’s Violence And Animata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ Strike)


The Concept of Class struggle describes the constant conflict among the existing strata in every society. The purpose of this academic research is to explore the meaning and important of class struggle in the context of the selected texts. The theoretical framework for this research is the Marxist-Leninist theory, which could be simply summarized as the reaction of the exploited to get rid of exploitation and the exploiters. Various styles used by the duo of Iyayi and Falls is described. In the light of which class struggle is perceived as a necessity to relieve social strains of inequality and injustice.




1.1 Introduction

1.2 Background

1.3 Aim of study

1.4 Scope of study

1.5 Justification of study

1.6 Research Methodology

1.7 Research questions

1.8 Definition of terms



2.1 Overview

2.2 Class and its determinants

2.3 Relevant historic instances of class struggle

2.4 Contemporary instances of class struggle

2.5 Causes of class struggle



3.1 Brief Biography of Festus Iyayi

3.2 Analysis of Major characters

3.3 Survey of class struggle in Violence

3.4 Class struggle as revelation of other themes in Violence

3.5 Literary techniques used in Festus Iyayi’s Violence



4.1 Brief Biography of Animata Sow Fall

4.2 Analysis of Major characters

4.3 Survey of class struggle in The Beggars’ strike

4.4 Literary techniques used in Animata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ strike


5.1 Conclusions and Recommendation



The concept of class struggle describes a constant conflict among the existing strata in the society. In the Selected texts, Animata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ strike and Festus iyayi’s Violence, themes pertaining to class struggle were described, Class struggle becomes a necessity in any society with a wide gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. This academic project examines the extent to which the duo of Animata and Iyayi utilized the theme – Class struggle, in their novels, The beggars’ strike and Violence respectively.


Karl Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels in 1882: “you know very well where we found our idea of class struggle; we found it in the work of the French historians who talked about the race struggle”. Class struggle predates Karl Marx; one may boldly say that it describes the history of all existing human civilizations.

Social classes are often described as either upper, middle or lower based on income, wealth or estate. However, Marxist notion of class in a capitalist setting is based on the control of means of production. Karl Marx describes two main classes:

Proletariat (Labour)
Bourgeoisie (Capitalist)
The Proletariat (labour) makes a living directly from their labour whereas the Bourgeoisie controls the means of production, exploiting the proletariat, living off the surplus value on cheap labour. This may be perceived as a form of neocolonialism, labour is exploited to create economic and socio-political dominance. A most shameful version of Apartheid in post colonial Africa, perpetrated by Africans on fellow Africans. Burdened by extreme poverty and hunger, the masses inevitably revolt against oppression. The ensuing struggle, though often violent, non-violent struggle is not uncommon.

In the selected texts, forms of class struggle includes: industrial strike actions, protests, rallies, pilferage, sabotage etc Class struggle in Africa is inextricably linked to corruption and injustice. In an unjust society where wealth is unevenly distributed and the rule of law biased, class struggle is seen as a necessity. It becomes the only available option for the masses to fight for economic and social relevance. Class struggle is a brave attempt at reshaping capitalism into a more equitable system of governance and giving birth to a truly egalitarian, economically viable and politically stable Nation. Class struggle is a bold step towards achieving a true utopian society, which is the ultimate Marxist phantom.


This study is a modest attempt at providing insight into the concept of class struggle in Africa. Based on the works of two distinguished proletarian writers, Animata Sow fall and Festus Iyayi in their works – The Beggars’ strike and Violence, the following objectives were brought to light:

Definition of and description of the concept of class;
Identification and description of the types of class in the selected texts;
Definition of class struggle;
Identification of similarities and differences between francophone and Anglophone African societies in terms of class and class struggle;
Identification of benefits and side-effects of class struggle;
Providing a workable solution to the problems of class struggle in Africa; and
Providing reliable answers to research questions set at the beginning of the study.

The focus of this study is Africa, with Senegal and Nigeria as case studies as portrayed by the duo of Animata and Iyayi in The beggars’ strike and Violence respectively. This research investigates how judiciously the understudied works reveal the existence of class struggle and other sub-themes like, oppression and negritude in the context of francophone and Anglophone Africa. The choice of works based on Senegal and Nigeria is motivated by the fact that, the two countries give a fair representation of West Africa, giving the Francophone and the Anglophone point of view. This is imperative as it is almost certainly impossible to study works from every part of Africa considering the constraints of time and resources.


The significance of this research apart from providing a reliable source of information for future researchers on class struggle is also of great value in appraisal of democratic values in Africa. Understanding the role of class struggle in society will strengthen Africa’s nascent democracy and promote good governance.

This research is also a celebration of artistic imagination and dexterity displayed by these distinguished African Writers, Animata Sowfall and Festus Iyayi.


This research is both qualitative and descriptive, with thematic analysis of the texts. Themes of class struggle and related sub-themes like poverty, rule of law, democracy etc were adequately analyzed.

This research is based on the Marxist-Leninist theory of the society, which could be simply paraphrased as: The exploiters oppress the exploited while the exploited attempt to get ride of exploitation and the exploiters.

The sample frame is Senegal and Nigeria which were the setting in the selected texts, this research also made use of demographic analysis as well as a general overview of the

Characters and the artistic styles employed by the authors.



Senegal a former French colony in West Africa, capital is Dakar. The current president is Abdoulaye Wade, re-elected in March 2007.

On an Area of 76000 sq mi bounded by Mauritania to the north, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and to the east is Mali .On August 20, 1960 Senegal became an independent republic with the famous Leopold Sedar Senghor as first president. Previous unicameral system was abandoned in 2007, Senegal now run a bicameral parliament, consisting of the National Assemble and the Senate. Senegal is divided into 14 divisions, headed by local administrators appointed and accountable to the president. Power is intensely centralized and this often leads to criticism of Senegalese political structure, state and religion are not clearly demarcated as a majorly Islamic population, leaders of Islamic groups called the marabouts often play major role in politics.

Senegal has a wide variety of ethnic groups and, as in most West African countries, several languages are widely spoken. The Wolof are the largest single ethnic group in Senegal at 43 percent; the Fula and Toucouleur (also known as Halpulaar‘en, literally “Pulaar-speakers”) (24 percent) are the second biggest group, followed by others that include the Serer (15 percent), Lebou (10 percent), Jola (4 percent), Mandinka (3 percent), Maures or Naarkajors, Soninke, Bassari and many smaller communities (9 percent).

The main industries include food processing, mining, cement, artificial fertilizer, chemicals, textiles, refining imported petroleum, and tourism. Exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts, and calcium phosphate

Population Senegal has a population of over 12.5 million

Total GDP $13.472billion and per capita of $ 1,026 (2010 estimate)

Life expectancy 55.6 years (2008)

2010 Mo Ibrahim index of governance No.14 with a score of 56%


The country is located in West Africa on an area of 356,667 sq mi and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. In terms of religion Nigeria is roughly split half and half between Muslims and Christians with a very small minority who practice traditional religion. Capital city is Abuja. Present president is Goodluck Jonathan. Nigeria a former British colony became independent in 1st October 1960

The president’s power is checked by a Senate and a House of Representatives, which are combined in a bicameral body called the National Assembly. The Senate is a 109-seat body with three members from each state and one from the capital region of Abuja; members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. The House contains 360 seats and the number of seats per state is determined by population. Nigeria economy is largely based on petroleum.

Population is about 152million (2010estimate)

Total (nominal) GDP is $173.428 billion with per capita at $1,142

Life expectancy is 47 years

2010 Mo Ibrahim index of governance No.37 with a score of 43%


Marxism-Leninism is coined to denote the ideology that Vladimir Lenin had built upon the thought of Karl Marx. There are two broad areas that have set apart Marxism-Leninism as a school of thought.

First, Lenin’s followers generally view his additions to the body of Marxism as the practical aspect of Marx’s original theoretical contributions of the 19th century. Lenin called this time-frame the era of Imperialism.

Joseph Stalin wrote that; “Leninism grew up and took shape under the conditions of imperialism, when the contradictions of capitalism had reached an extreme point, when the proletarian revolution had become an immediate practical question, when the old period of preparation of the working class for revolution had arrived at and passed into a new period, that of direct assault on capitalism”

The most important consequence of a Leninist-style theory of Imperialism is the strategic need for workers in the industrialized countries to come together with the oppressed nations contained within their respective countries and colonies abroad in order to overthrow capitalism. This is the source of the slogan, which shows the Leninist conception that not only the proletariat, as is traditional to Marxism, are the sole revolutionary force, but all oppressed people; “Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World, Unite!”

Second, the other distinguishing characteristic of Marxism-Leninism is how it approaches the question of organization. Lenin believed that the traditional model of the Social Democratic parties of the time, which was a loose, multitendency organization was inadequate for overthrowing the Tsarist regime in Russia. He proposed a cadre of professional revolutionaries that disciplined itself under the model of Democratic Centralism.

In solving the national question Leninism profer the following thesis:

a] The world is divided into two camps: the camp of a handful of civilised nations, which possess finance capital and exploit the vast majority of the population of the globe; and the camp of the oppressed and exploited peoples in the colonies and dependent countries, which constitute that majority;

b] The colonies and dependent countries, oppressed and exploited by finance capital, constitute a vast reserve and a very important source of strength for imperialism;

c] The revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples in the dependent and colonial countries against imperialism is the only road that leads to their emancipation from oppression and exploitation


The following questions were modestly answered by this research:

What kind of ideological vision is demonstrated by Animata Sow fall and Festus Iyayi?
Race struggle is the predecessor of class struggle. Discuss
What are the similarities and differences between class struggle and race struggle?
Class struggle is an inevitable pre-requisite to achieving economic growth and socio-political stability in Africa. Discuss

Class: A set, collection, group, or configuration containing members regarded as having certain attributes or traits in common; a kind or category, Social rank or caste

Class struggle: the Marxism the continual conflict between the capitalist and working classes for economic and political power Also called class war

Race struggle: conflicts or war between races and civilizations

Proletariat: The class of industrial wage earners who, possessing neither capital nor production means, must earn their living by selling their labor

Bourgeoisie: In Marxist theory, the social group opposed to the proletariat in the class struggle. The ruling class of the two basic classes of capitalist society, consisting of capitalists, manufacturers, bankers, and other employers. The bourgeoisie owns the most important of the means of production, through which it exploits the working class

Capitalism: An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market

Means of production: the raw materials and means of labour (tools, machines, etc.) employed in the production process

Marxist-Leninist theory: An expanded form of Marxism that emphasizes Lenin’s concept of imperialism as the final stage of capitalism and shifts the focus of struggle from developed to underdeveloped countries.

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