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By Mwandawiro Mghanga 

It is hundred years since the October Revolution that took place in Russia in 1917 after a protracted revolutionary struggle led by the Bolsheviks among them Vladimir Lenin. The October Revolution made a significant mark in the history of the world that will never disappear despite the reactionary setbacks made by capitalism and imperialism today. The waves of the revolutionary earthquake triggered by the October Revolution reached all corners of the Earth, including the African countries that include Kenya.

The struggle of the working class led by communist revolutionaries and a party rooted in Marxist-Leninist ideology triumphed by capturing state power from capitalists in Russia, for the first time since the short but significant history of the Paris Commune. It meant that the class of the workers and the majority poor exploited and oppressed became in charge of state power in Russia. Thus socialism, a more superior mode and socio-political system than that of capitalism had become a reality in the World.

The October Revolution inspired the working class, the poor, and the oppressed of all countries in the World by showing that a new and better system of life than that of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, feudalism, and slavery was possible through the united struggle of the exploited and oppressed. Yes, it was possible for the working class and the majority in society to defeat the mighty capitalist armies and capture state power and use the power to crush the capitalists, exploiters, and oppressors. The workers and the popular masses could take charge of the politics, economics, and state affairs of their country guided by the communist party, theory, and ideology.  True, a new and better society called socialism was possible and had been born in Russia and the world by the October Revolution. Socialism was not a utopia but a scientific mode of production and system that could be built on Earth.  

The October Revolution brought new state power not only in Russia but also in the world that broke the unipolar rule and power of capitalism and imperialism that had hitherto ravaged the world. From then, imperialism led by the United States of America lost the monopoly of power it had used hitherto to dominate, plunder, exploit, oppress and terrorize the working class, the majority of citizens, and countries under colonialism and imperialism. Imperialism had found its match in the form of socialist soviet power of Russia given birth by the October Revolution. 

After the October Revolution, the world was now divided into two blocks representing two opposing ideological struggles. Within developed nations, it was the struggle between the reactionary capitalist class and its state and ideology versus the progressive and revolutionary classes struggling for socialism. 

At the international level, it was the struggle between imperialism and socialism. Those under colonialism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America fighting for national liberation found ready moral and material support and solidarity from the Soviet Union and its socialist allies. This escalated the national struggles which brought about the independence of the countries under colonialism including those of Africa. Thus the October Revolution weakened the reactionary forces in the world while strengthening class struggles at the national and international levels,

Immediately after the October Revolution, the countries that were under Russian colonialism found their freedom and voluntarily joined Russia to form USSR. After the Second World War, the socialist block expanded to include the countries of Eastern Europe, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and East Germany. Korea was liberated from Japanese imperialism, socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was founded in 1948 starting the construction of socialism led by Kim Ill Sung amidst the intensification of the anti-imperialist struggle with the USA. 

India was liberated from British colonialism in 1949 greatly weakening the British colonial empire which in turn helped to hasten the independence of other countries under British colonialism in the World.

The protracted Chinese national and socialist liberation struggle spearheaded by the Communist Party of China under the guidance of the gallant Chairman Mao Tse Tung triumphed in 1949. Thus the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and socialist forces had grown into hitherto unprecedented levels also inspired by the October Revolution.

In Latin America, the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and their comrades defeated the US-supported dictatorship, liberated Cuba, and started the march towards socialism in 1959. This also intensified the liberation and revolutionary struggles in South and Central America and the Caribbean nations.

In Russia, the October Revolution made rapid development progress that made the largest country in the world to be a real competing power with the US economically, scientifically, technologically, and militarily, and all this being achieved in a few decades. 

When the October Revolution occurred in 1917, African countries had been under the colonialism of Western European countries. Colonialism was always rejected, resisted, and fought against in all African countries. During the era of colonialism  Africans had to endure the rule by foreigners, oppression, exploitation, plunder of their natural resources, slavery, gross violations of their human rights, lack of democracy, destruction of indigenous cultures, racism and discrimination, and all sorts of humiliations,  genocides, etc. Colonialism, like slavery, was one of the darkest moments of Africa's history during which European imperialism partitioned Africa awarding each imperialist European power a portion of the continent to impose their colonialism.

The October Revolution immediately brought a big boost to the national liberation movements of the African countries who found concrete moral, diplomatic, ideological, political, military, and material support from the Soviet Union, and also, particularly after the end of the Second World War in1945, from its socialist allies Eastern Europe, PDRK, China and Cuba. All this hastened the liberation of Africa from colonialism and apartheid.

After independence from colonialism, African countries, Kenya included, continued to receive intellectual and material support from socialist countries led by the USSR. Many economists, engineers, medical personnel, political scientist, and other professionals studied and trained in the universities and other academic and technical institutions in the USSR, Eastern Europe, PDRK, and China for free. Many large multipurpose development projects were built in African countries with the support of the USSR and socialist countries. 

But it was in the field of ideology where the October Revolution played the biggest role in the World in general and Africa and Kenya in particular.  Until the October Revolution, the world was dominated by the reactionary ideology and praxis of capitalism and imperialism. The October Revolution more clearly than ever before defined the battlefield of ideas, between capitalist and imperialist ideology on one hand and socialist and communist ideology on the other hand. The philosophical myths created and maintained by capitalists and their intellectuals for centuries to hoodwink the exploited and oppressed of the world to maintain the status quo of capitalism and imperialism were demystified and exposed to more people than ever. The brutality and reactionary nature of capitalism and imperialism were exposed in theory and practice.  The working class was now in charge of one of the most powerful state machinery in the world in the Soviet Union from which the working class could now launch its ideological missiles against capitalism and imperialism.

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union played a big role in spreading the theory and ideology of communism in Kenya like in other countries of Africa and the world. The USSR and other socialist countries’ embassies in Kenya were always open to those who desired to get hold of communist literature and education.

As a student at the University of Nairobi in the 1980s, my comrades and I used to regularly visit the friendly communist countries' embassies to collect the literature published in Moscow and other socialist capitals. At the embassies, we received the classics of communist literature including the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. We had access to information and literature published by Progress Publishers and Novisti Publishers Moscow. We regularly collected literature from the embassies on socialism, theory, and practice dealing with contemporary political issues in the world from communist and liberating perspectives. There were communist popular publications in the streets of Nairobi that were accessible to the popular masses. Bookshops in Nairobi, such as Wanyie Bookshop, specialized in selling communist literature, including the works of Marx, at very affordable prices.

In this regard, the October Revolution contributed a great deal towards disseminating communist ideas in Kenya. Had it not been for this, I and many people of my generation would probably not have become communists. It is thanks to the October Revolution that we were inspired to organize communist study circles, cells, and movements at the university that struggled against the dictatorial, corrupt, pro-capitalist, and pro-imperialist regime then in power in Kenya and demand alternative socialist system.  

No wonder the secret police discouraged citizens from visiting the embassies of communist countries in Kenya. When I was being interrogated and tortured by the police in 1985 and 1986 part of my accusation was visiting the embassies and ‘being used as a communist spy. Of course, I used to visit the communist embassies in Nairobi very often as I also found friends and comrades there. Yet I was never a spy but a committed communist who was engaged in the struggle for social and national liberation in Kenya that would lead to socialism.

The October Revolution not only contributed to disseminating socialist ideology in Kenya but also socialist internationalism. For example, the first-ever flight I took was in 1984 by Aeroflot, the Soviet airline that used to ferry passengers to and from most capital cities of Africa.  The plane took me to Moscow where I was hosted by the friendly Russian Student Union for three days. Then I travelled by Aeroflot to 17th November Street in Prague, the capital city of Czechoslovakia, which was the headquarters of the International Union of Students. Student leaders from many countries of the world that were members of the Executive Committee of IUS and I then travelled by Czechoslovakian Airlines to Sofia in Bulgaria to attend World Students' and Youths' Festival.  It was the first time I met so many people representing so many countries, cultures, and nationalities. The experience of participating in such a large and diverse gathering of people discussing world peace, socialism, and anti-imperialist solidarity made a large contribution towards shaping my communist world view and consciousness as a human being. I returned from Moscow, Prague, and Sofia a more committed communist and internationalist. 

In these short notes, and observing the theme which is the significance of the October Revolution, I have not discussed the problems and contradictions within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that ultimately led to the so-called perestroika and glasnost, the climax of the processes of revisionism that brought about the restoration of capitalism in Russia and the fall of USSR and communist states of Eastern Europe. All this has been the subject of discussion by communist parties and conferences for many years and will indeed continue to be discussed. Many analyses and conclusions have been made and published concerning the subject.  

In these very brief notes, I have instead chosen only to present the achievements of the October Revolution from my experiences as a communist in Kenya and Africa. I refuse to join the anti-communist propaganda that lies that the October Revolution achieved nothing and was a mistake. For I know the truth that the communist state and parties of Russia and USSR that were a consequence of the October Revolution, made great and irreversible contributions to human freedom and development, the effects of which were felt and remain throughout the world, including in Kenya and Africa. It is upon communists of the world to defend and consolidate the gains made by the October Revolution while learning from the mistakes made to organise and struggle for and build socialism and communism better.

Werugha, Tuesday, October 24, 2017


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