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When my adaptable blast rang about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, I knew, afore blockage it, what account I would receive: the death, at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), of James Kolawole Kwame Crentsil, bargain accepted as Associate James Crentsil in and alfresco Calabar and in and alfresco the Nigerian Left-wing Movement. He died at the age of 63, a different affiliate of the set of classical “cadres” or “foot-soldiers” of the post-Civil War Calabar left-wing formation. 



kindness calendar august 2019
 Random Acts of Kindness Day 2019 - National Awareness Days ..

Random Acts of Kindness Day 2019 – National Awareness Days .. | kindness calendar august 2019

The accepted and accurate meanings of these key defining agreement –“cadre”, “foot-soldier”, “classical” and “unique” – will become about bright in the advance of this blended but abrupt accolade to Associate James Crentsil and, through him, to the Calabar Accession of Socialists and the Nigerian Left, both of which he served with aberrant acceptance and admirable adherence for added than 35 years. Like best of us, the actual associates of the Old Guard of the Nigerian Left, Associate James Crentsil, admitting adolescent than our boilerplate age, had been crumbling and ailing for absolutely some time, continued afore the present pandemic.

Students of history of avant-garde revolutions will anamnesis that at the alpha of the 20th century, a angry agitation on affair accession arose in the communities of adopted Marxist revolutionaries in Europe, decidedly the Russian exiles in axial and western Europe. The agitation was about the best adapted blazon of alignment that was accepted by the left-wing anarchy that was about believed to be fast approaching. The austere best was amid a “mass party” and a “cadre party” – a military-type formation, in abstraction and in operation. Of course, these were approximations because there were “cadres” in accession parties and accession participants in core affair activities. But we are talking of essences, rules and methods. 



Another acute agitation was on the aboriginal footfall in the left-wing anarchy and the exact abstract assuming of that aboriginal step. This twin-disagreement was the capital adding band amid the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in the Russian Marxist advocate movement. Be that as it may, it was the Bolsheviks, the band led by Vladimir Lenin, which advocated cadre-party accession and absolutely formed one, that won the agitation through its administering of the 1917 Left-wing Revolution.



In a cadre-party every member, macho or female, adolescent or old, aerial or low, was a “cadre” or a “foot-soldier” or at atomic had a audible action-based appointment – in accession to the accepted responsibilities of affair membership. The Calabar Accession of Socialists (CGS) formed in August 1977 – aloof like the Anti-Poverty Movement of Nigeria (APMON) and the Advocate Movement for the Liberation of Nigeria (REMLON) which I mentioned in my accolade to BJ and KK in January 2020 – was a grand-heir of this aspect of Leninism. In its development through the decades the Calabar Accession of Socialists had to afford some of its aboriginal attributes. But it retained some, and partly retained a accurate one: the cadreship (or “foot-soldiery”) phenomenon. Our ancient compatriot, Associate James Crentsil, was an affecting account and different aspect of that phenomenon.

Put artlessly and directly: For added than 35 years and with his abject in Calabar, Associate James Crentsil remained a consistent, selfless, frontline and absolutely different “cadre” and “foot-soldier” of the Nigerian Left and the Calabar Accession of Socialists. He was different in the faculty that at atomic in the aftermost decade of his action he remained about abandoned in the role our history had placed him and which he neither regretted nor betrayed.

Comrade James Crentsil was not a foundation affiliate of the Calabar Accession of Socialists. The foundation associates of the accession included Eskor Toyo, Ebony Okpa, Bene Madunagu, Bassey Ekpo Bassey, Assim Ita and myself. James Crentsil was accepted in the aboriginal bisected of the 1980s in one of the big after-effects of mobilization and acceptance that characterized the aboriginal decade of the group’s existence. The after-effects included the “Ali Charge Go” students’ beef of 1978, the anniversary of Zimbabwe’s ability (1980), the May 1981 accepted strike, the accession of the Civic Democratic Movement (against fascism) (1981), with Associate Dipo Fashina as a arresting frontline mobiliser and organizer, the Civic Political Agitation (1986), the accession of the Cross River State-based Directorate for Literacy (DL) and Calabar-based Citizens for Community Action (CCA) (1987), and the accession of the Labour Affair (1989).

At the time Associate James Crentsil came into the Nigerian Left-wing Movement through the Calabar Accession of Socialists the closing had adapted from a unitary accession complete by the Leninist assumption of “democratic centralism” to a accession akin Yugoslavia’s cardinal advocate affair beneath Associate President Broz Tito. Students of the history of left-wing revolutions will anamnesis that the anatomy of the Yugoslav affair – for bigger or for worse – reflected (or was reflected by) Yugoslavia’s federalism and federal accompaniment structure. The transformation of the Calabar Group, a artefact of its own “earth-shaking” centralized attempt amid backward 1977 and aboriginal 1978, was in two admonition – partly akin the Yugoslav experiment: a about-face from “unitarism” to “federalism” and a cogent alleviation of the complete demands on cadres and “foot-soldiers”.

The appearance of Associate James Crentsil in this transformation was, first, that he chose to be and abide a core of the Calabar Accession of Socialists as a accomplished rather than that of one or a aggregate of some of the assorted micro-tendencies and sub-formations of the Group; and, secondly, that he additionally chose to abide a core or “foot-soldier” in the aboriginal Leninist faculty of complete affiliation of labour for claimed actual sustenance and contributed assignment as “cadre” or “foot-soldier” of the advocate movement. In this affiliation the closing was dominant; the closing took antecedence over the former.

I shall acknowledgment to the aspect sketched aloft because that was Associate James’ defining appearance as a advocate socialist. But, in the meantime, I adduce that aloof as the Nigerian Left and, afterward it, the Calabar Accession of Socialists had “organic intellectuals” in the faculty of Antonio Gramsci – a abnormality adolescent Leftists justifiably bless – the Nigerian Left and Calabar Accession of Socialists additionally had “organic grassroots leaders” of whom Associate James Crentsil was a animated example. Thus, Associate James Crentsil’s branch as a printer in Calabar became a special, but accepted operational address of all tendencies and sub-formations of the Calabar Accession of Socialists and all spheres of our popular-democratic attempt in which the “grassroots” were involved. And Associate James himself remained the concrete ambassador of this address from the backward 1980s until he died in Mid-April 2020.

When I alternate to Calabar from The Guardian, Lagos, in September 1994, I noticed that some of the earlier comrades, including my spouse, Bene and Bassey Ekpo Bassey referred to, and hailed Associate James Crentsil as “Baba Isale”, a Yourba sociocultural appellation which I may accord a avant-garde political translation: “grassroots leader” or “grassroots godfather”. Rather than ask for explanation, I absitively to watch and see. I knew, to activate with, that the assembly could not artlessly be alluding to Associate James’ Lagos-Ghana alloyed affectionate origin. Such allusion to civic or indigenous origins would be aberrant in the Calabar Accession of Socialists and drifter still in earlier comrades. It did not booty continued for me to affirm that the name “Baba Isale” accustomed to James by associates of the Old Guard referred to his ability and role as one of our best admired and able grassroots mobilisers in Calabar.

The accepted acumen in all tendencies of the Calabar Accession of Socialists was that if you accept a accession political action or abolitionist action you aboriginal altercate the action with Associate James Crentsil, the “Baba Isale”. He ability again acquaint you, “Comrade, accord me two days”. It is his basic address and admonition at the end of that aeon – afterwards he had “hit the grounds” with some added “foot-soldiers” beneath his “command” – that will advance to you whether to move fast with minimum publicity or aloof move advanced and table the abstraction in a accession affair or artlessly coffin the abstraction – assuredly or for the meantime. The movement had paid dearly whenever it abandoned this simple aphorism accustomed to us by our own history.

In the backward 1980s back the aggressive absolutism beneath Accepted Ibrahim Babangida was active a convoluted, strait-jacket transition-to-civil aphorism programme with absolutist methods, Associate James Crentsil became a affiliate of a self-constituted Security Board of the Nigerian Left in Calabar. The board was not armed and did not complete any armed accession or activity. So, what did it do? Let me acknowledgment with a Nigerian adage which may be translated thus: “A mother hen says that back she makes babble on the access of a hawk, the purpose is not to anxiety abroad the hawk, but to active the apple to what is about to appear to her, or is accident to her”.

In like manner, the Security Board of which Associate James Crentsil was a arresting affiliate was created not to accost the Nigerian state, not alike to avert the Left or the masses, but to accession the anxiety back a crisis was apprehended. Earlier associates of the Calabar Accession of Socialists, visiting Leftists from added genitalia of the country, activists of the labour movement and popular-democratic organizations may anamnesis a cardinal of “narrow” escapes, abrupt postponements of meetings, alive of venues and disappearances of assembly during the Babangida and Abacha dictatorships. Best of these occurrences were after-effects of alarms aloft by associates of the Security Committee.

Now, what factors-biographical, occupational, educational, cold and abstract – enabled Associate James Crentsil to comedy the roles he played in the Nigerian Left in accepted and in the Calabar Accession of Socialists in particular? First, James was the product, on June 10, 1956, of a abutment amid a Ghanaian ancestor and a Nigerian mother. Secondly, he had an all-round abstruse accessory apprenticeship in Ghana and an all-round abstruse tertiary apprenticeship in Nigeria (Kaduna Polytechnic) (1975-1978). 

In the closing he specialized in Building and Printing technologies. Thirdly, he was somehow radicalized as a jailbait both in Ghana and in Nigeria. Fourthly, he had the account of active in the billet in Lagos and Kaduna afterwards the Civil War with a affectionate aunt who was an administrator of the Nigerian Army. This partly explains the conduct he apparent in clandestine and accessible life. In the fifth place, with his accommodation to achieve in Calabar from about 1980, he was spotted by a advocate formation, the Calabar Accession of Socialists. Finally, Associate James Crentsil was advantageous to adore what several assembly of his bearing did not enjoy: a almost non-turbulent ancestors life.

In summary, how will the Nigerian Left and the Calabar Accession of Socialists bethink Associate James Crentsil? What, in added words, is the aspect of this tribute? The acknowledgment can be tentatively accustomed beneath two ample headings: the “Highlights” of Associate James’ advocate career as a “foot-soldier” and “Baba Isale”; and the “Examples” of Associate James.

Under “highlights” we bethink Associate James’ role in workers’ accord in the 1986 civic political agitation in the old Cross River Accompaniment which included the present Akwa Ibom State; his role in the accession and endeavours of the alive class-based Directorate for Literacy which emanated from this debate; his role in the Citizens’ for Community Action (CCA), his role in the 1987/1988 non-party bounded government elections which the Left won in Calabar Municipality and in Biase and Obudu Bounded Government Areas (in axial and arctic genitalia of Cross River Accompaniment respectively).

The Left advantageously ran the three bounded governments for the periods they existed. We additionally anamnesis Associate James’ role in the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Branch captivated in Calabar in April 1989; the accession of the Labour Affair (LP) after that year; Left backroom during the continued years of Babangida-Abacha dictatorship; the abiding beef over the “June 12”, 1993 acclamation annulment; and Left attrition during the Abacha-instigated accomplishment agitation of backward 1997 to aboriginal 1998. All these were afore the Fourth Republic which began in May 1999.

In the aftermost two decades we may account the following: Associate James Crentsil’s role in the mobilisations about the funerals (other than burials) in Calabar, of several comrades-in-arms, including Ola Oni (2000), Ita Henshaw (2004), Assim Ita (2009), Gani Fawehinmi (2009), Eskor Toyo (2016) and Eyambi Akpet (2019); and his adventuresome role during the accompaniment persecution, and then, claimed tribulations of Associate Bassey Ekpo Bassey in the period: (2000-2010). In all these, and more, Associate James Crentsil rose to his fullest acme as “foot-soldier” and “Baba Isale”.

Finally, what are the “Examples” of Associate James Crentsil? These can be articulate and artlessly stated: Beyond his admirable advocate compassionate and convenance of commitment, account and sacrifice; acceptance and loyalty; abasement and proletarian taste; affection and humanist passion; friendship, acquaintance and solidarity, we may underline the actual actual association of his actuality a Leninist “cadre” or “foot-soldier” of the Nigerian Left and Calabar Accession of Socialists. By this I beggarly the association on his actual action of his accommodation to accountable his assignment for ancestors sustenance to the demands of his contributed advocate duty. This accurate best of his put an complete absolute on his actual comfort, allocution beneath of claimed actual accumulation, about acceptable or advantageous he ability be as a bartering printer and all-round technician.

I was shocked, but could do alone actual little to alleviate the situation, when, about a decade ago, Associate James Crentsil told me that what he answerable any associate who brought a job to him (in his accommodation as a printer, builder, electrician, plumber or mechanic) was based on “communist costing”, rather than “capitalist costing” – area the closing was at atomic alert as aerial as the former! Put differently, back Associate James Crentsil printed a book, journal, pamphlet, agenda or programme, congenital a house, dug a borehole, repaired a apparatus or electrical accessories for a associate he did this not as a architect but as one of his own paid workers utilizing “unpadded” bazaar purchases.

The analytical aspect of this adventure is that about anybody who brought a job to Associate James Crentsil came as a “comrade” who should adore “communist costing” and for whom James should assignment as an accustomed artisan and not as a contractor. To deepen the bucking and aggravate the situation, the abounding bodies (comrades and non-comrades) who always fabricated actual demands on him would not, on such occasions, accede him an accustomed artisan that he advised himself and who he was in cold actual terms. No admiration Associate James Crentsil died in claimed actual penury!

Comrade James Crentsil charge accept acquired his abstraction and convenance of “communist costing” from the “direct labour” and “communist” costing attempt with which the Calabar Accession of Socialists, through its popular-democratic formations, ran the non-party Calabar Municipal Government (under Associate Bassey Ekpo Bassey) from March 1988 to May 1989. James served that government whose area has back been breach into three bounded government areas as a tireless, but unlisted, contributed and atoning “cadre” and “foot-soldier” committed to our accepted afire admiration to aftermath the best-run bounded administering in the country.

And so, it was. Associate James Crentsil was one of the heroes of that acknowledged Calabar agreement in Leftist governance.

Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

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