Indeed a lot has been written about the effects of and the struggle against capitalism by African scholars.
One such narrative is “Petals of Blood” by Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, which shows that white-led capitalism in Africa was replaced by, in many cases, black leaders who are no different to the colonialists.
In the end, it ties in with what George Saville (Lord Halifax) stated: when people contend for their liberty, they seldom get anything by their victory but new masters.
This is how it was in Kenya when settlers were defeated and the new leadership took over.
While people expected a great shift from the brutality and insensitivity of their colonial masters, they were instead shocked to realise that their new leadership was content to continue with the same capitalist system that had oppressed them for decades.
Ngũgĩ questions the benefits liberation brought to the country’s downtrodden people: he challenges the manner in which capitalism was embraced by the new government; lays bare the effects of a modernisation that does not seek to overhaul an oppressive social system; and dissects the dog-eat-dog African political world.
When modernisation comes to Illmorog, a pastoral district, things and people change.
The new breed of Kenyan elites takes over from the settlers to exploit the poor and the workers.
As the town grows and more and more people come to seek jobs and eke out a living, businesses seek more land to expand their operations.
The ordinary poor farmer is forced to sell off his/her land for close to nothing. In the end, families lose age-old land to unscrupulous black businesses.
Further exploitation is shown when a local traditional brew, Thang’eta, is taken up and monopolised by a big business while the people who have brewed it for eons now have to buy it in shops.
The main characters are Wanja, Nyakinyua, Munira, Karega, Abdulla, Kimeria, Chui and Nderi wa Riera.
Wanja represents the type of woman who uses men for her benefit, while her grandmother, Nyakinyua, is the voice of the hardened revolutionary.
Munira is that disillusioned kind of man who is haunted by failure and resorts to violence to exorcise his demons.
Karega symbolises the disenchanted youth who has flashes of enlightenment but never acts on his thoughts. He surrenders his life to beer and women.
Abdullah is a shrewd businessman who lost a leg in the liberation struggle, while Kimeria is also a tough-as-nails entrepreneur.
Chui morphs from being a respected student leader into a ruthless capitalist.
Nderi wa Riera represents the insensitive, ruthless and scheming politician.
These are the characters that come together in the small town of Illmorog, which is awakening to modernisation after the construction of a railway line through it.
The line attracts all sorts of people to the town and this is where Abdullah, Wanja, Karega and Munira meet. This is also where Kimeria, Chui and Nderi wa Riera do their business.
And this is where competition, cheating and ill-will are brewed.
The struggle seen in “Petals of Blood” could be likened to the anger many people in Africa feel today when their leaders turn into oppressors; when their governments forsake them to poverty and desperation; and when self-enrichment becomes order of the day among the ruling classes.
In Chui, Ngũgĩ shows how well-meaning leaders succumb to power and the lure of money when they turn their backs on the same people who would have helped them ascend.
Wanja has the shamelessness of capitalism, which does anything to reach its profit goals.
This is what Africa is today; this is where the struggle lies.