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Pan-African Solidarity in the Struggle against Racism


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There seems to be no functional relationship or cooperation on sustained basis between different communities of black people in the United States in the struggle against racism: African Americans, Africans, and Afro-Caribbeans.

 

The initiative in the quest for solidarity among these groups seems to come from us, African Americans, although black people from Africa and from the Caribbean who come to the United States as immigrants and as students face the same problems we do as victims of racism.

 

Solidarity with Africans on our part was demonstrated during the struggle against apartheid when African-Americans mobilized forces across the United States to support black people in South Africa in their quest for racial justice.

 

But it was also, and this was a rare occasion on their part, demonstrated by Africans in a number of countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa – as well as others – where there was a public display of outrage against the brutal execution of George Floyd by a white racist police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020. African leaders also expressed a collective sentiment against Floyd's murder when they issued a statement as members of the African Union, a continental organization representing African governments, condemning this lynching of a black man in the land of “the free.”

 

What we have is a global problem black people face in every country as victims of racism more than anybody else; a harsh reality that was even acknowledged by the United Nations Human Rights Council when it issued a statement in July 2020 condemning the victimization of Africans and people of African origin round the globe. The resolution was passed after a group of African nations called for robust action to be taken against such abuse and brutalization of black people worldwide following the death of George Floyd. George Floyd's brother also spoke at the conference. The United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 for obvious reasons.

 

It is as if we are victims of a global conspiracy against us as blacks especially when you see many people of other races also don't like us. Look at the brutal attacks on African students in India, China and Russia; also attacks and even murder of black people in Arab countries of North Africa. I even remember when President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana flew to Libya in a Ghanaian plane to take his people back home to Ghana because they were being brutalized and killed in a country whose leader during that time, Muammar Gaddafi, pretended he was truly a fellow African like black people and wanted Africa to unite under one government. There are even videos of such brutal attacks on Africans in India, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere on Youtube.

 

Africans are also victims of racism even in their own countries even today; for example, in Tanzania, where Indians, Chinese, white immigrants from South Africa and other non-blacks, as employers and even in other settings, insult, mistreat, and dehumanize black people in their own native land. See, for example, an article by Charles Makakala, a Tanzanian, “Workplace Racism Is an Issue in Tanzania: How Should You Address It?”, “Tanzania: Guest Alleges Racial Discrimination at Sunrise Beach Resort,” excluding blacks; and “Racism Rears Ugly Head on Tanzania Tourism.”

 

An American professor, Richard Schroeder, was shocked when he went to Tanzania and witnessed how whites from South Africa who moved to Tanzania after the end of formal apartheid as businessmen and as investors, insulted and mistreated black people in Tanzania in the same way they did in South Africa during apartheid and even called them “kaffirs,” a very offensive term meaning “niggers” and more than that, as he stated in his book “Africa After Apartheid: South Africa, Race, and Nation in Tanzania,” published in 2012.

 

I have had a strong interest in Tanzania since the days of President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere because of his strong Pan-Africanist credentials, including embracing African Americans as fellow Africans and even inviting them to work in Tanzania and because of his strong support for liberation movements in southern Africa during white minority rule together with his commitment and determination to chart out a new course for Africa as a whole to achieve genuine liberation and independence using African solutions derived from African political thought and philosophy. I was equally impressed by and drawn to Ghana when Kwame Nkrumah was president with strong Pan-Africanist credentials like Nyerere.

 

I believe the main reason black people from Africa and the Caribbean who are in the United States don't want to unite with African Americans to publicly condemn and fight racism is that they believe life for them in this country is far better than it is in their home countries in spite of racism. Some of them even dismiss racism as a minor problem or not one at all as long as they have jobs and earn a living even if not very comfortably.

 

Yet when whites see them, they seem them as just black people like us; which they are. Even if they wore labels to identify themselves as “not black Americans,” whites and other non-blacks would still see them the same way: just black people. And they face the same problems we do.

 

One example is Godfrey Mwakikagile from Tanzania who has written a book as a victim of racism in his home country, especially when he was growing up during British colonial rule, and also as a victim of racism in the United States. Even some of the white American Peace Corps who went to work in Africa in different areas including teaching in the 1960s and thereafter were not free from racial prejudice as the author witnessed and as he explains in his book which you can read here:

 

https://sites.google.com/site/intercontinentalbookcentre/reflections-on-race-relations-a-personal-odyssey

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6 hours ago, Pioneer1 said:

People victimize many of our people not because the hate them....but because they CAN.

 

Black people are too often in a weak position militarily and economically.

 

You are right.

 

This was sadly demonstrated in Angola where Cuban troops had to be rushed in by Castro to save the country from being captured by the South Africans. South African troops had an easy ride from the south all the way north and were within a few miles of the capital Luanda - about to capture it - when Castro rushed in his troops to save the country because Africans - the Angolan army and troops form other African countries which had been sent there to help Angolans fight South Africans - were losing the war.

 

The Cubans pushed the South Africans back and eventually won the war. It was the bloodiest conflict on African soil since World War II and also forced the South Africans to withdraw from Namibia, leading to that country's independence, and finally to the collapse of the apartheid regime itself in South Africa.

 

It took the Cubans, from a small island nation of 9 million people, to achieve all that, while more than 600 million black people during that time, right there on African soil, on the African continent, couldn't do it.

 

Where is Pan-African solidarity in concrete terms?

 

That is why Nkrumah, as early as 1963 after most African countries had won independence, said "Africa Must Unite," also the title of his book. He was overthrown in a military coup organized by the CIA. American leaders said Nkrumah was doing more, to undermine American interests in Africa, than any other African leader. They did, of course, also kill Lumumba.

 

That is how weak we are, as a people, black people, even in Africa itself, a continent with a population of about one billion blacks today; altogether more than one billion on the entire continent including Arabs in North African countries, about five million whites in South Africa, and other non-blacks.

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Jean Watson

 

Excellent observation.

One of the things that contributes to the weakness of African people is their DISUNITY.  Not just in the U.S. or Caribbean but even in Africa itself in so many cases.

Your example of Castro having to send HIS troops from Cuba even though nations like Nigeria and Ethiopia ALONE had far more troops in actual numbers than Cuba that could have been sent to help protect Angola is a great example of that.

But because of selfishness and not carrying about their fellow Africans of a different ethnic group, as well as general distrust and disunity among themselves...they couldn't organize to save their fellow Africans in Angola and a non-Black man from the OUTSIDE had to take the initiative to step up and do it.


The pettiness and jealousy must come to an end.

You see this same pettiness and jealousy occurring among members of the Diaspora community as well.  
Can't put minor differences and disagreements to the side to focus on a BIGGER cause.  

Some can't let any kind of perceived slight go without a retaliation against their fellow brother or sister, but racists can kick their ass up and down the boulevard day in and day out and they'll smoke a pound of weed a day TRYING to forget about it and move on.

Self-hatred is a huge factor in this distrust and disunity.
You mentioned Nkrumah, and as powerful and intelligent and visionary as he was...it was a bit disappointing to learn that he actually chose an ARAB woman to be his wife and mother his children instead of a Black woman from his native Ghana.

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Posted (edited)

Our destiny as a people of African descent is inextricably linked with the fate and destiny of Africa, not only because it is our motherland but because of the enormous potential the continent has to be a safe haven for all blacks all over the world. Africa also has the potential to guarantee the safety and security of the people of African origin wherever they are, in the same way Israel, small as it is, ensures the safety and security of Jews round the globe. Any attack on Jews, in any country, triggers a retaliatory response from Israel. As Nkrumah stated in his book, Class Struggle in Africa:

 

“All people of African descent whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean or in any other part of the world are Africans and belong to the African Nation.”

 

But that can happen – Africa guaranteeing our security – only if Africa is united. And sadly, as you have pointed out, Nkrumah himself did not show enough pride in his own race when he chose to marry an Arab woman from Egypt, Fathia Halim Rizk, instead of marrying a black woman in his own country, Ghana, or from anywhere else as long as she was black.

 

He claimed his marriage to the Egyptian woman was a political marriage to demonstrate that Africa was one and that there was no disunity between Arab North Africa and Black Africa south of the Sahara; which was not a very convincing argument since, even before marrying Fathia, he wanted to marry a Chinese woman, a fellow socialist, because, he said, they had so much in common in terms of political beliefs; as if there were no black female socialists in the world. He also wanted to marry another non-black woman from South Africa, Genoveva Esther Marais.

 

After he married the Arab woman, he was also involved in a very intense personal relationship with a white British woman, Erica Powell, who was his private secretary. She was also the one who wrote most of his autobiography, for him, Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah. His very close personal relationship with Erica angered many high-ranking Ghanaian officials who feared it compromised national security. Erica was suspected of being a spy. She probably was, spying for her home country, Great Britain, and probably for other Western powers including the Untied States, all of whom were so much against Nkrumah because of his Pan-African militancy.

 

So, great as Nkrumah was, he was also a flawed character whose professions about black unity did not inspire many people who felt it was all talk when he did not seem to show enough pride in his own race, as a black man, by marrying a non-black, an Arab, and being involved in intense personal relationships with other women who were not black whom he also wanted to marry. Even worse, he also had a child, a son, with another Arab woman besides his wife. The son provided proof, including DNA, not too long ago, and was eventually but reluctantly accepted by Nkrumah's other children as their sibling after strenuous attempts by them to deny that in order to protect their father's legacy. The son even looks like him.

 

So, there is lack of pride in the black race even by some prominent black leaders who talk so much about black unity.

 

There is also, of course, lack of unity among the people themselves, especially in Africa, divided along tribal or ethnic, national and regional lines. Each tribe for itself. Each country for itself.. Even each region – West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa – for itself. Forget Arab North Africa. Arabs in North Africa don't even think about working with and forging strong ties with Black Africa. They are concerned about their ties with their fellow Arabs in the Middle East where they came from. Many Arabs, if not the majority, can't stand black people. Even the Arab congresswoman from Detroit, Rashida Tlaib, has admitted there is a lot of hatred and contempt for black people among many, if not most, Arabs in Detroit and elsewhere. Other Arabs admit the same thing. They are no different in Africa.

As African Americans, we can't play a role in helping Black Africa become strong and united when Africans themselves on the continent have not taken the initiative to do so or have not done enough to achieve the goal.

 

Malcolm X said black people in the United States or anywhere else in the world will not be safe and secure unless Africa is united and able to speak up for them and protect them. We will be waiting for a long time to see that happen.

 

Even the humiliation African nations suffered when they couldn't defend Angola and Cubans had to go in to do that was not enough to jolt them into action or just into thinking, “We should do something to help ourselves and help our people by working together and defend our countries.”

 

Castro became a hero in Africa, with Africans saying, “He saved us,” “Cuban soldiers won the war for us against apartheid South Africa.” Of course they did. And of course Castro saved them. His troops defeated and humiliated the best and strongest army and air force in Africa. The South Africans almost occupied the entire country of Angola, one of the three richest in the region together with Congo, formerly Zaire, and South Africa itself. And they threatened to go even farther north, into Zaire, which for decades has been the bleeding heart of Africa. As Frantz Fanon said: “Africa is shaped like a gun, and Congo is the trigger. If that explosive trigger bursts, it's the whole Africa that will explode.”

 

The invaders from apartheid South Africa were going to take control of the whole continent, at least Africa south of the Sahara, because no black African army could have stopped them. Angola was proof of that. Africans couldn't stop the South Africans in Angola. Cubans did. Give credit where credit is due. It was the Cubans, Cuban troops, not black African countries and armies, who ended apartheid in South Africa.

 

They defeated the South African army and air force in Angola. Next, they freed Namibia from South African occupation which amounted to colonization and annexation of that country by the apartheid regime. Castro told the apartheid regime in South Africa – if they don't withdraw from Namibia, his troops will cross the border into Namibia from Angola, engage South African troops there, and take the war farther south into South Africa itself, which would end apartheid. They took him seriously, especially when they lost the war in Angola.

 

No black African country had been able to do that against apartheid South Africa. I remember when Andrew Young was the US ambassador to the UN under President Jimmy Carter, and was busy, involved in attempts to end white minority rule in the countries of southern Africa, going back and forth meeting with African leaders on the continent and at the UN, he said there is no African country that can fight South Africa except Nigeria. “And it's too far away in West Africa,” he said, nowhere close to the combat zone in southern Africa.

 

Good observation by Young. But what about the Cubans who were even much farther away in the Caribbean? They had to travel thousands of miles on ships and planes to get to Angola and fight the South Africans. They went straight into combat as soon as they landed and stopped the South Africans in their tracks.

I remember listening to Harry Belafonte on Youtube saying had it not been for Cuban troops, the history of South Africa would have been very much different.

Whites would still be in power in South Africa. The South Africans also would still be in power in Namibia. They would have conquered and occupied Angola, with Africans just staring, helpless. And they would have continued their march north, into Congo, the heart of Africa. The Cubans stopped them.

 

Even South African generals admitted they lost the war to the Cubans. One white South African army officer was even more blunt when he said: “We were hammered” by the Cubans.

 

With Africans cheering, while doing nothing themselves to save fellow Africans.

 

Here are some of the videos on how the Cubans won the war against the South Africans in Angola:

 

 

 

 

Edited by Troy
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