The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Life for the Poor—Ever More Harsh

Feb 12, 2024

This article is translated from the February 7 issue, #2897 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

In Senegal, as in the rest of Africa, life is becoming increasingly difficult for the poor, and it’s easy to understand why so many young people risk their lives trying to flee to Europe on overcrowded rafts or across the Sahara.

In Dakar, the Senegalese capital, inequality has exploded in recent years. It’s true that there’s a whole layer of bourgeois, large and small, who can afford villas in the nicer districts, get medical treatment in private clinics, and send their children to study in fee-paying schools. But for the majority of the population, the difficulties continue to grow.

Our comrades from the Union Africaine des Travailleurs Communistes Internationalistes (UATCI—UCI) described the situation in their newspaper Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs last September:

"Food prices have soared, instead of falling as the government had announced. A kilo of sugar, which was worth 600 CFA francs last year, is now selling for 800 at shopkeepers in working-class neighborhoods. A liter of oil, which used to cost 1,200 francs, is now between 1,500 and 1,800 francs, depending on the district. A kilo of rice, which used to sell for between 400 and 450 francs, now sells for between 500 and 550 francs.

In Keur Massar, a working-class suburb of the capital where rents are relatively lower than in other areas, the same one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment that used to rent for 25,000 CFA francs a month has risen to 50,000 CFA francs in the space of a year."

Faced with this explosion in expenses, workers’ salaries are virtually unchanged, and the many hours of overtime they work often go unpaid. In any case, a large part of the population has no permanent job and lives on odd jobs. As for public services, they have been abandoned. Hospitals are poorhouses and schools only prepare the youth for unemployment. But that’s just the situation in the capital; elsewhere it’s even worse.

Life is becoming impossible—the ever-increasing misery is the fuel for all revolts, from the one in the summer of 2023 to those brewing today.