July 2, 2015 § 3 Comments
Patrice Lumumba was born 90 years ago today on 2 July 1925. Lumumba was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo (today known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). He led the Congolese independence struggle that ultimately wrested the reins of power from the Belgian colonialists.
My dear companion,
I write you these words without knowing if they will reach you, when they will reach you, or if I will still be living when you read them. All during the length of my fight for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and myself have consecrated our lives. But what we wish for our country, its right to an honorable life, to a spotless dignity, to an independence without restrictions, Belgian colonialism and its Western allies – who have found direct and indirect support, deliberate and not deliberate among certain high officials of the United Nations, this organization in which we placed all our confidence when we called for their assistance – have not wished it.
They have corrupted certain of our fellow countrymen, they have contributed to distorting the truth and our enemies, that they will rise up like a single person to say no to a degrading and shameful colonialism and to reassume their dignity under a pure sun.
We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese. They will not abandon the light until the day comes when there are no more colonizers and their mercenaries in our country. To my children whom I leave and whom perhaps I will see no more, I wish that they be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that it expects for each Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstruction of our independence and our sovereignty; for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.
No brutality, mistreatment, or torture has ever forced me to ask for grace, for I prefer to die with my head high, my faith steadfast, and my confidence profound in the destiny of my country, rather than to live in submission and scorn of sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.
Do not weep for me, my dear companion. I know that my country, which suffers so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty. Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!
June 14, 2015 § 1 Comment
Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born 87 years ago today on June 14, 1928. Che was also a physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist who had a deep connection with Africa.
Che was instrumental in getting Cuba to forge links with African countries during the 1960s, when Cuban soldiers fought alongside southern Africa’s liberation fighters in Angola. Guevara also personally pitched into the brutal battlefields of the newly independent Democratic Republic of Congo, convinced that the ”Yankee imperialism” he detested had to be confronted not only at home but also in its bases of support in the developing nations emerging from colonialism. He slipped into Congo in 1965, in the midst of rebel uprisings against the American-supported government, following the 1961 CIA-approved assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first democratically elected president.
On April 23, 1965, three months after Che met Nkrumah in Accra, (Ghana) this heroic warrior with three Cuban fighters, crossed Lake Tanganyika in two small boats as they left Kigoma, Tanzania for Congolese soil, where they fought alongside Lumumba’s guerrilla fighters. About 130 Cuban fighters used this same route in the following weeks as they joined what became known as Che’s Column One. These fighters arrived in Tanzania and crossed the Lake with the full support of President Nyerere. – The Rising Continent
By sending a vanguard of black fighters to pass on to their Congolese brothers guerrilla tactics that had proved successful in Cuba, Che and Cuban leader Fidel Castro undertook a daring experiment in the internationalization of the Communist revolution.
Before heading to the Congo, Che had been to Ghana, Algeria, Egypt, Guinea and Benin:
Ernesto Che Guevara visited Ghana in the third week of January 1965… El Che met with Nkrumah on the second day of his visit… They held discussions on the situation in Cuba, Latin America and in Africa most especially in the former Belgian colony of Congo… During his week-long stay, el Che met with the press, Liberation Movements in Accra, party leaders, unionists, youth movements and women’s movements… – The Rising Continent
Che was murdered on October 9, 1967 on the orders of Bolivian authorities, in collusion with the CIA. After his death, Cuba remained a friend to Africa’s newly independent nations who aligned themselves with the communist state that opposed their former colonial oppressors. Today, Cuba continues to send doctors, teachers and soldiers to African countries, as demonstrated during last year’s Ebola outbreak.
Nearly 50 years after his death, Che’s image remains a symbol of resistance, determination, and hope for a better world in the eyes of many in Africa and across the globe.
Rest in Power.
Some memorable quotes by Che:
“The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”
“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”
“Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world.”
“We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.”
“I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.”
May 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Maya Angelou, the American activist, author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer died a year ago today. Angelou had a deep connection to Africa. In 1961, she helped organize a protest at the United Nations over the assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, which had been approved by the CIA.
Shortly after, she moved to Cairo, Egypt, and served as the editor of the Arab Observer. The country was at the time a center of anti-colonial movements opposed to imperialism and Zionism. During her time in Cairo, she met Nelson Mandela while he was on his trip in Africa in 1962, to garner support for the armed struggle and to undergo military training.
She then moved to the newly independent state of Ghana and became one of hundreds of expatriates known as the “Afro-American community”. She worked as a teacher in the School of Music and Drama at the University of Ghana. She also served as a feature editor of the African Review, and wrote articles for Ghanaian Times.
Angelou met with Malcolm X when he visited Ghana in 1964. Ghana was at the time the citadel of the Pan-African and socialist movements taking place in Africa and throughout the Diaspora. The first chapter of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, founded by Malcolm X in 1964, was formed in Ghana among the expatriate community.
Upon her return to the United States, Angelou was encouraged to put her life experiences down on paper. In 1970 she published “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which gained international notoriety.
Dr. Maya Angelou’s contributions to literature and social movements remain an inspiration to many in Africa and across the globe.
Rest in Power.
By Maya Angelou
Thus she had lain
deserts her hair
golder her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears.
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.
Over the white seas
rime white and cold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.
Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she had lain.