AFRICANGLOBE – Afrika today stands plagued by Western imperialism and neo-colonialism, with her wealth routinely plundered and her countries politically and socially divided. Black people globally must unite and resist this, putting aside their petty cultural, political and ideological differences.
[This talk was delivered at The Afrikan Liberation Day Symposium, at the Drill Hall, Gauteng, South Africa, 25 May 2014.]
OPENING REMARKS AND DEDICATION
Let us start by expressing our humble thanks, to the organisers – for the honour of inviting us to come and share our perspective, on the range of issues that affect Black people, in Afrika and other parts of the world. And for also affording us the privilege to be here and be in a position to learn from the many enlightening perspectives of others.
Allow us to also acknowledge the leaders of the various organisations of our people, our guests from the various parts of the Black world, and each and every Black sister and brother, here present. It is always heart-warming to be in the company of our own and freely and honestly, discuss all the issues that concern us as a people. This is an intellectual space we rarely afford ourselves and we definitely need to create more such spaces.
We meet here today on a very special and significant day, which as you know, was initially designated for the 15 of April and referred to as ‘Africa Freedom Day’ and only became ‘Afrikan Liberation Day’, on the 25 of May, 1963, after a historic meeting of Afrikan leaders in Ethiopia.
We decided to dedicate our talk here today to 2 year-old Onkarabile, 6 year-old Nkune, 7 year-old Sebengu and 9 year-old Mapule, of Verdwaal, who in October 2011, left their home and undertook what later became a fatal 18-km journey, in the sweltering heat – in search of their mother and food. They never found their mother nor food. A couple of days later, their tiny, lifeless bodies were found in a veld, badly dehydrated and with hardly any food in their stomachs.
We dedicate our talk to 33-year-old Andries Tatane of Meqheleng, who, in April, 2011, was savagely attacked by a gang of police, shot with rubber bullets in the chest, resulting in his death on the spot. All of this happened in full view of members of his community.
We dedicate our talk to 17-year-old Nqobile Nzuza of Cator Manor, who in September 2011 was shot twice in the back by police while running away and died shortly thereafter.
We dedicate our talk to the 34 Black workers of Marikana, who in August 2012 formed part of the Marikana Uprising and in defence of foreign-white-monopoly-capital were mercilessly gunned down by the police.
We dedicate our talk to 27-year-old Mido Macia of Daveyton, who in February, 2013 was tied to the back of a police vehicle and after being dragged for a few meters died several hours later in police custody. He was in his underwear and socks. His trousers were later found at another part of the police station and a post mortem stated that he died from a lack of oxygen. Witnesses reported that he also had wounds to the head.
Our talk is also dedicated to 21-year-old Jan Ravimbo of Tshwane who in January this year was shot at close range and killed by police, for simply demanding to know why they were taking his fruits and vegetables – which he was selling in the Tshwane central business district.
We dedicate our talk to 29-year-old Osiah Rahube, 26-year-old Lerato Seema and 64-year-old Bra Mike Tshele- who in January this year- were all killed by the police- when the community of Mothutlung- was protesting for something as basic as water.
The incessant violence that continues to be unleashed on the Black body – and is now also being perpetuated by governments that are led by our own – helps us to understand why our history, as a continent and people, continues to be the most tragic paradox of human existence. We have a glorious history characterised by breath-taking advances in the various spheres of human endeavour. However, our history is also punctuated by bloody but heroic tales of battles, against all manner of foreign invaders, rape, murder and lynching, land robbery, slavery and colonialism ( in their classical and neo-classical forms), white racism and systematic genocide. As the Tanzanian scholar, Issa Shivji observes, ours is: ‘“a tale of treasures at one end and tragedies at the other.’
And because of these tragic paradoxes in our history, today, we Blacks, in many respects, remain at the bottom of the human pyramid. Our powerlessness, in a ruthlessly anti-Black world, is perhaps best captured by Steve Biko, when he says:
‘ …All in all the black man has become a shell, a shadow of man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity.’
In an attempt to undo the paralysis of Black existence and articulate Pan-Afrikanism and Black Power in a statist form, some of our more intrepid and visionary forebears decided to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which as we know, was officially ordained in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963. Ethiopia was perhaps one of the most appropriate places to give birth to such an important institution of our people – not just because it formed part of the spectacular tapestry of our ancient Nubian-Kemetian civilisations – but also because of how it gallantly resisted the organised violence of Italian white supremacy.
THE CONTEXT PRECEDING THE FORMATION OF THE OAU
To develop a fuller appreciation for why the OAU was not able to achieve some of its cardinal goals, it is critical that we understand the context that preceded the formation of this institution of our people. Many of Afrika’s leaders, who today are counted among some of the leading protagonists of 20th century Pan-Afrikanist thought and practice, were beneficiaries of the Pan-Afrikanist thought and practice of an earlier generation of Black thinkers and revolutionaries.