In our current situation, with all the threats we face, there is a great need of unity amongst all melaneted people. Most of us understand this idea and speak about it. But in order for us to go beyond talking about unity, we need to take steps towards this goal.
Our actions, our choices depend on our mind-set, what we know and see, how we interpret it and how we feel about it. For this reason, our actions, our steps will only be unified if we get a common understanding of where we come from, where we are and where we are going. We cannot afford to compete with one another in non-progressive debates; attempting to show we are smarter than our brothers and sisters or entertain xenophobic, tribalistic, or any other kind of divisive sentiment while a war is being waged against all of us – a silent war that has lasted for too long.
We need to rise up all together, stand as one to rise above this oppression. For every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. It is necessary that clarity on the reasons behind our need to unite be given, for those who might not be familiar with the motives behind the concept of pan-African unity. The pan-African ideology is tied to the need of humans to collaborate in groups to better achieve their goals.
Groups are formed based on the needs of particular circumstances or based on the exigencies of nature as in the case of a family. Furthermore there is usually a desire among individuals and groups to distinguish themselves and/or compete in a positive spirit. Each one desires to be proud of their achievements. As race has become over the time an important element in defining identity, people tend to form race based groups. Every race then plays as a team; it is a fact, the norm in our current world. And there is nothing particularly wrong with that except in the case of white unity of which the very core idea is the domination of melaneted people. For our family to be competitive we have to work together and put each other first. Dr Marcus Garvey Jr in a presentation on the Arab slave trade of Africans stated that all other races are more racially aware than ours. So if it is the norm for everyone else to form a competitive group based on race, why should it be wrong for us to do the same? Doing otherwise will only result in keeping us behind. None can win playing as an individual against teams.
We need to use the power of unity. Being African first doesn’t mean being against anyone else. Another reason is the ongoing oppression other peoples have done to us. We need to protect ourselves as much as our condition is different to that of any other people. Our condition is such that everyone desires to have access to our resources by controlling us or keeping us at the bottom of the scale in various ways. Furthermore, ideologies have been developed that vilify our image and describe us as objects only good enough as slaves. To this day melaneted people are held as slaves in Mauritania, some are being sold in Saudi Arabia, some have been kidnapped in South Sudan; taken to the north and have not much prospects of ever being free again. Our peculiar condition requires from us that we remain cautious of people outside of our race. Furthermore, there are not many who are truly interested in seeing Africa rise because if we rise, we rise above them all.
Pan-Africanism is not about hatred for other races and never will. Hatred can lead one to seek the suffering of another so much that they forget to do well for themselves; to pursue their own happiness. It can lead one to lose their life fighting a war that is not even winnable. This is not what we need as Africans; all we need is to have once again our destiny in our own hands, the freedom to pursue our happiness.
For different reasons our vision is blurred by many misconception. One of them is our approach of the idea of racism. The concept of racism is very often presented in a manner that diverts us from the root of the problem and makes it impossible to resolve our issue. For many talking about race or racism is being racist. Then does it mean that talking about tribes is being tribalistic, or talking about nationalities is being xenophobic? Far from it! There are differences in race, tribes, nationalities, languages, etc, that can naturally be objects of conversations. It only becomes a problem when those differences are used as a pretext to hate or oppress others. The issue with this approach is that it prevents us from addressing and solving a real problem of our world. In fact race discourse has been made a “taboo” to preserve the status quo. It is crucial for us to understand it and refuse to subscribe to this norm. We are the victims of racism; none can take away from us the right to express our
concerns and our pain. If someone demands from you to be silent about the pain of your oppression, it means that they agree with it.
Another misconception about racism is that melaneted people are also racist. As I said before, we can only talk about racism when race is used as a pretext to hate or oppress others. When a white person calls a melaneted person a monkey, it is solely because of their race, this is racism. But when a melaneted person say that white people are evil, it is solely because of what the Caucasian race as a
whole has displayed as an attitude toward us and even others. In short, some melaneted people tend to witness hatred against people of the Caucasian race as a response for what they have experienced while the Caucasian race does the same because they chose to do so. Racism is a choice and not a response, an action and not a reaction.
Lastly, racism is sometimes defined as people of different races not desiring do dwell together. But if racism was about white people not wanting to be around melaneted people, they wouldn’t have come here in the first place. This needs to be clear, having friends or partners from another race doesn’t end racism, and it doesn’t even mean that these individuals are not racist. Racism has to do with power and oppression, if we don’t see it as such, we will never solve it.
Moreover, it isn’t a natural feeling, it is a human construct. In fact it is more than a feeling; it is a big package comprising different tools used to further an oppressive agenda. I will talk more in detail about racism and its history as well as the concept of white supremacy in a later article. Otherwise, if some are more concerned about the two races getting along than uplifting the one that has been oppressed, they should question their self-esteem. A people who care enough about themselves cannot be more concerned about getting along with their oppressors than healing the wounds inflicted by the oppressor.
If racism has to do with power and oppression, how then can we defeat it? Simply by taking away from the oppressor the power to oppress. This can be achieved by rising to a position of equal or superior power where the other party will fear repercussions if they ever attempt to cause us harm again. This is what happened when Russia developed nuclear weapons, America never attempted to go to war against it. There was then “the balance of terror”. Instead, the cold war took place. We are in fact in a kind of cold war. No shots are being fired on us, except in some places like the USA, but everything is done by others to have control over the wealth and resources of Africa and the destiny of Africans.
We need to understand that no negotiation with the white power structure will significantly benefit us. In the past this approach of black liberation produced in South Africa the state of black controlled government with white controlled economy and in America a law abolishing formal slavery but defining a new one stating that slavery is abolished except when one commits a crime and is sent to prison. So history shows us that making demands while not in a position of power will never give us full control over our destiny. In order to achieve the pan-African unity that is needed, it is necessary for melaneted people to look at what unites us. Our differences and diversity must be embraced and admired like the different colors of a painting that gives it its beauty. We need to learn our different histories of past glory and invasion to understand that we are going through the same struggles, have the same enemies and our destinies are bound. The sooner we come to this realization is the sooner we develop a pan-African spirit and join forces to liberate ourselves from the oppression that has lasted for too long.
By Nkululeko Zulu