Article from ROAPE Volume 8 Number 20
What ‘The Friends of the Peasants’ Are

What ‘The Friends of the Peasants’ are and How They Pose the Question of the Peasantry
Vol.8 No.20 (Spring 1981), pp17-26
In the previous article Mukaru Ng'ang'a sets as his task the investigation into what is happening to the Kenyan peasantry, and what has happened to it in the past. This task, he argues, is necessary in order to understand the social dynamics of rural life. After all. it is only by first understanding the social structure of rural life that we can know what are the possible social dynamics and how they effect, or are affected by, the history of the Kenyan social formation as a whole. That way of stating the problem is important for political practice. Unless the kind of society being dealt with is known, all types of political programmes for the liberation of the peasantry may be proposed which may be utopian, adventurist or simply demagogic. But, in order to understand the structure of that peasant society, a theory of that structure is required. For theory provides the proper tools of analysis for dissecting social phenomena so as to understand them. If anything, theory gives us the ability to shape questions in such a way that answers to them can lead us to see reality more clearly and hence not be deceived by the illusions of appearances. This unmasking of appearances with proper theoretical tools for social inquiry is the quintessence of Marxism. It therefore becomes an indispensable weapon for the liberation of the politically oppressed and economically exploited classes in a world in which bourgeois outlooks continue to mystify social processes.