• Sunday, May 19, 2024
businessday logo


Self-reparation for African Power: Pan-Africanism and Black Consciousness (5)


Onwuchekwa Jemie

Diop touches on this when he said in his 1976 interview: “The neo-colonial character of such regimes is therefore an objective factor in the way of constituting a continental federation.” [Moore, 1986:262] But even Diop failed to give the matter the type of examination it required. He saw it merely as an obstacle to federating, rather than a basic obstacle to such states ever saving Africans from imperialism, even when federated, -and, therefore, an obstacle that should be removed while, or even before, uniting them. After all, will individual armed robbers, if they form a gang, stop their armed robbery or get more effective at it? But continentalist Pan-Africanism has been so obsessed with unification that it doesn’t seem to have given this crucial aspect the attention it deserves.
As the example of Cuba makes clear, continental union government, in Africa or anywhere else, is neither necessary nor sufficient, and so is irrelevant for defeating a global neo-colonialism. Castro’s little Cuba, right there at the doorstep of the USA, has proved that you don’t need a union government of a continent to defeat imperialism locally; all you need is a resolute and clever anti-imperialist leadership, plus protection by a nuclear megastate/superpower.
After he defeated Batista, Castro dismantled the neo-colonial state in Cuba and built an anti-imperialist state to lead the anti-imperialist reorganisation of Cuban society and economy. So, even little Ghana, had the CPP leadership been so minded, might have become an African Cuba. Instead, it remained a neo-colonial state and society while Nkrumah pursued the false and delusional project of a continental union government for Africa.
The example of Castro’s Cuba is reinforced by that of Mahathir Mohammed’s Malaysia which, by doing its economic homework, resolutely resisted and defeated the IMF and the global currency speculators when they attacked the Malaysian currency and tried to destroy the Malaysian economy. [See M. Mohammed, 2000]
If its leadership is resolute and astute, even a small country can defeat imperialism in specific battles, without any need for some continental union government! These are just two examples that refute Nkrumah’s cherished thesis and project of continental union government as the key to defeating neo-colonialism. Nkrumah, a pioneer in the study of neo-colonialism, did not have the benefit of these two examples. But we who do, have no excuse for not learning from them and abandoning the continental union government project for the mirage that it is.

Read Also: Creation of new wards to correct imbalance in Delta – Okowa

Given the character of these Bantustans, is it any wonder that their OAU/AU has been a union of Bantustan bureaucrats and an anti-African agency of imperialism? After all, an AU of neo-colonial Bantustans can only be a much bigger neo-colonial Bantustan than its members. The neo-liberal IMF framework of the economic programmes of its National Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) can only make one wonder: By what devious route, by what subtle betrayals and mutations, has the anti-imperialist Pan-Africanism of Du Bois and Nkrumah achieved the precise ends sought by the white-supremacist Pan-Africanism of Jan Smuts that Du Bois and Nkrumah had pointedly opposed; namely, an “African continent (ruled) in the interest of its white investors and exploiters.” (Du Bois, 1970:178; Nkrumah, 1973: 17)
Obviously, continentalist Pan-Africanism long ago abandoned the anti-imperialism that inspired it. Not only has it, from its inception, been an accomplice of Arab expansionism, it also now serves whatever “development partner” (read: paymaster) funds its lavish jamborees -be it Washington, London, Brussels or Tripoli.
Because unification had become an end in itself, had become the supreme goal, it was not asked what precise kind of unity was required as a means to the original, but long since forgotten, anti-imperialist aims of Pan-Africanism.
Reconfiguring the concept of African Unity so it does not yield a union of neo-colonial Bantustans, but a union of anti-imperialist and anti-Arabist states plus other organs that will serve the African people is, thus, an important task of self-reparation waiting to be done on Pan-Africanism.
4. African Collective Security: The Black World League:
One of the glaring omissions from Pan-Africanist thinking has been the idea of collective African security-the concept, the aims as well as the organs for effecting it. For a people whose calamities have resulted from millennia of failure of collective security, this is a most self-damaging omission. Addressing it is a vital act of self-reparation. It probably requires us to insist that each African state should explicitly declare that the security it exists to ensure is the security of its population, territory, society and cultures from Imperialism and Arabism.
Presently, our comprador-colonial Bantustans operationally define security as “internal security” – the security of the neocolonial state apparatus from its victim African population. This is a carry-over from the era of expatriate European colonialism when these states were local agencies of subjugation for their imperialist founders. That needs now to be changed. And having redefined security Afrocentrically, we need to invent organs for implementing it. Since neither the AU nor the UN can ever function as an organ of African collective security from both Imperialism and Arabism, it is imperative that we organise a Black World League/African League to do that job for us.
5. African solidarity:
Why is African solidarity so weak nowadays? And what is needed to make it a strong and automatic reflex yet again? In 1935, when Nkrumah, who was passing through London to the USA to study, saw a poster that read “MUSSOLINI INVADES ETHIOPIA,” he was overwhelmed by emotion. In his own remarkable words: “At that time, it was almost as if the whole of London had suddenly declared war on me personally.” The West African press reacted in a similar manner. One newspaper, for example, declared that “that war with Abyssinia is our war.” Ethiopian Defense Committees sprang up in various parts of West Africa and the Americas. Garvey and many other Diaspora leaders organised help for Ethiopia. Some African-Americans, defying the US government’s “neutrality”, even went to fight in defense of Ethiopia. [Esedebe, 1980:117-121; Harris, 1993:708-713]
Why do we not react to Darfur, Mauritania, South Sudan, etc. with the exemplary indignation that Nkrumah experienced when he heard that Italy had attacked Ethiopia? For 50 years we have had the strange spectacle of Pan-Africanists who show passionate solidarity with Palestinian Arabs but not with the black South Sudanese or Darfurian victims of Arabs! What does it take to imbue hundreds of millions of people with an active solidarity and the militant enthusiasm to defend their group at whatever cost to the individual? We must discover and apply such remedies to ourselves.
Having Afrocentrically and scientifically defined Africans-as well as non-Africans-for ourselves and in our interest, with passing the “mirror test” as a necessary criterion; and having highlighted Pan-Africanism’s weaknesses in the matters of African Unity, Collective African Security and African Solidarity, we can get on to working out a correct Pan-Africanist position on Sudan and the Afro-Arab borderlands.
6. Sudan:
By 1945, the agenda of Pan-Africanism had crystallised as follows: to end colonialism and colour discrimination in Pan-Africa. But quite surprisingly, the questions of Arab domination and anti-Black discrimination were not placed on the Pan Africanist agenda. The issue of Arab domination, surprisingly, did not attract continentalist Pan-Africanist thinkers and leaders even during the Anya-nya war in Sudan (1955-1972).
Whatever the reasons for that neglect, the project of ending Arab domination and expansionism in Africa needs to be now placed at the top of the Pan African agenda, in light of African experience in the Afro-Arab borderlands in the last 50 years. In the 50 years of continentalist Pan-Africanism, with the sole exception of Zanzibar, Pan-Africa did not release any African territory or people from Arab domination or enslavement. Rather, more African lands and peoples have fallen under Arab rule and enslavement.
Before 1970, for lack of Biko’s insight, Nkrumah and Co. threw Africans into an Arab embrace that inhibited Africans from defending themselves against Arab hegemonists. Since then, by failing to use Biko’s insight to clear their confusions and complexes away, the black governments in the OAU/AU have become, as shown in Darfur, like the black father who holds his own daughter down to be raped and battered by his Arab business partner. That is the role played by the AU presidents who met in Khartoum and Banjul in 2006 without expelling the Arabist government of Sudan from the AU for its crimes of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and who have rallied to help prevent the arrest and trial of Bashir by the International Criminal Court at the Hague for his crimes against black humanity.
In atonement for all that, Pan-Africa needs to acknowledge that Sudan is not an Arab family affair; that it is a theatre of the Afro-Arab Race War, and that the hegemonic Arab aggressors are the great enemy of Pan-Africa. Pan-Africa must, therefore, in contrite solidarity and for collective security, vigorously mobilise support-financial, military, diplomatic, ideological, propaganda, etc.-for the victims of Arabist attacks in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan. We must also mobilise support for South Sudan to attain its independence in 2011. That is our task of self-reparation. In fact, Sudan is a serious test of our willingness to undertake self-reparation.