1st Edition

The Development of an African Working Class Studies in Class Formation and Action

Edited By Richard Sandbrook, Robin Cohen Copyright 1975

    Originally published in 1975, this volume reassesses the historical, political and social role of African workers and examines the extent to which a working class has formed and undertaken collective action in various parts of Africa. The book is based on primary historical sources or first-hand experiences. The contributors are linked by their belief in the legitimacy of action by organised workers to create a more just society.

    Workers and Progressive Change in Underdeveloped Countries Richard Sandbrook and Robin Cohen. Part 1: Initial Stirrings of Working Class Consciousness Introduction The Editors 1. The Formation of a Working Class in Kenya Sharon Stichter 2. The Creation of Group Consciouness: A History of the Dockworkers of Dar es Salaam John Iliffe 3. The Growth of Railway Unionism in the Rhodesias, 1944-55 Arthur Turner 4. Union-Party Relationships in Francophone West Africa: A Critique of ‘Téléguidage’ Interpretations C. H. Allen Part 2: Contemporary Working Class Organisations Introduction: The Editors 1. Unions, Workers and Consciousness in Kano, Nigeria: A View from Below Paul Lubeck 2. Economic Security and Industrial Unionism: A Nigerian Case Study Dorothy Remy 3. The Internal Dynamics of Trade Unions in Ghana Ukandi Damachi Part 3: Contemporary Working Class Action Introduction: The Editors 1. Case Studies in African Labour Action in South Africa and Namibia L. Douwes Dekker, D. Hemson, J.S. Kane-Berman, J. Lever and L. Schlemmer 2. Socialist Development and the Workers in Tanzania M. A. Bienefeld 3. Populist Tendencies in the Ghanaian Trade Union Movement Richard D. Jeffries 4. The Lagos Proletariat: Labour Aristocrats or Populist Militants Adrian Peace 5. The ‘Labour Aristocracy’ Thesis Reconsidered John S. Saul Conclusion: The Editors.


    Robin Cohen is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the University of Oxford. For the first decade of his academic career, he worked on comparative labour issues. His books included Labour and Politics in Nigeria (1974) and the co-edited collections The development of an African working class (1975), International Labour and the Third World (1987), African Labor History (1978) and the current title, Peasants and Proletarians. He subsequently wrote on the themes of migration, globalization and diasporas. His best-known work is Global diasporas: An introduction (3rd edition, 2022).

    Richard Sandbrook

    Reviews of the original edition of The Development of an African Working Class:

    '...excellent and informative...' M. Turshen, Race and Class 18(2).

    'The Editors are to be congratulated on the quality of the contributions they have brought together.' John Cartwright, Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol 10, No. 3.

    ‘Overall, this is an excellent volume that will be useful to scholars on labor in developing countries’. –William H. Friedland Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 30 (3).

    ‘This book is a tour de force. There is considerable fresh empirical data of use to any scholar. There are lively challenging interpretations that may not force any specialists in African development and labor to change radically their ideas, but they should necessitate reconsideration and modification’. – Thomas R. de Gregori Journal of Economic Issues, 12 (3).