History Thursday, April 5, 2007
Published: August 12, 2002
THE TORTUROUS PATH OF A RACE
By Naiwu Osahon
Leader World Pan-African Movement
Of course, Africans sold their kith and kin into slavery. Yes, the slave merchants found willing accomplices amongst us and in exchange for cheap ridiculous items like a mirror, tobacco, cutlass, gun or a drink, we did their dirty jobs for them.
But if you expect us to feel guilty about our negative role in slavery, you are not being realistic because Africans, like the other species of the human race, have their own greedy ones too. In relative terms though, only a very small minority of Africans benefited commercially from our enslavement considering the quantities of mirrors etc they acquired and they were loathed by the captive majority. Names of such African traitors like the notorious Kosoko of Lagos still invoke hate today in Africans when ever mentioned.
Collectively, Africans did not understand what slavery was really all about . Even including the traitors, we had no idea we would never see our dear ones again or how far the ocean stretched to keep them apart from us. Parents hoped that their children being kidnapped into slavery would be treated no worse than we treat our houseboys today. Houseboys or girls in Africa are slaves in a sense but slavery to an African is like an adoption. Africa is almost a free slavery system, more akin to the Greek or Roman system. A parent who cannot cope with bringing up a child may hand over the child to another parent in a better position to give the child a good home. A parent may give a child to a Chief because usually, Chiefs are well placed to provide food and shelter through the communal tax systems. The slave in an African home often has the rights of the adopted child.
Even now, a hundred years after the supposed end to cross Atlantic slavery, Africans on the continent still do not know the hell enslaved Africans went through in the hands of the slave masters.
You have kept your historical perspective on slavery intact whereas in Nigeria for instance, the only reminder of it is a solitary slave chain preserved as a tourist attraction in a run-down hut in Badagry, a coastal suburb of Lagos. Ghana has more terrifying evidence in their fantastic Castles, but Africans on the continent hardly visit or relate to the evidence. One of the Castles in Ghana has been given over to the African Descendants Association. They have a guest book you sign, and looking through, you see very personal and emotional comments by black visitors from abroad to the Castle. For you, the reaction when faced with damning evidence is painful. It is painful to remember that you were sold here like cattle but for us Africans on the continent, our memory of slavery is completely blank.
We sold you into slavery alright but Africa as a whole was not just waiting to be dismembered without a fight. Names of our warrior nationalists, mostly Kings and Queens abound: Queen Nzingha of Angola, King Nana Kwamena Ansa of Ghana, Nehenda of Zimbabwe, Anowa of Ghana, Ashanti King Prempeh, the Jaja of Opobo, Queen Idah of Benin City, Oba Overamwen Nogbaisi of Benin City, Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Queen Amina of Zaria, Behanzin Hossu Bo Willi of Dahomey, Samory Toure of Mali, Moremi of Ile-Ife, Mohammed Ahmed the Mahdi of Sudan, Nefertiti of Nubia, Mohammed Ben Abdulla Hassen the mad Mullah of Somaliland, Chaka the Zulu and many others, gave good account of themselves in our honour. Africans had to be beaten and dragged on board slave ships.
On slave ships, many Africans starved themselves to death, cut their own throats with their fingernails, threw themselves overboard to escape torture and slavery and quite a number of them succeeded in over powering their captors and taking over their slave ships as was the case with AMISTAD or Joseph Cinque, the son of a Mendi King of Sierra Leone.
On Plantations, Africans continued their acts of rebellion through sabotage at work or by running away into hardly accessible swamps, forests and mountains to continue the fight for their freedom. Africans cursed their tormentors in work songs, communicated with each other, even under severe restrictions, with body language and signs, and transformed their religious indoctrination to their advantage by replacing, for instance, ‘Heaven’ with ‘Africa’ in Christian songs about the joys of Heaven. Flying away to Zion and crossing the River Jordan was translated by slaves to mean the joyful return home to Africa through the Atlantic. Death was seen as a welcome means of returning to Africa and with that, African slaves conquered the fear of torture and death.
Amongst the slaves, one of our wicked traits soon began to show. Slaves spied on other slaves to win a lousy cup of porridge. They betrayed confidence to gain small favours from their masters but our finer nature overwhelmed and produced many nationalists and inspirers of freedom in the new world such as: Blyden, Frederick Douglas, Nat Turner, Sam Sharpe, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vasey, Paul Cuffe, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin R. Delany and numerous others.
Then came August 1791, when the slaves of the Island of San Domingo revolted under the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Boukman, Dessalines, and Henry Christophe. The struggle lasted for twelve years, during which time, they defeated in turn, the local whites and soldiers of the French monarchy, a Spanish invasion force, a British expedition of some 60,000 men, and a French expedition of similar size under Bonaparte’s brother-in-law. The defeat of Bonaparte’s expedition in 1803 gave us Haiti, our first independent anti-slavery state.
The revolt is the most successful slave revolt in history and to quote C.L.R James in Black Jacobins,: “The odds it had to over-come is evidence of the magnitude of the interests involved. The transformation of slaves, trembling in hundreds before a single white man into a people able to organise themselves and defeat the most powerful European nations of their day is one of the great epics of revolutionary struggle and achievement.”
Haiti’s revolution inspired other liberation wars and in particular the growth of what Prof. John Henrik Clarke described as ‘intellectual Pan Africanism,’ expressed immediately then through the building of cultural and religious ties across state barriers.
To quote John Henrik Clarke in Pan Africanism, a brief history of an idea: “In 1804, Jacques Dessalines, the Governor-General of Haiti, issued an appeal for American blacks to settle in his Island. In 1819, Henri Christophe, King of Haiti, negotiated for the settlement of 200,000 black Americans who ultimately settled in Liberia. Denmark Vasey sought the assistance of Haiti in his slave conspiracy of 1822. Jean-Pierre Bayer, who later became President of Haiti, pushed for similar emigration and the Maryland Haitan Society was formed in 1921 by free blacks to facilitate emigration.”
In the continent itself, the military Pan-Africanists were reacting to the so called scramble for Africa, which in effect was the transformation of the early nineteenth century system of slavery into the system of colonialism – an extension of slavery. Two new European powers (Germany and Belgium) entered the scene, and with the old colonial powers (mainly England, France and Portugal) began to spread their control from the coastal holding stations to the hinder-land. There was much rivalry amongst the scramblers so, like a bunch of hungry demon butchers, they assembled around a table in Berlin in 1884, carving knives in hand, map of Africa as their prized beef, to chop away to their heart’s content. Vandalising our economic resources beyond recognition to enrich their homelands. Ruining our mind and personality with their religion. Turning us into apes of their decadent culture.
We fought back with, for instance, the Zulu wars in South Africa, the Islamic or Mahdi wars in the Sudan, the Ashanti wars in the Gold Coast and others that will last for the next hundred years.
Intellectual Pan Africanism received a boost with its series of congresses from 1900. Europe grudgingly granted some of us ‘flag independence’ with deafening fanfare to distract our attention while they stayed quietly on in the guise of neo-colonialism. Now their cartels bestride our continent like giant Octopuses, crushing and absorbing all indigenous initiatives thrown in their paths.
The question now is, why has intellectual Pan Africanism, to which Africa surrendered its militancy, not routed our tormentors in a hundred years of organising congresses? Why are you still the underdogs here and I their footmat back in Africa?
A Trinidadian Lawyer called Henry Sylvester Williams, practising in Britain at the time and married to a white woman, convened the first Pan African Conference in 1900.
I am aware of the arguments for and against Henry Sylvester Williams as a major figure in the African consciousness movement and I think being able to call a Pan African Conference at the time ought to confer some honour on Mr. Williams.
This is not to say, however, that the content of this conference should escape the critical judgement of history. Mr. Williams’ Pan African Conference was attended by thirty delegates mostly from the USA and the West Indies. Its aims were to act as a forum of protest against the aggressiveness of white colonialists; to bring people of African descent throughout the world into closer touch with one another; and to start a movement which would secure to all African races living in civilised countries, their full rights and would promote their business interests.
Our Sylvesters of the 1900s obviously did not have a great deal of respect for Africa if they had to describe us as uncivilised. In any case, they did not camouflage the fact that the conference was to promote their individual private business interests in our name.
Actually, the opening address of the conference was given by a white man, the Bishop of London at the time, who supported the needs of Africans: “To be educated into a sense of responsible self-government.” Isn’t that condescending?
The conference addressed a petition to Queen Victoria through the British Government protesting against the treatment of Africans in South Africa and Rhodesia at the time. The petition, in a nutshell, could be interpreted in modern idiom as follows:
Our mighty and generous Queen,
The mother of the Universe,
The great one without blemish,
we are not worthy of,
But whose mercy we seek all the same
being your meek and dutiful servants,
Nurtured and civilised
in the warmth of your matronly kindness.
We beg your majesty on our bended knees
to spare a thought, however small,
For those we left behind in the jungles of Africa.
To which the all conquering white goddess replied:
“Okay boys, I will see what I can do.”
Do not quote this as the reason why Mr. Williams’ conference is not counted amongst our Pan African Congresses today, but I would be surprised if other reasons are stronger.
Dr. W.E.B DuBois attended that first conference and seems to have been greatly influenced by it. A great deal has been written and said about Dr. DuBois. That he was the brightest star ever to have graced our firmament of ideas or words to that effect. I am too inconsequential to even begin to challenge such a reputation in any way. So, if you will pardon me, I will take nothing away from this intellectual colossus. But I have problems accepting that he served me any better than poor Henry Sylvester Williams did. I am talking about how DuBois relates to me as an individual. I know that DuBois wrote some thought provoking books in his life time and called four Pan African Congresses between 1919 and 1927 that set in motion the tradition that has brought me to this point now in the history of Pan Africanism.
But DuBois himself never claimed to have been the indispensable focus in our chequered journey. After all, he admits in his essay: Four congresses, that he, through his congresses, was not on our behalf: “seeking control of our economic and social life nor our independence.” So, we might be tempted to ask: What was this brilliant man seeking in our name then?
We know, for instance, that DuBois was half black and never tired of reminding everyone who cared to listen to him about his aristocratic white half. Mind you, his was very much the era of the darker you are the further down the social ladder of progress you were confined. So, DuBois had no respect for Garvey, not because Garvey was dark hopefully.
DuBois’ congresses dissociated from the patriotic Pan African posture of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) of Marcus Garvey, opting instead, for the rather tame tactics of begging Europeans politely to be nice to their African servants. Garvey wanted African progress through self development and self efforts. DuBois insisted that co-operation with whites was vital to our struggle. In fact, the opening speech at DuBois’ first Pan African congress claimed that European governments were not the enemies of Africans, a sentiment that flavoured all his resolutions afterwards on our behalf.
Whites responded by assisting DuBois’ programmes while vehemently opposing and discrediting Garvey’s and banning Garvey’s newspapers throughout Africa.
But did ordinary Africans forget Garvey? May be a little story from my past can help provide a possible answer. It is a true story about my mother. I have never told anyone the story before and I hope my mother would forgive me for exposing her so far away from home. I don’ t know if you can guess my age but my mother is over seventy years old and she has never been inside the four walls of any school. It is not something to boost about but that is the position. She never had the opportunity to go to school. She is the picture of ancient African motherhood, the type white television thinks they are taunting us with. My mother does not watch white television and does not miss it.
One evening after a busy weekend of reading publications on Dr. DuBois and Marcus Garvey, I felt like teasing my mother a little. I asked her on the spur of the moment, half expecting a rebuff, if she had ever heard of a man called Marcus Garvey? My mother, without appearing to have seriously thought about my question said in my native language, Bini: “Is that not our son who lived abroad?”
I was her only son who had lived abroad until that time so obviously she did not mean me. I prodded her further and found that by calling Garvey son, my mother was not only appropriating Garvey, she was showing her pride in him as a dedicated African son.
Encouraged by my discovery, I asked her about DuBois: “I have never heard of that one,” she said promptly but innocently. I have still not been able to figure out how my illiterate mother who had never travelled more than twenty kilometres from our home base could relate to Garvey and not DuBois. I have not tried to influence her on the matter since either. I do not think she knows about my activities in the Pan African Movement yet. I am saving my shock for when I hope to ask her in about ten years time, what she knows about her real son.
If at that point, my activities in the Pan African Movement have still not directly touched the lives of the likes of my mother, then it would be difficult for me to claim to have been relevant.
I don’t want you to go away thinking that I have no respect for Dr. DuBois. Of course, he was a great man, only that he never managed to win my illiterate mother over to his side like Garvey did and that is what has been bothering me really about intellectual Pan Africanism.
The fifth Pan African Congress was the first serious one in the redeeming sense. Without its bold features, the need to continue the congresses would have been lost forever.
The congress, held in Manchester in 1945, coincided with the second conference of the World Federation of Trade unions, thus enabling several trade union delegates from the African world to attend and broaden the narrow intellectual base of the Pan African Congress for the first time. It, of course, also helped to lock Pan Africanism more firmly into the Marxist – socialist politics of the unionists, thereby diverting us witlessly from our original goal of racial emancipation, to a formless, rhetorical and tedious sin-song about the working class uniting to over throw the nebulous bourgeois. The truth of the matter is that traditional African politics is not homogeneous and there is no reason why the fortunes of a whole race of people should be condemned to the status of the working class for ever. A billion virile, determined and ambitious people scattered all over the economies of the world can not and must not be restricted from reaching even beyond the stars.
That fortunately is the kind of positive and forthright posture that informed the broad activities of the team of George Padmore, C.L.R. James, Kwame Nkrumah and others at the fifth congress on the issue of our independence. They not only demanded immediate independence for all African countries, they threatened to use every means, including violence if necessary, to achieve their aims. Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Nnamdi Azikiwe who was represented and many other potential African leaders left the congress determined to do battle with our colonisers. Out-break of mass anti-colonial struggle followed throughout Africa. Armed uprising in Kenya and Algeria, mass nationalist parties in Zaire, Ghana and Nigeria etc. This phase of the struggle led to Ghana’s independence in March, 1957, under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana’s example electrified the African world resulting in scores of free African countries between 1960 and 1963.
Ghana’s independence also provided intellectual Pan-Africanism with its first real foothold on the continent. Nkrumah, in collaboration with Padmore, consolidated this by convening the first Conference of Independent African States (CIAS), in furtherance of their Pan-Continental ideas, in Accra in April, 1958. The participants of this historic conference were Ghana, Ethiopia, Libya, Liberia, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Republic. These were the then independent African states except South Africa which was actually invited but refused to come because the colonial powers were not also invited.
Other meetings followed until a broader conference of independent African states took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 1963, establishing for the continent, the OAU, a loose interstate arrangement.
The OAU, of course, did not fulfil the ambition of Kwame Nkrumah for a strong political union of all African states but it opened the Pan-African ideology institutionally to non-blacks. This is how George Padmore defended the trend at the time: ” In our struggle for national freedom, human dignity and social redemption, Pan-Africanism offers an ideological alternative to communism on the one side and tribalism on the other. It rejects both white racialism and black chauvinism. It stands for racial co-existence on the basis of absolute equality and respect for human personality.”
I have no quarrel with all that, but I think we needed to have asked Uncle Padmore:
(1) Why other races can join our institutions and would not let us join theirs?
(2) Why we are the only race of people in the world striving desperately to tag on to others. We have Black-Arabs, Black Marxists, Black-Muslims, Black-Eskimos. Isn’t that saying something for our self esteem?
(3) Whether having a union of our own necessarily makes us any more racist than the EU, the Jewish World Congress, the Arab League etc?
(4) If our propensity to be seen to be identifying with our oppressors has helped to solve our being the racial underdogs of the world?
(5) And whether we do not need to tackle our peculiar racial problems first before contributing our wonderful expertise at problem solving to the rest of the world?
After all, charity ought to begin at home.
Also, Nkrumah and Padmore needed to have been asked to explain how their Pan-Continental politics was going to solve the deteriorating problems of the African Diaspora? 40% of the Black world do not live in Africa and are, as a result, ignored by the OAU.
The overall success of the 5th Pan African Congress blinded us to some of its not so sound pre-occupations. The 5thPAC set off many half-baked diversionary ideas which unfortunately led to the failure of the 6th Pan African Congress. The convenors of the 6thPAC did not reckon, for instance, with the selfish interest of the newly independent African governments of the time so:
(a) They let government delegations dominate the congress,
(b) Who in turn prevented leading Pan Africanists from participating.
(c) Non-Africans, without obvious commitment to Pan African ideals, were able to attend as delegates.
(d) The regular negative ideological division between our pseudo socialists and capitalists occupied centre stage.
(e) And, of course, University dons, as usual, were able to use congress to enhance their CVs and show off their borrowed language facilities and richly embroidered danshikis.
And yet, the 6th Pan African Congress succeeded in filling a yearning vacuum and keeping the movement alive, at least, in academic circles, 29 years after the 5th congress. More papers than ever before, were submitted or read at the 6thPAC and a great deal more resolutions were left behind for scholars to pore over till eternity as to their motives etc. The 6thPAC piled considerably more library materials, and gathered more delegates and observers, some 600 of them at one count, than all congresses before it, put together. To the extent that the 6thPAC achieved these feats administratively, therefore, it deserves to be recognised.
But did the congress touch the lives of ordinary Africans in the streets? No. Was the 6thPAC any better than the jamborees called first, second, third and fourth congresses? No.
Ask any African in the streets of Europe and America about the 6thPAC and you would draw a blank. Ask any grassroots African on the continent about Pan Africanism today and he would think you are speaking Greek. The 6thPAC has not stopped the continued racial rape and murder of our people in the Diaspora nor has it educated Africans on the continent, sixteen years later, to think beyond the severely circumscribed OAU.
Only the 5th congress was able to make immediate direct impact on our lives with its independence fire sweeping rapidly across colonial Africa soon after the congress. The 5thPAC set the standard by which to measure the success of all future PACs. The 6thPAC, therefore, was no more than a boring charade and if Pan Africanism is to be saved now, it must be moved beyond the constraining walls of our Ivory Towers, the deadly hold of our narrow-minded political leaders and deposited squarely on the laps of virgin Africans.
These were precisely the sources of my motivation when I began the campaign in 1982, as a private initiative, for the 7th Pan African Congress to convene within three years in a liberated African country. My principal ambition was to use the congress to institutionalise the Pan African Movement and unite the black world. I was building a farm house facility (I called the Monument to African civilisation), at Ilogbo-Eremi in the Badagry local government area of Lagos State in Nigeria, at the time, as venue for the 7th Pan- African Congress. The idea was to set up a possible meeting place that would be grand and yet rural in setting and relatively cost free to participants, to avoid recourse to government subvention or sponsoreship and, therefore, influence. At the time, I thought that the congress could hold in Nigeria in 1985. A picture of the still being constructed ‘Monument’ was eventually published in the Guardian newspaper of Nigeria, on Saturday February 4th 1984, with the following caption:
” This is the house Mr Naiwu Osahon is building. When completed, it would be one of the most unique, artistically designed houses ever built any where, says Mr Osahon of the house located on a suburban farmland. Mr. Osahon, ……………on the proposed retreat for local and visiting artistes says: ‘Discussions are already being held abroad about holding the next Pan African Congress at the Craftfarm House in 1985.”
Obstacles which I considered were mainly responsible for our disunity and lack of focus as a family included:
(1) Foreign religions and ideologies (which in all respects treat us as inferior human beings). These pull us in all sorts of directions to keep us divided despite our being the most marginalised people on the face of the earth right now. It is not in the interest of any dominating ideology for victims to unite or have a common focus. Peculiar spirituality serves to bind and encourage claims of ownership and birthright. Religion or spirituality is the greatest mobilising strategy available to man and we have nothing of our own as a rallying force like Islam is to the Arabs or Judaism to the Jews.
(2) Allowing colonisers (particularly Arabs who do not consider themselves even remotely as Pan Africanists) to participate in and sponsor our congresses. Arab occupiers of Northern Africa continue to exploit and dominate original African native owners of the land. The war in Sudan is ethnic cleansing against our race and is funded massively by the Arab League through Libya and Saudi Arabia. Arabs have their League but do not want blacks to have one. We as a race have not been able to focus on how to liberate Northern African blacks as we have done against white racists in Southern Africa because Northern Africa Arabs are equal partners with blacks in the OAU.
(3) Allowing our ‘Movement’ to be hijacked by reactionary African political leaders running our governments. These are leaders tied to the apron strings of our colonial masters for hand-outs which our leaders promptly divert to their individual private accounts abroad for personal gains. They are too busy enriching themselves at our expense to care about our collective welfare.
I strongly believed that while we could excuse the OAU perhaps, to serve the interest of all and sundry as a continental contraption, our ‘Movement’ cannot afford such a luxury. Not when there is liberation, reparations and repatriation wars still to be fought and won world-wide. Our Movement must aggresively tackle racism and our marginalisation if we are ever to collectively make progress as a people. And our ‘Movement’ must remain permanently on the alert thereafter. The best guarantee of this is a civil society controlled ‘Movement’ with grassroots Africans from the continent linking with the grassroots black Diaspora to wrestle power from our opportunistic political elite controlling our governments. The grassroots black world need to take their collective destiny into their own hands through an institutionalised ‘Movement’ that gives equal treatment to both governments and individual delegations. I was implacable over the 7thPAC institutionalising the Pan African Movement as a vibrant civil society compliment or challenge to the lame-duck OAU.
To keep rancour to the barest minimim at congresses, I insisted that decisions and resolutions of the ‘Movement’ must be fine-tuned and worked out at preparatory conferences and workshops etc in advance, with congress being used only to endorse. The preparatory activities of the 7thPAC were, therefore, to focus principally on the following three planks:
(a) To agree a body of resolutions and decisions to be known as THE BLACK AGENDA which could be up-dated now and again at regional and state conferences to become the bible or focus of activities of the black race, including black governments and individuals.
(b) To chisle out a strong and dynamic constitution for the institutionalised ‘Movement’ wielding together, black governments and black civil societies in a symbiotic relationship with leadership resting solely in the hands of civil society. The ‘Movement’ would have to develop a peculiar spirituality for such a leadership (or moral leadership of the black race) not to be controversial.
(c) To set up a ‘Foundation’ to ensure that the ‘Movement’ or Black League’ would never have to beg for financial support from anyone, particularly from extraneous sources. The philosophy of the ‘Foundation’ (called PANAF at the time), being that every black person in the world, alive or yet un-born, owes PANAF a hundred units of his or her local currency once in a life-time.
These pre-occupations were embodied in the first set of documents written and distributed lavishly by me around the world from 1982 to announce the convening of the 7thPAC in Africa in 1985.
Responses to my ‘CALL’ were generally enthusiastic, over the convening of 7thPAC which was described as overdue, but lukewarm on Nigeria (which at the time was under the jackboot of a vicious military dictatorship), serving as host. C.L.R. James, who was one of the first renown Pan Africanists at the time to received our delegation in London was full of support for an African country hosting the congress. He was not too fussy about the politics of the possible host African government. However, the series of letters addressed to Babangida, the self-proclaimed Military President of Nigeria at the time to provide 7thPAC with logistic support in the area of easy visas and adequate security for delegations were ignored. President Dos Santos of Angola wrote us the most inspiring letter of the time but was sorry he could not play host because of the debilitating civil war in his country. Zimbabwe was more interested in hosting the Commonwealth Heads of State Conference at the time and Ghana complained of poor financial resources.
While we were still shopping for a possible host country, the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Professor Bolaji Akiyemi, out of the blues in 1987, announced the Nigerian government’s interest in convening the 7thPAC. A failed coup de’tat caused some changes in the Nigerian government with Brigadier Ike Nwanchukwu replacing Prof. Akinyemi as Foreign Affairs Minister. The Brigadier was not interested in the 7thPAC and wanted to know what it meant and who it was affiliated to. Apart from abysmal ignorance about self history, South African PAC added to the confusion. However, the earlier announcement of the Nigerian government’s interest increased focus on 7thPAC and my efforts which were independent all along of the Nigerian government’s attempted hijack.
The make shift leadership arrangement we had relied upon was formerly structured in 1987 involving a two-tier arrangement with the 7thPAC International Secretariat located in Lagos. The ultimate leadership committee was called the International Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) and had as pioneer members, Professor Kwesi Prah, a Ghanaian working in Kenya at the time, B.F.Bankie, a Ghanaian-Gambian living in London then and Naiwu Osahon, based in Lagos, as the Convernor/Chairman.
Reporting to the ICC was the International Steering Committee (ISC), which had as members: Ayi Kwei Armah; Nee Kwati Owoo; Robert Hayfron-Benjamin Beye and Boutros Boutros Ghali.
By January 1989, the ISC had been scrapped due to lack of perfomance by its members perhaps because of the cumbersome two-tier system in operation and was replaced by an expanded ICC comprising of Naiwu Osahon, Chairman; Prof. Antonio Neto, Angola; Tau Napata, Jamaica; Prof. Alfred Opubor, Nigeria; Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, Egypt (who wrote trying to discourage us from institutionalising the Pan-African Movement but stayed on as committee member even when he became the Secretary General of the UN); Eunice Neto Foreid, Portugal; Dr. Ona Ekhomu, USA; Prof. H. Cunha Jr. Brazil; H. E. Dr. Henri Bangou, Guadeloupe; Dr. Laura M. Torres Souder, Guam; Amar Bentoumi, Algeria (who later withdrew because of the focus of the ‘Movement’); Dr. Joycelyn Loncke, Guyana; Dr. Digna Castaneda Puerta, Cuba; Pauulu Kamarakafego (Roosevelt Brown who still represents us now at the UN and was the pioneer sponsor of the 6thPAC, Bermuda; Hon. Mr. Bernard Narokobi, Papua New Guinea; Dr. Cyril. E. Griffith, USA; Grace Mera Molisa, Vanuatu; Prof. Mary Frances Berry, USA.
By 1990, we had received several letters of support from the likes of Leopold Sedar Senghor living in France at the time; C.L.R. James, before he died, insisting that the congress must be convened in an African country. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Bahamas; the President of the United Republic of Tanzania; The Minister of Justice of Papua New Guinea; the governments of the Republics of Cote D’ Ivoire, Liberia, Togo, Angola, Zaire, Ghana, Guadeloupe Senator in France, Boutros Boutros Ghali as Minister of State for Foreign affairs in Egypt. We had influenced Chief Abiola of Nigeria sufficiently to try to steel our thunder by embarking on a ‘Reparations’ programme of his own, which was eventually sold to the OAU with our active lobby.
By 1992, we had established national branches or committees of the Pan-African Movement in the following countries; Angola, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Benin Republic, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Equartorial Guinea, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany-Benelux, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Portugal Senegal, South Africa, St. Kitts, St Lucia, St. Maarten, Surinam, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad, UK, USA, Zaire, Zimbabwe and several new national representatives were being cultivated.
The UK national branch was the very first committee of the 7thPAC to be set up by Naiwu Osahon. It was launched on the 10th of October, 1988 at Flat 69, Schomberg House, Vincent Street, Westminster, London, S.W.1 occupied at the time by Prof. Antonio Neto. Founding members of the UK committee included Neto, Bankie, Babu, Pepukayi, Napata, Gotzmore and Bing who was elected the protem secretary.
We started having problems with London right from its take off because, as things turned out, the branch was dominated by self-declared Marxists. They wanted to take over the leadership of the ICC and move its International Secretariat to London because according to them, communications were easier from there. Besides, they were not comfortable with my anti-Marxism or foreign ideology posture and attempt to institutionalise the ‘Movement’. Also my determination to exclude Arabs of Northern Africa from the union was a headache. One of their staunchest supporters at the time was Prof. Kwesi Prah who wrote that: “We can not bind the next generation to an institutionalised ‘Movement.” My answers at the time were to ask why that should stop us from trying? And how did other races achieve their institutions and union without some first steps? No answer to these questions ever came from Prah or London or may be it came through their gradual withdrawal from our fold to encourage and team up with Uganda eventually. They tried desperately to gain access to our International Secretariat’s address list before they finally dropped out of our hold three years after their launch. Our (ICC) impression of them at the time was that they were on an ego trip desperate to etch their names on posterity for convening a Pan African Congress regardless of quality of the congress.
My criticism of DuBois for bequeating to us the culture of jamboree congresses appeared also to have alienated some supporters of the intellectual icon, including his son who took offence and started looking for opportunities to scuttle our efforts. Nkrumah’s son too soon became less active on the ICC because his father, along with Padmore were blamed for diluting the spirit of Pan-Africanism with their defence of all comers’ congresses that welcomed Arab colonisers and Marxist domination all in one breath.
Preparatory conferences of the 7thPAC around the world included;
(a) Hamilton Bermuda (From July 20 – 22, 1990)
(b) Bridgetown, Barbados (From 21 – 22 September, 1991)
(c) Solidarity with Cuba (Saturday 7th December, 1991, Bridgetown, Barbados)
(d) Port-of Spain, Trinidad (Second regional conference of the Caribbean Pan African Movement (From 27 – 28 August, 1993).
(e) Savannah, Georgia, USA (From 1 – 3 May, 1992)
(f) Toronto, Canada (where ZAWADI KWAFRICA was launched for the first time in the world by Naiwu Osahon (From June 23 – 27, 1993).
The inaugural meeting of the BLACK THINK TANK (BTT) of the Pan-African Movement, now known as THE THINK TANK OF THE BLACK WORLD (TTB) took place from 1 – 8 August, 1992, at ASCON, Topo, Badagry, Lagos Nigeria. The BTT was attended by: Naiwu Osahon, Chairman; Catherene Acholonu, Nigeria; Denese Bradford, USA; Duane Bradford, USA; Tom Dalgety, Guyana; Viola Davis, Barbados; C.M. Eya-Nchama, Equatorial Guinea; Diane Forte, USA; Malinali Meza Herrera, Mexico; Onwuchekwa Jemie, Nigeria; Owei Lakemfa, Nigeria; Olusegun Maiyegun, Nigeria; Rudy Mattai, USA; Kinja Mulegwa-Migabo, Zaire; T.C Nwosu, Nigeria; Osagie Obayuwana, Nigeria; Yinka Ogunsulire, Nigeria; Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade, Nigeria; Charles C. Roach, Canada; Gbenga Sonuga, Nigeria. Two members who could not get to the venue of the BTT, but who had paid to attend were: Joycelene Loncke, Guyana and G. Mawa-Kiese Mawawa, Congo.
The BTT examined the issues: “Why are we so blessed and yet so poor?” “Why are we not benefiting as a people from the civilisation we pioneered and what are we to do to get back on our feet again as one family?” THE BLACK AGENDA is a product of the BTT’s deliberations and it lays down the rules to guide the activities of black governments, individuals, organisations, communities, family units, institutions. The BTT also produced the CONSTITUTION of the Pan African Movement and approved ZAWADI KWAFRICA (ZA) as the name of the Pan-African Foundation. Zawadi Kwafrica are Swahili words meaning gifts of and from the people of Africa.
Members of the ICC in 1993 included: Naiwu Osahon, Chairman; Charles C. Roach, Vice Chair; Pauulu Kamarakafego, Vice Chair; H. E. Dr. (Senator) Henri Bangou, Guadeloupe; Dr. Thomas Cornell Battle, USA; Gerlin Bean, Jamaica; John Benjamin, Anguilla; Prof. Mary Frances Berry, USA; Farika Birhan, Maroons; Dr. Michael L. Blakey, USA; Duane Bradford, USA; Musa Cham, Gambia; Bobby Clarke, Barbados; Dr. John Henrik Clarke, USA; Tom Dalgety, Guyana; Viola Davis, Barbados; M.K. Dingake, Botswana; Babacar Diop, Senegal; Robert M. Dossou, Rep. du Benin; Noel Dossou-Yovo, Rep. du Benin; Prof. Quince Duncan, Costa Rica; Louise Edimo, Cameroon; C.M. Eya-Nchama, Equatorial Guinea; Januario Garcia Filho, Brazil; Eunice Neto Foreid, Portugal; Dianne Forte, USA; Roderick Francis, Jamaica; Major-General J. N. Garba, President of the UN General Assembly at the time; Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, (UN Secretary-General at the time); Siegfried Hazel, Curacao; Malinali Meza Herrera, Mexico; Dr. Byron R. M. Hove, Zimbabwe; Eddie Iroh, UK; Onwuchekwa Jemie, Nigeria; Senator Irvin Stephen Knight, Dominica; Pontiff His Grace Srila Bhakti-Tirtha Swami Krsnapada, USD/USA; Joan Lucas, Belize; Dr. Joycelynne Loncke, Guyana; Dr. F. L. Lwanyantika Masha, Tanzania; Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro, Namibia; G. Mawa-Kiese Mawawa, Grenada; Kinja Mulegwa-Migabo, Zaire; James Mutambirwa, PCR/WCC; Hon. Bernard Narokobi, Papua-New Guinea; Abdias do Nascimento, Brazil; Michel Ndoh, Switzerland; Prof. Anthonio Neto, Angola; Felipe Noguera, Trinidad; T.C. Nwosu, Nigeria; Frantz Obas, Haiti; Clement O’ Garro, St. Kitts; Prof. Omolara Ogundipe-Leslie, Nigeria; Placide Prosper, St. Lucia; Dr. Digna Castaneda Puertas, Cuba; Mtra Araceli Reynoso, Mexico; Omowale Satterwhite, USA; Mr. and Mrs Savane, Senegal; Bania Mahamadou Say, Niger; Dr. Jean Sindab, USA; Ghenga Sonuga, Nigeria; Dr. Laura M. Torres Sounder, Guam; Andre France de Sousa, Portugal; Hassan A. Sunmonu, OATUU; Cheikh Tidiane Sy, PANA; Dr. Robert B. Sykes, Australia; Terrel Thomas, Suriname; Charles Pascal Tolno, Rep. du Guinea; Stewart M. Tsela, Swaziland; Siteri V. Tuilovoni, Fiji; Prof. Theo Vincent, Nigeria; Amelia Ventura, Mozambique; Alvin Williams, Bermuda; Emmanuel York, St. Maarten.
Out of frustration for not finding a suitable host country for 7thPAC, we pursued Uganda, more for President Museveni’ s gorilla war credentials than for any recognisable record of achievement in the realm of Pan Africanism. The man would not even tolerate dissent from within Uganda let alone from outside. Museveni’s Uganda is in the pockets of the Arabs that are marginalizing our kith and kin in Northern Africa.
Our first letter to Museveni was in January, 1990 followed by another in September, 1990 and a third one in June, 1991, inviting his government to be a possible host of 7thPAC without pre-conditions. At the end of March, 1991, a number of documents arrived at our International Secretariat in Lagos from Kwame Ture stating that Kwame Ture of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (AAPRP), Col. Otafiire, the personal assistant to the Uganda Head of State and four others had met in Tripoli, Libya on December 10, 1990 and decided to constitute themselves into a pre-preparatory committee which is to be enlarged to become the preparatory committee to convene a conference to create a mass Pan African organisation.
Among the documents sent was an invitation to Naiwu Osahon to attend a preparatory meeting of their proposed conference in March, 1991, in Uganda. Obviously that meeting did not hold because according to another notice from them later, the invitations were sent out too late and got to their destinations well after the March date of the proposed meeting.
Three further attempts were made, up to the 27th of January, 1992, to put their preparatory meeting together without success but further documents were sent to the International Secretariat of the 7thPAC in Lagos and addressed as such. The documents specified that they were putting together:
(a) A conference focusing on anti-Zionism and
(b) To be called ” All African People’s Conference.
Since the title of their conference was not in conflict with our own, we were not entirely opposed to co-operating with Uganda although we wrote back to say: “While we are not uncomfortable with your anti-Zionist focus, we also want anti-Arab and anti-West focus for your proposed conference.”
On the 7th August, 1991, we received a letter from Col. Otafiire, calling their group, the 7th Pan African Congress Committee with Col. Otafiire as convenor and Chairman and President Museveni as their Patron, thereby constituting a direct challenge to the International Secretariat of the Pan African Movement in Lagos. On the 7th August, 1991, we addressed a comprehensive letter of our objection and discomfort on the matter to President Museveni. After waiting for a while without response, we wrote on the subject to all our committees around the world. Several activities followed around the world after the Uganda bombshell culminating in a long awaited first ever meeting between me and Kwame Ture in my office in Lagos on Saturday 27 March, 1993. It was an extremely warm and inspiring meeting lasting nearly four hours from about 4.45 p.m. The Secretary General of the 7thPAC national committee for Nigeria, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana was in attendance mainly as an observer.
Several issues concerning the way forward were discussed and the highlights of our agreement were:
(1) That everything humanly possible should be done to keep us and the black world united. We felt strongly that our detractors must not be given any comfort on this issue. That we needed to close ranks and give purposeful direction at this critical point in our history otherwise posterity would judge us harshly.
(2) That no African government, not even the OAU, under any disguise, should finance or host the 7th Pan African Congress or any other Pan African Congress. They can participate at congress meetings but as equal partners with the rest of the black world. Congress definitely does not need the authority of the OAU to hold since the OAU is a child of congress.
(3) That non-black sources should not finance or host any Pan-African Congress.
(4) That the 7th Pan African Congress should be held in Africa, preferably in a country where:
(a) Blacks would have no problems obtaining visas to attend,
because no black person, for ideological, religious, or any other
reason should be prevented from attending or speaking his
or her mind freely on any issue as affects the black world at
(b) The lives of delegates and others attending congress would be
safe and largely guaranteed.
(5) We did not discuss congress date in details but felt that the December, 1993 Uganda date might be too soon considering the enormous task of preparing adequately (especially in area of fund-raising) for a meaningful congress. The August, 1994 date proposed by the International Secretariat in Lagos, we felt was feasible, particularly for the launching of the institutionalised ‘Movement.’
(6) We felt that there was a strong need to ensure qualitative attendance at congress and agreed that while the mass movement dimension of congress should not be hindered, it is necessary for the movement to be led by recognisable Pan-Africanists. In other words, there is a need to identify and agree on who serious Pan Aricanists are right now, around the black world, and either split congress dates to accommodate them or find ways to ensure that congress direction and decisions are controlled by them. If congress date is to be split, the institutional dimension of congress could be held first, say in August, 1994, as already scheduled, followed immediately by the Pan African leaders congress.
After further consultations on the above issues through correspondence with Kwame Ture and other blacks of diverse interests world-wide, it was agreed that the Uganda conference slated for December, 1993 should be a preparatory one for the 7thPAC of the International Secretariat in Lagos in August, 1994. The Uganda team ignored our recommendation and announced that they were going ahead with their December 1993 7thPAC charade. With US$300,000 blood money from Gaddafi, Museveni was not only well fortified to play the devil’s advocate, he was poised to launch his personal ambition to become the Emperor of a new Tutsi Hema Empire annexing Rwanda and mineral rich Zaire (now DRC) under the behest of America. We immediately began circulating a strongly worded message warning the patriotic black world not to go to Uganda.
On January 3 1994, we received a phone call in Lagos from one of our deputy leaders, Pauulu Kamarakafego in Bermuda, informing us that the December, 1993 Uganda make-believe congress failed to hold. It was cancelled in the last minute because of the non-arrival of quality delegations. Several ordinary, innocent black folks from the Diaspora, unaware of the high wire politics being perpetrated in the name of Pan-Africanism and hoping to touch base perhaps for the first time in their lives with mother Africa were turned back at the Kampala airport. A Uganda team, led by Col. Otafiire then set out on a tour of the black world to deliver Museveni’s invitation and offers of free return travel tickets and free accommodation in Uganda to government delegations and renown intellectuals who attend their rescheduled April 1994, 7thPAC. They had to move fast to nullify our pending August 1994 7thPAC date. They arrived Nigeria on January 5 1994 to deliver their invitation to the Nigerian government without visiting the 7thPAC International Secretariat.
And yet, no head of state attended the Uganda 7thPAC debacle. Not even Nyerere who had received our warning message earlier on and who was the principal host of the 6thPAC in Tanzania, would grace Uganda with his presence at least to demonstrate continuity. As predicted, the Uganda exercise turned out to be an attempt to be a convenor of congress regardless of the outcome to the black race. A lot of bravado prevailed, loads of resolutions were passed and delegates were feted lavishly before returning to their various countries no better off than they were before the congress. In fact, the average black person in the world today does not know that the 7thPAC has taken place in his or her name. Another jamboree has passed, one of the many failed attempts that litter our chequered history but Uganda achieved ‘a me too.’ Uganda succeeded in helping us waste another decade, another generation while Museveni rides on his high visibility profile to destabilise his neighbouring countries to annex and exploit their mineral resources.
The Uganda 7thPAC set up a Pan-African office in Kampala as a propaganda tool of Museveni’s Empire building machinery. That done, his hit man, Paul Kagame, a CIA protege with US military school training brought down a plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi over their countries’ common border with Uganda. The Presidents’ death launched Rwanda’s sack and pogrom resulting in the death of over half a million Rwandans and the displacement of millions of others. Then they replaced the dreaded Mobutu with Laurent Kabila as President of the DRC.
Kabila, a Lumumbist refused to play along so Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda occupied the mineral rich regions of the DRC in 1999 with America’s technical backing. They massacred over two and a half million Congolese while looting and plundering the DRC’s mineral wealth. But for the meddlesome intervention of the armies of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, Emperor Museveni was only a hair’s breath away from his dream of usurping what potentially would have been the largest and richest modern Empire in Africa. Surprisingly, the failed Emperor apparently had the tacit support of South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela who was waiting on a ship off the coast of Kinshasha to crown Wamba Dia Wamba as Laurent Kabila’s replacement for Emperor Museveni’s new surrogate in the DRC.
AFRICAN UNION (AU)
The latest version of the African Union concept started from a totally discredited non-black source with an OAU’s special meeting bankrolled by Muamar Gaddafi in Sirte, Libya in 1999. Gaddafi, as we all know is the rascal or Satan behind all the modern civil wars in Africa. From Chad to Liberia to Sierra Leone, Gaddafi had his fingers on the rotten, smellie pie. He financed and trained Museveni’s gorilla adventure and he is the leading sustainer of Arab pogrom against Africans in the Sudan right now. After failing to build his, the United States of the Arab world dream, he turned to halpless Africa for relevance in international politics. His interest in the African Union is fiendish and totally opportunistic and was designed to lead to the setting up of the AU’s headquarters in Sirte, Libya with Muamar Gaddafi as the United States of Africa’s first President.
At first, Gaddafi’s dream project was opposed by Presidents Obasanjo of Nigeria and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in what may have been no more than a power struggle between the personalities involved. President Obasanjo and Abdoulai Wade of Senegal opposed the Reparations for Slavery and Colonialism strategy of the black world at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in South Africa. Mbeki, of course, is pocketed by apartheid architects in South Africa. General Abacha’s regime in Nigeria, during a moment of discomfort with Mbeki, described Mbeki’s government as a structure with white skin and black head. He probably believed the tail wags the head.
During our struggle to assert our 7thPAC variance in the 1990’s, one of our most formidable foes in Senegal was Abdoulai Wade. Wade who had strong links with the anti-African ‘Labour International,’ in collaboration with Pierre T. Sane of Amnesty International and a Senegalese based in Canada tried to prempty 7thPAC to convene what they called PANAF ’92 to deliver the black world on a platter to their French government cohorts. Wade as the leader of the P.D.S party was reputed for creating confusion and mayhem in the ranks of opposition political parties in Senegal before he became the country’s President. His antecedence is decidedly Western oriented so it was no surprise that along with Gaddafi, Obasanjo and Mbeki they crafted a constitution that delivers the AU as a neo-colonial appendage of the West. These leaders are not Pan-Africanists and do not love Africa or the black world. They are in all these for selfish personal gains (crumbs), from under the tables of their Western benefactors.
The Obasanjo-Mbeki cabal went down on their knees to beg the West for a $64 billion handout but instead got $6 billion spread over a period of years. A Pan-Africanist friend, Lester Lewis, believes that, that is where the NEEEEPAD name comes from. Obviously, the $6 billion bailout is to enable us continue to buy the loads of KNEEPADS we are going to need from the West. The deputy leader of the World Pan African Movement, Charles C. Roach who is based in Canada, describing the African leaders begging scene at the 2002 G8 conference in Canada, said: “There is an amusing photograph of Prime Minister Chretien of Canada sitting astride a kneeling camel on his recent trip to Algeria and five other African countries over the NEPAD issue. The Prime Minister is entreating the camel not to stand up and this is understandable, because the way a camel gets up, unfolding its long legs is a roller-coaster ride for anyone on its back. Symbolically, Chretien was telling the African camel to stay on its knees while he perches on its back.”
Earlier this year, President Moi of Kenya, said in a speech in Blantyre, Malawi that Africa was doomed to perpetual poverty and backwardness unless African leaders free themselves of egocentricity. That “no country in the West had an obligation to baby-sit and spoon-feed independent African nations. African leaders must accept this fact, however unsettling, and rethink about their development strategies.” Recently too, President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia was reported to have described NEPAD as a charter for beggars. Hear him: “NEPAD would not work. ….Africa is the richest continent in terms of mineral resources, but because of ignorance, Africa in economic terms, is the poorest continent and we Africans are the laughing stock of humanity. We have failed because some of us are agents of the same people we are supposed to fight against. We produce the bulk of the world’s raw materials so why are we still poor? Some of us are fighting proxy wars in Africa for the benefit of others. Africa has never colonised anyone. Some people who prolonged apartheid are now waving the flag of democracy and freedom. The African debt is not globalised, it is Africanised.”
At a forum in Addis Ababa in March 2002, Prof Shadrack Gutto of South Africa’s University of the Witwaterstrand asked why NEPAD was presented first to the G8 before African governments had a chance to discuss it. Mr. Wiseman Nkuhlu, the South African president’s special adviser on NEPAD, provided the not so wise answer at the forum that it is because African governments have been pre-occupied with building the AU. In answer to another question at the forum, Mr. Nkuhlu admitted that consultation with civil society “is not where we would like it.”
If the Obasanjo-Mbeki cabal, set up by the West to perpetuate our developmental pains would not consult with even their colleagues in African governments before inflicting the culture of the begging bowl on Africa all over again, does the African civil society have a right to expect a miracle from the AU? Where does that leave the black Diaspora in the scheme of things? What about ‘Reparations’ and Repatriation’?
The answer is for African civil society to link up with the black Diaspora civil society to impose a vibrant, uncompromising institutionalised ‘ Movement’ on the black world, independent of African governments’ control. The two priority areas of activities of the institutionalised ‘Movement’ would be: (a) To pressurise the AU to produce a Pan-African Passport (PAP) to enable any black or African, regardless of nationality, return home to Africa at will without let or hindrance. (b) To compel the West and Arabs, by any means necessary, to pay Reparations to the black world. This is, therefore our ‘ CALL’ to all Africans, African organisations, institutions and NGO’s of goodwill, wherever they may be in the world, to nominate their representatives to the 8thPAC International Co-ordinating Committee working to convene the Eight Pan-African Congress within the next three to five years in Africa to launch the Institutionalised Pan-African Movement.
By Naiwu Osahon
The World Pan African Movement
7th August, 2002.
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